4. Eucharist and Catholicity
The lines that follow represent an attempt to see the concept of the catholicity of the Church in the light of the eucharistic community. It is not an accident that in adopting the term “catholic” from Aristotelian language224 the early Christians did not conceptualize it, but instead of speaking of “catholicity,” as we do today,225 they spoke of a “catholic Church” or even – and this is more significant – of “catholic Churches” in the plural.226 This means that we cannot speak of “catholicity” and ignore the concrete local Church.
Already in the book of the Didache in the later first or early second century the idea was clearly expressed that in the celebration of the eucharist the Church experiences that which is promised for the Parousia, namely the eschatological unity of all in Christ: “Just as this loaf was scattered all over the mountains and having been brought together was made one, so let your Church be gathered from the ends of the earth in your Kingdom.”227 This conviction was not irrelevant in the application of the term “catholic Church” to the local community. It was a clear indication that, although the catholicity of the Church is ultimately an eschatological reality, its nature is revealed and realistically apprehended here and now in the eucharist. The eucharist understood primarily not as a thing and an objectified means of grace but as an act and a synaxis of the local Church,228 a “catholic” act of a “catholic” Church, can, therefore, be of importance in any attempt to understand the catholicity of the Church.
In the following lines we shall first briefly study the eucharistic community as it developed in the early Church with attention fixed on those aspects which were related to catholicity. We shall then try to draw from this study some general conclusions concerning our discussions about catholicity today.
I. The “One” and the “Many” in the Eucharistic Consciousness of the Early Church
In his first letter to the Corinthians (10:16 – 17) and in connection with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper Paul writes: “The cup of blessing which we bless is it not a communion (κοινωνία) of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break is it not a communion of the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.” This is not the only time that Paul speaks of the “many” as being “one” in Christ, and not just a neuter “one” but a masculine “one.”229
The idea of the incorporation of the “many” into the “one,” or of the “one” as a representative of the “many” goes back to a time earlier than Paul. It is an idea basically connected with the figures of the “Servant of God” and the “Son of Man.”230 But what is significant for us here is that this idea was from the beginning connected with the eucharistic consciousness of the Church. Paul in writing those words to the Corinthians, was simply echoing a conviction apparently widely spread in the primitive Church.
Thus with regard to the tradition of the Servant of God the texts of the Last Supper, in spite of their differences on many points, agree on the connection of the Supper with the “many” or “you” “for” or “in the place of” (ὰντί, περὶ) whom the one offers himself.231 This relation of the eucharist to the tradition of the Servant of God in whom the many are represented established itself in the liturgical life of the Church already in the first century. In the most ancient liturgical prayer of the Roman Church, which is found in I Clement, we come across the idea of the Servant of God many times in connection with the eucharist.232 The same is true about the Didache, where this idea finds its place in an even more explicit manner.233
Similar observations can be made about the connection of the eucharist with the “Son of Man” tradition. If the sixth chapter of the Fourth Gospel refers to the eucharist, it is significant that the prevailing figure of the Son of Man is connected there with the eucharist. He is the one who gives “the food which remains to eternal life.”234 Unlike the manna which God gave to Israel through Moses, this bread is “the true bread” which, having come down from heaven, is nothing else but “the Son of Man” himself.235 It is significant that Christ appears here as the Son of Man, and not in another capacity, as he identifies himself with “the true bread.” Hence the eating of this bread is called specifically the eating of “the flesh of the Son of Маn”236 who takes into himself every one who eats this bread,237 thus fulfilling his role as the corporate Son of Man.
It is precisely this idea that prevails in chapters 13 – 17 of the same Gospel, where the eucharistic presuppositions of the Last Super are so deeply connected with the eschatological unity of all in Christ, finding their climax in the prayer that “they all may be one.”238 It is impossible to see all this outside a eucharistic context in which the idea of the unity of the “many” in the “one” prevails. Because of this the Fourth Gospel not only allows itself to be taken as a eucharistic liturgy,239 but it is also characterized by such otherwise inexplicable expressions as the strange exchange of first person singular with first person plural in 3:11 – 13 – “Truly, truly I say unto you, we speak of what we know and bear witness to what we have seen; but you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.” It should be noted that it is again a Son of Man text that contains such a philological phenomenon which can only be understood in an ecclesiological sense.240
All this shows the early and deep connection of the idea of the unity of the “many” in the “one” with the eucharistic experience of the Church. It would fall outside the scope of this study to discuss here whether or not this connection offers an explanation of the ecclesiological image of “the Body of Christ.”241 But it is certainly true that neither the identification of the Church with the Body of Christ nor the ultimate unity of the “many” in the “one” can be understood apart from the eucharistic word “this is my Body.”242
The ecclesiological consequences of this can be clearly seen in the sources of the first three centuries. The first of these consequences is that the local eucharistic community receives the name ἐκκλησια or even ἐκκλησια τοῡ Θεοῡ already in the letters of St Paul. A careful study of I Cor. 11 reveals that the term ἐκκλησια is used in a dynamic sense: “when you come together into, i.e. when you become, ἐκκλησια” (v. 18.) This implies clearly what in the following verses becomes explicit, namely that the eucharistic terms “coming together,” “coming together ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτο,” “Lord’s Supper,” etc., are identified with the ecclesiological terms “ἐκκλησια” or “ἐκκλησια of God.” The other consequence which, I think, is of great importance for later developments of the idea of catholicity is that this local community is called ὅλη ἡ ἐκκλησια, i.е. the whole Church, already by Paul again.243 Now, whether this idea had anything to do with the idea of the “catholic Church” to appear a few generations later will not occupy us here, interesting as it is from a historical point of view.244 What remains a fact, in any case, is that, in the literature of the first three centuries at least, the local Church, starting again with Paul, was called the ἐκκλησια τοῡ Θεοῡ or the “whole Church” or even the καθολικὴ ἐκκλησια and this not unrelated to the concrete eucharistic community.245 As the ecclesiology of Ignatius of Antioch makes clear, even the context in which the term καθολικὴ ἐκκλησια appears is a eucharistic one, in which Ignatius’ main concern was the unity of the eucharistic community.246 Instead of trying, therefore, to find the meaning of the “catholic Church” in this Ignatian text in a contrast between “local” and “universal,” we would be more faithful to the sources if we saw it in the light of the entire Ignatian ecclesiology, according to which the eucharistic community is “exactly the same as” (this is the meaning I would give to ὣσπερ which connects the two in the Ignatian text) the whole Church united in Christ.247
Catholicity, therefore, in this context, does not mean anything else but the wholeness and fulness and totality of the body of Christ “exactly as” (ὣσπερ) it is portrayed in the eucharictic community.
II. The Composition and Structure of the Eucharistic Community as Reflections of Catholicity
With such a view of the eucharistic community in the background it would have been impossible for the composition and the structure of this community to be different from what it actually was in the first centuries. A different composition and structure would mean a different ecclesiology. It is, therefore, important for us in order to understand this ecclesiology, especially as it concerns the aspect of “catholicity,” to bear in mind this composition and structure.
As a combination of the existent fragmentary liturgical evidence of the first centuries allows us to know, the “whole Church”248 “dwelling in a certain city”249 would “come together”250 mainly on a Sunday251 to “break bread.”252 This synaxis would be the only one in that particular place in the sense that it would include the “whole Church.”253 This fact, which is not usually noted by historians, is of paramount ecclesiological significance, for it immediately draws the line of demarcation between the Christian and the non-Christian pattern of unity at the time of the early Church.
Coming together in brotherly love was certainly not a Christian innovation. In the Roman Empire it was so common to form “associations” that there was need for special laws concerning such associations signified under the name of collegia.254 The brotherly love which prevailed among the members of the collegia was so strong and organized that each one of them would contribute monthly to a common fund and would address the other members by the title “brethren” (fratres, sodales, socii).255 Apart from the pagans, the Jews who lived in the Roman Empire were also organized in special communities under their own ethnarch256 and their brotherly love was so strong that in cases of special groups, like the Essenes, it was based on principles of common property. To speak, therefore, of the unity of the early Christians in terms of brotherly love would be to miss the unique point of this unity and perhaps even to expose it to a comparison from which it would certainly not gain much, especially in the light of such evidence as that provided by texts like Gal. 5:5, I Cor. 11:21, etc.!
Certainly there was a basic difference in faith that distinguished Christians from their environment.257 But there was also a certain distinctiveness in the manner of their gathering together, which should not pass unnoticed. This distinctiveness lay in the composition of these gatherings. Whereas the Jews based the unity of their gatherings on race (or, in the later years, on a broader religious community based on this race) and the pagans with their collegia on profession, the Christians declared that in Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek,”258 “male or female,”259 adult or child,260 rich or poor,261 master or slave,262 etc. To be sure the Christians themselves soon came to believe that they constituted a third race, but this was only to show that in fact it was a “non-racial race,” a people who, while claiming to be the true Israel, declared at the same time that they did not care about the difference between a Greek and a Jew once these were members of the Christian Church.
This attitude which transcended not only social but also natural divisions (such as age, race, etc.) was portrayed in the eucharistic community par excellence. It is very significant that, unlike what the Churches do today in an age marked by a tragic loss of the primitive ecclesiology, there was never a celebration of the eucharist specially for children or for students, etc., nor a eucharist that could take place privately and individually.263 Such a thing would destroy precisely the catholic character of the eucharist which was leitourgia, i.e. a “public work” for all Christians of the same city to which – significantly enough – for a long time and in places as crowded as Rome in the second century even the people from the country would come to participate.264 The eucharistic community was in its composition a catholic community in the sense that it transcended not only social but also natural divisions,265 just as it will happen in the Kingdom of God266 of which this community was a revelation and a real sign.267
This “catholicity” of the eucharistic community was also reflected in its structure. As far as we can reconstruct this structure from the pieces of evidence that we possess, we can see that in the center of the synaxis of the “whole Church”268 and behind the “one altar”269 there was the throne of the “one bishop”270 seated “in the place of God”271 or understood as the living “image of Christ.”272 Around his throne were seated the presbyters,273 while by him stood the deacons helping him in the celebration, and in front of him the “people of God,”274 that order275 of the Church which was constituted by virtue of the rite of initiation (baptism-chrismation) and considered the sine qua non condition for the eucharistic community to exist and express the Church’s unity.
A fundamental function of this “one bishop” was to express in himself the “multitude” (πολυπληθεία)276 of the faithful in that place. He was the one who would offer the eucharist to God in the name of the Church, thus bringing up to the throne of God the whole Body of Christ. He was the one in whom the “many” united would become “one,” being brought back to him who had made them, thanks to their redemption from Satan by the one who took them upon himself. Thus the bishop would become the one through whose hands the whole community would have to .pass in its being offered up to God in Christ, i.е. in the highest moment of the Church’s unity.
The decisive pre-eminence of the bishop in the idea of a “catholic Church” was thus developing from within the heart of the eucharistic community. Not only the multiplicity of the people but also the plurality of orders ought to cease to be a division and be transcended into a diversity like the one given by the Holy Spirit who distributes the gifts without destroying the unity. This was the function of ordination. Ordination means order and therefore creates orders. This was nothing strange to the primitive eucharistic gatherings, which were structured by such orders. But a distribution of gifts and ministries, and the creation of orders could mean a destruction of unity, as it can in the natural world. By restricting all such ordinations to the eucharistic community and making it an exclusive right of the bishop, not as an individual but as the head of this eucharistic community, to ordain, the early Church saved the catholic character of its entire structure. The bishop with his exclusive right of ordination and with the indispensable restriction of ordaining only in the eucharistic context took it upon himself to express the catholicity of his Church. But it was the eucharistic community and the place he occupied in its structure that justified this.
III. The Eucharistic Community and the “Catholic Church in the World”
But there was a paradox in the way the eucharistic community lent itself to the formation of the “catholic Church” in the first centuries. The paradox lay in the fact that although the eucharistic community, being a local entity, led inevitably to the idea of a catholic local Church, it led at the same time to a transcendence of the antithesis between local and universal, thus making it possible to apply the term “catholic” both to the local and the universal realms at the same time. This was possible for reasons that are rooted both in the very nature and in the structure of the eucharistic community.
The nature of the eucharistic community was determined by its being “eucharistic,” i.e. by the fact that it consisted in the communion of the Body of Christ in its totality, and in its inclusiveness of all. What each eucharistic community, therefore, was meant to reveal, was not part of Christ but the whole Christ and not a partial or local unity but the full eschatological unity of all in Christ. It was a concretization and localization of the general, a real presence of the καϑόλου in the καϑ’ ἕκαστον in the true Aristotelian sense.277 As it is indicated in the passage of the Didache we mentioned earlier,278 the local eucharistic assembly understood itself as the revelation of the eschatological unity of all in Christ. This meant that no mutual exclusion between the local and the universal was possible in a eucharistic context, but the one was automatically involved in the other.
This principle found expression in the structure of the eucharistic community through the fact that the head of this community was related to the other eucharistic communities in the world by his very ordination. The fact that in each episcopal ordination at least two or three bishops from the neighboring Churches ought to take part279 tied the episcopal office and with it the local eucharistic community in which the ordination to it took place with the rest of the eucharistic communities in the world in a fundamental way.280 This fact not only made it possible for each bishop to allow a visiting fellow-bishop to preside over his eucharistic community281 but must have been also one of the basic factors in the appearance of episcopal conciliarity.
The exact place that the “synod” or “council” occupied in the context of the catholicity of the early Church represents one of the most obscure and difficult problems. Were these councils intended, when they first appeared, to form a structure of a “universal catholicity” above the local Churches? Cyprian, one of the persons most involved in such conciliar activity, certainly did not think so. For him the authority of a council was moral and each bishop remained always directly responsible to God for his own community.282 But the very fact of the gradual acceptance of the “council” as a norm in the life of the Church proves that its roots must have been very deep.
On another occasion too I tried to show that the phenomenon of early councils cannot be understood apart from a primitive conciliarity which preceded the councils and which again was not unrelated to the eucharistic community.283 It was not an insignificant thing that most, if not all, of the earliest councils were ultimately concerned with the problem of eucharistic communion284 nor that the final admission of supra-local conciliar structures with authority over the local bishop was provoked by the pressing need to solve the problem of eucharistic admission among the local Churches.285 All this meant that behind these developments stood a concept of “catholicity” deeply rooted in the idea of the eucharistic community. The various local Churches had to wrestle – perhaps unconsciously – with the problem of the relationship between the “catholic Church” in the episcopal community and the catholic Church in the world. The moment they would admit a supra-local structure over the local eucharistic community, be it a synod or another office, the eucharistic community would cease to be in itself and by virtue of its eucharistic nature a “catholic Church.” The moment, on the other hand, that they would allow each eucharistic community to close itself to the other communities either entirely (i.e. by creating a schism) or partially (i.e. by not allowing certain individual faithful from one community to communicate in another or by accepting to communion faithful excluded from it by their own community)286 they would betray the very eucharistic nature of their catholicity and the catholic character of the eucharist. The council was, therefore, an inevitable answer to this dilemma, and its genesis must be seen in the light of this situation.
Placed in this background, the councils represent in their appearance the most official negation of the division between local and universal, a negation which must be taken in all its implications. The eucharistic mentality which led to this solution would not allow any structure which would deny the fact that each eucharistic community revealed in a certain place the whole Christ and the ultimate eschatological unity of all in him. But the same mentality would not allow any provincialism that would fail to see the same reality in the other eucharistic communities. The whole Christ, the catholic Church, was present and incarnate in each eucharistic community. Each eucharistic community was, therefore, in full unity with the rest by virtue not of an external superimposed structure but of the whole Christ represented in each of them. The bishops as heads of these communities coming together in synods only expressed what Ignatius, in spite of – or perhaps because of – his eucharistic ecclesiology wrote once: “the bishops who are in the extremes of the earth are in the mind of Christ.”287 Thanks to a eucharistic vision of the “catholic Church” the problem of the relationship between the “one catholic Church in the world” and the “catholic Churches” in the various local places was resolved apart from any consideration of the local Church as being incomplete288 or any scheme of priority of the one over the other, and in the sense of a unity in identity.289
IV. Some General Conclusions
In the light of this brief study of the “catholic” character of the eucharistic community as it developed in the early Church, the following thoughts may be of some relevance to the present-day ecumenical discussion on the catholicity of the Church.
(1) The primary content of “catholicity” is not a moral but a Christological one. The Church is catholic, not because she is obedient to Christ, i.e. because she does certain things or behaves in a certain way. She is catholic first of all because she is the Body of Christ. Her catholicity depends not on herself but on Him. She is catholic because she is where Christ is. We cannot understand catholicity as an ecclesiological notation unless we understand it as a Christological reality.290
To derive this assertion from a study of the eucharistic community means ceasing to understand it in the context of the problem of whether catholicity is a given reality or a demand. This problem, which is often presented in the form of a dilemma, is strange to the eucharistic vision of catholicity because in such a vision whatever is given is revealed in an existential way, i.e. in the form of a presence here and now, a presence so fully incarnate in history that the ontological and the ethical cease to claim priority over each other. For example, to illustrate this from our brief study of the eucharistic community, it is not possible to ask the question whether this community was composed in such a “catholic” way because she was conscious of a certain demand for that, or whether her being composed in such a way led to the consciousness of such a demand or such a concept of “catholicity.” History is, in this respect, very instructive because there is perhaps nothing hidden so obscurely in the roots of Church history as the eucharistic structure of the first communities. To ask whether a certain belief preceded this structure, or if this structure led to this or that belief, would be asking a historically impossible question.
When, therefore, we say here that catholicity is not a moral but a Christological reality, we are not choosing between a “given” fact and a “demand,” for the entire scheme of “given” versus “obtained” is far from being the context of discussion in a eucharistic vision of catholicity. The Christological character of catholicity lies in the fact that the Church is catholic not as a community which aims at a certain ethical achievement (being open, serving the world, etc.) but as a community which experiences and reveals the unity of all creation insofar as this unity constitutes a reality in the person of Christ. To be sure, this experience and this revelation involve a certain catholic ethos. But there is no autonomous catholicity, no catholic ethos that can be understood in itself.291 It is Christ’s unity, and it is His catholicity that the Church reveals in her being catholic. This means that her catholicity is neither an objective gift to be possessed nor an objective order to be fulfilled, but rather a presence, a presence which unites into a single existential reality both what is given and what is demanded, the presence of Him who sums up in Himself the community and the entire creation by His being existentially involved in both of them. The Church is catholic only by virtue of her being where this presence is (Ignatius), i.e. by virtue of her being inseparably united with Christ and constituting His very presence in history.
(2) To reveal Christ’s whole Body in history means to meet the demonic powers of division which operate in history. A Christological catholicity which is seen in the context of this encounter with the anti-catholic powers of the world cannot be a static but a dynamic catholicity. This can happen only if we recognise in the catholicity of the Church a pneumatological dimension.
In the celebration of the eucharist, the Church very early realized that in order for the eucharistic community to become or reveal in it itself the wholeness of the Body of Christ (a wholeness that would include not only humanity but the entire creation),292 the descent of the Holy Spirit upon this creation would be necessary. The offering up of the gifts and the whole community to the throne of God, the realization of the unity of the Body of Christ, was therefore preceded by the invocation of the Holy Spirit. “Send down thy Holy Spirit upon us and upon the gifts placed before thee.”293 For the world to become even symbolically a real sign of the consummation of all in Christ would be an impossibility without the Holy Spirit. The eucharistic community shows by its very existence that the realization of the Church’s catholicity in history is the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is important to bear in mind that the Body of Christ, both in the Christological (incarnational) and in the ecclesiological sense, became a historical reality through the Holy Spirit.294 For creation to lend itself to the Logos of God in order to bring about the incarnation would have been impossible without the intervention of the Holy Spirit. This is a fundamental scriptural assertion,295 and the same is true about the realization of the community of the Church on the day of Pentecost.296 To see these events retrospectively through the eyes of the Church means to place them in their pneumatological context, for that which made them a reality eph hapax namely the Holy Spirit, is that which makes them an existential reality, here and now, again. In this sense the eucharistic anamnesis becomes not a mere mental operation but an existential realization, a re-presentation of the Body of Christ,297 thus revealing to us that the Church’s existence as the Body of Christ and, therefore, her catholicity constitute a reality which depends constantly upon the Holy Spirit.
This means not only that human attempts at “togetherness,” “openness,” etc., cannot constitute the catholicity of the Church, but that no plan for a progressive movement towards catholicity can be achieved on a purely historical and sociological level. The eucharistic community constitutes a sign of the fact that the eschaton can only break through history but never be identified with it. Its call to catholicity is a call not to a progressive conquest of the world but to a “kenotic” experience of the fight with the anticatholic demonic powers and a continuous dependence upon the Lord and His Spirit. A catholic Church in the world, cognizant as she may be of Christ’s victory over Satan, lives in humility and service and above all in constant prayer and worship.
(3) The way the catholicity of the Church is revealed in the eucharistic community shows that the ultimate essence of catholicity lies in the transcendence of all divisions in Christ. This should be understood absolutely and without any reservations. It covers all areas and all dimensions of existence whether human or cosmic, historical or echatological, spiritual or material, social or individual, etc. The dichotomies in which life has been placed and conceived, unfortunately to a great extent by Christian tradition itself,298 represent a betrayal of the catholic outlook so essential to the Church of Christ. One thinks in this respect, for example, of the dichotomy between the “sacred” and the “secular,” or between body and soul. The eucharistic community with its understanding of the eucharist as a meal,299 with its basic elements being material and not merely spiritual, with its long litanies and supplications in which man’s everyday material and physical needs find their place etc., constitutes a sign of a “catholic” view of existence in which no dualistic dichotomies can be accepted. Man and the world form a unity in harmony and so do the various dimensions in man’s own existence. An ecclesiological catholicity in the light of the eucharistic community suggests and presupposes a catholic anthropology and a catholic view of existence in general.
In such a catholic outlook the entire problem of the relationship of the Church to the world receives a different perspective. The separation and juxtaposition of the two can have no essential meaning because there is no point where the limits of the Church can be objectively and finally drawn. There is a constant interrelation between the Church and the world, the world being God’s creation and never ceasing to belong to Him and the Church being the community which through the descent of the Holy Spirit transcends in herself the world and offers it to God in the eucharist.300
(4) But how can this view of catholicity be reconciled with the fact that the eucharistic community itself is divided into orders, i.e. into categories and classes of people? History shows that there is a real problem here, because the divisions which have occurred on this basis are so deep that the Church is still suffering from them.301 How can the situation which results from ordination into ministries and orders, into clergy and laity, be transcended in the way all divisions are transcended in the eucharistic community?
The fact that all ordinations were at a very early time incorporated in the eucharistic liturgy is, I think, of great importance in this respect. The first important implication of this fact is that there is no ministry which can be conceived as existing parallel to that of Christ but only as identical with it. In her being the Body of Christ, the Church exists as a manifestation of Christ’s own ministry and as a reflection of this very ministry in the world. It is not an accident that the early Church applied to Christ all forms of ministries that existed. He was the apostle,302 the prophet,303 the priest,304 the bishop,305 the deacon,306 etc. A Christologically understood ministry transcends all categories of priority and separation that may be created by the act of ordination and “setting apart.”
Another fundamental implication is that no ministry in the Church can be understood outside the context of the community. This should not be explained in terms of representativeness and delegation of authority, for these terms being basically juridical finally lead to a separation of the ordained person from the community: to act on behalf of the community means to stand outside it because it means to act in its place.307 But what is precisely denied by this communal dimension we want to point out here, is that there is no ministry that can stand outside or above the community.
To affirm that the ministry belongs to the community means, in the last analysis, to place the entire matter of ordination outside the dilemma of choosing between ontological and functional. It has been for a long time an object of discussion whether ordination bestows something indelible upon the ordained person, something that constitutes his individual possession (permanently or temporarily) or simply empowers him with an authority to function for a certain purpose. In the light of the eucharistic community this dilemma makes no sense and is misleading, for the terms of reference there, as we have had occasion to stress earlier here, are basically existential. There is no charisma that can be possessed individually and yet there is no charisma which can be conceived or operated but by individuals. How can this statement be understood?
Here, I think, we must seek illumination from a fundamental distinction between the individual and the personal. The distinction has already been made more than once in philosophy308 but it has seldom been applied to theological problems such as those presented by ecclesiology. And yet the paradox of the incorporation of the “many” into the “one” on which the eucharistic community, as we have seen, and perhaps the entire mystery of the Church are based can only be understood and explained in the categories of personal existence. The individual represents a category that presupposes separation and division. “Individuality makes its appearance by its differentiation from other individualities.309 The person represents a category that presupposes unity with other persons.310 The eucharistic community, and the Church in general, as a communion (koinonia) can only be understood in the categories of personal existence.
Ordination to the ministry in the context of the eucharistic communion implies that the “seal of the Holy Spirit” which is given cannot exist outside the receiver’s existential relationship with the community. It is not a mere function to be exercised outside a deep bond with this community. It is a bond of love,311 such as every gift of the Spirit is, and its indelible character can only be compared with that which is possessed or given by love. Outside this existential bond with the community it is destined to die, just as the Spirit who gives this charisma once, and constantly sustains it, does not live outside this community because He is the bond of love. It is in this sense that the Spirit is exclusively possessed by the Church312 and that all ministry is a gift of this Spirit.
All this means a transcendence of the divisions created by the variety of ministries and the distinctiveness of orders in the Church. It is in this context that the bishop’s exclusive right to ordination must be viewed. If he came to possess such a right it was because of his capacity as the head of the eucharistic community – hence his inability to ordain outside this community – and in relation to his role as the one who offers the entire community in the eucharist to God. His exclusive right to ordain, in fact his whole existence as bishop, makes no sense apart from his role as the one through whom all divisions, including those of orders, are transcended. His primary functioin is always to make the catholicity of the Church reveal itself in a certain place. For this he must himself be existentially related to a community. There is no ministry in the catholic Church that can exist in absoluto.
(5) The implications of such a view of the ministry and especially of the episcopate for the understanding of apostolic succession are clear. To speak of apostolic succession as a chain of episcopal ordinations going back to the apostolic times, without implying the indispensable bond of these ordinations with the community in whose eucharistic synaxis they have taken place, would amount to a conception of the ministry in absoluto. But if it is not a mere accident that the early Church knew of no episcopal ordination either outside the eucharistic context or without specific mention of the place to which the bishop would be attached,313 we must conclude that there is no apostolic succession which does not go through the concrete community.
To assert that apostolic succession goes through the concrete episcopal community means to free one’s mind from the bondage of historicity and place the entire matter in a wider church-historical perspective. It would be impossible and irrelevant to discuss here the problems that are related to the appearance of the idea of apostolic succession in the early Church. It is certainly true that this idea was from the beginning related to attempts at reconstructing episcopal lists, which means that the concern at that time was to prove the survival of orthodox teaching by means of strictly historical reconstruction. But why episcopal lists? The bishops were not the only expounders of the orthodox teaching – for a long time their primary function was not considered to be that of teaching314 – while one could use a list of presbyters – they were actually considered at that time to be teachers of the people315 – to prove the survival of orthodoxy in a certain place at least equally well. Why is it that no attempt has been made for such presbyterial lists? To raise such a question does not mean to ignore the fact that the bishops were, at least at the time of the appearance of the idea of apostolic succession, considered to be the teachers par excellence and in any case were the ones that bore ultimate responsibility for the orthodox teaching, especially since the time of Gnostic pressure upon the Church. But even if we put aside the possibility that the idea of apostolic succession goes back to a time earlier than the middle second century and not necessarily in connection with the preservation of orthodox teaching316 the fact that the lists of successions were exclusively episcopal – just as in a similar case of the same period, i.e. in the appearance of the councils, the composition was exclusively episcopal – shows that the idea behind them was grounded on a reality broader than the concern for proving the survival of orthodoxy, or to put it in other terms, that the concern for the survival of orthodoxy was not isolated from the broader reality of the Church’s life as a community headed by the bishop. The bishops as successors of the apostles were not perpetuators of ideas like the heads of philosophical schools,317 nor teachers in the same sense that the presbyters were, but heads of communities whose entire life and thought they were supposed by their office to express. Their apostolic succession, therefore, should be viewed neither as a chain of individual acts of ordination nor as a transmission of truths but as a sign and an expression of the continuity of the Church’s historical life in its entirety, as it was realized in each community.
Such an understanding of apostolic succession explains why in its first appearance this concept was so concretely conceived that the reference was made not to “apostolic succession”318 in general but to apostolic “successions” (plural),319 exactly as in the language of that time the catholicity of the Church was understood in the form of “catholic Churches” (plural). The fundamental implication of this fact is that each episcopal community reflects in itself not only the “whole Church” but also the whole succession of the apostles. Indeed, it is quite significant that each bishop was at that time thought to be successor not of a particular apostle, but of all the apostles.320 This made each episcopal Church fully apostolic321 and each bishop an occupant of the cathedra Petri.322 This means that apostolic succession can never be a result of adding up the various episcopal successions. The apostolic college in its succession was not divided into parts so that each bishop would be ascribed to one part and all bishops together to the whole of this college. Episcopal collegiality, therefore, does not represent a collective unity, but a unity in identity, an organic unity. It is the identity of each community with the Body of Christ expressed in historical terms through the continuity of the apostolic presence in the locus apostolicus of each episcopal community.
Apostolic succession represents a sign of the historical dimension of the catholicity of the Church. It serves to combine the historical with the charismatic and transcend the division caused by time. In an understanding of the apostolic succession stemming from the eucharistic community, where the past and the future are through the Holy Spirit perceived as one and the same reality of the present,323 history and time are fully accepted and eternal life is not opposed to them but enters into them and transcends them as they affect man’s destiny and salvation. Thus the Church is revealed to be in time what she is eschatologically, namely a catholic Church which stands in history as a transcendence of all divisions into the unity of all in Christ through the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father.
* * *
The Aristotelian use of the term καθόλου as contrasted with the κατὰ μέρος or καθ’ἒκαστον survived at the time of the primitive Church mainly under the form of the adjective καθολικὸς (see e.g. Polybius, VI, 5, 3; Dionysius Halicarn., Comp., 12; Philo, Vita Moesis, II, 32, etc.).
Such conceptualizations have occurred not only in western theology, but also within that of the Orthodox Church, as we see, for example, in the well-known idea of sobornost, which appeared in nineteenth-century Russian theology, mainly through the works of Khomiakov. This idea is a conceptualization made on the basis of a translation of καθολικὴ by sobornaia in the Slavonic Creed and under the influence of eighteenth-century philosophical trends. It would be very interesting to study the exact meaning of this Slavonic term at the time of its first appearance, because it is possible that at that time the word meant precisely the concrete gathering together, i.e. a σύνοδος not in the technical sense of the councils but in that of συνέρχεσθαι ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτο as we find it in Paul (I Cor. ll:20 f.) and Ignatius (Eph., 5, 2 – 3), and as it was explicitly used even in the time of Chrysostom when σύνοδος could simply mean the eucharistic gathering (see Chrysostom, De Proph. obsc., 2, 5, PG 56:182; cf. below, note 245). If that is the case, then it is intereisting to note that not only ideas such as the identification of “catholic” with “universal” as it developed in the West, but even that of sobornost as it developed in the East did nothing but obscure the original concrete meaning of the καθολικὴ ἐκκλησια.
During the first three centuries at least, the term “catholic Church” was applied almost exclusively to the local Church. Ignatius in his well-known passage in Smyrn., 8, where the term appears for the first time in our sources, seems to contrast the local episcopal community with the “catholic Church” in a way that has led many scholars (Zahn, Lightfoot, Bardy, etc.) to identify the latter with the “universal Church.” But there is not a single indication in the text that would suggest this identification. It is clear from Ignatian ecclesiology as a whole that not only does a “universal Church” not exist in Ignatius’ mind but, on the contrary, an identification of the whole Christ and the whole Church with the local episcopal community constitutes a key idea in his thought (cf. below at note 247). In the Martyrtum Polycarpi the expression ἡ κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην καθολικὴ ἐκκλησία has led scholars to similar conclusions in a way which seems to overlook the fact that, if one translated καθολικὴ by “universal” in this text one would be confronted with an impossible tautology which would read something like: “The universal Church which is in the universe”! That in this document there is no such contrast between “local” and “universal” is shown by the fact that it speaks of Polycarp as being the bishop “of the catholic Church which is in Smyrna” (16, 2) precisely because the local Church is the “dwelling place” (παροικία) of the whole Church (inscr.). In the same way Tertullian can use the term “catholic Churches” in the plural (Praescr. haer., 26, 4, PL 2, 38; see comments by Labriolle-Refoulé in the edition “Sources Chrétiennes” 46, 1957, p. 126, n. 4), while Cyprian can write “on the unity of the catholic Church” having in mind probably the Church of Carthage (see Th. Camelot, “Saint Cyprian et la primauté” in Istina 2 , p. 423, and M. Bevenot, St Cyprian: The Lapsed – The Unity of the Catholic Church [Ancient Christian Writers 25, 1957], pp. 74 – 75), and the Roman confessors in the middle third century can speak of “one bishop in the catholic Church” (Cyprian, Ep., 49 , 2 – 4; Eusebius, Hist. Eccl.,VI, 43, 11). It was probably only in the fourth century, and out of the struggle of such theologians as Optatus of Milevis (Adv. Parm., 2, 1) and Augustine (Ер., XCIII, 23; De Unit., 6, 16, etc.) against the provincialism of the Donatists that the term “catholic” came to be identified with “universal.” Cf. P. Batiffol, Le Catholicisme de Saint Augustin (1929), p. 212. During the same century in the East catholicity receives a synthetic definition, in which “universality” is one of the elements that constitute catholicity. (See Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech., 18, 23, PG 33:1044.)
Didache, 9, 4. Cf. 10, 5. For the fact that these are eucharistic texts see J. P. Audet, La Didache: Instruction des Apôtres (1948), p. 407.
This aspect of the eucharist had been forgotten for a long time. It has been emphasized in the West by such scholars as O. Casel, G. Dix, etc. For the ecclesiological implications of the eucharist see also H. Fries, “Die Eucharistie und die Einheit der Kirche,” in Pro Mundi Vita: Festschrift zum eucharistischen Weltkongress (I960), p. 176; J. M. R. Tillard, L’Eucharistie, Pâque de l’Eglise (Unam Sanctam, no. 44, 1964); J. J. von Allmen, Essai sur le repas du Seigneur (1966), pp. 37f.; and the works of N. A. Afanasiev, A. Schmemann and J. Meyendorff (the latter’s Orthodoxy and Catholicity, 1966).
This contributed to the appearance of the well-known theory of “corporate personality” in the Bible. On this theory cf. among others: S. Pedersen, Israel: Its Life and Culture (1926); H. Wheeler Robinson, The Hebrew Conception of Corporate Personality (1936), p. 49 ff.; A. R. Johnson, The One and the Many in the Israelite Conception of God (1942); and J. de Fraine, Adam et son lignage; Etudes sur la “personalité corporative” dans la Bible (1959).
I Clem., 59:2 – 4.
Didache, 10, 2; 9, 2. Cf. above, note 227.
Ph. H. Menoud, L’évangile de Jean d’après les recherches rècentes (1947), p. 247.
Cf. E. Schweizer, Gemeinde und Gemeindeordnung im Neuen Testament (1959), § 11a.
For such an explanation see A. D. J. Rawlinson, “Corpus Christi,” in Mysterium Christi (ed. G. A. Bell and A. Deissmann, 1930), p. 225 ff.
Cf. C. T. Craig, The One Church in the Light of the New Testament (1951), p. 21.
This is discussed in my book The Unity of the Church in the Eucharist and the Bishop during the First Three Centuries (1965 – in Greek).
It is not accidental that the term “catholic” came to be applied to the cathedral, i.e. the main church where the bishop would celebrate and the entire episcopal community would be present (Council in Trullo, canon 59). The terms ecclesia major, ecclesia senior and ecclesia catholica became synonymous expressions by which the cathedral was distinguished from the parishes from the fourth century on (such evidence appears for example in the Etheriae Peregrinatio, ed. by H. Pétré, in Sources chrétiennes 21, 1948; and in the lectionaries of the Church of Jerusalem, ed. by M. Tarchnisvilli in 1959, etc.). It is probably from this use of the word “catholic” that the term katholikon came to be applied to the main church in a Byzantine monastery, since this was the place where all the monks would gather for the celebration of the eucharist. The significance of these usages for the connection between the eucharistic community and the “catholic Church” in the early centuries hardly needs to be emphasized.
Smyrn., 8: “…Let that be deemed a valid eucharist which is under the leadership of the bishop or one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop appears let there the multitude of the people be, just as wherever Jesus Christ is there (is) the catholic Church.”
Any contrast between the “local” and the “universal” in this text would mean that the “universal” Church is united around Christ whereas the “local” is united not around Christ but around the bishop. This kind of theology is foreign to Ignatius who, on the contrary, sees no difference between the unity in Christ and the unity in the bishop (e.g. Eph., 5, 1; Magn., 3, 1 – 2; cf. Polyc. inscr.), and this not by way of metaphor but in a mystical sense of real identification.
The observance of Sunday was almost identical with the eucharistic synaxis. Cf. W. Rordorf, Sunday – The History of the Day of Rest and Worship in the Earliest Centuries of the Christian Church (1968), pp. 177 ff., and 238 ff.
Acts 2:46, 20:7.
The existence of the “Churches in the household” does not present a problem in this respect, even if these Churches are understood as eucharistic assemblies, for there are strong reasons to believe that – significantly enough – there was no more than one such “Church in the household” in each city. These reasons are presented in my The Unity of the Church … pp. 64 ff.
Tacitus, Ann., 14, 17; Plinius, Ad Traj., 34, 97; Menucius Felix, Oct., 8 – 9; Origen, Con. Cels., 1, 1. Cf. J. P. Waltzing, Etude historique sur les corporations professionels des Romains I, pp. 113 – 129.
Cf. F. X. Kraus, “Fraternitas,” in Realencyclopaedie der christlichen Alterthümer I (1880), col. 540.
Cf. E. Schürer, Geschlihte des jüdischen Volkes (1914), pp. 14 – 17.
Confessions of faith were very early attached to the liturgy so that аn interaction between the two was established. Cf. K. Federer, Liturgie und Glaube – Eine theologiegeschichtliche Untersuchung (1950), p. 59 ff.
Matt. 19:13. Cf. 14:21. The question of the participation of children in the eucharistic assemblies of the early Church is, of course, connected with the problem of paedobaptism at that period, on which the work of J. Jeremias, Die Kindertaufe in den ersten vier Jahrhunderten (1958), continues to be illuminating.
The gradual individualization of the eucharist with the introduction of private eucharistic prayers into the structure of the liturgy and finally with the prevalence of the “private mass” in the West, represents a historical development which should be examined in close connection with the development of ecclesiology.
Justin, Apol., I, 67. Cf. 65. This situation must have lasted at least until the middle of the third century when the first indications of the formation of parishes appear. The entire problem with its ecclesiological implications is discussed in my The Unity of the Church …, pp. 151 – 188.
Cf. above, note 260.
The presuppositions of faith and love for communion were, of course, creating limitations to this community. It is important to study how a closed liturgical community, which the early Church undoubtedly was, can be related to the “catholic Church.” For this a special study would be necessary. Cf. the works of W. Elert, Abenamahl und Kirchengemeinschaft in der alten Kirche hauptsächlich des Оstens (1954), and S. L. Greenslade, Schism in the Early Church (no date).
The connection of the “one Church” with the “one eucharist,” the “one bishop” and the “one altar,” clearly established already in the teaching of Ignatius (Philad., 4; Magn., 7, 2; Eph., 5, 2; Tral., 7, 2, etc.), continues through Cyprian (Ep., 43 , 5; De unit., 17, 14, etc.) well into the fourth century with the idea of а μονογενὲς θυσιαστήριον (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., X, 4, 68) and a number of deeply meaningful liturgical practices like the fermentum, the antimension, etc.
Ignatius, Philad., 4. Cf. previous note.
Ignatius, Magn., 6, 1; 3, 1 – 2; Tral., 3, 1.
The idea that the bishop is “the image of Christ” lasted at least until the fourth century (cf. Pseudo-Clem. Homil., 3, 62). For material see O. Perler, “L’Evêque, représentant du Christ…” in L’Episcopat et l’Eglise universelle (ed. Y. Congar, et al., Unam Sanctam 39, 1962), pp. 31 – 66.
Rev. 4:4. Cf. Ignatius, Smyrn., 8, 1; Eph., 20, 2, and the arrangement of the eucharistic assembly presupposed in such sources as Hippolytus, Ap. Trad. (ed. Dix, pp. 6 and 40 ff.).
See Justin, Apol., 65, 67, and previous note.
I Clem., 40, 5; 41, 7. The idea that the “layman” is not a “non-ordained” person but one who through baptism and chrismation belongs to his own order in the Church is fundamental in the correct understanding of the eucharistic synaxis and its ecclesiological implications.
Ignatius, Eph., 1, 3; Tral., 1, 1: the “multitude” of Tralles could be seen in the person of their bishop.
The relationship of the καθόλου to the καθ’ ἕκαστον in Aristotle is expressed very well in the example he gives: «as ‘man’ belongs to the καθόλου and Callias to the καθ’ ἕκαστον” (Interpr., 7, 17). Thus the καθ’ ἕκαστον is not understood as a part of the καθόλου but as its concrete expression. In this way of thinking the dilemma between “local” and “universal” appears to make no sense.
See above, note 227.
Hippolytus, Apost. Trad., 2; Council of Arles, c. 20; I Nicaea, c. 4 and 6 etc.
This is a fundamental point which N. Afanasiev has failed in his eucharistic ecclesiology to see and appreciate, as one may gather from the views expressed, for example, in his article “Una Sancta,” Irénikon 36 (1963), pp. 436 – 475, and elsewhere.
This we know, for example, from Polycarp’s visit to Rome on the occasion of the paschal controversy (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., V, 24, 14 – 17). Cf. Syriac Didascalia, 12 (ed. Connolly, p. 122).
Cyprian, Ep., 55 (52), 21. The significant passage is: “Manente concordia vinculo et perseverante catholicae ecclesiae individuo sacramento, actum suum disponit et dirigit unusquisque episcopus rationem propositi sui Domino redditurus.” This makes it difficult to attribute to Cyprian the beginning of a “universalist ecclesiology” as N. Afanasiev has done (cf. his “La doctrine de la primauté à la lumière de l’ecclèsiologie,” Istina 2 (1957), pp. 401 – 420).
In my article “The Development of Conciliar structure to the Time of the First Ecumenical Council,” in Councils and the Ecumenical Movement (World Council Studies, no. 5, 1968), pp. 34 – 51.
Already in the first synods recorded in our sources. See Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., V, 16, 10. Cf. V, 24, 9; 28; 9.
This is for the first time reflected in canon 5 of I Nicaea. This canon is concerned with excommunications which took place in various local Churches. Its deeper meaning lies in the idea that conciliarity is born out of the Church’s belief that eucharistic communion in a certain community is a matter that concerns all communities in the world.
See, again canon 5 of I Nicaea where the problem lies in the historical background.
Ignatius, Eph., 3, 2.
The idea that the local Church is a representative of the entire Church and therefore a full Church was a fundamental one in the consciousness of the early Church. Cf. B. Botte, “La collégialité dans le Nouveau Testament et chez les Pères apostoliques” in Le Concile et les Conciles (ed. B. Botte, et al., I960), p. 14 f., and J. Hamer, L’Eglise est une communion (1962), p. 38: “it is not in adding together the local communities that the whole community which constitutes the Church is born, but each community, however small, represents the whole Church.”
The fundamental and crucial problem of the relationship between the “local” and the “universal” catholic Church must be solved apart from any notion of a unity in collectivity, and in the direction of a unity in identity. Schematically speaking, in the first case the various local Churches form parts which are added to one another in order to make up a whole, whereas in the latter, the local Churches are full circles which cannot be added to one another but coincide with one another and finally with the Body of Christ and the original apostolic Church. It is for this reason that any “structure of the unity of the Church in the Churches” (cf. the suggestion of Professor J.-J. von Allmen, op. cit., p. 52) renders itself extremely difficult, once it is a structure. (It is not an accident that the ancient Church never realized such a structure in her life in spite of her conciliar activity.) The problem deserves a fuller discussion. With regard to the sources of the first three centuries, cf. the discussion in my book The Unity of the Church…, pp. 63 – 148.
Christology as the starting point in ecclesiology in general has been stressed by G. Florovsky, “Christ and his Church, Suggestions and Comments,” in 1054 – 1954, L’Eglise et les Eglises II (1954), p. 164, and should not be understood as a negation of the pneumatological or the triadological aspect of the Church. For a clarification of this approach see Y. N. Lelouvier, Perspectives russes sur l’Eglise: Un théologien contemporain, Georges Florovsky (1968).
Sociological views of catholicity must be only derived views and not vice versa.
This view of the eucharist has been a fundamental one in the eastern liturgies ever since Irenaeus’ teaching, on which see A. W. Ziegler, “Das Brot von unseren Felder. Ein Beitrag zur Eucharistielehre des hl. Irenäus,” in Pro mundi vita: Festschrift zum Eucharistischen Weltkongress I960 (I960), pp. 21 – 43.
The liturgy of St John Chrysostom (prayer of consecration). The same prayer in the liturgy of St Basil makes it even clearer that the Holy Spirit is invoked not just for the consecration of the gifts but also for the realization of the unity of the community: “And to unite us all, as many as are partakers in the one bread and cup, one with another, in the communion of the one Holy Spirit.”
See N. Nissiotis, “La Pneumatologie ecclésiologique au service de l’Unité de l’Eglise,” Istina 12 (1967), pp. 322 – 340, where a discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit in ecclesiology is found. Cf. O. Clément, “L’Ecclésiologie orthódoxe comme ecclésiologie de communion”, Contacts 20 (1968), pp. 10 – 36 (English translation in One in Christ 6 , pp. 101 – 122).
Luke 1:35; Matt. 1:18 – 20.
Acts 1 – 2. Ever since, baptism and confirmation were inseparably united in the early Church and understood as the very operation of the Spirit in Christ’s baptism and anointing (Luke 4:18) so that each baptized and chrismated Christian would become himself Christ (Tertullian, De Bapt., 7 – 8; Theophilus of Antioch, Ad Autol., 1, 12, and especially Cyril of Jerusalem, Cat., 21, 1, PG 33:1089).
This idea forms part of the emerging consensus on the Eucharist in the Ecumenical Movement today. See “The Eucharist in Ecumenical Thought” (a Faith and Order document) in Study Encounter, vol. IV, no. 3 (1968).
A. Schmemann, Sacraments and Orthodoxy (1965), p. 14.
Cf. again the ecumenical consensus in “The Eucharist in Ecumenical Thought” (note 297 above).
This transcendence which is possible only “in the Spirit” presupposes a baptismal purification of man and his world and in this sense it is important to bear in mind the “paschal” character of the eucharist (cf. J. M. R. Tillard, op.cit., p. 164) and the intimate relationship between baptism and eucharist (see J.-J. von Allmen, op. cit., p. 37 f.).
We have in mind the whole issue of clericalism and anti-clericalism which has been a real problem, especially in the West. The East, by having kept for centuries a eucharistic vision of ecclesiology, did not experience this problem. It was only recently that, due to a replacement of this vision by later ecclesiological ideas, the problem appeared threatening in some Orthodox areas.
Heb. 5:6; 8:4; 10:21; 2:17.
I Peter 2:25; 5:4; Heb. 13:13. Cf. Ignatius, Magn., 3, 1 – 2; Polyc. Inscr.
In this sense terminology like that of “vicar,” etc. when applied to the episcopate or the ministry in general may suggest a similar representation “outside” or “in the place of” someone who is absent.
The distinction was already made, though from a different standpoint, by Thomas Aquinas and it was developed in modern times by J. Maritain, Du Régime temporel et de liberté (1933). Cf. N. Berdyaev, Solitude and Society (1938), p. 168. See also ch. I of this book.
M. Buber, I and Thou (1958), p. 62.
The Orthodox service of ordination to the priesthood is in many parts identical with that of matrimony. This does not only suggest an understanding of the ministry as a bond between the ordained, Christ and the community, but it indicates at the same time the direction in which theology should move in its attempts to understand the character of ordination.
E.g. Cyprian, Ep., 69 (66), 11; 75, 4, etc. In this sense the idea that there is no salvation outside the Church appears to be more than a negative statement. A fundamental truth behind it is that there is no possibility for an individualistic understanding of salvation: unus christianus, nullus christianus.
Already in the sub-apostolic times the bishop appears to be attached to the inhabitants of a certain city (Ignatius, Magn., 15; Polyc. Inscr.). Later on, the existing evidence from acts of councils indicates that the bishop’s name was attached to the name of a city (Patrum Nic. nomina, ed. by Gelzer, p. 61). What is most significant is that in the service of episcopal ordination the name of the area to which the bishop is assigned has entered the prayer of ordination: the divine grace… ordains this or that person to be a bishop of this or that diocese. Even when the institution of the so-called “titular” bishops – who are essentially bishops without a flock – was introduced, provision was made that the name of the diocese, even from among those which no longer existed, would be attached to the name of the bishop in his ordination. This, of course, amounts to a contradiction between theory and practice in ecclesiology, but it nevertheless reveals that the Church has never admitted in her consciousness an episcopate in absoluto.
In Ignatius (e.g. Philad., 1, 2) the bishop was not necessarily the teacher. In Justin (Apol. I, 67) the bishop seems to be giving the sermon in the eucharistic synaxis, but it was mainly from the time of the Martyrium Polycarpi (16, 2) and afterwards that the stress on the bishop’s teaching appear clearly. Cf. G. Dix, “Ministry in the Early Church,” in The Apostolic Ministry (ed. К. E. Kirk, 1957), p. 204 f.
Sources like the Shepherd of Hermas (Vis. 3, 4), Tertullian (De Praescr., 2), Origen (In Ezekiel, 2, 2, PG 13, 682 C), etc., indicate that the presbyters had teaching as one of their functions. The same is evident from the prayers of ordination to the presbyterate (Hippolytus, Apost. Trad., 8, ed. G. Dix, p. 13), and from the existence of famous presbyters known as teachers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc.).
I Clem., 44, 2 – 4.
Hippolytus, Philos., 9, 12, 21 (PG 15, 3386): The “catholic Church” was not a “school” (didaskaleion).
It is noteworthy that for some ancient authors (e.g. Tertullian, De Praescr., 20, 2 – 5) apostolic succession is one “of apostolic churches rather than of apostolic bishops,” as it is pointed out by R. P. C. Hanson, Tradition in the Early Church (1962), p. 158.
Hegesippus quoted by Eusebius, Eccl. Hist., I, 22, 3 – 5: “in each succession and in each city…”
Cf. F. Dvornik, The Idea of Apostolicity in Byzantium and the Legend of St Andrew (1958).
It is noteworthy how Tertullian (De Praescr., 36, 2) refers to the various Churches in connection with their apostolicity; in all the places he mentions (Achaia, Macedonia, Asia, Italy, Rome) “the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places in which their own authentic writings are still read, etc.”
Cyprian, Ep., 69 (66), 5, and 43 (40), 5. Cf. De Unit., 4.
Cf. the liturgy of St John Chrysostom at the prayer of the anaphora: “Commemorating this command to our Savior and all that was endured for our sake, the cross, the grave, the resurrection after three days, the ascension into Heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the second and glorious coming again, thine own of thine own we offer to thee in all and for all.”