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The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica$
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Hamilton Hess

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780198269755

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2004

DOI: 10.1093/0198269757.001.0001

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The Appointment of Bishops

The Appointment of Bishops

(p.146) 7 The Appointment of Bishops
The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

Hamilton Hess

Oxford University Press

Canon 5 in the Latin text describes a situation in which only one bishop remains in a province, who is unwilling to ordain others to fill the vacancies, so that bishops must be summoned from a neighbouring province to do this. The Latin also presupposes the popular election of bishops, as was still generally observed in the West. This seems also to have been the original sense of the corresponding canon VIa in the Greek text, although the received reading alters the situation described in the Latin, and also reflects the developing Eastern practice of episcopal appointment, as well as ordination, by the bishops of the province. Canon 6 (Greek VIb) reflects a current movement in both the East and the West to control an increase in the numbers of bishops during a period of rapid growth in the number of Christian congregations. Canon 13 (Greek X) provides the earliest known stipulation that no one should be ordained bishop until he has held the offices of reader, deacon, and presbyter, as a series of steps, so that he may be proven worthy of the episcopate.

Keywords:   bishop, deacon, numbers of bishops, popular election, presbyter, province, reader

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