Thursday, 5 February 2015

Geoffrey Dunn: Ecclesiastical Conflict between Rome and Constantinople in the Early Fifth Century: Diplomatic Efforts to Resolve the Dispute about Perigenes of Corinth

for the workshop: Religious Conflict and Diplomacy organised by Wendy Mayer

The letters in the Collectio Thessalonicensis reveal that Rome and Constantinople clashed over the question of which church had responsibility for overseeing the churches of Illyricum Orientale. Rome considered the area to remain part of its supervisory jurisdiction even though political control by then had been transferred from West to East. The letters in the collectio from Boniface I (418-422) concern the disputed election of Perigenes as bishop of Corinth, as some of the local bishops had appealed to Atticus of Constantinople to have Perigenes’ election declared null when Boniface had supported it. Both Atticus and Boniface appealed to imperial authority (as Cod. Theod. 16.2.45 of 421 and some of the letters in the Collectio Thessalonicensis demonstrate). This paper will examine Boniface’s Ep. 14 to the Greek bishops (Institutio uniuersalis = Coll. Thess. Ep. 10 = JK 364), in which he argued that his Petrine position gave him a superior authority, and that those to whom the dissident bishops had appealed lacked the authority they had asserted with which to intervene. The argument advanced here is that the ultimate success of Perigenes in remaining in Corinth was due more to diplomatic efforts involving the two emperors than any assertion of Rome’s apostolic primacy. Such a result, as further letters of the Collectio Thessalonicensis reveal, however, was only temporary.

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