Re: Presbyteros and newterous

 Raymond E. Brown, a respected Biblical scholar, wrote a book called 
_The Critical Meaning of the Bible_.  This is a 1981 book and I'm 
interested in what you think of what he has to say about the 
Episcopate.  Starting at the bottom of page 138, he says:

	Let us now turn to the designation of local church officials.  
In the pastorals there are two offices set up for the pastoral care of 
the community, a higher office and a subordinate office.  If we invoke 
wider NT evidence, it seems that the holder of each of these offices 
had two designations, respectively, the presbyter (elder) or bishop, 
and the "younger" or deacon.  One document may speak exclusively of 
episkopoi, "bishops," and diakonoi, "deacons" (Philip 1:1), while 
another document may speak of presbyteroi, "elders," and neoteroi, 
"youngers" (I Pet 5:1, 5).  Still other passages illustrate the 
interchangeability of the respective titles.  The interchangeability 
of presbyteros and episkopos is seen not only in the Pastorals (Titus 
1:5--7;; I tim 3:1; 5:17) but also in Acts 20:28, where those who have 
previously been designated as the presbyteroi of Ephesus are told, 
"Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock in whcih the Holy Spirit 
has made you spiskopoi to shepherd the Church of God."  Similarly, in 
I Pet 5:2--3 Peter addresses himself to the presbyteroi, "Feed the 
flock, being supervisors (episkopountes) not by coercion but 
willingly."  The interchangeability of neoteros and diakonos is 
attested by the parallelism in Luke 22:16:  "Let the great one among 
you become as a neoteros; let the one who rules become as a diakonos." 
 The fact that neoteros, "younger," is not simply an age bracket (any 
more than is presbyteros, "elder") but another name for the 
subordinate office has frequently been missed, resulting in strange 
combinations, e.g., while the reference in I Pet 5:1--4 to presbyteroi 
has rightly been understood as a designation not simply for elderly 
men but for the holders of presbyteral office, the next verse (5:5) is 
(wrongly) thought to shift with its neoteroi to the theme of youth!

	If we concentrate on the higher office, it has often been 
suggested that one title, presbyteros, was in use among Jewish 
Christian communities, while the other, episkopos, was in use in the 
Gentile Churches.  However, the evidence that we have for the use of 
presbyteros among Jewish Christians comes from Acts' account of the 
Jerusalem community (see section above on Hellenist Leaders and James 
of Jerusalem), and the same book describes the officials of the 
Gentile Christian communities as presbyteroi too (Acts 14:23; 20:17).  
A more plausible theory is that we have here a reflection of two 
strins of Judaism which came into Christianity.  The synagogues of 
Pharisaic Judaism had a group of zeqenim, "elders," the Hebrew 
equivalent of presbyteroi, forming a council whose members set policy 
but were not pastors responsible for the spiritual care of 
individuals.  In addition to such zeqenim, the Dead Sea Scrolls 
community of the New Covenant had officials who bore the title 
mebaqqer or paqid, synonymous words meaning "supervisor, overseer," 
the Hebrew equivalent of episkopos.  These functionaries, assigned one 
to a group, did have a pastoral responsibility.  The higher of the two 
Christian offices described in the Pastorals may have combined the 
group of presbyters from the Pharisaic synagogue with the supervisor 
of Jewish sectarianism, so that the presbyters served also in a 
supervisor capacity.  This origin would explain why in Titus 1:5 
presbyteroi are spoken of in the plural, while in 1:7, obviously 
referring to the same office, the author describes episkopos in the 
singular.  Furthermore, while our NT evidence points to a general 
interchangeability between the titles presbyteros and episkopos, it is 
possible that not all the presbyters of a community assumed the title 
and role of the supervisor.  In I Tim 5:17 we are told that a double 
honor is due to "those presbyters who rule well."  Does the author 
mean that, while all the presbyters rule, only some rule well, or that 
only some presbyters rule?  The latter seems more plausible, since he 
goes on in the same verse to single out those presbyters "who labor in 
preaching and teaching," which surely means that not all had those 
tasks.  The body of presbyters, then, may have divided up among 
themselves tasks once handled by people with different charisms, e.g., 
by the teachers and administrators of I Cor 12:28.  It is well known 
that Ignatius of Antioch gives witness to the recent) emergence of a 
three-fold-office structure in certain communities:  one episkopos, 
under him a group of presbyteroi and a group of diakonoi (a structure 
nowhere clearly attested in the NT), so that the title episkopos is 
now no longer widely interchangeable with presbyteros.  However, in 
light of the discussion above, attention should be paid to Polycarp, 
Phillipians 5:3, for there neoteroi are told to be subject to both 
presbyters and deacons.  Just as ultimately presbyters became subject 
to bishops, so neoteroi became subordinate to diakonoi; and it seems 
that at least for a brief period the two sets of terms yielded four 
offices or roles.

	That the term diakonos could be applied to a woman is known 
from Rom 16:1.  In the passage on deacons in I Tim 3:8-13, rules are 
laid down for women in 3:11, and some have argued that these are the 
wives of the deacons.  (However, the clear reference to the deacon's 
wife in 3:12 may be introducing a new but related topic.)  Whether 
they are or not, they surely serve as deacons, since the author speaks 
of the rules for them as similar to the rules for (male) deacons.  In 
view of the high plausibility that there were men and women deacons in 
the Churches of the Pastorals, and that neoteros was another term for 
diakonos, a passage in I tim 5:1-2 raises the question of whether 
there were also both men and women presbyters.  The apostolic delegate 
is told by "Paul" how to treat presbyters and "youngers":  Do not 
rebuke a presbyteros but exhort him as you would a father, and the 
neoteroi as you would brothers; presbyterai as you would mothers, and 
neoterai as you would sisters."  It is most often assumed that age 
brackets are meant, and indeed neoterai refers to younger women who 
are widows in 5:11,14.  Nevertheless, every other passage dealing with 
presbyteros in the Pastorals is taken to refer to officeholders, 
including two passages in this same chapter of I Timothy (5:17, 19).  
This argument is offset by the fact that the parallel passage in Titus 
2:1--6 (which speaks of the male presbytes and neoteros and the female 
presbytis and nea) deals with age groups.  In any case, we can say 
that _if_ there were women presbyters as there were women deacons, it 
should be remembered that not all presbyters seem to have ruled (i.e., 
served as episkopos).  The prohibition in I Tim 2:12, "I do not permit 
a woman to teach or or (sic) to have authority over men," may have 
been thought all the more necessary if women held an office that 
allowed many of its male occupants to teach and rule.


Brown goes on to note that Peter himself is referred to as a 
presbyter.  At least in Catholic theology, this supports Peter as a 
Bishop (of Rome).  He also notes that Prisca and Aquila both _taught_ 
(emphasis mine) Apollos in the Way, supporting the practice of women 
in teaching roles in the Church.  Brown further notes that James 
5:14-15 speaks of presbyters being called n to pray over the sick and 
anoint him in the name of the Lord so that "the prayer of faith will 
save the sick person."  Thus, presbyters (in my interpretation) 
administer the Sacrament of Unction for the Sick.  If both women and 
men are presbyters, it follows that men and women can administer 
Sacraments traditionally reserved only to men.  Furthermore, in 
practice, only a bishop can anoint the oil.  If presbyers served as 
bishops, it follows that women bishops do not violate the apostolic 
succession.  Obviously, I'm drawing conclusions that Brown left up in 
the air (he's RC, by the way).


Cindy Smith