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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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(p.208) Chapter Seven Cities
Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity

Claudia Rapp

University of California Press

This chapter investigates the role of the bishop within the context of his city. It aims to bring out the concrete manifestations of the pragmatic authority of bishops, which was often determined by their elevated social origin prior to their election. This is followed by treatments of three aspects of the pragmatic authority of the bishop that invite comparison with the activities of prominent citizens and of holy men, namely the bishop's residence, his access to wealth, and his distribution of wealth. The archaeological record shows that the great majority of bishops projected a public image of an efficient, functioning administration that inserted itself seamlessly into the existing urban structures, without drawing attention to itself. The prayers of holy men were much more effective than the organized relief efforts of bishops, for the intervention of holy men tackled the cause of the problem, rather than merely alleviating its symptoms.

Keywords:   bishop, city, prayers, holy men, pragmatic authority, wealth

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