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)
Can. Hipp. 7 reads: The subdeacon (ὑποδιάκων, transliterated) and the reader (ἀναγνώστης, transliterated), when (اذا) they pray by themselves (وحدهما ), are stationed to the rear, and the subdeacon (ὑποδιάκων) serves to the rear of the deacon.
This provision seems to apply to liturgical arrangements, but why should it be said that they pray by themselves? It dawns on me that μόνον, an adverb in the Greek referring to praying, might be rendered into Coptic as ⲙⲟⲛⲟⲛ, and then taken as referring to the deacon and subdeacon (the Coptic being indeclinable.) Thus it is possible that the statement regarding these officials praying “by themselves” originally intended that their sole ministry was prayer, an adaptation of the statement in Trad. ap. 10.5 that the widow is not ordained as she is appointed for prayer alone, one of a series of provisions (including the statement at Trad. ap. 13 that the subdeacon follows the deacon) denying ordination by handlaying to a number of roles. One also wonders whether idha, “when” or “if”, here represents ⲉⲣϣⲁⲛ- intended to mean “since” and taken in its conditional sense by the Arabic translator. Thus, “The subdeacon and the reader, since they only pray, are stationed to the rear…”
Unfortunately, I’m really still no clearer about what this actually means!
PS (October 17th 2021): I’ve just read Ewa Wipsczycka “Les ordres mineurs dans l’eglise d’Egypte du IVe au VIIIe siecle” Journal of Juristic papyrology 23 (1993), 181-215, who on 192 suggests that subdeacons rather fancied being deacons, and that the limitation of their role is what leads to the provision that they “go behind.” I do not find this very likely.
Some years ago I was invited to contribute an essay to a forthcoming Cambridge History of Ancient Christianity. This volume contains essays setting out the status quaestionis and proposing new avenues for enquiry.
My given subject was office and ordination.
I should have known that something was wrong when the publisher sent a pdf contract and would not accept an electronic signature. I was supposed to print, sign, scan and send. I told them that that if they wanted a “real” signature they should have the courtesy to send a “real” contract with a stamped return envelope and not expect me to do their clerical work for them. They said they couldn’t. I said they could write the essay themselves. They sent a paper contract. I sent it back without a stamp.
If you think you can see a rant against the shenanigans of publishers coming on, you are right. They are, as always, paying in tommy. If you don’t know what this rather obscure phrase means, it is a system of reward by which payment is made in goods, not money, goods which can only be obtained from the company making the payment in the first place. This system has been illegal in the UK since the Truck act of 1831 (now incorporated into new legislation) but is still widely used by academic publishers. English-speaking readers may recognize the origin of the term “tommyrot.”
I wrote the essay. The editors were happy but then, under pressure from the publisher, stated that they considered it too long. David Parker, I recollect, used to say that Bultmann carved up the Gospels with the delicacy of a college servant cutting a pie. They took the same approach to my essay (although, to be fair, they quoted Tertullian, who described Marcion as editing not with a scalpel, but a sword, and were entirely open about what they were doing, and why.) After seeing what they had done I had little choice but to do the same myself, using the same approach but retaining what I hope were the more interesting bits.
Now doubt the book will come out in due course, swelling the publisher’s coffers and doing little for my reputation. I have, however, posted the original and uncut version on academia.edu. Quod scripsi, scripsi. Enjoy!