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Author Topic: Why was the pope's territory (for lack of better word) so huge?  (Read 1550 times) Average Rating: 0
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antiderivative
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« on: October 27, 2008, 05:47:32 PM »

I put this is Orthodox-Catholic discussion because I couldn't think of anywhere else. In the Pentarchy (before the Schism), each patriarch had their own area, right? So why was the entire Western Church under 1 patriarch, while the Eastern churches were divided into 4. The pope had a huge area compared to the Eastern patriarchs. In other words why did the West have just 1, while the East had 4.
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2008, 07:09:17 PM »

This is a good question, and I look forward to hearing the responses. The only thing I have to contribute is to point out that the Patriarch of Constantinople also had a fairly large jurisdiction, depending on how you understand/apply the term "barbarian lands" (4th Ecumenical Council, Canon 28).
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2008, 08:36:45 PM »

First of all, the "Pentarchy" didn't really form on a principle of dividing land, but rather on a principle of "major city/Christian center."  Second, "the west" wasn't all that large during the early years of the Pentarchy.  Many of the "barbarian" tribes that would later form the Western Church (franks, angles, saxons, goths, etc.) weren't yet Christian.
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2008, 09:46:54 PM »

I guess the pope's territory get very big when the the barbarians started converting. It's safe to say the pope's jurisdiction has grown a bit since the 4th century.
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« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2008, 10:24:45 PM »

If I understand the Pentarchy correctly, they would represent areas where they can communicate what's going on with Christianity there.  Rome didn't take over the West; he was a representative of what was going on in the West.  Alexandria had all of Africa to talk about.  Syria had areas of the Far East.  And I think Constantinople had Eastern Europe/Western Asia.  Jerusalem was just Jerusalem for the sake of its own respect.

That's how I was taught.  But I'm not sure if I'm right.
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2008, 11:19:48 PM »

Many of the "barbarian" tribes that would later form the Western Church (franks, angles, saxons, goths, etc.) weren't yet Christian.

So....technically, we own them? Wink
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2008, 11:38:50 PM »

If I understand the Pentarchy correctly, they would represent areas where they can communicate what's going on with Christianity there.  Rome didn't take over the West; he was a representative of what was going on in the West.  Alexandria had all of Africa to talk about.  Syria had areas of the Far East.  And I think Constantinople had Eastern Europe/Western Asia.  Jerusalem was just Jerusalem for the sake of its own respect.

That's how I was taught.  But I'm not sure if I'm right.

(Bolded area is my own doing).

It is questions like these that always make me chuckle.

Alexandria in its time had a HUGE area, and yet we look at present-day Rome's area and assume that the relative importance of Gaul, Brittania, and Germania in the 5th Century is as important as France, Britain, and Germany in the 21st.

Think about it...Egypt was the bread basket of the Mediterranean, and Alexandria was the center of learning for what would eventually become Western society. Alexandria produced Origen and Athanasios, and so many other great saints foundational to early Christianity.

The real question is: why was Alexandria not ranked as the eldest brother of the Pentarchy? Well, because it was not the capital of the Empire ruling its corner of the world. Rome was a cultural backwater after its sacking, and as Constantinople's relative power increased, so too was its ranking within the hierarchy.
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« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2008, 10:01:17 AM »

I would think too, that our conventional understanding of East and West today was not quite the same- therefore, at least in the earliest of Patriarchal times, it may not have been viewed as there was only one western bishop as opposed to four eastern ones. But I think earlier posts brought up good points too, and if it seems the Bishop of Rome did have a bigger sway it was offset by the reletively decentralized and pagan chiefdoms that stayed in existence well beyond the fall of the western empire.
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2008, 12:18:18 PM »

I put this is Orthodox-Catholic discussion because I couldn't think of anywhere else. In the Pentarchy (before the Schism), each patriarch had their own area, right? So why was the entire Western Church under 1 patriarch, while the Eastern churches were divided into 4. The pope had a huge area compared to the Eastern patriarchs. In other words why did the West have just 1, while the East had 4.
It wasn't that the West was so huge but rather that the metropolises in the East were.

The formal division of West-East dates from the formal divion of the Empire into the Tetrarchy.  The West was divided into Italy, Illyrium (roughly the Balkans) and North Africa outside of Egypt, and Britain, Gaul, Germnay and Hispania (Iberian Peninsula), the latter comprisng the short lived break away Gallic Empire.  Perhaps as attempt to bring the latter more firmly into the Empire, or a concession to reality (they were slipping away as the Barbarians overran them), the Western Empire abolished the divisions of the Tetrarchy.  In the East, Alexandria and Antioch were too big and important to share a similar fate.

This is a good question, and I look forward to hearing the responses. The only thing I have to contribute is to point out that the Patriarch of Constantinople also had a fairly large jurisdiction, depending on how you understand/apply the term "barbarian lands" (4th Ecumenical Council, Canon 28).

Actually, not so large, Constantinople's revisionism of the history of c. 28 Chalcedon notwithstanding, basically the territory that the Turkish Republic controls today minus Hatay province (Antioch), and Northern Cyprus (Church of Cyprus). Originally the problem wasn't with Old Rome, but with Heracleia, which had been Byzantium's metropolis.  Large parts of what is under Constantinople (Crete, Northern Greece, etc.) and what was (Greece, Albania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania) were under Rome up until the time of St. Photios, and beyond (Crete signed for Roman at Constantinople III).

First of all, the "Pentarchy" didn't really form on a principle of dividing land, but rather on a principle of "major city/Christian center."  Second, "the west" wasn't all that large during the early years of the Pentarchy.  Many of the "barbarian" tribes that would later form the Western Church (franks, angles, saxons, goths, etc.) weren't yet Christian.

Or worse, Arian (the West being the place where it persisted).

I guess the pope's territory get very big when the the barbarians started converting. It's safe to say the pope's jurisdiction has grown a bit since the 4th century.
Not exactly. In theory, with the abolition of the tetrarchy divisions in the West, his territory was always large.  But as the barbarians converted, reality started to match the theory.  Then the Pope of the village (if not hamelt) of Rome tried to make good on the title pontifex maximus that he inherited from Romulus through the Caesars.

If I understand the Pentarchy correctly, they would represent areas where they can communicate what's going on with Christianity there.  Rome didn't take over the West; he was a representative of what was going on in the West.  Alexandria had all of Africa to talk about.
Actually, just the Eastern part: West of Cyrenaica (Eastern Libya today), all of Africa was under Rome.
For the EO (as opposed to the OO), Africa has been the singular success over the jurisdiction mess that plagues us elsewhere.  A whole continent, and no jurisdictional questions.
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Syria had areas of the Far East.
And most of the Middle East, and all of India.
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And I think Constantinople had Eastern Europe/Western Asia.
Actually, no.  Eastern Europe was Rome's, and most of Western Asia was Antioch's.
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Jerusalem was just Jerusalem for the sake of its own respect.
Yes, it had been Antioch's.

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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2008, 04:26:36 PM »

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I would think too, that our conventional understanding of East and West today was not quite the same- therefore, at least in the earliest of Patriarchal times, it may not have been viewed as there was only one western bishop as opposed to four eastern ones. But I think earlier posts brought up good points too, and if it seems the Bishop of Rome did have a bigger sway it was offset by the reletively decentralized and pagan chiefdoms that stayed in existence well beyond the fall of the western empire.

That's what I was thinking too.

So did Rome grow to be so huge just a little before the Schism (excluding the New World)? Of course he eventually came to control all Scandinavia, Western Europe, and Britain.
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« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2008, 05:15:04 PM »

That's what I was thinking too.

So did Rome grow to be so huge just a little before the Schism (excluding the New World)? Of course he eventually came to control all Scandinavia, Western Europe, and Britain.

The city of Rome weilded some impressive influence to be sure; but as I see it even at the time of the schism that influence had a hard time making it eastward past the Adriatic- even politaclly and in prosperity it paled in comparison to Constantinople; it wasn't the old palatine hill that struck fear in barbarian hordes, rather it was any Eastern Roman Emperor who managed his empire well- Basil, Theophilus, Nicephorus Phocas, John Tzimisces, Basil II (and a few others). A sultunate, even at the time of the schism would hardly notice a papal embassy in any terms but amused curiosity. I think Rome's influence is a bit exaggerated simply because (and ironically so) of the influence of Rome's younger, but stronger sister, Constantinople- and the fact that she [Constantinople] absorbed blows that would have obliterated what was left of Rome's defenses. In the end history books show that Rome survived (thanks to Constantinople, I argue as I think Norwich would, among others)- thus she appears to us now as more dominant. I think it says a great deal when the first Crusaders, many aware of Rome's prestige and size, were dumbfounded by Constantinople and the oppulence of Alexios I- despite him being in a less desireable situation than many of his predeccessors.
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« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2008, 06:29:15 PM »

Actually come to think of it, I do understand that North Africa west of Libya was Rome's.  But Egypt has been quite influential if not of all Africa, of Ethiopia.  And up until today, even the Coptic Church does establish churches in areas like Kenya and South Africa.
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