The Pardigmatic Bishops of History- Prolegomena

I am finally getting around to publishing my response to CtC’s “The Bishops of History.” I do apologize for the length of time that it has taken to complete such a response, but it was necessary for multiple reasons.  First, I was engaged in other, completely unrelated, academic work. Second, I needed time to digest and re-read all the initial material I had worked through in addition to the response from CtC. Third, I needed a period of detachment to ensure that my emotional investment was not clouding my reading and judgment.

In addition to these concerns I needed to consider the best place to host my response. I know formatting is important and I struggled through where I should host the article.  My piecemeal posting here is an indication that I’ve finally decided to post it here.  My new website configuration is imperfect, but I believe it is more readable than my previous theme. The Menu tab is hidden in the upper left hand corner, but when selected provides links to recent comments, newest posts, and other information about the site.

I cannot promise that I will substantively interact with comments immediately. I will attempt to interact as best as I possibly can, but if your comment is not answered, there is nothing personal.

A final note about the title. I’ve included the word “Paradigmatic” to CtC’s original title. The reason I have chosen this nomenclature is rooted in the third section of CtC’s article. In that section they attempt to compare two “paradigms,” concluding that their paradigm is superior. I do believe that the paradigms ought to be compared and do not begrudge the authors that they find their historical narrative more compelling than my own.  Based upon the evidence throughout the article, however, I demonstrate CtC’s paradigm muffles the voice of the historical record. I do note that this statement is my assessment of the data, but readers of my rejoinder should not take my summary for the substance of the argument.

I will begin posting the first portion of my article on Monday. Until then, here are two quotes from imminently capable historians that can provide fodder for what is to come.

Fredrick W. Norris, “Ignatius, Polycarp, and 1 Clement: Walter Bauer Reconsidered” Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Mar., 1976): pp. 23-44.

The burden of proof for monepiscopacy in Rome at the beginning of the second century rests on the one arguing that case, since all the evidence speaks either of a plural episcopate, or none at all. I Clement 42 mentions bishops (59,3 uses the singular form of the word for God) as does Hermas Vis. 3,5,1 and Sim. 9,27,2. Ignatius’ Romans neither argues for monepiscopacy nor mentions a bishop in that city— pg 38 fn. 53


Eamon Duffy, “Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?” Blackfriars Vol. 80, Issue 940, (Mar., 1999): 301-308.

There is admittedly not much in I Clement to go on in deciding how the churches at Rome and Corinth were ordered, and, though I think the balance of the evidence is against the presence of a bishop, it would be a perfectly respectable position to say that we must remain agnostic on the issue. But Fr Jones is not arguing for agnosticism, he thinks he knows that there was a bishop in Rome. Yet what evidence there is in Clement’s letter works against, not for, this possibility, and it looks as if that authority was collectively exercised by a college-or at any rate a plurality, which might not be quite the same thing-of bishops and deacons.—pg. 304


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