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Title: Images of episcopal authority in early Anglo-Saxon England
Author: Coates, Simon J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1994
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This thesis is an attempt to indicate the importance attached to the episcopate within the early Anglo-Saxon Church and the diverse manner in which episcopal authority was defined. It explores the reason why the role, function and authority of bishops concerned both bishops themselves and others within the Church, and the purposes to which texts defining and describing the conduct of bishops were put. One purpose of the study is to seek to reassess the historical problem of the Christianisation and transformation of early Anglo-Saxon society. This transformation altered the structure of the way in which people thought about their lives. The figure of the bishop became one means by which this transformation could be explored, explained and understood. The episcopate became a locus of authority within a newly Christianised world. The extent to which texts concerned with defining episcopal authority used and explored models and ideas derived from earlier Christian tradition is explored. The introduction establishes some of the parameters of the thesis and shows how a monastic bias has been injected into the study of early Anglo-Saxon history by the writings of Bede and the Tenth-Century monastic reformers. An opening chapter analyses the sources used: hagiography, the writings of Bede and the decrees of church councils. It stresses in particular the need to approach hagiographical sources from a theoretical perspective. Chapter two delineates Bede's conception of the Church as an episcopal institution and shows the manner in which he was concerned to portray the conversion of the English people largely through the work of bishops. It also discusses the functions which Bede expected bishops to perform. Chapter three also on Bede focuses upon the manner in which, as a monastic writer, he conceived the ideal bishop to be both a pastor and a solitary heavily influenced by ascetic and monastic conceptions of the episcopal office.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available