How Both New Testament “Presbyters” and Old Testament “Cohenim” Became “Priests” in English

Marc Chagall. Aaron and the Seven-Branched Candlestick from Exodus (1966).

Marc Chagall, Aaron and the Seven-Branched Candlestick from Exodus (1966).

A recent commenter complained, as Protestants often do, that there is “no biblical basis” for the New Testament priesthood. My immediate response: Of course there is. There is ample demonstration throughout the New Testament of ministers — deacons, presbyters, and bishops — who are called to serve the Lord and the Church in a special way and appointed to that purpose. The Greek word presbyter (πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros]), even, is the root of our English word priest. Even saying it, though, it struck me as odd: If the New Testament Greek word presbyteros is the origin of the English word “priest,” why is it that the Old Testament priesthood is translated with that word in English today, and not the New Testament?

Augustus as Pontifex Maximus

Augustus as Pontifex Maximus

If fact, the word priest is the word applied in English to any religious minister in any religion, especially to one who makes sacrifices. But the word for those ministers in each of the various source languages is not priest or anything related to it. So what happened? How did a Christian minister come to be called a “priest” at all? How did this word that originally referred to the New Testament Christian minister come also to be applied to a Jewish minister of the Old Covenant, and in fact to any religious minister? And how is it that, in English today, this word “priest” no longer refers strictly to Christian ministers at all, such that modern Bible translations use the word in the Old Testament (in which it has no historical or etymological root) but not the New Testament (from which it actually derives) — and Protestant Christians are left to question why the New Testament ministry is even called a “priesthood”?

In answering these questions, I embarked on a fascinating journey through language, etymology, and Bible translation, uncovering surprising accidents of translation, usage, and reaction.

Catholic priest

The complaint of some Protestants that the “priesthood” of the Catholic Church has no biblical basis has two separate fronts: a linguistic one, opposed to the use of the word “priest,” and a theological one, opposed to the idea that the New Covenant of Christ has any need of a “priesthood” akin to that of the Old Covenant. Regarding the first point, I will show that the use of the word “priest” in English to describe the ministers of the Christian New Covenant is entirely appropriate, and the use of that same word to also describe ministers of the Jewish Old Covenant is mostly the result of a linguistic accident. I will address the second point in another post.

I. The Words of Scripture

A. “Presbyters”

Eugene and Macarius, presbyters and martyrs

From an icon of Eugene and Macarius, presbyters and martyrs at Antioch (Wikimedia).

As any student of the New Testament knows, St. Paul instructs us in Scripture, according to most modern Bible translations in English, about the ministry of elders and overseers. There is no mention at all in many recent translations of “priests” or “bishops” — leading Protestant readers especially to presume that the Catholic priesthood has no basis in Scripture, and stems only from “traditions of men.” In this case, though, the titles used in English in the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches are primarily an etymological tradition (handed down by language and words) that does have a very firm basis in Scripture.

Modern Bible translations are correct in their translations of the original meanings of the Greek words used in the New Testament. The Greek word translated “elder” is πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros], and in Classical Greek, it literally refers to an elder or older man. Likewise, the word translated “overseer” is ἐπίσκοπος [episkopos], meaning literally one who sees (skopos = Latin scopus) over (epi) others. These two offices were apparently more or less equivalent in practical biblical usage (cf. e.g. Titus 1:3, 5).

St. Timothy.

St. Timothy.

But almost immediately upon their introduction, these terms came to have meanings apart from their literal senses and apart from the literal interpretation of Scripture, referring specifically to the offices which they named in the developing Christian Church. Timothy, the recipient of Paul’s epistles, by all appearances was an elder or overseer, exercising the duties appointed to those offices (e.g. 1 Timothy 1:11-16, 4:17) and having the authority to appoint both (1 Timothy 3) — and yet Timothy was not an “older man” at all, but one to whom Paul exhorted, “Let no one despise you because of your youth” (1 Timothy 4:12). Ignatius of Antioch, writing in circa A.D. 107, commended an overseer who was likewise not an “older man” (Epistle to the Magnesians III). The office of presbyter, then, was not exclusively limited to “older men,” and came to mean more than the literal meaning of the Greek; and that word continued to be used, even when a younger man held the office.

The fact that the Christian office took on a different meaning than its literal Greek etymology is also evident in the fact that when the New Testament was translated into Latin, and when early Christian writers of the West wrote of Christian ministers, the Greek word πρεσβύτεροι [presbyteroi] was transliterated, copied directly into the Latin as presbyter, and not translated: “older men” in Latin would have been seniores (the word used in other locations of the New Testament where an older man is clearly meant, e.g. Matthew 27:1).

B. “Cohenim,” “Hiereis,” and “Sacerdotes”

cohen

We now turn to those Jewish religious officials in the Bible who are today generally translated into English as “priests.” The Old Testament Hebrew word for the ministers of the Old Covenant is כֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים [kō·hēn·īm or cohenim], singular כֹּהֵן [kō·hēn or cohen]. Despite the fact that the word “priest” originates from the New Testament presbyter, and that that word has no immediate, etymological connection to the ministry of the Old Covenant — these Hebrew ministers came to be called “priests” in English, and in fact there is no other word in English that can adequately be applied to them or what they did.

The same Hebrew word cohenim was used to describe Egyptian religious ministers (Genesis 41:45) and ministers of Baal (2 Kings 10:19), Chemosh (Jeremiah 48:7), and others. So it appears that even in Hebrew the word was a generic term for what a minister did, his role and relationship to a divine cult, and not anything specific to the Hebrew God or covenant. It is fitting, then, that when the Hebrew ministers were described in other languages, they were likewise described with those languages’ words for a sacrificing religious minister.

James Tissot, The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together

James Tissot, The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together (c. 1890) (Wikimedia).

In the Greek New Testament, when the Jewish religious officials are described in the Gospels, or when Jesus is called our “high priest,” the Greek word used is ἱερεύς [hiereus], plural ἱερεῖς [hiereis], from ἱερός [hieros], hallowed or holy [cf. English hieroglyphics, “holy symbols”]: meaning a minister in the cult of a god, especially a minister who makes sacrifices. It is the same word used in Greek for the ministers of the pagan Greek religion. In the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, the cohenim of the Old Covenant were likewise translated as hiereis.

Likewise, when the Christian Bible was translated into Latin, and when the Old Testament was described by the Latin Fathers of the Church, the ministers of the Old Covenant (Hebrew cohenim or Greek hiereis) were translated as sacerdotes [singular sacerdos], literally those who make holy gifts [sacer (holy or sacred) + dos (gift)]. It is the word used in Latin for the ministers of the Roman religion as well as the Greek religion and other similar religious officials.

So in the earliest writings of the Hebrews, the ministers of the Old Covenant did not have a distinct, unique word applied to them. The Hebrew word כֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים [cohenim] was a generic word for a sacrificing religious minister to any god. Accordingly, this word was translated into Greek and Latin with those languages’ words for sacrificing religious ministers, ἱερεῖς [hiereis] in Greek and sacerdotes in Latin. These words cohenim, hiereis, and sacerdotes have no essential connection to the Greek word πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros], originally denoting an older man but in Christian usage coming to refer to the office of presbyter, a presiding elder at a local church.

II. Words in Time

A. “Priests”

The Venerable Bede translating John

The Venerable Bede translating John. Bede was contemporary with these linguistic developments in English.

How, then, did presbyters come to be known as “priests” in English? It is important to note that the English language first developed (as Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons) in the Christian era, only after the Anglo-Saxons had been Christianized in the seventh century A.D. That being the case, our historical evidence of the English language has no surviving indigenous terms (that I’ve been able to discover) for religious ministers.

Thus from the very beginning in English, Christian ministers — the presbyters of the New Testament — became known as prēostas (priests) — the term simply being adopted from Latin biblical and ecclesiastical language. The term bisceop (bishop) was likewise simply adopted from the Latin episcopus (Greek ἐπίσκοπος). On the other hand, Old English adopted the word sacerd (plural sacerdas), from Latin sacerdos, to refer to the priests of the Old Covenant, and in fact as a generic word for any priest (as sacerdos is in Latin). Jewish and pagan ministers were also sometimes called bisceopas (bishops) in Old English. Only Christian ministers were thus originally known as priests in English, and Jewish and other ministers called something different. From the very earliest English manuscripts, there was some overlap in the use of the word bishop.

By the Middle English period (post-Norman conquest), however, the word sacerd had fallen into disuse, and prēost became the generic term for any religious minister. This is the term that came to be used to describe Christian ministers, pre-Christian pagan ministers, Jewish ministers, and Greek and Roman ministers, and any other religious office. Because ministers in their adopted Christian religion were called “presbyters,” it is from this term that the Anglo-Saxon people eventually adopted the word for all religious ministers. Historical linguists are uncertain how exactly the Greek and Latin word presbyter phonologically evolved into the Anglo-Saxon prēost. Perhaps, the Oxford English Dictionary suggests, a late Latin form of presbyter was prebester, leading to prēost and similar developments in other Germanic languages. It is also uncertain why the generic term sacerd was lost.

So rather than the Catholic Church “inventing” the idea that New Testament Christian ministers were priests in analogue to the Old Testament priesthood, quite the opposite happened: The English language, developing around the Christian religion, called Christian ministers priests first. The cohenim, the priests of the Old Covenant, came also to be called priests only after the Christian ministers, because they were seen to be analogous to Christian priests, not the other way around.

So we find, for example, that when John Wycliffe made the first complete translation of the whole Bible into English, in the late 14th century, he translated the ministers of both the New Testament and the Old Testament as priests:

For cause of this thing Y lefte thee at Crete, that thou amende tho thingis that failen, and ordeyne preestis bi citees, as also Y disposide to thee. (Titus 1:5)

And the preest schal brenne tho on the auter, in to the fedyng of fier, and of the offryng to the Lord. (Leviticus 3:11)

John Wycliffe

John Wycliffe.

Even Wycliffe, a proto-Protestant, understood the ministers of the New Testament to be rightly called priests, and the Latin word presbyter he was translating to be the root of the English word priest. Wycliffe, too, translated the ministers of the Old Testament — sacerdotes in the Latin — as priests in English. As tempting as it is to pin this coincidence on Wycliffe, it is unclear how much influence Wycliffe’s translation had on later translators. His translation choices probably reflected the common usage of his day: the ministers of both the Old and New Testaments were called priests. (Wycliffe also retained the traditional English translation of bishop for episcopus.)

The original meaning of the Greek πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros] as “elder” had thus been lost in translation: but then again, the identity of the Christian presbyter as an “older man” had ceased to be essential to the office almost as soon as it originated (see I.A.3 above). Early English speakers, and the earliest translators of Scripture into English, likewise saw the office of “priest” as distinct from its etymology.

B. “Elders”

With the coming of the Renaissance and eventually the Protestant Reformation, there was a renewed interest in the original texts and languages of the Scriptures. In the early sixteenth century, the first polyglot editions of the Scriptures, including the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic texts, were printed. This paved the way for the work of William Tyndale and other Englishmen who translated the Scriptures directly from their original languages into English.

William Tyndale

William Tyndale.

Tyndale, translating the New Testament into English from the original Greek, translated πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros] according to the literal meaning of the Greek: he translated it elder. But not even Tyndale objected to calling these Christian officers priests. Tyndale, in fact, makes an essential connection between the elders of the Old Covenant and the elders (presbyters) of the New Covenant:

In the Old Testament the temporal heads and rulers of the Jews which had the governance over the lay or common people are called elders, as ye may see in the four evangelists. Out of which custom Paul in his pistel and also Peter, call the prelates and spiritual governors which are bishops and priests, elders. Now whether ye call them elders or priests, it is to me all one: so that ye understand that they be officers and servants of the word of God, unto the which all men both high and low that will not rebel against Christ, must obey as long as they preach and rule truly and no longer. (“W.T. unto the Reader,” preface to 1534 edition of New Testament)

The fact that ministers in the Anglican Church continued to be called priests indicates that English-speakers at the time of the English Reformation saw no disconnect between the words presbyter and priest — in fact probably recognizing their essential and etymological connection.

In the Old Testament, Tyndale likewise translated the word כֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים [cohenim] as priest. By the 1530s, there was simply no other word in English to capture the meaning. As the English language developed, priest had become the word for any religious minister, especially one who sacrifices, thus becoming synonymous with the Latin sacerdos.

(Tyndale, on the other hand, retained the traditional English translation of bishop for ἐπίσκοπος [episkopos], as does the King James Bible — leading to a generally greater acceptance of that term among Protestants.)

The heirs to Tyndale’s translation, including the King James Bible and every major English translation since (including most Catholic ones) have translated the word πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros] as elder. There is certainly a element of reaction and even rebellion in some Protestant translations, particularly in more recent ones: a conscious rejection of the idea of a New Testament ministerial priesthood. It is worth noting that they translate the words πρεσβύτερος and ἐπίσκοπος [episkopos] according to their literal, primitive meanings as elder and overseer, but not the word διάκονος [diaokonos], which is rendered not by its literal meaning of servant but by the traditional deacon in most English translations. This acknowledges that the word diakonos here has taken on an additional and traditional meaning, referring to the Christian office, more than its literal meaning of servant. Why not, then, leave the other offices to their traditional renderings as priest and bishop — which likewise have taken on additional, traditional meanings more than elder and overseer? The reaction seems particularly pronounced for the word priest, given that the same word is now applied to the Old Testament priesthood, and there is an understandable effort to make a distinction between the two.

Over time, as the English language continued to evolve, the etymological connection between presbyter and priest was lost and forgotten — such that I was taken aback to learn of it as I was becoming Catholic, just as many others are.

Conclusion

Pope Francis at Mass

Pope Francis at Mass.

The premise — which I myself held once — that to call the Christian ministers of the New Testament “priests” is an innovation not supported by Scripture — is false on its face. Stemming directly from the word in the original Greek, πρεσβύτερος [presbyteros] or presbyter, the word “priest” was the original term for Christian ministers in English and a perfectly appropriate one. The ministers of the Old Testament — כֹּ֣הֲנִ֔ים [cohenim] in Hebrew — were originally called sacerdas (after Latin sacerdos) in Old English, and only in time, as an analogy to Christian priests, came to be called priests in English also.

It should be noted, too, that equating the priests of the Old and New Covenants with a single word is not endemic to Catholicism but only to English and other Germanic languages (though French, with Germanic influence, seems to do the same). In several of the Romance languages (Spanish and Italian notably), the words for priest used in Catholic teaching are still more obvious cognates to presbyter (presbítero and presbitero respectively) — while those languages still refer to priests of the Old Covenant as sacerdotes and sacerdoti. In those languages, Christian priests can also be called sacerdotes in analogue to priests of the Old Covenant.

This reflects another development that took place long before even the development of the English language, that no doubt contributed to the ministers of both the Old and New Covenants being called priests in English: Even in Greek and Latin, Christian ministers came sometimes to be referred to as ἱερεῖς [hiereis] or sacerdotes. This appellation, which can be found in some of the very earliest Christian writers such as Tertullian, Cyprian, and Cyril, was primarily by analogy: Christian priests were like the cohenim of the Old Testament in their ministry toward God and His people, adminstering Jesus’s work as our high priest (ἀρχιερεύς [archiereus]) to the Christian flock. In this sense, priests became synonymous with sacerdotes first in Greek and Latin — paving the way for them to become synonymous in English.

And this begs the question, and the second point of the Protestant charge: Is there any analogue between the priests of the New Covenant and the cohenim of the Old Covenant? Is the priesthood of the Church a sacrificing priesthood, as the Old Testament priesthood certainly was and as the Greek term ἱερεῖς [hiereis] and Latin term sacerdotes understand? Were the Church Fathers correct in applying this analogy, and is there any merit to referring to the priests of the Old and New Covenants by the same term, as we do in English? Or were the Protestants correct to stress the distinction between the two orders? How did the early presbyteri of the Church themselves understand their role? I will strive to address these questions in my next post, so don’t go away!

31 thoughts on “How Both New Testament “Presbyters” and Old Testament “Cohenim” Became “Priests” in English

  1. This is the kind of stuff that fascinates me! I’d wondered before where the English word “priest” came from, but never did the research. This shows that translation and the evolution of language is a tricky thing. Now I have to look up for myself why some groups use bishop. elder, deacon, presbyter, priest, elder, and pastor for different groups of people, often with the same office.

    I’m always surprised at the Protestant arguments you’ve come up against. Maybe it’s because I’m in a tradition that has strong Roman Catholic roots, but I rarely hear these. I’ve heard arguments that the Roman Catholic priesthood is an evolution of the New Testament office (and not always in a good way), but I find it astounding that anyone could argue that the New Testament doesn’t have the concept of offices of ministry, given the blatant evidence and use of overseers, elders, and helpers/servants/workers.

    • You, “find it astounding that anyone could argue that the New Testament doesn’t have the concept of offices of ministry?”

      No Protestant who knows his BIble ever argued any such thing, so you are certainly over-exaggerating to cast a black cloud over Protestant objections to buttress the supposed “light” of Catholic truth.

    • Thanks, Ken, for the interest and the support. 🙂 I should perhaps add a few more lines to the article about bishops.

      The arguments I hear from Evangelicals often follow the lines that the Catholic Church is a break from Christianity entirely and that the Catholic priesthood is somehow an accretion from pagan religion. They say — in an extreme acquisition of Luther’s “priesthood of all believers” — that all Christians have exactly the same rank and calling and that there is no such thing as a ministerial order. I’m actually glad when people bring objections, like the recent commenter (a self-proclaimed “former Catholic”), since it is food for thought and fodder for research and thoughtful articles.

      God bless you and His peace be with you!

  2. A very informative post! I’m impressed by your research. I guess I know who to call for reinforcements in a pinch when explaining the Catholic faith!

    God bless. Keep up the good work.

    -Ben

      • I disagree most strongly about the value of this article. It fails on numerous counts, not the least of which is mentioning how Tyndale and Wycliffe did not raise the roof about the word “priest”. So what? Does this prove Roman Catholic claims regarding a sacerdotal, sacrificing priesthood? Certainly not.
        Neither of those two gents bowed their knee to a Catholic “priesthood”, so it is disingenuous at best, outright dishonest at worst, for this author to synchronize T & W into his apologetic. T & W well knew that in a book replete with sacrificial terminology, Hebrews never once makes the connection between “sacrifice” or “priesthood” with the Eucharist. Therefore, we simply do not NEED the RC priesthood!
        The crucial data missing from this on-line sermon is what the RC priesthood is advocating; namely, the calling down of their “jesus” from heaven to be “physically” compartmentalized into the form of an Oreo cookie — for reasons I won’t go into here. Suffice to say that the Lord Jesus Christ stated over 10 times that His physical presence was “going away”, and there are no less than 21 references to He now being seated at the right hand of God. Consequently, His present ***physical*** location is no secret…(i.e., HEAVEN) but He has at the same time, gloriously promised to be with us via the indwelling Spirit of Christ in our hearts ***by FAITH*** (Gal 4:6, Eph 3:17).
        Hence, since Scripture is utterly silent as to the office of a sacerdotal, sacrificing priesthood with the ability to command the physical body of Christ to come down from His throne 24/7 on Catholic altars world-wide, you may well understand why non-Catholics everywhere simply will not tolerate this fantasy in light of the evidence so firmly planted against it.

        • Whoa, cool down, brother. I didn’t even make any of the claims you are railing against. This article is about etymology. If you don’t find that interesting, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Peace be with you — I think you might need it. Thanks for the comment, and God bless you.

          • “I didn’t even make any of the claims you are railing against.”

            Response: Not explicitly; however you began your article with the intention to squash the idea that, “there is no biblical basis for the New Testament priesthood.”
            I merely cut to the chase by addressing the ramifications you were trying to make via etymology in condoning the ***validity*** of the RC priesthood.
            Hebrews 7:11-24 makes clear that the human priesthood of the O.T. has been abolished and is now obsolete (8:13). Common sense dictates that if there were a new one, the book of Hebrews would have been the ideal place to form the argument. Instead, we are told that the old has been replaced with the priesthood of Jesus Christ, who holds His priesthood “permanently” (7:24). The word “permanently” is the Greek word “aparabatos”, which means “unchangeable, not liable to pass to a successor” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon).
            Thus, Jesus could not and would not have instituted a human priesthood via the disciples, for we are told that He exercises an exclusive priesthood forever. It cannot be shared by or transferred to anyone else.

          • Trevor, thanks again for the comments. You are quite right, I do believe the New Testament priesthood to be a real and valid concept, as most of Christian tradition has understood it. That is the trajectory in which I am directing my arguments. But as you acknowledge, you are jumping ahead. I suggest you should wait and address the arguments I actually make, rather than getting all riled up beforehand. This article is about etymology, about the appropriateness of the term “priest” as applied to ministers of the New Covenant. Do you have any objections to this article or thesis?

            To briefly address the evidence you cite here: Hebrews 8:13, referring to the author’s quotations of prophecy, states that the Old Covenant is “becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” But just as firmly he says — as Jesus Himself declared (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25) — that God has established a New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13, etc.), Jesus being the mediator of it (Hebrews 9:15) and our high priest (Hebrews 6:20). All of this is evident and acknowledged. Now, your arguments presume that Catholics claim (or that I claim) that the service of priests (presbyters) in the New Covenant is somehow equal or equivalent to the high priesthood of Jesus, or that the priests of the New Covenant are somehow “successors” to Jesus, or that His priesthood is somehow “shared” or “transferred” to others. I have not and would not make this argument or anything approaching it. Jesus’s role as our high priest is unique and exclusive: there can be no other, is no need for another, and is no need for any other sacrifice for sins than His once and for all sacrifice on Calvary (Hebrews 10:12, etc.). I accept and agree with this argument.

            You acknowledge, apparently, that the New Testament does provide for an official Christian ministry, especially in the offices of bishop, priest, and deacon. Just because there is no need for a Christian minister to do again what Jesus did (and only He could do) does not mean that there is no need for a Christian minister. What would you say are the roles of a Christian minister? At the barest minimum, we are told, he should shepherd the flock of God, exercising oversight and serving as an example (1 Peter 5:2-3); command and teach the doctrine of the faith (1 Timothy 4:11, Titus 2:1, etc); and keep watch over the souls of the faithful as men who will have to give an account (Hebrews 13:17). Already — before I even begin to approach the Eucharist or the Sacraments — we see the outlines of an order of shepherds (cf. Jeremiah 3:15, etc.) in service to Jesus and the New Covenant of God. Is an order of ordained ministers in the service of the New Covenant not already analogous, on some level, to the order of ministers in the service of the Old Covenant? St. Paul certainly seemed to think so: “[God] has made us competent as ministers (διάκονοι [diakonoi]) of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:6). “Because of the grace given me by God, [I am] a minister (λειτουργός, [leitourgos], cf. Hebrews 8:2) of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service (ἱερουργοῦντα [hierourgounta], literally serving as a priest, i.e. sacerdos) of the gospel of God, so that the offering (προσφορά [prosphora], cf. Hebrews 10:5, 10) of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:16). This is, in explicit and literal terms, the language of priestly service and sacrifice. It is more than the “shadow of an allusion.”

            God bless you, brother, and His peace be with you.

        • I find the etymological history of the English word ‘priest’ fascinating, as I find the history of most words fascinating.

          That said, as I’m sure will come out when Joseph posts the second post he intends, he and I will probably very strongly disagree on what a priest is and does. Lutherans and Roman Catholics do not think the same way about priesthood and the office(s) of ministry.

          • “Lutherans and Roman Catholics do not think the same way about priesthood and the office(s) of ministry.”

            Response: Correct. But one wonders if you think these things “weigh heavily on the conscience of God”, or do you merely think He’ll save both Lutherans and Catholics together with a rose in-between His teeth saying the differences don’t matter and we’re all going to heaven?
            Being Reformed, I say they doooo matter and the consequences are the difference between eternal life and death. If we take the Lord seriously, we cannot but say that there is not anywhere in the N.T, the shadow of an allusion to a Christian priest in the ordinary sense of the word; namely that of a man qualified as over against others not qualified for the special function of offering sacrifices, making priestly intercessions, or performing any other act which only a “priest” can perform.

  3. Joseph,

    I have been awol for a couple years, and haven’t written anything. However, I still receive your blog posts. This one spurred me to respond. While there is quite a few interesting things. You have missed it.

    It would take a very long response and I’m not sure how to accomplish it. But, presbyter is not short for priest.

    In the Pirkei Avot, it states there there are 3 domains of authority in the Old Testament. The Keter Malkhut, the keter Torah, and the Keter Kehunah. The Keter Kehunah is the priestly domain. ( When a priest becomes a Bishop, they also take on the authoritative domain of the Keter Torah, or a teaching domain)

    You had it right about the chief priest, (Hiereus) We get the word Hierarchy ( priestly rule or priestly governance) from it. These domains of authority have been used to see how they ebbed and flowed, or related to each other throughout the Old Testament (covenant)

    Presbyter can be in the realm of the Keter Malkhut, or priesthood.

    We are a royal priesthood. The curtain was rent in the Tabernacle and not disposed of. As part of the priesthood, we can now enter in ot the Holy Place. The average Israelite could not. Priests partook of the sacrifice. They ate the lamb. Now, as lay priests, we eat the lamb, when before we couldn’t.

    A Presbyter was an (elder in the Lord, or elder in the ways of the Kingdom) who could officiate the “goings on”. He was educated in the ways of the New Testament Tabernacle. “The Altar in which they have no right to eat” (Hebrews)

    They were elders in the royal priesthood of believers who were entrusted in facilitating the “Heavenly Gift” where “2 or more are gathered”

    Bishops were always people who had taken on a bigger role that included Keter Torah, a teaching authority. The Apostles and their entrusted disciples appointed these servants and left instructions.

    Presbyters did become what we call priests today, but it’s not a straight forward lingual transliteration. However, there is some Occam’s razor going on.

    There’s much more but I tried to keep it short.

    Have a blessed day

    • Patrick, thanks. This is very helpful. Your comment adds another, important dimension, the Jewish context. My article only approached (and only attempted to approach) from the angle of the etymology of the word “priest” in English. Do you know of any scholars who explore the connections you’ve demonstrated here, anything additional I could read? God bless you, and His peace be with you!

      • Yes, I do. I would be glad to share with you..I spent 7 years studying the Old Testament that began in Judges and went both directions. I wanted to know the church that would emerge from it.

        That’s when my wife and I converted. I finished a book on the subject and sent a transcript to someone who was working with me. I didn’t want it to be a Catholic Apologetic book per se.

        I got frustrated and let it lay, much to my wife’s chagrin. I began a rewrite and look for it to be published soon I have now started a similar styled book on the everlasting and conditional covenants of the Old Testament. It includes the transcendent seed of Galatians. What does that look like today?

        Anyhow, enough about me. I have always enjoyed your insight and style. I would be glad to send you many of my references, but as I await my book, I would like to keep it off of the blog.

        Best, patrick

  4. From your note to me on 8/9 (it did not contain a “reply” button….)

    You: Trevor, thanks again for the comments. You are quite right, I do believe the New Testament priesthood to be a real and valid concept, as most of Christian tradition has understood it. That is the trajectory in which I am directing my arguments. But as you acknowledge, you are jumping ahead.
    I suggest you should wait and address the arguments I actually make, rather than getting all riled up beforehand.

    Me: I can accept that suggestion, but I may fall short of it in this response; however I ammmm generally addressing what you have to say.

    You: This article is about etymology, about the appropriateness of the term “priest” as applied to ministers of the New Covenant. Do you have any objections to this article or thesis?

    Me: Yes. First, No Christian has any problem with the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Second, very simply, those who have been set apart within the church are clearly named: “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11 & 1 Cor 12:28). No mention of priests whatsoever, which immediately casts a black cloud pretty much over everything you say. Third, you state, “Protestant Christians are left to question why the New Testament ministry is even called a “priesthood”
    Answer: We are certainly not left to wonder…if you would have only been honest (or had known) that we recognize that it is common enough in the N.T. to represent all Christians as FIGURATIVE priests (!)…in the sense of persons who have been consecrated and are habitually engaged in divine service. We ***resemble*** the former in their literal sacrifices, but are now, a “holy priesthood” engaged in presenting to God SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES (i.e., the sacrifice of our bodies per Romans 6:13, 12:1; the sacrifice of praise per Hebrews 13:15, Eph 5:19; and the sacrifice of service per 1 Peter 2:5, Phil 4;18, Heb 13:16, James 1:27).
    You then ask: “Is an order of ordained ministers in the service of the New Covenant not already analogous, on some level, to the order of ministers in the service of the Old Covenant?”
    Answer: But of course! Nevertheless, we part company when we hear the Council of Trent say, like fingernails on a chalkboard…

    “And if any one affirm, that all Christians indiscriminately are priests of the New Testament, or that they are all mutually endowed with an equal spiritual power, he clearly does nothing but confound the ecclesiastical hierarchy…”
    (Chapter 4)

    http://www.thecounciloftrent.com/ch23.htm

    On the contrary, we do NOT confound any such thing by admitting as much, since the N.T. does not mandate an “ecclesiastical hierarchy situated in Rome, Italy even to begin with! Common sense dictates that if this ws the game-plan, it would have been told to us, especially in the book of ***ROMANS***. But it was not.

    You: To briefly address the evidence you cite here: Hebrews 8:13, referring to the author’s quotations of prophecy, states that the Old Covenant is “becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” But just as firmly he says — as Jesus Himself declared (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25) — that God has established a New Covenant (Hebrews 8:13, etc.), Jesus being the mediator of it (Hebrews 9:15) and our high priest (Hebrews 6:20). All of this is evident and acknowledged.

    Me: Correct. But my problem with Catholics is that they have hopped into their popemobile and shamefully accelerated past the speed limit, driving straight through the guardrails of Scripture and over the cliff into an ocean of “tradition”, which, at the end of the day, nullifies the gospel and the glistening merits of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    You: Now, your arguments presume that Catholics claim (or that I claim) that the service of priests (presbyters) in the New Covenant is somehow
    equal or equivalent to the high priesthood of Jesus, or that the priests of the New Covenant are somehow “successors” to Jesus, or that His priesthood is somehow “shared” or “transferred” to others.

    Me; While I did report that the priesthood of Christ is non-transferrable, it was to underline the exclusivity of that role as mediator between God and man…something only He can do (and which mediation was only a shadow of the doings of the O.T. priests). Ergo, because the O.T. system was abolished, it is simply unthinkable that Jesus waved His magic wand and ordained the apostles a NEW breed of mediation, namely, “Catholic PRIESTS” at the Last Supper, with the power to consecrate and offer His body and blood in the Sacrifice of the Mass! (see Trent, Session 22, canon 2, & Fr. Hardon, Q & A Catechism #1466). Certainly no etymology will ever support such a ruinous addition to the gospel accounts, simply because there is not one recorded word of Christ saying any such thing.

    You: I have not and would not make this argument or anything approaching it. Jesus’s role as our high priest is unique and exclusive: there can be no other, is no need for another, and is no need for any other sacrifice for sins than His once and for all sacrifice on Calvary (Hebrews 10:12, etc.).

    Me: If you really believed that there is no need for any other sacrifice, you would not be attending Mass! Hence, I find your statement disingenuous because the vocabulary used by councils and that RC dicta spewed forth by Rome’s scholars everywhere, convey a ***continuing*** sacrifice, and that is why we judge RC belief and practice to be in contempt of the Bible. The Council of Trent says that in the Mass there is a “true sacrifice which is propitiatory for sin”. And Jesuit scholar J. Hardon says, “In the Mass, no less than on Calvary, Jesus really offers His life to His heavenly Father…” (Q & A Catechism).
    So much for your thought that “there can be no other sacrifice”. The book of Hebrews completely disavows any such “continuation” theology!
    Oh I know what you’re thinking. The RCC is well aware of what Hebrews says, and indeed they are. But how to get around the clear-cut FINALITY of Calvary’s cross? The solution was to declare that while there is technically no other sacrifice, what happens at Mass is merely, (watch it now!)….the “same” sacrifice (CCC #1365, 1367).
    Huh?
    We consider this retort convoluted nonsense and a trick of the devil. The book of Hebrews, steadfastly proclaims that Christ does not now offer Himself “OFTEN”. That being so, we cannot unite with Rome which says on the other hand that, “As OFTEN as the sacrifice of the cross by which Christ has been sacrificed is celebrated on the altar, the work of our redemption is carried out.” (#1364).

    • Trevor, We see your zeal.

      First, My wife and I were Protestants for a long time. We were in church leadership. We converted though the study of the KJV. We had small group study in our home every week.

      I believe Joseph, as do I, knows Scripture quite well. Are you trying to overwhelm the situation with all these quotes? If you would like to discuss something point by point, that’s fine. But, do you think the sheer volume somehow…..does what?

      The Pharisee scoffed at Jesus’ healing of a blind man . IIRC. And, Christ told them they blaspheming the Holy Spirit and would not be saved. I have read your posts. Hmm. The Pharisees believed they were doing the right thing. So, do you.

      Take it step by step. It is the Catholic Church. There are 24 rites and IIRC now 25, with the Anglican Rite. There were more, some became absorbed by others.

      Rome was the center of the known Civilization at the time. God moved the center of Christianity from the center of Judea. A sign from Jews and Gentiles alike. ” For God so loved the world” “Go and make disciples…”

      Isaiah 9:6 Christ establishes, leads, guides, and expands the government of the Church. Do you trust the Christ? Why are you mad at Him? Do you think He hasn’t done a very good job?

      Your council of Trent quote……the operative phrase is….”of equal spiritual power” Which means to administer the gifts for God…the sacraments.etc Everyone doesn’t.

      Will be glad to help you on your journey into the Church, just slow down and take it one step at a time.

      Be glad to discuss the 5- fold ministry with you…etc.To be fair, where are these offices continued to be appointed? Bishops, Priests, and deacons were. Christ the king, His chief servant, and His court. He located them in Rome.

      Christ never wrote anything…He never commanded it…the Catholic Apostles wrote as moved by the Holy Spirit and the Church, guided by the same Holy Spirit, determined the Canon some 400 years later.

      Oh and about the Oreo….was that what you called it.?

      I would be worried about the same thing the pharisees needed to be worried about…..I have also mocked Catholics in my life, I’ve done the same thing…enjoy the ride… hope we can help.

      best, Patrick

      • Patrick,

        “You say: I have read your posts. Hmm. The Pharisees believed they were doing the right thing. So, do you.”

        Me: I trust you realize that this Pharisaical observation does not prove one blessed thing, and as a matter of fact, I can simply turn it right around and tell you likewise.

        You say: “I believe Joseph, as do I, knows Scripture quite well.”

        Me: On the contrary, I sense the confidence you have placed in yourself is misguided.

        You: Are you trying to overwhelm the situation with all these quotes? … do you think the sheer volume somehow…..does what?

        Me: If I happen to be a bit verbose, I will let God be my judge, as well as the moderator of this website, who, if he insists I limit my replies to 10 sentences, I will have no choice but to submit. Nevertheless, I feel that since I am not paying you any compliment by disputing your self-confidence on the Bible, I had better be able to back it up. It would be fair to say you would call me a fool if I just hit and run.

        You: “The Pharisee scoffed at Jesus’ healing of a blind man…and Christ told them they were blaspheming the Holy Spirit and would not be saved.”

        Me: To be honest, myyyyyyy self-confidence in the Bible alerted me that your statement was technically inaccurate, and is, by the way, one reason why God Almighty has not chosen “tradition” viva voce as any mode of authority. God’s word is a rock; men “playing telephone” down thru the ages are apt to get it WRONG. Still, since none of us are walking Bibles, so I hoisted myself up off my easy chair and checked out the blind man episode. Consequently, I am happy to report that I’m smarter than I look! Christ never said any such “blaspheming thing” relating to the Pharisees in that chapter; neither did He tell them they would be unsaved.
        Thus, since I see from your other post you are writing a book, I strongly advise getting a perceptive Protestant to read it over to at least check for accuracy.

        You say: “Christ never wrote anything…He never commanded it”

        Me: And your point? This once again does not prove anything. We certainly know that Jesus could read and write, but His reasons for not ACTUALLY picking up a pen, are unknown to everyone on this earth, so it would be foolish to speculate His exact reasons for vouchsafing the penmenship to others.
        In any case, Jesus is the WORD of God, and we repeatedly read instructions to “write it in a book” throughout the O.T. and in Revelation. His promise for the Spirit to bring to the disciple’s mind all He said after His departure, certainly indicates the demand for a written record to detail the prophecies about Him coming to fruition.

        You: “…the Catholic Apostles wrote as moved by the Holy Spirit and the Church, guided by the same Holy Spirit, determined the Canon some 400 years later.

        Me: To begin with, the book of Acts reports that they were “first called Christians at Antioch”– (not Catholics!) so this is a deceitful anachronistic trick. As to the claim that something special happened circa 400 via the Holy Spirit; I must once again warn you for the need of a proof-reader familiar with Scripture and history— because quite frankly, if you include such sloppy statements in your book (and worse, attribute them to the Holy Spirit!) you will be laughed out of town. Simple truths like the following, which contradict you, may be found on-line in the blink of an eye: We read…

        “Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, on Jan. 7, A.D. 367, wrote his annual Easter letter to his churches. It was a landmark letter because it contained the same list of 27 books of the New Testament that are found in our Bibles today. So far as we know, Athanasius was the first Christian leader to compile a list of New Testament books exactly as we know them today. Bruce Metzger, a New Testament scholar, wrote, “The year 367 marks, thus, the first time that the scope of the New Testament canon is declared to be exactly the twenty-seven books accepted today as canonical.”
        Hence, your insinuation that Carthage and Hippo circa 400 were declaring something that had not heretofore been known, is pure ignorance. Of course, they had every right to declare anything they wanted, but it was NOT a milestone in history ***inspired*** by the Holy Spirit.
        May I remind you that the consensus of the Eastern church in 367 was 26 years ***BEFORE*** Hippo??? And did you know that during this period, the Western (Roman) church accepted a canon that did NOT include Hebrews? Where, pray tell, was the Holy Spirit THEN? Eventually, they followed the EAST in including it! This may be confirmed in the Catholic Encyclopedia located at Newadvent.com. We read…

        “In this formative period the Epistle to the Hebrews did not obtain a firm footing in the Canon of the Universal Church. At Rome it was not yet recognized as canonical…”

        Apparently, the Holy Spirit was asleep at the switches.
        Therefore, far from making an infallible decision at Hippo and Carthage as you infer, the Roman church relied upon the EASTERN church, which does not claim infallibility for her canon—- and even then

        “The decision (on the Canon) was not given until rather late in the history of the church, ***at the Council of Trent***. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the ***uncertainty*** that persisted up to the time of Trent.” (Section on “The Canon”).

        Furthermore, to drive my point home and to clinch my argument that you and your wife have been hoodwinked by Catholic claims, St. Augustine presided at both councils. Note that he mentions ***his*** criteria below for determining which scriptures ought to receive the highest place. This was written ***prior*** to the determination of the agreed upon canon. Apparently the supreme authority of the pope or his local church was not the most important factor in Augustine’s mind. He mentions that the unanimous view of all the churches ought to rule supreme. And if there was a majority of churches of the same opinion regarding the value of a scripture, this held equal weight to a ***minority*** of churches of high authority with a different opinion! It doesn’t sound like papal authority existed in any substantial form, now does it?

        On Christian Doctrine, In Four Books by St. Augustine
        Book II Chapter 8 (Paragraph 12)…We read…

        “…Now, in regard to the canonical Scriptures, he must follow the judgment of the greater number of catholic churches; and among these, of course, a high place must be given to such as have been thought worthy to be the seat of an apostle and to receive epistles. Accordingly, among the canonical Scriptures he will judge according to the following standard: to prefer those that are received by all the catholic churches to those which some do not receive. Among those, again, which are not received by all, he will prefer such as have the sanction of the greater number and those of greater authority, to such as are held by the smaller number and those of less authority. If, however, he shall find that some books are held by the greater number of churches, and others by the churches of greater authority (though this is not a very likely thing to happen), I think that in such a case the authority on the two sides is to be looked upon as ***equal***.

        Certainly, there was nothing “infallible” going on at either of those two councils. For Augustine to even pose the possibility that other churches might hold to a different opinion as to canon content, demolishes the idea that anything was “set in stone” for all future generations.

        • Thanks again for your comment, Trevor. I will mostly leave you to your discussion with Patrick, but there were a couple of things I wanted to interject:

          Yes, you are verbose. I am, too. That is not in itself a crime. The thing I ask more than anything else as a moderator is that you strive to keep your comments charitable. You’ve made it very clear that you disagree with Catholic doctrine, passionately and vehemently. That’s fine and good, and I do welcome your comments. But there is really no need to be derisive or insulting. We all love the Lord here, and we love you. You may think we are dead wrong in what we believe about Him (for what it’s worth, I think you are mistaken also), but even so, if we are going to discuss Him, we should honor Him and His Word by doing so with charity and mutual respect. I do believe we can discuss our disagreements without being insulting toward one another’s positions. Accusing others of willful deceit or “pure ignorance” is not charitable or helpful.

          Also, I would ask, probably in futility, that commenters at least try to keep their comments relevant to the post at hand. I don’t think this is really the best place for an extended discussion of the canon of Scripture. But to that, I have a couple of brief things to add:

          Yes, it’s a fact that different Church Fathers and different local councils held slightly different canons of Scripture for many centuries. As the quote you give from Augustine indicates, each local church and bishop set his own canon of what books would be accepted as canonical in his jurisdiction. This situation persisted and was sufficient until shortly before the Protestant Reformation. The necessity of even defining a local canon was only brought on by the proliferation of spurious books by especially Gnostic heretics. Even when these local canons were defined, no opinion of any local church, bishop, or council was held as universal or “infallible”. The infallible definition of a universal canon was simply never seen as necessary at this time.

          As such, the canon offered by Athanasius does not represent any “consensus of the Eastern Church” at all, but only the judgment of the bishop of Alexandria. (As you should know, the Orthodox Churches today accept even wider canons than the Catholic Church.)

          And did you know that during this period [the late 4th century], the Western (Roman) church accepted a canon that did NOT include Hebrews?

          This assertion is simply false, the result of your misreading of the Catholic Encyclopedia article. The “formative period” referred to is the early patristic age of the first and second centuries, as should have been evident by the context: the very same sentence refers to the Muratorian Canon (c. A.D. 170) and Irenaeus (c. A.D. 180), and the next one refers to Clement (c. A.D. 70-95). Speaking of “sloppy”: perhaps you should read more carefully as you are finding “truths” online, especially before you brashly accuse others of dishonesty or ignorance.

          Some additional niggling points: the “Western Church” was not at this point equated with the “Roman Church,” nor was there a single “Western Church” or a single “Eastern Church.” Hippo and Carthage were “Western” but not “Roman.” As stated previously, each local church decided its own canon. Nor does the statement you refer to in the article have anything to do with the “acceptance” of any canon by any church: the Muratorian Canon was simply a statement of one early (anonymous) teacher’s understanding.

          Therefore, far from making an infallible decision at Hippo and Carthage as you infer, the Roman church relied upon the EASTERN church, which does not claim infallibility for her canon…

          I am scratching my head at this and re-reading Patrick’s comment: I can’t tell that he implied anything at all about Hippo or Carthage or even mentioned them. Again, no, the canons decided at Hippo, Carthage, Rome, Alexandria, and other places were not “infallible” nor were they universal. They were only locally understood and locally binding. Nonetheless, each is a valuable evidence for the Church’s developing understanding of the canon.

          And even then — “The decision (on the Canon) was not given until rather late in the history of the church, ***at the Council of Trent***. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the ***uncertainty*** that persisted up to the time of Trent.” (Section on “The Canon”).

          The only references I can find to this quotation are in Protestant articles. It is allegedly a quote from the New Catholic Encyclopedia, not the same article you referenced above at all (from the 1916 Catholic Encyclopedia on New Advent). I do not have access to the New Catholic Encyclopedia (it is not online) and I cannot confirm the accuracy of the quote — but it is mistaken. The first ecumenical council to define a universal canon was the Council of Florence in 1441, not Trent (see DS 1335). Again, the canon was defined in local churches as early as the fourth century onward: the fact that a universal canon was not defined until such a late date is mostly due to there never being a need. In this case, the definition was necessitated by the Catholic Church’s reunion with what is now called the Coptic Catholic Church.

          Apparently the supreme authority of the pope or his local church was not the most important factor in Augustine’s mind.

          No, it wasn’t. The bishop of Rome did not make any “supreme” announcement as to the canon; and his local church was just that, his local church. As Augustine affirms, each local church determined its own canon. Augustine, as bishop of Hippo, was certainly entitled to his own opinions and criteria.

          Certainly, there was nothing “infallible” going on at either of those two councils. For Augustine to even pose the possibility that other churches might hold to a different opinion as to canon content, demolishes the idea that anything was “set in stone” for all future generations.

          No, there wasn’t anything “infallible” at either of these councils. No one claims that there was. Only ecumenical councils, at which the whole body of the Church’s bishops agree on a matter, are considered to have that weight. These councils did not set anything “in stone”: they merely are early testimonies to each local church’s understanding of the canon.

          So, I’m sorry to rain on your triumph, but you haven’t actually “demolished” anything. You seem not to understand what the Catholic Church actually claims about the formation of the scriptural canon. The important thing to note here is that it was the authority of the local bishop that defined the canon for each local church. And when all the bishops agree (especially, as Augustine says, when there is unanimity with regard to a given book, as there was for the great majority of the canonical books), that’s the stuff of certainty.

          Peace and grace be with you. (And no, brevity is clearly not my strong suit, either. 🙂 )

          • Moderator…… But there is really no need to be derisive or insulting.

            T…..As a general rule, yes. But I’m sure you know that in each book of the Bible, we may indeed find God to be derisive, and thus, since we are made in His image, those characteristics will occasionally appear and are not to be despised. They may the very catalyst for one to do further investigation.

            Mod….Accusing others of willful deceit or “pure ignorance” is not charitable or helpful.

            T….Tell that to your first “pope”. Peter said that there were those who are “willfully ignorant” ((2 Peter 3:5). As for Pat, the charge was brought against him because the term “Catholic apostles” is being read BACK INTO the Text, which is unwarranted.

            Mod….Also, I would ask, probably in futility, that commenters at least try to keep their comments relevant to the post at hand. I don’t think this is really the best place for an extended discussion of the canon of Scripture.

            T…. You’re right. I will not hijack this thread on another issue. But since you brought up a few things, I will comment briefly, only so a reader would see that the RC position is by no means air-tight. All of us must be subject to further examination.

            Mod….As the quote you give from Augustine indicates, each local church and bishop set his own canon of what books would be accepted as canonical in his jurisdiction. This situation persisted and was sufficient until shortly before the Protestant Reformation.

            T…..Patrick wrote that, “the Catholic Apostles wrote as moved by the Holy Spirit, and the Church, guided by the same Holy Spirit, determined the Canon some 400 years later.” Catholics usually hit and run with Hippo & Carth, intimating that it was the dawn of a new day. Ergo, because there was no further explanation, my objections were justified.

            Mod….I am scratching my head at this and re-reading Patrick’s comment: I can’t tell that he implied anything at all about Hippo or Carthage or even mentioned them.

            T…..He mentioned them implicity by “400 years later”, and that they “DETERMINED” the canon, certainly implies SOMETHING, does it not? If someone does not explain what they mean, I have the luxury of concluding what I wish. Because Catholics are always arguing in terms of infallibility (something they brought on themselves in 1870) I must labor to vanquish any IMPRESSION of infallibility, and that was the IMPRESSION he left by his “DETERMINATION.”

            Mod…..As such, the canon offered by Athanasius does not represent any “consensus of the Eastern Church” at all, but only the judgment of the bishop of Alexandria.

            T….which Carthage & Hippo just happened to adopt 26 years later and which Catholics are always eager to mention.
            The unspoken principle of this discussion is that Rome opines that non-Catholics are indebted to the RCC for defining the canon. But this is a baseless quip. Jesus and the apostles used terms like, “Scripture says” and “It is written”. I might well ask YOU, “How did THEY know that what they were quoting was Scripture?” There was no council in Israel that declared a “canon”, but J & the Apostolic band KNEW which books comprised the canon, and their audience, including their detractors, were in agreement with them.

            Mod…The first ecumenical council to define a universal canon was the Council of Florence in 1441, not Trent.

            T….. Your readers will have to decide for themselves.
            Under, ***The Canon of the Old Testament in the Catholic Church*** we read

            “The most explicit definition of the Catholic Canon is that given by theCouncil of Trent, Session IV, 1546.”

            And under,

            ***The Old Testament canon (including the deuteros) in the New Testament***

            The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.

            http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03267a.htm

            I think it also apropos to mention that your readers should remember that Florence was responsible for giving us the following nonsense, to which not one person on earth today would agree with, including the Pope….

            “It firmly believes, professes, and proclaims that those not living within the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics cannot become participants in eternal life, but will depart “into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels” [Matt. 25:41]…. no one, whatever almsgiving he has practiced, even if he has shed blood for the name of Christ, can be saved, unless he has remained in the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church.”

            Obviously, the RCism of today has gotten a face lift, going so far as giving Christ-rejecting Muslims the “first place” in the plan of salvation (CCC #841). The point being, that whatever Florence may have gotten right about the canon, because the aforementioned slop did not emanate from the Holy Spirit, neither did its decree for the ***church universal***.

            Mod… each [local] is a valuable evidence for the Church’s developing understanding of the canon.

            T…Again, you are building your case on the eventual triumph of the RCC to list the canon. But this conclusion disregards that there was a general recognition of the canon in Jesus’ day. He and the band used Scripture freely and assume all along that they and their opponents share at least this in common. “The Scriptures cannot be broken” (John 10:35) makes no sense if there was not a recognized collection of writings already in existence…down to the “smallest letters” and which “least strokes of the pen” would be preserved (Matt 5:18, Luke 16:17). Your assumption that the Holy Spirit was leading the RCC in particular to a “development of understanding” disregards the fact that no one at the dawn of Christianity ascribed infallible ecclesial authority to the Pharisees or any other religious body…(only governmental authority), so why pray tell, should we today suppose that the alleged supremacy of Rome in handing us the Bible deserves our thanks? The fact that all non-catholics immediately reject the Apocrypha is the first reason why we insist Rome is not to be thanked for… “our canon”. And so, to respect your instruction not to argue anything before it is actually said, I will stop here.

          • Thanks again for the response.

            As a general rule, yes. But I’m sure you know that in each book of the Bible, we may indeed find God to be derisive, and thus, since we are made in His image, those characteristics will occasionally appear and are not to be despised.

            From my perspective, it sounds as if you’re making excuses for being a nasty jerk to people. Whatever excuse you might appeal to, you’re in my house, and I despise it, and I’m going to ask you to please be polite and respectful. Such language is unnecessary for getting your point across.

            You’re right. I will not hijack this thread on another issue.

            And then you go and raise another completely new issue (infallibility).

            Catholics usually hit and run with Hippo & Carth, intimating that it was the dawn of a new day. Ergo, because there was no further explanation, my objections were justified.

            “Because ‘Catholics usually do this’, I am going to object to something that the commenter did not in fact do.” Please address the arguments that commenters actually make, not the ones that you imagine a Catholic would make. In every comment you have made so far, you’ve made wild leaps to argue against positions that neither Catholics hold nor that anyone here has articulated.

            If someone does not explain what they mean, I have the luxury of concluding what I wish.

            “If someone does not explain what they mean, it is my prerogative to read whatever I want into their arguments and rail against statements that were neither made nor implied.”

            Because Catholics are always arguing in terms of infallibility, I must labor to vanquish any IMPRESSION of infallibility, and that was the IMPRESSION he left by his “DETERMINATION.”

            That’s not the “impression” I got at all. No one here is “arguing in terms of infallibility.” You have pretty well ignored the whole argument I just made, and changed the subject again. So I’m just going to let that stop here.

            The unspoken principle of this discussion is that Rome opines that non-Catholics are indebted to the RCC for defining the canon. But this is a baseless quip.

            Again, responding to what is “unspoken”? I for one am “opining” no such thing. In fact, the Catholic (meaning the “Universal”) Church did define the canon of Scripture, accepting the inspired books and leaving aside the spurious ones. Even if you leave any notion of “infallibility” or “Rome” out of it — as I must insist we do — the fact, which even the sources you have cited support, is that the Church, in each of its local churches, did determine the canon of Scripture, in most places around the end of the fourth century. The authority to do so — to teach the Christian flock what was true and what was false — was vested in each local bishop.

            The inspiration and authenticity of Scripture is not something that was “self-evident” or “self-authenticating” as I’ve heard many Protestants argue; it is not something that “people just knew.” As you yourself have argued, people didn’t just know. There were a number of books, in both the Old and New Testaments, that are now canonical but that in many places were considered uncertain or even doubtful. In the Old Testament, quite a number of faithful teachers had differing opinions about the place of the deuterocanon or apocrypha. There were other books of Christian writers that some teachers considered canonical (e.g. 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas) but that were eventually excluded, and still others that teachers widely recognized as spurious, but that were nonetheless in wide circulation and were a stumbling block to the faithful — a situation that necessitated the Church’s definition of the scriptural canon in the first place. So no, clearly, people didn’t “just know.”

            I might well ask YOU, “How did THEY know that what they were quoting was Scripture?” There was no council in Israel that declared a “canon”, but J & the Apostolic band KNEW which books comprised the canon, and their audience, including their detractors, were in agreement with them.

            Obviously, Jesus had a “leg up” on the rest of us in discerning divine inspiration. 😉 But the fact is that though there was probably no formal council and there are few surviving historical records of the process, most scholars agree that the development of the Jewish canon prior to the Christian era was probably the result of consensus among rabbis and scribes. Even thus, the canon was not fixed or universal, with the Palestinian Pharisees eventually rejecting many of the books that were embraced as canonical in Alexandria (that is, the “deuterocanon”), and many books that rabbis considered apocryphal that were nonetheless widely read and even cited by faithful Jews. So again, this was not something that “people just knew.”

            Your readers will have to decide for themselves [whether the canon was defined at the Council of Florence].

            I do have historical sources. This is the Latin text of the papal bull Cantate Domino (1442) marking reunion with (at least some of) the Copts, from the Enchiridion Symbolorum (Denzinger). Even if you do not read Latin (or the heading in French), it should be evident that this is a list of the canonical books of Scripture. «Quinque Moysi, id est Genesi, Exodo, Levitico, Numeris, Deuteronomio; Josue, Judicum, Ruth, Quatuor Regum …» “Five of Moses, that is Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four of Kings…”

            I think the key, considering your quotes above, is that this list was not “explicit,” nor “effectually promulgated,” nor “addressed to the Church Universal” (instead, it was addressed to the Copts in a papal bull, not a canon of the council). Your insistence to talk about “infallibility” aside, this is nonetheless an historical evidence that the scriptural canon of the Church was fixed before Luther ever breathed, rather than “uncertain” as you allege. The Protestant crisis (and Luther’s rejection of seven books previously accepted as canonical) did necessitate a more formal and explicit declaration.

            Your readers should remember that Florence was responsible for giving us the following nonsense…

            Really? Another new topic?

            Again, you are building your case on the eventual triumph of the RCC to list the canon.

            Again, you are leaping wildly to conclusions I have not even suggested. No, I am building no such case. You have a lot to say about what you presume (quite mistakenly) I want to argue, based on your mistaken conceptions of what Catholics believe and teach.

            And so, to respect your instruction not to argue anything before it is actually said, I will stop here.

            Thanks a lot for that. Perhaps you should keep working on that one. 😉

            God bless you, and His peace be with you.

        • One other thing regarding your allusion to Hippo & Carthage “400 years later”…

          Both state that Solomon wrote 5 books of the Old Testament when in actuality he wrote only 3….namely,
          Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon.

          • The above statement regarding H & C was put in the reply box to Patrick, but somehow materialized under Joseph’s reply to me. It was not meant for J.

    • Thanks again for the comment, Trevor. I would recommend, again, that you wait and address the arguments I actually make.

      First, No Christian has any problem with the concept of the priesthood of all believers.

      Neither does the Catholic Church (cf. CCC 1546-1547).

      Second, very simply, those who have been set apart within the church are clearly named: “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” (Eph 4:11 & 1 Cor 12:28). No mention of priests whatsoever, which immediately casts a black cloud pretty much over everything you say.

      This leads me to wonder if you actually read what I wrote. I demonstrated how the word “priest” derives from the quite biblical Greek and Latin presbyter. Understanding “priest” to be a translation of that word, the New Testament most certainly does mention priests.

      The vocations named in Ephesians and 1 Corinthians are surely roles in Christian ministry, different capacities in which the Holy Spirit uses believers. The bishop, priest, and deacon named in the later pastoral epistles are actual, ordained offices with their own roles, requirements, and rites of ordination (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1, 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6). It appears that many of the before-named roles — especially those of preaching, teaching, and pastoring — had coalesced into the later-named offices by the end of Paul’s life. The testimony of the Apostolic Fathers (cf. Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch) confirms that these were the offices of ministry that the Early Church received from the Apostles (cf. 1 Clement 42, 44; Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans 8). It is disingenuous to pretend this is not the case.

      We are certainly not left to wonder…if you would have only been honest, or had known…

      I was a Protestant for over thirty years of my life, and am familiar with Protestant theology. I certainly do know what Protestants believe about the “priesthood of all believers.” I apologize if you feel slighted by my statement, but I was referencing not this concept, but the rejection by Protestants of the traditional Christian understanding of the New Testament ministerial priesthood — which Protestants most certainly do argue to reject, just as you are arguing now.

      We recognize that it is common enough in the N.T. to represent all Christians as FIGURATIVE priests (!)…in the sense of persons who have been consecrated and are habitually engaged in divine service. We ***resemble*** the former in their literal sacrifices, but are now, a “holy priesthood” engaged in presenting to God SPIRITUAL SACRIFICES…

      If you accept this, then you have no beef with me, so far as the “priesthood of all believers.”

      On the contrary, we do NOT confound any such [ecclesiastical hierarchy] by admitting as much, since the N.T. does not mandate an “ecclesiastical hierarchy” situated in Rome, Italy even to begin with!

      Neither does this decree of Trent, nor does the Catholic Church, mandate such things. The “ecclesiastical hierarchy” (i.e. the order of bishops, priests, and deacons in the Church) is “situated” first and foremost in the local church; and it is most plainly mandated in the New Testament (cf., again, 1 Timothy 3, 1 Peter 5:1-3, Titus 1:3, etc.). These passages demonstrate quite clearly the institution of ordained leaders in the local churches whose charge was the care of the flock of God. The decree of Trent rejects the idea that “every man is his own priest,” a misapprehension of even the Protestant idea of the “priesthood of all believers”: the idea that there is no such thing as ordained ministry or any distinction between appointed roles in the Church — “as if,” to complete the quotation you abridged, “contrary to the doctrine of blessed Paul, all were apostles, all prophets, all evangelists, all pastors, all teachers.” Since you have already quoted this same verse to me to make the very point that there are distinctions between the offices of Christian ministry, it appears that you simply misunderstood the passage.

      Common sense dictates…

      Your presuppositions are mistaken. I get the sense that your “common sense” about Catholic doctrine is perhaps not very well formed.

      From this point on, you pretty well leave behind any contact with my article above.

      My problem with Catholics is that they have hopped into their popemobile and shamefully accelerated past the speed limit…

      Despite your fine polemical rhetoric, there does not appear to be a substantive charge here.

      While I did report that the priesthood of Christ is non-transferrable, it was to underline the exclusivity of that role as mediator between God and man…something only He can do (and which mediation was only a shadow of the doings of the O.T. priests).

      A statement, again, which I agree with. There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.

      Ergo, because the O.T. system was abolished, it is simply unthinkable that Jesus waved His magic wand and ordained the apostles a NEW breed of mediation, namely, “Catholic PRIESTS” at the Last Supper, with the power to consecrate and offer His body and blood in the Sacrifice of the Mass!

      Jesus, as I’m sure you well know, does not have a “magic wand.” Your efforts to insult the Catholic position do not, in fact, make your argument any stronger. If something is “unthinkable,” you should support your rejection of such with something more than simply your indignation and derision.

      The idea that a Christian priest is a “mediator between God and men” in any way that detracts from the unique mediation of Jesus is simply a misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine. This is not something that the Catholic Church claims or teaches.

      Certainly no etymology will ever support such a ruinous addition to the gospel accounts, simply because there is not one recorded word of Christ saying any such thing.

      My etymological research has only to do with the word “priest.” I did not make any such argument as this. As for my discussion of the priesthood and Eucharistic theology, please wait until I actually make it.

      If you really believed that there is no need for any other sacrifice, you would not be attending Mass!

      And yet this is what I believe, and nonetheless I do attend Mass, as often as possible. Perhaps it is your understanding of what the Mass is and what Catholics believe about it that is mistaken.

      Hence, I find your statement disingenuous because the vocabulary used by councils and that RC dicta spewed forth by Rome’s scholars everywhere, convey a ***continuing*** sacrifice, and that is why we judge RC belief and practice to be in contempt of the Bible.

      In fact, I conducted a pretty thorough search of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the Canons and Decrees of Council of Trent, the Sources of Catholic Dogma, the documents of the First and Second Vatican Councils — and not only did I not find “dicta spewed forth everywhere,” but I did not find a single reference to a “continuing sacrifice” anywhere, either in English or in Latin. Perhaps you should be clearer what “vocabulary” you are referring to.

      I realize you do not understand, and would rather insult my faith than make an earnest attempt to understand. I have not made any of the arguments you are arguing against, and probably will not, since they are hardly relevant to the argument I would like to make. I want to suggest, one more time, that you respond only to the arguments I actually make, and not bring your every beef with Catholic theology to my doorstep and demand that I put up my dukes. However, I will attempt to respond very briefly.

      You complain that according to Trent, there is in the Mass a “true sacrifice which is propitiatory for sin,” and that, according to Fr. Hardon, “Jesus really offers His life to His heavenly father.” But you seem not to understand what these statements are actually claiming. I affirm again, there can be no other sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins than Jesus’s once and for all sacrifice on Calvary. How, then, are these other statements logical? You insist that there is some sense of a “continuing sacrifice” or “continuation theology” present in the Catholic idea, but again, this concept is nowhere found in Catholic teaching documents. There is no “continuing sacrifice,” only Jesus’s one sacrifice, once and for all and final.

      You give the answer yourself, and it seems perfectly obvious to me, and did even when I was a Protestant, long before I ever had any intention of becoming Catholic. That you, and many other Protestants, fail to appreciate it, or else intentionally misconstrue it, is very frustrating to me. How can there be a “true sacrifice” in every Mass? How can Jesus offer His life to the Father in every Mass? It is because there is only one sacrifice of Jesus, because it is once and for all and final, as Hebrews teaches: It is the same sacrifice: not a continuing one, not a repeated one, not a technicality or theological construct or fiction, but one sacrifice present for all time. Jesus does not sacrifice Himself at every Mass. Jesus does not sacrifice Himself “often.” Jesus sacrificed Himself only once, once and for all, on Calvary — and it reaches to all time, to every sinner and every sin. At every presentation of the Eucharist, this once-and-for-all and final reality is made present to every believer. Do you believe, when a new Christian is “saved,” that the sacrifice of Christ at Calvary is available to him? — that Jesus’s sacrifice is final, and yet somehow still reaches beyond all time to wipe away the sin of the believer even today? If so, then you are much closer to understanding the Catholic faith in the Eucharist than you realize.

      God bless you, brother, and the peace of the Lord be with you.

      • You: That you, and many other Protestants, fail to appreciate it, or else intentionally misconstrue it, is very frustrating to me. How can there be a “true sacrifice” in every Mass? How can Jesus offer His life to the Father in every Mass? It is because there is only one sacrifice of Jesus, because it is once and for all and final, as Hebrews teaches: It is the same sacrifice: not a continuing one, not a repeated one, not a technicality or theological construct or fiction, but one sacrifice present for all time. Jesus does not sacrifice Himself at every Mass. Jesus does not sacrifice Himself “often.” Jesus sacrificed Himself only once, once and for all, on Calvary”

        Me: I know this isn’t the thread topic so I will respond only briefly and will not respond further, even if you do.
        First of all, your insistence that Jesus offers Himself to the Father at every Mass is categorically unbiblical, no matter how many times you wish to explain that it is the “same sacrifice”.
        The explanation is a clanking symbol, for He does not keep offering the same sacrifice to the Father! The book of Hebrews simply will not allow it.
        Second, the religious sound-bite that Jesus sacrificed Himself only once on Calvary (while true) may sound nice to those who haven’t studied your doctrines, but to those who have, it rings false.
        Further twisting of the sacred Text had Trent telling us that at the Last Supper, “Jesus offered up His body and blood under the species of bread and wine to God the Father” [i.e. BEFORE going to Calvary!]…”instituting a new Passover, Himself, to be SACRIFICED by the church through the priests…”
        (“Concerning Communion”, ch. 1). So much for your “once and for all on Calvary” statement.

        Third, Protestants do not intentionally misconstrue the Mass. We are judging the RCC out of her own mouth and lining your doctrine up with Holy Writ, not to mention common sense. You can tell us until you’re blue in the face that in the Mass there is contained the “same sacrifice” as that of Calvary, but we will always adamantly reject it. While we do indeed believe that the BENEFITS of the cross are applied to those who come to God by faith, It is pure science fiction to suppose that a past event can be jettisoned into the future, “made present” once again. This is nonsense theology and is beyond ridiculous.
        “No more offering for sin” means just that {Romans 1:23; 2 Cor 11:4, Heb 10:18}. We are never told to console ourselves with the “same offering” through some future ritual making it present again; hence, the Catholic explanation defies logic. If the RC rubric were true, “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often” {Heb 9:25}, would have been met with some sort of disclaimer to validate the “offering ofteness” of the Mass. We read that the “victim” at Calvary is the same one “NOW” being “offered for our reconciliation through the ministry of the priests; and that, “Christ daily offers Himself upon our altars for our redemption” said Pius XII {CCC #1367, “Mediator Dei, # 73}.

        You need to remember that at the Last Supper, Jesus said “This cup is the New ***TESTAMENT***” in my blood. Ergo, “FOR WHERE A TESTAMENT IS, THERE MUST OF NECESSITY BE THE DEATH OF THE TESTATOR; FOR A TESTAMENT IS IN FORCE [only] AFTER [AGAIN, AFTER] MEN ARE DEAD: OTHERWISE IT IS OF NO STRENGTH AT ALL WHILE THE TESTATOR LIVES” {Hebrews 9:16-20}.

        Trent pulled like a rabbit out of a hat, the ploy that Jesus offered Himself at the Last Supper; something that not one person in Christian history ever dreamed of for 1600 years! But Scripture refutes it in the blink of an eye. Because Jesus was yet ALIVE at the Last Supper, the RC position is at loggerheads with the book of Hebrews and falls flat. That is, because He was alive, Christ was not initiating His ACTUAL “last will and testament”, as it were, but was speaking figuratively; just as no one believes that, “this [ACTUAL] cup is the New Testament in my blood”. That being so, the alleged “bloody” contents of the cup, was really only wine, and would have “no strength” to be what the RCC says it was, as verses 9:16-20 reports, “while the Testator still lives”. In other words, the pre-crucifixtion blood that Catholics believe was in that cup THEN… and is so salvifically efficacious for us TODAY… had only the strength of wine, because that is what it was all along. We know this because…
        1) Hebrews defines for us what a last will and testament is
        2) The Testator must be dead
        3) Jesus was alive
        4) Hence, the content was merely wine and metaphorically pointed to His death the next day….not THEN AND THERE.
        5) The RCC is embracing “another jesus and another gospel” per 2 Cor 11:4.

        • Thanks again for the comment.

          I know this isn’t the thread topic so I will respond only briefly and will not respond further, even if you do.

          Thanks for that.

          First of all, your insistence that Jesus offers Himself to the Father at every Mass is categorically unbiblical, no matter how many times you wish to explain that it is the “same sacrifice”.

          On the contrary, as I said, it is only because it is the same sacrifice that such a statement that “Jesus offers himself at every Mass” is sensical and biblical. This is not a “repetition” or “continuation,” but the same sacrifice present for all time. The only part that repeats is the part that He Himself commanded us to repeat, the offering of the Eucharist. But let us not go around each other in circles.

          Obviously, a lack of explicit scriptural statement regarding theological points has never been a problem for most Christians. Theology is worked out “by good and necessary consequence” of Scripture (to quote even the Westminster divines). Scripture is clear in presenting the sacrificial quality of the Eucharist (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16, 5:7-8, etc.), just as the Book of Hebrews is rife with Eucharistic imagery (cf. Hebrews 10:10, 9:12,14, etc.), as even the type of Melchizedek invokes (Hebrews 7:15, 24-27). Jesus uses explicitly sacrificial and covenantal language in the words of institution. So if the Eucharist is a sacrifice, a communion in the Body and Blood of Christ, is it not Christ’s own offering of Himself that is re-presented?

          The explanation is a clanking symbol, for He does not keep offering the same sacrifice to the Father! The book of Hebrews simply will not allow it.

          You are still thinking in terms of “repetition,” which is not the Catholic conception of what is happening at all.

          Second, the religious sound-bite that Jesus sacrificed Himself only once on Calvary (while true) may sound nice to those who haven’t studied your doctrines, but to those who have, it rings false.

          So… a true statement rings false to those who have studied it (i.e., apparently, you)? Yes, I think you’ve accurately stated your predicament. 😉

          Further twisting of the sacred Text had Trent telling us that at the Last Supper, “Jesus offered up His body and blood under the species of bread and wine to God the Father” [i.e. BEFORE going to Calvary!] “instituting a new Passover, Himself, to be SACRIFICED by the church through the priests…” (“Concerning Communion”, ch. 1). So much for your “once and for all on Calvary” statement.

          This is an incomplete quotation (did you even read the whole thing?) and a less than accurate one. The preceding passage explains:

          “He, therefore, our God and Lord, although He was about to offer Himself once on the altar of the cross unto God the Father, by means of His death, there to operate an eternal redemption (Hebrews 9:12); nevertheless, because that His priesthood was not to be extinguished by His death, in the last supper, on the night in which He was betrayed, to the end that He might leave to His own beloved spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of men requires, whereby that bloody [sacrifice], once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented, and the memory thereof remain even unto the end of the world, and its salutary virtue be applied unto the remission of those sins which we daily commit…”

          Yes, this was before going to Calvary: the sacrifice was represented in the Eucharist but only perfected in the Cross. The two were part of the same action: the meal, offering, and sacrifice to institute the covenant — cf. Exodus 24:4-8, 11, which Jesus’s words intentionally invoke: “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you.” (Exodus 24:8) “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20) I refer you to the astute study of the Jewish context of the Last Supper by Dr. Brant Pitre (“The Fourth Cup and the New Passover”):

          1. By vowing not to drink the final cup of the Last Supper (Luke 22:18), Jesus extended his last Passover meal to include his own suffering and death.

          2. By praying three times in Gethsemane for the “cup” to be taken from him (Matthew 26:36-46), Jesus revealed that he understood his own death in terms of the Passover sacrifice.

          3. Jesus also transformed the Passover sacrifice. In the old Passover, the sacrifice of the lamb would come first, and then the eating of its flesh. But in this case, because Jesus had to institute the new Passover before his death, he pre-enacted it, as both host of the meal and sacrifice.

          4. Most important of all, by waiting to drink the fourth cup of the Passover until the very moment of his death (John 19:28-29), Jesus united the Last Supper to his death on the cross. By refusing to drink of the fruit of the vine until he gave up his final breath, he joined the offering of himself under the form of bread and wine to the offering of himself on Calvary. Both actions said the same thing: “This is my body, given for you” (Luke 22:19). In short, by means of the Last Supper, Jesus transformed the Cross into a Passover, and by means of the Cross, he transformed the Last Supper into a sacrifice.

          Regarding again the statement from Trent, the full context reads:

          For, having celebrated the ancient passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel immolated in memory of their departure out of Egypt, He instituted the new passover, to wit, namely, that Himself should be immolated, under visible signs, by the Church through the priests, in memory of His own passage from this world unto the Father, when by the effusion of His own blood He redeemed us…

          The “immolation” of Christ, in parallel with that of the original Passover Lamb, is merely a statement of what He Himself commanded we do through the signs: “Do this in remembrance of me.”

          Third, Protestants do not intentionally misconstrue the Mass. We are judging the RCC out of her own mouth and lining your doctrine up with Holy Writ, not to mention common sense.

          In fact, you are arguing on one hand that the doctrines I believe are “ridiculous” and “nonsense”, and on the other that the same doctrines imply something other than what the Church teaches: that what the Church says is not really what the Church means. The “reinterpretation” you offer of what the Church really means is a misconstrual and a misstatement. If you are so keen to take the Church’s doctrine “out of her own mouth,” then you should accept that we believe what it is we claim we believe.

          And again, you have shown your “common sense” concerning Catholic doctrine to be suspect.

          While we do indeed believe that the BENEFITS of the cross are applied to those who come to God by faith, It is pure science fiction to suppose that a past event can be jettisoned into the future, “made present” once again. This is nonsense theology and is beyond ridiculous.

          So, how are the “benefits” of a past event (especially the atonement of sins) applied to future believers? If the thing happened once and for all, shouldn’t it have only applied to those believers who were then living? To take one variation of Protestant theology, how could Jesus’s crucifixion in A.D. 33 wipe away the sins of believers who would live for the next twenty centuries and beyond — not only sins that hadn’t yet been committed or brought to existence, but whose perpetrators had not even been conceived? The whole Christian proposition depends on God being outside time and Jesus’s sacrifice extending to all generations (Acts 2:39). For “he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26) — “has appeared” being the Greek perfect tense πεφανέρωται, a past action resulting in a present state. Either every sin that will ever be committed existed before it existed at the time of the Crucifixion (every sin present at the time of the sacrifice), or else God continues to operate and apply the redemption of Christ’s sacrifice to all believers’ sins (the sacrifice present for every sin). Do you doubt that God is capable of this?

          “No more offering for sin” means just that.

          So, you believe that there is no more offering for the sins of believers who have lived since the Crucifixion?

          We are never told to console ourselves with the “same offering” through some future ritual making it present again; hence, the Catholic explanation defies logic. If the RC rubric were true, “Nor yet that He should offer Himself often” {Heb 9:25}, would have been met with some sort of disclaimer to validate the “offering ofteness” of the Mass.

          “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

          We read that the “victim” at Calvary is the same one “NOW” being “offered for our reconciliation through the ministry of the priests”; and that, “Christ daily offers Himself upon our altars for our redemption” said Pius XII.

          “Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:23-34)

          You need to remember that at the Last Supper, Jesus said “This cup is the New ***TESTAMENT***” in my blood. Ergo, “FOR WHERE A TESTAMENT IS, THERE MUST OF NECESSITY BE THE DEATH OF THE TESTATOR; FOR A TESTAMENT IS IN FORCE [only] AFTER [AGAIN, AFTER] MEN ARE DEAD: OTHERWISE IT IS OF NO STRENGTH AT ALL WHILE THE TESTATOR LIVES” {Hebrews 9:16-20}.

          Whoa, settle down, brother; don’t hurt yourself.

          Trent pulled like a rabbit out of a hat, the ploy that Jesus offered Himself at the Last Supper; something that not one person in Christian history ever dreamed of for 1600 years!

          Wow, really? I don’t know whom you’ve been reading, brother, but apparently not much historical theology. To quote J.N.D. Kelly — who, if you’re not familiar with him, was a Protestant historian:

          In short, the eucharist for the fathers was the chief instrument of the Christian’s divinization; through it Christ’s mystical body was built up and sustained. We must now consider how they understood ‘the bloodless sacrifice’ celebrated by means of the ‘symbols’ of Christ’s body and blood in commemoration of His death. While much of the language they use is conventional, we find an elaborate statement of the sacrificial aspect in Cyril of Jerusalem. In agreement with tradition he speaks of it as ‘the spiritual sacrifice’ and ‘the unbloody service’, but he also describes it as ‘the holy and most awful sacrifice’ and ‘the sacrifice of propitiation’ (τῆς θυσίας … τοῦ ἱλασμοῦ), in the presence of which God is entreated for the peace of the churches and our earthly needs generally. Indeed, intercession may be offered for the dead as well as the living while the dread victim lies before us, for what we offer is ‘Christ slain on behalf of our sins, propitiating the merciful God on behalf both of them and of ourselves’.

          Later in the [fourth] century Chrysostom develops Cyril’s teaching, referring to ‘the most awesome sacrifice’ (τὴν φρικωδεστάτην … θυσίαν), and to ‘the Lord sacrificed and lying there, and the priest bending over the sacrifice and interceding’. He makes the important point that the sacrifice now offered on the altar is identical with the one which the Lord Himself offered at the Last Supper. He emphasizes this doctrine of the uniqueness of the sacrifice in commenting on the statement in Hebrews that Christ offered Himself once: ‘Do we not offer sacrifice daily? We do indeed, but as a memorial of His death, and this oblation is single, not manifold. But how can it be one and not many? Because it has been offered once for all, as was the ancient sacrifice in the holy of holies. This is the figure of that ancient sacrifice, as indeed it was of this one; for it is the same Jesus Christ we offer always, not now one victim and later another. The victim is always the same, so that the sacrifice is one. Are we going to say that, because Christ is offered in many places, there are many Christs? Of course not. It is one and the same Christ everywhere; He is here in His entirety and there in His entirety, one unique body. Just as He is one body, not many bodies, although offered in many places, so the sacrifice is one and the same. Our high-priest is the very same Christ Who has offered the sacrifice which cleanses us. The victim Who was offered then, Who cannot be consumed, is the self-same victim we offer now. What we do is done as a memorial of what was done then.… We do not offer a different sacrifice, but always the same one, or rather we accomplish the memorial of it.’ Christ ‘offered sacrifice once for all, and thenceforth sat down’, and the whole action of the eucharist takes place in the heavenly, spiritual sphere; the earthly celebration is a showing forth of it on the terrestrial plane. (J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th edition, 1977, 450–452)

          But Scripture refutes it in the blink of an eye. Because Jesus was yet ALIVE at the Last Supper, the RC position is at loggerheads with the book of Hebrews and falls flat. That is, because He was alive, Christ was not initiating His ACTUAL “last will and testament”, as it were, but was speaking figuratively…

          Um, what? Most people who give last wills and testaments, in fact, do so when they are alive; when they are dead is rather too late. The whole point of the passage from Hebrews is that Jesus gave His testament, but it required His death to give it force. Show me someone else who has given then their last will and testament after his death and we’ll talk.

          … Just as no one believes that, “this [ACTUAL] cup is the New Testament in my blood”.

          In fact, the vast majority of Christians throughout history and today believe just that.

          That being so, the alleged “bloody” contents of the cup, was really only wine, and would have “no strength” to be what the RCC says it was, as verses 9:16-20 reports, “while the Testator still lives”. In other words, the pre-crucifixtion blood that Catholics believe was in that cup THEN… and is so salvifically efficacious for us TODAY… had only the strength of wine, because that is what it was all along.

          So, if I understand your argument — because the institution of the covenant had not yet been completed by Christ’s sacrifice, the whole “covenant” thing was only a metaphor? Even if, by your argument, it was only wine in the cup at the Last Supper — why wouldn’t it be His blood when the Apostles offered it in the future, after it had been poured out, He had died, the covenant was ratified, etc.? “For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the testator is alive” (Hebrews 9:9). Your argument presumes, does it not, that when Jesus said “this is My testament,” it must not really have been a testament, but only a metaphor, since He wasn’t dead. But this turns the whole argument of Hebrews on its head, does it not? The point of the author is that “even the first covenant was not ratified without blood” (v. 10) — not that it wasn’t ratified, but that it was — just as Christ did ratify His: He did give His blood and He did die, “[appearing] once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (v. 26).

          The RCC is embracing “another jesus and another gospel” per 2 Cor 11:4.

          That’s pretty well a non sequitur, isn’t it? How does that follow from the rest of your argument at all? Do you not also believe that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins? How, then, do we believe in a different Christ and a different gospel?

          God bless you, and His peace be with you.

  5. Pingback: Ministers of the New Covenant: Why Christian Ministers Are Priests | The Lonely Pilgrim

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