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From Ctesiphon to Toledo: A Comparative View on Early Church Councils in East and West

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Thursday, October 12, 2023, 1:00 pm – Friday, October 13, 2023, 7:00 pm

From Ctesiphon to Toledo: A Comparative View on Early Church Councils in East and West

Keynote speaker: Richard Price (University of London)

Central European University, Vienna

The 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea in 325 is approaching, and the importance of the first ecumenical council for the doctrinal and institutional development of the Christian Churches is manifest. Unfortunately for historians, Nicaea itself remains badly documented. Nevertheless, in late antiquity church councils became one of the instruments for ruling the church, and for some general church councils, such as the Council of Chalcedon in 451, even the minutes survive. In recent years, many of these conciliar acts have been made available in translation. This has led to increased interests in church councils, particularly during the last decades, as not only theologians but also historians have started contextualizing conciliar texts.

Conference program

Thursday, October 12 2023

13.00: Registration

13.15: Volker Menze (CEU), Opening remarks


Chair: Richard Price (University of London)

Uta Heil (University of Vienna), Which council counts? Strategic evaluations of Athanasius, Hilary and Sabinus

Jennifer Barry (University of Mary Washington), Remembering Shadow Councils: Athanasius of Alexandria and the Problem of Tyre

15.00-15.15: Coffee break


Chair: Uta Heil (University of Vienna)

Craig Caldwell (Appalachian State University), Rival Reenactments of Nicaea at the Councils of Serdica (343)

Mark DelCogliano (University of St. Thomas), Coordinating the Double-Council of Ariminum and Seleucia: Ideals and Reality

16.45-17.00: Coffee break

17.00-18.00: Keynote lecture

Richard Price (University of London), The Lateran Synod of 649 and the Council of Constantinople of 680-81: concord and striking divergence

19.00: Dinner

Friday, October 13 2023


Chair: Thomas Graumann (Cambridge University)

Christie Pavey (Royal Holloway, University of London), The African councils under Augustine and Aurelius: The key to understanding Late Antiquity?

Cristian Gaşpar (CEU), Spoken like a Bishop? Sociolinguistic Notes on Linguistic (In)competence and the Dynamics of (Extra)ordinary Communication in the Greek Acts of Fifth-century Councils

11.00-11.15: Coffee break


Chair: Volker Menze (CEU)

Ephrem Aboud Ishac (Austrian Academy of Sciences), Nicaea in the East and West Syriac Synods

Madalina Toca (University of Vienna), Epistolary Canons and the West Syriac Reception of Early Church Councils

12.45-14.30: Lunch break


Chair: Sabine Panzram (University of Hamburg)

Thomas Graumann (Cambridge University), Council Acts between East and West

Paulo Pachá (Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro), The General Councils of Toledo between Theory and Practice

Sebastian Scholz (University of Zurich), The Problem of Church Property in the Frankish Synods of the 6th and 7th Century

16.45-17.00: Coffee break


Chair: Sebastian Scholz (University of Zurich)

Claire Fauchon-Claudon (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon), Accommodation during Church Councils: Logistical Challenges, Issues and Tensions

Sabine Panzram (University of Hamburg), The Making of a Conciliar City: The Case of Toletum

18.30-18.45: Closing remarks

19.00: Reception


Please note that external guests need to register for events. If you are an external guest, please send an email to by October 11 at the latest. We will request a visitor card for you, which you can pick up from the reception desk when you arrive for the event.