Chapter 2: The Ministry of the Ante-Nicene Church (c. 125-325), by George H. Williams
[George H. Williams is Professor of Church History, Harvard University. Among his books are Polish Brethren, and Spiritual and Anabaptist Writers (Westminster 1995).]
In the New Testament epoch we saw three types of ministry unfolding within the Christian churches: (1) the inspired or vocational role of the apostle (and evangelist), prophet, and teacher;1 (2) the cultural and eleemosynary service of the presbyteral "presidents" (protobishops), deacons, and widows, and (3) the originally perhaps honorific,2 then disciplinary and administrative office of the presbyters from whose ranks the bishops were drawn. We know that these three kinds of ministry of the New Testament epoch were modeled in part on Jewish and pagan precedents and we shall take note of the extent to which they were elaborated in self-conscious polemical parallelism alongside these rival institutions on the assumption that Christians were the militia of Christ under the heavenly Emperor and the true or new and ongoing Israel of God.
Of these three ministries, that of the presbyterate had been so taken for granted that, as we have seen, presbyters were never directly mentioned by Paul or even, much later, by the Didache. Yet the early organization of Christian assemblies on the synagogal pattern can be readily inferred, if not so amply documented.3 Not until the presbyters, from being the venerable rank of the first or most revered converts, became functionaries did they invite comment in our earliest documents. In the meantime, the other two ministries seemed more distinctively Christian and are therefore more amply attested in the earliest period; for the outburst of prophecy and the proclamation of the gospel were felt to be the distinctive signs of the new age that had opened, while the liturgical life of the community centered in the re-enactment of the Supper with its host or president and servers.
Amid the diversity of ministries in the New Testament epoch there was yet no true priesthood, for Christ was the only high priest and his the consummatory and definitive sacrifice ending all sacrifices. Moreover, priesthood, as defined by both Jewish and pagan usage, was hereditary or civilly bestowed; and to such a status the earliest Christian ministrants did not or could not aspire. But gradually the principal officiant at the cultural re-enactment of the Supper came to be so closely associated with Christ (Ignatius of Antioch) in the sacrifice of Calvary and its liturgical commemoration, the Eucharist, that by contagion and imputation the eucharistic president himself became looked upon as at least analogous to the high priest of the Old Covenant and the spokes-man of the entire royal priesthood which is the Church. Though he was normally one of the presbyters, the cultural president acquired, through his supervision of the deacons, a pre-eminence over the other presbyters in their corporate capacity as the "municipal" council of Christians whose ultimate citizenship was in heaven. In the meantime, conflicting and sometimes irresponsible claims and vagaries put forward by certain prophets and teachers conspired to bring also the surviving "charismatic" ministries under the oversight of the bishop in order to assure the theological solidarity of the Christian community ever in peril of its life from a hostile populace and an intermittently persecuting magistracy.
Thus it was the bishop, as chief pastor of the local church, who came to represent the fullness of the ministry. He was prophet, teacher, chief celebrant at the liturgical assembly, and chairman of the board of overseers of the Christian "synagogue." But he could never perform his functions unaided. It was still the entire church, acting in him as the head and with the deacons and presbyters as the more important organs, that embodied the full ministry of Christ in the world. Thus by the end of the New Testament epoch the original three ministries, "charismatic," cultural, and disciplinary, had been so reassessed, redefined, and reintegrated that we begin to discern the emerging outlines in each community of a threefold, corporate ministry made up of a sacerdotal (i.e., "sacrificing") bishop, ruling presbyters, and liturgical-eleemosynary deacons. During the period of somewhat less than a hundred years recounted in Chapter I these three functionaries, and particularly the bishop, had begun to absorb several of the diverse ministrations alluded to by Paul. At this stage the bishops and presbyters together constituted the "clergy" (kleros). The ministry of the church was a more inclusive term than "clergy," but only remnants of the charismatic ministry survived in certain free teachers and the exorcists.
With the completion of this consolidation of a threefold ministry the next development was the delegation of the sacerdotal ("sacrificatory") powers of the bishops to the presbyters. By the time of the Council of Nicaea (325), the bishop, though remaining pastor in his own church, had turned over some of his functions to the several presbyters in the surrounding parishes not under continuous episcopal care, with the consequence that the presbyter himself became a priest. That is, on becoming chief pastor in his own local church, the presbyter became, like the bishop, a sacerdos or hiereus. Significantly, the bishop retained his unique baptismal role in the regenerative act of baptism somewhat longer than his eucharistic pre-eminence; and even after finally giving up the baptizing of all catechumens outside his own parish, he preserved, at least in the West, the confirmation thereof as a distinct and essential ceremony, while in the East it was he alone who could bless the oils used by priests in baptism and confirmation. In the originally perhaps undifferentiated act of the imposition of hands he also retained in most centers the exclusive right to the laying on of hands in ordination. At this stage the bishops and presbyter-priests together constituted the priesthood (sacerdotium), while the older term "clergy" had become enlarged to embrace most of the ministries of the church, including most of the so-called "lower orders." Only a few "lay" ministries had failed to be clericalized.
The process of breaking down the primitive cultural monopoly of the bishop with the consequent approximation of parity of bishop and priest in respect to their ministry, as distinguished from their jurisdiction, proceeded unevenly, more rapidly in the big cities than in the small towns, more readily in the West than in the East. It was accompanied by a variety of adjustments and accommodations among the older ministries and by the elaboration of new ones within the local churches and the growth of metropolitical, eventually also patriarchal, conciliar, and imperial control of the local bishop in the measure that the Church aspired to organize its forces in accordance with the new Empire-wide assignments and responsibilities. The proliferation of lower orders below the rank of deacon and the erection of a hierarchy above the level of the bishop, accompanying the establishment of Christianity as the moral cement of the Empire in the reign of Constantine, brought about the gradual disaggregation of the corporate ministry in a face-to-face fellowship. Thereupon the various orders of the clergy came to be thought of as the ecclesiastical counterpart of the succession of officers or the cursus honorum through which a magistrate normally advanced in the service of the State. Thus the ministry became more of a career than a calling. The ministrant became much less an organ of the local church and spokesman of the community before God and much more of a professional cleric, appropriately trained and promoted, even from one parish to another.
In the meantime, as bishop and metropolitan became involved in their new imperial assignments, many of the faithful felt estranged by clerical accommodation to the world; and monasticism developed with its own special ministry to the saints within and the seekers without. Thus by the end of the Patristic period the saintly or charismatic anchorite emerges as an alternative curer of souls; the abbot takes his place alongside the bishop and the parish priest as a third kind of chief pastor.
With this generalization for the Patristic period as a whole, we turn in this chapter to the evolution of the clergy in the ante-Nicene period (c. 125-325).
Without going back over the ground covered in Chapter I, it will be useful to pick out several passages which mirror the image of the protobishop and his subordinate colleagues about a hundred years after Jesus' death.
Ignatius of Antioch (d. before 117), who was the earliest exponent of monepiscopacy and the threefold ministry (Trallians 3:1), considered himself alternatively as the representative of God and the image of Christ for his people.4 In his role of chief pastor of the flock, the bishop is the type of God (Magnesians 6:1; Smyrneans 9:1) and specifically of God the Father (Trallians 3:1). Ignatius enjoins the faithful to be "obedient to the bishop, as Jesus Christ was to the Father . . . for where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church" (Smyrneans 8: 1 f). Indeed, God Himself is the episkopos of all and especially the bishop himself (Polycarp, 1), and whoever lies to the bishop does not just deceive the human visible bishop but he despises the invisible one (Magnesians 3: 1 f). In this frame of reference Ignatius thinks of himself as instituted by the Spirit of God. There is no thought of his being a successor of an apostle. He is a prophet. And it is the presbyters, ranged about him in council, who are the type of the apostles, while the humble servers, the deacons, are the type of the Suffering Servant, Jesus, and the widows (forerunners of the deaconesses) are the type of the Spirit (Magnesians 6:1).
In his personal conduct, however, the bishop is also, according to Ignatius, the image of Christ. Ignatius expects, for example, the faithful to be "subject to the bishop, as to Jesus Christ" (Trallians 2:1). Being the vicar of Christ, by whose presence the Church Catholic is made complete and without whose presence or authorization the Eucharist, instruction, and even marriage are invalid, the bishop is expected to live out in his life the fullness of Christ. That is why Ignatius yearns for a Christlike martyrdom in Rome, while dissuading lay Christians from putting their lives unnecessarily in jeopardy. Because this imitation of Christ is peculiarly an episcopal duty, he pleads with the Roman Christians not to interfere in his behalf lest, instead of becoming one with the Word of God, he once more be only the echo (Rom. 2:1).
In a contemporary, Polycarp of Smyrna (d. 156),5 the self-image of the chief pastor was not quite so vividly perceived as in Ignatius. At his martyrdom Polycarp was content to style himself a loyal lieutenant of the heavenly Emperor Christ with whom he will presently co-rule at the last judgment (Phil. 5:2).6 Although in his Letter to the Philippians (c. 135) Polycarp does not mention bishops but only deacons and presbyters, nevertheless his own effectual position must have been very much like that of Ignatius. Surely, in describing the ideal presbyter, Polycarp is picturing someone like himself (6:1):
The presbyters must be tenderhearted, merciful toward all, turning back [the sheep] who have gone astray, visiting the sick, not neglecting widow or orphan or poor man, abstaining from all anger, respect of persons, unrighteous judgment, being far from all love of money, not hastily believing [anything] against any one, not stern in judgment, knowing that we are all debtors because of sin.7
From a self-portrait, let us turn to a precious reminiscence of "the blessed and apostolic presbyter" Polycarp from the pen of Irenaeus, who vividly conjures up for posterity his boyhood memory of the "presbyter" who was a disciple of the apostles:
. . . I can tell the very place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit [note the posture of the bishop as teacher or preacher upon his cathedra] as he discoursed, his goings out and his comings in, the character of his life, . . . the discourses he would address to the multitude, how we would tell of his conversations with John and with the others who had seen the Lord, how he would relate their words from memory . . . and I can testify before God that if that blessed and apostolic presbyter had heard the like [the Gnostic vagaries], he would have cried aloud and stopped his ears and said, as was his custom: "O good God, for what sort of times hast thou kept me, that I should endure these things?", and he would have fled the very place....8
Besides this glimpse of presbyter-bishop Polycarp as teacher, the same source preserves for us a picture of Polycarp as liturgical "president" or eucharistic host. Only one presbyter could preside at the Eucharist. When Polycarp was in Rome to discuss with Bishop Anicetus the vexing question of the conflicting dates for the celebration in Rome of Easter in the diverse ethnic house "parishes" (the immigrants from Asia observing the Johannine usage), the two bishops ended their deliberations amicably, each holding to his own usage. In parting they held communion with each other, and in the church "Anicetus yielded the celebration [of the Eucharist] to Polycarp obviously out of respect.''9 Although Irenaeus did not call Polycarp bishop, but rather presbyter, his contemporary Ignatius did,10 as did also his own immediate followers, though perhaps more characteristically they wrote of Polycarp as an "apostolic and prophetic teacher."11
It is interesting that Polycarp's own description of the deacon was very similar to that of his ideal presbyter-bishop. He likened deacons in relationship to their "presbyter" (bishop) as Christ to God (Phil. 5:3); and described them further as "blameless before His righteousness, as the servants of God and Christ and not of men, not slanderers, not double-tongued, not lovers of money, temperate in all things, compassionate, careful, walking according to the truth of the Lord, who was 'the servant of all'"(5:2).
Whether the Didache is itself primitive or in its present form the composition of a "mild Montanist" of the late second century,12 it no doubt authentically preserves the memory of the high esteem in which the charismatic ministry and notably that of the prophet was once held, when it speaks of the prophet as the "high priest" (13:3), to whom, as in the Old Testament, every first fruit of the wine vat, the threshing floor, or the pastures is due. It was indeed acknowledged that in the absence of a high priestly prophet the congregations should elect bishops and deacons; and the delineation of the ideal bishop (15: 1 f.), which picks up phrases from I Tim. 3 and Titus 1, is repeated by many of the later church orders and mirrors of bishops.
The search for an Old Testament source and sanction for the Christian ministry is found also in Clement of Rome, where the emergence of monepiscopacy was longer delayed than at Antioch, but where the authority of the chief presbyter was comparable to that of Polycarp in Smyma. Though, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, Clement speaks of Christ as the effectual High Priest (36:1; 61:3), he regards the chief celebrant (protobishop) at the Supper as also the type of the Old Testament Aaronic high priest and at the same time the embodied image of Christ the celestial High Priest after the order of Melchizedek; the deacons discharge in the New Dispensation the role of the Levites (40:5):
For the high priest has been given his own proper services, and the priests been assigned their own place [of dignity, seated on either side of the chief celebrant], while to the Levites their ministrations are given.
In making this identification with the Old Testament high priesthood and the Levitical order, Clement was prompted (42:5)13 by his confidence that the appointment of episkopoi and deacons had been prophesied in his Septuagintal Isaiah 60:17.
For the great church of Alexandria in the time of Clement and Polycarp we have no comparable record, but we may infer that on the model of Jesus and the Twelve and following the example at once of James and the elders of Jerusalem, of the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem,l4. and perhaps of the organization of the neighboring huge Jewish community of Alexandria itself, the twelve presbyters of the Alexandrian church thought of themselves as both a sanhedrin and a college of Twelve. Very late accounts 15 of the "peculiarities" of Alexandria make plausible this description of a presbyteral constitution with the twelve choosing from their midst one to be bishop and consecrating him.
Thus, to sum up the meager evidence for the end of the New Testament epoch and the beginning of the Patristic period, there were at least five competing images in which a chief pastor of a Christian church might see himself mirrored c. 125: as an elder of a Christian sanhedrin, as an apostle, as a prophet, as a high priest, or as an epiphany of God or Christ to the Christian people.
Passing from these writings, which in part chronologically overlap the documentation provided by the New Testament, we turn to the Apologist Justin Martyr, whose incidental references give us the first firm evidence after the Apostolic Fathers as to the nature and function of the ministries of the Church. In his works we glimpse the teacher, the lector, the protobishop, and the deacon at work in Rome around 150.
The bishop is regularly called by Justin the "president," though this usage may have been dictated by a concern to avoid specifically ecclesiastical language in addressing the pagan world. In arguing with the Jews, it is evident that Justin regards the whole Christian community as "a highpriestly race of God," who collectively take the place both of the Aaronic priesthood and that of the eternal Melchizedek, through their eucharistic offerings in the name of Christ. The fact that Melchizedek,l6 the priest-king of Jerusalem (already identified with Christ in Hebrews), offered bread and wine (Gen. 14:18) made it natural for the royal priestly people to think of their cultural celebrant and spokesman, by assimilation, as their high priest. Justin lifts the curtain upon the action of such a high priest, though he calls him quite neutrally a "president," in a Roman Christian assembly at worship early on Sunday morning, presumably in the house of one of the more prosperous members.17
. . . the memoirs of the apostles or the writing of the prophets are read as long as time permits. When the lector has finished, the president in a discourse invites [us] to the imitation of these noble things. Then we all stand up together and offer prayers. And . . . bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president similarly sends up prayers and thanksgiving to the best of his ability, and the congregation assents, saying the Amen; the distribution and reception of the consecrated [elements] by each one takes place and they are sent to the absent by the deacons.... This food we call Eucharist.... For we do not receive these things as common bread or common drink, but as . . . flesh and blood of that incarnate Jesus.... Those who prosper, and who so wish, contribute, each one as much as he chooses to. What is collected is deposited with the president, and he takes care of orphans and widows, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers who are sojourners among [us], and, briefly, he is the protector of all those in need.
The concern of the bishop for the impoverished and the imprisoned is likewise attested by Bishop Dionysius of Corinth with special reference to Soter, who became bishop in Rome (166-74) not long after the time of Justin's foregoing delineation:
For this has been your custom from the beginning [he writes to the Roman community]: to do good in divers ways to all the brethren, and to send supplies to many churches in every city, now relieving the poverty of the needy, now making provision, by the supplies which you have been in the habit of sending from the beginning to the mines.18
Incidentally, Dionysius, like Justin, calls the bishop a "president." Dionysius goes on to characterize him as a loving father exhorting all the brethren who come to Rome as his children. Dionysius also mentions the activity of bishops as correspondents and apologists, whose writings were frequently and thoughtfully read and preserved in the assemblies to which they were sent.19
In Justin Martyr's description of the president, deacon, and lector at worship there is no mention of presbyters; this may be accounted for by his concentration on the cultural rather than disciplinary and administrative aspects of the Christian community. In addition to his sketch of the cultual ministry, however, we have from Justin some glimpse into the charismatic ministry of the lector and the teacher.
In the foregoing depiction of the service of worship at Rome c. 150, besides the bishops and deacons, only the lector is mentioned. He is seen reading from the Scriptures as long as time permits. In later church orders he is often ranked with the prophets:
And if there is a lector, let him too receive [an allowance] like the presbyters, as ranking with the prophets.20
On the basis of this and similar statements some scholars have held that the readership was originally one of the inspired orders, gradually depressed as the church became more literate.21
Of the teacher, Justin has more to say. Himself a teacher, wearing the philosopher's mantle in succession to several teachers under whom he had studied,22 Justin thought of himself also as the heir of the prophets of Israel and the superior of the contemporaneous teachers of the Jewish line, the rabbis. He held that the prophetic gifts had been "transferred" to Christian teachers,23 although he acknowledged that there could be false teachers, as there had once been false prophets. Like his more speculative contemporary Ptolemy, a moderate Gnostic teacher, he undoubtedly thought of himself as standing in "the apostolic tradition" in a "succession" of teachers.24 Like pagan teachers and rabbis, Justin laid hands upon the head of each disciple on the completion of the course.25 At his trial, Justin, philosopher-prophet-teacher, describes the "school" where he has been teaching for the examining prefect, who will presently put him and several of his students to death. It is apparently his home, his local "parish house" in Rome:
I live above the bath of a certain Martin, the son of Timothinus, and during all this time (this is my second stay in the city of Rome) I have not known any other assembly but the one there.26 And whoever wanted to come to me, to him I communicated the words of truth.27
One of the students apprehended with Justin declared that he had received his elementary "training" in the "good confession" from his parents but that he "gladly" heard Justin's "discourses."
Winsome and heroic exponents of the church doctrine though Justin and others were, bishops could not long safeguard the orthodoxy of the faith with free-lance teachers; and to cope with the Gnosticism of some of them, the claim was put forward that the bishop himself was preeminently the teacher of the Church in succession to the apostles. Thus it was in his magisterial rather than his cultual role that the bishop took his place upon the apostolic cathedra. Or rather, the bishop's seat came in the course of time to be at once a doctoral (magisterial) chair, a liturgical bench, and a judicial throne. It was two outside churchmen who made the apostolic claim for the teaching authority of the see in Rome, namely: the Syrian Hegesippus, who was concerned to ascertain the true apostolic doctrine as it was preserved in the episcopal succession, notably in Rome up to Eleutherus (174-89); and especially the presbyter and later bishop of Lyons, Irenaeus (d. 177 or 8). Irenaeus attached importance to his demonstration of a continuous succession in apostolic instruction because of the pre-eminence of the Roman church, but he was convinced that a similar succession could be ascertained for the other great Christian centers. As it happens, Irenaeus used the designations "bishop" and "presbyter" interchangeably, because the corporate presbyterate was for him the ultimate guarantee against vagaries in doctrine, but in any given church like his own or that of Rome he surely had in mind the chief pastor or president of the presbytery when he spoke alternatively of bishops and presbyters as the bearers of the "certain gift of faith." 28
So deeply implicated had Irenaeus become in the doctrinal or magisterial aspect of the episcopate that the cultual and disciplinary functions of the ministry remain obscure in his surviving works. Only once does he say that the apostles "instituted bishops" in their place of government,29 to whom, accordingly, obedience is due.30 Like Justin, he seems to regard the whole church as priestly: "I have shown that all the disciples of the Lord are Levites and priests."31 But since also like Justin he holds that the Eucharist consists of "two realities, earthly and heavenly," the manufactured bread receiving the Word of God,32 it was natural for Irenaeus to think of the bishop or president of the presbytery as a priest in this representative capacity; but the word is not used by him. He does speak of the chalice as the compendii poculum,33 which may allude to the recapitulatory character of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. For just as Justin construes the Eucharistic prayer as the Christian apologetical counterpart of the pagan sacrifice,34 so Irenaeus speaks of the Eucharistic gift as offered at an altar. But the primary altar is still thought of as in heaven.35
It is not until the communion table has become explicitly an altar that the Eucharistic president becomes explicitly a priest (sacerdos, hiereus). The first to mention the table as an altar seems to be the apocryphal Acts of John. The first to call a Christian cleric a priest 36 was Polycrates of Ephesus; and he does it, strangely, in calling (c. 190) St. John, the beloved of the Lord, not only a teacher but also a priest (hiereus) "who wore the sacerdotal tiara." 37
In the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (d. 235 or 6),38 which presumably transcribes Roman usage about 200, Justin's "president" and Irenaeus' presbyter-bishop is now clearly a high priest, teacher, and judge. But his solidarity with his people is no less pronounced. In this very early church order the bishop is chosen by the people and ordained by bishops invited from other communities. He is nominated or chosen by the laity,39 perhaps out of their satisfaction with his earlier ministry as a deacon in the community (e.g., Eleutherus had been a deacon under his predecessor), perhaps because of his valor as confessor (Callistus),40 less likely because of his learning (Hippolytus, as antibishop). Formal confirmation (consent)41 took place on a Sunday, the people of God (laos) being assembled together with the presbytery and such neighboring bishops as might attend. The consecration (cheirotonia) was performed by the imposition of the hands of several bishops while the presbytery stood by in silence, praying for the descent of the Holy Spirit in the imposition of the hands. Whereupon one from among the assembled bishops (and presbyters 42), at the request of all present, laid his hands upon the bishop-elect, offering the prayer. The two separated acts of laying on of hands at episcopal consecration (probably our earliest evidence of consecratory imposition) may betray a double origin of cheirotonia, namely, that derived from the Jewish presbyters and that of the apostles. In the group act of imposition of hands tactile succession in the presbyterate would be the motivation; in the imposition and prayer of a single bishop the intent would be the invocation of the Holy Spirit 43 in the spiritual restoration of the apostolate. For from the words of the ordaining prayer it is clear that the second act was thought of as comparable to the setting aside of Matthias as apostle, and that the new bishop was thought of as becoming a high priest and princely shepherd of his flock, authorized to bind and to loose like an apostle, that is, to forgive sins, and possibly to cure diseases.44
The ordination was completed with the kiss of peace all around and then the new bishop moved on to celebrate the Eucharist.
Whether the new bishop might forgive the gravest sins -- apostasy, murder, and adultery -- once after baptism was a major issue in the church of Rome and elsewhere. Bishop Callistus (217-22), of whom his rival Hippolytus paints a highly colored picture in his Philosophoumena, seems to have argued for the plentitude of episcopal (or was it papal?) power in this respect.45 Perhaps because he had once been a slave he did not oppose the marriage of high-born Christian ladies to slaves and freedmen and gave episcopal countenance to what the state regarded as invalid marriages. Solely as a confessor, Callistus could claim the right to forgive the lapsed (those who had apostasized during persecution), but it is more likely that Callistus claimed the right of forgiveness as the successor of Peter, the incumbent of the see closest to the bones of the prince of the apostles, to whom the power to bind and loose had first been given. In addition to assuming the full Petrine prerogative as bishop, Callistus also suggested that by a process of monopolization, the spiritual man of Paul (I Cor. 2:15) is pre-eminently the bishop, who judges all things and is judged by none.46
Leaving Callistus, let us return to Hippolytus' ideal bishop. In the Tradition Hippolytus does not stress episcopal apostolicity, except as it is alluded to in the ordination prayer. But in the Philosophoumena he sounds more like Irenaeus. Speaking about Gnostic errors, he writes:
These, however, will be refuted by none other than the Spirit conveyed in the church which the apostles were the first to receive. Subsequently they imparted it to those who accepted the faith aright; of these men we ourselves are the successors sharing the same spiritual endowment, the same high priesthood, the same teaching authority, being in fact accourted as guardians of the church.47
Besides the magisterial authority and the supervision of catechetical instruction, the bishop as chief pastor had at this time among his major duties the protracted ritual of baptism. Assembling on the Saturday of Holy Week the catechumens duly prepared by their teachers, the bishop exorcised the evil spirits and thereupon breathed upon the face of each neophyte, sealing him with oil on the forehead, ears, and nose. At the immersion, beginning at cockcrow, the bishop was assisted by presbyters and deacons, one of the latter going into the water naked with the neophytes After the neophytes had dressed themselves and joined the larger company, the bishop confirmed them with the laying on of hands and anointment with consecrated oil. It was the bishop's unique role in the baptismal action of rebirth that made it natural for all the faithful to revere the bishop as a spiritual father. As early as the apocryphaI Epistle of the Apostles (140-60) Jesus is represented as encouraging his disciples to assume the titles of father and master (despite their protestations in view of Matt. 23:9 f.) expressly because of the "episcopal" role in baptism.48
At the weekly Eucharist the bishop of the Tradition occasionally received oils, cheese, and olives over which he offered appropriate prayers, while first fruits and even flowers (only the rose and the lily)49 were offered when they came in season. At the Paschal Eucharist the deacons brought up to the bishop in addition to bread and wine, also milk and honey. Besides the weekly Eucharist the bishop participated in private agapes, whenever someone wished to bring an offering. On such occasions the bishop broke the loaf, tasted, and handed pieces to each of the faithful present. The bishop met each morning with the deacons and presbyters, praying with and instructing the laity who happened by; and thereafter each one went about his own business. The bishop of the Tradition was still very much one of the clerical presbyterate (klëros). Up until the middle of the third century the inscriptions refer to the Roman bishops as presbyters. Nevertheless, the presbyters of the Tradition were inferior to the bishop presbyter.50
The presbyters proper of the Roman Tradition may have been elective as they were in North Africa. In their ordination the other presbyters imposed their hands along with the bishop, further indication that cheirothesia (the imposition of hands) may well have been presbyteral in origin. Hippolytus himself, however, interpreted this inherited custom differently, holding that the bishop alone ordains (cheirotonia), while the presbyters merely seal or bless. The ancient prerogative of collegiate rule is prominent in the formulary of presbyteral ordination with its petition for purity of heart to enable the presbyter to govern and give counsel, to be "filled with the Spirit" as "the presbyters of Moses" (Num. 11:16). They are first after the bishop to partake of the communion, seated in the place of honor, perhaps the only ones for whom there were seats.
The qualifications for entry into the presbyterate do not come out in the Tradition, except that a confessor 51 who physically suffered in his witness to the faith in persecution is ranked as a presbyter or deacon by a kind of ordination in blood and in the Spirit without the laying on of hands (cheirotonia.)52
In the Tradition the deacons were expressly not of the "clergy" (kleros).53 Therefore in their installation (katastasis) only the bishop laid hands upon them. They did "not receive the Spirit which is common to all the presbyterate [bishop and presbyters] in which the presbyters share...." Nevertheless, "the bishop and his deacons were of one mind, shepherding the people diligently with one accord." The deacon's functions were at once liturgical, administrative, and eleemosynary, that is, as broad as the bishop's but always in his service. In his installation prayer the deacon is likened to Christ. In still later formularies of this type the memory of martyr-deacon Stephen is evoked. To anticipate, further, the Syrian Didascalia, assembled perhaps fifty years after the Tradition, goes on:
. . . let the deacon make known all things to the bishop, even as Christ to His Father. But what things he can, let the deacon order, and all the rest let the bishop judge. Yet, let the deacon be the hearing of the bishop, and his mouth and his heart and his soul . . .54
That the deacon is the type of Christ we have already met in Ignatius and Polycarp. In the Didascalia the mediatorship of the deacon between the bishop and the laymen is especially prominent:
. . . let them have very free access to the deacons, and let them not be troubling the head at all time, but making known what they require through the ministers, that is through the deacons. For neither can any man approach the Lord God Almighty except through Christ.55
Deacons also ministered to the sick and the dying, reporting to the bishop; "for the sick man is much comforted that the high priest has mentioned him [in the liturgical prayers]." In some cases the deacons took charge of the cemeteries and catacombs.56
Associated with the deacons but without their liturgical duties were the widows. The widow was, in the Tradition, set apart (katastasis) for prayer and for the ministry to women but expressly not ordained (cheirotonia) because she "does not offer the oblation nor has she a liturgical ministry." Hippolytus groups the following along with the widow in the same general class of nonliturgical ministrants who, not belonging to the clergy proper (kleros), were only instituted or recognized, not ordained: the lector, the virgin, the subdeacon, and the healer (exorcist).
In the Tradition Hippolytus does not mention the teacher except in connection with the catechumens, and here he distinguishes between "lay" and "ecclesiastical" teachers, though to both he concedes the rite of laying on hands, as a sign of the catechumen's having completed the course. In Hippolytus' Commentary on Daniel we find the teachers still serving in charismatic autonomy. The teachers here constitute a distinct estate or rank, mentioned before the clergy proper, and called collectively "the choir of teachers." 57 This phrase significantly preserves Hellenic usage according to which, in allusion to the inspiring Muses, teachers constitute a choros.58
For a still more advanced stage in the development of the ministries of the Church we turn from Rome to North Africa, where the former lawyer and impassioned presbyter 59 Tertullian (d. after 220) brought to theoretical completion the development we have been following when he called not only the bishop high priest but also the concelebrating presbyters priests. But the latter are sacerdotes only by delegation, when they or the deacons perform that which is peculiarly the rite of the high priest by his license.60 Here, as in so much else, Tertullian coins the Latin words and formulates the concepts that will become general much later. It is before the feet of presbyters that the penitents bow in the elaborate and humiliating once-for-all "second baptism" of penance known as exomologesis.61 Here we glimpse the traditional judicial function of the Jewish and early Christian presbyters developing into the penitential discipline of priests. Tertullian has a high view of the teachers of the Church, associating them with the virgins and the martyrs. This esteem for the charismatic ministries became especially prominent when Tertullian fell under the influence of Montanism, and contended that only the confessors, apostles, and prophets are spiritual men who may judge all, forgive all, and be judged by none. As a Catholic and a legalist he had once deplored the confusion of the heretical sects as to the relative positions of the laity and the priesthood -- today one is a deacon who is tomorrow a lector; the presbyter of today the layman of tomorrow.62 But as a converted Spiritualist he held that "where three are, a church is, albeit they be laics."63 In exigencies, baptism and the offering of the Eucharist by a layman are valid. Tertullian gives us a vivid picture of a woman ecstatic who regularly prophesied in a certain Montanist assembly for worship at which Tertullian himself was the preacher:
For, seeing that we acknowledge spiritual chansmata or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift.... We have now amongst us a sister whose lot it has been to be favored with sundry gifts of revelation, which she experiences in the Spirit by ecstatic vision amidst the sacred rites of the Lord's Day in the church; she converses with angels, and sometimes even with the Lord; she both sees and hears mysterious communications; some men's hearts she understands, and to them who are in need she distributes remedies.64
Tertullian, then, provides us successively with both an advanced catholic sacerdotal view of the office of the bishop and presbyter and a radical Spiritual doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
Turning to the development of the ministry in Egypt in the period of Hippolytus and Tertullian, we find a markedly different conception and practice, insofar as Clement of Alexandria (d. before 215), our chief source, supplies evidence.65
We have already noted the peculiarity of the constitution of the Alexandrian Christian community with its sanhedrin of twelve presbyters who elected the bishop from among their own number. It is possible that this bishop came to be consecrated by the hand of his deceased predecessor who was suitably robed and propped in his episcopal throne for a final gesture of legitimation and benediction.66 Up through most of the lifetime of Clement all Egypt had only one bishop.67 The village communities were under presbyters. Only during the episcopate of Demetrius (189-232) did some of these centers acquire bishops, in part as a consequence of the introduction of the Roman municipal system, in part as a calculated counterweight to the powerful Alexandrian presbyterate. We may have in the Sacramentary of Bishop Serapion of Thmuis in the Delta (despite its late date)68 some of the formularies and usages introduced in the period of Demetrius. Herein, in contrast to all other church orders, the deacon is mentioned first "as servant in the midst of the holy people," the presbyter upon whom "we [other presbyters or bishops or both] stretch forth the hand" that "he may be able to be steward of thy people and an ambassador of thy divine oracles and reconcile thy people to thee who didst give of the spirit of Moses upon the chosen ones [the elders];" and finally the bishop who is ordained as "shepherd" of the flock "in succession to the [Old Testament] prophets, patriarchs, and the New Testament apostles." No other ministries are mentioned in the Sacramentary, and the sacrificatory role of none of them is alluded to.
It is barely possible that Clement of Alexandria himself was such a presbyter as here described; he calls himself one, though this is hard to reconcile with what else we know of his work. His renown, of course, is that of an ecclesiastically independent charismatic teacher, head of a school of theology frequented by adults, many of them well trained in philosophy. What he says about the Christian teacher is therefore especially instructive. But we wish first to see the parochial clergy through his eyes.
He preserves for us what he calls an instructive tale about the apostle John, in whom we can see Clement's ideal of the forgiving pastor seeking the lost sheep. Having entrusted a comely child to be brought up by a certain presbyter, John returned after many years only to find that the boy had turned delinquent and, as the leader of bandits, was harassing the neighborhood. John at once set out to seek his charge in the mountain lair and was attacked by the very band itself. Whereupon he rejoiced in his plight, for in the mutual recognition of tears and remorse, John was able to restore the youth to the church.69
In this tale Clement uses bishop and presbyter interchangeably. And although he recognizes a threefold ministry (once, however, listing them: presbyters, bishops, and deacons), he seems mostly to have thought in terms of two orders only, the presbyterate with a presiding bishop and the diaconate. He was disposed to find within this primarily twofold ministry a counterpart to what he called the "meliorative" and the "ministrative" services in society at large. He likened the meliorative presbyters to physicians for the body and philosophers for the soul, while the ministrative deacons corresponded to children in their duties toward parents and to subjects toward rulers. This distinction and classification from which Clement seemed to derive some satisfaction does not in itself appear to us particularly enlightening, except for its being linked with Clement's view that behind the orders of the Church are the ministering angels:
. . . according to my opinion [he writes] the grades (prokopoi) here in the Church of bishops, presbyters, deacons are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel. For these taken up in the clouds, the Apostle writes (I Thessalonians 4:17), will first minister [as deacons], then be classed with the presbyters, by promotion in glory (for glory differs from glory [I Corinthians 15:41]) till they grow into a "perfect man" (Ephesians 4:3).70
This parallelism between the celestial and ecclesiastical hierarchy was later to be elaborated.
At the same time there was bound up with this a conception and practice as far from hierarchical clericalism as the spiritual autonomy of the monk is from the autocracy of the prelate. For in this very text and a related place71 Clement goes on to say that though the Christian gnostic or seeker will conform to church life as it is ordered by the ordained clergy, spiritually, he is already on his way to becoming himself an angel, indeed, divine:
As both these services [meliorative and ministrative] are performed by the ministering angels for God in their administration of earthly things, so they are also performed by the gnostic himself.
In heeding the provisions of the clerical church, the (Christian) gnostic inwardly liberates himself at length to qualify by his spirit, very much like the confessors in the Tradition of Hippolytus, for the clerical honor, if not for all the clerical functions:
He, then, who has first moderated his passions and trained himself for impassability, and developed to the beneficence of gnostic perfection, is here equal to the angels.... Those ... who have exercised themselves in the Lord's commandments and lived perfectly and gnostically according to the Gospel may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such a one is in reality a presbyter of the Church and a true deacon of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lord's not as being ordained, nor regarded as righteous because a presbyter, but enrolled in the presbyterate because righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honored with the chief seat, he will sit down on the four-and-twenty thrones, judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse.72
Here we have in an ascetic-intellectual form the same ideas expressed by Callistus and Tertullian, namely, that the confessor as the truly spiritual is judge of all things and judged by none.
Clement's gnostics constitute a kind of spiritual Israel, twelve from the Jews, he goes on to say, and twelve from the Greeks. The heirs of this conception of a spiritual ministry were, of course, to be the monks even more than the teachers of the Church; teachers were to become more amenable to ecclesiastical supervision. And like their counterparts, the confessors, the monks will be presently considered able to forgive the sins and guide the consciences of those less accomplished than themselves. (In appealing to this angelic and gnostic tradition the monks will one day threaten the penitential functions of the ordained clergy.)73
It was Origen (d. 253) who carried on these ideas as successor of Clement and who integrated Clement's informal adult study group as the upper division or advanced theological school within an episcopally supervised catechetical school.74 He readily called fellow presbyters priests, but in this he seems to have been motivated more by his typological interest as an exegete to make the institutions of the Old and the New Testament correspond than by a deep recognition of the sacrificatory role of the cleric at the altar. For, as in the case of Clement, he took the spiritually enlightened pneumatic or gnostic Christian as the true counterpart of the old Aaronic priest. Thus he readily called the apostles and the disciples of Jesus even in the lifetime of their teacher "true priests" because of their gnosis received directly from the master. In his spiritualization Origen saw the true Church founded on Peter (Matt. 16:18 f.) in the sense that every perfected Christian beholds Christ transfigured.75
Nevertheless, to reach the perfection of the apostolic pneumatic, Origen did not depreciate the external ministries of the Church. No doubt, like Clement, he sensed the angelic ranks shimmering behind the visible orders of the clergy. His devoted pupil, Bishop Firmilian of Caesarea, writes about the harmony of the angels "united to [us bishops], who rejoice at our unity."76
We have numerous glimpses of Origen as a closely attended preacher, fascinating his congregation with his exegetical skill. A stenographic transcript has recently come to light of his participation as a theological consultant and authoritative teacher in a discussion with a Bishop Heraclides in the presence of other clergy and the faithful.77 Origen had, at the time of this discussion, already left Alexandria for Caesarea, where he was to perish a martyr as a result of torture in the Decian persecution. Bishop Demetrius had deposed him from the headship of the Alexandrian School and suspended him from the presbyterate in two synods (231, 232) over which he presided, determined as he was to bring catechetical instruction and advanced theological studies even more strictly under episcopal supervision. Origen was, in a sense, the last of the Christian charismatic and independent teachers.
The teacher and catechist by the mid-third century had everywhere lost much of his former independence. Therefore Origen of Alexandria and Caesarea should be described as teacher at this point.
Passing reference might also be made to Malchion, who was the principal opponent of the powerful heresiarch Bishop Paul of Samosata at the synodal deliberations over the heterodoxy of Queen Zenobia's prime minister. Though only a teacher of the Greek rhetorical school in Antioch, he was regarded as the peer or, better, as the instructor of bishops in the realm of doctrine.78 Mention might also be made here of the high ideal of instruction of Pseudo-Clement:
Let the catechists instruct, being first instructed; for it is a work relating to the souls of men. For the teacher of the word must accommodate himself to the various judgments of the learners. The catechists must therefore be learned and unblamable, of much experience, and approved....79
"Bishop" Clement is spoken of as discharging the doctoral role.
But it is Origen who best exemplifies the ideal of the doctor ecclesiae. He thought of the old order of teachers as each a "Peter" by gnostic faith and as compositely embodying the teaching authority of the Church. Collectively they were the magisterial Rock of the Church.80 At Caesarea, whither he fled because Bishop Demetrius claimed to possess the plenitude of magisterial authority, Origen guided the same kind of school as that which he had worked out in Alexandria. While we have no detailed picture of instruction in Alexandria, we do have a rather vivid description of his courses in Caesarea, which we may take as representative of the two schools, and, in a measure, of the best catechetical instruction in general at the middle of the third century. This description is preserved in the laudatory letter written by Gregory the Wonderworker, who paid his respects to his great teacher in a document most important for the history of education in general.
In the beginning of his address 81 delivered before all of the pupils of the school and no doubt in the presence of the Bishop of Caesarea and other ecclesiastical dignitaries, Gregory lauds philosophy, and then moves on to describe the character of the teacher himself whom he so much admires. Gregory describes his own soul as being "knit to the soul of Origen," as the soul of Jonathan was to that of David. Origen guarded him like an angel and was able to hover over him and guide his every thought, rejecting this, encouraging that, and, by the Socratic method, to bring out the inadequacies of Gregory's first thoughts concerning any number of subjects. One marvels at the extent of the instruction.
Dialectic was the first course in this school, and it is described as the art of the husbandman who cultivates various kinds of fields. Origen took each mentality, each personality, seriously and cultivated it according to its special needs. After dialectic had been satisfactorily taken care of he passed on to the natural sciences, including also geometry and astronomy.
He explained each existence, both by resolving them very skillfully into their primary elements, then by reversing the process and detailing the constitution of the universe and of each part, and the manifold variation and change in every portion of it, until carrying us on with his wise teaching and arguments, both those which he had learned and those which he had discovered, concerning the sacred economy of the universe and its faultless constitution, he established a reasonable, in place of an unreasoning, wonder in our souls. This divine and lofty science is taught by the study of Nature most delectable to all.
This was followed, then, by philosophy. It was Origen's view that all philosophers should be read, except those who were manifestly atheists. The coverage of Greek philosophy was intended to be complete. With philosophy, of course, went ethics and the inculcation of the pagan virtues of temperance, justice, courage, and wisdom. Gregory compares his revered master with other teachers:
I have often marveled at such while they demonstrated that the virtue of God and of men is identical, and that on earth the wise man is equal to the supreme God. These teachers are incapable of conveying wisdom so that one should do the works of wisdom, or temperance so that one should actually make choice of what he has learned; similarly with justice; and still more with courage. It was not in this fashion that our teacher discussed the theory of the virtues with us: rather he exhorted us to their practice, and that more by his example than by his precept.
Origen himself was quite explicit about another aspect of the teacher's task -- freshness of interpretation. Commenting on the law which forbade the Israelites to eat yesterday's meal, he admonished the priests and teachers of the Church "not to set forth stale doctrines according to the letter, but by God's grace ever to bring forth new truth, ever to discover the spiritual lessons." 82
Origen held that the Christian teacher should not take payment from students for what is revealed to him by grace, because this would be "selling doves in the temple, that is, the Holy Spirit." 83 Origen asks only for leisure in the temple. The life of the mind or the Spirit is a great construction requiring peace:
... such a structure of thought as may contain the principles of truth, a sermon for example or a book, is best built at a time when, God giving good aid in its construction to him who purposes so excellent a work, the soul rests calm in the enjoyment of the peace which passeth all understanding, free from all disturbance, like the sea without a wave.84
So much for the ideal Christian teacher.
Although the ideas of Clement and Origen about teachers, gnostics, and angels are important for the later theories both of prelacy and the pastoral function of the monks, we must return to Rome and Carthage for the more immediately significant developments in the history of the ancient ministries of the Church.
Cyprian, sometime lawyer, fiery martyr-bishop of Carthage (249-53), whose rich pastoral correspondence survives in extenso, is at once the picture for us of a third-century pastor of a flock scattered and bewildered by two violent and systematic persecutions Decian and Valerianic) and at the same time a major theorist of the nature and function of the ministry. He did not call the bishop high priest as did Tertullian, reserving that dignity for Christ alone, as the eternal Melchizedek.85 The sacrificatory office of the bishop is clearly stated, however, when he says: "The Lord's passion is the sacrifice which we offer." 86 Unlike his master, Cyprian was concerned as a bishop to check any presbyteral or other derogations from episcopal authority. He considered the presbyters sacerdotal only as they participated in the sacrificatory office of the bishop by delegation. Perhaps it was because he thought of the bishop primarily as administrator and judge rather than as teacher and liturgical celebrant that he was so intense in his treatment of martyrs and confessors. On the one hand he exalted martyrdom as meritorious and on the other hand he contested the claim of the confessors to forgive the lapsed independently of the bishops. Ignatius of Antioch, it will be recalled, had striven to witness to Christ by a martyr's death in Rome and thus to qualify to co-rule and judge with Christ in his kingdom. Cyprian's ideal is likewise a martyr bishop, but because he must counter the rival claims of the confessors to bind and to loose by virtue of their witnessing to Christ, Cyprian must, unlike Ignatius, reach back explicitly to the prerogatives of the apostles and notably Peter.87 Cyprian called Peter a bishop88 and regarded every bishop as filled with the Holy Spirit89 and as the vicar of Christ, succeeding by vicarious ordination to the apostles.90 Thus Cyprian found the essence and fulfillment of the Church in the bishop:
. . they are the church who are a people united to the priest and the flock which adhere to its pastor. Hence you ought to know that the bishop is in the church and the church in the bishop.91
Finding the unity of the local church in the Bishop, he found the universality of the Church in the confraternity of bishops; themselves one in the episcopacy of Peter. For Christ founded the Church upon Peter before Calvary and then after the Resurrection (John 20:22 f.) extended the foundations to include all the apostles and the bishops after them, alike endowed with the power of binding and loosing. Cyprian was fully participant in the growing confraternity of bishops, his colleagues, as he called them; but, though he was strategically located in the first see of North Africa, he was foremost in insisting that each properly elected and ordained bishop was supreme in his own church,92 unless morally derelict. For example, Cyprian urged that a certain lapsed bishop, still acknowledged by the repentant lapse themselves as their rightful bishop, should no longer be admitted to his former rank either by the repentant faithful or the confraternity of bishops.93
A corollary of Cyprian's high view of the clergyman as the steward of God94 was that the people of God had the power of choosing their bishops, presbyters, and deacons and rejecting the unworthy.95 Moreover, even when the deacons came to monopolize all actions connected with Eucharistic offering, the Christian people of God, like eleven of the tribes of old Israel, still had the duty of tithing in support of the Levites. The clergy were to be entirely freed from secular cares and supported by the congregation. Thus even in the middle of the third century the laity preserved their "1iturgy" of electing, of bringing the offerings or tithing, of identifying themselves with the prayers of their celebrants in antiphonal amens.97 Moreover, their consent was sought in dogmatic and moral formulations.98 Closely connected therewith was the people's prerogative in the recognition of martyrs which in the fourth century was to become the communal voice in the authoritative canonization of saints.99
Cypriants scant decade of episcopacy opened as that of Bishop Fabian (236-50) was being brought to a close in Rome. From Fabian's episcopate date several of the major constitutional changes in the Roman community. It was he who assigned the now traditional seven deacons to seven diaconal regions of the city to carry out, from recognized bases, their diaconal ministry and administration.100 We are fortunate in having from the period just before and just after the pontificate of Fabian in Rome and that of Cyprian in Carthage, three other important descriptions of the corporate ministry of the churches around the middle of the third century: a factual account, a legal codification (the Syrian Didascalia), and a vivid metaphor.
The metaphor is supplied by a Christian novelist, Pseudo-Clement. Writing c. 225 just about a hundred years beyond the development reached in Chapter I, this Christian romancer likened the corporate ministry to the officers and crew of a galley ship. Addressing the faithful, he declared:
. . . if you be of one mind, you shall be able to reach the haven of rest, wherein is the peaceful City of the Great King. For the whole business of the Church is like unto a great galley, bearing through a violent storm men who are of many places, and who desire to inhabit the one City of the good Kingdom. Let, therefore, God be your captain (despotes); and let the pilot (kybernetes) be likened to Christ; the look out man (proreus) to the bishop; the sailors to the presbyters; the overseers of the rowers (toicharoi) to the deacons; the stewards (naustologoi) to the catechists; the multitude of the brethren to the passengers. . . .101
After vividly describing the hazards of the sea, Pseudo Clement goes on:
In order, therefore, that sailing with a fair wind, you may safely reach the haven of the hoped-for City pray so as to be heard. But prayers become audible by good deeds. Let therefore the passengers remain quiet, sitting in their own places, lest by disorder they occasion rolling or careening. Let the bishop, as the look-out, wakefully ponder the words of the Pilot alone.l02
The bishop of Pseudo-Clement's purple patch may have been content to be lookout man under Christ the pilot, but in other writings from the same period the bishop himself is already likened to a pilot.103
From the metaphor we pass to the factual account which is supplied by Fabian's successor Cornelius. Besides the bishop himself, Cornelius lists the exact number of the clergy in Rome at midcentury: forty-six presbyters, seven regional deacons, seven subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two exorcists, lectors and doorkeepers, and some fifteen hundred widows.104 A corresponding list at this time from the East, say Antioch, would not have mentioned exorcists as a separate group but in contrast would distinguish widows from virgins and deaconesses.
Deaconesses, subdeacons, acolytes, exorcists, and lectors were not in most places in the mid-third century considered truly clerical. Cyprian, for example, had spoken of lectors and exorcists, however honorable, as next the clergy (clero proximi). The clergy proper were elected and underwent ordination (cheirotonia, cheirothesia, ordinatio). The last term was first coined for ecclesiastical purposes by Tertullian. There seem to have been two distinct actions suggested by the Greek words which eventually became synonymous. Ministrants who were "next the clergy" (later to be construed as in the "minor orders") were in the ante-Nicene period for the most part only nominated or formally instituted or installed (nominatio, katastasis), undergoing no imposition of hands. They, with the teachers, widows, and virgins, constituted a kind of quasi-clerical class between the clergy proper and the remainder of the royal priesthood of God's elect.
Some of the lower orders mentioned here were survivals of the earlier and inchoate ministries of the primitive church, others resulted from the differentiation and depression within the established ministries. The subdeacon may have been from near the beginning distinct from the deacon.105 Out of the diverse diaconal or subdiaconal functions developed the subdeacon, the doorkeeper, the gravedigger, and the acolyte. The acolytes may originally have borne the same relationship to presbyters as subdeacons to deacons. Among other things, they ran clerical errands.l06
The exorcists were, in Cornelius' day, especially charged with the care of the mentally ill. The charismatic healers survive as a distinct order much longer in the West than in the East. In the Apostolic Tradition, as earlier, they were especially empowered by a revelation, as Hermas of Rome. Like confessors they were expressly not ordained,107 but they themselves employed the imposition of hands with prayer as the principal action in their ministry of healing.108
In the East, at least, the widows preserved or acquired certain ministerial functions, like praying for their benefactors, visiting the sick, and laying hands upon them. In the somewhat later Apostolic Church Order Cephas purportedly gave the following instructions:
Let three widows be appointed; two to wait upon prayer, concerning all who are in temptation, and for revelations concerning anything that may be needed; but one to attend upon the women that are tempted in sickness; and let her be ready to minister, and watchful, announcing what may be needed to the presbyter, not a lover of filthy lucre, not given to much wine, that she may be able to be watchful for nightly services, and for whatever other good deeds she may wish to perform.109
The obtrusive reference to filthy lucre was apparently necessary, for the Didascalia makes it quite clear that the widows as a class were strenuously interested in their church doles, spitefully attentive to who got what -- not widows but wallets, the Greek text puns.
The deaconesses of the Eastern churches were drawn from this not entirely promising class, but increasingly from the more affluent and well-born. The apocryphal Acts and Martyrdom of Matthew has the apostle conferring the dignity of diakonissa upon the seventeen year-old princess of a royal household converted to the faith. The Didascalia recalls the ministering women about Jesus and finds a continuing place for them. Ignatius had likened deaconesses to the Holy Spirit and this feeling about them continued. They visited women isolated in pagan households and assisted in the ritual of baptism of women, especially in the prebaptismal anointment.
Turning to the clergy proper and returning specifically to Rome during the episcopate of Cornelius, we find the presbyters heading the local assemblies of the house churches, called today the titular churches (from the inscription of ownership or occupancy above the doorway, the titulus). As many as eighteen of these titular churches date from the mid-third century. In the larger of the titular churches more than one presbyter served, the chief pastor being the presbyter prior or primerius. Because of the far-flung constituency of the Roman Christian community, almost from the beginning, the Eucharistic assemblies were local. But the eucharized bread (fermentum) from the bishop's altar was carried by acolytes to the titular churches as a symbol of the unity of the Roman Church. It is not known when the Eucharist came to be celebrated in its entirety by the presbyters of the "parish" churches apart from the bishop. But the sacerdotal action apparently fell within the competence of the priest sooner than baptism, which was linked to the bishop more closely because of its more solemn and definite character as the initiatory rite and because it took place at a special season and in a special locale where water was available and relative security assured.110
In the Eastern churches the presbyters were more commonly nominated by the bishop 111 than elected by the people as in Cyprian's North Africa and in Rome. This seems to accord roughly with the Jewish practice of the sanhedrin which co-opted new members of the presbyteral council. One Eastern church order gives the number of the presbyteral college as twenty-four (cf. Rev. 4:4 and passim).112 Another indicates the apostolic number twelve,113 natural enough in view of the frequent comparison of presbyters with apostles from the time of Ignatius.
The age of thirty was eventually requisite for becoming a presbyter, and the Council of Neocaesarea (c. 315) adduced as the reason that "our Lord was baptized at the age of thirty and then began to preach." The functions of mid-third-century presbyters may be most vividly pictured in Pseudo-Clement's exhortation to what he calls "philanthropy:"
Love all your brethren with grave and compassionate eyes, performing to orphans the part of parents, to widows that of husbands, affording them sustenance with all kindliness, arranging marriages for those who are in their prime, and arranging for employment for the unemployed, and alms to the incapable.... Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and the prisoners -- help them as you are able -- and receive strangers into your homes with alacrity.... You will do all these things if you fix love into your minds; and for its entrance there is only one fit means, namely, the common partaking of food.114
The mid-third-century bishop, not only in Rome, but everywhere, was a majestic figure. In the generalized portraiture of Syrian canon law, the Didascalia) the bishop, is "head among the presbytery," "pastor," "the watchman" set over the church. In the almost conternporaneous Pseudo-Clement he is an "ambassador" of God, the "president of truth" who by the laying on of hands (proem., ii) has been entrusted with "the chair of Moses," "the chair of Christ" (proem., xvii) and "the chair of the apostle" (proem., ii). According to the Didascalia, he should be at least fifty years of age at his election, not necessarily educated, married not more than once with children whose discipline should testify to his competence He
is your chief and leader; he is your mighty king. He rules in the place of the Almighty; but let him be honored by you as God, for the bishop sits for you in the place of God Almighty.115
The Didascalia is still quite prepared, as was Ignatius, to liken the presbyters to the apostles, because, in effect, the bishop sits among them as Christ, God incarnate. Yet the apostolic authority of the bishop is also very much present when the Didascalia declares elsewhere:
For the king who wears the diadem reigns over the body alone, and binds and looses it but on earth; but the bishop reigns over soul and body, to hind and loose on earth with heavenly power....
Therefore, love the bishop as a father, and fear him as a king, and honor him as God.
As a father he begets children in the regeneration of baptism. In the imposition of hands and the blessing with confirmatory chrism he is the type of the heavenly Father above the Jordan, saying: "Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee."
Bishops in another aspect of their lives are to take Christ, specifically Christ the suffering Servant, as their model and to become "imitators of Christ." Turning from the people directly, the Didascalia urges the bishops for their part to take thought that they "be quiet and meek, and merciful and compassionate, and peacemakers, and without anger, and teachers and correctors and receivers and exhorters; and that you be not wrathful, nor tyrannical; and that you be not insolent, nor haughty, nor boastful." The Didascalia further enjoins the bishop:
And let him be scant and poor in his food and drink, that he may be able to be watchful in admonishing and correcting those who are undisciplined. And let him not be crafty and extravagant, nor luxurious, nor pleasure-loving, nor fond of dainty meats. And let him not be resentful, but let him be patient in his admonition; and let him be assiduous in his teaching, and constant in reading the divine Scriptures, that he may interpret, and expound the Scriptures fittingly. And let him compare the Law and the Prophets with the Gospel.... But before all let him be a good discriminator between the Law and the Second Legislation, that he may distinguish and show what is the Law of the faithful.
The bishop was also a preacher, seated upon the magisterial cathedra. It should be said, however, that preaching in the ante-Nicene period was a responsibility shared by several of the ministers, not the bishops alone. It will be well at this point to say more about preaching in general in the ante-Nicene Church.
Revelatory preaching seems to have been limited to prophets, especially numerous in the New Testament epoch. Missionary preaching, with a view to conversion, was the responsibility of all the ministers of the Church in the measure that they had ability and opportunity. A third kind of preaching was the dying or testamentary speech of church leaders and martyrs, echoing the farewell addresses of the patriarchs and of Jesus himself at the Last Supper.
The fourth and most common kind of preaching was cultual. Such preaching was directed to catechumens, to neophytes after their baptism, and to the faithful during the liturgical assembly. It is the direct ancestor of the sermons we know today. The earliest example of a congregational sermon was that of an Egyptian lector preached at a group baptism, namely, II Clement. Three principal forms of cultual preaching have been recently distinguished.116 The first is the encomium or eulogy, originally on Christ and subsequently on the martyrs and saints, delivered on a festal occasion, and modeled on Greek exemplars. Melito of Sardis' recently recovered On the Passion is an example of a paschal encomium. The second type of cultual sermon was the homily or expository discourse, brought to a fine art by Origen on the basis of Philonic precedent. The third form of the sermon was thematic based upon the Stoic and Cynic diatribe. It was destined to become the regnant type of liturgical sermon in the fourth century.
With this excursus on preaching we may return to another of the ante-Nicene bishop's functions. The bishop was a judge. His judicial function as vicegerent of God and interpreter of the Law along with the whole clergy is very well delineated in the Didascalia. All Christians are reminded that they must not take altercations among themselves before pagan tribunals, nor should the church "admit a testimony from the heathen against any of our own people." The bishop, with the presbyters and deacons continuously present, hears suits and gives judgment only on Mondays so that there may be a whole week for a Lord's Day reconciliation between the "parties," expressly not called "brethren" until they are reconciled. The bishop is reminded that he must not be a respecter of persons and he and his associates are enjoined to judge ² as you also are surely to be judged, even as you have Christ for a partner and assessor and counselor and spectator with you in the same cause." The clergy as judges are urged "diligently" to keep the parties in the mood of friendliness, to take heed of the spirit and past behavior of the contestants, but to bear in mind the possibility that the accused person may have "formerly committed some sin, but is innocent of this present charge." Remarking on the scrupulosity, the caution, and the willingness of the civil judges who deliberate long and arduously, who draw the curtain to take thought and counsel much together, and who fairly interrogate the accused even though a murderer, the Didascalia goes on to counsel the bishops not to be "in haste to sit in judgment forthwith, lest you be constrained to condemn a man."
With this delineation of the bishop as judge, preacher, and teacher we could complete our survey of the ministries of the ante-Nicene period, if we were content to remain in the cities where Christianity was most at home and where its characteristic institutions evolved to meet the needs of largely urban populations. But as Christianity penetrated the countryside, it was hampered because it was unable to manage the two principal sacraments, so closely linked with the bishop. There were at least three possible solutions: (1) to delegate the sacerdotal functions of the bishop to resident priests, as was being done in the large cities, (2) to develop rural diaconates, and (3) to encourage the rural bishops (chorepiskopoi).
The village bishop of limited powers was probably a relic from the days before the municipal bishops had assimilated all their prerogatives and powers and therewith set the episcopal pattern. Instead of encouraging, the new forces operative in the Church sought to limit the powers of the rural bishop and to demote him with a designation implying inferiority: chorepiskopos. This "revolution" or differentiation within the episcopal order was obscurely completed by the middle of the third century,111and therewith obliged the church to work out other means of bringing the gospel and the sacraments to the countryside. But the chorepiskopos is too interesting a relic to put to one side without further examination.
The Apostolic Church Order, c. 300, surely reflects earlier usage118 when it has Peter provide for the election of a chorepiskopos thus:
If there should be a place having a few faithful men in it, before the multitude sufficiently increase to vote (psephisasthai), who shall be able to make a dedication to pious uses for the bishop to the extent of twelve men, let them write to the churches round about them, informing them of the place in which the multitude of the faithful [assemble and] are established that their chosen men in that place may come, that they may examine with diligence him who is worthy of this grade.119
After describing the qualifications for the office very much as a bishop is described in other church orders, except that here the want of ability in letters is clearly stated to be no bar, the Order goes on in the same infelicity of style to give some obscure instructions about the ordination of presbyters by the chorepiskopos. Rural bishops had been accustomed to ordaining in emulation of the municipal bishops but by c. 314 at the Council of Ancyra in Galatia120 (canons 13, 32, 42) they were firmly enjoined not to ordain presbyters and deacons outside their own "parishes" without written consent from a full bishop. Otherwise their sacramental powers remained complete. About 315 at the Council of Neocaesarea (canon 74) their relationship to the full bishops was declared to be that of the seventy (disciples)12l to the Twelve. Their itinerancy may be suggested by the comparison with the disciples (later canons confirm this impression), and they are expressly noted for "their devotion to the poor." By 325 at the Council of Nicaea (canon 8) the process of demoting the chorepiskopos was furthered in admitting lapsed bishops to the Catholic chorepiscopate if the Catholic bishop of the local see deemed fit.
Nevertheless, though threatened by successive canonical legislation inspired by the city bishops, the chorepiskopoi in the East continued to serve a useful purpose in extending the ministry of baptism and the Eucharist into the countryside in the period before the delegation of full sacerdotal power to the presbyters could be effected.
Long before the process was completed there had been a class of rural presbyters whose sacerdotal powers were only ad hoc and who lost their status whenever the municipal bishop or the town presbyters happened to make a visitation (Neocaesarea, canon 12).122 The earliest reference to rural presbyters (and also rural teachers) is in a letter of Bishop Dionysius of Alexandria (c. 247-64).123 Whether these numerous Egyptian presbyters also had only delegated ad hoc sacerdotal powers (baptism and Eucharist) is not certain but probable.
The remaining ante-Nicene experiment in delegating episcopal functions to meet the needs of the rural constituencies was the enlargement of the scope of the diaconate, since the deacon from the beginning had been the attendant or the representative of the bishop. The evidence for this tendency is meager and largely inferential and Western. The Council of Elvira (306, canon 77 ) regulates deacons who are improperly governing the faithful in certain localities without direct episcopal supervision and without priests. Here the regulation concerns only baptism. The Council of Arles (314), however, knows of many places in which deacons offer the Eucharist and it seeks to abolish the practice (canon 13). Several of the church orders of the third century give additional evidence of trying to keep deacons in their zeal from exceeding their proper duties. Then at the Council of Nicaea in 325 (canon 18) it was decreed that deacons henceforth should not communicate the presbyters.
This canon did not, to be sure, touch upon the rural diaconate, and the Council as a whole was content to leave the chorepiscopate as it had been limited by Ancyra and Neocaesarea, but by implication it confirmed the emerging pattern of the sacerdotal, parochial presbyterate as the constitutional solution of the pastoral problem of both the big city and the countryside. Canon 18 should therefore be before us in full, as it marks an epoch; in a few lines it records what has happened:
It has become known to this holy and great council that in localities and cities the deacons distribute the Eucharist to the presbyters, though it is contrary to the canon and the tradition that they who may not themselves offer the sacrifice should distribute the body of Christ to those who do offer the sacrifice. It has also become known that some deacons receive the Eucharist before the bishops. All that shall be discontinued now and the deacons shall remain in their place, knowing that they are servants (hyperetai) of the bishop and in rank subordinate to the presbyters. They are to receive the Eucharist in accordance with their rank, after the presbyters, a bishop or presbyter administering it to them. The deacons also are not to sit in the midst of the presbyters; for what has happened is contrary to rule and order. If anyone, after these ordinances, still refuses to obey, let him cease from the diaconate.124
In abolishing the practice of deacons' communicating the presbyters, the Nicene Council characterized as against tradition what had, in fact, been primitively the natural function of the servants of the bishops, namely, to pass the bread and wine and first of all to the liturgically nonparticipant but revered and seated elders (presbyters) of the congregation.
This canon thus provides a point of easy reference for the summary of the evolution of the ministry in the two hundred years traced since the close of the New Testament epoch. The bishop and the presbyter are in this canon alike sacerdotes who offer the Eucharistic sacrifice. The deacon who at the primitive Eucharist served the presbyters as the venerable elders of the Christian fellowship is now a member of the third order down from the episcopate in a society of clearly demarcated clerical ranks. For while this process was going on and presbyters were becoming priests in their own right, the primitively cultual bishops assumed more and more of the disciplinary functions of the presbyters and the magisterial functions of the teachers. The city bishops have, moreover, dissociated themselves from the rural bishops who are being depressed as a kind of intermediate order between bishops and presbyters. The city episcopate is well on the way to monopolizing the rite of the imposition: of hands in ordination, a practice once associated with both pagan teachers and Jewish elders and rabbis and by now projected into apostolic times as the unique function of the apostles qua bishops. At the Council of Arles the Western bishops had decreed that henceforth at least three consecrating bishops were necessary for the elevation of a cleric to their rank, and this is repeated at Nicaea, bringing, for example, the ancient presbyteral constitution of Alexandria to an end.
Metropolitans, the bishops of provincial capitals, are emerging as authoritative in their presidency of the provincial councils. In the measure that bishops have taken counsel with one another in correspondence and councils,125 they have developed a sense of catholic confraternity and solidarity whereby they are beginning to feel somewhat apart from their local presbyteries. Collectively in their councils they are the organ of the Holy Spirit. It may be significant in this connection that the first councils were convened in Asia Minor to wrest control of the Church from the hands of the Montanist prophets who claimed to speak through the authority of the Spirit. Canon 5 of Nicaea requires two provincial synods a year made up exclusively of bishops. Spiritual men, exercising their divine, disciplinary, and doctrinal authority, they are collectively able to judge all things and be judged by none.
1 The term "charismatic" has been used to designate this triad of what Adolf von Harnack called the "universal" as distinguished from the "local" ministry. The term became prominent in the writings of Karl Holl and Max Weber, who stressed the distinction between inspired and institutional leadership. The occasional employment in the present chapter of the term "charismatic" to designate the triad of ministries which Harnack and Holl, each in his own way, had in mind does not necessarily imply an acceptance of their theories for classifying the ministries of the ancient church.
2 This view has been put forward with freshness by Friedrich Gerke (with special reference to Clement of Rome) in his contribution to The Ministry and the Sacraments, Roderic Dunkerley, ed. (New York and London, 1937), 343 ff.
3 An excellent survey chapter of the Jewish influence in the organization of the ancient Church is that of T. G. Jalland, The Origin and Evolution of the Christian Church (London, 1948), chaps. 1-5. For a quite recent study, see E. Stauffer, "Jüdisches Erbe im urchristlichen Kirchenrecht," Theologische Literatuneitung, LXXVII (1952), 4.
4 This has been especially clearly seen by Arnold Erhardt, "The Beginnings of Monepiscopacy," Church Quarterly Review, CXL (1945), 113 ff.
5 Henri Grégoire has recently argued that Polycarp died in 177, Analecta Bollandiana, (1951), 1-38.
6 Martin Werner has given prominence to the eschatological motif of co-rule with Christ as the authentically apostolic element in the rise of monepiscopacy. The bishop's throne is the symbol of his future role in the Kingdom. Die Entstehung des christlichen Dogmas (Bern, 1941), 636-66,
7Though this ideal renews that of the pastoral epistles, it should also be observed that the concern for widows, orphans, and the poor is a characteristic motif of the ancient mirrors of princes.
8 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, v, 20, 5-8.
9 Ibid., 24, 17.
10 Ep. to Polycarp, 1, 2.
11 Martyrdom of Polycarp (c. 156), xvi, 2.
12 The view of F. F. Vokes, The Riddle of the Didache (London, 1938).
13 The Epistle of Clement has been subject to exhaustive scrutiny, as it is of capital importance, both for those who prefer to stress the institutional ministry with its historic sanctions and those who favor the "charismatic" ministry. A noteworthy analysis of the legitimist tradition is that of Gregory Dix, The Apostolic Ministry, Kenneth Kirk, ed. (New York and London, 1946), 253-62; another, in the spiritualist tradition, is that of F. Gerke, loc. cit., 357-63.
14 On the influence of the Jerusalemite Sanhedrin on the theory and practices of both the ecclesiastical and the synagogal presbytery, see Arnold Ehrhardt, "Jewish and Christian Ordination," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, V (1954), 125.
15Our principal sources are Jerome (behind whom perhaps we can identify Origen), Ambrosiaster, the two Severi, and Eutychius. It is Patriarch Eutychius (933-940) who belatedly supplies us with the figure twelve. See the classical discussion of the peculiarities in J. B. Lightfoot, "The Christian Ministry" Philippians (rev. ed.; London, 1881), esp. 230 ff. For a recent reconstruction of the obscure period in Alexandrian Christian history, see W. Telfer, "Episcopal Succession in Egypt," Journal of Ecclesistical History, III (1952), 1 ff. and idem, "Meletius of Lycopolis and Episcopal Succession in Egypt," The Harvard Theological Review, XLVIII (1955) 227.
16 Dialogue with Trypho, 19, 116 117. On the place of Melchizedek in cult and polemic, see Georges Bardy, "Melchisédech dans la tradition patristique," Revue biblique, XXXV (1926), 496; XXXVI (1927), 25; Marcel Simon, "M. dans la polemique entre juifs et chrétiens," Revue d'histoire et de la phi1osophie religieuses, XVII (1937), 58.
17 The detail about very early morning is derived from the roughly contemporary Letter of Pliny to Trajan (112). The description is compounded of The First Apology, 67 and 66; the translation is that of Edward Hardy Early Christian Writers, Christian Classics, I, edited by Cyril Richardson (Philadelphia, 1953), 286 ff. (italics mine).
18 Apud Eusebius, H. E., iv, 23, 10.
20 Didascalia, ii, 20; cf. the prayer in the so-called Clementine Liturgy:
"Look upon him now being admitted to ready thy Holy Scriptures to thy people, and give him a holy spirit, a prophetic spirit; thou who didst make wise thy servant Esdras to read thy laws to thy people, now also in answer to our prayers make wise thy servant...." (Apostolic Constitutions, viii, 22.)
21 Others claim that it evolved from the diaconate. Cf. Adolf von Harnack, "On the Origin of the Readership and the Other Lower Orders," Sources of the Apostolic Canons, tr. by L. A. Wheatley (London, 1895). In an introductory essay John Owen, seeing the readership enhanced with the rising culture of the ancient Church, goes so far in interpreting the excursus by Harnack as to construe the whole history of Church orders as a continuing conflict between Reader and Priest, that is, between instruction and liturgy. A solid Catholic consideration of the readership, taking Harnack into account, is that of Franz Wieland, Die genetische Entwicklung der sogenannten Ordines minores, Romische Quartalschrift, Supplementheft 7 (Rome, 1897).
22 Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, ii, 8.
23 Ibid, 49, 82.
24 Letter to Flora, c. 160; preserved by Epiphanius, Panarion, xxxiii, 7. This is the first appearance in extant Christian literature of the terms. The succession in this case appears to have been Ptolemy, Valentinus, Theodas -- in his youth a hearer of Paul.
25The act of the laying on of hands had diverse meaning in the ancient Church. It was also used in solemn benediction, in the exorcism of healing, at baptism, in confirmation, and ordination Five important studies here are Johannes Behm, Die Handauflegung im Urchristentum (Leipzig, 1911), Joseph Coppens, L'imposition des mains (Louvain, 1925), Pieter Elderenbosch, De Oplegging der Handen (The Hague, 1953), Arnold Ehrhardt, The Apostolic Succession (London, 1953), and idem, "Jewish and Christian Ordination," Journal of Eccleesiastical History, V (1954).
26 This asseveration would indicate that in considerable measure Justin, in his description of the Eucharistic service in The Apology, had in mind not the bishop's service but that of one of the presbyters in his own house and that the reason for giving two largely repetitive descriptions of the Eucharist is that one is the postbaptismal Eucharist at which the bishop of the Roman community would have been present and the second was the more intimate local gathering without the bishop.
27 Martyrdom of Justin, as translated by Robert Grant, Second Century Christianity (London, 1946), 110.
28 Against Heresies, iv, xxvi, 2. Recent works on the ministry in Irenaeus are John Lawson, The Biblical Theology of Saint Irenaeus (London, 1946), chap. 13; Einar Molland "Irenaeus of Lugdunum and the Apostolic Succession," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, I (1950), 12; L. Spikowski, La doctrine de l'Eglise chez S. Irénée (Strasbourg, 1926).
29 lbid, iii, 3, 1.
30 Ibid, iv, xxvi, 2.
31 Ibid, v, xxxiv, 3.
32 Ibid, iv, xviii, 4 f.; v, ii, 3.
33 Ibid, iii, xvi, 7.
34 The apologetic motif is stressed by B. LeRoy Burkhart in "The Rise of the Christian Priesthood," Journal of Religion, XXII (1942), 187: ". . . under the necessity of meeting pagan criticism Christian leaders brought back into use the ancient terminology of religion."
35Against Heresies, iv, 18, 4-6.
36 Rather than being the New Testament counterpart of the Old Covenantal priest, as, for example, in Clement and the Didache, 13.
37 Polycrates to Victor of Rome (189-98), apud Eusebius, H. E., v, 24, 3.
38 That the Tradition was the work of Hippolytus was denied by J. Vernon Bartlet, Church Life and Church Order during the First Four Centuries (London, 1941) and held open to question by A. Hamel, Die Kirche bei Hippolyt (Gütersloh, 1951). The basic work of each was done (respectively, 1922 and 1929) before Gregory Dix completed his masterful reconstruction (the original Greek being largely lost) from the various Oriental and Latin versions, The Apostolic Tradition (London, 1937). Most scholars agree with Dix and his forerunners, B. E. Easton and notably R. H. Connolly, in assigning it to Hippolytus and differ only in the details of the reconstruction and preferred readings. Cyril Richardson has found reasons to date the Tradition as a tract for the times on the death of Victor in 197, Anglican Theological Review, III (1948), 38. Perhaps the most recent vindication of the Hippolytan authorship is that of Odo Casel, "Die Kirchenordnung Hippolyts von Rom," Archiv für Liturgiewissenschaft, II (1952), 115. Casel agrees with H. Elfers against R. Lorentz that despite the Alexandrian elements in the Tradition it is the work of Hippolytus. The long review deals especially with the Eucharist. Besides the critical English (Greek and Latin) text of Dix, there are the Coptic-German text, edited by Walter Till and Johannes Leipoldt, and the Ethiopic-German text by Hugo Duensing (1946).
39 The Greek and Latin nominatives in the various versions and reconstructions are nominatio, electio, eklesis.
40 From the Tradition and other church orders sources we know that the act of witnessing to the faith in time of persecution qualified one to be cleric and also that a distinction was made among confessors between slaves and freemen. Hippolytus wished to make the distinction absolute and disqualify his rival, the former slave, Callistus.
41 In Latin consentio, in Greek syneudokeo; the latter is used also of the act of the whole Church in I Clement 44:3.
42 So, the Coptic Canons of Hippolytus, can. 2, Wilhelm Riedel, ed., Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (Leipzig, 1900), 201.
43 The Syrian of Palestinian apocryphal Acts of Peter, chap. x (c. 190), representing the Lord as laying his hands on the apostles, may reflect this usage for bishops at a slightly earlier date than the Tradition.
44 Tradition, ii, Dix, ed., 2-5. It is possible that the much later Coptic Canons Of Hippolytus preserves an authentic reading where the ordaining prayer is extended to beseech the episcopal gift of "dissolving all the shackles of the iniquity of the demons and of healing all sicknesses." W. Riedel, op. cit., 202. In the pseudonymous Epistle of Clement to James, ii, which prefaces the Clementine Homilies, binding and loosing are interpreted in terms both of the physician's and the teacher's art.
45 Hippolytus refers to a decree of indulgence by Callistus, Philosophoumena, ix, 12, and this decree has commonly been identified with the "peremptory edict" referred to by Tertullian in De pudicitia, 1. Herein he attacks one whom he calls sarcastically pontifax maximus, episcopus episcoporum. Much of recent scholarship is inclined to identify the object of Tertullian's wrath with Bishop Agrippinus of Carthage, whom Cyprian also mentions adversely, Ep. 71, 4.
46 Philosophoumena, ix, 12. See Albert Koeniger, "Prima sedes a nemine judicatur," Beiträge zur Geschichte des Altertums (Bonn and Leipzig, 1922) and Werner, op cit., 60 (660).
47 Op. cit., i, praefatio, 6.
48 Epistola apostolorum, 41, M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford, 1924), 500; with reference to the Greek text behind the Coptic and Ethiopic, C. Schmidt, Texte und Untersuchungen, 43, 132 f.
49 This exclusiveness may be related to the fact that a crown of lilies was associated with virgins, while martyrs carried crowns of roses to their execution.
50 Following C. H. Turner, as does Gregory Dix, who separates the preface common to the ordaining prayers of each from the prayers proper to bishop and presbyter, respectively, op. cit., 80.
51 To simplify a complicated and shifting nomenclature, it should be noted that originally martyr meant a witness of Christ's resurrection. Confessor was the Latin equivalent. In due course both terms were used in Latin and Greek forms, and a distinction was sometimes made between those who had physically suffered under torture (martyrs) and those who had valorously but without hurt witnessed the faith (confessors), The most important recent study of the place of the confessor and martyr is that of Hans von Campenhausen, Die Idee des Martyrium in der alten Kirche (Göttingen, 1936), replete with the earlier literature.
52 The installation (katastasis) of a confessor as a bishop, however, does require the imposidon of hands.
53 Nevertheless, Philosophoumena, ix, 12, 22, does include deacons among the clergy, which, of course, is not the same as the presbyterate or the later priesthood. A very full account of the ante-Nicene diaconate is that of Adam Otterbein, The Diaconate according to the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus and Derived Documents, Catholic University of America Studies in Sacred Theology, No. 95 (Washington, 1945).
54 Didascalia apostolorum, ii, 44; R. H. Connolly, ed. (Oxford, 1929), 109.
55 Loc. cit., ii, 28; Connolly, op. cit., 80.
56 Not, however, in the Tradition, xxxiv, where a watchman maintained by the bishop at the cemetery is mentioned. Originally doorkeepers and gravediggers were one with the subdeacons. Eventually, with the extension of the catacombs these functions were differentiated and fully clericalized.
57 Op cit., i, 17, 8.
58 Libanius, for example, thus refers to teachers. Cf. G. R. Sievers, Das Leben des Libanius (Berlin, 1868), 41, with notes. I am indebted to my colleague Professor Glanville Downey of Dumbarton Oaks for this reference.
59 That he was a presbyter of the church in Carthage we have solely from Jerome.
60 On Baptism, 17.
61 On Penitence, 9. In the Epistola canonica, c. 254, of Gregory the Wonderworker, wherein the system of stational penitence is described, the bishop rather than the presbyters is the administrator of the acts of forgiveness.
62 De praescriptione, 41.
63 On Exhortation to Chastity, 7.
64 On the Soul, 9.
65 The best overall account of Clement's place in the history of the ministry is that of R. B. Tollinton, Clement of Alexandria (London, 1914), II, chap. 15.
66 Such is the fascinating conjecture of the already cited article of W. Telfer, "Episcopal Succession."
67Armenia, which had also received Christianity very early, had only one bishop as late as around 250.
68 Serapion was bishop from c. 339 to c. 350. The simple prayers suggest greater antiquity than the fourth century, as does the mention of only three orders in a unique sequence. On the antiquity of the formularies both Gregory Dix, who projected a new edition, and J. Vernon Bartlet agreed. Cf. Dix in The Apostolic Ministry, 214, n. 1, and Bartlet, op. cit., 27. The text is available in English, John Wordsworth, ed., 2nd ed. (London, 1923).
69 Who is the Rich Man that shall be Saved? xiii; A.N.F., II, 603 f.
70 Stromata, vi, 13, A.N.F., II, 504.
71 Ibid., vii, 1, 3.
72 Ibid., vi, 13. Observe how gnostic spirituality, Pauline spirituality, and the apostolic expectation that the saints would judge and co-rule with Christ here coalesce in fascinating substantiation of M. Werner's thesis. See above, n. 6.
73 The idea has been suggested by Karl Holl, Enthusiasmus und Bussgewalt (Leipzig, 1898); cf. Gesammette Aufsatze, II (Tübingen, 1928), 256 ff.; Walter Völker, Das Vollkommenheitsideal des Origenes (Tübingen (1931), esp. 187-92; idem, "Die Vollkommenheitslehre des Klemens," Theologische Zeitschrift, III (1947), 15; von Campenhausen, op cit.
74 As such, Origen was the effective founder of the School of Alexandria Gustave Bardy, "Aux origines de l'École d'Alexandrie," Recherches de science religieuse, XXVII (1937), 65.
75 The texts have been gathered by W. Völker, Das Vollkommenheitsideal, 180 ff. Origen seems to have distinguished between an Aaronic and a Melchizedekian high-priesthood.
76 Apud Cyprian, Ep. lxxiv, 2.
77 Translated by Henry Chadwick in Alexandrian Christianity, Christian Classics, II (Philadelphia and Edinburgh, 1954).
78 Eusebius, H. E., vii, 29.
79 Op. cit., praem., xiii.
80 See E. G. Weltin, "Origen's 'Church'", Studies Presented to David M. Robinson, George E. Mylonas and Doris Raymond, eds. (St. Louis, 1953), II 1015 ff. I have not been able to see Carl V. Harris, "Origen of Alexandria's Interpretation of the Teacher's Function in the Early Hierarchy and Community," doctoral dissertation, Duke University, 1952. R. B. Tollinton has assembled several beautiful passages on "The Task of the Teacher," Selections from the Commentaries and Homilies of Origen (London, 1929), 156-93.
81 W. Metcalfe, ed., Gregory Thaumaturgus: Address to Origen (London, 1920), 62 ff.
82 In Lucam, xxxviii; Tollinton, op. cit., 164.
83 In Leviticum, Hom. v, 8; Tollinton, op. cit., 178.
84 In Johannem, vi, 1 f.; Tollinton, op. cit., 160.
85 The Catholic scholars: Yves Congar and Abbé Long-Hasselmans point out, significantly, that Cyprian limited his use of the priestly designations like sacerdos to bishops and presbyters when actually engaged in priestly functions, reserving the older usage to refer to them as officers of the Church. Both these Catholics feel that Cyprian's usage indicates the survival of a strong sense of the clergy as priests in their representative capacity as spokesmen of the whole royal-priestly people of God. "Sur la sacerdoce," Revue des sciences religieuses, XXV (1951), 187, 270.
86 Epistle LXII, (63, 17)
87 Martin Werner is very illuminating in analyzing the problem of Cyprian and the confessors in eschatological terms, op. cit., 636-66, esp. 659; see also H. Koch, Cyprianische Untersuchungen, Arbeiten zur Kirchengeschichte, IV (1926), 79-131; 211-64.
88 Epistle XXIII.
89 The Numidian confessors spoke of him thus, Epistle LXXVIII, 2. Cf. Harnack, "Cyprian als Enthusiast," Zeitschrift für neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, III (1902).
90 Epistle LXVlII 4; 9.
91 Ibid., 8.
92 Epistle Ll, 20.
93 Epistles LXlll, LXVIII.
94 Epistle LXVII, 5.
95 Ibid, 3; 5.
96 Epistle LXV; De lapsis, 6.
97 In the much later Testament of Our Lord, i, 23, the laity are not merely prospherentes (offerentes) but they in a sense concelebrate with the bishops in repeating the eucharistic prayer aloud.
98 This is particularly prominent in the stenographically preserved account of Origen's synodal interview with Heraclides, after which "the people must give solemn consent.
99 See E. E. Kemp, Canonization in the Western Church (Oxford, 1948), chap. 1.
100 The Liberian Catalogue.
101 The description purports to be the words of Peter as embodied in a letter by Clement of Rome to James of Jerusalem. The whole letter to James, "bishop of bishops," introduces the Pseudo Clementine Homilies.
102The popularity of the Clementine literature and the frequent allusion to this particular image vouch for its accuracy as a poetic transcript of the corporate ministry in the period of its composition. The crucial text is that of Bernard Rehm, Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller, XLII (Berlin and Leipzig, 1953), 16; the English translation is that of Thomas Smith, A.N.F., VIII, 220 f.
103 Cf. the elaboration of this marine image in the later Apostolic Constitutions, Iv, ii.
104 Preserved by Eusebius, H. E. vi, 43, 11.
105 This is the view of F. Wieland, op. cit.
106 Cyprian, Epistle VII, 4, 5.
107 op, cit., xvi; the same is true in the fourth-century Apostolic Constitution, viii, 26.
108 See further Evelyn Frost, Christian Healing . . . in the Light of the Doctrine and Practice of the Ante-Nicene Church (London, 1949).
lO9 The Apostolic Church Order in its present form dates from the end of the third century, but Bartlet, among others, would date parts of it as early as 200, op. cit.,
For the whole of the evidence on the female diaconate, see the well-documented but insufficiently integrated Report to the Archbishop of Canterbury entitled The Ministry of Women (London, 1919); also G. Huls, De dienstder vrouw in de Kerk (Wageningen, 1951).
110 The distribution of the fermentum in Rome is documented as late as the episcopate of Innocent I (402-17), Epistle XXV, 5. The distribution of the episcopally eucharized bread to the presbyters is roughly analogous to the reservation of confirmation as the episcopal prerogative in the compound action of baptism-confirmation. Both represent efforts to preserve something of the older unity of the church embodied in the pastoral actions of their bishop in accommodation to an ever-growing membership.
111 Didascalia, ix; Apostolic Church Order, can. 11.
112 Apostolic Church Order, can. 2.
113 Testament of our Lord, i, 34, 12 which in its present form dates from the fifth century but which may well preserve ancient material. The Testament must surely preserve ante-Nicene usage when in the ordaining prayer it beseeches the Lord not to "take away from the (corporate) presbyterate the Spirit of presbyterate." Op. cit., i, 3S; cf. Apostolic Constitutions, viii, 28; 46, 1. Also primitive may be the gift of healing in presbyters, Testament, 1, 47; 29; Apostolic Constitutions, viii, 16.
114 0p. cit., viii-ix. The food, literally salt, must refer to fellowship meals (agapes).
115 Didascalia, ii, 27. The translation is that of R. H. Connolly, op. cit. At this point our text goes on echoing the phrases of Ignatius, likening the deacons to Christ and the deaconesses to the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere, the deacon is likened also to the prophet, ii, 29.
The other references in the following paragraphs to the a Didascalia are, ii, 2; ii, 26; 32 f.; ii, 5; 4S-S3.
116 Bo Reicke, "A Synopsis of Early Preaching," The Root of the Vine, Anton Fridrichsen, ed. (New York, 1953).
117 The characterization is J. Leclercq's in "Choreveques," Dictionnaire d'archeologie chretiennes et de Liturgie, III (Paris, 1913) of the same view is Jacques le Clef, "Chorévêques," Dictionnaire de droit canonique, III (Paris, 1942).
118 For the probable early date, see above, n. 109.
119 Theodor Schermann, ed., Die Allegemeine Kirchenordnung, I (Paderborn, 1914), 24 f.
120 For the reconstruction of the canons, see R. B. Rackham, "The Text of the Canons of Ancyra," Studia Biblica et Ecclesiastica (Oxford, 1891), III, 139-216, esp. 192.
121 But cf. the seventy elders of Israel, Num. 6:16 f.
122 The usual version of this canon indicates that the structure applied to the country priest in a city church, but the reading of the version edited by G. B. Howard gives what seems to me the more probable meaning. The Canons of the Primitive Church (from a Syrian MS London, 1897), 25.
123 Apud Eusebius, H. E., vii, 24, 6.
124 Text adapted from that of H. J. Schroeder, Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Translation, and Commentary (St. Louis and London, 1937), 49.
125 Tertullian was the first to use concilium ecclesiastically; Dionysius of Alexandria the first to use synodos. The most recent study of the councils is that of Monald Goemans, Het algemeen concilie in de vierde eeuw (Nijmegen, 1945).