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the end of the sixth century, nearly all Christians in the Mediterranean shared an organisation of bishops and presbyters as well as deacons (and sometimes deaconesses). Bishops had become powerful leaders in the church, but also in society at large. Synods and councils attempted to bring unity to the various Christianities, but these efforts were never fully successful. Monasticism in its numerous forms shaped countless Christian lives, either directly when people became monks or nuns or indirectly as secular Christians sought their advice. Monasteries were 'in the world, but not of the world' and sometimes they acted as staging grounds for those who tried to evangelise the surrounding areas.

Churches and monasteries were built in urban and rural locations alike, to provide fixed points for the daily lives of Greek Christians. The Eastern Romans were deeply fond of Christian art and architecture.112 Large churches went up to indicate success in attaining social positions and accumulating wealth. Another major component of the artistic heritage of Greek Christians was their literature. Collections of prayers, liturgies and hymns circulated, and sometimes they were translated into regional languages. Theological treatises - some of which were in themselves beautiful works - were similarly rendered into different tongues to allow them to circulate. Even the great and divisive creeds that were formulated during this era can be considered cultural monuments.

Of the numerous councils held c. 300-600, most were strictly regional or local. The majority were never recognised as ecumenical, though some could be regarded as 'trial runs' in which significant positions and terms were aired.113 What should be remembered about the five councils in this era that eventually came to be recognised as ecumenical (Nicaea in 325; Constantinople in 381; Ephesus in 431; Chalcedon in 451; Constantinople in 553) is, first, that they were directly under the influence of emperors who wanted their wishes fulfilled.114 Second, the Christian leaders who attended these councils often wrangled at least as much over the ranking of their sees as over theological

112 Eusebius of Caesarea, H.E. 7.18, tells us that in his city there was a bronze statue of Jesus healing a woman, one ofChristianity's early art treasures. Macarius Magnes says that the woman depicted is Berenice, or Veronica, and the statue was first in Edessa. Sozomen (H.E. 5.1) and John Malalas (Chronicle) both claim to have seen it. Eusebius also saw pictures ofPeter and Paul, even Jesus himself, all painted in colours as former pagans had been accustomed to depict their gods. Kurt Weitzmann, The icon, depicts and describes four icons from our period, three attributed to Constantinople and found at the St Catherine Monastery in Sinai (plate 1, 40-1; plate 2, 42-3; plate 8,54-5) and the fourth to Palestine (plate 7, 52-3). See further chapter 29, below.

113 See chapter 15, below.

114 See chapter 1, above.

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