Episcopal Succession in Constantinople (381-450 C.E.): The Local Dynamics of Power
By Peter Van Nuffelen
Journal of Early Christian Studies, Vol.18:3 (2010)
Abstract: Research on episcopal succession has tended to focus on the social background of bishops, the role played by individual charisma, and church canons governing elections. Such studies have identified regional differences, especially between the eastern and the western parts of the Roman Empire. Through a comparison of three communities in Theodosian Constantinople (Novatians, Eunomians, and Nicenes), this paper argues that succession patterns also reflect the sociological structure of each community and the local balance of power, two factors that are shown to be closely interlocked. Especially the role of the local church establishment, which attempts to keep control over succession against imperial intervention and popular opinion, is shown to be vital. The form this establishment takes depends on the specific social and political situation each community finds itself in, as well as its theological views. Such a local perspective is an important corrective to generalizations about episcopal successions in late antiquity.