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that kings should be obeyed only so long as they themselves were obedient to priests and prophets.23

In each case, the bishop was testing the limits of the novel situation created when Constantine moved into the public sphere a religion that had previously been restricted - and then only grudgingly - to the private domain of personal choice. Due to this change the state became in some way responsible for the maintenance of the church, and vice versa. This is precisely what made the distribution of power such a delicate issue, since emperor and bishop now shared responsibility for maintaining relations with the divine.24 The novelty of this situation proved fertile soil for a theory always implicit in Christian thought to blossom and begin to bear fruit.

The long-run impact of this change far outweighs the immediate results of the two confrontations.

Auctoritas and potestas

Eusebius and Agapetus have opened a door into the thought world of late antiquity. Both in their flattery and their stipulations, these Christian authors were drawing on a long tradition that helps show how anachronistic terms like 'Caesaropapism' actually are. They have also shown how in this new Christian empire examples of good rule, when put forward by clerical speakers, amounted to enforceable standards. But on one issue they are immutably silent: who speaks for God? In a world that believed as firmly as did that of late antiquity in the regular intervention of deity in the day-to-day affairs of humans, the question was not merely theoretical; although no one in that world would have put it this way, it is clear to our age that whoever was recognised as having that authority was in a position to wield enormous power.

It is in this context that the conflicts involving Ambrose and Chrysostom need to be read, for concentrating on the different outcomes of these events obscures the most revolutionary part of their narrative. Neither bishop was arguing for a separation of'church' and 'state'; this is a later concept, read back too hastily into these confrontations. Instead, both asserted a priority for their authority in a sphere that they still envisioned as encompassing both church and state. The difference comes out most clearly when their positions are

23 Deuteronomy 17.18 enjoins kings to obey the laws of the priests. See further Edmund Leach, 'Melchisedech and the emperor'.

24 On the distribution of authority in late antiquity, see now C. Rapp, Holy bishops in late antiquity.

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