In the third century, the Church was consolidating itself, notwithstanding two major persecutions of Decius (251) and Valerianus (258). The East and the Christian West were living still in deep union: the bishops corresponded, travelled, and consulted from Alexandria to Rome, from Carthage to Cappadocia, and from Antioch of Syria to Mesopotamia. The course focusses on the ministerial structure substantially already in place (bishop-priests-deacons), but also takes into consideration other ministries, such as that of lector. Beginning with the texts of Cyprian and Cornelius, of Origen and the “Syriac Didascalia of the Apostles”, the role of ministers and the exigencies related to the type of ministry (requirements, election, ordination) will be brought to light. The function of the bishops as proclaimer of the Word will be highlighted. Special attention will be reserved for the liturgical role (assisted by the priests and deacons) and the caritative role (by means of deacons).
To offer a better knowledge of the ministerial structures of the Churches of the third century, from Africa to Syria, passing through Rome, showing continuity and discontinuity relative to today’s structures.
E. Cattaneo, I ministeri nella Chiesa antica. Testi patristici dei primi tre secoli, Milano 1997 [Introduzione generale: pp. 19-210; Origene: 357-446; Cipriano di Cartagine: 503-564; Cornelio di Roma: 583-593; Didascalia degli Apostoli: 597-634];
Id., “Servus servorum Dei”: la figura ideale del ministro della Chiesa secondo il Commento a Matteo di Origene, in T. Piscitelli (ed.), Il Commento a Matteo di Origene, Brescia 2011, 333-339.