Recent studies on the development of early Christianity emphasize the fragmentation of the late ancient world while paying less attention to a distinctive feature of the Christianity of this time which is its inter-connectivity. Both local and trans-regional networks of interaction contributed to the expansion of Christianity in this age of fragmentation. This volume investigates a specific aspect of this inter-connectivity in the area of the Mediterranean by focusing on the formation and operation of episcopal networks. The rise of the bishop as a major figure of authority resulted in an increase in long-distance communication among church elites coming from different geographical areas and belonging to distinct ecclesiastical and theological traditions. Locally, the bishops in their roles as teachers, defenders of faith, patrons etc. were expected to interact with individuals of diverse social background who formed their congregations and with secular authorities. Consequently, this volume explores the nature and quality of various types of episcopal relationships in Late Antiquity attempting to understand how they were established, cultivated and put to use across cultural, linguistic, social and geographical boundaries.
Carmen Angela Cvetković and Peter Gemeinhardt, University of Göttingen, Germany.