Friday, 1 May 2015

Eva-Maria Kuhn: Julian the emperor and the bishops' judicial practice

The paper asks what we can tell about the bishops’ role as legal activists, religious judges and arbitrators from emperor Julian’s reform politics and legislation. It attempts to weave together more densely literary and material evidence of the “apostate” emperors’ perceptions and doings with “apostolic” claims and practices of Christian dispute management and procedural habits. In the forever simmering scholarly debate about the judicial privileges granted to church leaders since Constantine the focus too often rests on the question whether bishops could and whether they did in fact judge disputes as privileged arbiters whose verdicts could be enforced by public authorities, at least by the end of the fourth century. There is furthermore much discussion on whether they were actively supported in acting as veritable cognitores in civil cases and for how long, as a Constantinian constitution seems to suggest. Mid-fourth century perspectives revolving around the short reign of Julian will be investigated for more insight and a more broadened understanding of the so-called audientia episcopalis.

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