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the dictum of the jurist Marcian ' servos quoque licet in collegio tenuiorum recipi
volentibus dominis' (Digest, xlvii. 22. 3, § 2). On one other important point the
evidence is too scanty to enable a general statement to be made : but in one of the
few extant codes of bylaws, the association requires its officers to test a candidate
for admission as to whether he is ' chaste, and pious, and good' (Corp. Itwor. Qrute.
No. 1 26 = Foucart, No. 20, who reads ayt>6s for dfios).

18 Plin. Epiet. 10. 96 (97). 7.



32 Bishops and Deacons. [lect.

invented for their bishop that which would have been
an appropriate title for their head 16 .

What then, if we look at these Christian communities
simply on their human side as organizations in the
midst of human society, was their point of peculiarity
and difference ?

Before I attempt to answer this question I will ask
you to consider briefly the circumstances of the society
in which those communities existed.

The economical condition of the Eoman Empire
during the early centuries of the Christian era was
for the most part one of intense strain 17 . The great
political disruptions which preceded the creation of the
Empire, and the great political dissensions which ac-
companied its consolidation, left their inevitable result
in a disturbance, which proved to be permanent, of the
social equilibrium. Hardly any of the elements of an
unsound state of society were absent. Large tracts of

16 Lucian, Be Morte Peregrini, II, referring expressly to Christians, though pro-
bably not expressly to either Ignatius or Polycarp (cf. Keim, Celsus, p. 145 ; Zahn,
Ignatius von Antiochien, p. 5 1 7), speaks of the head of the community as Oiaadpx^
ml £vva"fouytvs (the former of these words is a substitute, which does not occur
elsewhere, for apx^taaiTrji, Corpus Inscr. Graec. No. 2271, standing to it in the
relation of tricliniarchus, Petron. Satyr. 22, to apxirpluXivos St. John 2. 8 : it implies
that the Christian communities, like those of the Jews at Rome, Jos. Ant. 14. 10.
8, and of the Essenes, Philo, ii. 458 ed. Mang., were regarded as Qiaooi).

17 The evidence as to the internal state of the Roman Empire during the second
and third centuries has not hitherto been collected, and is too extensive to be com-
pressed into a note : some of it, and sufficient to corroborate the statements made
above, will be found in Herzberg, Die Geschichte Griechenland unter der Herrsckaft
der Rimer, Bd. ii. 189-210; Finlay, History of Greece, ed. Tozer, vol. i. chap. 1 ;
Mommsen, TJeber den Verfall des rdmischen Miinzwesens in der Kaiserzeit, in the
Berichte der Jconiyl. sachsischen Gesellsch. der Wissenschaft, phil-hist. Classe, 1850,
Bd. ii. esp. pp. 229, sqq. ; Bmckhardt, Die Zeit Constantins des Giossen, Absohn.
iii, v, vii; Duruy, Histoire des Romains, vol. vi. pp. 284-317.



ii.] Bishops and Deacons. 33

country had gone out of cultivation . The capital which
should have rendered them productive was employed
to a great extent not in agriculture but in luxury.
The absentee landlords of the great estates wasted their
substance in the encouragement of a debased Art, in
demoralizing largesses, and in the vanishing parade of
official rank. The smaller landowners were crushed by
the weight of an unequal and oppressive taxation.
Wealth tended to accumulate in fewer hands, and the
lines which separated the poor from the rich became
more and more sharply defined, until the old distinction
between citizen and foreigner, or citizen and freedman,
was merged in a new distinction between the better
classes and the lower classes 18 . The municipalities vied
with one another in the erection of the massive build-
ings whose ruins survive not only to tell the traveller or
the historian of a departed greatness, but also to point
the moral of the economist as to the results of wasteful
expenditure. In order to pay for them they sometimes
ran heavily into debt : sometimes they endeavoured to
make the future pay for the present by borrowing at
usurious interest : sometimes they debased the coinage.
So great was the mischief that the emperors were often
obliged to send commissioners with extraordinary
powers to rearrange municipal finances, and that at last
they asserted the right of veto upon projected public
works, and took the coinage into their own hands l!) .

18 ' Honestiores'' and ' kitmiliores :' on this distinction see Duruy, M&mtires de
I'Acadimie des Inscriptions, Tom. xxix. pp. 253, sqq. (reprinted as an appendix to
vol. v. of his Histoire des Bomains).

18 For the curatores or Koytarai see Marquardt, Rom. Staatsverw. Bd. i. 358,
487: for the veto on public works see Macer in the Digest. L. 10. 3, § 1, and

D



34 Bishops and Deacons. [lect.

But tliis action on the part of the emperors was
palliative and not remedial. It may have postponed,
but it did not avert, the final decay. In the meantime,
in the age which preceded the final decay, the pressure
of poverty was severely felt. There was not that kind
of distress which is caused by a great famine or a great
pestilence : but there was that terrible tension of the
fibres of the social organism which many of us can see
in our own society. It was the crisis of the economical
history of the Western world. There grew and multi-
plied a new class in Graeco-Roman society — the class
of paupers. And out of the growth of a new class
was developed a new virtue — the virtue of active
philanthropy, the tendency to help the poor. Large
sums were bequeathed to be expended in annual doles
of food. The emperor Trajan had established in Italy
a great system for the maintenance and education of
children 20 . Rich men and municipalities and succeeding
emperors followed his example. The instinct of benevo-



Ulpian, ibid. I. 16. 7 § I : for the abolition of the local mints see Mommsen,
Oeschichte des rbm. Milnzicesens, pp. 728, 831.

20 The institution of * alimenta,' which was begun by Nerva (Aurel. Vict. JSpit.
12), was extended and organized by Trajan. The bronze tablets containing the
regulations, and a list of the investments, for two districts of Italy, which were
discovered near Piacenza in 1747, and near Benevento in 1831, have been printed,
e.g. by Mommsen, Inscr. Begu. Neap. No. 1354; Wilmanns, No. 2844, 2845;
Haenel, Corpus Legum, pp. 69-70, (cf. Desjardins, De Tabulis alimenfarris, Paris,
1854; Henzen, Tabula alimentaria Baebianorum, Rome, 1845; Borghesi, CEuvres,
vol. iv. 119, 269; and, on the system of administration, Mommsen, Bom.
Staatsrecht, Bd. ii. p. 998). The extent to which the example of the Emperors
was followed by private persons is shown, not only by numerous extant inscrip-
tions, but also by the fact that Severus and Caracalla discontinued the exemp-
tion of such endowments from the operations of the Lex Falcidia, and required
them to be administered by the provincial governor (Marcian in Digest. Lib. xxxv.
2.89).



ii.] Bishops and Deacons. 35

lence was fairly roused 21 . And yet to the mass of men
life was hardly worth living. It tended to become a
despair.

Such was the state of society when those who ac-
cepted Christian teaching began to be drawn together
into communities. They were so drawn together in
the first instance, no doubt, by the force of a great
spiritual emotion, the sense of sin, the belief in a
Redeemer, the hope of the life to come. But when
drawn together they ' had all things common.' The
world and all that was in it were destined soon to pass
away. ' The Lord was at hand.' In the meantime
they were ' members one of another.' The duty of
those who had 'this world's goods' to help those who
were in need was primary, absolute, incontrovertible.
The teaching of our Lord Himself had been a teach-
ing of entire self-sacrifice. ' Sell that thou hast and
give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in
heaven 22 .' And the teaching of the earliest Christian
homily which has come down to us elevates almsgiving
to the chief place in Christian practice : ' Fasting is
better than prayer, almsgiving is better than fasting:
blessed is the man who is found perfect therein, for
almsgiving lightens the weight of sin 23 .'



M Cf. Corpus Inter : Oraec. No. 3545, for the almost Christian sentiment Iv 0i>
naKov tpyov tv fxovov tvitoila.

a St. Matt. 19. 21.

M 2 Clem. Rom. 16, apparently following Tobit xii. 8, 9. Similar sentiments are
not infrequent in patristic literature: e.g. Lactant. Inst. 6. 12, 'magna est misen-
cordiae merces cui Deus pollicetur peccata se omnia remissuruin ; ' S. Chrys. Horn.
6 in Tit. c. 3, Opp. ed. Migne xi. 698, olvtt) <papnaKov Ian rwv Tjp.€Tipaiv apapTtwv.
Const. Apost. 7. 12, lav *XV S 5t « 7 <*> v X et P^> v aov s ^ y '" a <P7^ ff S (IS ^T/waii' dftaprtuy
oov i\tT]p.oovvais -yap nat moitoiv airoKaOaipovrai afiaprtai.

D 2



36 Bishops and Deacons. [lect.

It was in this point that the Christian communities
were unlike the other associations which surrounded
them. Other associations were charitable : but whereas
in them charity was an accident, in the Christian associa-
tions it was of the essence 2 *. They gave to the religious
revival which almost always accompanies a period of
social strain the special direction of philanthropy. They
brought into the European world that regard for the
poor which had been for several centuries the burden
of Jewish hymns. They fused the Ebionism of Palestine
with the practical organization of Graeco-Roman civili-
zation.

I have dwelt at length upon the circumstances under
which the early Christian communities grew, because
those circumstances seem to account for, and to explain,
that which it is our more immediate task to examine —
the form which the organization of those communities
took, and the titles which their officers bore.

It is clear from the nature of the case that in com-
munities which grew up under such circumstances, and
in which the eleemosynary element was so prominent,
the officer of administration and finance must have had
an important place.

If we turn to the contemporary non-Christian as-
sociations of Asia Minor and Svria — to the nearest
neighbours, that is to say, of the Christian organizations
— we find that the officers of administration and finance
were chiefly known by one or other of two names, not



** Cf. St. Chrys. Horn. 32 in Ilebr. e. xii. Opp. ed. Migne, vol. xii. 224 ovSh'
ov7ou x a P aKri lP ia!riH ° v X-piOTiavov a>s iktrjuoavvi).



ii.j Bishops and Deacons. 37

far distant from one another in either form or meaning.
The one of these was k-KitxeKtrr^ — which has this ad-
ditional interest, that it was the designation of the
chief officers of the Essenes 25 : the other was the name
which became so strongly impressed on the officers of
the Christian societies as to have held its place until
modern times, and which in almost all countries of both
East and West has preserved its form through all the
vicissitudes of its meaning — the Greek e7rtcr/co7ro?, the
English lishop 2G . There is this further point to be noted
in reference to these names, that they were used not
only in private associations, but also in municipalities 27 :

28 'EmfitkT]Tr)s, which has undoubtedly a large contemporary use in the general
sense of 'commissioner' or 'superintendent/ is used specially of the administra-
tive officers of a religious association; in e.g. Corpus Inscr. Graec. No. 119, 120
( = Hicks, Greek Inscriptions in the British Museum, Part i. No. 21), 3438, 5892 :
and of the officers of the Essenes, Josephus, B.J. 2. 8. 5, 6. It is also used of the
officer of a temple, Le Bas et Waddington, Nos. 4596a, 5892 (of the temple of
the colony of Gazaeans at Portus Trajani) : of the financial officer of the mysteries
at Andania in Messenia. Le Bas, vol. ii. ed. Foucart, No. 326 a : and of the ad-
ministrator of charitable funds at Delphi, Bulletin de Correspondance Helleniqite,
1881, pp. 164, 170.

26 'EmoKOTros is used of the financial officer of an association in the Theran in-
scription published by Wescher, Revue ArcMoloyique, 1866, vol. 13, p. 246
a\ji6hi\^ayi.ivos rav enayyeXiav to p\jtv ap]yvpiov kySavetaai tos liriaK6\jros\ Aiwva
teal MtXi'initov. ' It is resolved that the imoito-noi Dion and Meleippus shall accept
the offer and invest the money.' It is used of the financial officers of a temple in
several inscriptions which have been found in the Hauran, e. g. in that which was
first printed by Mr. Porter in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Literature,
2nd Ser. vol. v. p. 248, by Wetzstein in the Abhandl. der Berlin. Ahad. 1863, No. 47,
and by Le Bas et Waddington, No. 1 990 (the inscription belongs to Christian times,
but its Pagan character is shown by the preliminary formula 'hyaOy T^xtf).

87 'EmfitXrjTTjs is used of a municipal officer, e. g. at Sparta (in the time of
Hadrian), Corpus Inscr. Graec. No. 1241, at Amyclae, ibid. No. 1338, at Coronea,
No. 1258: imaKOTfos at Erythrae, ibid. No. 73; Kirchhoff, Corpus Inscr. Att. vol. i.
No. 10. The former was the title of the special officer who was sent by the
Spartans to subject states, the latter that of the officer so sent by the Athenians :
of. Boeckh, C. I. G., vol. i. p. 611 b. ; Hicks, Greek Inscriptions in the British
Museum, Part i. No. 3. It may be further noted that in the ' Revised Version '
of the Old Testament, which was published by Symmachus at the end of the second



38 Bishops and Deacons. [lect.

and that they were there applied not only to permanent
or quasi-permanent officers, but also to the governing
body, or a committee of the governing body, when
entrusted with the administration of funds for any
special purpose. The ftovkevrai of a city or a division,
or a committee of them, were for the time being, in
relation to such administration, evifieK^ral or eirla-Koiroi 28 .
Now in the Christian communities there appears to
have been from very early times a body of officers :
it must be inferred from the identity of the names
which were employed that those officers were in relation
to the Christian communities what the senate was in
relation to a municipality, and what the committee was
ill reference to an association. They were known collec-
tively by a name which is common in both relations —
that of ordo 29 : they were known individually as well

century A.D., imaKo^ovs is substituted for the ronapxas of the LXX., in Gen. 41.
34, to designate the special commissioners who were sent to administer that part
of the state revenue which consisted in a double tithe of corn : this application of
the word coincides with that which i3 mentioned by the Roman jurist Charisius,
Dig. 50. 4. 18, 'episcopi qui praesunt pani et caeteris venalibus rebus quae
civitatum populis ad quotidianum victum usui sunt.' Both these facts serve to
confirm the general view of the functions of the Christian hmanoiroi, as such, which
is advanced in the text.

M E.g. Le Bas et Waddington, No. ■2309, 2310, at Soada in Batanea, kvioico-
irovvTwv 0ov\(vtu)v (pv\fjs BtTcut]i'u/v, ' the councillors of the tribe of the Bitaeeni
acting as iniaKoiroi :' ibid. No. 2412 e = Wetzstein, No. 184, at Kanata in the
Hauran, ImoKOTrovvTos &ov\ivtov, ' the councillor acting as inioKovos : ' similarly
ibid. No. 2072 at Philippopolis in Batanea, ttnp.(\ov pitvojv . . . /3ov\tvru>v, 'the
councillors acting as (irifieXrjTai. 1 (A third word of equivalent meaning is some-
times found, -npovorjTris, e.g. ibid. No. 24130 = Wetzstein, No. 177, at Agraba in the
Hauran: ibid. No. io,84(£ = Wetzstein No. 53, at Ayoun.)

" Ordo is of frequent occurrence in inscriptions: (1) for a municipal senate, e.g.
Mommsen, Inscr. Regn. Neap. No. 11 15 ; Corpus Inscr. Lat. vol. ii. No. 1956: (2)
for the committee of an association, e.g. Orelli, No. 2417, 4104 = Wilmanns, Nos.
320, 1743. In relation to the Christian communities it is used in contrast, as in
the Latin collegia, to plebs, i.e. the mass of ordinary members, sometimes by



n.J Bishops and Deacons. 39

as collectively by a name which was common to the
members of the Jewish a-weSpia and to the members
of the Greek yepovalai of Asia Minor — that of yrpea-
fivrepot 30 : they were also known — for I shall here
assume what the weight of evidence has rendered
practically indisputable — by the name e-jrlcrKoiroi 31 . In
their general capacity as a governing body they were
known by names which were in current use for a
governing body: in their special capacity as adminis-
trators of Church funds they were known by a name
which was in current use for such administrators.

I propose in a future Lecture to enter into the
question of the causes which led to that great change
in Christian organization by which the functions of
this original plurality of probably coordinate officers
came practically to pass into the hands of a single
officer. I propose now to suggest reasons for the fact
that this single officer came in time to monopolize
the name which had hitherto been shared by the
members of the governing body in common, and which
had reference to financial and administrative functions
rather than to his position as president : in other
words, to answer the question, why was the single
head of the Christian communities called, at first com-
monly and at last exclusively, by the name bishop ?

itself, Tertull. Be Exhort. Castit. c. 7, sometimes with a defining epithet, ' ordo
ecclesiasticus? id. Be Monog. c. 11.

80 See below, Lecture III, Note 25.

31 For a clear summary of the evidence, on this point see Bishop Lightfoot,
St. PauVs Epistle to the Philippians, ed. 3, pp. 93 sqq., and Gebhardt and Har-
nack's note to 1 Clem. Eom. i. 3, in their Patrum Apostolicorum Opera, ed. alt.
fasc. 1. p. 5. The admissions of both mediaeval and modern writers of almost all
schools of theological opinion have practically removed this from the list of disputed
questions.



40 Bishops and Deacons. [lect.

The key to the answer to this question seems to
be furnished bv the fact, which we learn first from
Justin Martyr, that the offerings of Christians were
made, not privately but publicly, and not directly to
those who had need, but to the presiding officer in the
general assembly 32 . The presiding officer who received
them solemnlv dedicated them to God, and uttered
over them, in the name of the assembly, words of
thanksgiving and benediction. Part of them were at
once distributed among those who were present, part
of them were reserved for distribution afterwards,
whether to the Church officers or to the poor. In
a significant and graphic phrase some of the sub-
apostolic writers call the widows and orphans and



yl The offerings were of two kinds, but both were made to the presiding officer,
and both solemnly dedicated. I. The offerings which were made by those who
were present at the eucharistic service, some of winch were consumed at the time,
others carried home, others taken to those who were absent, and others sent in
token of goodwill to foreign churches (St. Justin M. A r pol. i. 65. 67 ; St. Iren. ap.
Euseb. if. E. 5. 24. 17, cf. Vales, ad loc; Tertull. Apol. 30, ad Uxor. 2. 5, dt
Orat. 19; St. Cyprian. De Lapsis, 26, p. 256; Cone. Laod. c. 14). At first these
offerings seem to have been of various kinds: but afterwards a rule was made
limiting them to bread and wine, or corn and grapes (Can. Apost. 3) : and, still
later, those which were not consumed at the time were divided in fixed proportions
among the clergy (Const. Apost. 8. 30). The practice of making them personally to
the president or bishop lingered longer in the West than in the East, as is shown
by the earliest form of the Ordo Romanus (printed in Hittorp, De divinis Catholicat
Ecclesiae Officiis, Cologne, 1568, p. 17 ; Mabillon, Mus. Ital. vol. ii. p. 10, cf. ibid,
Comm. Praev. pp. xliv-xlvii., and for the probable date, Merkel in the Theolo-
gieche Quartahchrift, 1862, vol. xliv. p. 59), in which the bishop goes round the
church to receive the offerings, followed by acolytes with a linen sheet for carrying
the collected loaves, and by a deacon with a bowl, into which the flasks of wine
were emptied. 2. The freewill offerings for the clergy and the poor were, first as
a matter of practice (St. Justin M. Apol. 1. 67), and afterwards as a matter of rule
(Const. Apost. 2. 25), made not directly to the intended recipients but to the bishop,
and by him solemnly offered to God (ibid. 2. 25. 34: cf. Cone. Gangr. c. 7, 8, which
anathematizes any one who makes his offerings to any one but the bishop or his
commissary).



ii. J Bishops and Deacons. 41

poor of the Christian communities a Oua-iaa-rtjpiov — an
altar of sacrifice 33 . They were in the new economy
what the great altar of the Temple Court had been
in the older economy. Just as the new Temple of
God was the temple of the regenerate soul, so the
new altar of God was the altar of human need. That
which was given to ' the least of the little ones' was
given also to God.

When the president became a single permanent
officer he was, as before, the person into whose hands
the offerings were committed and who was primarily
responsible for their distribution. He thus became
the centre round whom the vast system of Christian
charity revolved. His functions as supreme almoner
tended to overshadow his functions as president of the
council. The names which were relative to his func-
tions as president, though they never completely passed
away, fell gradually into disuse. The title which
clung to him was that which was relative to his
administration of the funds, eTrlo-KOTros or bishop. In
the same way his functions were chiefly known by
names which were relative to his administration —
oiKovofxla, Siaicovia 3i . They were the analogue in the
Church of the administrative services which citizens
rendered to the State, and were called by the same
name, Xeirovpyla 36 . And sometimes by a metaphor

88 St. Polycarp, ad Phil. 4 ; Const. Apod. 2. 26 ; 4. 3 ; pseudo-Ignat. ad Tars.
9 ; cf. Tertull. ad Uxor. 1.7.

34 O'tKovofiia is used of a bishop's administration, e. g. Euseb. H. E. 4. 4 ;
SiaKovia, St. Ignat. ad Philad. 1, Epist. Eccles. Vienn. tt Lwjd. ap. Euseb. H. E.
5. 1. 29.

35 AeiTovpyia of a bishop's administration, e. g. Euseb. H. E. 3. 22; 5. 28. 7; 6.
II- i; 6. 29. I. It was the common word for public duties; e.g. for the duty



42 Bishops and Deacons. [lect

which almost startles us by its boldness the bishop is
compared to God — the Supreme Administrator, 6 irai-nav
eTriaKowos, who gives to every man severally as he has
need 36 .

If we look at the internal economy of the Christian
communities during the earlier centuries of their
existence, we shall see that the functions of an ad-
ministrator were so various in kind and so considerable
in amount as to be not inadequate to account for the
importance which was attached to them, and that, as
years went on, that importance rather increased than
diminished.

The Christian communities grew up, as we have
seen, in the midst of poverty. They had a special
message to the poor, and the poor naturally flowed
into them. And the poverty in the midst of which
they grew was intensified by the conditions of their
existence. Some of their members were outcasts from
their homes : others had been compelled by the stern
rules of Christian discipline to abandon employments
which that discipline forbad 37 . In times of persecution
the confessors in prison had to be fed : those whose
property had been confiscated had to be supported :
those who had been sold into captivity had to be
ransomed 38 . Above all there were the widows and

which at Rhodes the citizens discharged at their own cost, rather than at the cost
of the State, of providing for the needy poor, Strab. 2. 14. 5.

3 * St. Ignat. ad Magnes. 3; cf. Philo. i. 449, 454, 457, varepa tSiv 6\wi> teal
eirlfftcoTTov, and the frequent stoical phrase 6 Sioikwv to. oka, e. g. Epict. Diss. I.
12. 7; 2. 16. 33. M. Anton. 6. 42 ; 10. 25.

37 Cyprian, Epist. 2. (61) p. 467, ed. Hartel, says that an actor who has beea
forced to abandon his profession is to be placed ' inter ceteros qui ecclesiae alimen-
tis sustinentur.'

M 1 Clem. Rom. 55. 2; Herm. Mand- 8. 10, Sim. 1. 8 ; Dionys. Corinth. »p.



II. J Bishops and Deacons. 43

orphans 39 . In such times as those which we are con-
sidering the poverty of widows and orphans is ne-
cessarily great, because men have in their lifetime
a less than ordinary chance of saving, and after their
death their children have a less than ordinary chance
of success in the social struggle. But in this respect


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