This chapter provides a synthetic overview of the literary representation of bishops in hagiographical works to the seventh century. It is the nature of those texts to extol the personal holiness of their protagonists in order to celebrate them as saints. In the development of Christian literature, the hagiography of holy bishops occupies an important place. The literary commemoration of bishops changed over time, reflecting both developments in the history of the church and hagiographical conventions that were established in response to those developments. There is a twofold danger in concentrating on hagiographical writing. The common currency of hagiography is, of course, miracles. The holy bishop is distinguished from the ascetic holy man by his liturgical competence. The career bishops confirm the enduring appeal of the spiritual and ascetic underpinnings of the episcopal role, even in a changing world.
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