Constantinople 360 and Constantinople 381: A tale of two councils

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Abstract

The Councils of Constantinople of 360 and 381 shed important light not only on each other’s aims and procedures, but also on the contrasting political skills of the emperors who summoned them. Both councils had two main aims: to install a new Bishop of Constantinople, and to enshrine a Christian statement of faith in law by which bishops could be judged to be in accord or not with imperial theological policy. Both had not dissimilar procedural problems: an unruly group of bishops, suddenly established as judges over long-standing theological debates, preferred their own personal animosities and rivalries over good procedural order and intelligent peace-making with those with whom they were not in significant theological disagreement. Constantius, in 360 proved unequal either during or after the Council to promoting in either West or East the ecclesiastical unity and stability implied by the new Creed the Council was imposing. The ecclesiastical policies of Julian, Jovian and Valens were dominated by attempts to mitigate the structural problems the Council of 360 had caused. Theodosius, in his legal treatment of the Council of 381, avoided creating a similar structural disunity by refusing to allow the Council to depart from its instructions by deposing or creating bishops outside Constantinople (particularly in Antioch), or by promulgating the new Creed they had composed, simply re-instating in law the Creed of Nicaea 325. However, Theodosius’ legal creation of an ecclesiastical equivalent of the Prefectures would cause significant new structural weaknesses of its own.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudia Patristica Vol. CII - Including Papers Presented at the Seventh British Patristics Conference, Cardiff, 5-7 September 2018
EditorsN. Baker-Brian, J. Lössl
PublisherPeeters
ISBN (Print)9789042941670
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameStudia Patristica
PublisherPeeters
ISSN (Print)0585-542X

Keywords

  • Council of Constantinople
  • Constantius II
  • Julian (emperor)
  • Jovian (emperor)
  • Valens (emperor)
  • Theodosius I
  • imperial church policy

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