Palestine, Cyprus; 315 - 403 AD
- Women are weak, untrustworthy and not intelligent
- Women priests in the Collyridian heresy?
- Nowhere has a woman exercised the priesthood
- Also in the New Testament women have not been made priests
- Deaconesses belong to an ecclesiastical order, but they are not priests
- Epiphanius never ordained deaconesses
- The creation story of Adam and Eve should be taken literally
- Both man and woman are made in God's image
Panarion 79, §1. Who are there that teach such things apart from women? In very truth, women are a feeble race, untrustworthy and of mediocre intelligence. Once again we see that the Devil knows how to make women spew forth ridiculous teachings, as he has just succeeded in doing in the case of Quintilla, Maxima and Priscilla .
Panarion 79, § 1., cont. Some women decorate a sort of bench or rectangular litter, spreading a linen cloth over it, on an annual feast day, placing on it a loaf and offering it up in the name of Mary; then all communicate in that loaf . . . . They tell us that certain women, come here from Thrace, from Arabia, make a loaf in the name of the Ever-Virgin, assemble together in one selfsame place and carry out quite irregular actions in the name of the Blessed Virgin, undertaking to do something blasphemous and forbidden and performing in her name, by means of women, definitely priestly acts .
Note. Epiphanius is concerned with the Collyridian heresy, a word which comes from a Greek word, signifying a little loaf. The women offered some sort of worship to the Blessed Virgin, in the course of which these loaves were offered on a table.
F. J. Dölger, in Die eigenartige Marienverehrung der Philomarianiten oder Kollyridianer in Arabia, has made a lengthy study of all the details of this singular sect. The Lords table seems to be a sort of stool or square seat The collyris is a little loaf of pure flour such as is given to children. The feast day is perhaps an ancient Marian festival. The text in any case is evidence of some form of irregular devotion to our Lady; the sect itself is, according to Epiphanius himself, of Thracian origin. No doubt we have represented in it some sort of symbolic action, where Mary takes the place of a goddess and the women exercise some kind of priesthood.
Panarion 79, § 2. Courage, servants of God, let us invest ourselves with all the qualities of men and put to flight this feminine madness. These women repeat Eves weakness and take appearance for reality. But let us get to the heart of the subject . . . Never, anywhere, has any woman acted as priest for God, not even Eve; even after her fall she was never so audacious as to put her hand to an undertaking so impious as this; nor did any of her daughters after her ever do so . . .Many men in the Old Testament offered sacrifices] but nowhere has a woman exercised the priesthood.
Panarion 79, § 3. I come now to the New Testament. If women had been appointed to act as priests on behalf of God, or to perform official liturgical acts in the Church , it must surely have come about that Mary herself, who received the privilege of carrying in her bosom the Sovereign King, the heavenly God, Gods Son, would in the New Testament have exercised the priestly office. But she did not judge such action to be right. She was not even entrusted with the bestowal of Baptism, since the Christ himself was baptized not by her but by John . . . . It was the Apostles who were entrusted with these ministries and they appointed their successors . . . Never has a woman been appointed amongst bishops and priests. But, someone will say, there were the four daughters of Philip, who prophesied. Yes, but they did not exercise the priestly office. And it is true that there is the Order of Deaconesses in the Church . But they are not permitted to act as priests or have anything to do with that office.
Panarion 79, § 4. Deaconesses serve bishops and priests on grounds of propriety, it may be in connection with the care of women who are sick, it may be in connection with the Baptismal Rite . . . That is why the Word of God does not permit a woman to teach in the Church, or to lord it over men . . .This you must also carefully observe that only the office of deaconesses was necessary in the ecclesiastical order; also widows are mentioned by name, and among them the seniormost are called elders (Greek: presbytidas), but they have never been made women presbyters (presbyteridas) or women priests (sacerdotissas).
Letter to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, §2. (394 AD) For many bishops in communion with me have ordained presbyters in my province whom I had been unable to capture, and have sent to me deacons and subdeacons whom I have been glad to receive. I myself, too, have urged the bishop Philo of blessed memory, and the reverend Theoprepus, to make provision for the Church of Christ by ordaining presbyters in those churches of Cyprus which, although they were accounted to belong to my see, happened to be close to them, and this for the reason that my province was large and straggling. But for my part I have never ordained deaconesses nor sent them into the provinces of others, nor have I done anything to rend the Church. Why, then, have you thought fit to be so angry and indignant with me for that work of God which I have wrought for the edification of the brethren, and not for their destruction?
Letter to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, §5. Of one position which he (Origen) strives to maintain I hardly know whether it calls for my tears or my laughter . . . .I pass over his idle explanation of the coats of skins, and say nothing of the efforts and arguments he has used to induce us to believe that these coats of skins represent human bodies. Among many other things, he says this: "Was God a tanner or a saddler, that He should prepare the hides of animals, and should stitch from them coats of skins for Adam and Eve?" "It is clear," he goes on, "that he is speaking of human bodies." If this is so, how is it that before the coats of skins, and the disobedience, and the fall from paradise, Adam speaks not in an allegory, but literally, thus: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;" or what is the ground of the divine narrative, "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman" for him? Or what bodies can Adam and Eve have covered with fig-leaves after eating of the forbidden tree? Who can patiently listen to the perilous arguments of Origen when he denies the resurrection of this flesh, as he most clearly does in his book of explanations of the first psalm and in many other places? Or who can tolerate him when he gives us a paradise in the third heaven, and transfers that which the Scripture mentions from earth to the heavenly places, and when he explains allegorically all the trees which are mentioned in Genesis, saying in effect that the trees are angelic potencies, a sense which the true drift of the passage does not admit? For the divine Scripture has not said, "God put down Adam and Eve upon the earth," but "He drove them out of the paradise, and made them dwell over against the paradise." He does not say "under the paradise." "He placed ...cherubims and a flaming sword ...to keep the way of the tree of life." He says nothing about an ascent to it. "And a river went out of Eden." He does not say "went down from Eden." "It was parted and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison ...and the name of the second is Gihon." I myself have seen the waters of Gihon, have seen them with my bodily eyes. It is this Gihon to which Jeremiah points when he says, "What hast thou to do in the way of Egypt to drink the muddy water of Gihon?" I have drunk also from the great river Euphrates, not spiritual but actual water, such as you can touch with your hand and imbibe with your mouth. But where there are rivers which admit of being seen and of being drunk, it follows that there also there will be fig-trees and other trees; and it is of these that the Lord says, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat." They are like other trees and timber, just as the rivers are like other rivers and waters. But if the water is visible and real, then the fig-tree and the rest of the timber must be real also, and Adam and Eve must have been originally formed with real and not phantasmal bodies, and not, as Origen would have us believe, have afterwards received them on account of their sin.
Letter to John, Bishop of Jerusalem, §6. For, among other wicked things, Origen has presumed to say this, too, that Adam lost the image of God, although Scripture nowhere declares that he did. Were it so, never would all the creatures in the world be subject to Adam's seed-that is, to the entire human race; yet, in the words of the apostle, everything "is tamed and hath been tamed of mankind." For never would all things be subjected to men if men had not-together with their authority over all-the image of God. But the divine Scripture conjoins and associates with this the grace of the blessing which was conferred upon Adam and upon the generations which descended from him. No one can by twisting the meaning of words presume to say that this grace of God was given to one only, and that he alone was made in the image of God (he and his wife, that is, for while he was formed of clay she was made of one of his ribs), but that those who were subsequently conceived in the womb and not born as was Adam did not possess God's image, for the Scripture immediately subjoins the following statement: "And Adam lived two hundred and thirty years, and knew Eve his wife, and she bare him a son in his image and after his likeness, and called his name Seth." And again, in the tenth generation, two thousand two hundred and forty-two years afterwards, God, to vindicate His own image and to show that the grace which He had given to men still continued in them, gives the following commandment: "Flesh ...with the blood thereof shall ye not eat. And surely your blood will I require at the hand of every man that sheddeth it; for in the image of God have I made man." . . . . Paul, too, the "chosen vessel," who in his preaching has fully maintained the doctrine of the gospel, instructs us that man is made in the image and after the likeness of God. "A man," he says, "ought not to wear long hair, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God." He speaks of "the image" simply, but explains the nature of the likeness by the word "glory."
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