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Holy Bishops in Late AntiquityThe Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition$
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Claudia Rapp

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520242968

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520242968.001.0001

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Spiritual Authority

Spiritual Authority

Chapter:
(p.56) Chapter Three Spiritual Authority
Source:
Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity
Author(s):

Claudia Rapp

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520242968.003.0003

This chapter demonstrates the concept of spiritual authority with reference to its most eloquent post-apostolic spokesmen, Clement of Alexandria and Origen, and their remarks on bearers of the Spirit (pneumatophoroi) and bearers of Christ (christophoroi). It explores how individual holy men were appreciated by their contemporaries for their ability to work intercessory prayer. It then investigates a specific kind of intercessory prayer, namely, that for the remission of sins as it was offered by martyrs, holy men, and bishops. The Letters of Barsanuphius and John forcefully underscore the crucial importance of prayer in shaping the interaction between a holy man and his followers. The vicarious penance and the prayers performed by the holy men, whose ascetic authority enhanced and solidified their spiritual authority, had the effect of reconciling sinners with God and their neighbors. Spiritual authority conferred through ordination is what ultimately sets bishops apart from martyrs and holy men.

Keywords:   spiritual authority, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, pneumatophoroi, christophoroi, holy men, martyrs, bishops, intercessory prayer

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