Publication Date

2015

Abstract

The disputes involving Zosimus, bishop of Rome (417- 418), with the Gallic churches have often been characterized as focusing on questions of the assertion of papal primacy. Attention has been paid particularly to Patroclus, bishop of Arles, and Proculus, bishop of Marseille. In this paper I wish to concentrate on one of the lesser-known figures, Hilary, bishop of Narbonne, and the letter Zosimus wrote to him on 26 September, 417 (Ep. 6 - Mirati admodum). In it Zosimus asserts that Hilary’s reduction in status from being a metropolitan was because that status was not in accord with past custom (antiqua consuetudo). Rather than see the story of Trophimus, the first bishop of Arles, who held an extensive authority, as being a ploy developed and utilized by Zosimus himself to create a more centralized hierarchy dependent upon Rome, the argument advanced here, through an analysis of the letter and its context, is that the initiative for the reconfiguration of the Gallic hierarchy at the beginning of the 5th century was a local initiative, which Zosimus supported. The debate is recast not as one about papal primacy but about the role of tradition and the impact of provincial realignment on the status of bishops in an ever-changing late antique world...

Document Type

Journal Article

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