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Baker Publishing Group
The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities

The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities

by Alistair C. Stewart
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This work provides a new starting point for studying the origins of church offices. Alistair Stewart, a leading authority on early Christianity and a meticulous scholar, provides essential groundwork for historical and theological discussions. Stewart refutes a long-held consensus that church offices emerged from collective leadership at the end of the first century. He argues that governance by elders was unknown in the first centuries and that bishops emerged at the beginning of the church; however, they were nothing like bishops of a later period. The church offices as presently known emerged in the late second century. Stewart debunks widespread assumptions and misunderstandings, offers carefully nuanced readings of the ancient evidence, and fully interacts with pertinent secondary scholarship.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801049217
Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Alistair C. Stewart (PhD, University of Birmingham) is team vicar of Upton-cum-Chalvey, Slough, England, and visiting scholar of Sarum College in Salisbury, England. Recognized as a leading expert on early Christian liturgy and polity, he is the author or editor of a dozen books.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Defining the Field of Inquiry and the Terminology Employed
1. On Episkopoi and Presbyteroi
The Alleged Synonymy of Episkopos and Presbyteros
The Evidence for Synonymy Explained in Terms of Federation
2. The Economic Functions of Episkopoi and Diakonoi
The Economic Functions of Episkopoi
Alternative Jewish Sources for the Office of Episkopos
The Economic Functions of Diakonoi
3. Presbyters in Early Christian Communities
The Hypothesis of the Jewish Origin of Presbyters
A Non-Jewish Origin for Christian Presbyters
An Interim Conclusion
Presbyters and Episkopoi in Early Christian Communities
Patronal Groups Not Designated as Presbyters
4. Presbyters and Episkopoi in Emerging Christian Communities
The Alexandrian Community
Christian Leadership in Egypt beyond Alexandria
Presbyteral Church Order in Jerusalem?
The Asian Communities Addressed by Ignatius
Some Fragmentary Evidence
5. The Causes of Monepiscopacy
Monepiscopacy as Centralization
Verschmelzung as an Explanation of Monepiscopacy
Institutionalization as an Explanation of Monepiscopacy
Scholasticization as an Explanation of Monepiscopacy
External Pressure as a Cause of Centralization
Some Loose Threads
Overall Conclusion
A Concluding Unscientific Postscript

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