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The Scriptural Argument in <I>Ordinatio Sacerdotalis</I>

The Scriptural Argument in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis (1)

by Reimund Bieringer

from Bijdragen 62 (2001) pp. 129 - 142; here published with permission from the author and Publisher

Translation from the Dutch by John Wijngaards

At the beginning of his apostolic letter about the ordination of priests "which has been reserved exclusively to men", Pope John Paul II cites a letter from 1975 of his predecessor Pope Paul V1 addressed to the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Frederick Donald Coggan. In it "very fundamental" reasons are mentioned to exclude women from the priesthood, specifically "the example given by Christ in the Sacred Scriptures who chose only men to be his apostles, the continuous practice of the Church which, in imitation of Christ, has only chosen men and her living magisterium that, remaining true to itself, has always held that the exclusion of women from the priestly ministry is in accordance with God's plan concerning his Church" (2). Of these three arguments only the first one - Christ's example - is elaborated in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. In this short study we want to examine this argument more closely from the perspective of historical-critical exegesis.

In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis the argument of Christ's example, the so-called Scriptural argument is formulated as follows:

1. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word, has a mission. "The twelve Apostles . . are in a special manner closely linked up to the sending of the Incarnate Word himself' (3). Christ entrusts to the Apostles - the twelve men whom he has placed as foundation stones of his Church (cfr. Rev 21,14) - - the mission of "representing Christ, the Lord and Saviour" (4).

2. Excluding women at the choice of the twelve is an intentional action motivated from within "the eternal plan of God", "a ruling which must be attributed to the wisdom of the Lord of the Universe" (5). "For the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles show that this calling happened according to the eternal plan of God: Christ chose those persons whom he wanted (cf. Mk 3,13-14; Jn 15,16, and he did this in unity with the Father, `through the Holy Spirit' (Acts 1,2), after having spent the whole night in prayer (Fr. Lk 6,12)" (6).

3. When choosing their successors the Apostles have, following Christ's example, chosen only men. The mission which Christ entrusted to his apostles has since then been transmitted through the priestly ordination. That is also why priestly ordination in the Catholic Church is reserved to men.

From the start of this research we want to stress that the Scriptural texts do not give us a direct insight to what the earthly Jesus did or omitted to do. They offer us in the first place different theological visions about Jesus of Nazareth, namely the vision of Paul, the four Evangelists and a number of later authors. The historical research about the activity and the intentions of the historical Jesus has not led to uniform results. Moreover, the reconstructed image of the earthly Jesus seems, usually, to conform closely to the preferential options of the researchers themselves. In what now follows we will present our exegetical evaluation of the first and the second arguments on which Ordinatio Sacerdotalis bases the exclusion of women from the priestly ministry.

The Difference between the Twelve and the Apostles

The Pope's apostolic letter relates its statements about the sending of the Twelve to their calling/mission by the historical Jesus in Mt 10,1, 7-8 and Mk 3, 13-16 and to their sending by the risen Christ in Mt 28, 16-20 and Mk 16, 14-15. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis gives the impression that the twelve men whom the historical Jesus chose, and they alone, received with their vocation the mission "to represent Christ, the Lord and Saviour" (7). Careful reading of the text shows however that his way of understanding the course of events does not do justice to their complexity.

In Mk 3, 14 Jesus' intention when he appointed (poieo, "made") the Twelve is expressed in two clauses of purpose: "in order that they should be with him" and "in order that he should send them" 8). Mark uses here for the mission of the Twelve only the verb apostello and not the noun apostolos (9). The actual sending only takes place in Mk 6,7: "He ... began to send them out two by two, and he gave them power over unclean spirits". In the context of their return Mark uses for the first time the noun apostoloi (6, 30), probably in the general meaning of "emissaries" (10). Afterwards the Twelve are no longer called apostoloi in Mark. This could point to the fact that the term "apostle" meant for Mark not yet a ministry, but only a limited mission.

According to Mt 10, 1, a text that is parallel to Mk 3, 14, Jesus calls "his twelve disciples" to come to him. The vocation, appointment and sending of the Twelve, which are described by Mark in 3, 13-19 and 6, 7-13 form one story in Matthew (11). The emphasis lies clearly on the imparting of power over unclean spirits and on sending (cfr. apostello in 10, 5). This sending however is limited to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel" (10, 6). Only after the imparting of power they are called, (once) in 10, 2 "the Twelve Apostles". From that moment on Matthew again calls them "disciples" (17, 19 parallel Lk. 17, 5 who employs "apostles") or "the Twelve" (26,20 parallel Lk 22, 14 where we also find "apostles") or even "the eleven disciples" (28, 16); (cfr.Lk 24, 9-10 where "the eleven" and "the Apostles" do not necessarily have the same meaning). Specifically Matthew does not mention the return of those who were sent.

Just like Mark, Luke places the vocation (6, 13) and the mission (9, 1) of the Twelve in two separate contexts. At their election (Lk 6, 13) Jesus gives to the Twelve the name "apostles". K. H. Rengstorf is of the opinion that the term "apostles" in Lk 6, 13 has the same function as the clause of purpose "that he should send them" in Mk 3, 14 (12). In that way Mark and Luke, each in their own way, make clear that the Twelve were called for the purpose of a sending. Just like Mark, Luke,calls the Twelve at the return from their missionary journey "apostles". In this text he, too, probably does not refer to a ministry, but simply points out the fact that they were `sent' (Lk 9, 10). In Lk 17, 5; 22, 14 and 24, 10 it is clear however that Luke also uses the term "apostle", outside of the context of a specific mission, as a fixed expression for the Twelve. These texts presumably reflect a later, after-Easter theology. Perhaps this is also the most logical explanation for the expression "the twelve apostles" in Mt 10, 2. But what was meant with this after-Easter reality?

The sending which the Twelve had received from the historical Jesus, was limited in space (to Israel) and time to their return to Jesus; see Mk 6, 30 and Lk 9, 10. At the moment that Jesus died, none of his disciples had been entrusted with the task of a mission. Only in the encounter with the Risen Christ did certain disciples receive a new command, which was not limited in time and which had a universal reach. According to Matthew, Jesus entrusts this after-Easter mission to the "eleven disciples" (Mt 28, 19; cfr. Mk 16, 15) (13). According to Luke it was to "the apostles he had chosen" (Acts 1, 2). Because they had accompanied Jesus from Galilee to his ascent to heaven (cfr.Acts 1, 22), they were best equipped for this mission.

In the presentation of Matthew and Luke it is the same disciples therefore - except for Judas Iscariot - - who are sent by Jesus both before and after his resurrection. Only Luke presupposes that the Twelve were already carriers of a ministry before the resurrection (see Lk 17, 5; 22, 14; 24, 10; Acts 1, 2 and 1, 25-26: the apostolic ministry of Judas).

In the Gospel of John we only find the noun apostolos once, in 13, 16, where it has the meaning of "emissary". The noun apostello is used, just as pempo, usually in relation to Jesus' sending by the Father. In 17, 18 the text refers, through apostello, and in 20, 21, through pempo, to the sending of the disciples. In both cases the evangelist speaks of an after-Easter mission. (14) In vain do we seek the story of the selection and/or appointment of the Twelve or the list of the twelve names in the fourth Gospel. In 6, 67 John contrasts the Twelve with "many of his disciples" who turned their backs on him and who no longer accompany him (see 6, 66). Simon Peter speaks on behalf of the Twelve and assures Jesus that they will not leave him. Jesus then stresses in a rhetorical question that he himself has chosen the Twelve (6, 70). John uses here the same noun as Luke 6, 13, but remains unsure whether the text speaks of a selection of the Twelve from a larger group of disciples.

In 6, 70 and 13, 18 Jesus' selection of the Twelve is stressed to explain how Judas, the Traitor, found his place in the circle of the Twelve. In 15, 16 John speaks in an antithesis: "I chose you, not you me". in 15, 19 he says: "I have chosen you from the world". In comparison with Luke the election of the Twelve by Jesus receives more attention in the fourth Gospel. But the emphasis lies on the free, unconditional election, not on special privileges in comparison to other disciples. The fourth Gospel does not relate a sending of the Twelve before Easter. The after-Easter sending is not limited explicitly to the Twelve. This becomes clear in Jn 20, 19-23 where it is "disciples" who are sent by Jesus. Traditionally one has identified these "disciples" with the Twelve without Thomas and Judas. But it seems unlikely to us that "the Twelve" in 20, 24 and "the other disciples" in 20, 25 are related to each other in the sense that with "the disciples" in 20, 19-23, 25 the Twelve would be meant without Thomas and Judas. "Twelve" seems in 20, 24 not to describe an actual group of people but something from the past. This is especially apparent from the fact that the number `twelve' after the departure of Judas is no longer suitable. For that matter, with regard to the afterEaster sending, nowhere is there an explicit mention of an apostolic ministry. Those who are sent are "disciples" just as everyone who believes in Jesus and who keeps his word (cfr 8, 31) is a disciple.

As far as Paul is concerned, things differs in other ways. In his opinion everyone who has seen the Risen Christ and received a mission from him is an apostle. Not all disciples who met the Risen Christ received a mission (compare for example the 500 brothers in 1 Cor 15, 6). From within the tradition Paul mentions the Twelve only in 1 Cor 15, 5 in connection to the appearance of Christ to the Twelve. In 15, 7 he speaks of apostles. The Eleven are never mentioned. There is no mention of an after-Easter sending of the Twelve or of the apostles, though Paul seems to presume such a sending. It is striking that the Eleven/Twelve hardly play a role with Paul (15). Moreover he seems to distinguish between the Twelve and the apostles (see 1 Cor 15, 15. 7) though he remains vague about their identity and does not provide lists with names.

Paul defends his apostolic mission: through his meeting the Risen Christ and through a specific sending he became - without belonging to the Twelve - an apostle himself. He is the after-Easter apostle about whom we know most. He neither belongs to the most intimate circle of disciples who surrounded the historical Jesus, nor to the group of people who met the Risen Christ in the period immediately following on his crucifixion. Nevertheless he claimed in the full sense of the word to be an apostle. The Tradition calls Paul and Peter "Princes of the apostles".

Summarising we find that a critical reading of the scriptural texts concerned teach us that during his historical life Jesus gave a mission to the Twelve which was limited in time and space. During the appearances after the resurrection Jesus gave to the Twelve, and according to Paul and John also to others, a universal (16) mission to the ends of the earth, which would claim their whole lives until death. This universal mission involves an apostolic ministry.

In the pre-Pauline as well as in the Pauline churches the title "apostle" was employed next to that of "prophet" and "teacher" to indicate a specific ministry in the congregation. It is unlikely that these apostles were present at the resurrection appearances and had been sent by Christ himself. They seem rather to have been sent by their communities. Paul himself was not a member of the Twelve and had not been present at the resurrection appearances. But he claims to have seen the risen Christ and to have received from him his mission as apostle. He ascribes to himself a ministry of being an apostle that was equivalent to the ministry of the other apostles.

Paul's letters show that attention to the Twelve decreased rapidly. (17). It was rather the apostles (whether they belonged to the Twelve or not) who were central, missionaries sent by the risen Christ who carried the proclamation of faith to the ends of the earth. In the Gospels we find traces of this post-Pascal reality which, however, is presented as if it had already been a reality during Jesus' earthly life. A similar back-projection of the post-Pascal apostolic ministry to the earthly life of Jesus only started after the composition of Mark's Gospel. One can already observe it to some extent in the Gospel of Matthew, but it appears fully in Luke and Acts, according to which the apostles are simply identified with the Eleven/Twelve. (18) Only in two passages does Luke's text still reflect the pre-Lucan situation. Actsl4,14 calls Barnabas and Paul apostles (see also 14,4) though they do not belong to the Twelve. Luke 11,49 speaks of "apostles" (parallel with "prophets") as a ministry in the second and third generation of Christians, without any connection to the Twelve. This is also the case with 1Cor12, 28-29; Eph2, 20; 3,5; 4,11 and Rev18,20. The focus on the Twelve and Luke's projection of the post- apostolic ministry onto the pre-Pascal group of the Twelve are undoubtedly the result of theological construction from the second half of the first century.

Against this historical background it is striking that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis reduces the complex reality of being an apostle in the New Testament to Luke's position. The argumentation in the Pope's apostolic letter leaves no room for the Pauline vision on apostolate. It need not surprise us therefore that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis - without a single exception - has no reference to the undisputed Pauline letters. (19) Moreover the Pope's apostolic letter can only base itself on the pre-Pascal mission of the Twelve (who were twelve men according to the lists of names) when it tries to give substance to its view that the exclusion of women derived from the apostolic function. It is true that the texts which describe a universal missionary sending, such as Mt28,16-20 and Acts1,8, mention only the Eleven and therefore only men. As a result it is impossible on the basis of these texts to prove positively that, next to the Eleven and Paul, women also received a universal post-Pascal mission from the risen Christ. On the other hand, it is also impossible to prove that after his resurrection Christ only sent men to all nations (see Mt28,19 and Acts1,8). The fact that women in Matthew (28,10) and John (20,17-18) (21) were the first to see the risen Lord and received a mission from him - however limited it was - suggests that women were not excluded on principle from a postPascal apostolic mission.

The Masculinity of the Twelve

The lists of the Twelve contain only names of men. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis concludes from this that these men were chosen to be apostles as men. According to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis their being men is constitutive to their being apostles and Jesus acted in his choice according to the eternal plan and wisdom of God. The New Testament never speaks about this. The Scriptural texts mention names of men, nothing more. No single text states that the apostles had to be men or explains why the apostles were men. In what follows now I will first analyse the implicit argumentation of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in a critical manner, to formulate afterwards a number of important reflections

The Pope's apostolic letter gives two indirect arguments to support its position:

a) referring to Jn 15,16 and Mk3,13 the letter stresses that Jesus chose "whom he wanted". Ordinatio Sacerdotalis seems to want to prove by this that Jesus intentionally chose men and no women.

b) the call of the Twelve happened after Jesus had spent the night in prayer (compare Lk6,12). From this the Pope's apostolic letter concludes that Jesus, when choosing men, acted in union with the Father, through the Holy Spirit (compare Acts1,2)

A careful reading of the Scriptural texts in question however soon reveals that these arguments do not accord well with the texts. Neither in Mk3,13 nor in Jn15,16, nor anywhere else in the New Testament is it stated that Jesus' choice was determined by the sex of the disciples. According to Lk6,13 (and Jn6,17) Jesus chose (eklogomai) the Twelve from the larger group of disciples. Did this larger group according to Luke (and John) only consist of men, or did women also have a part in them? Only if women belonged to the larger group of disciples, could the disciples' sex have played a role as a norm of selection. But even if there were women present in the group, nothing points to the fact that it was because of them being women that they had not been selected. Jesus chose "whom he wanted" (Mk3,13): which norm of selection is implied in this "wanting"? In the Sacred Scripture election takes place on the basis of God's unconditional love and not on the basis of specific qualities of human norms (compare the call of Moses, Miriam, David, Judith or Paul). It is therefore quite improbable that Jesus' selection was determined by the sex of his disciples. The antitheses in Jn6,70; 13,18; 15,16.19 do not pit Jesus' disciples against women. The fourth evangelist stresses that Jesus chose the Twelve deliberately, even though he knew that one of them would betray him (6,70; 13,18). In 15,16 Jesus stresses the fact that he chose the disciples and not the other way about. From 15,19 it is clear that the Twelve have been chosen "from the world". The Twelve are therefore in John's Gospel not men as opposed to women, but people who belong to Jesus and God and, as such, are in opposition to the unbelieving world.

Luke is the only evangelist to mention that Jesus spent the night in prayer to God before choosing the Twelve (Lk6,12). Ordinatio Sacerdotalis stresses this, obviously to give divine authority to the selection of twelve men. This argument only makes sense however if one starts from the presumption that Jesus chose the Twelve because they were men.

But if we leave the argument of gender aside, a number of other explanations readily spring to mind for the fact that only men occur in the lists of the Twelve. Perhaps Jesus did not have the opportunity of choosing women, because, for instance, only a group of men was present. Or women may have formed a minority in the group so that it was purely a coincidence that not even one woman had been selected. It is possible that for this specific mission only men possessed the necessary qualities or competence, however independent they are of sex. On the other hand we know that selection in Scripture happens on the basis of God's unconditional love, not on the basis of human qualities or competence

.From these reflections the question arises of why Jesus chose a small circle within the group of his disciples. Was it Jesus' intention to entrust to these select few a ministry that could not be exercised by the others? Or was it his intention that these should make the others take part in the mission they had received themselves? Are they substitutes or representatives of the others with Jesus? In Luke's Gospel the apostles seemed to have had a unique mission to the people of Israel. The more hopes fade that Israel will accept faith in Christ, the more the Twelve disappear. This could explain why the Twelve (as apostles) in the first part of Acts have a more important role than in the second, and why they play a subsidiary role with Paul.

Of course it is also - from a purely logical point of view - possible that the Twelve were indeed deliberately chosen as men, and that women had not been excluded by chance. Of which nature, then, is the fundamental difference between man and woman? Are we dealing here with a biological, a sociocultural or a theological difference? Ordinatio Sacerdotalis does not speak about this. The reason why only men could belong to the Twelve is, according to the Pope's apostolic letter, an aspect of God's eternal plan and wisdom which is impenetrable for human beings. But does the Pope's letter implicitly not assume a specific reason in God's eternal plan to exclude women from the priesthood? What can this reason be? In what now follows we examine the various possible options.

* The Biological Difference

Whoever contends that Jesus chose the Twelve deliberately because they were men and that his main concern was the biological difference between men and women, has to specify further which aspect of the biological difference (as it was understood at the time) he meant. Was it necessary for the Twelve to be men because men generally speaking have greater physical strength or because they cannot produce children? No one today would invoke such arguments. In the discussion two other reasons are often mentioned that are related to the biological difference. However, in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis these are absent (23):

a) The Twelve had to be men because they represented the twelve sons of Jacob - and thereby the twelve tribes of Israel (Mí19,28; Lk 22,30).

b) The Twelve had to be men because they had to represent the man Christ and continue his work.

In both cases it is evident that much more is involved than just the biological difference. The masculinity of the twelve sons of Jacob and of Christ can only play a part in the discussion when this biological fact receives a sociocultural or theological significance.

* The Social Socio-Cultural Difference

The difference between men and women is not just a question of biology. Within every society's culture the biological difference receives a far wider meaning. For instance, menstruation was seen by some Jewish authors as the cause of pollution, so that they attached a great number of prescriptions and expectations to it which affected the life of a woman fundamentally. Also the contemporary vision on procreation, in which men were considered to have a leading function and women a serving function, has far reaching implications for all areas of human life. Existing cultural differences are often justified by reference to biological differences, whether they exist or not.

If Jesus when choosing twelve men acted on socio-cultural grounds, we have to ask ourselves whether these differences are bound to time and place, or whether they are eternal and unchangeable because of the eternal plan of God. The second possibility will be discussed in the next section where we talk about the theological difference. The first possibility starts from the observation that cultures differ from each other and that the same culture in the course of time undergoes changes. These differences and changes are seen as legitimate and, in the light of certain ethical imperatives, even as necessary. When choosing the Twelve Jesus could have had the following cultural considerations in mind:

a) The Twelve had to be men because they had to act as leaders. In a patriarchal society public leadership and authority is only entrusted to men.

b) The Twelve had to be men because they had to witness to Jesus and his message. In a patriarchal society only the witness of men is accepted in public.

c) The Twelve had to be men because they had to carry the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. In a patriarchal society women are not allowed to travel on their own.

It is evident that Jesus in other circumstances would have acted differently. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis rejects the option that Jesus would have acted from certain socio-cultural motivations. When choosing the Twelve men Jesus acted, according to the papal apostolic letter, in a free and sovereign manner "without conforming himself to the customs of the moment" (24). Even if Christ had wanted to choose women, the customs and traditions of the time would not have stopped him from doing so which, according to Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, is clear from the fact that in his dealings with women he otherwise proved to be free and sovereign.

* The Theological Difference

According to "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" the motives for Jesus' choice of men can be found in the eternal plan of God, although the apostolic letter does not explain this concept further. The letter obviously supposes that not only the maleness of the twelve belongs to God's plan, but also what is, in general, the true vocation of a man and a woman is. Jesus could only choose men for the ministry of the twelve because the eternal plan of God regarding men and women demanded this. Belonging to the twelve or even being an apostle is, according to this vision, contrary to God's plan for women. Apparently a theological difference is presumed between men and women that is eternal and universal, that is identical in all cultures and does not change in any culture. When cultures change their perception of what it means to be a woman in this regard, they are in conflict with God's plan.

In "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis", however, nothing is said from a contents point of view about this presupposed theological difference between what it means to be a man or a woman, nor about the reason why this should play apart in belonging to the 12 twelve. In the apostolic letter we have a reductio in mysterium (reduction to mystery) which does not permit further discussion. In my opinion the letter presupposes de facto that only men "are in a special way closely bound to the mission of the Incarnate Word" (25). Without stating this explicitly, these words seem to attach to Jesus having been a man of great theological importance - the Word became flesh in a man (26) - and thereby also to what it means to be a man in general (27). For what else could be the theological difference between men and women hidden in the eternal plan of God?

With regard to the three differences we conclude: even if we suppose that Jesus consciously chose men as male persons, the question arises whether this choice was motivated on biological, socio-cultural or theological motivations. "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" opts without doubt for a theologically founded difference between men and women and considers this difference as static and unchangeable: it is eternal and it responds to God's intentions. To challenge this difference means going directly against God's deepest intentions for the world and for people. In this way the exclusion of women from the priestly ministry becomes a Christological and even Trinitarian question. A scriptural justification for this vision is not offered and can hardly be found in the New Testament.


In this study it was our intention to assess critically the two fundamental arguments of the exegetical argumentation of "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis".

The first argument was that Jesus "chose his apostles from only among men" (28). According to our exegetical analysis it is impossible at the hands of the New Testament to prove that it is historically certain that Jesus chose his apostles only from among men.
The only thing that is historically established is that only men belonged to the group of the twelve. Although it is equally impossible from an historical point of view to prove that Jesus chose women to be apostles, this does not seem improbable in the light of Mt 28,10 and especially John 20, 17-18. Also the fact that women exercised important ministries in the Pauline communities (for instance the Deacon Phoebe in Romans 16, 1-2) gives evidence to that . The fact that only men took part in the group of the twelve is less important for the question of admission to ordination because it is exegetically beyond doubt that their pre- Easter mission was limited in time and space and that they shared their post-Easter mission with many other people who had been sent.

The second argument in the reasoning of "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" says that Jesus chose "the twelve apostles" as men and that the fact that they belonged to the male sex was essential for this choice. In this connection we examined what motivations Jesus could have had to restrict the group of twelve or even the group of the apostles to men. We have established that the apostolic letter rejects socio-cultural arguments and presupposes an unspoken theological argumentation. According to this argumentation only men are able "in a very special way" to be related to the mission of the man Jesus. Implicitly one assumes, I think, that Jesus, according to the eternal plan of God, could only have become incarnate as a man and that only men can continue his mission. God, and not patriarchal structures, has arranged it in such a way that only a man could realise the work of salvation and that only men should be closely involved in this mission. But our analysis has shown that it is impossible on the basis of the texts quoted in the letter to prove that the male sex of those chosen was essential for their mission. It is similarly impossible to prove the implicit theological argumentation of "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis" regarding the constitutive importance of Jesus own male sexuality for his work of salvation and to prove this from scripture.

For this study we have started from the principle which, a priori, underpins "Ordinatio Sacerdotalis". This principle says that a factual action of the historical Jesus which can be established on the basis of historical - critical analysis is theologically binding for all times. The conclusion of our analysis is that the apostolic letter reconstructs facts, which cannot be substantiated with historical - critical proof. The new hermeneutic which is presupposed in the letter and which is absolutely new in Church documents, should also be subjected to a thorough critical assessment. But that demands another study.

Footnotes of Reimund Bieringer's article

I have not completed translating these footnotes. Have patience!

1.'Ordinatio sacerdotalis', in Kerkelijke Documentatie 22 (1994) 269-271, p. 269. Ik dank Bianca Lataire voor haar hulp wat betreft taal en stijl van dit artikel.

2. PAULUS VI, Antwoord op de brief van zijne hoogwaardige excellentie, de zeereerwaarde dr F. D. Cogan, aartsbisschop van Canterbury, aangaande het priesterschap van vrouwen, 30 november 1975, in Archief van de Kerken 31 (1976) 935-936, kol. 935(= Engels origineel in AAS 68 (1976) 599-600, p. 599). Ordinatio sacerdotalis 2 verwijst ook uitdrukkelijk naar Inter insigniores, 15 oktober 1976, in AAS69 (1977) 98-116, en Mulieris dignitatem, 15 augustus 1988, in AAS 80 (1988) 1653-1729.

3. 'Ordinatio sacerdotalis, p. 270.

4. Ibid..

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Dit is onze eigen vertaling. Tenzij anders vermeld, gebruiken we in wat volgt voor de schriftcitaten de Willibrordvertaling van 1995.

9. De betrekkelijke bijzin: "die Hij ook apostelen noemde" die in de Willibrordvertaling (1995) in Mc 3,14 staat, is tekstkritisch onzeker. Zoals vele auteurs neem ik aan dat het hier gaat om een secundaire harmonisatie met de identieke zin in Lc 6,13. Vgl. de voetnoot bij 3,14 in de Willibrordvertaling: "... wordt in de meeste, latere handschriften en enkele oude vertalingen weggelaten onder invloed van de parallelle tekst in Mt 10,1. Een andere, minstens zo waarschijnlijke opvatting schrijft de toevoeging van deze woorden in de overige handschriften en oude vertalingen van Mc 3,14 toe aan de invloed van de parallel in Lc 6,13".

10. Vgl. de voetnoot bij Mt 10,2 in de Willibrordvertaling (1995): "In de evangeliën worden leerlingen van Jezus een enkele keer apostelen genoemd: uitgezondenen".

11. De facto vinden we bij Matteüs geen eigenlijk roepingsverhaal van de Twaalf. Proskaleo betekent in 10,2, evenals in 15,32, 'erbij roepen'. Zie ook voetnoot 22.

12. K.H. RENGSTORF, Art. apostolos, in TWNT l (1933) 406-448, p. 429.

13. Dit vers maakt deel uit van het "langere Marcusslot" dat tekstkritisch gezien minder kans maakt om oorspronkelijk te zijn.

14. De verleden tijd (aorist) van het werkwoord in 17,18 weerspiegelt een post-paschaal perspectief en heeft betrekking op de zending in 20,21. Ook 13,20 alludeert op de post-paschale zending.

15. Paulus vermeldt slechts twee namen uit de lijst van de Twaalf, nl. Petrus/Kefas (lOx) en Johannes (Gal 2,9).

16. Op grond van Mt 19,28 en Lk 22,30 gaat men er vaak van uit dat ook de post-paschale zending van de Twaalf tot Jeruzalem beperkt was. Vgl. R.E. BROWN, The Twelve and the Apostolate, in New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Enlgewood Cliffs, 1990, 1377-1381, p. 1381: "The Twelve functioned as apostles or those "sent" by Jesus ... by proclaiming him in Jerusalem. ... Whether the Twelve did undertake a traveling apostolate is not clear from the NT, although after the first two decades (ca. AD 50) some probably did scatter from Jerusalem. Only Peter is specifically pictured as ministering outside Palestine".

17. Vgl. J. GNILKA, Das Matthausevangelium, deel I, Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 1986, p. 356: "Offenkundig geraten einzelne Mitglieder des Zwölferkreises bald in Vergessenheit". De vier lijsten van namen (Mt 10,2-4; Mc 3,16-19; Lc 6,14-16 en Hand 1,13) zijn het oneens over de identiteit van één van de Twaalf. BROWN, The Twelve and the Apostolate, 1379, merkt in dit verband op: "by the time the Gospels were written the historical memory of who among the disciples of Jesus belonged to the Twelve was already hazy". Brown merkt verder op: "Whether through death or missionary travels afar, most of the individual members of the Twelve had faded from the known Christian scène by AD 60 and were seemingly but names in lists. Only the memories of Peter and John drew attention in the NT works of the last third of the century" (p. 1381). Vier van de Twaalf (Bartolomeüs, Jakobus van Alfeüs, Thaddeüs en Simon Kananeüs) worden in het NT slechts in de namenlijsten zelf vermeid. Paulus verwijst slechts naar Petrus en Johannes (vgl. Gal 2,9). Het is bijna zeker dat Paulus met Jakobus in Gal 2,9 niet de zoon van Zebedeüs bedoelde, omdat in de context sprake is van Jakobus, de broer van de Heer (vgl. 1,19).

18. H. SCHÜRMANN, Das Lukasevangelium, deel I, Freiburg-Basel-Wien, 1984, p. 314-315: "Deutlich ist fur Luk der Kreis der Apostel Jesu identisch mit dem der Zwölf (vgl. z. B. Lk 8,1; 9,1.12 mit 9,10). Darm bezeugt sich ein spaterer kirchlicher Sprachgebrauch. Bei Paulus ist das durchaus noch nicht so; fur ihn deckt sich der Apostelkreis nicht mit dem der Zwölf. Ihnen wird im neutestamentlichen Zeitalter auch sonst nur erst sehr zaghaft der Aposteltitel gegeben. solange dieser noch so stark Funktionsbegriff mit weitem Anwendungsbereich war".

19. De enige verwijzing naar een onbetwiste Paulusbrief is naar l Kor 12-13 in een allusie op de liefde als "het betere charisma".

20. Het kan niet worden uitgesloten dat Paulus in Rom 16,7 naar een vrouw (Junia) als apostel verwijst. Maar hier ontmoeten we een aantal moeilijke exegetische problemen die het onmogelijk maken hierop een argumentatie te bouwen. Vgl. b.v. J. THORLEY, Junia, A Woman Apostle, in NovT38 (1996) 18-29.

21. Vgl. S. SCHNEIDERS, 'Because of the Woman's Testimony ...': Reexamining the Issue of Authorship in the Fourth Gospel, in NTS 44 (1998) 513-535, p. 518: "In short, not only are an extraordinary number of John's main characters women, but these women are assigned the very community-founding roles and functions, namely christological confession, missionary witness, and paschal proclamation, that are assigned to Peter and the Twelve in the Synoptics whereas the Twelve do not have these roles and functions in John".

22. Blijkbaar is dit ook de betekenis van "Hij .. riep bij zich wie Hij wilde" in Mc 3,13. In Mt 10,1 is er evenmin sprake van een selectie. Door te zeggen dat Jezus zijn twaalf leerlingen bij zich roept, geeft hij de indruk dat de Twaalf al uitgekozen zijn. Deze keuze wordt door Matteüs echter nergens vermeld.

23. De beide argumenten zijn wel aanwezig m Inter insigniores, in AAS 69 (1977) 98-116, p. 103, noot 10, en pp. 108-113.

24. 'Ordinatio sacerdotalis', p. 270 citeert hier Mulieris dignitatem, 26.

25. 'Ordinatio sacerdotalis' (zie noot l, p. 270. In de brief is de uitdrukking "de twaalf apostelen" (niet "mannen") het onderwerp van de zin. Maar in de context staat buiten twijfel dat het man-zijn van de twaalf apostelen bedoeld is.

26. Doorbreekt het gebruik van de term "vlees" in Joh 1,14 niet juist een dergelijke op de man geconcentreerde visie?

27. Een sacramententheologische versie van dit theologisch argument wordt door Inter insigniores uitdrukkelijk ontwikkeld. De priester zou een man moeten zijn om de man Jezus sacramenteel te kunnen vertegenwoordigen. Het ontbreken van een dergelijk argument in Ordinatio sacerdotalis is verrassend. Maar misschien wordt het impliciet door de argumentatie weliswaar in een andere gestalte toch verondersteld.

28. 'Ordinatio sacerdotalis', p. 269.

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