Research into the synodal experience of the early Church tends to consider these early synodal experiences in the light of the ‘prestigious model’ of the great ecumenical Councils, projecting the model of the great post-Constantinian episcopal gatherings on the rich and variegated synodal life of the earlier Church. From this stems, on the one hand, an inadequate valuing of the rich and inspiring experience of the early Church and, on the other, the continued prevalence of the modal of ‘episcopal’, i.e. clerical, synods, in which other members of the church have a merely facultative place. Hence this study is centred precisely on an analysis of synodal experience in the pre-Nicean period. After discussing the multiple expressions of synodality, we move on to the principal moments of synodality in actu. In a second part, taking advantage of the generous documentation provided by St Cyprian of Carthage, special attention is paid to the case of the African churches in the 3rd century.
- Early Church
- Cyprian of Carthage