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Formation of Apostolic Succession of Bishops in Ecclesiastical Crises


Early lists of bishops, identified by Walter Bauer as "literary propaganda," mark critical points in the development of the doctrine of the apostolic succession of bishops. This study delves into the political struggles surrounding the lists and the doctrine they served to define. Ecclesiastical politics in each case reflects the threat to the bishop's authority and clarifies the meaning of apostolic succession in the Church's development. This social history approach, examining the function of the literature within its historical circumstances, reveals how theology developed from politics. The development is as gripping politically as it is illuminating theologically.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0266-8
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Jun 17,2014
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 282
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0266-8
$43.35

The five appearances of bishop lists in the early church mark the principal points at which apostolic succession of bishops emerged and developed into a crucial and well-defined doctrine. Walter Bauer long ago termed these lists, legitimately if not charitably, "literary propaganda." This study delves into the political struggles surrounding the lists and the doctrine they served to define.

The ancient Mediterranean world established legitimacy of authority in social institutions, whether Roman, Greek, Jewish, or Christian, by citing successions of leaders. In early Catholic churches, apostolic succession was the linchpin in the three "pillars" of tradition, succession, and canon. It guaranteed the first and assured interpretation of the third. A social history approach reveals political intrigue at every point of the development of the doctrine of apostolic succession. In crises of the first century, the New Testament recorded (monepiscopal?) bishops and succession, and Ignatius and I Clement make monepiscopacy and apostolic succession explicit. In the second and third centuries, writers employed episcopal successions in reaction to subsequent struggles with heresy and schism. By the fourth century, Eusebius employed succession lists for apologetic and edification.

Ecclesiastical politics in each case reflects the threat to the bishop's authority and clarifies the meaning of apostolic succession in the Church's development. This social history approach, examining the function of the literature within its historical circumstances, reveals how theology developed from politics. The development is as gripping politically as it is illuminating theologically.

Robert Lee Williams is Professor of Biblical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has written a number of articles focused on New Testament and patristic topics from the vantage point of social-scientific methodology. Accordingly, Williams has been active in the SBL Social World of Early Christianity, the North American Patristics Society, the International Conference on Patristic Studies, and the Seminar on the Development of Early Catholic Christianity, and the American Society of Church History.

The five appearances of bishop lists in the early church mark the principal points at which apostolic succession of bishops emerged and developed into a crucial and well-defined doctrine. Walter Bauer long ago termed these lists, legitimately if not charitably, "literary propaganda." This study delves into the political struggles surrounding the lists and the doctrine they served to define.

The ancient Mediterranean world established legitimacy of authority in social institutions, whether Roman, Greek, Jewish, or Christian, by citing successions of leaders. In early Catholic churches, apostolic succession was the linchpin in the three "pillars" of tradition, succession, and canon. It guaranteed the first and assured interpretation of the third. A social history approach reveals political intrigue at every point of the development of the doctrine of apostolic succession. In crises of the first century, the New Testament recorded (monepiscopal?) bishops and succession, and Ignatius and I Clement make monepiscopacy and apostolic succession explicit. In the second and third centuries, writers employed episcopal successions in reaction to subsequent struggles with heresy and schism. By the fourth century, Eusebius employed succession lists for apologetic and edification.

Ecclesiastical politics in each case reflects the threat to the bishop's authority and clarifies the meaning of apostolic succession in the Church's development. This social history approach, examining the function of the literature within its historical circumstances, reveals how theology developed from politics. The development is as gripping politically as it is illuminating theologically.

Robert Lee Williams is Professor of Biblical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has written a number of articles focused on New Testament and patristic topics from the vantage point of social-scientific methodology. Accordingly, Williams has been active in the SBL Social World of Early Christianity, the North American Patristics Society, the International Conference on Patristic Studies, and the Seminar on the Development of Early Catholic Christianity, and the American Society of Church History.

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Robert Williams

  • PREFACE (page 7)
  • CONTENTS (page 11)
  • INTRODUCTION (page 13)
  • PART 1. LITERARY BACKGROUND: APOLOGETIC IN THE HELLENISTIC WORLD (page 21)
  • CHAPTER 1. GREEK AND ROMAN SUCCESSIONS (page 23)
    • GREEK PHILOSOPHY (page 23)
    • USE OF SUCCESSIONS (page 24)
    • Existence of SuccessionsŽ (page 24)
    • Purposes for Successions (page 26)
    • SIGNIFICANCE OF SUCCESSIONS (page 32)
    • Administrative Leadership (page 33)
    • Doctrinal Loyalty (page 34)
    • ROMAN GOVERNMENT (page 36)
    • Use of Political Succession (page 37)
    • Significance of Political Succession (page 39)
  • CHAPTER 2. JEWISH SUCCESSIONS (page 41)
    • HIGH PRIESTHOOD (page 41)
    • Purpose for the Successions (page 42)
    • Significance of the Succession (page 46)
    • OLD TESTAMENT KINGSHIP (page 47)
    • PROPHETS (page 49)
    • RABBIS (page 50)
    • Purpose of the List (page 50)
    • Significance of the Successions (page 52)
  • PART 2. FORMATIVE CRISES: BISHOP AND SUCCESSION IN EARLIEST CHRISTIANITY (page 55)
  • CHAPTER 3. NEW TESTAMENT (page 57)
    • BISHOP OR OVERSEER (page 57)
    • Function of the Bishop (page 57)
    • Basis of Episcopal Authority (page 63)
    • SUCCESSION (page 69)
    • Absence of SuccessionŽ in the New Testament? (page 70)
    • Possibility of Succession in a New Testament Church (page 71)
  • CHAPTER 4. IGNATIUS AND 1 CLEMENT (page 77)
    • IGNATIUS: EMERGENCE OF THE MONEPISCOPACY (page 77)
    • Antioch (page 78)
    • Asia (page 90)
    • 1 CLEMENT: EMERGENCE OF EPISCOPAL SUCCESSION (page 95)
    • Origin of Episcopal Succession (page 96)
    • Significance of Episcopal Succession (page 98)
  • PART 3. STAGE 1: ANTI-HERETICAL USES (page 103)
  • CHAPTER 5. HEGESIPPUS (page 105)
    • RECONSTRUCTION OF THE BISHOP LISTS IN CONTEXT (page 105)
    • The Memoirs (page 105)
    • The SuccessionsŽ (page 107)
    • SOURCES OF THE SUCCESSIONSŽ (page 109)
    • The Memoirs (page 109)
    • The SuccessionsŽ (page 117)
    • PURPOSES BEHIND THE MEMOIRS AND ITS BISHOP LISTS (page 120)
    • Counteracting the Sects (page 121)
    • Claiming Christs Authority (page 122)
    • CONCEPT OF SUCCESSION (page 126)
  • CHAPTER 6. IRENAEUS (page 133)
    • DESCRIPTION OF THE ROMAN BISHOP LIST IN ITS CONTEXT (page 133)
    • Against Heresies 3.2-4 (page 134)
    • The Roman Bishop List (page 136)
    • SOURCES OF THE CONCEPT AND THE LIST (page 138)
    • Oral Tradition (page 138)
    • 1 Clement (page 139)
    • Hegesippus (page 139)
    • Justin (page 141)
    • PURPOSES BEHIND AGAINST HERESIES AND ITS BISHOP LIST (page 141)
    • Validating the Ecclesiastical Tradition (page 142)
    • CONCEPT OF SUCCESSION (page 145)
    • The Teaching Aspect (page 145)
    • The Official Aspect (page 148)
    • Defending the Bishops Authority (page 141)
  • PART 4.STAGE 2:ANTI-SCHISMATIC USES (page 151)
  • CHAPTER 7.JULIUS AFRICANUS (page 153)
    • RECONSTRUCTION OF THE LISTS (page 154)
    • Format (page 154)
    • Content (page 156)
    • ORIGIN OF THE LISTS (page 159)
    • Sources of Names (page 159)
    • Synchronization (page 160)
    • PURPOSES BEHIND THE CHRONOGRAPHIES AND ITSEPISCOPAL SUCCESSIONS (page 161)
    • Combating Apocalyptic Eschatology (page 161)
    • Consolidating Episcopal Power (page 163)
    • CONCEPT OF EPISCOPAL SUCCESSION (page 166)
    • Institutional Continuity (page 166)
    • Apostolic Authority (page 167)
  • CHAPTER 8. HIPPOLYTUS (page 171)
    • EXISTENCE AND AUTHORSHIP OF THE BISHOP LIST (page 171)
    • ORIGIN OF THE LIST (page 176)
    • PURPOSES BEHIND THE CHRONICLE AND ITS BISHOP LIST (page 178)
    • Combating Apocalyptic Eschatology (page 178)
    • Supporting Monepiscopacy (page 179)
    • SIGNIFICANCE OF THE EPISCOPAL SUCCESSION IN ROME (page 184)
    • Bishop as High Priest (page 184)
    • Bishop as Determiner of Doctrinal Orthodoxy (page 185)
    • Roman Bishop as Bishop primus inter pares (page 186)
  • PART 5. STAGE 3:APOLOGETIC AND ENCOURAGEMENT (page 189)
  • CHAPTER 9. EUSEBIUS, 1. THE CHRONICLE (page 191)
    • DESCRIPTION OF THE CHRONICLE AND ITS BISHOP LISTS (page 191)
    • The Chronicle (page 191)
    • The Bishop Lists (page 193)
    • ORIGINS OF THE CHRONICLE AND ITS BISHOP LISTS (page 194)
    • Sources for the Chronicle (page 194)
    • Sources for the Bishop Lists (page 197)
    • PURPOSES BEHIND THE CHRONICLE, ITS EPISCOPAL SUCCESSIONS, AND CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHICAL ENTRIES (page 205)
    • The Motivation from Porphyrys Attack (page 206)
    • Subverting Christian Chiliasm (page 208)
    • Demonstrating Christianitys Antiquity (page 208)
    • Demonstrating Christianitys Greater Nobility (page 211)
    • EPISCOPAL SUCCESSIONS IN THE CHRONICLE (page 213)
  • CHAPTER 10. EUSEBIUS, 2. THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY (page 215)
    • RECONSTRUCTION OF THE SUCCESSIONS IN THEIR ORIGINAL CONTEXT (page 216)
    • Editions of the History (page 216)
    • Apostolic Successions (page 219)
    • ORIGIN OF THE SUCCESSIONS IN LIGHT OF THE HISTORICAL FORMAT (page 223)
    • Historical Format (page 223)
    • Episcopal Successions (page 223)
    • Academic Successions (page 224)
    • PURPOSES BEHIND APOSTOLIC SUCCESSIONS IN THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY (page 225)
    • First Edition (page 226)
    • Subsequent Editions (page 231)
    • NATURE OF APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION IN THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY (page 232)
    • Episcopal Successions (page 233)
    • Academic Successions (page 234)
    • CONCLUSION (page 237)
    • BIBLIOGRAPHY (page 239)
      • Primary Sources (page 239)
      • Secondary Sources (page 241)
    • INDICES (page 255)
      • ANCIENT LITERATURE (page 255)
      • ANCIENT PERSONS, PLACES, AND EVENTS (page 271)
      • MODERN AUTHORS (page 279)
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