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“Augustine on The Episcopate”
from City of God, 19. 19
Click here to read at earlychurchtexts.com in the original Latin (with dictionary lookup links). The English translation below is from the NPNF series.earlychurchtexts.com
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Peter Brown biography
Henry Chadwick's translation of "Confessions"
R.W.Dyson's translation of "The City of God"
R.P.H. Green's translation of "On Christian Teaching"
Gareth Matthews' translation of "On The Trinity" (books 8 - 15)
And, in active life, it is not the honors or power of this life we should covet,
since all things under the sun are vanity, but we should aim at using our
position and influence, if these have been honorably attained, for the welfare
of those who are under as, in the way we have already explained. It is to this
the apostle refers when he says, "He that desireth the episcopate desireth a
good work." He wished to show that the episcopate is the title of a work, not of
an honor. It is a Greek word, and signifies that he who governs superintends or
takes care of those whom be governs: for "epi" means over, and "skopein", to
see; therefore "episkopein" means to oversee. So that he who loves to govern
rather than to do good is no bishop. Accordingly no one is prohibited from the
search after truth, for in this leisure may most laudably be spent; but it is
unseemly to covet the high position requisite for governing the people, even
though that position be held and that government be administered in a seemly
manner. And therefore holy leisure is longed for by the love of truth; but it is
the necessity of love to undertake requisite business. If no one imposes this
burden upon us, we are free to sift and contemplate truth; but if it be laid
upon us, we are necessitated for love's sake to undertake it. And yet not even
in this case are we obliged wholly to relinquish the sweets of contemplation;
for were these to be withdrawn, the burden might prove more than we could bear.
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from City of God, Book 19, chapter 19
De Civitate Dei
Augustine's views about bishops and episcopacy
Bishop and Superintendent
Patrologiae Latinae Cursus Completus
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