WOMEN CAN BE PRIESTS
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Women Ordained from 'Woman as Priest, Bishop and Laity in the Early Church to 440 A.D.' by Arthur Frederick Ide

Women Ordained

Woman as Priest, Bishop and Laity in the Early Church to 440 A.D.
by Arthur Frederick Ide, Ide House 1984, pp. 41-61.
Published on our website with the kind permission of the authour

While the majority of the women who confessed Jesus Christ to be their spiritual lord were followers of their husbands, fathers, older male relatives, and ordained or appointed clergy (clericos), some women rose to be leaders of other women and men in the Christian community, both as clergy (diakonos), and as governors (coepiscopoi). Generally the women who functioned as clergy were called diakonos.(1) They enjoyed the same power and responsibilities as men who served Christ. Seldom were these women ever “aids to ministers.” A number of the diakonos, in fact, commanded the assistance of male clergy; a few even taught the apostles, as did Phoebe who instructed Paul and “ruled over” him.

Those women who chose to “serve the Lord” were ordained in special ceremonies—ceremonies identical to those performed for the ordination of men, and at times performed with the ordination of men.(2) Not only was the ordination of women identical to that of men, but so, too, were the responsibilities of the ordained woman equal to that of men.(3)

Their responsibilities could be fulfilled serving a local congregation, or taking up the missionary staff and setting out to bring the “good news” (gospel) to those who had not yet heard it. Equal again to men they were called evangelists, and patterned themselves after the celebrated women: Prisca, a certain Mary, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, and Persis, who were known to have “worked hard” (kopian) in the service of spreading the Christian faith. The use of the word kopian (work) leaves no doubt as to their mission: it is a direct reference to evangelism- a term Paul applied even to himself.(4) Paul wrote that women “labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers.”(5) Paul had no difficulty accepting a woman as a “fellow-worker”—a priest, or deacon—an office firmly established by A.D. 63, when Paul was quite alive and in the height of his writing career. He wrote to Timothy (3:8-11): “Deacons also must be serious, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for too much bread (literally: ”too much grain"), they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And, let them also be tested first, then, if they prove themselves blameless, let them serve as deacons. In the same manner the women deacons (gynaikas) must be serious, not slanderers, but temperate and faithful in all things.” [Although the word used here to describe women deacons is gynaikas; literally “women”), all early Church men accepted it as deacons.(6)] The traditionalists who argue that it is a comment on the wives of deacons overlook the lack of a parallel, as in the case of the wives of bishops (cf. 3:1-7), and the parallels which exist in every other instance that referents to husbands and wives occur. This passage neither states nor was intended to mean the wives of deacons. Those traditionalists which cite Paul’s reputed condemnation of women for having caused the “fall of man” (1 Cor. 14:34-35), present an even weaker case, since the often given line in Corinthians today must be held suspect, for it is quite widely considered an addition to the original text by later scribes.(7) Its addition to the letter can be explained simply; since there was a growing hostility in the Roman empire against the Christians, many male Christians assumed that it was at the instance of powerful Roman women who connived, consorted, ruled, poisoned, and plotted the overthrow of the various succeeding impermanent and corrupt emperors.(8) Furthermore, many who had an opportunity to add the offensive line were educated Jewish males well learned in the antifeminist writings and customs of their theological and national past and present. Those Christian apologists and scribes who came out of a Greek background had a similar conditioning.(9) Not only did Paul not condemn women in general, but he had no objections to them being a part of the clergy regular, nor did he oppose them as prophets—quite the contrary, as has been shown earlier in this book, he recognized them as prophets and applauded their “work” as prophets. It would have been considered blasphemy for Paul to reject women as prophets, since Peter himself acknowledged their existence and importance, and on the first Christian Pentecost, declared—quoting Joel 3:15—to the men and women who assembled in the upper room (Acts 1:14; 2:1 -4).

And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
yes, and on my menservants
and my maidservants in those days
I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.

(Acts 2:16-18); and he had met Phillip’s four “virgin daughters who were prophets” (Acts 21:7-9) when he came to Caesarea from Ptolemais. The objection of the traditionalist male chauvinists in the Christian clergy is taken out of context, for the passage (1 Cor. 11:15) states “For a woman, however, it is a sign of disrespect to her head if she prays or prophesies unveiled”. Paul no more damned women for prophesying than for praying - he only admonished women to cover their heads, as do faithful Jewish worshipers. This was undoubtedly stated so that women would not be “set apart” or “recognized on the basis of their sex” within a congregation, for theologically Paul affirmed that “there is neither male nor female” in the eyes of God. Furthermore this passage is an open rejection of the Gnostic affirmation that prayer was to be an act not demonstrative of one’s subjection to God but on par with God.

1 Corinthians 11:7 is also a delight to the traditionalists. Here it is written that woman is not made in the image of God. Man (aner) is glorified; woman is made subject to aner. Anthropos (“humankind”/"mankind") is not employed. But it, like 1 Cor. 14:34-35 must be questioned. Lexiographically and syntatically this text is dissimilar to the general Pauline style and vocabulary. It appears to be added, like the rough style found in 1 Tim. 2:11-12 and 3:11. It is out of line with his remarks in Galatians 3:38, and rapport with women in his other epistles. The same is true of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 and 1 Tim. 2:12-15, which are in opposition to Romans 16, and Ephesians 5:25, 28-31 which not only enjoins men to love their wives but also realize that they are “in one flesh” and must therefore act in harmony. If two are as one, neither can be above the other. Sex is not a qualifier for strength or position, since “God is not a respector of persons” (Acts 10:24). According to the early Apostles, God sees humankind as androgynous.

The Christian androgyny can especially be seen in the term diakonos. Paul calls himself the diakonos of Jesus Christ.(10) It is the same term used in discussing the role of Stephen and his household: eis diakonian tois hagiois etaxan heautous.(11)

In the time of Phoebe diakonos is genitive—not dative. Diakonos does not indicate the beneficiary of the service, but rather the presenter of the service. She is the minister of the church at Cenchreae. Her service, opening in the form of charity to the poor and the giving of the use of her house for religious services was not only the product of the charismatic movement she experienced personally, but was the proper prototype of the office of minister itself.(12) The relationship of this deaconate is seen in Origen’s commentary on Paul’s letter to the Romans: feminas in ministeris Ecclesiae constitui where the Greek would read kai gynaikas diakonous tes Ekklesias kathistasthai, in which he declared “This text teaches with the authority of the Apostle that even women are instituted deacons in the Church. . .[and] that women, who have given assistance to so many people and who by their good works deserve to be praised by the Apostle, ought to be accepted in the diaconate [in minsterium (Latin) / eis diakonian (Greek)]”.

Women were ordained. The eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions states clearly, in its rite of ordination, that women, too, were ordained:

Eternal God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of man and woman, who filled Mary, Deborah, Anna, and Hulda with the Spirit, Who let Your Only Son be born of a woman, who instituted women -guardians for the holy gates of the Tent of Witness and of the Temple: look now upon this Your servant who has been elected for Your ministry; give her the Holy Spirit and purify her from all sin of the body and soul that she may worthily fulfill the function assigned to her, to Your glory, and to the praise of Your Christ—with Whom be to You the glory and worship, and to the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.(Let it be so)

As late as the fourth century the Syrian (and some other eastern bishops) followed the Apostolic Constitutions which ordered them to ordain women: “Ordain (procheirisia) also a woman deacon (diakonon) who is faithful and holy”.(13) In many instances they followed the following prayer-ritual:(14)

Concerning a deaconess (diakonissa), I Bartholomew make this constitution: 0 Bishop, thou shalt lay thy hands upon her (epitheseis aute tas cheiras) in the presence of the presbytery, and of the deacons and deaconesses, and shalt say: O Eternal God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of man and woman, who didst replenish with the Spirit Miriam, and Deborah, and Anna, and Huldah; who didst not disdain that Thy only begotten Son should be born of a woman; who also in the tabernacle of the testimony, and in the temple didst ordain women to be keepers of Thy holy gates, do Thou now also look down upon this Thy servant, who is to be ordained (procheirizomenen) to the office of a woman deacon (diakonian), and grant her Thy Holy Spirit, and “cleanse her from all filthiness of flesh and spirit,” that she may worthily discharge the work which is committed to her to Thy glory, and the praise of Thy Christ, with whom glory and adoration be to Thee and the Holy Spirit for ever. Amen.

Hippolytus (c. A.D. 170 - 235) accords it as being from the Apostles.(15) and the early Councils of the Church did the same: ratifying it both at Nicaea and Chalcedon. The Council of Nicaea referred to the women deacons as clerics:(16)

Likewise, however, both deaconesses (diakonisson) and in general all those who are numbered among the clergy [kanoni (Greek) / clericos (Latin): the retain the same form, authority, and meaning] should retain the same form.

The Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451) ruled on the actual ordination of women, her ministry, and her liturgy:(17)

A woman should not be ordained (cheirotonesthai [Greek] / ordinandam [Latin]) a deaconess before she is forty. And if after receiving ordination (cheirothesian) she continued in her ministry (leitourgia) . . .[she shall follow the same guidelines as a man similarly ordained].

Why the western Roman Catholic Church (or any Christian church) should now question the right of women to receiving holy orders as priest and bishop is hard to understand, at best it is ignorance of history of the Church and the writings of the Fathers, and at worse it is an open defiance of God’s will and blatant sexism that will lead to the destruction and erasure of the true corpus Christianorum, for even Tertullian recognized women in ecclesiasticis ordinibus.(18)

The deaconesses of the early Church were more than “aids” to the male clergy. Instead they functioned as equals. They taught and ministered, as recorded in the Didascalia (III. 12): And when she is being baptized has come up from the water, let the deaconess receive her, and teach and instruct her how the seal of baptism ought to be kept unbroken in purity and holiness. For this cause we say that the ministry of a woman deacon is especially needful and important. For our Lord and Savior also was ministered unto by women ministers, . , .And thou also hast need of the ministry of a deaconess for many things.(19) The similarity, the identical nature, of the duties of a male and a female cleric was spelled out in the early Church documents, for the word -
****** p.47. Insert Greek word.
: (or) chierotonia is used both for the man and the woman.(20)

The argument that the duties of the deaconess was to be exclusive to and for other women (an argument, I sadly lament, I had even entertained in an earlier edition of this work, before I had completed further research which has made this edition a necessity) is not born out by the records of the day. The deaconess did administer to women on behalf of the bishop, but also to men. In part the need for women to administer and minister to women was because of the blatant sexism in the male clergy. Many male clergy feared “contamination” if they came too close or in contact with women.(21) Thus some demanded they (women) be veiled;(22) while others urged that they be excluded “from all male company.”(23) The lessening of the role and responsibilities of women clergy came when they were allowed to “perform their function” only in the absence of the male bishop—or if the number of baptisms grew to such a point that the bishop was unable to perform all at any time—or that baptisms were needed in more places than the bishop could go to and still keep up with the diocesean work required. The same was also true in the early days of the Christian church in the area of the other sacraments, such as penance, confirmation, marriage, and the rest. Initially the women ministers (or deaconesses) assisted or performed these rites or sacraments. It would not be for hundreds of years that these responsibilities and privileges would be forbidden women clergy.(24)

The removal of rights and responsibilities from women clergy came only because of the sexual threat women clergy posed to male clergy. Women clergy were popular, being more empathetic and sympathetic to the needs of a congregation frequently finding the fine shades of grey in any theology that can comfort and aid in the spiritual growth of those who could not or would not accept the rigid ossification of the developing canons of the Church. Male clergy were more staid, demanding a clear and closed canon of rules—as if God had become silent, feeling that revelation was complete and all that need be known was in the canons of Scripture and the Fathers—unless modified, changed, or added and/or deleted by seasoned, old, and angry men who saw their own world (which had been created by God) as a “den of evil” and all who “live within are evil” and thus needed strict guidelines and unchangable rules to “secure salvation.” As the political and social situation within the Roman Empire deteriorated, many men and women who were numbered in the congregation of Christians in despair and desperation cried out for a rigid canon, as change became too regular and too chaotic. A single ruler with a single law in a single world was sought: a tyrannos (Greek: “absolute ruler”). This “sovereign” would become the emperor in the East, and the Pope in the West. While the tyrannos remained within the secular world in the East, the office of deaconess remained in existence and popular.(25) The popularity of deaconesses in the East did not decline until the rule of Julian the Apostate, who in his efforts to resurrect the Old Rome, bringing back the pagan gods and their priestesses, encouraged Christian deaconesses to join “the old faith” and renounce their vows of celibacy and obedience to the bishops. Some women did—and their apostacy was not forgotten by their colleagues or their congregations. Some congregations even went back to the old faiths of ancient Rome, following in the footsteps of their ministers who became priestesses to the old deities. This led many male clergy into ruling against the order of deaconesses and women ministers. In their zeal to preserve the purity of the office of deacon and the Christian faith, these “guardians” ruled against the ministry of all women. But this “stamping out of women clergy” took centuries, for women remained members of the clergy as late as the sixth century, when the most celebrated deaconess of the orient, the famed Greek Olympias, was ordained by Bishop Nebridios. She became a loyal and lasting friend of St. John Chrysostom. There is an apocryphal account of her acceptance by the Golden Tongued Orator (St. John Chrysostom), which runs, that when she was questioned concerning her duties “which belong fitly to a man,” Olympia responded by inquirying, “When the flock are hungry and there is no shepherd, are the sheep to starve, and haven’t women been shepherdess since time began? Is the faith of Christ so weak that it can be administered only by a man?”(26)

Other women chose a life ministering to the physical needs of the faithful. In Asia Minor the majority of deaconesses worked in hospitals. In the Mid-East they served in colonies set aside for the terminally or critically ill, as well as cared for the elderly and the very young. These were the earliest orders of sisters or nuns, many which retained their episcopal dignity and control, as will be discussed later. There was little question and no problem with the order of women in the Church for the civil authorities. The emperor Justinian placed the order of deaconess among the clergy in all civil records as late as 16 March 535.(27) The churches in the East accepted them and their authority as late as the twelfth century.(28)

The order of deaconess was still alive in the West in the fourth century. Nectaria was the last woman raised to the office and dignity of deaconess in the west. She was ordained by Elpidius, bishop of Satala—an action which cost him his episcopal appointment, for he was deposed by the Council of Constantinople which feared that the increasing number of women who sought out holy orders would discourage men from a similar quest.(29) This gynophobia was continued in A.D. 380, at the I Council of Saragossa,(30) and the Council of Nimes (A.D. 394/6).(31) In both cases the canons which ruled against women being in the clergy gave an understatement on the gynophobia that was growing in the psychology of men. This became increasingly more public in following councils: Canon 26 of the Council of Orange (A.D. 441), declared “Let no one proceed to the ordination of deaconesses anymore.”; canon 21, of the A.D. 517 Council of Epaon, defining “We abrogate completely in the entire kingdom the consecration of widows who are named deaconesses.” and the II Council of Orleans (A.D. 533) which spat “No longer shall the blessing of women deaconesses be given, because of the weakness of the sex.” In every case, in addition to ruling against women in the role and authority of deaconess, the councils openly acknowledged the existence of women who functioned as ministers at the time of their denunciation. In light of these statements, and others,(32) it is illiterate and immature to declare that women did not serve as priests and clergy in the early Church.(33)

Women as Priests

Were women ever called priests? The answer is yes! To present this argument we must turn to the Greek, as the English word “priest” is derived from the Greek word presbyteros. The women who served the church at Ephesus were called presbyteros, as were the women which were discussed by the writer of the deutero-Pauline First Epistle to Timothy (5:1-2: Do not rebuke a male presbyter (presbytero) but exhort him as you would a father; treat younger men like brethren, women presbyters (presbyteras) like mothers, younger women like sisters ) The author notes that Timothy was “ordained” by the elderhood (or presbyterate: presbyteriou in 4:14), before he discusses the presbyters which he is to be in charge of and over (he is called episkopos in 3:1). This is a collegiate sentence: he is the bishop and they are priests who are learning to become “as he.”

The unique distinction between “priest”/"priestess" and “deacon/deaconess” did not become defined until the pontificate of Gelasius (A.D. 492-496), who ruled that the priest/ess “ministered the faith” directly from Christ, while the deacon/ess ministered the faith for and through Christ. This distinction raised the priest/ess slightly higher than the deacon/ess.(34)

Most of the early priestesses served the paganus—or country-folk, preparing the way for later evangelists, such as Sts. Cyril and Methodius. Their tasks were sacerdotal and sacramental in nature, serving at the suffrance of the metropolitan see but on the fringe of the orthodox community. Among these “country priests” was Firmilian of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Highly educated, literate in languages, and zealous for the Christian faith, Firmilian wrote to Bishop Cyprian of Carthage in the middle of the third century, detailing the needs and accomplishments of her ministry and the development of the Christian church in her area. (35)Cyprian had only praise for Firmilian. Thereis no condemnation of her tasks, her rank or her authority as priest. Condemnations of women as priests and spokespersons for Christ will be condemned only in general terms, and then only when it seemed certain that the condemnations would not reach the ears or eyes of those women who “fight valiantly for the faith, bringing new souls daily to Christ” (the male collaboration against the female sex in the Church will be discussed at length in the next chapter).

Women as Bishop

Women were not only priests, but also bishops in the early Catholic Church. They have served as bishops since the first days of the Christian community.

St. John, known as “the Beloved” was among the first apostles to recognize women and their role as bishops in the early community, addressing his second letter to the eklekta (“Elect Lady”) of the Church. He begins his letter with a salutation: “The bishop to the elect Lady and her children, whom I love in the truth—and not only I but also they that have known the truth—for the truth’s sake, which dwells in us, and shall be with us for ever: Grace be with you, mercy and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (The Latin reads: Senior electa dominae et natis ejus, quos ego diligo in veritate, et non ego solus sed et omnes qui cognoverunt veritatem, propter veritatem quae permanet in nobis et nobiscus erit in aeternum. Sit nobiscum gratia misericordia, pax a Deo Patre et Christo Jesu Filio Patris in veritate et caritate.) The importance of this address is immeasurable and of the greatest significance. John is the
***** p.52 Insert Grek word.
or “elder”: the bishop/presbyteros, and he salutes the “elect Lady”: elect in this case, as in American political terminology for a future president who is styled the “president-elect”, is a reference to her soon-to-be-realized elevation within the Christian community and Church’s hierarchy. Her children (natis ejus) are the congregation who are seen as children before God who is the Father (Deo Patria). The magnitude of her authority is seen in the coupling of the words
***** p. 53 insert Greek words
(or
***** Insert Greek words
in the Greek), for kyria (
*****insert Greek word.) is parallel to “Lord” (or kyrios), and thus has the function of an “overseer” which can be determined from the continuance of the salutation which recognizes her children which may be interpreted either as the churches under her dominion and/or the “children” (congregation) of the church. An argument for the “children” being the congregation is best taken from the last line, where again the elect nature of the “Lady” is noted and hallmarked with the writer’s desire to speak with her “face to face” than by letter (“I would rather not use paper and ink. . . ”.). The rest of the introduction reads:

with the Syriac reading as:

The second line of this letter is a statement of belief that Christianity has a monopoly on truth - and that this truth will always stay with Christians. It, too, is a mark of, distinction for it sets the Christian community apart from all other societies which, indirectly, do not have “the truth” - the fact that John accords the Elect Lady the dominion over this truth by having charge of the children which “have also known the truth” again marks her as a special person—not one of the congregation, nor even one of the general ministers of the congregation - instead it suggests that she is over the children which are her children.

Although the third sentence in this Second Letter of John is a standard greeting on a first reading, a second reading shows that the Elect Lady is singled out for a special dispensation of God’s love, mercy, and grace— which, undoubtedly is the reason why the writer of the letter found her children (v. 4) “walking in the truth”.

That the Elect Lady has been given charge over determining who “enters” her house is seen in lines 7-10, for the writer declares “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house”. This line can be interpreted in two ways: the initial interpretation being that the Elect Lady is not to receive anyone who is not “orthodox” in their belief (holding the established Christian faith) must not be allowed to enter her home; however, in line with Romans 16, where the house was almost always the meeting place of the early Christians, it should be interpreted as “church” which would then render the line to state that the Elect Lady (or bishop-elect) was not to admit into the Church any person (regardless of gender) into communion who did not adhere to the established interpretation of the Christian faith. That the latter interpretation is the best (and the correct) interpretation can be seen from the impact of the sentence structure and its organization. The sentence is an injunction: do not is emphatic. She is to follow the order of the Apostles since she has become “elect” to their number. That she had the episcopal power to contain, control, and commission the work of the Church can again be seen in the word “Elect”: as Clement of Alexandria wrote about “elect persons”—a designation for officers of the Church: “there are many other precepts written in the sacred books which pertain to elect persons (prosopa eklekta) certain of these are for priests (presbyterios) others indeed for bishops (episkopois) others for deacons, still other for widows (kerais)(36)....”.

The author of 1 Timothy also acknowledges the existence of women in the early Church. With precise detail the writer instructs bishops on how they are to act—there is no genderal reference, for bishops, only for deaconesses (as discussed earlier). (37)

Women continued to serve as bishops after the time of the apostles. In Western Europe, female bishops are found to administer dioceses as late as the fifth century.(38) Female bishops governed churches much later in Ireland. (39) And the abbesses of Las Huelgas of Burgos ruled exempt from male episcopal control for nearly seven hundred years (1188-1874), enjoying the right and power to examine apostolic notaries (as well as royal and even imperial notaries), unite parishes, transfer benefices, rebuild churches, hear matrimonial cases, hear and judge criminal cases, approve confessors from among both the regular and the secular clergy, impose interdict and censure, and even to license bishops to exercise pontifical rites within her diocese: nullis diocesis.(40)

Notes

1. Roger Gryson, Le Ministére des femmes dans I’Eglise ancienne (Gembloux, Belgium, 1972), chap.1; an English edition, appearing under the title Women in the Ministry of the Early Church, trans. by Jean LaPorte and Mary Louise Hall has been published by the Liturgical Press (Collegeville, MN: 1976), see pp. 87f.

2. Ibid.,pp. 138f.

3. Apostolic Constitutions III. 16.1, in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson (eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Erdmanns, 1951), vol. 7, p. 431; cf. Jean Danielou, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church (London: Methuen, 1961), pp. 22ff.

4. Cf. Phil. 4:2-3; Rom. 16; II. Tim. 4:19, 21; cp. Migne, Patrologica Graeca, vol. 51, cols. 668f.

5. Phil. 4:2-3.

6. Gryson, loc. cit.

7. G. Fitzer, “Das Weib Schweige in der Gemeinde,” in Uber den unaulinischen Charakter der Muliertacet-Verse in 1 Korinther 14 (Munich, 1963). The same is true for 1 Tim. 2:11-12, and 3:11;cf. C. Spicq, Saint Paul, Les Epitres pastorales (Paris, 1969), p. 456, Cp. my Woman and St. Paul: A Study of the Pauline Letters on Woman and Woman’s Role in the Christian Church (Cincinnati, 1968).

8. James Donaldson, Woman: Her Position and Influence in Ancient Greece and Rome, and among the Early Christians (London, 1907), pp. 77-147; R. Schilling, “Vestales et vierges chretiennes dans la Rome antique,” in Revue des Sciences Religieuses 35 (1961) pp. 113-129; and my Woman in ancient Rome, loc. cit.

9. A major debate exists on the nature of Paul and his heritage. James Cleugh, in Love Locked Out (London, 1963), p 12, argues that Paul was “a bald, bandy-legged, and beetle-browed renegade Jew,” whose negative attitude towards women and sex is due to his rejection as a suitor, to Joseph A. Grassi, author of “Women’s Liberation: The New Testament Perspective,” in The Living Light: A Christian Educational Review, 8, no, 2 (Summer, 1971), p. 29, states that “Paul frequently acknowledged the work of women as active collaborators in the apostolate as well as assistants in good works”; there is more foundation for the latter argument, as I elaborate on in my Woman and St. Paul, with references and discussions on the “negative aspects” of Paul’s writings which appear to be “anti-woman,” which are, for the most part, suspect by most scholars who feel, as I do, that they were later additions. If the passages in question are truly Pauline, it would be better to interpret them as opposed to what women represent sexually rather than an opposition to the sex (or gender) of womanhood, Paul appears to be more concerned with the issue of human sexuality, idolatry, money, and personal freedom than with gender, see Charles Seltman, Women in Antiquity (London, 1956), pp. 184-188,

10. Rom. 11:13; 1 Cor. 3.5; 2 Cor, 3:4-6:13,

11. Cor. 16:15.

12. A.Oepke, “Gyne,” in TDNT, I (English ed.), p. 787.

13. III.6, 1. in Roberts and Donaldson, loc. cit.

14. Ibid.,p.492.

15. My Woman in early Christianity and Christian Society, p.11 citing canon 19.

16. J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissa collectio (Florence, 1757-1798), vol. 2, pp. 676ff.

17. Ibid,vol. 7, p. 364.

18. Migne, Patrologia Latino, vol. 2, col. 978.

19. This was authored in the early third-century A.D.

20. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 8, col. 31,2.

21. See Origen, Selecta in Exodus XVIII. 17, in Migne, ibid., vol. 12, cols. 296f; Epiphanius, Adversus Collyridianos, in Migne, ibid., vol. 42, cols. 740ff.; John Chrysostom, “Letter to Theodora” chap. 14, in Sources chretiennes, vol. 117, p. 167; all in the East; in the West, the attitude is expressed by Augustine of Hippo, who, after having a mistress for some time, and having a son by the mistress, rallied against women, declaring “I feel that nothing so casts down the manly mind from its height as the fondling of a woman and those bodily contacts which belong to the married state” in his Soliloquies 1.10, and in his De Trinitate (7,7, 10), argues that a woman is not created in the image of God; who was joined by Pope Gregory “the Great” (A.D. 540-604), who argued that woman was the essence of weakness, and the destruction of man; see Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 75, cols. 982f. Galen expressed the same opinion in his medical treatise De Uteri Dissectione, for which he was accepted by the Christian church and its ministry to the physical care and cure of its faithful; cp. Jerome, Epistle 48:14 “If it is good not to touch a woman, then it is bad to touch a woman always and in every case.”, Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 30, col. 732.

22. Cf. 1 Cor. 11:3,7-9; Jerome, Epistle, 22.7.

23. Dionysius of Alexandria, Canonical Epistle, chap. 2, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 10, col. 1282;cp. Tertullian, De culte feminarum; and Ambrosiaster, in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 17, cols. 253ff.

24. Cyprian, Epistle 74 (75) 10, 11 in Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna), vol. 3, pp. 817f. The current twentieth century attempt by the Roman Catholic Church, and especially by Pope John Paul II to suppress the right of women to be ordained priests, is best seen in Declaration on the Question of the Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood, in Acta Apostolica Sedis 69 (29 Februarii 1977) pp. 98-116. The majority of the arguments against the ordination of women - like the nonsense pronouncements by John Paul II—are based on spurious psuedocanons ranging from the Statuta Ecclesiae Antique (reputedly written at IV Council of Carthage in A.D. 398, or at the turbulent Synod of Valentia in Gaul in A.D. 347, but most likely penned in the city of Arles around A.D. 525), and the Psuedo-Isodorian Decretals -one of the most famous and best known forgeries in history, written probably at Rheims (or, LeMans?) around 845-852. Cf. A.G. Cicognani, Canon Law, 2d rev. ed. (Philadelphia, 1935), pp. 222, 243.

25. Cyprian, loc. cit. Sozonmen, Ecclesia Historia 4:24, 16.

26. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 47, cols. 56a-58a, 60a-61d, On her friendship with John Chrysostom, see, ibid., col. 35bc. On the work of other deaconesses, see J. Germer-Durand, “Epigraphie chretienne de Jerusalem,” in Revue Biblique I (1892) pp. 560-588, no, 10, and Monumenta Asia Minoris, Antiq.ua, vol. 1, ed. W.M. Calder (London, 1928), nos. 323b, 324, 326, 383, 178, 194, and 226. Also see Corpus inscriptionom latinarum 3:13845, and 5:6467 for references. Women still functioned in Orleans as late as A.D. 533 as acknowledged at the II Council of Orleans which repeated its ban on the ordination of women—a ban many bishops continued to ignore; see Canon 21 in Corpus Christianorum Latinorum, as for particulars in 148A, 29, 163-165.

27. Ibid.

28. See my Woman in the Twelth Century (Denison, 1972)

29. Sozonmen, loc. cit

30. Canon 1.

31. Corpus Christianorum Latinorum 148:50, 14-19.

32. Clothar I acknowledged their existence “and valued ministry” (see Monumenta Germaniae Historica, AA. 4-2,41, 20-31), cp. Corpus Christianorum Latinorum 148A, 187, 341ff.

It is refreshing to read the enlightened and educated comments of Leonard and Arlene Swidler, in their work Women Priests: A Catholic Commentary on the Vatican Declaration (Ramsey, NJ, 1977), and the superb article “Junia. . . Outstanding Among the Apostles” by Bernadette Brooten, in Swidler and Swidler, ibid., pp. 141ff. which gives a totally convincing scholarly analysis not only to the fact that Junia was an apostle, but why women must be allowed to resume their role as priests in the Catholic Church. One can only feel pity for John Paul II and his poor showing as a spokesperson for Christ when he declared that women would “never” be priests—an office women have every legal, historical, and theological right to hold, occupy, and speak from.

34. His Epistle 26.

35. Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum 3:817-818.

36. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 8, col. 675.

37. See pages 40-47. Also see my Woman in the Apostolic Age.

38. Council of Tours, canon 20. F. Gross-Gondi, Trattato di Epigrafia Christiana (Roma, 1920), p, 153; G. Marini, Inscriptions Christianes, MS Vatica 9072, pt. ii, chap, xxii, no. 1, 1608.

39. Cogitosus, “Vita Sanctae Brigidae,” in Thomas Messingham, Florilegum Insulae Sanctorum seu Vitae et Acta Sanctorum Hiberniae (Paris, 1624), chap. 4, pp. 193ff.

40. Domenico Morea and Francisco Muciaccia, (Trani, 1943), XXVII, perg. 5, p. 7 gives an Italian account, while the Spanish is given by Francesco de Berganza, Anti-guedades de Espãna (Francesco del Hierro, 1721), Pt. 2, Lib. 4, chap. 6, Cp. Archives of the abbey, Leg. 7, 261 ARM. German abbesses had a similar power, especially at St. Mary’s Uberwasser, where the abbess represented the local bishop in all church and civil affairs. See F. E. Kettner, Antiquitates Quedlinburgenses (Leipzig, 1712), pp. 39-42; and, Edmund E. Stengel, “Die Grabschrift der ersten abtissim von Quedliburg.” in Deutsche Archives für Geschichte des Mittelalter (Weimar, 1939), pp, 164ff; with the most interesting discussion in Rudolf Schulze, Das adelige Frauen-(Kanonissen-Slift der HI. Maria und Die Pfarre Liebfrauen-Uber-wasser za Munster (Munster, 1962). pp 23-27. Some English abbesses enjoyed similar power, with the Synod of Hertford (canon 3) granting immunity from a local bishop’s interference on abbey matters (see Dorothy Whitelock (ed.), English Historical Documents vol. 1 (London, 1955), p. 651. See also my Special Sisters: Woman in the European Middle Ages (Mesquite, 1983), and my Woman in the European Middle Ages (Dallas, 1979). With the Synod of Nidd English abbesses were invited to attend church councils in England; see A. W. Haddon & William P. Stubbs, Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents Relating to Great Britain and Ireland (Oxford, 1871), vol. 3, p. 264; and, Whitelock, op. cit., p. 695. Compare their power with that enjoyed by the female ministers and bishops in the first century; see L. Zscharnack, Der Dienst der Frau in den ersten Jahrhunderten der christlichen Kirche (Gottingen, 1902), pp. 103-104.

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