We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham e-Theses
You are in:

The Presence & Authority of the Gospel-Book in the fifth-century Church Councils

KOUTRIS, CHARIDIMOS (2017) The Presence & Authority of the Gospel-Book in the fifth-century Church Councils. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


It has long been assumed that the enthronement of the Gospel-book in the midst of the ecumenical councils was a custom initiated at the First Ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 and picked up by the ecumenical councils that followed. Similarly, it is assumed that the presence of the Gospel-book in the modern courtrooms on which witnesses swear oaths to testify truthfully originates from ancient Greek and Roman court practice.

This thesis puts forward an alternative approach by suggesting that it was Cyril of Alexandria who first enthroned the Gospel-book in the midst of the Third Ecumenical council of Ephesus in 431 (Ch.1) to manifest Christ’s presence and presidency, attribute all conciliar-judicial decisions to Him, thus giving them infallible and irrevocable authority (Ch.2). The book, as Son of God and personification of the Truth, now aims to lead the participants to the revelation of the truth and the safeguarding of the orthodox faith (Ch.3).

With the elevation of Ephesus and Cyril to de facto exponents of faith, this innovative practice gained greater authority and was gradually established too. By the time of Chalcedon in 451, the enthronement of the Gospel-book as Christ in the midst of the councils can be seen in even more bishoprics of the East (Ch.4). In these councils the Gospel-book now has supreme authority, as evident by the way people refer to it (Ch.5), their preference for it over any other religious or secular object (Ch.6), as well as its employment to instil the “fear of God”, extract the truth and attribute infallible authority to their conciliar-judicial decisions, as if they were taken by God Himself (Ch.7). As an aftermath of Chalcedon, the Gospel-book is gradually introduced by the Emperors to the secular sphere and the Byzantine courts: a practice that is preserved until today.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Gospel; Gospel-book; Gospels; authority; role; presence; oath; courts, Ecumenical Councils; Ephesus I; Ephesus II; Chalcedon; Jesus Christ; Byzantine courts; Roman courts; Greek courts; trials; enthronement of the Gospel-book; Cyril of Alexandria; Nestorius of Constantinople; Dioscorus of Alexandria; Early Church; history; Acts of Chalcedon; Acts of Ephesus I; Acts of Ephesus II; Acts of Constantinople I; truth extraction; witnesses; judges; Acta Conciliorum Oecumenicorum; fourth-century; fifth-century; sixth-century; Christianity; Fathers; Patristics; infallibility; fear of God; Shenoute; John of Antioch; Pope Celestine; Pope Leo; John Chrysostom;
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:02 Jun 2017 14:56

Social bookmarking: del.icio.usConnoteaBibSonomyCiteULikeFacebookTwitter