[i.e. the bishop], and he in his turn should be imitator of Christ the high priest.’(32) In the consecration service of an Orthodox bishop, the chief officiant prays: ‘O Christ our God … who hast appointed for us teachers to occupy thy throne … make this man to be an imitator of thee the true Shepherd.’
The bishop or priest is therefore an imitator, image, or sign of Christ the one mediator and high priest. In short, the ministerial priest is an icon. ‘Standing between God and men,’ writes St Theodore the Studite (d. 826), ‘the priest in the priestly invocations is an imitation of Christ. For the apostle says: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2.5). Thus the priest is an icon of Christ.’(33) This notion of the priest as an icon has far-reaching implications:
First, there can be no question of any identification between the priest and Christ, for an icon is in no sense identical with that which it depicts.(34)
Secondly, an icon is not the same as a photograph or a realistic portrait; and so, when the priest is considered as an icon, this is not to be understood grossly in a literal or naturalistic sense. The priest is not an actor on the stage, ‘made up’ to look like Christ.
Thirdly, according to the principle enunciated by St Basil and used in the Iconoclast Controversy, ‘The honour shown to the icon is referred to the prototype.’(35) When we venerate the icon of the Saviour, we do not honour wood and paint, but through wood and paint we honour Christ himself. The same is true of the priest as an icon. He is not honoured in and for himself; all the honour is referred to Christ. In terming the priest an icon, we do not thereby attribute to him any special kind of intrinsic personal sanctity; we do not set him as a human being on a higher level than others. The greatest in the kingdom of heaven are not the clergy but the saints. Here as always, a careful distinction must be made between royal priesthood and ministerial priesthood, between the personal priesthood of sanctity and the iconic priesthood of order.
Fourthly, it is the function of an icon to make present a spiritual reality that surpasses it, but of which it acts as the sign. As an icon of Christ, therefore, the priest is not just a deputy or legal delegate of the people; but neither is he the vicar or surrogate of an absent Christ. It is the purpose of an icon not to remind us of someone who is absent, but to render that person present. Christ and his saints are present as active participants in the Liturgy through their icons in the church; and Christ is likewise present in the Liturgy through his icon the priest.
Fifthly and finally, as an icon of the unique high priest Christ, the ministerial priest must be male. In the words of Fr Alexander Schmemann, ‘if the bearer, the icon and the fulfiller of that unique priesthood, is man and not woman, it is because Christ is man and not woman.’(36) ‘For the Eastern Orthodox,’ writes Fr Maximos Aghiorgoussis, ‘it is imperative to preserve the symbolic correspondence between Christ as a male and the ordained priest… The ordination of women to the Holy Priesthood is untenable since it would disregard the symbolic and iconic value of male priesthood, both as representing Christ’s malehood and the fatherly role of the Father in the Trinity, by allowing female persons to interchange with male persons a role which cannot be interchanged.’(37)
There are two points implicit in these words of Fr Maximos. First, he speaks not only of Christ’s ‘manhood’ but of his ‘male-hood’. At his human birth Christ did not only become man in the sense of becoming human [anthropos, homo], but he also became man in the sense of becoming male [aner, vir}. Certainly Christ is the Saviour of all humankind, of men and women equally; at his incarnation he took up into himself and healed our common humanity. But at the same time we should keep in view the particularity of the incarnation. Christ was born at a specific time and place, from a specific mother. He did not just become human in an abstract or generalized sense, but he became a particular human being; as such he could not be both a male and a female at once, and he was in fact a male.
Secondly, men and women are not interchangeable, like counters, or identical machines. The difference between them, as we have already insisted, extends far more deeply than the physical act of procreation. The sexuality of human beings is not an accident, but affects them in their very identity and in their deepest mystery. Unlike the differentiation between Jew and Greek or between slave and free—which reflect man’s fallen state and are due to social convention, not to nature—the differentiation between male and female is an aspect of humanity’s natural state before the Fall. The life of grace in the Church is not bound by social conventions or the conditions produced by the Fall; but it does conform to the order of nature, in the sense of unfallen nature as created by God. Thus the distinction between male and female is not abolished in the Church.
We are not saved from our masculinity and femininity, but in them; to say otherwise is to be Gnostic or Marcionite. We cannot repent of being male and female, but only of the way in which we are these things. Grace co-operates with nature and builds upon it; the Church’s task is to sanctify the natural order, not to repudiate it. In the Church we are male and female, not sexless. Dedicated virginity within the church community is not the rejection of sex, but a way of consecrating it. In the words of Fr John Meyendorff, ‘The Christian faith, as held by the Church, is not a negation of nature but its salvation. The “new creation” does not suppress the “old”, but renews and transfigures it.’(38) He goes on to quote the words of an Orthodox statement at an Anglican-Orthodox consultation held in America in 1974: ‘God created men as “male and female”, establishing a diversity of functions and gifts; these functions and gifts are complementary but not at all interchangeable … There is every reason for Christians to oppose the current trends which tend to make men and women interchangeable in their functions and roles, and thus lead to the dehumanization of life.’ C. S. Lewis saw this danger many years ago: ‘As the State grows more like a hive or an ant-hill it needs an increasing number of workers who can be treated as neuters. This may be inevitable for our secular life. But in our Christian life we must return to reality.’(39)
Such, then, is the Orthodox understanding of the ministerial priesthood. The priest is an icon of Christ; and since the incarnate Christ became not only man but a male—since, furthermore, in the order of nature the roles of male and female are not interchangeable—it is necessary that the priest should be male. Those Western Christians who do not in fact regard the priest as an icon of Christ are of course free to ordain women as ministers; they are not, however, creating women priests but dispensing with priesthood altogether.
The Value of Symbols
Some will remain unconvinced by this argument from the iconic character of the priesthood, because it involves an appeal to symbolism. ‘Do not offer us symbols,’ they will object, ‘but give us a proof, based on logical reasoning.’ It must in answer be at once admitted that the rightness of our symbols is not something that can be logically demonstrated. A symbol can be verified, lived, prayed—but not ‘proved’. Church life, however, is not to be reduced to Euclidean geometry; while our reasoning powers should be employed to the full, we cannot grasp spiritual truth exclusively through syllogisms. Symbols and archetypes provide a vital key for the comprehension of literature and art; and they are no less important in religious faith and prayer. A symbol has the advantage of being far easier to understand than a verbal explanation, while at the same time conveying truths too profound to be formulated in words. In worship, as in family life, there is a ‘deep symbolism of actions and things’,(40) reaching down to the hidden roots of our being. If this symbolism is ignored or outraged, our relationship alike with God and with other humans will be fatally impoverished.
In our subconscious there are certain symbols and archetypes which are not invented but given. The same is true of the symbols revealed in Holy Scripture and used in Christian worship. We ‘prove’ these symbols; all we know is that God has set his (83) seal upon certain images and not upon others. We have been taught to say ‘Our Father who art in heaven’, and not ‘Our Mother who art in heaven’; the second person of the Holy Trinity is God the Son, not God the Daughter; Christ is the New Adam, not the New Eve; he is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride—the relationship cannot be reversed. These symbols are ‘given’, and they are absolutely fundamental.
Needless to say, our symbolic theology must be balanced by the use of apophatic or negative theology. God in himself is neither masculine nor feminine, since he infinitely transcends any such categories. Yet it does not therefore follow that we are free to apply to him whatever symbols we please. On the contrary, if we were to substitute a Mother Goddess for God the Father, we would not simply be altering a piece of incidental imagery, but we would be replacing Christianity with a new kind of religion.(41) The male character of the Christian priesthood forms an integral element in this pattern of revealed, God-given symbolism which is not to be tampered with. Christ is the Bridegroom and the Church is his Bride: how can the living icon of the Bridegroom be other than a man?
Diversities of Gifts
If our conclusion thus far has a negative appearance, this is because the wrong question was posed in the first place. Rather than ask, ‘Can women be priests?’, we ought to be asking, ‘What are the distinctive gifts conferred by God on women, and how can these gifts be expressed in the Church’s ministry?’ Instead of trying to ordain women as priests, Christians today need to explore and develop the special forms of service in the Church that women are best able to perform. The question is not ‘Do women have a role of leadership in the Church?’, but ‘What is the nature of that role?’
It is one of the chief glories of human nature that men and women, although equal, are not interchangeable. Together they exercise a common ministry which neither could exercise alone; for within that shared ministry each has a particular role. There exists between them a certain order or hierarchy, with man as the ‘head’ and woman as the partner or ‘helper’ (Gen. 2.18); yet this differentiation does not imply any fundamental inequality between them. Within the Trinity, God the Father is the source and ‘head’ of Christ (1 Cor. 11.3), and yet the three persons are essentially equal; and the same is true of the relationship of man and woman. The Greek Fathers, although often negative in their opinion of the female sex, were on the whole absolutely clear about the basic human equality of man and woman. Both alike are created in God’s image; the subordination of woman to man and her exploitation reflect not the order of nature created by God, but the contra-natural conditions resulting from original sin.(42) Equal yet different according to the order of nature, man and woman complete each other through their free co-operation; and this complementarity is to be respected on every level—when at home in the circle of the family, when out at work, and not least in the life of the Church, which blesses and transforms the natural order but does not obliterate it.
Much current propaganda for the ordination of women priests seems to envisage the priesthood as virtually the only possible form of ministry in the Church. It is assumed that, because women are not allowed to be priests, they are in consequence being left with no proper role to play in church life. The diversity of ministries, such as we find for example in the Apostolic Church Order, is all too often overlooked. The present campaign for women priests may thus be seen as ‘the bitter fruit of the clericalization of the Church’,(43) ‘a typically western and medieval form of clericalism’.(44) Women are being wrongly led to seek priestly ordination, because other forms of ecclesial service have been neglected. But this point has a relevance for men as well: often men assume that, if they ‘have a vocation’, it must be to the priesthood, because they do not think in terms of any other type of ministry. We need to recover the full Pauline vision of the Church as unity in diversity.
Among the Orthodox thinkers who in the recent past have written about the distinctive gifts and ministry of women are Nicolas Berdyaev,(45) Fr Lev Gillet,(460 Olivier Clement,(47) and above all Paul Evdokimov.(48) Their views are carefully summarized in a recent article by Mme Behr-Sigel, who wisely warns against the danger of thinking in terms of ‘cultural stereotypes’.(49) Certainly the whole subject requires much more thorough investigation on the Orthodox part. We need to hear the voice not merely of the male theologians but of the Orthodox women themselves. An encouraging start—but no more than a start—was made by the Consultation of Orthodox Women, held at Agapia, Romania, on 11-17 September 1976.
Brief mention may be made of four among the ministries that Orthodox women are or could be fulfilling:
(1) Although in the New Testament no woman was chosen to be an apostle, the Orthodox Church recognizes a number of women as isapostolos, ‘equal to the apostles’: for instance, St Mary Magdalene, the Martyr Thekla, St Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, and St Nina, the missionary who converted Georgia.
(2) Women ‘equal to the apostles’, acting as preachers and missionaries, have never been common in the past; but there is a more hidden form of ministry which Orthodox women have never ceased to perform—that of the priest’s wife. Within Orthodoxy the parish priest is in principle always a married man; when for special reasons a parish is put in charge of a monk or a celibate priest—there are in fact extremely few unmarried clergy who are not in monastic vows—this is definitely to be regarded as an exception to the standard rule. The fact that the parish priest has a wife is not to be seen as merely accidental or peripheral to his pastoral work; nor should the priest’s wife merely be someone who happens to have married a fixture clergyman. Her status in the parish is indicated by her title: in the Greek Church the priest is called presbyteros or pappass and his wife presbytera or pappadia; in the Russian Church the priest is ‘little father’, batushka, and his wife is ‘little mother’, matushka. If the woman in the home acts as giver and protector of life, the priest’s wife is called to do this throughout the parish. Just as the priest is father not to his own children solely but to the entire community, so the priest’s wife is called to be mother alike in her own family and in the parochial family as a whole. Yet she is not ordained for this task, but is simply realizing in a particular manner the royal priesthood that is the common inheritance of all. Her maternal vocation has to be exercised with the utmost discretion, not so much through anything she says or does, as through what she is.
(3) There is, however, one form of the ordained ministry to which women are certainly called, and that is the ministry of deaconesses. The members of the Agapia Consultation pleaded for a ‘reactivation’ of this ancient order, which in the Orthodox Church has fallen into disuse since the twelfth century.(50) They spoke of the ministry of the deaconess as a ‘life-time commitment to full vocational service in the Church … an extension of the sacramental life of the Church into the life of society’.(51) Already, in the Russian Church before the Revolution, there were several schemes for a full restoration of the order of deaconesses, although in the end nothing was done.(52) Since 1952 the Church of Greece has had a School for Deaconesses—the present building was opened in 1957—but the members are not actually ordained. I am told, however, that ordained deaconesses exist within the Coptic Church of Egypt.
There is a difference of opinion among contemporary Orthodox as to the exact status of deaconesses in the early Church. Some regard them as essentially a ‘lay’ and not an ‘ordained’ ministry.(53) But others point out that the liturgical rite for the laying-on of hands received by deaconesses is exactly parallel to that for deacons: this implies that deaconesses receive, as deacons do, a genuine sacramental ordination—not just a cheirothesia but a cheirotonia.(54) All Orthodox are agreed, however, that there is a sharp distinction between the diaconate and the priesthood. The deacon, and a fortiori the deaconess, cannot perform the consecration at the Eucharist, cannot bless the people, and in general does not act as a liturgical icon of Christ. There is a special funeral office for priests, but when a deacon dies the burial service is the same as for a layman. The existence of deaconesses within the Church is thus in no sense a justification for women priests. As the Agapia Consultation insisted, ‘The office of deaconess is distinct and not new, nor can it be considered as a “first step” to the ordained priesthood.’(55)
In the Teaching of the Apostles, a Syriac work of the early third century, it is suggested that the deacon has a special link with the second person of the Holy Trinity, and the deaconess with the third person: ‘The deacon stands in the place of Christ; and do you love him. And the deaconess shall be honoured by you in the place of the Holy Spirit.’(56) The implications of this idea have been developed, in a fascinating but somewhat speculative manner, by Paul Evdokimov;(57) a similar line of thought can be found in an article by Fr Thomas Hopko.(58) While it would be unwise to base too much on this one passage from the Teaching of the Apostles, taken in isolation, here certainly is a theme to be explored more fully when considering the charismata of woman. In early Syriac sources, and very occasionally in the Greek tradition, the Holy Spirit is pictured in feminine symbolism: the Syriac author Aphrahat (early fourth century), for example, speaks of the Christian’s relationship with ‘God his Father and the Holy Spirit his Mother’.(59) If man serves in a special way as an icon of the Saviour, has not woman a distinctive role as an icon of the Paraclete?
(4) Much has been said in recent years about the importance in the Orthodox tradition of the spiritual father, of the charismatic ‘abba’ or ‘elder’, styled geron by the Greeks and starets by the Russians. But is there not a place also for spiritual motherhood? The role of spiritual guide is closely linked to the gifts of intercession and prophecy; and these, as we noted at the outset, are in a special sense the charismata of woman.
Not that the idea of spiritual motherhood is new. In the Gerontikon or ‘Sayings of the Desert Fathers’, alongside some 127 spiritual fathers there are three ‘ammas’ or spiritual mothers, Theodora, Sarah, and Synkletika; and these ‘ammas’, although in a minority, are set upon an equal footing with the great ‘abbas’ such as Antony, Arsenios, or Poemen. The monk Isaias, around the year 1200, even compiled a Meterikon or collection of the ‘Sayings of the Mothers’, parallel to the Paterikon or ‘Sayings of the Fathers’; as yet unpublished in Greek, this Meterikon was translated into Russian by Bishop Theophan the Recluse and published in at least three editions.(60)
There is no lack of material for such a work. Indeed, in the history of monasticism it was the women who acted as pioneers rather than the men. It is customary to treat St Antony of Egypt as the father of Christian monasticism. Yet we read that, when he first decided to give up his possessions and to embrace the ascetic way, he entrusted his younger sister to the care of a parthenon, a ‘convent’ of virgins.(61) Long before Antony had settled in the desert as a hermit, or his younger contemporary Pachomius had established the first coenobitic monasteries for men, fully organized communities for women were already in existence.
The starets or spiritual father in the Christian East, while commonly a priest-monk, is not always in priestly orders: the great Antony himself, like most of the early Desert Fathers, was never ordained. From this it is clear that the ministry of spiritual direction, although linked closely to the ministerial priesthood of order, is basically an expression of the royal priesthood of sanctity. It is therefore a calling that can be exercised by lay men; and if by lay men, then equally—yet in a different way—by lay women. In the Anglican Church Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941) forms a notable instance of a lay woman invested with this ministry.(62) If the order of deaconesses were revived in Orthodoxy, no doubt many of them would act as spiritual mothers; but the role of motherhood in Christ should not be limited to them or to any other specific form of the ordained ministry.
Throughout the contemporary Christian world there is a thirst for spiritual guidance, and at the same time a severe dearth of persons blessed by the Holy Spirit to serve as guides. It is disappointing that in such a situation very little thought is being given to the cultivation of spiritual motherhood. The unhappy controversy about women priests is distracting our thought from the real questions.
Here, then, are four ways in which the ministry of women exists or might be further developed in the Orthodox Church today. Many more examples could of course be given; but enough has, I hope, been said to indicate how rich are the possibilities. In conclusion let us end with two pictures, the first from Greece and the second from Russia. Often in his writings Alexander Papadiamantis (1851-1911) describes the characteristic festivals held in remote chapels in the Greek countryside. Without the participation of the women, these festivals could scarcely be held. It is they who ‘prepare and constitute the physical flesh for the cosmic liturgy’:(63) they have baked the loaves for the Eucharist, they bring with them the wine and oil, the incense and the candles, they decorate the church and do the singing at the service. Without them the celebration could not take place, just as it could not take place without the priest. Here, in the offering of the Eucharist, man and woman are to be seen cooperating together, and the role of each is essential.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn speaks likewise of the role of women in his piece ‘The Easter Procession’. Surrounded by hostile, jeering crowds, the Paschal procession makes its way round the outside of the Patriarchal cathedral in Moscow at Easter midnight. First come two laymen, clearing the way; then follows the churchwarden, carrying a lantern on a pole, ‘glancing from side to side with apprehension’, and after him come two other men with a banner, also ‘huddling together from fear’. At the end of the little procession come the priests and deacons; and they too, in their fear, are ‘bunched together, walking out of step’, hurrying by as quickly as they can. But between the banner and the clergy come the women, ten of them, walking in pairs, holding thick lighted candles. They have a tranquillity that the men lack:
. .. elderly women with faces set in an unworldly gaze, prepared for death if they are attacked. Two out of the ten are young girls, with pure, bright faces… The ten women, walking in close formation, are singing and looking as solemn as though the people round them were crossing themselves, praying and falling on their knees in repentance. They do not breathe the cigarette smoke; their ears are deaf to the vile language; the soles of their feet do not feel how the churchyard has been turned into a dance-floor.(64)
These ten, walking in the Easter procession, exemplify the women of Russia who, far more than the men, have through their courage kept alive the faith during sixty years of persecution, They prove to us that woman in God’s Church is called to be passive, not subordinate, but resolute and creative, as the Virgin Mary was at the annunciation.
1. A. Harnack, Die Quellen der sogenannten apostolischen Kirchenordnung (Texte und Untersuchungen ii,5: Leipzig 1886), pp. 22-4; Eng. tr. by J. Owen, Sources of the Apostolic Canons (London 1895), pp. 19-21.
2. A. Harnack, op. cit., p. 28; Eng. tr., p. 25.
3. Nomocanon i, 37 (ed. G. A. Rallis and M. Potlis, Syntagma i, 81: priestess is in Greek presbytera).
4. ‘Concerning Women’s Ordination: Letter to an Episcopal Friend’, in H. Karl Lutge (ed.), Sexuality—Theology—Priesthood (San Gabriel, n.d.), pp. 12-13.
5. In the periodical of the Orthodox Church in America, The Orthodox Church, November 1976, p. 5.
6. Ap. Const. III, ix, 4 (ed. Funk, p. 201).
7. Commonitorium Primum ii (3) (P.L. 50, 640).
8. In the Image and Likeness of God (Crestwood 1974), p. 156.
9. Commonitorium Primum xxii (27) (P.L. 50, 667).
10. ‘Is the Ordination of Women to the Pastoral Ministry Justifiable?’, in Lutge, Sexuality—Theology—Priesthood, p. 35.
11. The Orthodox Church, September 1975, p. 4.
12. Compare the official commentary of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on its decree Inter insigniores: ‘This brings us to a fundamental observation: we must not expect the New Testament on its own to resolve in a clear fashion the question of the possibility of women acceding to the priesthood’ (The Ordination of Women, CTS Do 494, p. 8).
13. See K. Ware and C. Davey, Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue (London 1977), p. 84.
14. On the Holy Spirit xx (51) (P.G. 32, 160D). Cf John Chrysostom, Homily xxii, I on Ephesians (P.G. 62, 155).
15. Homily iv on Ecclesiastes (P.G. 44, 664C-668A; ed. Jaeger-Alexander, pp. 334-8).
16. The Case against the Ordination of Women (Church Literature Association, London 1975), p. 6.
17. On the veiling of virgins ix, 1 (C.C. ii, 1218-19).
18. Ap. Const. III, vi, 1-2 and III, ix, 4 (ed. Funk, pp. 191, 2(11). Cf. VIII, xxviii, 6 (p. 530).
19. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies I, xiii, 2 (ed.-Harvey, i, 116-17). Cf. Tertullian, De praescr. haer. xli, 5 (C.C. i, 221).
20. Epiphanius, Panarion XLIX, ii, 2; ii, 5; iii, 2 (ed. Holl, pp. 243-4).
21. Ibid., LXXIX, i, 7 (ed. Holl, p. 476). Cf. LXXVIII, xxiii, 4 (p. 473), on the Antidikomariamitae.
22. Ibid., LXXIX, ii, 3-vii, 4 (pp. 477-82).
23. ‘La femme dans l’Eglise orthodoxe. Vision céleste et histoire’, in Contacts xxix, 4 (1977), p. 318.
24. ‘The Question of the Ordination of Women’, in The Orthodox Herald, no. 125-6 (May-June 1975), p. 14.
25. The Orthodox Church, September 1975, p. 4.
26. Ap. Const. III, vi, 3 (ed. Funk, p. 191).
27. Dialogue with Trypho xlii, 1 (ed. Otto, p. 140).
28. Letter lxiii,14 (ed. Hartel, p. 713).
29. Homily (xxvii, 4 on John (P.G. 59, 472).
30. On the treachery of Judas i, 6 (P.G. 49, 380). Cf. Commentary on Galatians. 4.28 (P.G 61, 663), on the sacrament of baptism: the words of God are spoken through the priest’ (not by him).
31. To the Magnesians vi, 1; cf To the Trallians iii, 1; To the Smyrnaeans viii, 1.
32. Homily 123 (P.G. 89, 1817C).
33. Seven Chapters against the Iconoclasts 4 (P.G. 99, 493C). Cf. Theodore, Letters i, 11 (P.G. 99, 945C).
34. Cf. Ware and Davey, Anglican-Orthodox Dialogue, p. 74.
35. On the Holy Spirit xviii (45) (P.G. 32, 149C). Basil is speaking here about Trinitarian relationships, not about iconography; but in the disputes of the eighth to ninth centuries his words were applied to the holy icons (see John of Damascus, On the Holy Icons i, 21: ed. Kotter, p. 108).
36. ‘Concerning Women’s Ordination’, in Lutge, Sexuality—Theology— Priesthood, pp. 14-15.
37. ‘Women Priests?’ (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline 1976), pp. 3, 5.
38. The Orthodox Church, September 1975, p. 4.
39. ‘Priestesses in the Church?’, from God in the Dock, ed. W. Hooper (Michigan 1970), p. 238 (from an article originally published in 1948).
40. I take this phrase from the decree Inter insigniores (CTS Do 493, p. 11).
41. Very occasionally in the Christian tradition, feminine imagery has been applied to the deity, in particular to the Holy Spirit (see below, note 59). But this is the exception; all the main symbols ‘given’ to us are masculine.
42. See, for example, Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis iv, 8 (ed. Staehlin, p. 275, 21ff.); John Chrysostom, Sermon ii, 2 and iv, l on Genesis (P.G. 54, 589, 593); Homily xxvi, 2 on 1 Corinthians (P.G. 61, 214-15); Ps.-Gregory of Nyssa, On the Creation of Man (P.G. 44, 276A: ed. Hörner, p. 34, 8ff.); Basil of Seleucia, Oration 2 (P.G. 85, 44A); Procopius of Gaza, On Genesis 2.18 (P.G. 87 (i), 172A).
43.O. Clément, Questions sur l’homme (Paris 1972), p. 119.
44. Fr John Meyendorff, in The Orthodox Church, September 1975, p. 4. 45. See ‘The New Middle Ages’, in The End of Our Time (London 1933), pp. 117-18.
46. See ‘Un Moine de l’Eglise d’Orient’, Amour sans limites (Chevetogne 1971), p. 96.
47. See Questions sur l’homme, pp. 114-21 (brief, but highly perceptive).
48. See his important study La femme et le salut du monde. Etude d’anthropologie chrétienne sur les charismes du femme (Tournai/Paris 1958) not yet (alas) translated into English, and long since unobtainable in the French original.
49. ‘La femme dans l’Eglise orthodoxe’, in Contacts xxix, 4 (1977), pp. 303-9.
50. See the report Orthodox Women: Their Role and Participation in the Orthodox Church, published by the World Council of Churches: Sub-Unit on Women in Church and Society (Geneva 1977).
51. Orthodox Women, p. 50.
52. See Fr Sergei Hackel, ‘Mother Maria Skobtsova: Deaconess Manquée?’, in Eastern Churches Review i (1967), pp. 264-6.
53. This is the view of the Romanian theologian Prof. Nicolae Chitescu: see his article in the World Council of Churches pamphlet Concerning the Ordination of Women (Geneva 1964).
54. See the article by Prof Evangelos Theodorou of Athens University, ‘The Ministry of Deaconesses in the Greek Orthodox Church’, in Orthodox Women, pp. 37-43; also Militsa Zernov,’Women’s Ministry in the Church’, in Eastern Churches Review vii (1975), pp. 34-9.
Prof Panagiotis Trempelas considers that deaconesses in the early Church ‘received, not just a laying-on of hands (cheirothesia) but a real ordination (cheirotomia), being placed on a level somewhat lower than the deacon, but higher than the subdeacon’ (Dogmatiki tis Orthodoxou Katholikis Ekklisias, vol. iii [Athens 1961], pp. 291-2; Fr. tr. by P. Dumont, Dogmatique de l’Eglise orthodoxe catholique, vol. iii [Chevetogne 1968], p. 309).
55. Orthodox Women, p.50.
56. Didascalia Apostolorum, ed. R. H. Connolly (Oxford 1929), xxv (p. 88); cf. Ap. Const. II, xxvi, 5-6 (ed. Funk, p. 105).
57. ‘Les charismes de la femme’, in La nouveauté de l’Esprit (Spiritualité Orientale, no. 20: Bellefontaine 1977), pp. 245-8. Cf. La femme et le salut du monde, pp.16, 211.
58. ‘On the Male Character of Christian Priesthood’, in St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly xix (1975), pp. 155-6.
59. On Virginity against the Jews xviii, 10 (ed. Parisot, col. 839). Cf. also The Gospel according to the Hebrews, in M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford 1924), p. 2; The Acts of Thomas 7, 27, 39, 50 (James, op. cit., pp. 368, 376, 384, 388); Gregory of Nyssa, Commentary on the Song of Songs, Sermons 6 and 15 (ed. Langerbeck, pp. 183, 468); Macarius, Homily xxviii, 4 (ed. Dörries, p. 233), etc. In the West, ‘Mother language’ is applied to God by Julian of Norwich. These passages should not be over-emphasized. In Syria after the middle of the fourth century, references to the Spirit as Mother become very rare; in the Greek tradition, such references are always exceptional.
60. See I. Hausherr, Direction spirituelle en Orient autrefois (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 144: Rome 1955), p. 267.
61. Athanasius, Life of Antomy 3. In terming Antony ‘father of monasticism’, one should not forget Syria!
62. Incidentally she did not favour giving the priesthood to women. See her essay ‘The Ideals of the Ministry of Women’, in Mixed Pastures (London 1933); cited by V. A. Demant, Why the Christian Priesthood is Male (2nd edn, Church Literature Association, London 1977), pp. 20-1.
63. I borrow this phrase from Prof. Christos Yannaras, to whom I owe the ideas in this paragraph.
64. Matryona’s House and Other Stories, tr. by M. Glenny (Penguin Books, Harmondsworth 1975), pp. 106-7.