Friday, 24 May 2019

Edwina Murphy: Deacons as Doctores and Delegates in Cyprian of Carthage

By the middle of the third century, the leadership of the church in Roman North Africa had become more structured, as was the case elsewhere in the empire. Scholarship in this area has focused on the role of bishops in Cyprian’s thought, particularly the status of the bishop of Rome. But what of the other clerical orders? Here I examine the writings of Cyprian to determine what deacons did in this period. While they cared for the poor—a view of the diaconate that prompted a revitalisation of social work in nineteenth-century German-speaking countries—they had a much wider brief. Teaching, participating in the liturgy and assisting the bishop in administration were also important duties of deacons.

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