Pragmatic Authority

Claudia Rapp

in Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780520242968
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931411 | DOI:
Pragmatic Authority

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  • Religion in the Ancient World


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This chapter shows how the concrete or pragmatic authority of bishops within the church has its roots in an appreciation of a bishop's spiritual abilities. It presents an overview of the early church orders. It also explores the normative texts that were generated within the church to describe and define ecclesiastical leadership. The link between pragmatic authority and its justification by ascetic authority is pursued further in a detailed study of the late antique comments on the only passage in the New Testament that describes the role of the bishop in detail, 1 Timothy 3:1–7. Gregory the Great's Pastoral Care had its origin in the months after his accession to the episcopal see in Rome in 590. Gregory gives detailed and practical advice on how to address an audience that consists of men and women of different social backgrounds who have different life experiences and spiritual needs.

Keywords: pragmatic authority; bishops; church orders; Timothy; ecclesiastical leadership; ascetic authority; New Testament; Pastoral Care; Gregory

Chapter.  15568 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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