The term monarchical describes the form of Church governance described by St. Ignatius of Antioch, wherein the bishop is seen as high priest, teacher, and shepherd of the faithful. It is distinguished from a collegiate episcopate in which the direction of local communities, according to some historians and theologians, did not rest with any one man during the first post-apostolic generations. They theorize that, in some churches at least, a number of elders or functionaries, grouped more or less closely in a college, exercised leadership. For them the monarchical episcopate is the result of a natural evolution that owed much to the doctrinal and disciplinary differences that plagued the communities, threatening their unity, and pointing the need for concentration of leadership. Many of them fix the term of such transition at the beginning of the third century.
See Also: bishop (in the church); apostolic succession.
Bibliography: j. colson, L'Évêque dans les communautés primitives (Paris 1951); Les Fonctions ecclésiales aux deux premiers siècles (Bruges 1956); L'Épiscopat catholique: Collégialité et primauté dans les trois premiers siècles de l'église (Unam Sanctam 43; Paris 1963). r. e. brown, Priest and Bishop. Biblical Reflections (Mahwah N.J. 1970). j. delorme, Le ministère et les ministères selon le N.T. (Paris 1974). a. lemaire, Ministry in the Church (London 1977). h. chadwick et al., The Role of the Bishop in the Ancient Society (Berkeley Cal. 1980). e. g. jay, "From Presbyter-Bishops to Bishops and Presbyters: Christian Ministry in the Second Century," Second Century 1 (1981) 125–62. u. betti, La dottrina sull'episcopato del Concilio Vaticano II (Rome 1984). a. cunningham, The Bishop in the Church (Wilmington De. 1985). f. a. sullivan, From Apostles to Bishops (New York/Mahwah N.J.2001).
[s. e. donlon/eds.]