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The article attempts to determine the circle of people who participated in the election or appointment of bishops of the Christian Church of the 4th-5th centuries and their ordination, as well as those who could infl uence the selection and approval of candidates, on the basis of monuments of canon law of this era - the Council rules and the “Apostolic decrees”. In the period under review, both in the east and in the west, a monarchical episcopate was already formed, a system of metropolitans existed and a “pentarchy” was being formed - the rise of the thrones in the fi ve largest and oldest centers of Christianity, to which the metropolises and eparchies, those were part of their dioceses, were subordinated. This time is extremely rich in councils, on the basis of the defi nitions of which the canon law of the Christian Church was created. In this work, we examine those council’s defi nitions, that governed the election and appointment of bishops, in addition, special attention is paid to the rights of laity and clergy, so we research not only the rules directly regulating the election and ordination procedure, but also decisions regarding relationships already consecrated bishops with their fl ock. The study showed that out of 22 rules, that one way or another are concerned with the selection of candidates, their ordination as bishops and subsequent relations with the people (acceptance or rejection) - only one allows lay people to participate in election, and two allow clergymen. In the vast majority of cases, the appointment of a bishop is the prerogative of the episcopate, among which the main characters stand out as metropolitans and collegiums of local bishops under them. A number of rules explicitly prohibit laity to infl uence the choice of bishops. The canons as a whole also reinforce the tradition of conciliar (not sole) ordination; at the same time, the law in the field of regulating the elections of the main bishops of the dioceses (future “patriarchs” and popes) and the metropolitans is very poorly developed: the few rules governing such elections are insufficient and vary among themselves depending on time and region.


Late Antiquity, Christianity; election of bishops; council’ rules; undivided Church; election of the metropolitans; ordination.

Aleksandr L. Kostenetskiy

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

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