A big question. Too big for one or a million threads on an internet message board. Others can give their reasoning.
I am trying to learn about the Papacy, but don’t know much. I have read about the scriptures and Peter and how the Apostles and Paul went to Peter a lot of times.
I know the Orthodox Church never had an ecumenical council with the Catholic church of Rome to use the same scriptures. I am still learning this and how there was never a universal canon of scripture in the early church.
The canons that were in use in early Christianity were adopted by consent of bishops in the churches concerned. This came up recently in another thread. History shows us that the first canon that was proposed for the NT was actually proposed by a heretic, Marcion, who rejected the Old Testament as incompatible with the New, and hence set about making a canon that would reflect his ideas. This was in the 140s or so. Our canon developed in response to these kinds of challenges, but wasn’t codified until sometime later (the exact date varies depending on which church looking at). Earlier canons came out of places like Alexandria and were adopted elsewhere, and still today there is no one unified canon found across all Christianity, as Protestant Bibles are missing certain books found in Catholic Bibles, which are in turn missing some material that is found in Orthodox Bibles. Even within an established communion, there may be differences, as in the Oriental communion that I belong to, where the “broad” Ethiopian canon includes many books unique to that church that are not found in the canons of the Copts, Armenians, or others. Given the history of the canonization of the Bible, this is really not a problem from our perspective, though other churches have other views that have led them to a more formalized understanding of the canon.
Rome, Constantinople, Antioch (Syria), Jerusalem, and Alexandria. Where do the last four fit and why did Rome have the authority to be head of the Church? What are the main arguments from both the Orthodox and Catholic Church?
What do you mean when you ask where they fit? The ancient Pentarchy outlined above refers to the traditional territories of the Sees concerned, such that when we talk about the Church (or when the early Church itself talked about the Church), it is specified as being at a specific place: “the Church of (or at) Rome”, “the Church of Antioch”, “the Church of Alexandria”, etc. These were not separate churches in the sense that most Western academics or Christians think of them today, but one imperial church governed by the heads of the five recognized ancient Sees, acting within their traditional boundaries (e.g., Alexandria over all of Egypt, and in connection to historic missions launched from there Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, etc). You can even see this thinking reflected in the now-abandoned title that was held by the Roman Bishop until recently, that of “Patriarch of the West” (Rome being the only unquestionably recognized Apostolic See of the West, and of course in deference to its place within the Empire and its long-held Orthodoxy it also garnered many other titles, in addition to those it would later apply to itself in its post-Orthodox period).
So, it follows that Rome fits in the West, Constantinople over relevant parts of Byzantium (the Eastern Roman Empire), Antioch over other relevant parts of Byzantium, Jerusalem over Jerusalem and surrounding territory of the Holy Land, and Alexandria over Egypt and by extension greater Africa. This gets muddled when subsequent claims are made to worldwide governance of the entire church (which are not without precedence in Rome’s long history, as it always rightfully sensed that it was special, but there is also a lot to learned from responses to what I will politely term Roman overreaching as recorded in Orthodox histories), but that is at least the ideal, and we do still see it in practice in the non-Rome affiliated Apostolic churches of the East and the Orient (e.g., the recent unacceptable deposition of Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Abune Antonios in 2007 was not solved by appeal to HH Pope Shenouda III, though this would have made sense from a historical/geographical perspective; this is because each church is autocephalous in so far as its autonomy is recognized by the other churches of the communion, so there is no “universal bishop” for the Orthodox as there is for the Catholics).
Thanks You and God Bless You!
Best of luck, Brian.