In the earliest Christian communities, no group monopolised the official cult of the Church. The idea of Christian priesthood as reserved for a specific group called clergy (klēros, clerus) emerged in the 3rd century, but initially the members of this group hardly differed from other Christians. The process of differentiation of the clergy as a distinct social group was long, but at the end of late antiquity ecclesiastics started to be easily distinguished from the rest of society in aspects such as:
- physical appearance, including hairstyle and clothing;
- family and sexual life;
- exclusion from certain social, economic, and cultural activities;
- type of education;
- moral authority;
- exclusive commitment to the divine office;
- last but not least: legal status.
Two sessions sponsored by the Presbyters in the Late Antique West project will seek to describe and explain clergy’s social disengagement. The organizers will welcome papers that investigate the roots of this important phenomenon, factors that shaped its development, and means by which the distance between clerics and laymen was being introduced. Those interested in presenting a paper are kindly invited to send the title and the short abstract (ca 100 words) to Jerzy Szafranowski (email@example.com) by the 1st of September 2018. Please note that unfortunately the organizers are unable to fund speakers’ expenses.