Author Topic: Bishops and Elders  (Read 1916 times)

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Offline prodromas

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Bishops and Elders
« on: August 18, 2007, 12:55:23 AM »
Among the early church fathers, it was noted that the offices of elder and bishop were identical, and weren't differentiated until later, and that plurality of elders was the norm for church government. St. Jerome (347-420) "In Epistle Titus", vol. iv, said, "Elder is identical with bishop, and before parties multiplied under diabolical influence, Churches were governed by a council of elders." This observation was also made by Chrysostom (349-407) in "Homilia i, in Phil. i, 1" and Theodoret (393-457) in "Interpret ad. Phil. iii", 445.

this is an extract from a wikipedia article about Presbyterianism about the office of bishop and elder. Is this claim got any ground and they say there is evidence in the early church father, where is this evidence?
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Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Bishops and Elders
« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2007, 01:06:32 AM »
Fwiw, here is the document of Chrysostom cited. I would agree that the structure of the Church evolved as it went early on, but it might be incorrect to say that the offices "weren't differentiated," especially using 4th/5th century sources. It might be better to say that after the dust had settled, the Church used some of the terms interchangibly.

Offline Salpy

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Re: Bishops and Elders
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2007, 01:43:22 AM »
It has been a while since I read Hippolytus' On the Apostolic Tradition, but I seem to recall that in that book bishops and elders were two different groups, with the bishops being above the elders.  I think it was written in the early 200's.

Offline Asteriktos

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Re: Bishops and Elders
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2007, 01:55:31 AM »
Ignatius' (genuine) epistles (c. 107 CE) might also be something you'd want to check out, though IMO the repeated and almost insistent tone of the clergy dividions indicates that what Ignatius believed wasn't yet universally accepted.

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: Bishops and Elders
« Reply #4 on: August 18, 2007, 06:11:37 AM »
Any particular epistle, Asteriktos?
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: Bishops and Elders
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2007, 10:26:07 AM »
From the evidence I have read, the monarchical episcopate (one bishop per city) was early on in some cities whereas in other ones there was a council of presbyters. The terms were used interchangeably though, and the presbyters on a council were actually all what we would consider to be bishops (fullness of the priesthood).  As parishes developed, it was soon established that only one person should preside in a city and only he received the full ordination. I think we see this in the office of chorbishop, or bishop of country churches, who was originally a full bishop but later was only what we would consider an archimandrite or archpriest.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2007, 10:26:21 AM by Anastasios »
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