The ordination prayers of Traditio apostolica: the Bradshavian version

Just published is Paul F. Bradshaw, “The ordination prayers in the so-called Apostolic Tradition” Vigiliae Christianae 75 (2021), 119-129.

Abstract: The anonymous church order formerly identified as the Apostolic Tradition and attributed to Hippolytus is now regarded by many scholars as a composite work made up of layers of redaction from around the mid-second to mid-fourth centuries. This essay revises the unsatisfactory attempt to discern such strata in its ordination prayers that was made by Eric Segelberg as long ago as 1975, and argues that their earliest forms are among the oldest material in the so-called Apostolic Tradition, belonging to the first half of the second century.

There is much in common here with my own recent treatment, particularly as both use Segelberg as a springboard, though Bradshaw continues to be mistrustful of what he sees as hieratic language in the episcopal ordination prayer.

Unlike my own article, however, his gives consideration to the presbyteral ordination prayer, and makes the persuasive suggestion that this too may have some antiquity, at least in an earlier form. He points out that that no liturgical functions are mentioned, which seems to reflect a situation where the presbyters were not ministers as such but advisors to the bishop. He states “One might assume that such people would simply have been elected or appointed without any ritual act or even prayer for them, but there is no reason to suppose that this was true everywhere or that it persisted throughout the century as their role began to change” (127). This is certainly possible.

His final sentence is also worth pondering. “… it deserves emphasizing that there is no reason to think that the prayers formed a single collection prior to their absorption into the developing Apostolic Tradition, but each one may have come from a different ecclesiastical tradition.” (129)

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One response to “The ordination prayers of Traditio apostolica: the Bradshavian version

  1. Pingback: Bradshaw’s reconstruction of Traditio apostolica | ancientchurchorders

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