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Title: The exercise of authority in early Christianity from about 170 to about 270
Author: Pell, George
ISNI:       0000 0001 3482 4153
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1971
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This study examines the changing patterns of authority both within and between the local Christian communities at the end of the second century and during the third. Amid the general tightening of Church discipline, the most significant development is the expansion and consolidation of a "monarchical" episcopate rather than the monepiseopate. A monarchical bishop is distinguished from one of the latter type by a greater control over the local congregation, a universal acceptance within his community of his position as chief teacher, having the last word on questions of orthodoxy, and the ability to act without the approval of his clergy and laity. The activities and writings of the chief Christian writers during the period under review are considered separately, and there is a section devoted to the relationships between the local Churches. The period commences as the Church begins to emerge from the crisis tfce variegated and largely heretical movement called Gnosticism inflicted upon her. Among the Gnostics, only the Valentinians and the Marcionites formed Churches, as the remainder were gathered (around their teachers) in little groups, usually compared to the philosophical schools, tut also having some similarities with the mystery religion groupings. The general aim was the acquisition of saving knowledge, and the movement was generally characterised by rigid internal divisions, a passionate subjectivity and objection to community discipline, and a belief in secret traditions. Eventually the orthodox communities rejected this entire authority pattern, although the process took longer in Alexandria, where a more refined philosophical Gnosticism exerted considerable influence on Clement, and to some extent on Origen. The organization of the Marcionites was roughly the same as that in the orthodox community at Rome around the middle of the second century, and was quickly bypassed and rejected.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Church ; Authority ; Church history ; Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600