Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Justin Pigott: The Wrong Rivalry: Repositioning Alexandrian Attitudes towards Constantinople 381-451

In the narrative of Constantinople's development into a leading ecclesiastical centre, the bishops of Alexandria play the part of jealous saboteurs. So dominant is the theme of Egyptian duplicity at Constantinople, it is placed at the heart of almost every significant ecclesiastical development in the city during the pivotal seventy-year period between the Council of Constantinople in 381 and that of Chalcedon in 451.
The assumed basis for Alexandria's jealousy is that Constantinople had very quickly become a leading light in the east, threatening to outshine Alexandria's previously prestigious position. However, with recent scholarship revealing that traditional teleological perspectives have endowed us with an exaggerated view of the speed of Constantinople's development, this notion that Constantinople's power directly threatened that of Alexandria needs re-examination.
Up to 451 the bishops of Constantinople did not yet wield anything close to the authority or resources available to their Egyptian counterparts. Closer examination of the situation within Constantinople reveals a bishopric facing several severe local disadvantages. The fragile position of Constantinople's bishops means that it is impossible to present Alexandrian interference at the capital in terms of clear dichotomy between Alexandrian and Constantinopolitan interests. The underlying motivation, aims, and contours of the Egyptian bishops' policy towards the capital must be reconsidered in light of the older rivalries of the east. Rather than Constantinople's strength attracting interference from outside forces, it was in fact the fragility of the bishopric that made the see a battle-ground for the growing tensions between Alexandrian and Antiochene interests.

No comments:

Post a Comment