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Nibley, Hugh

Apostles and Bishops in Early Christianity: The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 15

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Hugh W. Nibley; John F. Hall and John W. Welch (Editors), Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2004, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Volume 15, 6.25×9.25″ hardbound, 254 pages. ISBN: 1590383893

Apostles and bishops were as important in early Christianity as they are in the church today. From the New Testament and other early Christian sources, much can be learned about the powers, duties, and desired attributes of those who originally held these offices. Catholics claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome, and Eastern Orthodox Christians assert that he was the first bishop of Antioch. But does either position reflect the apostolic or episcopal offices completely or correctly? What, really, was the role of bishops, and what was their relationship with apostles in the early Christian church?

It is hard to imagine anyone better than Hugh Nibley to shed light on this challenging and intriguing topic. In 1954 he taught a class at Brigham Young University about the office of bishop in early Christianity. Fortunately, as Professor Nibley prepared for class, he typed his lectures virtually word-for-word on his manual typewriter, although he never got back to finishing his work on this topic. This publication makes this 155-page typescript available for the first time. The manuscript has been edited for clarity, and Greek, Latin, and German sources have been provided, but the argument remains essentially as Nibley left it.

The editors of this volume comment:

“By publishing this provocative and significant Latter-day Saint scholarship from the mid-twentieth century, we do not wish to provoke certain disputes; instead, we hope to facilitate and stimulate further discussions about the authority and functions of the early Christian bishop, while at the same time advancing a fuller understanding of the progression of Latter-day Saint intellectual history. Readers will find these lecture notes just as informative and engaging as the popular recordings and published transcripts of Nibley’s later lectures on the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price. For these and many other reasons, including this material in The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley seems more than justified, if not inescapable.”

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