Paideia and Cult: Christian Initiation in Theodore of Mopsuestia

  Schwartz, Daniel L. 2013. Paideia and Cult: Christian Initiation in Theodore of Mopsuestia. Hellenic Studies Series 57. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

3. The Community of Citizens

In the last chapter, we discussed some of the ways that the church maintained cultic boundaries and rhetorically emphasized its exclusivity. We now turn to a consideration of just what the catechumens were doing as they pursued baptism. Many have sought to answer this question with the cognitive and psychological models discussed in the Introduction. Such approaches, however, tend to downplay if not entirely ignore the fact that the process of Christian initiation had a very heavy communal focus. [1] The people who sought these rites did so in large part because of their desire to become members of a Christian community that was becoming more and more visible as a significant part of the world of Late Antiquity. This community established a robust hierarchy and insisted on the ability of that hierarchy to mediate the connection between people and God. Shrouding Christian doctrine and practice in a cloud of secrecy before ritually revealing it under controlled circumstances offers a clear manifestation of that hierarchy. This chapter addresses additional facets of Christian hierarchy and the role that it played in reinforcing the authority of the clergy. However, one cannot rightly understand the Christian community merely by looking at the top levels of its structure. Catechesis served the important function of creating new members of the community, of integrating them into the church. This chapter also discusses the makeup of the community and looks at the way in which hierarchy served to integrate a broad range of people into a coherent community.

A city made up of citizens is Theodore’s preferred metaphor for describing the community of the church in his Catechetical Homilies. In attempting to express the profound nature of the catechumens’ decision to pursue baptism, Theodore returned regularly to the idea that they were about to undergo initiation into a heavenly kingdom. He appealed to Galatians 4.26 and Hebrews 12.22–23 as the source of this concept. [2] In each passage, the authors refer to the existence of a heavenly Jerusalem. This city, established by the risen Christ and populated by angels, stands as the future hope of the Christian, and Theodore urged the diligent pursuit of citizenship in this city. Though Theodore genuinely stresses the heavenly nature of this city, he also carefully noted the relationship between the heaven city and the earthly community. Turning again to scripture for his justification, Theodore cited Matthew 16.18–19, in which Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven and the authority to bind and loose things both on earth and in heaven: “He showed in this [passage] that he granted to the church the power that any one who becomes related to it should also be related to heavenly things, and any one who becomes a stranger to it should also be clearly a stranger to heavenly things.” [3] Theodore thus related the earthly Christian community to the heavenly kingdom of God, with clergy taking up Peter’s position as heads of the church with authority over its earthly and heavenly manifestations. Furthermore, Theodore insisted in this context that the pursuit of heaven required the pursuit of the earthly community as well. Though catechumens were well on their way in seeking integration into the church, Theodore still stressed to them the importance of attaining full citizenship.

These extraordinary examples, however, make up only a fraction of those actively engaged in late antique Christianity. Surrounding each bishop were many presbyters and deacons, particularly in the larger cities of the empire. The varied activities of the church demanded a considerable number of workers. Alongside the cultic function of the church stood educational, charitable, and judicial activities. Throughout all of these activities, the social structures of the church played significant roles. The various official positions held and the ways in which power was exercised and delegated through these positions highlight important aspects of the day-to-day life of the church. Each of these components of the church’s activities deserves extensive study. However, the scope of this project does not allow such comprehensive treatment of these matters. Rather, this chapter will bear these multiple conditions and activities in mind as it focuses on material central to the church in Antioch towards the end of the fourth century with the aim of providing the immediate context for Theodore’s catechetical sermons.

The Higher Clergy

Our discussion begins with the most prominent figures in the late antique church, the higher clergy. They appear regularly in our sources, but these sources demonstrate an inconsistency in the terminology used to describe the clergy. As it turns out, the terms used of the clergy prove illustrative of the ways in which they presented themselves and how the laity interacted with them in negotiating their engagement with the heavenly city. The sources contain one set of terms that comes out of New Testament scriptures and another set largely absent from those texts. The latter emphasizes the language of priesthood, with all of the attendant ideas of a professional ritual class that performs rites on behalf of the laity. The consideration of the variety of terminology will thus help us as we consider the place of the clergy, laity, and catechumens within the community.

The late fourth-century sources particular to Antioch used a varied terminology when discussing the ranks of the higher clergy. [7] In his commentaries on the so-called Pastoral Epistles, Theodore used only the language contained in those epistles to discuss the clergy: Greek episkopos (ἐπίσκοπος), presbyteros (πρεσβύτερος), and diakonos (διάκονος). [8] While he recognized that the Pauline hierarchy reflected in this terminology only distinguished two offices, overseers/elders and deacons, he interpreted these epistles according to the three-office system current in his day in which overseers held a position higher than elders. [9] The compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions also used the language of the Pastoral Epistles throughout his treatment of clerical activity as well. [10] However, in addition to that language, he made extensive use of priestly language. [11] In connection with a range of duties, he applied to clerics the Greek term for priest, hiereus (ἱερεύς). The Theodosian Code, compiled in Latin, followed a similar set of conventions when discussing Christian clergy. Though the term cleric (clericus) appears most frequently as a general term for all of the Christian clergy when indicating no specific position in the church, more specific terminology also appears there. The laws sometime clearly distinguish episcopi and presbyteri, but several laws refer to both bishops and presbyters as priests, sacerdotes. [12] Thus a certain ambiguity of terminology appears in the sources on this point. [13]

This priestly language denoted mediation and functioned to set apart a hierarchy designed to ensure the proper establishment of order in the church. In order to reinforce and enhance their position in the church, bishops and presbyters applied the old covenant economy to their new context and appealed to the maintenance of proper apostolic authority for justification of this development. According to the compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions, the apostles declared, “we distributed the functions of the high-priesthood to the bishops, those of the priesthood to the presbyters, and the ministration under them both to the deacons; so that the divine worship might be performed in purity.” [22] Thus the compiler advanced the argument that hierarchy of rank reflected hierarchy of service. The bishop held the top position of the high priest. The presbyters worked under him to support his labors, and the deacons served them both as they ministered to the congregation: “But the weighty matters let the bishop judge; but let the deacon be the bishop’s ear, and eye, and mouth, and heart, and soul, that the bishop may not be distracted with many cares, but with such only as are more considerable.” [23] In keeping with this, the male laity were often instructed to direct their concerns to the bishop through the deacons, and the female through the deaconesses. [24] The use of priestly terminology aimed at enhancing honor and prestige. As such, it gave the bishop one more tool he could use to consolidate his authority. [25] But this concern for order and authority manifested itself in numerous other ways as well. The following discussion will treat several of the central activities in which the higher clergy engaged. It will highlight the positions various members of the clergy held in the church and begin to outline further the nature of their authority.

Clergy as educators

Christian discipline

This credibility had ramifications for ministry apart from the pulpit as well. An example can be found in discussions of the clergy as judges. The compiler of the Apostolic Constitutions gave considerable attention to the judicial function of the clergy. The bishop was to use his honored position to act as an impartial judge in all matters pertaining to the life of the church. He should settle disputes between members of his congregation, punish sinners, and restore the repentant. The perception of purity and morality stood at the heart of the bishop’s ability to perform these duties from a position of authority.

Our authors located the purpose of this judicial power of the bishop in the maintenance of discipline in the church. However, in portraying the bishop as judge, they preferred the image of the good shepherd. They held that a strong notion of proper pastoral care should guide the bishop in his exercise of judicial authority. A shepherd wielded his staff for the protection of his flock, through teaching and the denunciation of heretics, but also for the purpose of herding his flock through confession, penance, excommunication, and restoration. [34] Theodore further examined one aspect of this through another metaphor that he offered in the catechesis: the priest as physician.

One such rule that Theodore laid down in the course of commenting on 2 Timothy 2.25–26 was that an offender should be given two opportunities to repent and then be cut off. This shepherd was to be a strong protector who carried out his duties with as much authority as compassion.

The care of the poor

Episcopal finances, however, could be a tricky matter in Late Antiquity. The distinction between the private wealth of the bishop and the finances he managed in his official role as bishop was not always entirely clear. [42] Many bishops and other clergy as well came from wealthy and influential families. [43] The tax exemptions for clergy were clearly an incentive to seek ecclesiastical office and, as a result, the financial motivations of those seeking ordination were a matter of some scrutiny. Bishops sometimes built elaborate martyr shrines, church buildings, or episcopal residences, to which they might even ostentatiously associate their own name. One such case is evident from a church just outside the city of Antioch. An inscription dated to the 420s captures the efforts of the Antiochene clergy to connect themselves to the beautification of a piece of sacred architecture through the addition of mosaic floors: “Under the most holy and venerable bishop Theodotus and the presbyter and administrator Athanasius, this mosaic of the faithful came into being and this work also came about on account of the deacon and assistant Akkiba.” [44] Such building projects had been a part of ancient notions of the wealthy spending their personal finances on the improvement of their city, and these activities were generally interpreted as such and considered welcome. [45] Nevertheless, members of a bishop’s congregations could feel that this expenditure ran contrary to the spirit of financial contributions to the church, which the clergy usually spoke of as money given for the care of the poor. Those critical of bishops (for financial or other reasons) often found that they could effectively slander a bishop by pointing out his expenditures and claiming that he neglected the needy within their congregation. [46] As a result, the bishop had a clear interest in consistently presenting himself as actively engaged in the care of the poor and disengaged from the affairs of the world. Rhetoric and reality surely met somewhere in the middle, with bishops often managing far more wealth than they spent on the care of those dependent upon the church for support. Nevertheless, high profile expenses on hospitals, famine relief, and the redemption of captives, as well as regular support of widows, orphans and the virgins of the church, argued strongly for the philanthropic use of church finances. John Chrysostom claimed that the church in Antioch supported three thousand widows and virgins in addition to many who suffered ill health or poverty. [47] Bishops used these practices to cultivate their role as advocates for a wide range of late Roman people. In doing this, they helped elevate the status of the bishop and his clergy in the life of the city. [48]

The Minor Clergy

Hierarchy and Delegation

We can see in both the ecclesiastical and legal literature that the clergy of the late fourth century had clearly moved well beyond the two or three office system of episkopoi, presbyteroi, and diakonoi. A combination of sacerdotal privilege and an emphasis on maintenance of proper order among the people of God had led to the adoption of priestly language by the presbyters and the bishop. Those at the top ruled over the church in a position of supreme authority and acted as God’s representative on earth. The bishop ruled over the church, settling disputes among believers and warning his congregation to seek justice within the church lest they air the grievances of Christians before the pagans and bring the church into disrepute. The bishop trained his congregation in doctrine and piety through example and sermon. He taught about the person and work of Christ and, in turn, urged that this teaching should inform every ethical decision his congregation might make. Likewise, the bishop held the place of prominence in Christian worship, particularly the administration of the sacraments, those mysteries that acted as a sign and seal upon the people of God.

When it came to teaching and the administration of the sacraments, however, the priests clearly had their role as well. Through this activity they alleviated the daily burdens of the bishop and maintained the life of the church whenever the bishop was forced to travel. The matter of travel is an important one and deserves further consideration. We saw above that Theodore explained the proliferation of clergy with an appeal to the growth of the church during the fourth century. Perhaps just as important in this context was the fourth-century growth of the mobility of the clergy. When the Council of Nicaea was called together in 325, no event quite like it had ever taken place in the prior history of the church. Gathering Christian bishops from so great a geographical range essentially required imperial patronage and access to the cursus publicus, the imperial postal system used to transport information, tax revenues, and state officials around the empire. The grant of this privilege to bishops traveling for church councils opened a whole new era in episcopal mobility. Ammianus Marcellinus noted sarcastically that the only thing Constantius achieved through encouraging the episcopal use of the cursus publicus was the crippling of the postal system. [63] This is surely an overstatement, but there is no doubt that bishops travelled extensively in this period. From a wide variety of sources we know of nearly 120 church councils that took place during the fourth century. Some of the larger councils saw upwards of 400 bishops in attendance, not to mention the priests and deacons who would have attended as aids. [64]

These numbers are quite high and suggest considerable travel, but it is still difficult to know just how often bishops would have been away from their sees. Fortunately, Othmar Perler has done a thorough study of the travels of Augustine, which can help give some details for at least one late antique bishop. [65] During his thirty-four year episcopacy between 396 and 430, Augustine made at least one trip away from Hippo almost every year. Furthermore, the years he failed to travel are concentrated toward the end of his episcopacy when he was already somewhat advanced in age. Most of the trips he took were for rather local matters, but he was very often in Carthage, a trip of some 150 miles, which could keep him away from Hippo for a considerable amount of time. The occasions for such travel extended far beyond attendance at church councils. Augustine travelled to engage in doctrinal disputes with Donatists and Pelagians, to give assistance to other local congregations, to help dedicate a martyr shrine or basilica, and to take part in the ordination of other bishops. These trips could be as short as several weeks, but on at least four occasions he was away from Hippo for almost five months, and the trip he took in 419–420 lasted the better part of a year. [66] This glimpse into the travels of Augustine demonstrates that the absence of a bishop from his see in the course of his normal duties could be a frequent occurrence. Church councils occasionally recognized the absent bishop as a problem and attempted to regulate the movement of bishops. [67] Add to this the suggestion of rather large groups of bishops who spent considerable time in Constantinople attempting to ingratiate themselves at court, and the impression of absent bishops becomes stronger still. [68]

This alone should help make sense of the numerous clerical positions discussed in our sources. With the bishop often away from his see, the church would have required an active and rather extensive group of presbyters and deacons to carry on the many ministries of preaching, administering the sacraments, and caring for the poor. This activity must have occurred, but it very often took place behind the scenes. Our sources usually stress instead the activity of the bishop, as if his role as overseer meant that he was the only actor involved. However, Wendy Mayer has recently argued that just the sort of activity we are suggesting can be seen in the case of John Chrysostom. [69] She looks at the correspondence Chrysostom maintained while away from Antioch as bishop of Constantinople, particularly while in exile from his see. It indicates strong, enduring relationships with elite citizens of Antioch, particularly with wealthy and influential women in the church. In addition to these relationships, we see that Chrysostom expressed deep concern for missionary work among pagans in Phoenicia and hoped to insulate this ministry from the hostile forces that secured his exile from Constantinople. Mayer argues that the strength of these connections to Antiochene people and activities are related to Chrysostom’s active engagement in pastoral care while he was still a presbyter in Antioch. His preaching ministry there is well known, but Mayer is able to connect this to a much broader ministry and paints a picture of Chrysostom acting in some ways as the de facto bishop of Antioch as the bishop Flavian aged in the years just before Chrysostom was called to Constantinople.

This passage clearly gives priority to the bishop and his supreme position in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. As high priest he was elevated to a position just below God. The compiler imagines him “next after God” in a continuum running from the Father right down through the church. This continuum progresses through the ranks of many of the clergy: presbyters, deacons, sub-deacons, and deaconesses. Immediately preceding this section, he discussed the roles and duties of the readers, singers, and porters. More surprising, however, is the inclusion of widows, orphans, and virgins: “Let the widows and orphans be esteemed as representing the altar of burnt-offering; and let the virgins be honored as representing the altar of incense, and the incense itself.” [72] Just as priests, in particular the bishop, had been connected to the sacrificial cult of the old covenant, here virgins, widows, and orphans at the lower end of the hierarchy were connected as well. Without them, the bishop would not have been able to collect offerings. Indeed it was because of his care for these groups that the bishop legitimately requested and received the donations of the congregation. Inasmuch as the people gave offerings, they were caring “for the least of these” [73] who, through the giving and the receiving, became a sweet fragrance unto the Lord. [74] Thus even those who held ecclesiastical positions at the lower end of the church hierarchy had their essential role to play in the church’s service, both its service to God and to the needy of the congregation.

This practice symbolized the fact that in registering along with the convert, the sponsor was acting as his or her surety. John Chrysostom used precisely this language in his catechetical homilies when he described the baptismal sponsor as an anadechomenos. [78] In origin, this is a legal term used to denote a third party in a legal action or contract who acts as a guarantor. The situation described is analogous to the co-signing of a loan in modern practice. [79] Chrysostom described this relationship in rather intimate terms as he explained to the candidates what he expected of their sponsors: “They ought to show their paternal love by encouraging, counseling, and correcting those for whom they go surety.” [80] Here we can see the ideal sponsor actively engaged in the scrutiny of the catechumen’s life and providing assistance in the requisite doctrinal training. Several times in his discussion of baptism in his first sermon, Theodore stresses the importance of the co-registration and the gravity of the sponsor undertaking such a role. He also addresses the sponsors directly, suggesting that their task includes accompanying the catechumens to church for the sermons that instruct them and helping them to memorize the creed. It is difficult to know just how zealous the sponsors actually were. The fact that both Chrysostom and Theodore address them during their catechetical sermons indicates that they were committed enough to join catechumens daily to aid them in their pre-baptismal instruction.

This scene of catechumens seeking to be numbered among the baptismal candidates of the church bears all the potential dread of appearing before a secular magistrate in a matter of law. The architectural setting of the Great Church displayed the prominence of the institution and the regal presentation of the bishop and his clergy thoroughly reinforced their status within the ecclesiastical hierarchy. The day-to-day interaction between candidate and sponsor was likely rather mundane, but those who became catechumens must have been pleased to have such guarantors to see them through this trial. Egeria’s use of the language of fictive kinship further enhances the sense of intimacy and comfort within the context of this rather high-pressure scrutiny.

R. A. Markus has argued that the influx of new converts challenged the identity of Christians with the result that they urged “a contraction in the scope … allowed to the ‘secular’” and “a tendency to absorb what had previously been ‘secular’ into the realm of the ‘sacred,’ turning secular into ‘Christian’ or dismissing it as ‘pagan’ and ‘idolatrous.’” [87] Markus concerns himself with a certain kind of negative self-definition and delineation in which post-Constantinian Christians involved themselves. The sources discussed in this chapter show a slightly different understanding of this tendency. They are no less concerned with delineation, but at the same time they show a strong inclination toward a positive statement of Christian identity that fully and officially attached a great many people to the Christian church. The result was a vigorous hierarchy with a strong sense of authority that actively sought, through that very hierarchy, to incorporate Christians into the body of the church. The catechumens who sought baptism wanted this attachment and the benefits, both sacred and secular, it had to offer. Through pursuing an image of sanctity, caring for the poor, and cultivating their priestly prerogative, bishops worked to articulate the idea of their church as the means of approaching God. The access that he and his clergy provided was desirable and it drew people to the bishop’s community. That people sought access to the holy outside of the strict hierarchy of the church and the person of the bishop only confirms the desirability of divine access he offered. Alongside this, however, we must take note of the fact that bishops increasingly had the ear of the emperor and were able to provide benefits from him. Because of their liturgical role and their persuasive claims to sanctity, bishops were able to exercise their freedom of speech (parrhēsia, παρρησία) before the emperor for the benefit of their community. [88]

One must keep in mind the nature and structure of this community when considering catechesis in late fourth-century Antioch. Initiation into the Christian church entailed initiation into a social network that manifested itself in multiple ways. The Christian community understood ostensibly mundane matters, such as the maintenance of systems of social welfare and justice, as part of a spiritual hierarchy connected to God through the ranks of the clergy and particularly the person of the bishop. Thus the intimate relationship between the baptismal sponsor and the catechumen began the process of rightly relating that person to the community in all of its intricacies as a conduit to God, as well as to other forms of earthly power. The opportunity to obtain citizenship in this city, to return to Theodore’s language, with all of its rights and responsibilities surely played a significant role in convincing people to become Christians. The incremental participation of catechumen, candidate, and full initiate, along with sincere attempts by the church at incorporation along the way, enabled people to feel themselves persuaded by Christianity. I borrow this phrase, “feel persuaded,” from the title of a useful essay by Chad Kile, which presents a compelling case for the serious consideration of social networks in attempts to understand Christianization. [90] While this observation certainly points in the right direction, Kile too strongly critiques earlier models for having any significant cognitive component in their approach to Christianization. [91] The acculturation aimed at through the catechetical process placed significant emphasis on instruction and culminated in the conversion rites of baptism and the eucharist. These activities presented regular opportunities for the community to communicate its values to those about to join it and must not be overlooked. At this point, we will turn to the presentation of theology and consider Theodore’s approach to the teaching of the creed.


[ back ] 1. On the importance of social relations and patronage networks in early Christian conversion, see Crook 2004; Kile 2005; and Stark 1996.

[ back ] 2. WS 6.23–24. See, also, Theodore Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians 4.26.

[ back ] 3. WS 6.23.

[ back ] 4. See Rapp 2005.

[ back ] 5. See Brown 1998; as well as Hayward and Howard-Johnston 1999.

[ back ] 6. See Frank 2000; and R. D. Finn 2006.

[ back ] 7. For the historical development of the Christian clergy in the early Christian period, see Schöllgen 1998; and Faivre 1977.

[ back ] 8. As Theodore’s commentaries on these epistles are preserved in Latin, our translation uses the equivalent: episcopus, presbyter, and diaconus.

[ back ] 9. Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy 3.8.

[ back ] 10. The Apostolic Constitutions is a book of church order purportedly penned by the apostles themselves. In actuality, it is a text compiled from earlier sources such as the Didascalia and the Didache. Since the late nineteenth century, many dates and locations have been suggested for this compilation. In the introduction to his recent critical edition, however, Metzger (1985:61–62) argues convincingly that it belongs roughly to the 370s and was compiled in or near Antioch. Thus it holds direct relevance for the consideration of church hierarchy in late fourth-century Antioch.

[ back ] 11. See also Canons of the Council of Sardica 20.

[ back ] 12. Theodosian Code 16.1.3 and 16.2.31.

[ back ] 13. Rapp 2005:26.

[ back ] 14. ܟܗܢܐ‎ occasionally means “presbyter,” as in the phrase ܩܫܝܫܐ ܐܘܟܝܬܟܗܢܐ‎, “presbyter, that is, priest”; see Payne Smith 1879, 1:1683. However, the central role of the bishop in the Eucharistic service makes it highly unlikely that Theodore is suggesting that only the presbyter administers this sacrament. Likewise, the denominative verb ܟܗܢ‎ can mean “to be a priest,” “to celebrate Holy Communion,” or even “to serve as a deacon,” Payne Smith 1879 1:1683–1684. While the celebration of communion would be most associated with the bishop, this should not be used as a basis for seeing this word as anything other than a translation of ἱερεύς. Since the holder/holders of this office are set off from the deaconate, that meaning cannot apply here either. In only one passage (WS 5.93), when making direct reference to the participants at the Council of Nicaea, did he employ the Syriac term ܐܦܣܩܘܦܐ‎, a transliteration of Greek ἐπίσκοπος.

[ back ] 15. I will consistently use “priests” when the sources I am dealing with use the ambiguous hiereus, sacerdos, or kōhnō. When they have episkopos or episkopus in mind, I will employ the more precise “bishop.” Likewise, I will use “presbyter” for presbyteros, presbyter.

[ back ] 16. Theodore Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy 3.14–15: “Nam mysterii ministerium presbyteri implent et diaconi soli; alii quidem eorum sacerdotale opus implentes, alii ver sacris ministrantes.”

[ back ] 17. Apostolic Constitutions 3.9: Εἰ δὲ ἐν τοῖς προλαβοῦσιν διδάσκειν αὐταῖς οὐκ ἐπιτρέπομεν, πῶς ἱερατεῦσαι ταύταις παρὰ φύσιν τις συγχωρήσει; τοῦτο γὰρ τῆς τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἀθεότητος τὸ ἀγνόημα θηλείαις θεαῖς ἱερείας χειροτονεῖν, ἀλλ’ οὐ τῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ διατάξεως.

[ back ] 18. Apostolic Constitutions 6.15: Οἱ δὲ παρὰ τῶν ἀσεβῶν δεχόμενοι μόλυσμα κοινωνοὶ τῆς γνώμης αὐτῶν γενήσονται. Οὐ γάρ εἰσιν ἐκεῖνοι ἱερεῖς.

[ back ] 19. Aposotolic Constitutions 3.10.

[ back ] 20. Apostolic Constitutions 8.46. On the offices to which a chorepiscopos could ordain someone, see Canons of the Council of Antioch 10.

[ back ] 21. Apostolic Constitutions 3.1; 8.2–3.

[ back ] 22. Apostolic Constitutions 8.46.10: Εἰ μὲν γὰρ μὴ θεσμός τις ἦν καὶ τάξεων διαφορά, ἤρκει ἂν δι’ ἑνὸς ὀνόματος τὰ ὅλα τελεῖσθαι· ἀλλ’ ὑπὸ τοῦ Κυρίου διδαχθέντες ἀκολουθίαν πραγμάτων, τοῖς μὲν ἐπισκόποις τὰ τῆς ἀρχιερωσύνης ἐνείμαμεν, τοῖς δὲ πρεσβυτέροις τὰ τῆς ἱερωσύνης, τοῖς δὲ διακόνοις τὰ τῆς πρὸς ἀμφοτέρους διακονίας, ἵν’ ᾖ καθαρῶς τὰ τῆς θρησκείας ἐπιτελούμενα.

[ back ] 23. Apostolic Constitutions 1.44: Πλὴν ἔστω ὁ διάκονος τοῦ ἐπισκόπου ἀκοὴ καὶ ὀφθαλμὸς καὶ στόμα, καρδία τε καὶ ψυχή, ἵνα μὴ ᾖ τὰ πολλὰ μεριμνῶν ὁ ἐπίσκοπος, ἀλλὰ μόνα τὰ κυριώτερα.

[ back ] 24. Apostolic Constitutions 2.28.

[ back ] 25. More mundane restrictions existed as well. For example, Canon 20 of the Council of Laodicea insists that a deacon may only sit in the presence of a presbyter or bishop if he is invited to do so.

[ back ] 26. Theodore Commentary on the Epistle to Titus 1.5: “… in ordinem clericorum suum officium implerent, per quos explicari poterant illa quae ad communem pertinent utilitatem.”

[ back ] 27. Theodore Commentary on the Epistle to Titus 3.2. For a helpful survey of the interpretation of this passage in early Christian literature, see Rapp 2005:32–41.

[ back ] 28. Apostolic Constitutions 2.32.

[ back ] 29. Theodore Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy 5.17: “Sic enim et beati apostoli videntur doctrinae opus omnibus operibus anteposuisse.”

[ back ] 30. Apostolic Constitutions 7.9: Ὅπου γὰρ ἡ περὶ Θεοῦ διδασκαλία, ἐκεῖ Θεὸς πάρεστιν.

[ back ] 31. Rapp 2005:57–66.

[ back ] 32. John Chrysostom On the Priesthood 4.1.

[ back ] 33. Theodore Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy 4.12: “… ita ut et ipse formam te praebeas fidelibus pro quibus vitam Regis tuam, instruens quemadmodum conveniat conversari, ita ut ex ipsis actibus tuis testimonium vitae tuae hisdem praebaes.”

[ back ] 34. Apostolic Constitutions 2.41.5–7.

[ back ] 35. WS 6.123; Homélies Catéchétiques 16.151v:

ܡܛܠ ܗܟܝܠ ܕܗܠܝܢ ܝܵܕܥܝܬܘܢ. ܘܕܟܕ ܣܵܓܝ ܝ̇ܨܦ ܕܝܠܢ ܐܠܐܗܐ ܬܝܒܘܬܐ ܝ̇ܗܒ ܠܢ ܘܥܩܪ̈ܐ ܕܬܵܘܬܐ ܚܘܝܼ ܠܢ܇ ܘܐܢܫܝ̈ܢ ܐܣܘ̈ܬܐ ܕܣܟܠܘ̈ܬܐ ܐܩܝܼܡ ܟܗ̈ܢܐ. ܕܡܐ ܕܒܐܝܕܘܢ ܩܒܠܢܢ ܗܪܟܐ ܐܣܝܘܬܐ܇ ܘܫܘܒܩܢܐ ܕܚ̈ܛܗܐ. ܢܬܦܪܸܩ ܡ̣ܢ ܬܒܥܵܬܐ ܕܥܬܝܕܐ. ܒܬܘܟܠܢܐ ܪܒܐ ܙܵܕܩ ܠܢ ܕܢ̣ܩܪܘܒ ܠܟܗ̈ܢܐ ܘܕܢܓܠܸܐ ܠܗܘܢ ܚܛܗܝ̈ܢ. ܗܠܝܢ ܕܒܟܠܗ .ܫܩ̣ܠ ܛܥܢܐ ܘܚܫܐ ܘܚܘܒܐ܆ ܐܝܬ ܬܚܘ̈ܡܐ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܠܥܠ ܣܝܼܡܝܢ. ܡܩܪܒܝܢ ܐܣܝܘܬܐ ܠܡܣܟ̈ܠܢܐ. ܟܕ ܠܐ ܡܦܪܣܝܢ ܗܠܝܢ .ܕܠܐ ܘܵܠܐ ܕܢܼܬܓ̈ܠܝܵܢ. 

[ back ] 36. Theodosian Code 1.27.1–2; Sirmondian Constitutions 1. We hear most about bishops in this context, but the laws refer to clerici and sacerdotes. As such, it is not entirely clear if this was exclusively episcopal; see Rapp 2005:238.

[ back ] 37. Lamoreaux 1995:144.

[ back ] 38. Rapp 2005:242–244.

[ back ] 39. On alms collected by the bishop in the name of the poor and expectations regarding care of poor, see Brown 2001:24–44.

[ back ] 40. Apostolic Constitutions 2.34: Διὸ τὸν ἐπίσκοπον στέργειν ὀφείλετε ὡς πατέρα, φοβεῖσθαι ὡς βασιλέα, τιμᾶν τε ὡς κύριον, τοὺς καρποὺς ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ ἔργα τῶν χειρῶν ὑμῶν εἰς εὐλογίαν ὑμῶν προσφέροντες αὐτῷ, τὰς ἀπαρχὰς ὑμῶν καὶ τὰς δεκάτας ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ ἀφαιρέματα ὑμῶν καὶ τὰ δῶρα ὑμῶν διδόντες αὐτῷ ὡς ἱερεῖ Θεοῦ.

[ back ] 41. Apostolic Constitutions 2.35: Οὕτως οὖν πλεονάσει ἡ δικαιοσύνη ὑμῶν, ἐν τῷ πλέον ὑμᾶς πρόνοιαν ποιεῖσθαι τῶν ἱερέων καὶ τῶν ὀρφανῶν καὶ τῶν χηρῶν.

[ back ] 42. Canons of the Council of Antioch 24.

[ back ] 43. Rapp 2000.

[ back ] 44. Ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀγιοτάτου καὶ ὁσιοτάτου ἐπισκόπου θεοδότου, καὶ Ἀθανασίου πρεσβυτέρου καὶ οἰκονόμου, ἡ ψηθεὶς τοῦ πειστικοῦ γέγονεν καὶ τὸ ἔργον τοῦτο ἐπεὶ Ακκιβα διακόνου καὶ παραμοναρίου (Lassus 1938:33, my translation). This church also contains four additional inscriptions attributing mosaics to the bishop Flavian and his presbyters, see Lassus 1938:13, 15, 18, 39.

[ back ] 45. Brown 2001:32.

[ back ] 46. Athanasius Apology against Arius 18.2; Brown 2001:32.

[ back ] 47. Homilies on Matthew 66.3.

[ back ] 48. Brown 2001:81–84.

[ back ] 49. On the minor clergy of Asia Minor, see Hübner 2005.

[ back ] 50. Theodore Commentary on the First Epistle to Timothy 3:14–15: “Illis etenim gradibus functionum qui in ecclesiis necessarium habentur, isti postea magis sunt adiecti propter utilitatem ministerii, quod propter multitudinem credentium per alteros postea impleri debere necessitas flagitauit.” See also Apostolic Constitutions 8.22.

[ back ] 51. Apostolic Constitutions 3.11.

[ back ] 52. Apostolic Constitutions 8.23.

[ back ] 53. Apostolic Constitutions 8.26.

[ back ] 54. Apostolic Constitutions 8.24.

[ back ] 55. Apostolic Constitutions 8.25.

[ back ] 56. Apostolic Constitutions 2.26.8.

[ back ] 57. Apostolic Constitutions 3.11.

[ back ] 58. Theodosian Code 16.2.24.

[ back ] 59. Theodosian Code 16.2.15 and 13.1.1. Pharr translates kopiata as “grave-digger.” Souter 1964 also gives “sexton,” which is preferred by Elliott 1978:330–331. I use sexton here because it seems unlikely that many churches needed someone for the sole purpose of digging graves. A sexton’s duties entail general property management, which could easily include grave-digging but would not be limited to it.

[ back ] 60. Apostolic Constitutions 2.26 and 8.23–26.

[ back ] 61. Apostolic Constitutions 2.59.

[ back ] 62. Theodore, especially Sermons 2 and 3 in WS 6; Chrysostom, especially Baptismal Instruction 2.12–14; and Kalleres 2002.

[ back ] 63. Histories 21.16.18.

[ back ] 64. MacMullen (2006:2–3) has provided a helpful table of the great majority of the councils mentioned in the sources between AD 253 and 553. He also mentions that if the canonical rules for holding local and regional synods had been followed, there would have been more than 15,000 councils during that period. The likelihood of that many councils having actually occurred is very low, however, and it seems sufficient for our purposes simply to point out the number of councils that we do know took place during the fourth century.

[ back ] 65. Perler 1969:436–477.

[ back ] 66. For a discussion of similar travels by John Chrysostom, see Kelly 1995:162–180.

[ back ] 67. Canons of the Council of Sardica 7, 12, 21.

[ back ] 68. Rapp 2005:265–266.

[ back ] 69. Mayer 2001.

[ back ] 70. Greer 2007:573.

[ back ] 71. Apostolic Constitutions 2.26.4: Ὁ δὲ τούτων πάντων ἀνώτερος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς ἐστιν, ὁ ἐπίσκοπος. Οὗτος λόγου διάκονος, γνώσεως φύλαξ, μεσίτης Θεοῦ καὶ ὑμῶν ἐν ταῖς πρὸς αὐτὸν λατρείαις· οὗτος διδάσκαλος εὐσεβείας, οὗτος μετὰ Θεὸν πατὴρ ὑμῶν, δι’ ὕδατος καὶ πνεύματος ἀναγεννήσας ὑμᾶς εἰς υἱοθεσίαν· οὗτος ἄρχων καὶ ἡγούμενος ὑμῶν, οὗτος ὑμῶν βασιλεὺς καὶ δυνάστης, οὗτος ὑμῶν ἐπίγειος θεὸς μετὰ Θεὸν, ὃς ὀφείλει τῆς παρ’ ὑμῶν τιμῆς ἀπολαύειν.

[ back ] 72. Apostolic Constitutions 2.26.8: Αἵ τε χῆραι καὶ οἱ ὀρφανοὶ εἰς τύπον τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου λελογίσθωσαν ὑμῖν· αἵ τε παρθένοι εἰς τύπον τοῦ θυμιατηρίου τετιμήσθωσαν καὶ τοῦ θυμιάματος.

[ back ] 73. Matthew 25.40.

[ back ] 74. Leviticus 2.2 and 6.15.

[ back ] 75. See chapter four for a discussion of these rituals.

[ back ] 76. Some have suggested that ordained deacons, in their capacity as deacons, acted as baptismal sponsors, but the sources do not bear this reading. See Lynch 1986:114. On baptismal sponsors, see also Dujarier 1967.

[ back ] 77. Theodore WS 6.26; Homélies Catéchétiques 12.87v–88r:

ܗܘܿ ܕܥܠ ܗܕܐ ܣܝܼܡ ܒܟܬܒܐ ܥܕܬܢܝܐ ܡܟܬܒ܆ ܘܡܠܘܹܬ ܒܟܬܒܐ ܠܫܡܵܟ ܕܝܼܠܟ. ܐܦ ܠܗܘ܆ܿ ܕܐܢ ܣܗܕܐ ܘܐܢ ܗܕܝܐܐ ܕܗ̇‌ܝ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܘܕܗܘܿ ܕܘܒܪܐ. ܐܡܪܢܐ ܕܝܢ ܠܥܪܵܒܐ. ܐܝܟ ܕܐܢܬ ܬܕܥ ܕܡ̣ܢ ܟܕܘ ܡ̣ܢ ܗܪܟܐ ܒܫܡܝܐ ܡܟܬܒܬ܆ ܐܝܟܐ ܕܥܪܒܟ ܒܛܝܼܠܘܬܐ ܪܒܬܐ ܐܝܬ ܠܗ܇ ܕܠܟ ܐܝܬܝܟ ܐܟܣܢܝܵܐ ܠܗ̇ܝ ܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܘܗܫܐ ܕܫܪܘܬܝܢ ܐܬܩܪܒ̣ܬ܇ ܟܠܗܝܼܢ ܗ̈ܢܝܢ ܕܡܕܝܢܬܐ. ܗ‌ܝܿ ܘܕܗܘܦܟܐ ܕܬܡܢ ܢܠܦܟ. ܐܝܟ ܕܕܠܐ ܫܓܘܫܝܐ܆ ܘܕܠܐ ܕܘܘܕܐ ܬܬܥܝܲܕ ܒܗܘ̈ܦܟܐ ܕܡܕܝܢܬܐ ܗ̇ܝ ܪܒܬܐ܀

[ back ] 78. Baptismal Instructions 2.15–16.

[ back ] 79. Lynch 1986:106.

[ back ] 80. Baptismal Instructions 2.15: ἐπιδείκνυσθαι ὀφείλουσι, παραινοῦντες καὶ συμβουλεύοντες, διορθοῦντες, πατρικὴν φιλοστοργίαν ἐπιδεικνύμενοι.

[ back ] 81. Egeria Travels 45.4.

[ back ] 82. Egeria Travels 45.1–4. “Ponitur episcopo cathedra media ecclesia maiore, id est ad Martyrium, sedent hinc et inde presbyteri in cathedris et stant clerici omnes. Et sic adducuntur unus et unus conpetens; si uiri sunt cum patribus suis ueniunt, si autem feminae, cum matribus suis. 3. Et sic singulariter interrogat episcopus uicinos eius, qui intrauit, dicens: ‘Si bonae uitae est hic, si parentibus deferet, si ebriacus non est aut uanus?’ Et singular uitia, quae sunt tamen grauiora in homine, requiret. 4. Et si probauerit sine reprehensione esse de his omnibus, quibus requisiuit presentibus testibus, annotat ipse manu sua nomen illius.” “Mother” and “father” in this passage refer to baptismal sponsors and not biological parents. For a discussion of this matter, see Lynch 1986:98.

[ back ] 83. οὐκ ἔνι Ἰουδαῖος οὐδὲ Ἕλλην, οὐκ ἔνι δοῦλος οὐδὲ ἐλεύθερος, οὐκ ἔνι ἄρσεν καὶ θῆλυ· πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς εἷς ἐστε ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

[ back ] 84. Ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς·

[ back ] 85. Apostolic Constitutions 2.26.4–5: Ὁ μὲν οὖν ἐπίσκοπος προκαθεζέσθω ὑμῶν ὡς Θεοῦ ἀξίᾳ τετιμημένος, ᾗ κρατεῖ τοῦ κλήρου καὶ τοῦ λαοῦ παντὸς ἄρχει. 5. Ὁ δὲ διάκονος τούτῳ παριστάσθω ὡς ὁ Χριστὸς τῷ Πατρί, καὶ λειτουργείτω αὐτῷ ἐν πᾶσιν ἀμέμπτως, ὡς ὁ Χριστός, ἀφ’ ἑαυτοῦ ποιῶν οὐδέν, τὰ ἀρεστὰ ποιεῖ τῷ Πατρὶ πάντοτε.

[ back ] 86. This view of the relationship between the Father and the Son may be part of the non-Nicene milieu of this text. However, this is not entirely clear. All parties involved in the theological conflicts of the fourth century recognized the importance of Christ’s statements in John 14.28 that “the Father is greater than I” and in John 6.38 that “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” They simply had different ways of understanding them. The notion of hierarchy that I describe in what follows is amenable to a variety of the positions articulated in the fourth century and need not be seen as necessarily Nicene or non-Nicene. All parties saw the Father as divine and uniquely separated from creation yet thoroughly involved with it through his Son Jesus. The main difference centered on where they chose to draw that line, between Father and Son (the non-Nicene position) or between Son and creation (the Nicene). The hierarchy described here technically works on either account. For an excellent discussion of Nicene and non-Nicene theology in the late fourth century, see Vaggione 2000.

[ back ] 87. Markus 1990:53.

[ back ] 88. Rapp 2005:264–265.

[ back ] 89. Trombley 2004.

[ back ] 90. Kile 2005.

[ back ] 91. Kile 2005 critiques Stark (p. 224) and Nock (p. 222).