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Title: The presence & authority of the Gospel-book in the fifth-century church councils
Author: Koutris, Charidimos
ISNI:       0000 0004 6350 6930
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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It has long been assumed that the enthronement of the Gospel-book in the midst of the ecumenical councils was a custom initiated at the First Ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 and picked up by the ecumenical councils that followed. Similarly, it is assumed that the presence of the Gospel-book in the modern courtrooms on which witnesses swear oaths to testify truthfully originates from ancient Greek and Roman court practice. This thesis puts forward an alternative approach by suggesting that it was Cyril of Alexandria who first enthroned the Gospel-book in the midst of the Third Ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 (Ch.1) to manifest Christ’s presence and presidency, attribute all conciliar-judicial decisions to Him, thus giving them infallible and irrevocable authority (Ch.2). The book, as Son of God and personification of the Truth, now aims to lead the participants to the revelation of the truth and the safeguarding of the orthodox faith (Ch.3). With the elevation of Ephesus and Cyril to de facto exponents of faith, this innovative practice gained greater authority and was gradually established too. By the time of Chalcedon in 451, the enthronement of the Gospel-book as Christ in the midst of the councils can be seen in even more bishoprics of the East (Ch.4). In these councils the Gospel-book now has supreme authority, as evident by the way people refer to it (Ch.5), their preference for it over any other religious or secular object (Ch.6), as well as its employment to instil the “fear of God”, extract the truth and attribute infallible authority to their conciliar-judicial decisions, as if they were taken by God Himself (Ch.7). As an aftermath of Chalcedon, the Gospel-book is gradually introduced by the Emperors to the secular sphere and the Byzantine courts: a practice that is preserved until today.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available