Nov 122013
 

The-Seven-Ecumenical-Councils1There is a long history of looking back to the New Testament and other writings of the era for information on leadership positions and their titles. The Reformation took this study up in earnest when attempting to discover the proper hierarchy for the contemporary church. The results have been various. Variety is indeed what comes through in the sources. This table of leadership roles (more properly, of the terms given to them) in the early Christian writings has been compiled in an attempt to capture a sense of this variety.

I have already released A Table of Christological Titles and also A Table of Self-Identifications. These looked at some ways of referring to Jesus, some ways in which early Christian writers distinguished their group from other people, and where these are attested.

This table has a similar purpose. It is a way into the sources. It is also a way to organize a study of the sources so that the student can trace the development of an idea or relate it to other ideas also found in the same texts. Because of the layer of interpretation that takes place in making a table like this one, as well as the possibility of error, I encourage reference back to the sources if there is any question of how a particular entry in the table relates to the texts themselves.

This table and the previous one have each had over 1000 entries (spreadsheet cells), making the possibility of error all but certain at this point. Like the previous table, I have founded the New Testament results on a search of the BibleWorks software by lemma, but I have had to be satisfied with a search of English translations for the other texts pending further study, which might fix this obvious problem. I have also had to split this table into two to fit into the blog. You can download the spreadsheet from Google Docs if you want to work with the data in that form.

Text? Minister? Elder? Bishop? Prophet? Teacher? Pastor? Servant?
Clement of Alexandria Minister Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Teacher (Jesus) Pastor (Jesus) Servant
Hippolytus of Rome Minister Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Teacher (Jesus/other) Pastor (Jesus) Servant (Jesus)
Irenaeus of Lyons Minister Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Teacher (Jesus/other) Pastor (Jesus) Servant
Origen Minister (Jesus/past) Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Teacher Pastor (Ephesians/Jesus) Servant
Tertullian Minister Elder Bishop Prophet Teacher Pastor (Jesus) Servant
Ignatius of Antioch Minister Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Teacher Pastor (God) Servant
Acts of Peter Minister Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Pastor (God) Servant
Acts of the Apostles Elder Bishop (1.20) Prophet Teacher (13.1) Servant
Shepherd of Hermas Minister Elder Bishop Prophet Teacher Pastor (Angel) Servant
1 Clement Minister Elder Bishop Prophet (past) Servant
Acts of Paul Minister Elder Prophet (past) Pastor Servant
Gospel of Mark Minister Prophet Teacher (Jesus) Pastor (Jesus) Servant
1 Peter Elder Bishop (Jesus) Prophet (past) Pastor (Jesus / 2.25) Servant (2.16)
Acts of John Elder (other) Prophet (past) Teacher Servant
Epistula Apostolorum Minister Prophet (past) Pastor (Jesus) Servant
Gospel of John Minister (12.26) Prophet Teacher (Jesus) Pastor (Jesus) Servant (other / 15.15)
Gospel of Luke Prophet Teacher (Jesus) Servant
Gospel of Matthew Minister (20.26) Prophet Teacher (Jesus) Pastor (Jesus) Servant
Hebrews Elder (11.2) Prophet (past) Teacher (5.12) Pastor (Jesus / 13.20)
Justin Martyr Minister Prophet (past) Teacher
Martyrdom of Polycarp Bishop Prophet Teacher Pastor (Jesus) Servant
Paul – 1 Timothy Minister Elder Bishop (3.1) Teacher (2.7) Servant
Paul – Ephesians Minister Prophet Teacher (4.11) Pastor (4.11) Servant
Polycarp Minister Elder Prophet (past) Servant
Ascension of Isaiah Elder Prophet (past) Pastor Servant
Epistle of Barnabas Prophet (past) Teacher (other) Pastor (Jesus) Servant (Jesus)
Paul – 1 Corinthians Minister (3.5) Prophet Teacher Servant
Revelation Elder Prophet Servant
Theophilus of Antioch Minister (Jesus) Elder (past) Prophet (past) Teacher (other)
Didache Minister Bishop Prophet Teacher
James Elder (5.14) Prophet (past) Teacher (3.1) Servant (1.1)
Paul – Romans Minister Prophet (past) Teacher (2.20) Servant
Paul – Titus Elder (1.5) Bishop (1.7) Prophet (past) Servant
2 Clement Elder Prophet (past) Servant
Acts of Andrew Minister Bishop Servant
Athenagoras of Athens Prophet (past)
Coptic Apocalypse of Peter Minister (other) Bishop (other) Prophet (past) Servant
Gospel of Philip Servant (Allegory)
Gospel of Thomas Prophet Pastor (parable) Servant (parable)
Melito of Sardis Prophet (past) Pastor (Jesus) Servant (Jesus)
Paul – 2 Timothy Teacher Servant
Paul – Philippians Minister (1.1) Bishop (1.1) Servant
Tatian’s Address to the Greeks Minister (Jesus) Prophet (past) Teacher (other)
2 Peter Prophet (past) Servant
Acts of Peter and the Twelve Servant
Apocryphon of James Pastor (parable)
Apocryphon of John Prophet (past) Servant (Savior)
Diognetus Prophet (past) Teacher
First Apocalypse of James Prophet (heaven) Servant
Letter of Peter to Philip
Odes of Solomon Minister Teacher Servant
Paul – 2 Corinthians Minister Servant (4.5)
Paul – Colossians Minister Servant
Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs Minister Prophet
Aristides
Authoritative Teaching Pastor (God)
Dialogue of the Savior Teacher (Jesus)
Gospel of Truth Teacher (Jesus) Pastor (Jesus)
Infancy Gospel of Thomas Prophet (past)
Jude Servant (1.1)
Paul – 1 Thessalonians Prophet (past)
Paul – Galatians Servant
Sibylline Oracles Book VIII Elder Pastor
Sophia of Jesus Christ
2 John Elder (1.1)
3 John Elder (1.1)
Book of Thomas the Contender Servant (Light)
Coptic Apocalypse of Paul
Gospel of Peter
Melchizedek
Paul – Philemon Servant (1.16)
Treatise on the Resurrection
1 John
Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth
Eugnostos the Blessed
Gospel of Mary
Infancy Gospel of James
Paul – 2 Thessalonians
Second Apocalypse of James
Trimorphic Protennoia

 

This is the second part of the table.

Text? Apostle? Disciple? Evangelist? Witness? Widow? Priest?
Clement of Alexandria Apostle (past) Disciple Evangelist (writer) Witness (past) Widow Priest (Jesus)
Hippolytus of Rome Apostle (past) Disciple (past/other) Evangelist (writer) Witness (past) Widow Priest
Irenaeus of Lyons Apostle (past) Disciple (past/other) Evangelist (writer) Witness (past) Widow Priests (other), Priest (Jesus)
Origen Apostle (past) Disciple (past/other) Evangelist (writer) Witness (past) Widow Priest (Jesus)
Tertullian Apostle (past) Disciple Evangelist (writer) Witness (past) Widow Priest (Jesus)
Ignatius of Antioch Apostle (past) Disciple Witness Widow Priests (unclear), Priest (Jesus)
Acts of Peter Apostle Disciple Witness Widow
Acts of the Apostles Apostle Disciple Evangelist (21.8) Witness Widow Priest (Jerusalem / 6.7)
Shepherd of Hermas Apostle (past) Widow
1 Clement Apostle (past) Witness Widow
Acts of Paul Apostle Disciple Widow
Gospel of Mark Apostle (6.30) Disciple Widow (12.40-43)
1 Peter Apostle (1.1) Witness (5.1) Priesthood (2.9)
Acts of John Apostle Disciple Widow
Epistula Apostolorum Apostle Disciple Priest (Jesus)
Gospel of John Apostle (13.16) Disciple
Gospel of Luke Apostle Disciple Witness (24.48) Widow
Gospel of Matthew Apostle (10.2) Disciple
Hebrews Apostle (Jesus) Witness (past / 12.1) Priest (Jesus)
Justin Martyr Apostle (past) Disciple Witness (past) Widow
Martyrdom of Polycarp Apostle Disciple
Paul – 1 Timothy Apostle Widow
Paul – Ephesians Apostle Evangelist (4.11)
Polycarp Apostle (past) Widow Priest (Jesus)
Ascension of Isaiah Apostle Disciple
Epistle of Barnabas Apostle (past) Widow
Paul – 1 Corinthians Apostle Widow (7.8)
Revelation Apostle (heaven) Witness Priest (heaven)
Theophilus of Antioch Witness (past) Widow
Didache Apostle
James Widow (1.27)
Paul – Romans Apostle
Paul – Titus Apostle (1.1)
2 Clement Apostle (writer)
Acts of Andrew Apostle
Athenagoras of Athens Apostle (past) Disciple (other) Witness (past)
Coptic Apocalypse of Peter
Gospel of Philip Apostle Disciple Priest (Jesus)
Gospel of Thomas Disciple
Melito of Sardis Apostle (past)
Paul – 2 Timothy Apostle Evangelist (4.5)
Paul – Philippians Apostle (2.25)
Tatian’s Address to the Greeks Disciple
2 Peter Apostle
Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostle Disciple
Apocryphon of James Disciple Widow
Apocryphon of John Disciple
Diognetus Apostle (past)
First Apocalypse of James Disciple
Letter of Peter to Philip Apostle Disciple Witness
Odes of Solomon
Paul – 2 Corinthians Apostle
Paul – Colossians Apostle (1.1)
Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs Witness
Aristides Disciple (past) Widow
Authoritative Teaching Evangelist
Dialogue of the Savior Disciple
Gospel of Truth
Infancy Gospel of Thomas Disciple
Jude Apostle (1.17)
Paul – 1 Thessalonians Apostle (2.6)
Paul – Galatians Apostle
Sibylline Oracles Book VIII
Sophia of Jesus Christ Apostle (past) Disciple
2 John
3 John
Book of Thomas the Contender
Coptic Apocalypse of Paul Apostle
Gospel of Peter Disciple
Melchizedek Disciple
Paul – Philemon
Treatise on the Resurrection Apostle (past)
1 John
Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth
Eugnostos the Blessed
Gospel of Mary
Infancy Gospel of James
Paul – 2 Thessalonians
Second Apocalypse of James
Trimorphic Protennoia

 

I hope this is useful to anyone studying the different ways of referring to leaders in early Christianity.

Comments

comments

  2 Responses to “A Table of Leadership Terms in Early Christian Writings”

  1. What I think would be helpful for many is if the table format of this sort of information could be surpassed in a way so that the information is made more flexible and manipulable. What would be involved in entering this sort of data into a Topic Map or interface that plays with the options possible with “linked data”?

    Topic maps: http://www.ontopia.net/topicmaps/materials/tao.html and its applied example at http://www.ontopia.net/operamap/index.jsp

    This is the sort of database I would like to work on if and when I ever bring myself up to speed with the skills and the time — especially the time!

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