Thomas Graumann, The Acts of the Early Church Councils. Production and Character, OxfordUniversity Press, Oxford 2021 (= Oxford Early Christian Studies). XII + 333 pp.
The Acts of Early Church Councils Acts examines the acts of ancient church councils as the objects of textual practices, in their editorial shaping, and in their material conditions. It traces the processes of their production, starting from the recording of spoken interventions during a meeting, to the preparation of minutes of individual sessions, to their collection into larger units, their storage and the earliest attempts at their dissemination.
Thomas Graumann demonstrates that the preparation of 'paperwork' is central for the bishops' self-presentation and the projection of prevailing conciliar ideologies. The councils' aspirations to legitimacy and authority before real and imagined audiences of the wider church and the empire, and for posterity, fundamentally reside in the relevant textual and bureaucratic processes. Council leaders and administrators also scrutinized and inspected documents and records of previous occasions. From the evidence of such examinations the volume further reconstructs the textual and physical characteristics of ancient conciliar documents and explores the criteria of their assessment. Reading strategies prompted by the features observed from material textual objects handled in council, and the opportunities and limits afforded by the techniques of 'writing-up' conciliar business are analysed. Papyrological evidence and contemporary legal regulations are used to contextualise these efforts. The book thus offers a unique assessment of the production processes, character and the material conditions of council acts that must be the foundation for any historical and theological research into the councils of the ancient church (from the publisher's information).