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Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa$
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Leslie Dossey

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780520254398

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520254398.001.0001

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Bishops Where No Bishops Should Be

Bishops Where No Bishops Should Be

The Phenomenon of the Rural Bishopric

(p.125) 5 Bishops Where No Bishops Should Be
Peasant and Empire in Christian North Africa

Leslie Dossey

University of California Press

This chapter describes the diffusion of bishops, who were ordained to the major cities in the third century, and by the fourth and fifth centuries presided over estates and villages in Byzacena and Numidia. Local communities sought them, and because of the competition between Donatists and Catholics and a peculiar way of choosing primates, the North African churches obliged. The result was a new sort of leadership, common to city and country. These rural bishops provided an impetus for community formation, a way for small estates to come together under a common leader and even take a common name, counteracting the most damaging aspect of Roman domination—the scattering of rural populations onto separate estates.

Keywords:   rural bishops, local communities, community formation, North African churches

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