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PAUL BRADSHAW
EARLY CHURCH
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY
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THE LITURGY AND MUSIC: A Study of the U
Traditions by Robin A. Leaver
WHAT DIDCRANMER THINK HE WAS DO
HIPPOLYTUS: A Text for students with tra.
by Geoffrey J. Cuming
LAY PRESIDENCY AT THE EUCHARIST? Edited by Trevor L10yd
GREGORY DIX-TWENTY-FIVE YEARS ON by Kenneth Stevenson
USING THE BIBLE IN WORSHIP Edited by Christopher Byworth
WORSHIP IN THE NEW TESTAMENT by C. F. D. Moule (£3)
THE END OF THE OFFERTORY: An Anglican Study by Colin Buchanan
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THE WESTMINSTER DIRECTORY OF PUBLIC WORSHIP
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E. C. RATCLlFF: REFLECTIONS ON LITURGICAL REVISION
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HE GAVE THANKS: AN INTRODUCTION TO THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
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LUTHER'S LITURGICAL CRITERIA AND HIS REFORM OF THE CANON OF THE
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EUCHARISTIC SACRIFICE-THE ROOTS OF A METAPHOR
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WHOSE OFFICE? DAILY PRAYER FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD
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ANGLD-CATHOLlC WORSHIP: An Evangelical Appreciation after 150 years
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EUCHARISTIC LITURGIES OF EDWARD VI: A Text for Students
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BACKGROUND DOCUMENTS ON LITURGICAL REVISION 1547-1549
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LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
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WHY LITURGICAL WORSHIP AT ALL?
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IVI.ENIGliEfSFAI(ULTEI'ETS
BIBLIOTEK

Liturgical Presidency
in the
Early Church
by
Vice-Principal of Ripon College, Cuddesdon, Oxford
Member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission
BRAMCOTE
GROVE BOOKS
NOTTS. NG93DS
• 1. THE JEWISH BACKGROUND
This study is a revised and expanded version of a paper with the same
title originally presented to the Society for Liturgical Study at its
meeting in Cambridge in April 1983.
First Impression December 1983
AUTHOR'S NOTE
1 See J. Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (SCM, London, 1969) pp.198-207.
2 Ta'an. 4.2, in H. Danby, The Mishnah (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1933) p.794.
3 Babylonian Talmud, Ber. 46a.
4 See 1 OS 6.4-6; OSa 2.17-21; Josephus, Jewish War 2.131.
3
First-century Judaism appears to have known a number of different
forms of what might be described as liturgical presidency. First of all,
there was that exercised in the temple cult by the priesthood. This was
a professional (and hereditary) group whose principal function had by
this time become the offering of sacrifice of behalf of the nation,
though even this was not a full-time occupation. The priests and levites
were divided into twenty-four clans or courses, each consisting of an
average of 300 priests and 400 levites. The courses came up to
Jerusalem in turn to perform one week of service in the temple from
sabbath to sabbath, and lived at home in their towns and villages for
the rest of the year, where only very rarely did they exercise any priestly
function, such a declaring a leper clean after he had been healed (see
Matt. 8.4; Luke 17.14). They received various tithes and taxes, but this
was not sufficient to keep them throughout the year, and they were
obliged to undertake other work to supplement their income.
1
The only real way in which others might associate themselves with
their liturgical functions was through the institution of the ma'amadoth
or 'standing-posts', groups of pious laymen attached to each of the
twenty-four courses. As each course came up to Jerusalem to fulfil its
week of duty, part of the corresponding ma'amad accompanied it and
was present at the daily sacrifices in order to represent the people as a
whole, and part of the group remained behind in the town or village
and came together at the times of the sacrifices, when they read the
account of creation in Genesis and prayed, thus associating themselves
with the offering at a distance.
2
Outside the temple cult, however, things were very different, and the
ordinary lay person had considerable opportunities for active
participation in liturgical ministry. In domestic liturgical practice it was
the prerogative of the head of the household, the host, or the senior
person present if it were a gathering of friends or colleagues, to preside
at a communal meal and to pronounce the appropriate blessings over
the food and drink in the name of all, though some Rabbis taught that
he might invite an honoured guest to say the grace at the end of the
meal instead, so that he could include within it a prayer for the host
himself: 'may it be God's will that our host should never be ashamed in
this world nor disgraced in the next world.'3 Thus presidency here was
determined entirely on the basis of status within the community, and
so, for example, among the Essenes at Qumran the priests presided
over the communal meals not because of their priestly role but because
they were the leaders of that community.4
Finally, there was the synagogue, and here there were a number of
different roles which should be carefully distinguished from one
another.
9
15
21
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3
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CONTENTS
ISSN 0306-0608
ISBN 0 907536 60 3
Copyright Paul Bradshaw 1983
• .• • , '., ,,-.:
PostsCript , , , . . 28
The 'n':'!"'r,''''" '....
: lVdJ'!!CITll' ,')hl!,\.ULIL ..... 1,) ,
From Corporate to
The Delegati6n of Presidency , . , .
From Charism , , , , " .-: . :i..: . "
The Jewish Background .
Christian Origins ,., , , .
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
Firstly, ultimate control over the synagogue and its members rested
with a body of elders, but they had no specific liturgical responsibility,
and thus the influence which they exercised on its worship was
essentially indirect, perhaps somewhat analogous to that of a Parochial
Church Council in the Church of England.
Secondly, there was the hazzan or 'attendant', mentioned in Luke 4.20.
He was a paid official who had care of the synagogue building and its
furnishings, and especially the scrolls. He also announced from the
synagogue roofthe beginning of the sabbath and of festivals, and often
acted as schoolmaster (though this was not an essential part of his
duties), as well as serving as the officer of the synagogue court for the
administration of punishment, especially carrying out the sentence of
scourging. There might thus be thought to be some parallels between
his role and that of the deacon in the early church, or of a verger in the
present-day church, but in no sense did he exercise anything which
could be called 'presidency'.
Thirdly, there was the archisunagogos or 'ruler of the synagogue'
(mentioned in Luke 8.41, 49; 13.14; Acts 13.15), apparently a kind of
permanent superintendent, though precise details of the appointment
are not clear. Some scholars have described him as the chief of the
elders of the synagogue, while others have argued that his office was
quite different from theirs. Some believe that he was elected for a
limited period, perhaps a year, others that the office was hereditary.
The suggestion has also been made that there might have been more
than one such person in each synagogue, and even that the office
could have been held by women.
1
The primary responsibility of the archisunagogos was the maintenance
of order and the supervision of the conduct of worship. It is vital to
recognize, however, a distinction between, on the one hand,
presidency proper, in the sense of oversight and direction of the
synagogue's liturgy, and, on the other hand, the actual leading of the
worship itself. The archisynagogos had the duty of inviting others to
officiate in the various parts of the service-to lead the congregation in
prayer, to read the Scriptures, and to deliver an exposition or homily.
He therefore exercised control over the synagogue service, in effect
acting as chairman or' compere' of the proceedings, and in that sense
may rightly be described as its liturgical president, but it must be
stressed that he did not have any other liturgical functions which were
his exclusive prerogative: in New Testament times the reading of the
Scriptures and the delivery of an address could be, and were,
performed by any competent person present at the invitation of the
archisunagogos, and were not limited to an ordained or permanent
clergy, for the synagogue was essentially a lay movement in Judaism.
According to the Mishnah (Yoma 7.1; Sotah 7.7), when the time came
in the service for the reading of the Scriptures, the scroll was handed to
1 See for example H. H. Rowley, Worship in Ancient Israel (SPCK, London, 1967)
p.232; Bernadette J. Brooten, Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue (Brown
Judaic Studies 36, Scholars Press, Chico, California, 1982).
4
THE JEWISH BACKGROUND
the archisunagogos by the hazzan, and he then handed it to the person
who was to read. It was precisely this role which we hear of Jesus
himself performing at the synagogue in Nazareth when the book of
Isaiah was given to him and he read from it; he then handed it back to
the hazzan and expounded its fulfilment in himself (Luke 4.16-20).
in Acts 13: 15 the archisunagogoi (note the unusual plural
here) invited Paul and SlIas to address the assembly after the reading of
the law and the prophets.
Similarly, no special qualifications were required at this time for
to be invited by the archisunagogos to function as the prayer-
leader In the synagogue service, or sheliach tzibbur, 'the messenger of
the people', as it was called: his intercession was not considered as
effective because of any personal piety, but because he was acting as
the spokesman of the community, and God would listen to him
because God was committed to his covenant with Israel.
1
In no sense,
therefore, was such a person set over against the rest of the
but was seen as a part of it, exercising a liturgical
on behalf of all from within the community and not from above
It.
At this period the precise wording of the prayers to be said in the
synagogue service had not been definitively fixed, as it was to be later,
and prayer-leader was free either to compose his own formulation,
provided he adhered to the traditional themes and objects of
prayer, or, If he were unable to do this, to recite one of the common
versions which he had heard used by others.
2
However, he was not
permitted to use any prayer-formula which addressed the congregation
in the 'you' style, since anyone who employed such a formula was
effectively setting himself apart from the rest of the congregation. To
that noted Jewish liturgical scholar Joseph Heinemann,
the prayer-leader of the synagogue is not an officiating" minister"
apart from the people and elevated above them. He is rather their
"emissary" ... and for this reason he is obliged to refrain from any
expression which would be interpreted as if he were disassociat-
ing himself from the congregation:
3
In later centuries, however, desirable characteristics for a sheliach
tzibbur began to be defined, and eligibility for the role became much
more restricted, until it tended in most instances to be taken over by
the hazz(Jn. 4
1 See G. BI!dstein, 'Sheliach Tzibbur. Historical and Phenomenological Observations' in
TradItIon 14 (1971) p. 71. I am greatly indebted to Edward Foley's excellent article,
'The Cantor in Historical Perspective' in Worship 56 (1982) pp.194-213, for this
reference.
Joseph Heinemann, Prayer in the Talmud (De Gruyter, Berlin, 1977) p.51.
IbId., p.105.
4 See Foley, op. cit., pp.198-200.
5
2. CHRISTIAN ORIGINS
Although New Testament evidence is notoriously scanty, one.
surely presume that the Jewish pattern of volunteer. leadersh.IP. In
worship would have been continued by. Ch.ns.tlan
communities. Not only would it have been. familiar .to Jewish Christians
from their past, but participation in by members of
congregations was entirely in accord with the understanding
of ministry especially as delineated in the Paullne where t.he
rinciple affirmed that everything is to be done In accordance with
fhe individual gifts which each from God the Holy
Spirit. The locus classicus for this IS, of 1 COrl.nthlans 12.4f.,
where Paul states that there are of gifts. but all
deriving from one Spirit; there are varieties of service (dlakomal), all
deriving from the service of the one Lord; and there vanetles of
activities (energemata), but all deriving fror:n one God. It IS,
supported by such evidence as we with regard. to e.arly Christian
practice, and especially by 1 Connthlans 14, which. Ind.lcates the
involvement of different people in making various contnbutlons to the
community's worship:
'when you come together, each one has a hymn,. a lesson, a
revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done
for edification. If any speak in a tongue, let. there be only.two or
most three, and each in turn; and let one .But If there IS
no one to interpret, let each of them keep Silence In church and
speak to himself and to God. or three prop.hets. speak, and
let the others weigh what IS said. If a revelation IS made to
another sitting by, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy
one by one, so that all may learn and all be and the
spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God IS not a God of
confusion but of peace.' (1 Cor. 14.26-33).
Similarly in verse 16 of the same chapter Paul is c:ritical of those in the
community who pray in tongues, and expresses his own preference for
prayer in intelligible speech; and once again the context suggests
the remarks are addressed to the congregation as a whole and !lot Just
to a clearly defined class of were responsible for
leading the prayers: 'if you bless with the SPirit, how can anyone who
occupies the place of an ordinary person say the Ame.n t? your
thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saYing?
We may surely also presume that the Christian took
over a role analogous to that of the archisunagogos In over
the liturgical assembly and attempting to co-ordinate the. diverse
contributions made by members of the congregation. The testimony of
1 Corinthians 11 and 14 suggests that their task was not easy
and that they sometimes failed to keep the excitement,
enthusiasm or just plain selfishness of those Wishing to take part.. On
the other it should be noted that, at least in Paul's understand.lng,
the primary responsibility for the vanous
gifts of the Spirit and might exercise them In the liturgical assembly
6
CHRISTIAN ORIGINS
appears to have rested with the Christian community as a whole rather
than with a.ny.individual leaders.
1
The latter's function was presumably,
therefore, limited to enabling the congregation to arrive at a common
mind and then putting its resolution into effect. If we may borrow a
judicial metaphor at this point, the whole community acted as' jury', the
leaders merely as 'judge'.
As is well known, the New Testament evidence with regard to such
community-leaders is extremely sparse. Indeed, there are those who
would doubt the existence of any permanent leaders at all in the
earliest Christian communities. Attractive though this idea may be, it
does not do justice to the New Testament data
2
, but it does offer a
proper caution against assuming too readily that there was a formal
appointment of leaders everywhere from the first. It is possible that in
places, following the Jewish model. elders (presbyterOl) were
assigned to. take responsibility for the community from early times.
Edward Schlllebeeckx, for example, has argued that the statement in
Acts 1 that Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters in every
church In Lycaonia and Phrygia, is historically reliable.
3
On the other
hand, in other places there seems rather to have been the natural
assumption of the position of responsibility, without any formal
ordination or appointment procedure, by those who had founded the
parti?ular Christian community there, or who displayed what were
conSidered to be appropriate gifts of leadership. For, as James Dunn
has . 'authority in the primitive Church was primarily
chansmatlc In nature.'4 From the various titles which are used of those
occupying such positions, especially 'prophet' and 'teacher',
It would seem that a major element in the gifts they were expected to
have was the ability to 'speak the word of God' in some form, which
would be entirely natural in a movement with its foundation so firmly
rooted in response to the word of God. We may reasonably suppose,
therefore, that they themselves would have taken a prominent part in
the ministry of the word as well as overseeing the
contributions to the worship made by other members of the
community.
What, however, of the community's eucharistic meals? Who was
responsible for saying the blessing over the bread and wine at these?
Was this a function which any member of the congregation might
undertake, or was it permanently invested in one individual? The New
T.estament of course does not tell us, and whilst arguments from
silence are often dangerous, surely its silence on this point may be
evidence that there was no ministry which had this as
ItS main function: no one was ordained or appointed to an office which
1 See for example 1 Thess. 5.19f.; cf. James D. G. Dunn. Jesus and the Spirit (SCM,
London. 1975) pp.291 ff. .
2 " " ,',
See for example the arguments for th'e' existence of Someone in of worship in
the New Testament churches plJt forward by Colin Buchanan. Leadin!'F Worship '"
(Grove Worship Series No. 76. 1981) pp.4-6.
: Edward Schillebeeckx, Ministry: a Case ',•.
Dunn. op. Clt.• p.182. '. . LL.f /;I\.ULJETI.
7
8
1 See Bernard Cooke. Ministry to Word and Sacraments (Fortress Press; Philadephia,
1976) pp.529-30; H.- M. Legrand, 'The Presidency of the Eucharist According to
the Ancient Tradition' in Worship 53 (1979) pp.414-16.
consisted primarily of saying the eucharistic prayer, but whoever said it
did so as the natural expression of what they already were within the
community. We should not. I believe, be tempted to argue from the
apparent continuation of the sheliach tzibbur in Christian worship and
a general participation in prayer-leadership that it necessarily follows
that anyone from the congregation might have been called upon to
fulfil this function. We must remember that the two things derive from
quite separate traditions within Judaism, the voluntary participation
from the synagogue service and the saying of meal-blessings from the
domestic situation, where there is certainly no indication that the
saying of grace was performed in rotation by different members of a
family. Thus because of their status within the community we should
naturally expect the leaders to have assumed this function. Moreover,
since the eucharistic prayer had to be improvised and essentially
involved the recounting of the mighty acts of God, it is again natural to
suppose that it would have fallen to someone with the gift of
proclamation. Therefore on the grounds not only of status within the
community but also of charism, one of the leaders would have been the
obvious person to have presided at the eucharistic assembly.1

3. FROM CHARISM TO OFFICE
9
As time went on, however, and the original founders and leaders of a
community died, it would presumably not always be clear who should
succeed to the position of leadership and more necessary for there to
be s.ome appointment procedure, especially when the
possible candidates were not so unmistakeably endowed with
charismata as the previous leaders had been. This would account for
the apparent widespread adoption of a more formal structure of
leadership and ordination in the church around the end of the first
century. Within this gradual process it seems possible to detect at least
three different stages.
(a) Office as substitute for charism
This seems to be the situation reflected in the Didache a document
which has been variously dated by scholars anywhere between the first
and the third centuries, though recent opinion tends to place it earlier
than later.
1
It appears to presuppose a background in which the
ministry of those called 'apostles', 'prophets', and 'teachers' was still
known,. and it explicitly states that the prophets may give thanks at the
euchanst and, as we would expect, be free to use their own words for
this (10.7). It implies, however, that such ministers would have been
itinerant more often than resident at this period, and so it instructs its
readers to provide more permanent substitutes for them (15.1-2):
. Elect therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the
Lord, meek and not covetous, and true and approved, for they
too minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers.
Therefore do not despise them, for they are those who are to be
honoured by you with the prophets and teachers:
These efforts to persuade the congregation that status should be
accorded to the episcopoi and diaconoi equal to that already given to
the prophets and teachers suggest that the former are a recent
innovation, at least in this particular ecclesiastical situation, and that
there was _a not unnatural reluctance on the part of Christians to accept
them as the equals of the more obviously gifted leaders they had
known previously, and a tendency to prefer someone able to
demonstrate more evident liturgical skills as their president
This perhaps provides a clue as to why the Didache includes within it
certa.in written prayer-forms (chs. 9-10). There has again been a
conSiderable scholarly debate as to whether these were intended for a
eucharist, an agape, or a eucharist-agape
2
, but whatever conclusions
are on that question, what is most interesting for our present
IS .that the prayers were written down at all, something
.vlrtually unknown in the early Christian period, and indeed
forbidden In the early Jewish tradition.
3
The prayers were doubtless to
be used by the newly emerging episcopoi (though this is not explicitly
1 See for example Willy Rordorf in The Eucharist of the Early Christians (Pueblo, New
York, 1978) pp.1-2.
2 Ibid.. pp.3-9.
3 Babylonian Talmud. Shabbath 115b.

LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
stated), and hence it may well be that the unusual step of providing a
written prayer-text was taken by the author in order to help prevent
them from appearing quite as liturgically incompetent, in comparison
with those leaders possessing the charism of propheteia, as they might
otherwise have done if they had been required to extemporize prayer.
(b) Office as bestowing charism
It is not really surprising that such formally appointed community-
leaders were not generally content with a second-class status and
began to claim endowment, through their appointment to office, with
the same charismata which their predecessors had possessed, and
with the right to exercise the same liturgical functions within the
congregation, not merely the presidency of the assembly and the
improvisation of the eucharistic prayer, but also a major responsibility
for the teaching of the community. Indeed, their adoption of this latter
function was almost ineVitable. Not only would their 'charismatic'
predecessors have made a considerable contribution to the ministry of
the word, and the ordained ministers would not have wanted to be
outdone by them, but it was, as Bernard Cooke has said,
'a logical implication of their role in the community. It would be
quite difficult to envisage a situation in which responsibility for
the well-being of a faith community and leadership in that
community would not include some form of teaching.'l
This movement can be seen in the Pastoral Epistles where, for
example, Timothy is said to have received a gift when hands were laid
on him (1 Tim. 4.14; 2 Tim. 1.6), and teaching is obviously a central
feature of leadership, though 1 Timothy 5.17 may imply that only some,
and not all, presbyters had begun to 'labour in preaching and
teaching'2, whereas Titus 1.9 assumes that giving 'instruction in sound
doctrine' is a normal part of the episcopal function.
The link between charism and appointment to office also features
prominently in the earliest extant ordination prayers, those of the
Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, which is thought to date from the
beginning of the third century, though the substance of the prayers may
go back earlier than that. Here the prayers to be used at the ordination
of a bishop, a presbyter, and a deacon pray for the gifts of the Spirit
which are thought to be requisite for each office: that for the bishop
asks for 'that power which is from you, of the princely Spirit which you
granted through your beloved Son Jesus Christ to your holy apostles';
that for a presbyter 'the Spirit of grace and counsel of the presbyterate,
that he may help and govern your people with a pure heart'; and that for
a deacon 'the holy Spirit of grace and caring and diligence'.3
1 Cooke, op. cit, p.227.
2 It has to be recognized that this division of presbyters, which in the sixteenth century
became foundational to a Presbyterian polity, is not wholly clear from the original
Greek of this verse.
3 Chs. 3, 7, and 8: see G. J. Cuming, Hippolytus: a text for students (Grove Liturgical
Study No. 8. 1976) pp.9, 12-13.
10
FROM CHARISM TO OFFICE
(c) Office versus charism
There is at first no evidence that others besides the formally appointed
presbyteroi-episcopoi were not still regarded as possessing gifts of the
Spirit and able to act as liturgical presidents or ministers of the word.
On the other hand, in 1 Clement we do see a desire to take things
somewhat further. This letter, usually considered to have been written
around AD. 96, was sent from the church at Rome to the church at
Corinth, where trouble had just erupted. Although its author does his
best to play down the seriousness of what had taken place and to
attribute everything to the work of one or two agitators (47.6) or 'a few
reckless and arrogant individuals' (1.1), it is apparent that the
at Corinth had ousted the presbyters there and replaced
them With other leaders of their own choosing, and the whole of this
long letter is a series of impassioned arguments against this action and
in favour of their reinstatement. It is usually assumed that, in so doing,
the author was merely enunciating what was already the accepted rule
throughout the Church at that time, that those appointed to office were
to serve for life and could not be dismissed. If so, it is strange that he
never once refers to such a rule or tries to rest his case upon what
would have been a very strong argument, but instead spends so much
time contending for this principle upon many other grounds. This
suggests that we ought to view the letter in a somewhat different light,
not as stating what was the universally agreed doctrine of the ministry
at that period but rather as one view, and perhaps only a minority view,
which had yet to win general acceptance.
The author turns to the liturgical precedents of the Old Testament as an
important element in his argument: God had there decreed that certain
roles in liturgical matters belonged to certain ministers:
'the offerings and services he has commanded to be performed
carefully, and not to be done haphazardly or without order, but at
fixed times and hours. Where and by whom he wishes them to be
performed, he has himself determined by his supreme will, so that
everything may be done in a holy manner according to his good
pleasure and may be acceptable to his will. Those, therefore, who
make their offerings at the appointed times are acceptable and
blessed, for by following the prescriptions of the Lord they do not
go astray. For to the high priest have been given his own proper
services, and to the priests their own place has been assigned,
and for the levites their own ministrations are laid down. The lay
man is bound by the prescriptions for the laity.'
From this he goes on to draw the conclusion that
'each of you, brethren, should offer the eucharist to God in his
own order, being· of a good conscience, not transgressing the
prescribed rule of his service',
and he adds a stern warning of the consequences of disobedience:
'those, therefore, who do anything contrary to his [Le. God's] will
have death as the penalty. You see, brethren, the more knowledge
we have been given, the greater the danger we incur' (1 Clement
40.2-5; 41.1, 3-4).
11
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
He is thus firmly convinced that there are strict rules governing the
presidency of the eucharist which limit this function to those properly
ordained and exclude those whom he regards as 'Iaymen'-the first use
of the term in this sense by aChristian writer. The people of Corinth, on
the other hand, seem to be unaware of any such rules and to be equally
convinced that they are free to invite others to fulfil that role.
A not dissimilar situation appears to lie behind the letters of Ignatius of
Antioch early in the second century, which provide the first clear
evidence we have for the existence of the office of a bishop, as the
leader of a body of presbyters in charge of a local church. Though
Ignatius implies that he himself possesses the gift of prophecy
(doubtless to lend greater authority to his views) 1, yet he argues that
authority over the Christian community should rest with the bishop
rather than the prophet:
'For even though certain persons wished to deceive me after the
flesh, yet the spirit is not deceived, being from God, for it knows
whence it comes and whither it goes, and searches out the
hidden things. I cried out when I was among you, I spoke with a
loud voice, the voice of God, "Obey the bishop and the presbytery
and deacons." Some suspected me of saying this because I
already knew of division among you, but he in whom I am bound
is my witness that I did not learn it from human flesh. The spirit
preached it, speaking thus: "do nothing without the bishop; keep
your flesh as the temple of God; cherish unity; shun divisions; be
imitators of Jesus Christ. as he himself was of his Father.'"
(Philadelphians 7).
He believes that the people should be subject to the presidency of the
bishop simply because he is the bishop, even if he happens to be a
'silent' bishop, lacking the charism of propheteia.
2
As in 1 Clement. in
the last analysis it is the possession of office and not the external
manifestation of charismata which is to be the decisive criterion for
judging who is to be regarded as a true minister of the Church. Hence
he is of the view that only those celebrations of the eucharist,
baptisms, and agapes are to be accounted genuine which are presided
over by the bishop or by someone authorized by him:
'Avoid divisions, as the beginning of evils. Follow the bishop, all
of you, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as
the apostles; and to the deacons pay respect. as to a
1 See Christine Trevett•. Prophecy and Anti-episcopal Activity: A Third Error Combated
by Ignatius?'. in Journal of Ecclesiastical History 34 (1983) pp.5ft.
2 The phenomenon of 'silent' bishops in Philadelphians 1 and Ephesians 6 has been
much debated and variously interpreted: see for example Henry Chadwick, 'The
silence of bishops in Ignatius' in Harvard Theological Review 43 (1950) pp.169-
72; W. Bieder, 'Zur Deutung des kirchlichen Schweigens bei Ignatius von
Antiochen' in Theologische Zeitschrift 12 (1956) pp.28-43; P. Meinhold,
'Schweigende Bischofe: die Gegensiitze in der kleinasiatischen Gemeinde nach
den Ignatianen' in Glaube und Geschichte (Festgabe fur J. Lortz, Bd 2, Baden
Baden 195B) pp.467-90.
12
FROM CHARISM TO
commandment of God. Let no one do anything concerning the
church apart from the bishop. Let that be considered a valid
eucharist which is under the bishop or someone to whom he has
entr.usted it. Wherever the bishop appears, there let the people
be; Just as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the universal church.
It is n.ot permitted either to baptize or to hold an agape apart from
the bishop; but whatever he approves, this is also acceptable to
God, so that everything you do may be sure and valid:
1
Nevertheless, at the same time his letters provide unmistakeable
indications that there were others who did not share his opinions and
who rejected the claims to sole authority which he was making on
behalf of the newly emerging episcopate. As Christine Trevett has
observed in a recent detailed study of this question,
spirited defence of the episcopal office, his many
complaints of lack of loyalty to officers and his appeals for unity
(in sUbmi.ssion to the bishop and his fellow ministers) provide
ample eVidence that ... there were still active Christians whose
loyalty was not wholly given to the kind of ecclesiology Ignatius
favoured.'2
Many of these were apparently holding their own assemblies for
worship on the basis of the charismatic gifts which they claimed to
have received. Thus, for example, Ignatius criticizes those who
'address a man as bishop but do everything apart from him. Such
men do not seem to me to act in good conscience since they do
not assemble validly according to the commandment.'3
As in the o,f 1 Clement, therefore, we should refrain from assuming
that Ignatlus views represented the orthodoxy of his time, although
they came to b.e. espoused by the later church, and we should recognize
that the tranSition to the ecclesiology which he advocated was not
achieved without a considerable struggle. In the end, however, it did
prevail. and eventually office triumphed over charism everywhere. The
church was persuaded of the difficulty of distinguishing true prophet
from false (a problem of which both the New Testament and the
Didache had not been unaware) and of the danger of claims to private
sources of revelation, especially as they generally seemed to lead to
conclusions in belief and practice at variance with those which had
hitherto prevailed. Thus the authority of prophets and teachers came to
be more and. and in the course of the second century
they fmally lost any POSitions of leadership they had held in Christian
communities (th?ugh this transition may not have happened as early in
every pl?ce as IS u.sually supposed). The presidency of all liturgical
ass.emblJes was entirely taken over by the bishop, who also continued
to Improvise the eucharistic prayer as his 'charismatic' predecessors
1 Smyrnaeans 8. cf. also M. Jourjon, 'La pnisidence de I' eucharistie chez Ignace
d' in Lumiere et Vie 16 (1967) pp.26-32; R. Padberg, 'Das
Amtverstandnts der Ignatiusbriefe' in Theologie und Glaube 62 (1972) pp.47-54.
2 Chnstlne Trevett, op. cit., pp.3-4.
3 Magnesians 4; see also ibid 7; Philadelphians 4.
13
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
had done, and the influence of prophets and teachers declined
markedly, though they themselves did not totally disappear, as we shall
see later. Those who remained within the mainstream church, however,
came increasingly under episcopal control and judgment, and only in
Montanism, Marcionism, and other movements judged heretical by the
church, was there opportunity for them to continue to flourish as
independent ministries. Perhaps one of the last traces of an
authoritative 'charismatic' ministry within th.e early church can be seen
in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus at the beginning of the third
century. Here it is directed that those who have suffered because of
their witness to Christ are to be recognized as members of the
presbyterate without the need for any form of ordination but,
apparently, simply on this evidence of their having received a charism
from God to confess the faith:
'But a confessor, if he was in chains for the name of the Lord, shall
not have hands laid on him for the diaconate or the presbyterate,
for he has the honour of the presbyterate by his confession. But if
he is appointed bishop, hands shall be laid on him.'1
1 Ch. 9: Cuming, op. cit., p.14. See also M. Lods, Confesseurs et Martyrs, successeurs
des prophetes dans I'Eglise des trois premiers siecles, (Paris, 1950).
14
,
1
\
I
4. THE CLERICeZATION OF LITURGICAL FUNCTIONS,
Not only did bishops assume the presidency of all liturgical rites, they
also increasingly laid claim to various liturgical acts which had
originally been exercised by others, and so eventually brought to an
end much of the active participation by the laity in leading worship
which had been a feature of primitive Christianity.
We saw earlier how in Judaism the leading of prayer was something
which might be performed by any member of the congregation, and
suggested that this would have continued in early Christianity. The
practice may be implied in Justin Martyr's account of the 'common
prayers' in his description of the eucharist at Rome in the middle of the
second century. Although he says nothing explicitly about their form,
his continued use of the first person plural with regard to them and the
absence of any direct reference to the president here, in contrast to his
description of the eucharistic prayer itself, or even to the deacons, may
possibly suggest that others still had a vocal part to play in them:
'After we have thus baptized him who has believed and has given
his assent, we take him to those who are called brethren where
they are assembled, to make common prayers earnestly, for
ourselves, and for him who has been enlightened, and for all
others everywhere, that having learned the truth, we may be
deemed worthy to be found good citizens in our actions and
guardians of the commandments, so that we may be saved with
eternal salvation. When we have ended the prayers, we greet one
another with a kiss.'1
Certainly even in the third century, at least in some situations, lay
people might still offer public prayer. The Apostolic Tradition of
Hippolytus records that, at the gatherings for the instruction of those
preparing for baptism, the teacher, whether he is a cleric or a layman, is
to lay hands on them and pray before dismissing them (ch. 19).
Similarly, the third-century Syrian Didascalia permits widows to pray
over and lay hands on the sick at the command of the bishop or
deacon.
2
This practice, however, did not last, and later evidence indicates that at
some stage the leading of prayer became an exclusively clerical
activity. In the 'common prayers' in liturgical services the contributing
of biddings became formalized and placed entirely in the hands of the
deacon
3
, and the people now prayed in silence, or made the response
1 Justin Martyr, First Apology. 65.1-2; see also 67.5: 'then we all stand up together and
offer prayers; and as we said before, when we have finished praying .. .-
2 Didascalia 3.8: see Sebastian Brock and Michael Vasey (eds.), The Liturgical Portions
of the Didascalia (Grove Liturgical Study No. 29, 1982) p.20.
3 There seems to be nothing to substantiate the claim by Josef Jungmann, following
Anton Baumstark, that originally the president himself always pronounced the
biddings and only later did the deacon take a more prominent part, and it would
seem rather that the Western practice, in which the deacon came to have only a
very minor role in signalling the people to kneel, was the later development see
A Baumstark, Die Messe im Morgenland (Munchen 1906), pp.100f.; J. A.
Jungmann, Mass of the Roman Rite (New York 1951) I, pA81; cf. R. H. Connolly,
'Liturgical Prayers of Intercession' in Journal of Theological Studies 21 (1920)
pp.223-5. .
15
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
e
'Lord, have mercy', while the president himself articulated their
intercessions by reciting a concluding prayer. Presumably the bishop's
acknowledged right to improvise the eucharistic prayer, encouraged
perhaps by a desire to ensure the orthodox content of anything prayed
in the name of the church, had led to this assumed exclusive right to
improvise all public prayer, which we find to be the rule by the fourth
century. So firm was this clerical privilege that it seems to have
presented something of a problem for the early monastic communities
when they came together at the hours of prayer. In Jerusalem, for
example, according to Egeria, presbyters were required to attend the
monastic night office in turn to deputize for the bishop and say the
prayers which followed each psalm.
1
Not only did prayer-leadership by lay people disappear, but the custom
of individuals making a contribution to the ministry of the word also
declined. We have already seen that the charisms of prophet and
teacher tended to be claimed by the presbyterate, and subsequently by
the episcopate when it emerged as a separate office, and were
ascribed to them by others. Polycarp of Smyrna, for example, who
suffered martyrdom in the middle of the second century, was described
as 'bishop of the Catholic Church at Smyrna and a teacher in our own
day who combined both apostle and prophet in his own person.'2 Even
Cyprian in the third century implied that he too had prophetic
endowment.
3
Bishops, however, did not merely assume an authoritative teaching role
within the Christian community, but eventually began to claim the
exclusive right to proclaim the word of God. Indeed the evidence of
Justin Martyr's description of the Sunday eucharist. where it is the
president who' in a discourse admonishes and exhorts'4, has usually
been interpreted as implying that by the middle of the second century
only a bishop might deliver the homily at a liturgical assembly, and the
Jewish (and early Christian) practice or inviting others to give an
exposition of the Scriptures had already disappeared. This develop-
ment, however, does not seem to have been quite as rapid and as
straightforward as that in every place, and may not even have been so
at Rome.
There are, for example, indications that it was some time before
teaching was regarded as a normal and universal feature of the
episcopal office. We have mentioned earlier that Ignatius of Antioch
knew of the existence in the second century of 'silent' bishops who
made no pretence to this gift, and that very conservative third-century
document, the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, likewise gives very
little prominence to this aspect of a bishop's ministry. It does not
1 Peregrinatio Egeriae 24. 1; see Paul F. Bradshaw. Daily Prayer in the Early Church
(Alcuin Club/SPCK, London 1981) pp.77-8.
2 Martyrdom of Polycarp 16.2.
3 Cyprian Ep. 16.4; 66.10.
4 First Apology 67.4.
16
e THE CLERICALlZATION OF LITURGICAL FUNCTIONS
contain a description of the ministry of the word at a normal Sunday
eucharist so we have no way of knowing whether the bishop was
expected' to be the regular preacher at that, but we do its
ordination prayer for a bishop, which, perhaps
contains no mention at all of the ministry of the word In Its enumeration
of episcopal functions, unless it is to be assumed under the general
expression 'feed your holy flock'. in others,
not only clerics but laity too, are deSignated as teachers and take
responsibility both for the pre-baptismal and also for the
daily instruction of the faithful, and all. that IS expllc.ltly reserved t? the
bishop is the giving of the mystagoglcal ca.teche.sls at
eucharist itself.
1
On the other hand, the Syrian Dldascalia later In the
third century does regard the ability to preach and teach. as
attributes of a bishop. It expects a candidate for the episcopate, If
possible to be
'educated and able to teach; but if he is uneducated, he should be
capable and wise in speech. '.' He be dil.igent in
teaching, and constant in reading the diVine SCripture? With
diligence, so that he can interpret and expound the SCriptures
reliably.'2
Furthermore, although in the West preaching certainly did
become restricted entirely to bishops, we have the testimony of Orlgen
that when he visited Rome at the beginning of the third century, he
, 3 d' h
heard a sermon given by a certain presbyter, Hippolytus ; an In t e
East presbyters regularly participated in this function. The fourth-
century evidence of Egeria for John. Ch.rysostom for
Antioch and Constantinople
5
, the ApostolIC ConstItutIons also for
Syria
6
and Jerome for Bethlehem
7
reveals the practice of multiple
serma'ns as the norm: a number of presbyters would preach in turn, and
then the bishop last of all. Apparently the same custom obta.inead
in Alexandria and was stopped there only after the hereSies of Arlus ,
while in North Africa Bishop Valerius of Hippo, himself a we':lt
against the Western rule and allowed Augustine to preach while stili
only a presbyter.
9
Some have regarded this Eastern custom as essentially .a delegation
the presbyters of what was properly an episcopal functl<;>n, but certal.n
other considerations need to be taken into account. Firstly, there IS
some evidence to suggest the continued existence of other teaching
ministries besides that of the bishop or presbyters in the second
1 Apost. Trad. Chs. 3. 15, 18. 19.21.39.41.
2 Didascalia 2.1. 5: Brock and Vasey. op. cit., pp. 7, 8.
3 See J. Quasten, Patrology (Spectrum, Utrecht 1953), 11, p.163.
4 25.1; 26.1; 27.6-7; 42.1; 43.2, 3.
5 See the texts listed in V. van de Paverd. Zur Geschichte der Messliturgie in
Antiocheia und Constantinopel gegen Ende des vierten Jahrhunderts (Orientalia
Christiana Analecta 187. Rome, 1970) p.131.
6 Apost. Con. 2.57.9.
7 Sancti Hieronymi Presbyteri Tractatus sive Hom/fiae in Psalmos (Anecdota
Maredsolana 3/2; Maredsous 1897) pp. 140, 342. 343.
B See Socrates, Ecclesiastical History 5.22; Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History 7.19.
9 Augustine, Vita 5.3.
17
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
century. Clement of Alexandria and Justin Martyr, for example, were
both 'teachers' who were not ordained, and Justin in his dialogue with
refers to the continuation of the gift of prophecy among
Chnstlan
1
s In hiS own .day, apparently bestowed on women as well as
on men. Then there IS the Shepherd of Hermas, where the author is
instructed to write his prophetic vision and present it to 'the
presbyters \/\:,ho pre.slde over the church'2, which certainly suggests that
might stili have been granted a hearing by a congregation.
This work also refers to 'bishops and teachers and deacons' in such a
way that one suppose that the teachers could still be recognized
as a group distinct from the ordained ministry.3
Of no.ne of th!s. evidence actually proves that there was any
In the ministry of word at liturgical services as such,
and so It might. be argued that It the bishop alone who preached
there and tea?hlng by .others was limited to a non-liturgical context, to
the assemb.lies for Instruction and the pre-baptismal catechesis
referred to In the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. This certainly
to have been the case later in the third century, which can
provide no examples of prophets with the influence of Hermas or
teachers with the autonomy of Clement of Alexandria. On the other
hand, then still scattered traces of the involvementof lay
people In which that the custom might once have
been. more widespread. Ongen, for example, while still a layman
wa.s invited to preach before the bishops of Caesarea and Jerusalem.
Thrngs were apparently much more clericalized in Alexandria, and he
was subsequently recalled there by his bishop, Demetrius, who claimed
that the practice was 'unheard of, but it was defended by the bishops
of Caesarea and Jerusalem, who cited other instances of it:
'where are found persons suited to help the brethren, they
also are to preach to the people by the holy bishops, as,
for example, In Laranda Euelpis by Neon, and in Iconium Paulinus
by and in Synnada Theodore by Atticus, our blessed
brother blshop.s. And it is likely that this thing happens in other
places also without our knowing it.'4
It is ironical that Origen was later to be one of the staunchest defenders
the exclusive teaching right of bishops and presbyters.
5
Even in the
fifth century monks were preaching at Antioch, a practice condemned
by Pope Leo, who. maintained that, apart from 'the priests of the Lord,
none ought to preach or teach:
6
Moreover, it \/\:,ould appear that, .at least at first, not all presbyters in the
East had the nght to teach, but In the third century there existed within
1 Dialogue with Trypho 82.1; 88.1.
2 Vis. 2.4.1 -3.
3 Vis. 3.5; see also Mand. 4.3.
4 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 6.19.16-18.
5 See Albano Vile la, La condition collegiale des pretres au /lie siecle (Beauchesne,
Pans 1971) pp.128-36.
6 Leo, Ep. 119.6; 120.6.
18
e THE CLERICALlZATION OF LITURGICAL FUNCTIONS
the presbyterate a recognizable group designated as ' presbyters and
teachers', most clearly evidenced at Alexandria1, and vestiges of this
double title can be detected at Jerusalem and Antioch in the fourth
century.
2
Although such a twofold appellation might have been no
more than a way of indicating which of the presbyters shared in the
teaching function, it could be thought also to imply that the two roles
were still to some degree distinguishable from one another, that just as
there were some presbyters who were not also teachers, so too there
may have been some teachers who were not presbyters; in other
words, that it reflects a situation similar to that described in the
Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus which we have already referred to,
where teachers might be clerics or laymen. This would explain the
more restricted use of the title in the fourth century with the growing
identification of the two roles then.
Some support for this conclusion is provided by evidence from North
Africa. Here too there are third-century references to a similar group
known as 'presbyter-teachers', but also other references simply to
'teachers'.3 In particular Cyprian uses both terms in the same sentence
in one of his letters: 'when with the presbyter-teachers we were
carefully examining lectors, we appointed Optatus among the lectors of
the teachers of the hearers:
4
It has commonly been assumed that the
teachers of the' hearers' or catechumens were also presbyters
5
, but the
text does not require this: the fact that they were assisted by lectors
does not necessarily mean that they themselves must have occupied
some higher rank in the clerical hierarchy. Indeed we know that some
lay involvement in teaching persisted elsewhere to a much later date:
the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions, for example, acknowledges,
albeit somewhat grudgingly, the continued existence of lay catechists
6
,
and even in fifth-century Gaul apparently a layman might still teach in
the presence of clergy if invited to do SO.7
Taken together, all these considerations suggest that the fourth-
century participation of presbyters in preaching may not have been a
delegation downwards from the bishop, but on the contrary part of a
movement upwards, the increasing clericalization of preaching and
teaching, which proceeded more rapidly in some places than in others.
In most places in the course of the third century, if not sooner, it
became accepted that preaching at liturgical services was normally to
be restricted to the and was not open simply to any who
displayed appropriate gifts, with presbyters and bishop continuing to
1 See Vilela, op. cit., pp.l 60-1 .
2 See Charles Renoux, 'Liturgical Ministers at Jerusalem in the Fourth and Fifth
Centuries', in Roles in the Liturgical Assembly: the twenty-third Liturgical
Conference Saint Serge (Pueblo. New York 1981) pp.222-3.
3 Vilela, op. cit., pp.311-12.
4 Cyprian, Ep. 29.
5 See Vilela, op. cit., p.312; Victor Saxer, Vie liturgique et quotidienne aCarthage vers
le milieu du /lie siecle (Vatican City, 1969) pp.82-3, 107.
6 Apost. Const. 8.31.
7 Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua 98.
S See Baumstark, op. cit., pp.96-7.
19
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
share together in this ministry in some places, retaining an element of
its earlier corporate nature, and the bishop eventually taking it over
entirely in others, a process no doubt encouraged by a lack of educated
presbyters and the fear of heretical teaching. Lay participation in
catechesis, however, lasted much longer, though female involvement
in this was all but ended at an early stage. We cannot be sure whether
women were ever allowed to preach at liturgical services, but already
by the end of the second century the custom only obtained in heretical
groups, and women were not even allowed to catechize in North
Africa1, while the third-century Didascalia has a similar regulation,
instructing enquirers to be passed on to 'the leaders'.2 On the other
hand, it would seem that in fifth-century Gaul a woman was still
allowed to catechize women, especially in country districts, but not to
teach men, 'however learned and holy she is'.
3
The laity, therefore, had lost almost entirely any active part in the
ministry of the word in any form. Even the reading of the scriptures at
liturgical services became professionalized at an early stage. It is not
clear from Justin Martyr's account of the eucharist whether those who
read the' records of the apostles and the writings of the prophets' were
permanently appointed officials or whether anyone might still be asked
to perform this task at a service, but certainly, according to the
Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, by the beginning of the third century
a distinct office of reader had emerged, appointment to which was
made by the bishop handing to the person the book from which he
would read-the same gesture as the archisunagogos had used when
inviting someone to the scriptures in the synagogue.
4
Hence
almost the only place left for individual lay participation was the agape,
where different people might continue to stand up and sing psalms and
hymns of their own choosing
5
, but even this final vestige of New
Testament practice disappeared with the eventual demise of this
communal meal.
1 See Tertullian, De Bapt. 17; De Virgo Vel. 9.
2 Didascalia 3.5-6; Brock and Vasey, op. cit.. p.19.
3 Stat. Eccl. Ant. 12, 99, 100.
4 Apost. Trad. 11: Cuming, op. cit.. p.15.
5 See Tertullian, Apol 39; Cyprian, Ep. 1.16.
20
5. FROM COR&ATE TO INDIVIDUAL PRESIDENCY
The bishop thus ultimately became established not only .as th.e .normal
president of all liturgical assemblies but also as the chief mmlster of
both word and sacrament. It cannot be stressed enough, however, that,
at least at first, this presidency was set firmly within a collegial context.
The New Testament evidence, such as it is, suggests that community
leadership generally tended to be exercised by a group of people rather
than by one individual. Even at Jerusalem, where James, 'the brother of
the Lord', seems to have had a position of pre-eminence, there was a
college of presbyters who shared with him in (see
Acts 11.30; 15.2ff.). Precisely how such corporate leadership was
expressed liturgically within the various communities of the early
church we do not know. Perhaps each of the leaders took a turn at
presiding over the assembly, or perhaps it tended to be the duty of th.e
senior member or 'chairman' of the body regularly to assume thiS
function, acting on behalf of all.
Moreover, even after the emergence of the episcopate,
presbyterate seems to have retained in a measure its. earlier
collective responsibility for the general oversight of the life and
worship of the local Christian community, and the bishop presided as
the head of his corporate body. Even Ignatius of Antioch, who is
frequently depicted as advocating a monarchical style of episcopate,
does not speak of the bishop in isolation but always in conjunction
with the rest of the clergy. So, for example, he writes, in his letter to the
Magnesians:
'Be zealous to do everything in godly concord, the bishop
presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after
likeness of the council of the apostles ... Let there be nothmg
among you which is able to divide you, but be united with
bishop and with those who preside as an example and a lesson In
incorruptibility. Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the
Father, either in person or through the apostles, so you are to do
nothing without the bishop and the presbyters'.1
This corporate leadership was not merely an abstract idea in the minds
of theologians, but received concrete expression in the liturgical
practice of the church, where the bishop did not preside alone but sat
in the midst of a semi-circle of presbyters, thus offering a very vivid
visual symbol of the collegiate nature of the ordained ministry.2 This
arrangement may well go back long before the emergence of the
episcopate as a separate office, and even to the very roots of the
Christian tradition. It has, for example, been thought that the image of
1 Magn. 6-7. cf. also A. Vilela, 'Le Presbyterium selon S. Ignace d' Antioche' in Bulletin
de litterature ecclesiastique 74 (1973) pp.161-86; M. Thurian, 'L'organisation du
ministere dans I'Eglise primitive seIon saint Ignace d'Antioche' in Verbum carD 81
(1967), pp.26-38; B. Botte, 'The Collegiate Character of the Presbyterate and
Episcopate', in The Sacrament of Holy Orders (Aquin, London 1962) pp.75-97; G.
D'Ercole, 'The Presbyteral Colleges in the Early Church' in Concilium 7.2 (1966)
pp.12-18.
2 See for example Didascalia 2.57.3-4: Brock and Vasey, op. cit.• p.15.
21
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH FROM CORPORATE TO INDIVIDUAL PRESIDENCY
e
the worship of heaven in Revelation 4.2-4, where the thrones of the
elders throne of God, may be derived, at least in part, from
the author s expenence of the actual ordering of the earthly worship of
the church.
1
It is true that in this corporat.e liturgical presidency of the early church
there would have been very little for the presbyters to do in the course
of a service. We shoul? not be tempted to conclude from this, however,
that they were considered to be relatively unimportant. We must
that in the. Jewis.h synagogue those who presided actually
did very little, and were mainly concerned to control and co-ordinate
the .activitie.s ?f others, the same was almost certainly true in the
earliest Chnstlan assemblies. There would have been little therefore
by way of activity in which the presbyters could have sha;ed and
leadership-role in the assembly simply b'y sitting
silently spokesr:nan, displaying their assent to his authority
declslon-mak.lng by their physical association with him. Moreover,
In the course of as which had once been exercised by
oth.ers were clencallzed, It was almost always the bishop who laid
to them and came to be thought of as having the necessary
for them, and not the presbyterate. With the exception of the
ministry of the word, where, as we have seen, from early times at least
some presyters were included in the ranks of those who taught, their
role dl? at all beyond the original concept of leadership,
and IS weI! Illustrated by the ordination prayers in the Apostolic
TraditIOn of Hlppolytus. Here the prayer for a new presbyter simply
asks for the gift of ' the Spirit of grace and counsel of the presbyterate,
that he help and govern your people with a pure heart', whereas
that a bishop enumerates the episcopal functions at some length:
to feed your holy flock and to exercise the high-priesthood before
you blamelessly, night and day; to propitiate your
countenance unceasln.g.ly, to to you the gifts of your holy
Church; and by the splnt of hlgh-pnesthood to have the power to
forgive sins according to your command, to confer orders
according to your bidding, to loose every bond according to the
power which you gave to the apostles .. .'2
On .the other hand, when there were opportunities for them to express
their corporate in liturgical presidency in more positive
yvays, they did so. They apparently joined in the gesture of the
whenever this occurred. The Apostolic Tradition
thiS In relation to the eucharist where the presbyters join in
laying hands on the bread and wine with the bishop before he recites
the eucharistic prayer, and also in relation to the ordination of a
presbyter, where again they lay hands on the candidate while the
recites the ordination prayer.
3
It is even possible that at one
the pres?yters presided over the ordination of a new bishop for
their community, laying hands on him corporately while one of them
1 G. A. Michell. Landmarks in Liturgy (DLT. London, 1961). pp.86-7.
2 Aposr. Trad. 3, 7: Cuming, op. cir.. pp.9, 12.
3 Apost. Trad. 4, 7: Cuming. op. cit.• pp.l0, 12.
22
e
recited the ordination prayer, and that only later neighbouring bishops
began to take over this function.
1
Cyprian informs us that they were
similarly involved in the imposition of hands with the bishop at the
reconciliation of a penitent.
2
Furthermore, in the rites of baptism,
which offered greater possibilities for their active involvement we find
them playing a bigger part. Here the Apostolic Tradition tells of them
participating in anointing the candidates with the oil of exorcism and
with the oil of thanksgiving, as well as in the immersion itself.
3
Although in later centuries in a number of Eastern rites the expression
of collegiality in the presidency of the eucharist was extended, when
written texts became current, with different prayers being distributed to
different presbyters, in a manner somewhat parallel to the distribution
of the preaching of the word
4
, it was perhaps almost inevitable that
elsewhere the presbyter's liturgical role should eventually come to be
seen as relatively unimportant and ultimately dispensable, a mere
decorative or ceremonial addition to the' real' presidency of the bishop,
especially as other factors were moving the episcopate in the direction
of an absolute monarchy with the presbyters as no more than
assistants. to the episcopal office. First steps in this direction can
already be detected in the third century, and the process increased in
tire fourth and fifth centuries.
s
Thus, although the Didascalia still
insists that the presbyters should be honoured' as the apostles, and as
the counsellors of the bishop, and as the crown of the church, for they
are the upholders and counsellors of the church',6 and expects them to
be involved in settling disputes and disciplining members of the
congregation
7
, in the rest of the document the presbyterate tends to
recede into the background, and authority and responsibility seem to
be concentrated more in the hands of the bishop; he it is, for instance,
who is said to appoint the deacons.
s
Similarly, although Cyprian at first
made it a rule to do nothing withouton this and more on independent
episcopal action, in reconciling penitents, in ordaining, and in other
respects, especially after certain presbyters had taken it upon
themselves to act independently of him and to reconcile the lapsed
without his approval!9
1 See Paul Bradshaw. 'Ordination', in G. J. Cuming (ed.), Essays on Hippolyrus (Grove
Liturgical Study No. 15, 1978) pp.33-5.
2 Cyprian, Ep. 15.1; 16.2; 17.2; see Vilela, Condition collegiale. pp.314-17; cf. also
evidence of a similar practice in the writings of Origen, ibid.. pp.142-7.
3 Apost. Trad. 21.
4 See R. Taft, 'Ex Oriente Lux? Some Reflections on Eucharistic Concelebration' in
Worship 54 (1980), pp.308ff.; though he believes that the custom grew out of the
practice of 'eucharistic hospitality' (see below. p.26) and not from the idea of
collegiality.
5 See Cooke. op. cit.• pp.77-81, 199-200.
6 Didascalia 2.28.4; cf. also 2.34.3.
7 Ibid. 2.46.6; 47.1.
8 Ibid. 3.12.
9 See Vilela, Condition collegiale. pp.273-303.
23
LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH

e
A major influence in changing the nature of liturgical presidency was
the growing need for celebrations of the eucharist in outlying parts of a
diocese, which resulted in presbyters having to deputize for their
bishop on a regular basis and to preside alone in such situations. Our
earliest explicit evidence for this comes from North Africa in the third
century1, and the practice spread extensively in the fourth century with
the rapid growth of the church then. Thus, although a more corporate
celebration of the eucharist continued to be. maintained by the bishop
himself for several centuries longer, and although efforts were
sometimes made to retain some link between the individual presbyters
and the bishop2, nevertheless the common experience of eucharistic
worship came to be of a service with a single presbyter accompanied
by no more than one deacon or other assistant minister.
3
This cannot
but have made a very significant contribution, not only to the view of
the presbyter as the assistant to the bishop, but also to the notion of
liturgical presidency as an individual rather than a corporate activity.
1 Cyprian, Ep. 5.2.
2 At Rome, for example, the Pope would send a piece of bread. called the fermentum,
consecrated at the eucharist over which he was presiding in person, to each of the
presbyters presiding over eucharistic celebrations elsewhere in the city, as a sign
of unity.
3 See Jungmann, op. cit., I, pp.207ft.
24
e
6. THE DELEGATION OF PRESIDENCY
(a:) Eucharistic hospitality
The growing stress on the episcopal office and the gradual attraction of
all major liturgical functions to the bishop did not mean that it was
impossible for others ever to exercise them. Indeed a bishop might well
invite a visiting colleague to assume his place at the eucharist. The
earliest clearly recorded instance of this appears to be at the visit of
Polycarp to Rome in the middle of the second century, when (according
to the church historian Eusebius) Anicetus, the Bishop of Rome,
'yielded the eucharist to Polycarp, manifestly out of respect:
1
Colin
Buchanan has asked whether the church took a wrong turning at this
point. in allowing enormous respect for an ageing teacher of the faith
the replace the normal relationship of pastor and pastored as a basis for
presiding at the eucharist.
2
This 'eucharistic hospitality', however, may
not have been a sudden burst of generosity on the part of Anicetus,
disturbing the otherwise stable basis for liturgical presidency, but
rather a natural part of early Christian practice. We have already
encountered a precedent for it in Judaism, where a host might invite an
honoured guest to take over his role and say the grace at the end of a
meal
3
, and we may presume that in the situation underlying the
Didache, if not more generally in early Christianity, itinerant prophets
would not only have contributed to the ministry of the word when they
visited a Christian community but also have said the eucharistic prayer.
Otherwise, why should the Didache have given instruction that the
prophets should be free to give thanks as they wished?4
This suggests that at least in some early Christian thinking the link
between a particular community and its eucharistic ministers may not
have been viewed so narrowly as one might have thought, but that it
was considered right for a congregation to invite a visitor whose gifts
of proclamation were recognized as equalling or exceeding those of the
resident ministers to exercise those gifts and improvise the eucharistic
prayer. In view of Polycarp's standing as a great prophet and teacher it
is more than likely that this formed a part of the motivation behind the
action of Anicetus, as well as his desire to give some liturgical
expression to the unity existing between them. It should be viewed not
so much as a surrender of presidency itself as the delegation of a
particular function usually exercised by the president to someone more
fitted to perform it.
On the other hand, the extensive instructions in the third-century
Didascalia concerning eucharistic hospitality reveal a further dimen-
sion to the practice:
'But if a brother or sister should come from another congregation,
let the deacon enquire of her and find out whether she is married,
or again, whether she is a widow who is a believer, and whether she
1 Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 5.24.17.
2 Colin Buchanan, Leading Worship, p.7.
3 See above, p.a.
4 See above, p.9.
25

LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH
is a daughter of the Church, or possibly belongs to one of the
heresies; and then let him conduct her to the appropriate place.
But if a presbyter should come from another congregation, you,
the presbyters, should receive him in fellowship in your place.
And if he is a bishop, let him sit with the bishop, who should
accord to him the honour of his rank, even as himself. And do you,
the bishop, invite him to give a homily to your people; for the
exhortation and admonition of strangers is very helpful, especially
as it is written, "There is no prophet that is acceptable in his own
place." And when you offer the oblation, let him speak the words;
but if he is wise and gives the honour to you, and is unwilling to
offer, at least let him speak the words over the CUp:1
Here we go beyond recognizing the particular gifts of a visitor and
allowing them to be exercised to recogrizing the status which all
visitors possess in their home community and granting them the same
status within the community in which they are guests. This presumably
arose because of the sense of unity and solidarity which was felt
between the different individual congregations. Thus a presbyter from
another community is not regarded merely as a lay person in the
community he visits, but treated as a presbyter there too and given a
seat among the presbyters. Similarly, a visiting bishop is to be invited
to undertake what have become the principal liturgical functions of that
office-preaching and the saying of the eucharistic prayer-though it is
not entirely clear what the document means by letting him 'speak the
words over the cup' if he declines the invitation to usurp the eucharistic
prayer, as he is apparently expected to do. Is it an archaism from the
time when there were separate prayers over bread and cup, and, as in
Jewish custom, the host might perform the former and the visitor the
latter; or does it now refer to some feature of an agape which might
follow?
(b) Episcopal deputies
The bishop might also delegate his functions to someone within his
own congregation, if he were unable to be present at a liturgical
assembly. We have already seen that Ignatius of Antioch recognized
that a bishop might authorize someone else to preside in his stead at a
eucharist, a baptism, or an agape
2
, and later sources are all agreed that
a presbyter is a proper person to deputize for the bishop in all these
cases, not surprisingly in view of the close relationship which existed
between the episcopate and the presbyterate at this early period. But
they are less unanimous about whether the delegation of presidency
may be extended further, to include the diaconate or the laity.
With regard to baptism, Tertullian draws a distinction between
presbyters and deacons, on the one hand, who may baptize with the
bishop's authorization, and lay men (but not women!) who may take it
upon themselves to do so in cases of genuine necessity only.3 Later
1 Didasi:alia 2.58: Brock and Vasey, op. cit., p.16. Parallel. though briefer, instructions
are found in the fifth century Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua 56.
2 See above. p.13.
3 Tertullian. De Baptismo 17.
26
THE DELEGATION OF PRESIDENCY
practice, however, was to regard only bishops and presbyters as normal
ministers of baptism, and not deacons, who, like laymen, might only
act in cases of extreme urgency. The Apostolic Constitutions, for
example, is very firm in its denial of the right of ministering baptism to
deacons.
1
Cyprian was quite prepared to permit a deacon to effect the
reconciliation of penitents, if no presbyter were available to do it
2
(though we have no later instances of such a practice), and the
Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus directed that, when a bishop was
absent, a presbyter or a deacon might preside at the agape and bless
the bread, but not a layman, 'for a layman cannot make the blessed
bread'.
3
With regard to the eucharist itself, we have the claim by
Tertullian that in cases of necessity even a layman might preside, for
'where three are, there is the church, even if they are laymen'4, and
later canon 15 of the Council of Aries (A.D. 314) stated that deacons
were presiding at the eucharist 'in many places' and ordered this to
cease.
Though such evidence is very scanty and unequal in value, it does
seem to suggest that at first the limits of episcopal delegation were not
entirely obvious, and it was not until the fourth century, when
presbyters began to deputize for their bishops on a more regular basis,
that they came to be thought of as possessing certain inherent
liturgical functions, which were consequently to be denied to the
diaconate and the laity, in other words that such powers were treated
as theirs by right and not merely by concession. To quote Robert Taft,
'from the fourth century we see a growing consciousness that
presbyters celebrating the eucharist together with the bishop are doing
something that the laity cannot do, something only they have the
mandate to perform.'s This also marks the beginning of a further shift in
the whole understanding of the liturgical role of bishop and presbyters,
away from the notion of presiding over a rite celebrated corporately by
the whole church to the idea of their doing something for and on behalf
of the people. It was not until some time later, however, that the term
'priest', which had been applied to the bishop since at least the
beginning of the third century, began also to be used of presbyters
individually, and not just in their association with the bishop.6 Even
then, presbyters did not assume the right to all the liturgical functions
which had previously been exercised by the bishop. Some, like
ordination, which there seemed no pressing need to delegate,
continued to be retained by the bishop alone.
1 Apost. Const. 3.11, 20; 8.28. 46.
2 Cyprian, Ep. 18.1.
3 Apost. Trad 28.
4 Tertullian. De Exhort. Cast. 7.3: see G. Otrano, 'Nonne et laici sacerdotes sumus?
(Exhort. Cast. 7.3)' in Vetera Christianorum 8 (1971), pp.27-47; C. V o ~ e l , 'Le
ministre charismatique de I' eucharistie: approche rituelle', in Ministeres et
celebration de I'eucharistie (Studia Anselmiana 61. Rome 1973), pp.198-204.
5 Taft, op. cit.• p.318.
6 See Schillebeeckx, op. cit., pp.44. 48-9; but cf. Vilela, Condition collegiale, pp.83-98,
281-5, for the beginnings of sacerdotal terminology concerning presbyters in
relation to the bishop in Origen and, Cyprian.
27

POSTSCRIPT
The history of liturgical presidency in the early church is, therefore, a
story of continuous evolution, from a situation in which the oversight of
worship, on the one hand, and the exercise of major liturgical functions
(reading, preaching, and prayer), on the other, were quite clearly
distinguished from one another, to a situation in which any such
distinction had totally disappeared; from a situation in which liturgical
action was understood in a corporate sense to one in which it was
firmly concentrated in the hands of one group of ministers or their
assistants, who acted on behalf of the rest from a situation in which
'charism' played a major part to one in which 'office' was almost
entirely determinative; from a situation in which presidency was
exercised in a collegiate manner to one in which it was conceived
exclusively in individualistic terms. In many ways such a movement
seems in retrospect to have been more or less inevitable, given the
contexts in which the church found itself, with, for example, the
pressure from heretical groups in the second century and the problems
of growing numbers of members and a lack of education in the fourth.
There may have been some valuable gains in the transition, but one
cannot help concluding that there were also significant losses, and that
our own contemporary situation might be helped if we were able to
retrace our steps somewhat. if, for instance, the distinction between
presidency proper and the exercise of other liturgical functions were to
be taken seriously once more. The task of the liturgical historian,
however, is only to show how and why practices have changed: it is for
the church to determine whether and how they should do so again.
28

Oxford Member of the Church of England Liturgical Commission GROVE BOOKS BRAMCOTE NOTTS. NG93DS . Cuddesdon.ENIGliEfSFAI(ULTEI'ETS BIBLIOTEK Liturgical Presidency in the Early Church by Vice-Principal of Ripon College.• IVI.

f1~· 'n':'!"'r.· The Delegati6n of Presidency .. Copyright Paul Bradshaw 1983 AUTHOR'S NOTE This study is a revised and expanded version of a paper with the same title originally presented to the Society for Liturgical Study at its meeting in Cambridge in April 1983. and part of the group remained behind in the town or village and came together at the times of the sacrifices. but this was not sufficient to keep them throughout the year. London. though even this was not a full-time occupation. In domestic liturgical practice it was the prerogative of the head of the household..." . OSa 2...··. Oxford. .794.131. when they read the account of creation in Genesis and prayed. .4-6. 1.')hl!. . to preside at a communal meal and to pronounce the appropriate blessings over the food and drink in the name of all. however. This was a professional (and hereditary) group whose principal function had by this time become the offering of sacrifice of behalf of the nation. Ber.. See 1 OS 6. the host. Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus (SCM. things were very different. . 4. groups of pious laymen attached to each of the twenty-four courses. each consisting of an average of 300 priests and 400 levites.• ~:". PostsCript • 25 28 First-century Judaism appears to have known a number of different forms of what might be described as liturgical presidency. Josephus. • . Jeremias. there was the synagogue.-: .''''" '.. From Corporate lVdJ'!!CITll' . First Impression December 1983 ISSN 0306-0608 ISBN 0 907536 60 3 1 2 3 4 See J. 1 The only real way in which others might associate themselves with their liturgical functions was through the institution of the ma'amadoth or 'standing-posts'. in H.) . or the senior person present if it were a gathering of friends or colleagues.'~. so that he could include within it a prayer for the host himself: 'may it be God's will that our host should never be ashamed in this world nor disgraced in the next world.\.198-207. . THE JEWISH BACKGROUND /1 CONTENTS 1. '. and lived at home in their towns and villages for the rest of the year. 1933) p.\. : 5..17-21. 3. thus associating themselves with the offering at a distance.14). .. such a declaring a leper clean after he had been healed (see Matt.: .: ~' .1. .. and they were obliged to undertake other work to supplement their income.ULIL .. f Page The Jewish Background Christian Origins From Charism t6~'·Office . . part of the corresponding ma'amad accompanied it and was present at the daily sacrifices in order to represent the people as a whole. though some Rabbis taught that he might invite an honoured guest to say the grace at the end of the meal instead. . The courses came up to Jerusalem in turn to perform one week of service in the temple from sabbath to sabbath. Danby..~I. Ta'an.. where only very rarely did they exercise any priestly function. As each course came up to Jerusalem to fulfil its week of duty.'3 Thus presidency here was determined entirely on the basis of status within the community. and here there were a number of different roles which should be carefully distinguished from one another. 8. First of all. and the ordinary lay person had considerable opportunities for active participation in liturgical ministry. among the Essenes at Qumran the priests presided over the communal meals not because of their priestly role but because they were the leaders of that community. 46a.lnxtip. 3 .'. :i. and so. to Individuahrms"iR~t'ftK""""""" 21 .~·q~::~. 6. The priests and levites were divided into twenty-four clans or courses. 2 Outside the temple cult. .~.. '~". Jewish War 2.-. .. . there was that exercised in the temple cult by the priesthood. • .4.. The Mishnah (Clarendon Press."-""":·":~"~ '''t. " 9 15 The Clericali~atiorl. for example. Luke 17.. 1969) pp. pLLitu{giGqJI·fl. Babylonian Talmud. They received various tithes and taxes.2..: . 3 6 2.~. 4.4 Finally.

to read the Scriptures. Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue (Brown Judaic Studies 36. California. presidency proper.51. however. At this period the precise wording of the prayers to be said in the synagogue service had not been definitively fixed. 71. IbId. for the synagogue was essentially a lay movement in Judaism. Historical and Phenomenological Observations' in TradItIon 14 (1971) p. He is rather their "emissary" . Prayer in the Talmud (De Gruyter. a distinction between.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH THE JEWISH BACKGROUND Firstly. therefore. but was seen as a part of it. He was a paid official who had care of the synagogue building and its furnishings. Some scholars have described him as the chief of the elders of the synagogue. in effect acting as chairman or' compere' of the proceedings. London. 4 See G. and especially the scrolls. and in that sense may rightly be described as its liturgical president. It was precisely this role which we hear of Jesus himself performing at the synagogue in Nazareth when the book of Isaiah was given to him and he read from it. 2 However. and he then handed it to the person who was to read. and even that the office could have been held by women. 'The Cantor in Historical Perspective' in Worship 56 (1982) pp. though precise details of the appointment are not clear. 1967) p. on the other hand. when the time came in the service for the reading of the Scriptures. perhaps somewhat analogous to that of a Parochial Church Council in the Church of England. Scholars Press. It is vital to recognize. 49.ore. The archisynagogos had the duty of inviting others to officiate in the various parts of the service-to lead the congregation in prayer. I am greatly indebted to Edward Foley's excellent article. or sheliach tzibbur. since anyone who employed such a formula was effectively setting himself apart from the rest of the congregation. BI!dstein. op. Secondly.198-200. no special qualifications were required at this time for someo~e to be invited by the archisunagogos to function as the prayer- leader In the synagogue service. Chico. to recite one of the common versions which he had heard used by others.20. but they had no specific liturgical responsibility. He also announced from the synagogue roofthe beginning of the sabbath and of festivals. pp. in Acts 13: 15 the archisunagogoi (note the unusual plural here) invited Paul and SlIas to address the assembly after the reading of the law and the prophets. To qllot~ that noted Jewish liturgical scholar Joseph Heinemann. Some believe that he was elected for a limited period.1. while others have argued that his office was quite different from theirs. mentioned in Luke 4. There might thus be thought to be some parallels between his role and that of the deacon in the early church. he then handed it back to the hazzan and expounded its fulfilment in himself (Luke 4. was such a person set over against the rest of the c~nwegation. or. ultimate control over the synagogue and its members rested with a body of elders. cit. and were. Similarly. 1 In no sense. 1977) p.. on the one hand. apparently a kind of permanent superintendent. but because he was acting as the spokesman of the community. there was the hazzan or 'attendant'. as it was called: his intercession was not considered as effective because of any personal piety. Berlin. Worship in Ancient Israel (SPCK. and for this reason he is obliged to refrain from any expression which would be interpreted as if he were disassociating himself from the congregation: 3 In later centuries.41. and were not limited to an ordained or permanent clergy. however. He therefore exercised control over the synagogue service. The suggestion has also been made that there might have been more than one such person in each synagogue. the actual leading of the worship itself. provided t~at he adhered to the traditional themes and objects of prayer. or of a verger in the present-day church. but in no sense did he exercise anything which could be called 'presidency'. and.15). performed by any competent person present at the invitation of the archisunagogos. H. Acts 13. Furth~rm. the prayer-leader of the synagogue is not an officiating" minister" apart from the people and elevated above them.7).16-20). Rowley. as well as serving as the officer of the synagogue court for the administration of punishment. and ~he prayer-leader was free either to compose his own formulation.. he was not permitted to use any prayer-formula which addressed the congregation in the 'you' style. and often acted as schoolmaster (though this was not an essential part of his duties). 13. for this reference. According to the M ishnah (Yoma 7. and thus the influence which they exercised on its worship was essentially indirect.105. p. desirable characteristics for a sheliach tzibbur began to be defined.. Bernadette J. but it must be stressed that he did not have any other liturgical functions which were his exclusive prerogative: in New Testament times the reading of the Scriptures and the delivery of an address could be. Thirdly. exercising a liturgical ~InIStry on behalf of all from within the community and not from above It. 1 The primary responsibility of the archisunagogos was the maintenance of order and the supervision of the conduct of worship. in the sense of oversight and direction of the synagogue's liturgy. and eligibility for the role became much more restricted. Brooten. 4 See for example H. 'Sheliach Tzibbur..194-213. 1 5 . the scroll was handed to 1 the archisunagogos by the hazzan.232. 'the messenger of the people'. there was the archisunagogos or 'ruler of the synagogue' (mentioned in Luke 8. and God would listen to him because God was committed to his covenant with Israel. until it tended in most instances to be taken over by the hazz(Jn. especially carrying out the sentence of scourging. perhaps a year. Sotah 7. 4 See Foley. as it was to be later. If he were unable to do this. and to deliver an exposition or homily. 1982). others that the office was hereditary. ~ S~e Joseph Heinemann.14.

14. therefore.tlan communities. since he does not know what you are saYing? We may surely also presume that the Christian commu.er. and let one Int~rpret. 'authority in the primitive Church was primarily chansmatlc In nature.lcates the involvement of different people in making various contnbutlons to the community's worship: 'when you come together. cf. following the Jewish model. and especially by 1 Connthlans 14. and let the others weigh what IS said. 1 COrl. a tongue. On the other h~nd.'4 From the various titles which are used of those ~pparently occupying such positions. : Edward Schillebeeckx. /. the whole community acted as' jury'. or was it permanently invested in one individual? The New T.14-15. The locus classicus for this IS.182. elders (presbyterOl) were assigned to. 1981) pp. Ind. without any formal ordination or appointment procedure.•. ~et t~o or three prop. 76. let. . The testimony of 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 suggests that their task was not alw~ys easy and that they sometimes failed to keep contro~ o~er the excitement. where t.n t? your thanksgiving. 5.erstook over a role analogous to that of the archisunagogos In presldln~ over the liturgical assembly and attempting to co-ordinate the.0r. Similarly in verse 16 of the same chapter Paul is c:ritical of those in the community who pray in tongues.26-33)..o~s members of ~he congregations was entirely in accord with the ~hnstla. the leaders merely as 'judge'..23. that they themselves would have taken a prominent part in the ~itur\lical ministry of the word as well as overseeing the contributions to the worship made by other members of the community.4f. surely its silence on this point may be ~aken ~s stro~g evidence that there was no ministry which had this as ItS main function: no one was ordained or appointed to an office which See for example 1 Thess.n understanding of ministry especially as delineated in the Paullne ~plstles.~arge of worship in the New Testament churches plJt forward by Colin Buchanan. See for example the arguments for th'e' existence of Someone in c. however. Not only would it have been. m~y surely presume that the Jewish pattern of volunteer.' (1 Cor. Clt. as James Dunn has . What. Leadin!'F Worship (Grove Worship Series No. We may reasonably suppose. there are those who would doubt the existence of any permanent leaders at all in the earliest Christian communities. op. to e. 3 On the other hand. Attractive though this idea may be.• p. how can anyone who occupies the place of an ordinary person say the Ame. " " .IP.lng. Edward Schlllebeeckx.ns. limited to enabling the congregation to arrive at a common mind and then putting its resolution into effect. take responsibility for the community from early times. Jesus and the Spirit (SCM.nity-Ie~d. diverse contributions made by members of the congregation. If we may borrow a judicial metaphor at this point.I\. by those who had founded the parti?ular Christian community there. of cour~e. As is well known. It IS. and each in turn. It is possible that in so~e places.f 1 2 '" '. the New Testament evidence with regard to such community-leaders is extremely sparse. If a revelation IS made to another sitting by.19f. that Paul and Barnabas appointed presbyters in every church In Lycaonia and Phrygia. let each of them keep Silence In church and speak to himself and to God. but participation in wor~hlp by van.. and there ar~ vanetles of activities (energemata). Indeed.'. Let all things be done for edification. a revelation. G. it should be noted that. ~ 7 BLBLIOTEi('~ . is historically reliable. has argued that the statement in Acts 1 ~.arly Christian practice. and whilst arguments from silence are often dangerous.But If there IS no one to interpret. It would seem that a major element in the gifts they were expected to have was the ability to 'speak the word of God' in some form. where Paul states that there are vari~ti~s of gifts. If any speak in a tongue. speak. or who displayed what were conSidered to be appropriate gifts of leadership. . (cha~/sma~a). which. familiar . LL.4-6. therefore. each one has a hymn. but all deriving fror:n one God. In worship would have been continued by.CHRISTIAN ORIGINS 2. and expresses his own preference for prayer in intelligible speech.two or ~t most three. clai~e~. mor~o"..hets. in other places there seems rather to have been the natural assumption of the position of responsibility. which would be entirely natural in a movement with its foundation so firmly rooted in response to the word of God. the primary responsibility for disc~rning w~o poss~sse~ the vanous gifts of the Spirit and might exercise them In the liturgical assembly 6 appears to have rested with the Christian community as a whole rather than with a. supported by such evidence as we ~av~ with regard. for example.'"J. there be only. enthusiasm or just plain selfishness of those Wishing to take part.~. but it does offer a proper caution against assuming too readily that there was a formal appointment of leaders everywhere from the first. Dunn. Ministry: a Case fWtI!iN!JfJ:~~M. especially 'prophet' and 'teacher'. . it does not do justice to the New Testament data 2 . For.~~p.291 ff. ~he earll~st Ch. CHRISTIAN ORIGINS Although New Testament evidence is notoriously scanty. leadersh. For God IS not a God of confusion but of peace.~~~8~).nthlans 12. and once again the context suggests ~hat the remarks are addressed to the congregation as a whole and !lot Just to a clearly defined class of 'mi~isters' W~? were responsible for leading the prayers: 'if you bless with the SPirit.estament of course does not tell us. or an interpretation.individual leaders. of the community's eucharistic meals? Who was responsible for saying the blessing over the bread and wine at these? Was this a function which any member of the congregation might undertake. For you can all prophesy one by one. so that all may learn and all be encou~aged. 1975) pp. 1 The latter's function was presumably. there are varieties of service (dlakomal). ~ut all deriving from the service of the one Lord. one.ULJETI.he rinciple i~ affirmed that everything is to be done In accordance with fhe individual gifts which each ha~ r~ceived from God t~rou\lh the Holy Spirit. London.to Jewish Christians from their past. let the first be silent. and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. '. at least in Paul's understand. James D.ny. a lesson. but all deriving from one Spirit. Dunn.

and indeed forbidden In the early Jewish tradition.ome reco~nized appointment procedure. it is again natural to suppose that it would have fallen to someone with the gift of proclamation.in written prayer-forms (chs. since the eucharistic prayer had to be improvised and essentially involved the recounting of the mighty acts of God. the voluntary participation from the synagogue service and the saying of meal-blessings from the domestic situation. one of the leaders would have been the obvious person to have presided at the eucharistic assembly.7). something oth~rwlse . an agape. and that there was _a not unnatural reluctance on the part of Christians to accept them as the equals of the more obviously gifted leaders they had known previously. I believe.Elect therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord. Ministry to Word and Sacraments (Fortress Press. FROM CHARISM TO OFFICE As time went on. especially when the possible candidates were not so unmistakeably endowed with charismata as the previous leaders had been. There has again been a conSiderable scholarly debate as to whether these were intended for a eucharist. Ibid. H. and it explicitly states that the prophets may give thanks at the euchanst and. and a tendency to prefer someone able to demonstrate more evident liturgical skills as their president This perhaps provides a clue as to why the Didache includes within it certa. ~en meek and not covetous. This would account for the apparent widespread adoption of a more formal structure of leadership and ordination in the church around the end of the first century. but whatever conclusions are reach~d on that question. 'The Presidency of the Eucharist According to the Ancient Tradition' in Worship 53 (1979) pp. Shabbath 115b.414-16.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH consisted primarily of saying the eucharistic prayer. and true and approved. Moreover. and so it instructs its readers to provide more permanent substitutes for them (15. be tempted to argue from the apparent continuation of the sheliach tzibbur in Christian worship and a general participation in prayer-leadership that it necessarily follows that anyone from the congregation might have been called upon to fulfil this function. for they too minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers. 8 9 .M. Therefore do not despise them. as we would expect. for they are those who are to be honoured by you with the prophets and teachers: These efforts to persuade the congregation that status should be accorded to the episcopoi and diaconoi equal to that already given to the prophets and teachers suggest that the former are a recent innovation.1-2. New York. Philadephia. be free to use their own words for this (10. 1 It appears to presuppose a background in which the ministry of those called 'apostles'. It implies.1 • 3. or a eucharist-agape 2 . Babylonian Talmud. 9-10). and 'teachers' was still known. it would presumably not always be clear who should succeed to the position of leadership and more necessary for there to be s.that the prayers were written down at all. 2 3 See for example Willy Rordorf in The Eucharist of the Early Christians (Pueblo.er than later. Therefore on the grounds not only of status within the community but also of charism. however. that such ministers would have been itinerant more often than resident at this period...529-30. We should not. 'prophets'. though recent opinion tends to place it earlier ra~h. We must remember that the two things derive from quite separate traditions within Judaism. Within this gradual process it seems possible to detect at least three different stages. what is most interesting for our present purpos~ IS . 1978) pp. 3 The prayers were doubtless to be used by the newly emerging episcopoi (though this is not explicitly 1 1 See Bernard Cooke.. where there is certainly no indication that the saying of grace was performed in rotation by different members of a family. Legrand. and the original founders and leaders of a community died. 1976) pp. • (a) Office as substitute for charism This seems to be the situation reflected in the Didache a document which has been variously dated by scholars anywhere between the first and the third centuries.vlrtually unknown in the early Christian period. however. but whoever said it did so as the natural expression of what they already were within the community.1-2): . pp. Thus because of their status within the community we should naturally expect the leaders to have assumed this function.3-9. at least in this particular ecclesiastical situation.

but also a major responsibility for the teaching of the community. presbyters had begun to 'labour in preaching and teaching'2. brethren.9 assumes that giving 'instruction in sound doctrine' is a normal part of the episcopal function. The author turns to the liturgical precedents of the Old Testament as an important element in his argument: God had there decreed that certain roles in liturgical matters belonged to certain ministers: 'the offerings and services he has commanded to be performed carefully. 7.9. not transgressing the prescribed rule of his service'.1. in so doing. for example. that for a presbyter 'the Spirit of grace and counsel of the presbyterate. the author was merely enunciating what was already the accepted rule throughout the Church at that time. the more knowledge we have been given. who make their offerings at the appointed times are acceptable and blessed.2-5. and with the right to exercise the same liturgical functions within the congregation. a presbyter. God's] will have death as the penalty. It would be quite difficult to envisage a situation in which responsibility for the well-being of a faith community and leadership in that community would not include some form of teaching. J. and that for a deacon 'the holy Spirit of grace and caring and diligence'. 1976) pp. for by following the prescriptions of the Lord they do not go astray. those of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. and perhaps only a minority view. and teaching is obviously a central feature of leadership. not as stating what was the universally agreed doctrine of the ministry at that period but rather as one view. The link between charism and appointment to office also features prominently in the earliest extant ordination prayers. Although its author does his best to play down the seriousness of what had taken place and to attribute everything to the work of one or two agitators (47. If so. and for the levites their own ministrations are laid down. with the same charismata which their predecessors had possessed. of the princely Spirit which you granted through your beloved Son Jesus Christ to your holy apostles'. Indeed. and hence it may well be that the unusual step of providing a written prayer-text was taken by the author in order to help prevent them from appearing quite as liturgically incompetent. usually considered to have been written around AD. and the whole of this long letter is a series of impassioned arguments against this action and in favour of their reinstatement. the greater the danger we incur' (1 Clement 40. Hippolytus: a text for students (Grove Liturgical Study No. 2 Tim. therefore. op. but it was. but at fixed times and hours.227. so that everything may be done in a holy manner according to his good pleasure and may be acceptable to his will. Not only would their 'charismatic' predecessors have made a considerable contribution to the ministry of the word. This letter. Where and by whom he wishes them to be performed. 'a logical implication of their role in the community. and a deacon pray for the gifts of the Spirit which are thought to be requisite for each office: that for the bishop asks for 'that power which is from you. and not all. being· of a good conscience. is not wholly clear from the original Greek of this verse. that he may help and govern your people with a pure heart'. where trouble had just erupted.'l This movement can be seen in the Pastoral Epistles where. in comparison with those leaders possessing the charism of prop he teia. should offer the eucharist to God in his own order. and 8: see G. and not to be done haphazardly or without order. as they might otherwise have done if they had been required to extemporize prayer. 3-4). though 1 Timothy 5. though the substance of the prayers may go back earlier than that. 3. whereas Titus 1. therefore.6). Here the prayers to be used at the ordination of a bishop. You see. which is thought to date from the beginning of the third century. This suggests that we ought to view the letter in a somewhat different light. (b) Office as bestowing charism It is not really surprising that such formally appointed communityleaders were not generally content with a second-class status and began to claim endowment. in 1 Clement we do see a desire to take things somewhat further. which had yet to win general acceptance.3 1 2 (c) Office versus charism There is at first no evidence that others besides the formally appointed presbyteroi-episcopoi were not still regarded as possessing gifts of the Spirit and able to act as liturgical presidents or ministers of the word. 12-13. which in the sixteenth century became foundational to a Presbyterian polity. through their appointment to office. and he adds a stern warning of the consequences of disobedience: 'those. It has to be recognized that this division of presbyters. but instead spends so much time contending for this principle upon many other grounds.' From this he goes on to draw the conclusion that 'each of you. who do anything contrary to his [Le. brethren. it is apparent that the congre~ation at Corinth had ousted the presbyters there and replaced them With other leaders of their own choosing. 1.1). Cuming. was sent from the church at Rome to the church at Corinth. that those appointed to office were to serve for life and could not be dismissed.14. 41. Those. 96. It is usually assumed that.17 may imply that only some. cit. Timothy is said to have received a gift when hands were laid on him (1 Tim. 10 . he has himself determined by his supreme will. On the other hand. p. it is strange that he never once refers to such a rule or tries to rest his case upon what would have been a very strong argument. For to the high priest have been given his own proper services. 8. 4. 11 3 Cooke. their adoption of this latter function was almost ineVitable. Chs. and to the priests their own place has been assigned. not merely the presidency of the assembly and the improvisation of the eucharistic prayer.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH FROM CHARISM TO OFFICE stated). and the ordained ministers would not have wanted to be outdone by them.6) or 'a few reckless and arrogant individuals' (1. as Bernard Cooke has said. The lay man is bound by the prescriptions for the laity.

also M. as he himself was of his Father. the voice of God. there let the people be. Philadelphians 4. cherish unity. Thus the authority of prophets and teachers came to be qu~stioned more and. o. even if he happens to be a 'silent' bishop. 13 .5ft. Magnesians 4. Meinhold. but he in whom I am bound is my witness that I did not learn it from human flesh.26-32. although they came to b. R.47-54. 'The silence of bishops in Ignatius' in Harvard Theological Review 43 (1950) pp. in the last analysis it is the possession of office and not the external manifestation of charismata which is to be the decisive criterion for judging who is to be regarded as a true minister of the Church. there is the universal church. pp. as to a 1 2 commandment of God." Some suspected me of saying this because I already knew of division among you. on the other hand. The presidency of all liturgical ass.16972.f 1 Clement. keep your flesh as the temple of God. Prophecy and Anti-episcopal Activity: A Third Error Combated by Ignatius?'. 'Schweigende Bischofe: die Gegensiitze in der kleinasiatischen Gemeinde nach den Ignatianen' in Glaube und Geschichte (Festgabe fur J. yet he argues that authority over the Christian community should rest with the bishop rather than the prophet: 'For even though certain persons wished to deceive me after the flesh. P. Let that be considered a valid eucharist which is under the bishop or someone to whom he has entr. op.ssion to the bishop and his fellow ministers) provide ample eVidence that . The spirit preached it. Follow the bishop. Such men do not seem to me to act in good conscience since they do not assemble validly according to the commandment. be imitators of Jesus Christ.. Lortz. as Jesus Christ followed the Father. his many complaints of lack of loyalty to officers and his appeals for unity (in sUbmi. 'Das Amtverstandnts der Ignatiusbriefe' in Theologie und Glaube 62 (1972) pp. 'Zur Deutung des kirchlichen Schweigens bei Ignatius von Antiochen' in Theologische Zeitschrift 12 (1956) pp.ot permitted either to baptize or to hold an agape apart from the bishop. in Journal of Ecclesiastical History 34 (1983) pp. therefore. this is also acceptable to God.'2 Many of these were apparently holding their own assemblies for worship on the basis of the charismatic gifts which they claimed to have received. and searches out the hidden things.. Just as wherever Jesus Christ is. Ignatius criticizes those who 'address a man as bishop but do everything apart from him. 12 2 3 Smyrnaeans 8. 'Ignatiu~' spirited defence of the episcopal office. Hence he is of the view that only those celebrations of the eucharist.'" (Philadelphians 7). and eventually office triumphed over charism everywhere. cf.sually supposed). espoused by the later church. and we should recognize that the tranSition to the ecclesiology which he advocated was not achieved without a considerable struggle. at the same time his letters provide unmistakeable indications that there were others who did not share his opinions and who rejected the claims to sole authority which he was making on behalf of the newly emerging episcopate. for it knows whence it comes and whither it goes. cit.usted it. which provide the first clear evidence we have for the existence of the office of a bishop.. Bieder.emblJes was entirely taken over by the bishop. Jourjon. however. 'La pnisidence de I' eucharistie chez Ignace d' Antioc~~' in Lumiere et Vie 16 (1967) pp. being from God. "Obey the bishop and the presbytery and deacons. so that everything you do may be sure and valid: 1 Nevertheless. baptisms.467-90. and agapes are to be accounted genuine which are presided over by the bishop or by someone authorized by him: 'Avoid divisions. lacking the charism of propheteia.28-43. Bd 2. and the presbytery as the apostles. I cried out when I was among you.e. It is n. As Christine Trevett has observed in a recent detailed study of this question. He believes that the people should be subject to the presidency of the bishop simply because he is the bishop. there were still active Christians whose loyalty was not wholly given to the kind of ecclesiology Ignatius favoured. I spoke with a loud voice. see also ibid 7. speaking thus: "do nothing without the bishop. it did prevail. The people of Corinth. but whatever he approves.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH FROM CHARISM TO OFFI~E He is thus firmly convinced that there are strict rules governing the presidency of the eucharist which limit this function to those properly ordained and exclude those whom he regards as 'Iaymen'-the first use of the term in this sense by aChristian writer. shun divisions. Baden Baden 195B) pp. Chnstlne Trevett. who also continued to Improvise the eucharistic prayer as his 'charismatic' predecessors 1 See Christine Trevett•. Though Ignatius implies that he himself possesses the gift of prophecy (doubtless to lend greater authority to his views) 1. and in the course of the second century they fmally lost any POSitions of leadership they had held in Christian communities (th?ugh this transition may not have happened as early in every pl?ce as IS u. Let no one do anything concerning the church apart from the bishop. as the beginning of evils.3-4. yet the spirit is not deceived. as the leader of a body of presbyters in charge of a local church. In the end. Thus. seem to be unaware of any such rules and to be equally convinced that they are free to invite others to fulfil that role. A not dissimilar situation appears to lie behind the letters of Ignatius of Antioch early in the second century. and to the deacons pay respect. Wherever the bishop appears. The church was persuaded of the difficulty of distinguishing true prophet from false (a problem of which both the New Testament and the Didache had not been unaware) and of the danger of claims to private sources of revelation. Padberg. all of you. we should refrain from assuming that Ignatlus views represented the orthodoxy of his time. especially as they generally seemed to lead to conclusions in belief and practice at variance with those which had hitherto prevailed. ~ore. W.'3 As in the ~as. The phenomenon of 'silent' bishops in Philadelphians 1 and Ephesians 6 has been much debated and variously interpreted: see for example Henry Chadwick. 2 As in 1 Clement. for example.

and only in Montanism. however. so that we may be saved with eternal salvation.100f. had done. 'Liturgical Prayers of Intercession' in Journal of Theological Studies 21 (1920) pp. that originally the president himself always pronounced the biddings and only later did the deacon take a more prominent part. Lods.1-2. in which the deacon came to have only a very minor role in signalling the people to kneel. Confesseurs et Martyrs.e early church can be seen in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus at the beginning of the third century. 3 There seems to be nothing to substantiate the claim by Josef Jungmann. The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus records that. op. and so eventually brought to an end much of the active participation by the laity in leading worship which had been a feature of primitive Christianity. as we shall see later. when we have finished praying . for he has the honour of the presbyterate by his confession. was the later development see A Baumstark. the third-century Syrian Didascalia permits widows to pray over and lay hands on the sick at the command of the bishop or deacon. came increasingly under episcopal control and judgment. 19). at least in some situations. is to lay hands on them and pray before dismissing them (ch. 2 This practice. R. Mass of the Roman Rite (New York 1951) I. (Paris. 1 We saw earlier how in Judaism the leading of prayer was something which might be performed by any member of the congregation. for ourselves. First Apology. was there opportunity for them to continue to flourish as independent ministries. in contrast to his description of the eucharistic prayer itself. But if he is appointed bishop.223-5. . 1 15 . and for him who has been enlightened. 1950). they also increasingly laid claim to various liturgical acts which had originally been exercised by others. or made the response I \ 1 Ch. Not only did bishops assume the presidency of all liturgical rites. or even to the deacons. and later evidence indicates that at some stage the leading of prayer became an exclusively clerical activity. Here it is directed that those who have suffered because of their witness to Christ are to be recognized as members of the presbyterate without the need for any form of ordination but. Although he says nothing explicitly about their form. 65. Perhaps one of the last traces of an authoritative 'charismatic' ministry within th. Those who remained within the mainstream church. Die Messe im Morgenland (Munchen 1906). In the 'common prayers' in liturgical services the contributing of biddings became formalized and placed entirely in the hands of the deacon 3 . and as we said before. however. and the influence of prophets and teachers declined markedly.'1 . simply on this evidence of their having received a charism from God to confess the faith: 'But a confessor. and the people now prayed in silence. did not last.). Similarly. we greet one another with a kiss. p. . lay people might still offer public prayer. though they themselves did not totally disappear. When we have ended the prayers. we may be deemed worthy to be found good citizens in our actions and guardians of the commandments. cit. 14 Justin Martyr.2 Didascalia 3. A. shall not have hands laid on him for the diaconate or the presbyterate.. J. his continued use of the first person plural with regard to them and the absence of any direct reference to the president here. and it would seem rather that the Western practice. and other movements judged heretical by the church. Connolly. apparently.. pA81. and suggested that this would have continued in early Christianity. The Liturgical Portions of the Didascalia (Grove Liturgical Study No. See also M. 9: Cuming. that having learned the truth. if he was in chains for the name of the Lord. The practice may be implied in Justin Martyr's account of the 'common prayers' in his description of the eucharist at Rome in the middle of the second century. Marcionism. 1982) p. H. successeurs des prophetes dans I'Eglise des trois premiers siecles. to make common prayers earnestly. Jungmann.5: 'then we all stand up together and offer prayers.14. THE CLERICeZATION OF LITURGICAL FUNCTIONS. may possibly suggest that others still had a vocal part to play in them: 'After we have thus baptized him who has believed and has given his assent. see also 67.. the teacher. and for all others everywhere. we take him to those who are called brethren where they are assembled. at the gatherings for the instruction of those preparing for baptism. cf. pp. hands shall be laid on him.8: see Sebastian Brock and Michael Vasey (eds. following Anton Baumstark.'1 Certainly even in the third century. whether he is a cleric or a layman.20. 29.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH 4.

have mercy'. Peregrinatio Egeriae 24. p.163. Vita 5. and the Jewish (and early Christian) practice or inviting others to give an exposition of the Scriptures had already disappeared.6-7. 15. are deSignated as teachers and take responsibility both for the pre-baptismal c~teche. 26.21. where it is the president who' in a discourse admonishes and exhorts'4.9. Bradshaw.10. cit. and were ascribed to them by others.'2 Furthermore. although in the West preaching certainly did event~ally become restricted entirely to bishops. 3 4 Martyrdom of Polycarp 16. Sancti Hieronymi Presbyteri Tractatus sive Hom/fiae in Psalmos (Anecdota Maredsolana 3/2. There are. 7. the Syrian Dldascalia later In the third century does regard the ability to preach and teach.a delegation ~o the presbyters of what was properly an episcopal functl<. Maredsous 1897) pp. 1 Not only did prayer-leadership by lay people disappear. 16. Firstly.inead in Alexandria and was stopped there only after the hereSies of Arlus . Cyprian Ep.3. not only clerics but laity too.39. It does not 1 2 e e THE CLERICALlZATION OF LITURGICAL FUNCTIONS contain a description of the ministry of the word at a normal Sunday eucharist so we have no way of knowing whether the bishop was expected' to be the regular preacher at that. See Socrates. but certal. an d' t h e In East presbyters regularly participated in this function. We have already seen that the charisms of prophet and teacher tended to be claimed by the presbyterate. and constant in reading the diVine SCripture? With diligence. while in North Africa Bishop Valerius of Hippo. and that very conservative third-century document. 140. while the president himself articulated their intercessions by reciting a concluding prayer. that IS expllc. 2. Con. Presumably the bishop's acknowledged right to improvise the eucharistic prayer. according to Egeria. 19.1.41. does not seem to have been quite as rapid and as straightforward as that in every place. heard a sermon given by a certain presbyter.rysostom for Antioch and Constantinople5 .4. It expects a candidate for the episcopate.' He sho~l? be dil. indications that it was some time before teaching was regarded as a normal and universal feature of the episcopal office. Rome. as norm~1 attributes of a bishop. Quasten.igent in ~is teaching. for example.>n. Else~here in th~ docum~nt others.77-8. presbyters were required to attend the monastic night office in turn to deputize for the bishop and say the prayers which followed each psalm.19. so that he can interpret and expound the SCriptures reliably. London 1981) pp. encouraged perhaps by a desire to ensure the orthodox content of anything prayed in the name of the church.4. op. however. the ApostolIC ConstItutIons also for Syria6 and Jerome for Bethlehem 7 reveals the practice of multiple serma'ns as the norm: a number of presbyters would preach in turn. perhaps r~th~r surprlsln~ly. did not merely assume an authoritative teaching role within the Christian community. Utrecht 1953).2. was described as 'bishop of the Catholic Church at Smyrna and a teacher in our own day who combined both apostle and prophet in his own person.ltly reserved t? the bishop is the giving of the mystagoglcal ca. Daily Prayer in the Early Church (Alcuin Club/SPCK. 1970) p. 16 6 7 Apost. pp. 1 On the other hand. 3. The fourthcentury evidence of Egeria for Jerusalem~. see Paul F. 42. Ecclesiastical History 5.1.n other considerations need to be taken into account. and may not even have been so at Rome. 1. 17 B 9 . but we do h~~e its ordination prayer for a bishop. there IS some evidence to suggest the continued existence of other teaching ministries besides that of the bishop or presbyters in the second 1 2 3 4 5 Apost. and then the bishop last of all. contains no mention at all of the ministry of the word In Its enumeration of episcopal functions.57. for example. 3 Bishops. See the texts listed in V. Zur Geschichte der Messliturgie in Antiocheia und Constantinopel gegen Ende des vierten Jahrhunderts (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 187. Apparently the same custom o~ce obta. Trad. Indeed the evidence of Justin Martyr's description of the Sunday eucharist.1. 27. 25. and subsequently by the episcopate when it emerged as a separate office.22. Polycarp of Smyrna. See J. 342. 43. Ecclesiastical History 7. Augustine. Sozomen. '. 343.sls at ~he bap~lsmal eucharist itself. but if he is uneducated. we':lt against the Western rule and allowed Augustine to preach while stili only a presbyter. for example. who suffered martyrdom in the middle of the second century. 3. but eventually began to claim the exclusive right to proclaim the word of God. We have mentioned earlier that Ignatius of Antioch knew of the existence in the second century of 'silent' bishops who made no pretence to this gift. but the custom of individuals making a contribution to the ministry of the word also declined. First Apology 67. and all.131. This development.1. 8.teche. the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. 11. Ch. had led to this assumed exclusive right to improvise all public prayer. himself a Gree~. he . Patrology (Spectrum. If possible to be 'educated and able to teach.'2 Even Cyprian in the third century implied that he too had prophetic endowment. however. he should be capable and wise in speech.2. Didascalia 2. which we find to be the rule by the fourth century. 66. which. likewise gives very little prominence to this aspect of a bishop's ministry. 18. John.. van de Paverd. unless it is to be assumed under the general expression 'feed your holy flock'.si~ and also for the daily instruction of the faithful. Hippolytus3 . has usually been interpreted as implying that by the middle of the second century only a bishop might deliver the homily at a liturgical assembly. In Jerusalem. 5: Brock and Vasey. Chs. we have the testimony of Orlgen that when he visited Rome at the beginning of the third century.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH 'Lord. So firm was this clerical privilege that it seems to have presented something of a problem for the early monastic communities when they came together at the hours of prayer. 9 Some have regarded this Eastern custom as essentially .

See Baumstark. were Try~h? the. while still a layman wa. albeit somewhat grudgingly. to the assemb.96-7. Thrngs were apparently much more clericalized in Alexandria. cit. 29.3 In particular Cyprian uses both terms in the same sentence in one of his letters: 'when with the presbyter-teachers we were carefully examining lectors. but In the third century there existed within 1 2 the presbyterate a recognizable group designated as ' presbyters and teachers'.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH e THE CLERICALlZATION OF LITURGICAL FUNCTIONS century. most clearly evidenced at Alexandria 1. 5 Even in the fifth century monks were preaching at Antioch.31. 19 . 88.. for example. and in Iconium Paulinus by Celsu~. apart from 'the priests of the Lord. cit. be argued that It ~a~ the bishop alone who preached there and tea?hlng by . see also Mand. See Albano Vile la.Je~ refers to the continuation of the gift of prophecy among Chnstlan s In hiS own . e~en then t~ere ar~ still scattered traces of the involvementof lay people In preachln~ which sugg~st that the custom might once have been. our blessed brother blshop.ne of th!s. op.222-3.6. Eusebius. Leo. so too there may have been some teachers who were not presbyters. which can provide no examples of prophets with the influence of Hermas or teachers with the autonomy of Clement of Alexandria. they also are rnvlt~d to preach to the people by the holy bishops. apparently bestowed on women as well as 1 on men. who claimed that the practice was 'unheard of.16-18. the continued existence of lay catechists6 . Ep. 120. New York 1981) pp. in Roles in the Liturgical Assembly: the twenty-third Liturgical Conference Saint Serge (Pueblo.ho pre. if not sooner.311-12.. 2. and in Synnada Theodore by Atticus. none ought to preach or teach: 6 Moreover. and even in fifth-century Gaul apparently a layman might still teach in the presence of clergy if invited to do SO.at least at first. Ecclesiastical History 6. maintained that. In Laranda Euelpis by Neon.1.s.7 Taken together. 6 Apost.day.1 -3. pp. both 'teachers' who were not ordained. evidence actually proves that there was any and so It might. cit. 4. with presbyters and bishop continuing to See Vilela.4. This work also refers to 'bishops and teachers and deacons' in such a way that one r:ni~ht suppose that the teachers could still be recognized as a group distinct from the ordained ministry. 4 Cyprian. that just as there were some presbyters who were not also teachers. See Charles Renoux. pp.. cit.ould appear that. but the text does not require this: the fact that they were assisted by lectors does not necessarily mean that they themselves must have occupied some higher rank in the clerical hierarchy. Indeed we know that some lay involvement in teaching persisted elsewhere to a much later date: the fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions.19.6. This certainly see~s to have been the case later in the third century. who. 3 Vilela. This would explain the more restricted use of the title in the fourth century with the growing identification of the two roles then.others was limited to a non-liturgical context. . 3. Then there IS the Shepherd of Hermas. 2 Although such a twofold appellation might have been no more than a way of indicating which of the presbyters shared in the teaching function. In most places in the course of the third century. for example.1. Clement of Alexandria and Justin Martyr. in other words. a practice condemned by Pope Leo. we appointed Optatus among the lectors of the teachers of the hearers: 4 It has commonly been assumed that the teachers of the' hearers' or catechumens were also presbyters5 . as. Some support for this conclusion is provided by evidence from North Africa. Vis. Ongen. where the author is instructed to write ~own his prophetic vision and present it to 'the presbyters \/\:.5. Pans 1971) pp. 18 a 7 S Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua 98. 107.l 60-1 . all these considerations suggest that the fourthcentury participation of presbyters in preaching may not have been a delegation downwards from the bishop. and vestiges of this double title can be detected at Jerusalem and Antioch in the fourth century. Const. op. op.312.82-3. the increasing clericalization of preaching and teaching.. which proceeded more rapidly in some places than in others. Vie liturgique et quotidienne Carthage vers le milieu du /lie siecle (Vatican City. And it is likely that this thing happens in other places also without our knowing it. not all presbyters in the East had the nght to teach. La condition collegiale des pretres au /lie siecle (Beauchesne. and he was subsequently recalled there by his bishop. 'Liturgical Ministers at Jerusalem in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries'. Here too there are third-century references to a similar group known as 'presbyter-teachers'.slde over the church'2. which certainly suggests that pr~phecy might stili have been granted a hearing by a congregation. who cited other instances of it: 'where t~er~ are found persons suited to help the brethren. but also other references simply to 'teachers'. 8. where teachers might be clerics or laymen.s invited to preach before the bishops of Caesarea and Jerusalem. Victor Saxer.128-36.3. Vis. 5 See Vilela. 119. Ep. for example. pp.'4 It is ironical that Origen was later to be one of the staunchest defenders ~f the exclusive teaching right of bishops and presbyters.lies for Instruction and the pre-baptismal catechesis referred to In the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. it could be thought also to imply that the two roles were still to some degree distinguishable from one another. that it reflects a situation similar to that described in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus which we have already referred to. On the other hand. but it was defended by the bishops of Caesarea and Jerusalem. p. m~ch more widespread. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Dialogue with Trypho 82. 1969) pp. and Justin in his dialogue with Of ~o~rs~ no. Demetrius. it \/\:. it became accepted that preaching at liturgical services was normally to be restricted to the c1er~y and was not open simply to any who displayed appropriate gifts.3 partlclp~tlo~ In the ministry of ~he word at liturgical services as such. op. for example. acknowledges. but on the contrary part of a movement upwards.

suggests that community leadership generally tended to be exercised by a group of people rather than by one individual. Ep.75-97. G. though female involvement in this was all but ended at an early stage. at least at first.). 'Le Presbyterium selon S. who is frequently depicted as advocating a monarchical style of episcopate. 1 2 3 4 5 See Tertullian. The New Testament evidence. been thought that the image of 1 share together in this ministry in some places. M. Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father. seems to have had a position of pre-eminence. t~e presbyterate seems to have retained in a larg~ measure its. 9.19. either in person or through the apostles. It has. even after the emergence of the episcopate.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH 5. and the bishop eventually taking it over entirely in others. It is not clear from Justin Martyr's account of the eucharist whether those who read the' records of the apostles and the writings of the prophets' were permanently appointed officials or whether anyone might still be asked to perform this task at a service. Eccl. and women were not even allowed to catechize in North Africa 1. 'L'organisation du ministere dans I'Eglise primitive se Ion saint Ignace d'Antioche' in Verbum carD 81 (1967). op. Thurian. and even to the very roots of the Christian tradition. and the bishop presided as the head of his corporate body. 11: Cuming.. lasted much longer. however. De Bapt. had lost almost entirely any active part in the ministry of the word in any form. 1. 4 Hence almost the only place left for individual lay participation was the agape. but be united with t~e bishop and with those who preside as an example and a lesson In incorruptibility.e senior member or 'chairman' of the body regularly to assume thiS function. Lay participation in catechesis. 'The Collegiate Character of the Presbyterate and Episcopate'. See Tertullian. Even the reading of the scriptures at liturgical services became professionalized at an early stage. 99.12-18. for example.57. by the beginning of the third century a distinct office of reader had emerged. also A. Even Ignatius of Antioch. or perhaps it tended to be the duty of th. Precisely how such corporate leadership was expressed liturgically within the various communities of the early church we do not know. 'The Presbyteral Colleges in the Early Church' in Con cilium 7. p.2 On the other hand. Perhaps each of the leaders took a turn at presiding over the assembly. Apost. therefore. cf. 12. a process no doubt encouraged by a lack of educated presbyters and the fear of heretical teaching.1 This corporate leadership was not merely an abstract idea in the minds of theologians.15. especially in country districts. 6-7. Didascalia 3. it would seem that in fifth-century Gaul a woman was still allowed to catechize women. does not speak of the bishop in isolation but always in conjunction with the rest of the clergy. Vile la. Cyprian. Ignace d' Antioche' in Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique 74 (1973) pp. 'the brother of the Lord'. for example.normal president of all liturgical assemblies but also as the chief mmlster of both word and sacrament.2ff. where James. according to the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. 3 The laity. Ant. So.2 This arrangement may well go back long before the emergence of the episcopate as a separate office.as th. however. where different people might continue to stand up and sing psalms and hymns of their own choosing 5 . It cannot be stressed enough. See for example Didascalia 2. this presidency was set firmly within a collegial context. p. in The Sacrament of Holy Orders (Aquin.. London 1962) pp. Trad. acting on behalf of all. op. but certainly.5-6. earlier collective responsibility for the general oversight of the life and worship of the local Christian community. pp.e . where the bishop did not preside alone but sat in the midst of a semi-circle of presbyters. cit. in his letter to the Magnesians: 'Be zealous to do everything in godly concord.• p. D'Ercole.16. the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after ~he likeness of the council of the apostles . op. FROM COR&ATE TO INDIVIDUAL PRESIDENCY The bishop thus ultimately became established not only .2 (1966) pp. there was a college of presbyters who shared with him in decision-maki~g (see Acts 11. Brock and Vasey. Apol 39. but already by the end of the second century the custom only obtained in heretical groups. De Virgo Vel. he writes. Moreover. 20 2 Magn. retaining an element of its earlier corporate nature. instructing enquirers to be passed on to 'the leaders'.26-38. Even at Jerusalem. that.. Let there be nothmg among you which is able to divide you.. 17.30. cit.15. but received concrete expression in the liturgical practice of the church. such as it is. 100. thus offering a very vivid visual symbol of the collegiate nature of the ordained ministry. cit.3-4: Brock and Vasey. 'however learned and holy she is'. Stat. B. Botte.161-86. so you are to do nothing without the bishop and the presbyters'. while the third-century Didascalia has a similar regulation. but not to teach men. 21 . appointment to which was made by the bishop handing to the person the book from which he would read-the same gesture as the archisunagogos had used when inviting someone to ~ead the scriptures in the synagogue. but even this final vestige of New Testament practice disappeared with the eventual demise of this communal meal. We cannot be sure whether women were ever allowed to preach at liturgical services. 15.

op. their role dl? ~ot dev~lop at all beyond the original concept of leadership.l0. op. 199-200. Cyprian. . 1978) pp. It was almost always the bishop who laid clal~ to them and came to be thought of as having the necessary c~a~lsms for them. 21.e liturgical presidency of the early church there would have been very little for the presbyters to do in the course of a service. 2.. A. 15. 7: Cuming. as well as in the immersion itself. in ordaining.33-5. 7: Cuming. to the episcopal office. a~d the same was almost certainly true in the earliest Chnstlan assemblies. which offered greater possibilities for their active involvement we find them playing a bigger part. especially as other factors were moving the episcopate in the direction of an absolute monarchy with the presbyters as no more than assistants. pp.6. where again they lay hands on the candidate while the ~ishop recites the ordination prayer. though he believes that the custom grew out of the practice of 'eucharistic hospitality' (see below. 17. 15.28. 23 . for instance. Taft. and by the splnt of hlgh-pnesthood to have the power to forgive sins according to your command.9. and the process increased in tire fourth and fifth centuries. 3.• pp. Condition collegiale. Ibid. and that only later neighbouring bishops began to take over this function.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH the worship of heaven in Revelation 4. pp.. 1 Cyprian informs us that they were similarly involved in the imposition of hands with the bishop at the reconciliation of a penitent. when written texts became current.h synagogue those who presided actually did very little.'2 On .308ff. in the rites of baptism. whereas that ~or a bishop enumerates the episcopal functions at some length: to feed your holy flock and to exercise the high-priesthood before you blamelessly. See R.46.). Jewis. cf.s ?f others. Ibid. pp.6 and expects them to be involved in settling disputes and disciplining members of the congregation 7 . With the exception of the ministry of the word. ibid. J. 12. 12.ers were clencallzed.t~en they did so. Here the Apostolic Tradition tells of them participating in anointing the candidates with the oil of exorcism and with the oil of thanksgiving. Landmarks in Liturgy (DLT. London. see Vilela. s Thus. especially after certain presbyters had taken it upon themselves to act independently of him and to reconcile the lapsed without his approval!9 1 2 e FROM CORPORATE TO INDIVIDUAL PRESIDENCY 3 4 5 6 3 G. Michell. 47. an~ to o~er to you the gifts of your holy Church. that they were considered to be relatively unimportant. pp. in the rest of the document the presbyterate tends to recede into the background. 3 Although in later centuries in a number of Eastern rites the expression of collegiality in the presidency of the eucharist was extended. where the thrones of the elders sur~ound th~ throne of God. when there were opportunities for them to express their corporate pa~icipation in liturgical presidency in more positive yvays. 22 7 8 9 See Paul Bradshaw. 1961). however. We must r~membe~ that in the. although Cyprian at first made it a rule to do nothing withouton this and more on independent episcopal action.26) and not from the idea of collegiality. he it is. Trad. laying hands on him corporately while one of them 1 2 e recited the ordination prayer.1.2. See Vilela. also evidence of a similar practice in the writings of Origen. 'Ex Oriente Lux? Some Reflections on Eucharistic Concelebration' in Worship 54 (1980). 3. First steps in this direction can already be detected in the third century. Ep. to loose every bond according to the power which you gave to the apostles . The Apostolic Tradition att~sts thiS In relation to the eucharist where the presbyters join in laying hands on the bread and wine with the bishop before he recites the eucharistic prayer. pp. also 2.activitie. in G. and not the presbyterate. from early times at least some presyters were included in the ranks of those who taught. in reconciling penitents. from the author s expenence of the actual ordering of the earthly worship of the church. and were mainly concerned to control and co-ordinate the .34. Condition collegiale. See Cooke.86-7.12.3. cit. 1 It is true that in this corporat. In the course of ~Im~.the other hand. Cuming (ed. Apost. Aposr.314-17. and ~~IS IS we I! Illustrated by the ordination prayers in the Apostolic TraditIOn of Hlppolytus. Essays on Hippolyrus (Grove Liturgical Study No.ed and s~ t~eyexpressed th~ir leadership-role in the assembly simply b'y sitting silently ~r?und th~lr spokesr:nan. Apost. Here the prayer for a new presbyter simply asks for the gift of ' the Spirit of grace and counsel of the presbyterate. with different prayers being distributed to different presbyters.142-7. for they are the upholders and counsellors of the church'. p.ly. and authority and responsibility seem to be concentrated more in the hands of the bishop.2-4.lng by their physical association with him.1. . to propitiate your countenance unceasln. cir. who is said to appoint the deacons. may be derived. as f~nctions which had once been exercised by oth. at least in part. and also in relation to the ordination of a presbyter. a mere decorative or ceremonial addition to the' real' presidency of the bishop. that he ma~ help and govern your people with a pure heart'. 3 It is even possible that at one tlm~ the pres?yters presided over the ordination of a new bishop for their community.. We shoul? not be tempted to conclude from this..g. pp. displaying their assent to his authority ~nd declslon-mak. 16. 'Ordination'. Didascalia 2. There would have been little therefore by way of activity in which the presbyters could have sha. Trad. and in other respects. cit.77-81. although the Didascalia still insists that the presbyters should be honoured' as the apostles. 2 Furthermore. op.273-303. cf. to confer orders according to your bidding. s Similarly.• pp.4.2. Moreover. in a manner somewhat parallel to the distribution of the preaching of the word 4 . and as the counsellors of the bishop. Trad. it was perhaps almost inevitable that elsewhere the presbyter's liturgical role should eventually come to be seen as relatively unimportant and ultimately dispensable. They apparently joined in the gesture of the Imposltlo~ ~f hand~ whenever this occurred. s~rving night and day. and as the crown of the church. where. 4. as we have seen.

In view of Polycarp's standing as a great prophet and teacher it is more than likely that this formed a part of the motivation behind the action of Anicetus. 1 2 24 25 . when (according to the church historian Eusebius) Anicetus. and although efforts were sometimes made to retain some link between the individual presbyters and the bishop2. op. 3 See Jungmann. the extensive instructions in the third-century Didascalia concerning eucharistic hospitality reveal a further dimension to the practice: 'But if a brother or sister should come from another congregation. Thus.17. Otherwise.9. On the other hand. and the practice spread extensively in the fourth century with the rapid growth of the church then. At Rome.a. and whether she Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 5. The earliest clearly recorded instance of this appears to be at the visit of Polycarp to Rome in the middle of the second century. disturbing the otherwise stable basis for liturgical presidency. 1 2 Cyprian. THE DELEGATION OF PRESIDENCY e (a:) Eucharistic hospitality The growing stress on the episcopal office and the gradual attraction of all major liturgical functions to the bishop did not mean that it was impossible for others ever to exercise them. cit. p. 5. for example. 3 See above. may not have been a sudden burst of generosity on the part of Anicetus.24. where a host might invite an honoured guest to take over his role and say the grace at the end of a meal 3 . in allowing enormous respect for an ageing teacher of the faith the replace the normal relationship of pastor and pastored as a basis for presiding at the eucharist. itinerant prophets would not only have contributed to the ministry of the word when they visited a Christian community but also have said the eucharistic prayer. 3 This cannot but have made a very significant contribution. consecrated at the eucharist over which he was presiding in person. called the fermentum. or again.2. but that it was considered right for a congregation to invite a visitor whose gifts of proclamation were recognized as equalling or exceeding those of the resident ministers to exercise those gifts and improvise the eucharistic prayer. Indeed a bishop might well invite a visiting colleague to assume his place at the eucharist. however. as a sign of unity. Leading Worship. It should be viewed not so much as a surrender of presidency itself as the delegation of a particular function usually exercised by the president to someone more fitted to perform it. p. although a more corporate celebration of the eucharist continued to be. which resulted in presbyters having to deputize for their bishop on a regular basis and to preside alone in such situations. 4 See above. the Pope would send a piece of bread. to each of the presbyters presiding over eucharistic celebrations elsewhere in the city. as well as his desire to give some liturgical expression to the unity existing between them. not only to the view of the presbyter as the assistant to the bishop. manifestly out of respect: 1 Colin Buchanan has asked whether the church took a wrong turning at this point.7. Ep. and we may presume that in the situation underlying the Didache. I. if not more generally in early Christianity. maintained by the bishop himself for several centuries longer. whether she is a widow who is a believer.. but rather a natural part of early Christian practice. the Bishop of Rome. Colin Buchanan. pp. We have already encountered a precedent for it in Judaism. 2 This 'eucharistic hospitality'. p.207ft.LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH • A major influence in changing the nature of liturgical presidency was the growing need for celebrations of the eucharist in outlying parts of a diocese. Our earliest explicit evidence for this comes from North Africa in the third century1. but also to the notion of liturgical presidency as an individual rather than a corporate activity. 'yielded the eucharist to Polycarp. nevertheless the common experience of eucharistic worship came to be of a service with a single presbyter accompanied by no more than one deacon or other assistant minister. why should the Didache have given instruction that the prophets should be free to give thanks as they wished?4 This suggests that at least in some early Christian thinking the link between a particular community and its eucharistic ministers may not have been viewed so narrowly as one might have thought. let the deacon enquire of her and find out whether she is married. e 6.

should receive him in fellowship in your place. 5 6 Apost. and later sources are all agreed that a presbyter is a proper person to deputize for the bishop in all these cases. 3. is very firm in its denial of the right of ministering baptism to deacons.13. Though such evidence is very scanty and unequal in value.3 Later 1 practice.1. though briefer. the bishop. presbyters did not assume the right to all the liturgical functions which had previously been exercised by the bishop. however. or does it now refer to some feature of an agape which might follow? (b) Episcopal deputies The bishop might also delegate his functions to someone within his own congregation. 4 Didasi:alia 2. we have the claim by Tertullian that in cases of necessity even a layman might preside. Some. like laymen. and is unwilling to offer. cit. there is the church. 'Nonne et laici sacerdotes sumus? (Exhort. and. invite him to give a homily to your people.83-98. or an agape 2 . Cast. See Schillebeeckx. Tertullian. however. Rome 1973). away from the notion of presiding over a rite celebrated corporately by the whole church to the idea of their doing something for and on behalf of the people. continued to be retained by the bishop alone. at least let him speak the words over the CUp:1 Here we go beyond recognizing the particular gifts of a visitor and allowing them to be exercised to recogrizing the status which all visitors possess in their home community and granting them the same status within the community in which they are guests. pp. 1 Cyprian was quite prepared to permit a deacon to effect the reconciliation of penitents. let him sit with the bishop. C. 314) stated that deacons were presiding at the eucharist 'in many places' and ordered this to cease. op. 'for a layman cannot make the blessed bread'. Vilela.6 Even then. if he were unable to be present at a liturgical assembly. who.3)' in Vetera Christianorum 8 (1971).16. and not just in their association with the bishop. even as himself. in other words that such powers were treated as theirs by right and not merely by concession. 2 26 27 . which had been applied to the bishop since at least the beginning of the third century. The Apostolic Constitutions.44. even if they are laymen'4. Condition collegiale. but if he is wise and gives the honour to you. It was not until some time later. Ep. Thus a presbyter from another community is not regarded merely as a lay person in the community he visits.D. which were consequently to be denied to the diaconate and the laity. who should accord to him the honour of his rank. 48-9.198-204. who may baptize with the bishop's authorization. op. Taft.11. and later canon 15 of the Council of Aries (A. when presbyters began to deputize for their bishops on a more regular basis. p.'s This also marks the beginning of a further shift in the whole understanding of the liturgical role of bishop and presbyters.• p. De Exhort. But they are less unanimous about whether the delegation of presidency may be extended further..• LITURGICAL PRESIDENCY IN THE EARLY CHURCH THE DELEGATION OF PRESIDENCY is a daughter of the Church. began also to be used of presbyters individually. But if a presbyter should come from another congregation. With regard to baptism. a baptism. pp. 3 Tertullian. Vo~el. p. and then let him conduct her to the appropriate place.. for 'where three are.28. Similarly. Tertullian draws a distinction between presbyters and deacons. 20.3: see G. for the beginnings of sacerdotal terminology concerning presbyters in relation to the bishop in Origen and. when a bishop was absent. And do you. might only act in cases of extreme urgency. for example. Parallel. Cyprian. especially as it is written. like ordination. op. it does seem to suggest that at first the limits of episcopal delegation were not entirely obvious. to include the diaconate or the laity.318. 'Le ministre charismatique de I' eucharistie: approche rituelle'.58: Brock and Vasey." And when you offer the oblation. And if he is a bishop. 7. 8. Const. cit. and it was not until the fourth century. and lay men (but not women!) who may take it upon themselves to do so in cases of genuine necessity only. and not deacons. as he is apparently expected to do. cit. We have already seen that Ignatius of Antioch recognized that a bishop might authorize someone else to preside in his stead at a eucharist. or possibly belongs to one of the heresies. 18.27-47. Otrano. but treated as a presbyter there too and given a seat among the presbyters. pp. that they came to be thought of as possessing certain inherent liturgical functions. pp. "There is no prophet that is acceptable in his own place. let him speak the words. 281-5. 3 With regard to the eucharist itself. 46. 1 2 3 Apost. instructions are found in the fifth century Statuta Ecclesiae Antiqua 56. 'from the fourth century we see a growing consciousness that presbyters celebrating the eucharist together with the bishop are doing something that the laity cannot do. Cast. something only they have the mandate to perform. Cyprian. Trad 28. To quote Robert Taft. as in Jewish custom. which there seemed no pressing need to delegate. but cf. that the term 'priest'. the presbyters. This presumably arose because of the sense of unity and solidarity which was felt between the different individual congregations. De Baptismo 17. and the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus directed that. was to regard only bishops and presbyters as normal ministers of baptism. on the one hand. a presbyter or a deacon might preside at the agape and bless the bread. See above. for the exhortation and admonition of strangers is very helpful. Is it an archaism from the time when there were separate prayers over bread and cup. the host might perform the former and the visitor the latter. 7. but not a layman. not surprisingly in view of the close relationship which existed between the episcopate and the presbyterate at this early period. if no presbyter were available to do it2 (though we have no later instances of such a practice). in Ministeres et celebration de I'eucharistie (Studia Anselmiana 61. you. a visiting bishop is to be invited to undertake what have become the principal liturgical functions of that office-preaching and the saying of the eucharistic prayer-though it is not entirely clear what the document means by letting him 'speak the words over the cup' if he declines the invitation to usurp the eucharistic prayer.

on the one hand. the distinction between presidency proper and the exercise of other liturgical functions were to be taken seriously once more. for instance. for example. is only to show how and why practices have changed: it is for the church to determine whether and how they should do so again. The task of the liturgical historian. a story of continuous evolution. 28 . given the contexts in which the church found itself. from a situation in which presidency was exercised in a collegiate manner to one in which it was conceived exclusively in individualistic terms. preaching. and that our own contemporary situation might be helped if we were able to retrace our steps somewhat. with. were quite clearly distinguished from one another. from a situation in which the oversight of worship. on the other. from a situation in which liturgical action was understood in a corporate sense to one in which it was firmly concentrated in the hands of one group of ministers or their assistants. and prayer). There may have been some valuable gains in the transition. therefore. however.• POSTSCRIPT The history of liturgical presidency in the early church is. who acted on behalf of the rest from a situation in which 'charism' played a major part to one in which 'office' was almost entirely determinative. to a situation in which any such distinction had totally disappeared. and the exercise of major liturgical functions (reading. if. the pressure from heretical groups in the second century and the problems of growing numbers of members and a lack of education in the fourth. but one cannot help concluding that there were also significant losses. In many ways such a movement seems in retrospect to have been more or less inevitable.

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