Social Contexts

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:
Social Contexts

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This chapter presents patterns of recruitment to the episcopate, which reveal that wealthy and locally prominent men were increasingly at an advantage as candidates for this ministry. Not surprisingly, many status-conscious urban citizens were eager to attain the episcopate as an additional distinction at the end of their careers. A good education in the classical tradition could contribute significantly to a bishop's successful discharge of his office. Family traditions of episcopal officeholding were occasioned by a combination of a genuine religious motivation for serving in the Christian ministry, the desire to acquire distinction through ecclesiastical office, and the impetus to perpetuate within the family the social status that derived from both. The correlation of wealth and ecclesiastical office is elaborated upon. It is confirmed that the Christian theologians had ample reason to remind their audience that the episcopate should not be regarded as an “honor” equivalent to municipal office.

Keywords: episcopate; education; bishop; episcopal officeholding; Christian ministry; wealth; ecclesiastical office; Christian theologians

Chapter.  17427 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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