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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Social Contexts

Social Contexts

(p.172) Chapter Six Social Contexts
Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity

Claudia Rapp

University of California Press

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

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