Priest

Priest

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A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities. Their office or position is the priesthood, a term which also may apply to such persons collectively.

Priests and priestesses have been known since the earliest of times and in the simplest societies. They exist in all or some branches of Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

, Shintoism, Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

  and many other religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

s. They are generally regarded as having positive contact with the deity or deities
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

 of the religion to which they subscribe, often interpreting the meaning of events and performing the rituals of the religion. Priests are leaders to whom other believers will often turn for advice on spiritual matters.

In many religions, being a priest or priestess is a full-time position, ruling out any other career. In other cases it is a part-time role. For example in the early history of Iceland
History of Iceland
-Early history:In geological terms, Iceland is a young island. It started to form about 20 million years ago from a series of volcanic eruptions on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge...

 the chieftains were entitled goði, a word meaning "priest". As seen in the saga
Saga
Sagas, are stories in Old Norse about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history, etc.Saga may also refer to:Business*Saga DAB radio, a British radio station*Saga Airlines, a Turkish airline*Saga Falabella, a department store chain in Peru...

 of Hrafnkell Freysgoði
Hrafnkels saga
Hrafnkels saga or Hrafnkels saga Freysgoða is one of the Icelanders' sagas. It tells of struggles between chieftains and farmers in the east of Iceland in the 10th century. The eponymous main character, Hrafnkell, starts out his career as a fearsome duelist and a dedicated worshiper of the god...

, however, being a priest consisted merely of offering periodic sacrifices to the Norse
Norse mythology
Norse mythology, a subset of Germanic mythology, is the overall term for the myths, legends and beliefs about supernatural beings of Norse pagans. It flourished prior to the Christianization of Scandinavia, during the Early Middle Ages, and passed into Nordic folklore, with some aspects surviving...

 gods and goddesses; it was not a full-time role, nor did it involve ordination.

In some religions, being a priest or priestess is by human election or human choice. In Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 the priesthood is inherited in familial lines.

Terminology


The word "priest" is ultimately from Greek, via Latin, presbyter, the term for "elder", especially elders of Jewish or Christian communities in Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. It is possible that the Latin word was loaned into Old English and only from Old English reached other Germanic languages, giving Old Icelandic prestr, Old Swedish
Old Swedish
Old Swedish is the name for two separate stages of the Swedish language that were spoken in the Middle Ages: Early Old Swedish , spoken from around 1225 until 1375, and Late Old Swedish , spoken from 1375 until 1526.Old Swedish developed from Old East Norse, the eastern dialect of Old Norse...

 präster, Old High German
Old High German
The term Old High German refers to the earliest stage of the German language and it conventionally covers the period from around 500 to 1050. Coherent written texts do not appear until the second half of the 8th century, and some treat the period before 750 as 'prehistoric' and date the start of...

 priast, via the Anglo-Saxon mission
Anglo-Saxon mission
Anglo-Saxon missionaries were instrumental in the spread of Christianity in the Frankish Empire during the 8th century, continuing the work of Hiberno-Scottish missionaries which had been spreading Celtic Christianity across the Frankish Empire as well as in Scotland and Anglo-Saxon England itself...

 to the continent. Old High German also has the disyllabic priester, priestar, however, apparently derived from Latin independently, via Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 presbtre. The Latin word is ultimately from Greek presbyteros, the word for "priest" being Latin sacerdos
Sacerdos
Sacerdos was the Latin word for "priest" and may refer to:*Sacerdos of Limoges , French saint*Sacerdos of Lyon , French saint*Sacerdos of Saguntum , Spanish saint...

, Greek hiereus.

That English should have only the single term priest for both presbyter and sacerdos came to be seen as a problem in English Bible translations. The presbyter is both the minister who presides and instructs a Christian congregation and the sacerdos or offerer of sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

s, in a Christian context the eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

, performing "mediatorial offices between God and man".

Regarding translational choice in the Bible, the web site of International Standard Version states,

No Greek lexicons or other scholarly sources suggest that "presbyteros" means "priest" instead of "elder". The Greek word is equivalent to the Hebrew Zaqen, which means "elder", and not priest. You can see the Zaqenim described in Exodus 18:21-22 using some of the same equivalent Hebrew terms as Paul uses in the GK of 1&2 Timothy and Titus. Note that the Zaqenim are not priests (i.e., from the tribe of Levi) but are rather men of distinctive maturity that qualifies them for ministerial roles among the people.

Therefore the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

  equivalent of the Zaqenim cannot be the Levitical priests. The Greek "presbyteros" (literally, the comparative of the Greek word for "old" and therefore translated as "one who is older") thus describes the character qualities of the "episkopos". The term "elder" would therefore appear to describe the character, while the term "overseer" (for that is the literal rendering of "episkopos") connotes the job description.

The feminine English noun, priestess, was coined in the 17th century, referring to female priests of the pre-Christian religions of classical antiquity. In the 20th century the word was used in controversies surrounding the ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

. In the case of the ordination of women in the Anglican communion
Ordination of women in the Anglican communion
The ordination of women in the Anglican Communion has become increasingly accepted in recent years.-Introduction:Some provinces within the Anglican Communion, such as the Episcopal Church in the United States of America , the Anglican Church of New Zealand, the Anglican Church of Canada and the...

, however, it is more common to speak of "priests" regardless of gender.


Historical religions



In historical polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

, a priest administers the sacrifice
Sacrifice
Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals or people to God or the gods as an act of propitiation or worship.While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts...

 to a deity, often in highly elaborate ritual
Ritual
A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value. It may be prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. The term usually excludes actions which are arbitrarily chosen by the performers....

. In the Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

, the priesthood also acted on behalf of the deities in managing their property.

Priestesses in antiquity often performed sacred prostitution, and in Ancient Greece, some priestesses such as Pythia
Pythia
The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

, priestess at Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, acted as oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

s.

Ancient priestesses

  • Sumerian
    Sumerian language
    Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

     and Akkadian Entu or EN
    EN (cuneiform)
    EN is the Sumerian cuneiform for "lord" or "priest". Originally, it seems to have been used to designate a high priest or priestess of a Sumerian city-state's patron-deity - a position that entailed political power as well. It may also have been the original title of the ruler of Uruk...

     were top-ranking priestesses who were distinguished with special ceremonial attire and held equal status to high priests. They owned property, transacted business, and initiated the hieros gamos
    Hieros gamos
    Hieros gamos or Hierogamy refers to a sexual ritual that plays out a marriage between a god and a goddess, especially when enacted in a symbolic ritual where human participants represent the deities. It is the harmonization of opposites...

     ceremony
    Ceremony
    A ceremony is an event of ritual significance, performed on a special occasion. The word may be of Etruscan origin.-Ceremonial occasions:A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human life, marking the significance of, for example:* birth...

     with priests and kings.
  • Nadītu
    Naditu
    Nadītu or Naditu is the designation of a legal position for women in Babylonian society and for Sumerian temple slaves. The latter were primarily involved in business activities and were allowed to own property....

     served as priestesses in the temples of Inanna
    Inanna
    Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

     in the ancient city of Erech
    Erech
    Erech according to the Book of Genesis, was an ancient city in the land of Shinar, the second city built by king Nimrod....

    . They were recruited from the highest families in the land and were supposed to remain childless, owned property, and transacted business.
  • The Sumerian word NIN
    NIN (cuneiform)
    The Sumerian word NIN which can denote a "queen" or a "priestess".. Many goddesses are called NIN, such as DNIN.GAL "great lady", DÉ.NIN.GAL "lady of the great temple" or DEREŠ.KI.GAL, DNIN.TI....

    , EREŠ in Akkadian, is the sign for "lady." NIN.DINGIR
    Dingir
    Dingir is a cuneiform sign, most commonly the determinative for "deity" although it has related meanings as well. As a determinative, it is not pronounced, and is conventionally transliterated as a superscript "D" as in e.g. DInanna...

     (Akkadian entu) "divine lady," a priestess.
  • In Sumerian epic texts such as Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
    Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
    Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period ....

    , Nu-Gig were priestesses in temples dedicated to Inanna
    Inanna
    Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

     and may be a reference to the goddess
    Goddess
    A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

     herself.
  • Puabi
    Puabi
    Puabi , also called Shubad in Sumerian, was an important person in the Sumerian city of Ur, during the First Dynasty of Ur . Commonly labeled as a "queen", her status is somewhat in dispute. Several cylinder seals in her tomb identify her by the title "nin" or "eresh", a Sumerian word which can...

     was a Semitic Akkadian queen or a priestess.
  • In the Hebrew Bible
    Hebrew Bible
    The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

    , (קדשה) Qedesha
    Qedesha
    A qedesha , Hebrew spelling קדשה, is a temple or sacred prostitute, in several ancient Middle Eastern religions. They are particularly associated with the Goddess Asherah. The male equivalent of a qedesha is a qadesh....

     or Kedeshah, derived from the root Q-D-Š
    Q-D-Š
    Q-D-Š is a common triconsonantal Semitic root form used in various ancient and modern languages since at least the 3rd millennium BCE. The meanings expressed by this root are "Holy", "Sacred", "Divine Power", "To Set Apart", and "Sanctuary"...

     were temple prostitutes usually associated with the goddess Asherah
    Asherah
    Asherah , in Semitic mythology, is a Semitic mother goddess, who appears in a number of ancient sources including Akkadian writings by the name of Ashratum/Ashratu and in Hittite as Asherdu or Ashertu or Aserdu or Asertu...

    .
  • Quadishtu served in the temples of the Sumerian goddess Qetesh
    Qetesh
    Qetesh is a Sumerian goddess adopted into Egyptian mythology from the Canaanite religion, popular during the New Kingdom. She was a fertility goddess of sacred ecstasy and sexual pleasure....

    .
  • Ishtaritu specialized in the arts of dancing, music, and singing and they served in the temples of Ishtar
    Ishtar
    Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate north-west Semitic goddess Astarte.-Characteristics:...

    .
  • In the Epic of Gilgamesh
    Epic of Gilgamesh
    Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literature. Scholars believe that it originated as a series of Sumerian legends and poems about the protagonist of the story, Gilgamesh king of Uruk, which were fashioned into a longer Akkadian epic much...

    , priestess Shamhat
    Shamhat
    Shamhat is the name of a female character who appears in Tablets I/and II of the Epic of Gilgamesh-." Shamhat plays the integral role in Tablet I, of taming the wild man Enkidu, who was created by the gods as the rival to the mighty Gilgamesh...

    , a temple prostitute, tamed wild Enkidu
    Enkidu
    Enkidu is a central figure in the Ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. Enkidu was first created by Anu, the sky god, to rid Gilgamesh of his arrogance. In the story he is a wild-man raised by animals and ignorant of human society until he is bedded by Shamhat...

     after "six days and seven nights."
  • En-hedu-ana, Akkadian 2285 BC - 2250 BC was the first known holder of the title, "En Priestess."
  • Gerarai
    Gerarai
    Gerarai were priestesses of Dionysus in ancient Greek ritual. They presided over sacrifices and participated in the festivals of Theoinia and Iobaccheia that took place during the month of Anthesteria, among other duties. Fourteen in all, they were either sworn in by the Athenian Basilinna or...

     fourteen Athenian matrons of Dionysus
    Dionysus
    Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. His name in Linear B tablets shows he was worshipped from c. 1500—1100 BC by Mycenean Greeks: other traces of Dionysian-type cult have been found in ancient Minoan Crete...

     who presided over sacrifices and participated in the festivals of Anthesteria
    Anthesteria
    Anthesteria, one of the four Athenian festivals in honour of Dionysus , was held annually for three days, the eleventh to thirteenth of the month of Anthesterion ; it was preceded by the Lenaia...

    .

Ancient Egypt


Generally, in Ancient Egyptian religion, the royal daughter presided as the high priestess in the temple, as the royal line was carried by the women in Ancient Egypt. She and the pharaoh fulfilled duties and rituals of the religiously-based government. During the first millennium BCE, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of power from one pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 to the next, when the daughter of the former was adopted to fill it by the incumbent office holder. During the eighteenth dynasty reign of Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut also Hatchepsut; meaning Foremost of Noble Ladies;1508–1458 BC) was the fifth pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt...

 that occurred during the second millennium BCE (c. 2160 BC) while the capital of Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

 was in Thebes, God's Wife of Amun
God's Wife of Amun
God's Wife of Amun was the highest ranking priestess of the Amun cult, an important Ancient Egyptian religious institution centered in Thebes during the Egyptian 25th and 26th dynasties...

 was the highest ranking priestess. This local priesthood had become most powerful during that period and sometimes this title was held by a daughter of the High Priest
High priest
The term "high priest" usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest, or to one who is the head of a religious caste.-Ancient Egypt:...

 of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

. Hatshepsut had held that same office during the reign of her father. Her daughter held the office during the early portion of her reign. Later, another pharaoh, Amenhotep IV, moved the capitol to break the influence of this priesthood. He later took the name Akhenaten
Akhenaten
Akhenaten also spelled Echnaton,Ikhnaton,and Khuenaten;meaning "living spirit of Aten") known before the fifth year of his reign as Amenhotep IV , was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt who ruled for 17 years and died perhaps in 1336 BC or 1334 BC...

 in worship and recognition of Aten to create another temple, but those reforms failed to persist after his death when the capital reverted to Thebes and its priesthood regained the power they had lost. Later, the Divine Adoratrice of Amun
Divine Adoratrice of Amun
The Divine Adoratrice of Amun was a second title created for the chief priestess of the ancient Egyptian deity, Amun. During the first millennium BCE, when the holder of this office exercised her largest measure of influence, her position was an important appointment facilitating the transfer of...

 was a title created for the chief priestess of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

. The Divine Adoratrice ruled over the extensive temple duties and domains, controlling a significant part of the ancient Egyptian economy.

Each region or major city in Ancient Egypt had a local deity of special importance (among a large pantheon shared by many other cities and regions) and priesthoods for them were organized following local traditions.

The priestesses of the goddess Nekhbet
Nekhbet
In Egyptian mythology, Nekhbet was an early predynastic local goddess who was the patron of the city of Nekheb, her name meaning of Nekheb...

 were called muu (mothers) and wore robes of Egyptian vulture
Egyptian Vulture
The Egyptian Vulture is a small Old World vulture, found widely distributed from southwestern Europe and northern Africa to southern Asia. It is the only living member of the genus Neophron. It has sometimes also been known as the White Scavenger Vulture or Pharaoh's Chicken...

 feathers.

Ancient Egyptian priestesses:
  • Gautseshen
    Gautseshen
    Gautseshen was an ancient Egyptian priestess, the singer of Montu. She lived during the reign of the 21st dynasty....

  • Henutmehyt
    Henutmehyt
    Henutmehyt was the name of a Theban priestess, of Ancient Egypt who lived during the 19th Dynasty, around 1250 BC. Her gilded inner coffin can be seen today at the British Museum in London, England. The excessive use of gold, and the high quality and detail of her coffin indicates that Henutmehyt...

  • Henuttawy (priestess)
    Henuttawy (priestess)
    Henuttawy was an ancient Egyptian high priestess, a God's Wife of Amun during the 21st dynasty.Her father was Pinedjem II, High Priest of Amun, her mother was Isetemkheb D, Singer of Amun. Both her parents were children of the high priest Menkheperre who was brother to Maatkare, the God's Wife...

  • Hui (priestess)
    Hui (priestess)
    Hui was an ancient Egyptian priestess during the 18th dynasty. She was the mother of Merytre-Hatshepsut, the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Thutmose III....

  • Iset (priestess)
    Iset (priestess)
    Iset was an ancient Egyptian princess and God's Wife of Amun during the 20th dynasty.Iset was the daughter of Pharaoh Ramesses VI and his Great Royal Wife Nubkhesbed, and a sister to Pharaoh Ramesses VII....

  • Karomama Meritmut
    Karomama Meritmut
    Karomama Meritmut was an ancient Egyptian high priestess, a God's Wife of Amun during the 22nd dynasty.She is possibly identical with Karomama, a daughter of Pharaoh Osorkon II, who was depicted in the sed-hall of the pharaoh. She followed Henuttawy as high priestess. She is depicted in the Karnak...

  • Maatkare Mutemhat
    Maatkare Mutemhat
    Maatkare was an ancient Egyptian high priestess, a God's Wife of Amun during the 21st dynasty.-History:She was the daughter of High Priest of Amun Pinedjem I, who was the de facto ruler of Southern Egypt from 1070 BCE onwards, then proclaimed himself pharaoh in 1054 BCE. Her mother was...

  • Meritamen (daughter of Thutmose III)
    Meritamen (daughter of Thutmose III)
    Meritamen was a princess during the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt. She was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose III and his Great Royal Wife Merytre-Hatshepsut. She is also called Meritamun.- Biography :...

  • Neferhetepes
    Neferhetepes
    Neferhetepes was an ancient Egyptian princess of the 4th dynasty; a daughter of Pharaoh Djedefre who ruled between his father Khufu and his brother Khafra. Her mother was Hetepheres II.- Biography :...

     was the earliest attested priestess of Hathor
    Hathor
    Hathor , is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt...

  • Neferure
    Neferure
    Neferure was an Egyptian princess of the eighteenth dynasty. She was the daughter of two pharaohs, Hatshepsut and Thutmose II. She served in high offices in the government and the religious administration of Ancient Egypt.-Family:...

  • Tabekenamun
    Tabekenamun
    Tabekenamun was a Nubian queen dated to the Twenty-fifth Dynasty of Egypt.Tabekenamun was a daughter of King Piye and may have been a queen consort to her brother Taharqa. She is known from Cairo Statue 49157 from Karnak....

     a priestess of Hathor
    Hathor
    Hathor , is an Ancient Egyptian goddess who personified the principles of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy. She was one of the most important and popular deities throughout the history of Ancient Egypt...

     as well as a priestess of Neith
    Neith
    In Egyptian mythology, Neith was an early goddess in the Egyptian pantheon. She was the patron deity of Sais, where her cult was centered in the Western Nile Delta of Egypt and attested as early as the First Dynasty...


Ancient Rome


In Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 and throughout Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, the ancient sanctuaries of Ceres
Ceres (mythology)
In ancient Roman religion, Ceres was a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships. She was originally the central deity in Rome's so-called plebeian or Aventine Triad, then was paired with her daughter Proserpina in what Romans described as "the Greek rites of Ceres"...

 and Proserpina
Proserpina
Proserpina or Proserpine is an ancient Roman goddess whose story is the basis of a myth of Springtime. Her Greek goddess' equivalent is Persephone. The probable origin of her name comes from the Latin, "proserpere" or "to emerge," in respect to the growing of grain...

 were invariably led by female sacerdotes, drawn from women of local and Roman elites. It was the only public priesthood attainable by Roman matrons and was held in great honor.

Ancient Greece

  • The Pythia
    Pythia
    The Pythia , commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the priestess at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, located on the slopes of Mount Parnassus. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. The Delphic oracle was established in the 8th century BC...

     was the title of a priestess at the very ancient temple of Delphi
    Delphi
    Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

     that was dedicated to the Earth Mother. She was widely credited for her prophecies
    Prophecy
    Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

    . The priestess retained her role when the temple was rededicated to Apollo
    Apollo
    Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

    , giving her a prominence unusual for a woman in the male-dominated culture of classical Greece
    Classical Greece
    Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

    .
  • Phrygian Sibyl
    Phrygian Sibyl
    In the extended complement of sibyls of the Gothic and Renaissance imagination, the Phrygian Sibyl was the priestess presiding over an Apollonian oracle at Phrygia, a historical kingdom in the west central part of the Anatolian highlands. The Phrygian sibyl appears to be one of a triplicated sibyl,...

     was the priestess presiding over an Apollo
    Apollo
    Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

    nian oracle
    Oracle
    In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

     at Phrygia
    Phrygia
    In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

    , a historical kingdom in the Anatolia
    Anatolia
    Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

    n highlands.

Judaism



In ancient Israel the priests were required by the Law of Moses
Law of Moses
The Law of Moses is a term first found in Joshua 8:31-32 where Joshua writes the words of "the Law of Moses" on the altar at Mount Ebal. The text continues "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law."...

 to be of direct paternal descendency from Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

, Moses' elder brother. In Exodus 30:22-25 God instructs Moses to make a holy anointing oil
Holy anointing oil
The holy anointing oil , formed an integral part of the ordination of the priesthood and the high priest as well as in the consecration of the articles of the tabernacle and subsequent temples in Jerusalem...

 to consecrate the priests "for all of eternity." During the times of the two Jewish Temples in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

, the Aaronic priests were responsible for the daily and special Jewish holiday
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

 offerings and sacrifices within the temples, these offerings are known as the korbanot.

In Hebrew the word "priest" is kohen
Kohen
A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

 (singular כהן kohen, plural כּהנִים kohanim), hence the family names Cohen, Cahn, Kahn, Kohn, Kogan, etc. These families are from the tribe of Levi (Levites) and in twenty-four instances are called by scripture as such (Jerusalem Talmud
Jerusalem Talmud
The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

 to Mishnaic tractate Maaser Sheini p. 31a).

Since the destruction of the Second Temple, and (therefore) the cessation of the daily and seasonal temple ceremonies and sacrifices, Kohanim in traditional Judaism (Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 and to some extent, Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

) continue to perform a number of priestly ceremonies and roles such as the Pidyon HaBen
Pidyon HaBen
The Pidyon HaBen, or Redemption of the first born son, is a mitzvah in Judaism whereby a Jewish firstborn son is redeemed by use of silver coins from his birth-state of sanctity....

 (redemption of a first-born son) ceremony and the Priestly Blessing
Priestly Blessing
The Priestly Blessing, , also known in Hebrew as Nesiat Kapayim, , or Dukhanen , is a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim during certain Jewish services...

, and have remained subject, particularly in Orthodox Judaism, to a number of restrictions, such as restrictions on certain marriages and ritual purity (see Kohanic disqualifications
Kohanic disqualifications
Under the Law of Moses in Ancient Israel certain imperfections and other criteria could disqualify the priest from serving in the tabernacle or, later, the Temple in Jerusalem....

).

Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 regard the kohanim as being held in reserve for a future restored Temple. In all branches of Judaism, Kohanim do not perform roles of propitiation, sacrifice, or sacrament. Rather, a kohens principal religious function is to perform the Priestly Blessing
Priestly Blessing
The Priestly Blessing, , also known in Hebrew as Nesiat Kapayim, , or Dukhanen , is a Jewish prayer recited by Kohanim during certain Jewish services...

, and, provided he is rabbinically qualified, to serve as an authoritative judge (posek) and expositor of Jewish halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 law.

Christianity




Two different Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 words (the language in which the New Testament was composed) occur in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 that have come to at least sometimes be translated into English as priest, a distinction is drawn that is not always observed in English. The first word, hiereus (Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: ἱερεύς), Latin sacerdos, which is always rendered "priest", refers to priests who offer sacrifice, such as the priesthood of the Jewish Temple, or the priests of pagan
Paganism
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

 gods.

The second word, presbyteros (Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

: πρεσβύτερος), Latinized as presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

, means elder, and is also used in neutral and non-religious contexts in Greek to refer to seniority or relative age. However the word presbyteros has traditionally been translated priest, and as the Christian Church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 became more priest-centered prior to the origin of the English language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

, the English word priest is developed etymologically
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

 from the word presbyter. Today "priest" is the term used in Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and some strains of Lutheranism to refer to leaders that have taken the "sacrament of Holy Orders
Holy Orders
The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry....

." Since the Reformation
Reformation
- Movements :* Protestant Reformation, an attempt by Martin Luther to reform the Roman Catholic Church that resulted in a schism, and grew into a wider movement...

, other Christian denominations are much more likely to use the term "elder
Elder (Christianity)
An elder in Christianity is a person valued for his wisdom who accordingly holds a particular position of responsibility in a Christian group. In some Christian traditions an elder is a clergy person who usually serves a local church or churches and who has been ordained to a ministry of Word,...

" or even "presbyter
Presbyter
Presbyter in the New Testament refers to a leader in local Christian congregations, then a synonym of episkopos...

" to refer to members of a church governing body.

The New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 draws a distinction between the Jewish priesthood and the High Priesthood of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

; it teaches that the sacrificial atonement by Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ on Calvary
Calvary
Calvary or Golgotha was the site, outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred. Calvary and Golgotha are the English names for the site used in Western Christianity...

 has made the Jewish priesthood and its prescribed ritual sacrifices redundant. Thus, for Christians, Christ himself is the one hiereus, and Christian priests have no priesthood independent or distinct from that of Christ. The one sacrifice of Christ, which he offered "once for all" on the Cross, is considered present by some Christian denominations, through the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

.


This analogous use of the word "priest" (ἱερεύς, sacerdos) for Christian ministers appears to have arisen only at the end of the 2nd century, at first for bishops only; but by the time of Saint Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, in the mid-3rd century, it was applied to presbyters also. The late 1st-century Epistle of Clement uses the terms ἐπίσκοπος (bishop) and πρεσβύτερος (presbyter) interchangeably for the clergy above the rank of deacon, but for Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

, who died in the early years of the 2nd century, bishops and presbyters were already quite distinct. Elsewhere, particularly in Egypt, the distinction seems to have become established only later. By the middle of that century all the leading Christian centres had bishops distinct from the presbyters. The word "bishop" is derived, through Latin episcopus, from the Greek word ἐπίσκοπος (episkopos), whose original meaning was "overseer".

The most known form of clericals for the priest is the easily identifiable clerical collar
Clerical collar
A clerical collar is an item of Christian clerical clothing. It is a detachable collar that buttons onto a clergy shirt or rabbat , being fastened by two metal studs, one attached at the front and one at the back to hold the collar to the shirt. The collar closes at the back of the neck, presenting...

, which takes form in either the traditional cassock, or modern day clerical shirt. It consists (typically) of a white plastic tab, inserted into a specially made collar of a black shirt.

Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy





The most significant liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 acts reserved to priests in these traditions are the administration of the Sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s, including the celebration of the Holy Mass
Mass (liturgy)
"Mass" is one of the names by which the sacrament of the Eucharist is called in the Roman Catholic Church: others are "Eucharist", the "Lord's Supper", the "Breaking of Bread", the "Eucharistic assembly ", the "memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection", the "Holy Sacrifice", the "Holy and...

 or Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy
Divine Liturgy is the common term for the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine tradition of Christian liturgy. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, use the same term...

 (the terms for the celebration of the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 in the Latin and Byzantine traditions, respectively), and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, also called Confession
Confession
This article is for the religious practice of confessing one's sins.Confession is the acknowledgment of sin or wrongs...

. The sacraments of Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick
Anointing of the Sick, known also by other names, is distinguished from other forms of religious anointing or "unction" in that it is intended, as its name indicates, for the benefit of a sick person...

 (Extreme Unction) and Confirmation
Confirmation (Christian sacrament)
Confirmation is a rite of initiation in Christian churches, normally carried out through anointing and/or the laying on of hands and prayer for the purpose of bestowing the Gift of the Holy Spirit....

 or Chrismation
Chrismation
Chrismation is the name given in Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches, as well as in the Assyrian Church of the East, Anglican, and in Lutheran initiation rites, to the Sacrament or Sacred Mystery more commonly known in the West as confirmation, although Italian...

 are also administered by priests, though in the Western tradition Confirmation is ordinarily celebrated by a bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

. In the East, Chrismation is performed by the priest (using oil specially consecrated by a bishop) immediately after Baptism, and Unction is normally performed by several priests (ideally seven), but may be performed by one if necessary. In the West, Holy Baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

 may be celebrated by anyone and Matrimony
Catholic marriage
Catholic marriage, also called matrimony, is a "covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring...

 may be witnessed by a deacon, but most often these normally are administered by a priest as well. In the East, Holy Baptism and Marriage (which is called "Crowning") may be performed only by a priest. If a person is baptized in extremis (i.e., when in fear of immediate death), only the actual threefold immersion together with the scriptural words may be performed by a layperson or deacon. The remainder of the rite, and Chrismation, must still be performed by a priest, if the person survives. The only sacrament which may be celebrated only by a bishop is that of Ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

 (cheirotonia, "Laying-on of Hands"), or Holy Orders
Holy Orders
The term Holy Orders is used by many Christian churches to refer to ordination or to those individuals ordained for a special role or ministry....

.

In these traditions, only men who meet certain requirements may become priests. In Roman Catholicism the canonical
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 minimum age is twenty-five. Bishops may dispense with this rule and ordain men up to one year younger. Dispensations of more than a year are reserved to the Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 (Can. 1031 §§1, 4.) A Catholic priest must be incardinated by his bishop or his major religious superior in order to engage in public ministry. In Orthodoxy, the normal minimum age is thirty (Can. 9 of Neocaesarea) but a bishop may dispense with this if needed. In neither tradition may priests marry after ordination. In the Roman Catholic Church, priests in the Latin Rite, which covers the vast majority of Roman Catholicism, must be celibate
Clerical celibacy
Clerical celibacy is the discipline by which some or all members of the clergy in certain religions are required to be unmarried. Since these religions consider deliberate sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior outside of marriage to be sinful, clerical celibacy also requires abstension from these...

 except under special rules for married clergy converting from certain other Christian confessions. Married men may become priests in Eastern Orthodoxy and the Eastern Catholic Churches, but in neither case may they marry after ordination, even if they become widowed. Candidates for bishop are chosen only from among the celibate. Orthodox priests will either were a clerical collar similar to the above mentioned, or simply a very loose black robe that does not have a collar.

Anglican or Episcopalian


The role of a priest in the Anglican Communion
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 is largely the same as within the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 and Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

, except that canon law
Canon law
Canon law is the body of laws & regulations made or adopted by ecclesiastical authority, for the government of the Christian organization and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law governing the Catholic Church , the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the Anglican Communion of...

 in almost every Anglican
Anglicanism
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 province restricts the administration of confirmation to the bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, just as with ordination
Ordination
In general religious use, ordination is the process by which individuals are consecrated, that is, set apart as clergy to perform various religious rites and ceremonies. The process and ceremonies of ordination itself varies by religion and denomination. One who is in preparation for, or who is...

. Whilst Anglican priests who are members of religious order
Religious order
A religious order is a lineage of communities and organizations of people who live in some way set apart from society in accordance with their specific religious devotion, usually characterized by the principles of its founder's religious practice. The order is composed of initiates and, in some...

s must remain celibate, the secular clergy
Secular clergy
The term secular clergy refers to deacons and priests who are not monastics or members of a religious order.-Catholic Church:In the Catholic Church, the secular clergy are ministers, such as deacons and priests, who do not belong to a religious order...

 - (bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

s, priests, and deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s who are not members of religious orders) - are permitted to marry before or after ordination. The Anglican churches, unlike the Roman Catholic or Eastern Christian traditions, have allowed the ordination of women as priests in some provinces since 1971. This practice remains controversial, however; a minority of provinces (ten out the thirty-eight worldwide) retain an all-male priesthood. Most Continuing Anglican
Continuing Anglican Movement
The term Continuing Anglican movement refers to a number of churches in various countries that have been formed outside of the Anglican Communion. These churches generally believe that "traditional" forms of Anglican faith and worship have been unacceptably revised or abandoned within some...

 churches do not ordain women to the priesthood.

As Anglicanism represents a broad range of theological opinion, its presbyterate includes priests who consider themselves no different in any respect from those of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, and a minority who prefer to use the title presbyter in order to distance themselves from the more sacrificial theological implications which they associate with the word "priest". While priest is the official title of a member of the presbyterate in every Anglican province worldwide, the ordination rite of certain provinces (including the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

) recognizes the breadth of opinion by adopting the title The Ordination of Priests (also called Presbyters). Historically, the term "priest" has been more associated with the "High Church
High church
The term "High Church" refers to beliefs and practices of ecclesiology, liturgy and theology, generally with an emphasis on formality, and resistance to "modernization." Although used in connection with various Christian traditions, the term has traditionally been principally associated with the...

" or Anglo-Catholic wing, whereas the term "minister" has been more commonly used in "Low Church
Low church
Low church is a term of distinction in the Church of England or other Anglican churches initially designed to be pejorative. During the series of doctrinal and ecclesiastic challenges to the established church in the 16th and 17th centuries, commentators and others began to refer to those groups...

" or Evangelical circles.

Protestantism


The general priesthood or the priesthood of all believers
Priesthood of all believers
The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

, is a Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

 doctrine derived from several passages of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

. It is a foundational concept of Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

. It is this doctrine that Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 adduces in his 1520 To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation
To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation
To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation is the first of three tracts written by Martin Luther in 1520. In this work, he defined for the first time the signature doctrines of the Priesthood of all believers and the two kingdoms.-History:...

 in order to dismiss the medieval Christian belief that Christians were to be divided into two classes: "spiritual" and "temporal" or non-spiritual.

The conservative reforms of Lutherans are reflected in the theological and practical view of the ministry of the Church. Much of European Lutheranism follows the traditional catholic governance of deacon, priest and bishop. The Lutheran archbishops of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, etc. and Baltic countries are the historic national primates or See of the original Catholic Church and some ancient cathedrals and parishes in the Lutheran church were constructed many centuries before the Reformation. Indeed, ecumenical work within the Anglican communion and among Scandinavian Lutherans mutually recognize the historic apostolic legitimacy and full communion. Likewise in America, Lutherans have embraced the apostolic succession of bishops in the full communion with Episcopalians and most Lutheran ordinations are performed by a bishop. The Catholic Church, however, does not recognise Episcopalians or Lutherans as having legitimate apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

.

Ordained Protestant clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

 often have the title of pastor
Pastor
The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

, minister, reverend, etc. In some Lutheran
Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation...

 churches, ordained clergy are called priests, while in others the term pastor is preferred.

Islam


No single Islamic office encompasses all the meanings of "priest" in the Christian sense, and some priestly functions are not performed by any office. The title mullah
Mullah
Mullah is generally used to refer to a Muslim man, educated in Islamic theology and sacred law. The title, given to some Islamic clergy, is derived from the Arabic word مَوْلَى mawlā , meaning "vicar", "master" and "guardian"...

, commonly translated "cleric" in the West and thought to be analogous to "priest", is a title of address for any educated or respected figure, not even necessarily (though frequently) religious.

There is no office corresponding to the Christian sacerdos or Jewish kohen, as there is no sacrificial rite of atonement comparable to the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 or the Korban
Korban
The term offering as found in the Hebrew Bible in relation to the worship of Ancient Israel is mainly represented by the Hebrew noun korban whether for an animal or other offering...

. Ritual slaughter
Ritual slaughter
Ritual slaughter is the practice of slaughtering livestock for meat in a ritual manner. Ritual slaughter involves a prescribed method of slaughtering an animal for food production purposes...

 or dhabihah, including the qurban of `Idu l-Ad'ha, may be performed by any adult Muslim who is physically able and properly trained. Professional butchers may be employed, but they are not necessary; in the case of the qurban, it is especially preferable to slaughter one's own animal if possible.

The nearest Islamic analogue to the parish priest, or to the "pulpit rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

" of a synagogue, is the imam khatib. This compound title is merely a common combination of two elementary offices: leader (imam) of the congregational prayer, which in larger mosques is performed at the times of all daily prayers; and preacher (khatib) of the sermon or khutba at the required congregational prayer on Friday. Although either duty can be performed by anyone who is regarded as qualified by the congregation, at most well-established mosques imam khatib is a permanent (part-time or full-time) position. He may be elected by the local community, or appointed by an outside authority -- e. g., the national government, or the waqf
Waqf
A waqf also spelled wakf formally known as wakf-alal-aulad is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically denoting a building or plot of land for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust...

 which sustains the mosque. There is no ordination as such; the only requirement for appointment as an imam khatib is recognition as someone of sufficient learning and virtue to perform both duties on a regular basis, and to instruct the congregation in the basics of Islam.

The title hafiz (lit. "preserver") is awarded to one who has memorized the entire Qur'an, often by attending a special course for the purpose; the imam khatib of a mosque is frequently (though not always) a hafiz.

The title `alim (pl. `ulamah
Ulama
-In Islam:* Ulema, also transliterated "ulama", a community of legal scholars of Islam and its laws . See:**Nahdlatul Ulama **Darul-uloom Nadwatul Ulama **Jamiatul Ulama Transvaal**Jamiat ul-Ulama -Other:...

), or "scholar", denotes someone who is engaged in advanced study of the traditional Islamic sciences (`ulum) at an Islamic university or madrasah jami`ah. In modern Shi`ah Islam, scholars play a more prominent role in the daily lives of Muslims than in Sunni Islam; and there is a hierarchy of higher titles of scholastic authority, such as Ayatollah
Ayatollah
Ayatollah is a high ranking title given to Usuli Twelver Shī‘ah clerics. Those who carry the title are experts in Islamic studies such as jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy and usually teach in Islamic seminaries. The next lower clerical rank is Hojatoleslam wal-muslemin...

.

There are several specialist offices pertaining to the study and administration of Islamic law or shari`ah
Sharia
Sharia law, is the moral code and religious law of Islam. Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the precepts set forth in the Quran, and the example set by the Islamic prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of sharia to...

. A scholar with a specialty in fiqh or jurisprudence is known as a faqih
Faqih
A Faqīh is an expert in fiqh, or, Islamic jurisprudence.A faqih is an expert in Islamic Law, and, as such, the word Faqih can literally be generally translated as Jurist.- The definition of Fiqh and its relation to the Faqih:...

. A qadi
Qadi
Qadi is a judge ruling in accordance with Islamic religious law appointed by the ruler of a Muslim country. Because Islam makes no distinction between religious and secular domains, qadis traditionally have jurisdiction over all legal matters involving Muslims...

 is a judge in an Islamic court. A mufti
Mufti
A mufti is a Sunni Islamic scholar who is an interpreter or expounder of Islamic law . In religious administrative terms, a mufti is roughly equivalent to a deacon to a Sunni population...

 is a scholar who has completed an advanced course of study which qualifies him to issue judicial opinions or fatawah
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

.

The pastoral care function of the Christian priesthood is fulfilled for many Muslims by a murshid ("guide"), master of the spiritual sciences and disciplines known as tasawuf or Sufism
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

. Sufi guides are commonly titled Shaikh ("Elder") in both speaking and writing; in North Africa they are sometimes called marabout
Marabout
A marabout is a Muslim religious leader and teacher in West Africa, and in the Maghreb. The marabout is often a scholar of the Qur'an, or religious teacher. Others may be wandering holy men who survive on alms, Sufi Murshids , or leaders of religious communities...

s. They are traditionally appointed by their predecessors, in an unbroken teaching lineage reaching back to Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 himself. This lineal succession of Sufi guides is the nearest approach within Islam to the concept of Christian ordination and apostolic succession.

An aspiring Sufi pledges himself (or herself) to a murshid by taking a vow of obedience, or bai'ah
Bay'ah
Bay'ah , in Islamic terminology, is an oath of allegiance to a leader. It is known to have been practiced by the Islamic prophet Muhammad...

. The aspirant is then known as a murid ("disciple" or "follower"). A murid who takes on special disciplines under the guide's instruction, ranging from an intensive spiritual retreat to voluntary poverty and homelessness, is sometimes known as a dervish
Dervish
A Dervish or Darvesh is someone treading a Sufi Muslim ascetic path or "Tariqah", known for their extreme poverty and austerity, similar to mendicant friars in Christianity or Hindu/Buddhist/Jain sadhus.-Etymology:The Persian word darvīsh is of ancient origin and descends from a Proto-Iranian...

.

During the Islamic Golden Age
Islamic Golden Age
During the Islamic Golden Age philosophers, scientists and engineers of the Islamic world contributed enormously to technology and culture, both by preserving earlier traditions and by adding their own inventions and innovations...

, it was common for scholars to attain recognized mastery of both the "exterior sciences" (`ulum az-zahir) of the madrasahs, and the "interior sciences" (`ulum al-batin) of Sufism. Al-Ghazali
Al-Ghazali
Abu Hāmed Mohammad ibn Mohammad al-Ghazzālī , known as Algazel to the western medieval world, born and died in Tus, in the Khorasan province of Persia was a Persian Muslim theologian, jurist, philosopher, and mystic....

 and Rumi are two notable examples.

Hinduism



Hindu priests historically were members of the Brahmin caste, although this practice as such is not ordained in scriptures. More recently this practice has fallen into disfavor, or at least disuse. Thus numerous temples in India are managed by people of a caste with local majority. Priests are ordained and trained as well. There are two types of Hindu priests. A pujari performs rituals in a temple. These rituals include bathing the Murtis (the statues of the Gods/Goddesses), performing puja, a ritualistic offering of various items to the Gods, or in the North of India, Arati
Aarti
Aarti , also spelled arathi, aarthi is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a form of puja, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee or camphor is offered to one or more deities...

, the waving of a ghee or oil lamp before the Murtis. Pujaris are usually married.

A purohit on the other hand performs rituals and samskaras (sacraments) outside of the temple. There are special purohits who perform only funeral rites.

In many cases, a purohit also functions as a pujari. Both women and men are ordained as purohits and pujaris.

Zoroastrianism


In Zoroastrianism, the priesthood is reserved for men and mostly hereditary. The priests prepare a drink from a sacred plant, the Haoma ritual. They officiate the Yasna
Yasna
Yasna is the name of the primary liturgical collection of texts of the Avesta as well as the name of the principal Zoroastrian act of worship at which those verses are recited. The Yasna, or Izeshne, is primarily the name of the ceremony in which the entire book is recited and appropriate...

, pouring libations into the sacred fire to the accompaniment of ritual chants.

Taoism


The priests act as interpreters of the principles of Yin-Yang 5 elements (fire, water, earth, wood, and metal) school of ancient Chinese philosophy, as they relate to marriage, death, festival cycles, and so on. The Taoist priest seeks to share the benefits of meditation to his or her http://www.rmhb.com.cn/chpic/htdocs/english/200810/8-1.htm community through public ritual and liturgy.

Shintoism


The shinto priest is called a , originally pronounced kamunushi, sometimes referred to as a . A Kannushi is the person responsible for the maintenance of a Shinto shrine, or jinja, purificatory rites, and for leading worship and veneration of a certain kami. Additionally, priests are aided by for many rites as a kind of shaman or medium. The maidens may either be family members in training, apprentices, or local volunteers.

Saiin were female relatives of the Japanese emperor (termed saiō) who served as High Priestesses in Kamo Shrine. Saiō also served at Ise Shrine. Saiin priestesses usually were elected from royalty. In principle, Saiin remained unmarried, but there were exceptions. Some Saiin became consorts of the emperor, called Nyōgo in Japanese. The Saiin order of priestesses existed throughout the Heian and Kamakura periods.

Africa


The Yoruba people of western Nigeria practice an indigenous religion with a religious hierarchy of priests and priestesses that dates to AD 800-1000. Ifá priests and priestesses bear the titles Babalowo for men and Iyanifa for females http://books.google.com/books?id=B667ATiedQkC&pg=PT365&dq=babalawo+iyanifa&hl=en&ei=y2g_TJTWBISdlgewzdnBBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=book-thumbnail&resnum=9&ved=0CE0Q6wEwCA#v=onepage&q=babalawo%20iyanifa&f=false. Priests and priestess of the varied Orisha are titled Babalorisa for men and Iyalorisa for women http://books.google.com/books?id=X8waCmzjiD4C&pg=PA451&lpg=PA451&dq=babalorisha+iyalorisha+orisha&source=bl&ots=hF6sfW1-I6&sig=rYBDMA7-BHnUEzoMxohhoPMg3qA&hl=en&ei=A2o_TJ-sOYaglAen_7z9Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=7&ved=0CCYQ6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=babalorisha%20iyalorisha%20orisha&f=false. Initiates are also given an Orisa or Ifá name that signifies under which deity they are initiated. For example a Priestess of Oshun may be named Osunyemi and a Priest of Ifá
Ifá
Ifá refers to the system of divination and the verses of the literary corpus known as the Odú Ifá. Yoruba religion identifies Orunmila as the Grand Priest; as that which revealed Oracle divinity to the world...

 may be named Ifáyemi. This ancient culture continues to this day as initiates from all around the world return to Nigeria for initiation into the traditional priesthood.

Wicca


There are many different Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

n practices. Most ordain women as well as men as priests; some Dianic Wiccans do not ordain men. According to Wicca
Wicca
Wicca , is a modern Pagan religious movement. Developing in England in the first half of the 20th century, Wicca was popularised in the 1950s and early 1960s by a Wiccan High Priest named Gerald Gardner, who at the time called it the "witch cult" and "witchcraft," and its adherents "the Wica."...

n tradition, there is no separation between "clergy" and "congregation" and all initiates are considered to be priestesses and priests.

Dress in Wicca


There is no specific form of dress followed by the clergy in Wicca; in some traditions of Wicca all members appear sky-clad. Some may choose to wear the traditional ankle-length tunic
Tunic
A tunic is any of several types of clothing for the body, of various lengths reaching from the shoulders to somewhere between the hips and the ankles...

 and knotted cord cincture
Cincture
The cincture is a liturgical vestment, worn encircling the body around or above the waist. The term has two distinct meanings, the usage generally dividing along denominational lines...

(or cingulum). If this is the case, the officiating clergy may wear white tunics while the other members wear tunics of a different color. In older forms of Wicca, officiating priestesses wear a necklace of amber and jet, as well as a bracelet of some type and a buckled garter, while the priest wears a headdress with horns or antlers, symbolic of the Horned God of traditional Wicca.

Dress


The dress of religious workers in ancient times may be demonstrated in frescoes and artifacts from the cultures. The dress is presumed to be related to the customary clothing of the culture, with some symbol of the deity worn on the head or held by the person. Sometimes special colors, materials, or patterns distinguish celebrants, as the white wool veil draped on the head of the Vestal Virgin
Vestal Virgin
In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins , were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome, as embodied by their cultivation of the sacred fire that could not be...

s.

Occasionally the celebrants at religious ceremonies shed all clothes in a symbolic gesture of purity. This was often the case in ancient times. An example of this is shown to the left on a Kylix dating from c. 500 BC where a priestess is featured. Modern religious groups tend to avoid such symbolism and some may be quite uncomfortable with the concept.

The retention of long skirt
Skirt
A skirt is a tube- or cone-shaped garment that hangs from the waist and covers all or part of the legs.In the western world, skirts are usually considered women's clothing. However, there are exceptions...

s and vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

s among many ranks of contemporary priests when they officiate may be interpreted to express the ancient traditions of the cultures from which their religious practices arose.


In most Christian traditions, priests wear clerical clothing
Clerical clothing
Clerical clothing is non-liturgical clothing worn exclusively by clergy. It is distinct from vestments in that it is not reserved specifically for services. Practices vary: clerical clothing is sometimes worn under vestments, and sometimes as the everyday clothing or street wear of a priest,...

, a distinctive form of street dress. Even within individual traditions it varies considerably in form, depending on the specific occasion. In Western Christianity
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

, the stiff white clerical collar
Clerical collar
A clerical collar is an item of Christian clerical clothing. It is a detachable collar that buttons onto a clergy shirt or rabbat , being fastened by two metal studs, one attached at the front and one at the back to hold the collar to the shirt. The collar closes at the back of the neck, presenting...

 has become the nearly universal feature of priestly clerical clothing, worn either with a cassock
Cassock
The cassock, an item of clerical clothing, is an ankle-length robe worn by clerics of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Anglican Church, Lutheran Church and some ministers and ordained officers of Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Ankle-length garment is the meaning of the...

 or a clergy shirt. The collar may be either a full collar or a vestigial tab displayed through a square cutout in the shirt collar.

Eastern Christian
Eastern Christianity
Eastern Christianity comprises the Christian traditions and churches that developed in the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Asia Minor, the Middle East, Northeastern Africa, India and parts of the Far East over several centuries of religious antiquity. The term is generally used in Western Christianity to...

 priests mostly retain the traditional dress of two layers of differently cut cassock: the rasson (Greek) or podriasnik (Russian) beneath the outer exorasson (Greek) or riasa (Russian). If a pectoral cross has been awarded it is usually worn with street clothes in the Russian tradition, but not so often in the Greek tradition.

Distinctive clerical clothing is less often worn in modern times than formerly, and in many cases it is rare for a priest to wear it when not acting in a pastoral capacity, especially in countries that view themselves as largely secular in nature. There are frequent exceptions to this however, and many priests rarely if ever go out in public without it, especially in countries where their religion makes up a clear majority of the population. Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

 often instructed Catholic priests and religious to always wear their distinctive (clerical) clothing, unless wearing it would result in persecution or grave verbal attacks.

Christian traditions that retain the title of priest also retain the tradition of special liturgical vestment
Vestment
Vestments are liturgical garments and articles associated primarily with the Christian religion, especially among Latin Rite and other Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, and Lutherans...

s worn only during services. Vestments vary widely among the different Christian traditions.

Assistant priest


In many religions there are one or more layers of assistant priests.

In the Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia , ancient Egypt, ancient Iran The ancient Near East was the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East: Mesopotamia...

, hierodule
Hierodule
In ancient Greece and Anatolia a hierodule, from the Greek ' , was a temple slave in the service of a specific deity, often with the connotation of religious prostitution. Her prostitution would technically be excused because of the service she provided to the deity...

s served in temples as assistants to the priestess.

In ancient Judaism, the Priests (Kohanim) had a whole class of Levites as their assistants in making the sacrifices, in singing psalms and in maintaining the Temple
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

. The Priests and the Levites were in turn served by servants called Nethinim
Nethinim
Nethinim was the name given to the Temple assistants in ancient Jerusalem. The term was applied originally in the Book of Joshua to the Gibeonites who converted during the time of Joshua, later in the Book of Ezra they include the Avdei Shlomo the descendants of...

. These lowest level of servants were not priests.

An assistant priest is a priest in the Anglican and Episcopal churches who is not the senior member of clergy of the parish to which they are appointed, but is nonetheless in priests' orders; there is no difference in function or theology, merely in 'grade' or 'rank'. Some assistant priests have a "sector ministry", that is to say that they specialize in a certain area of ministry within the local church, for example youth work, hospital work, or ministry to local light industry. They may also hold some diocesan appointment part-time. In most (though not all) cases an assistant priest has the legal status of assistant curate
Curate
A curate is a person who is invested with the care or cure of souls of a parish. In this sense "curate" correctly means a parish priest but in English-speaking countries a curate is an assistant to the parish priest...

, although it should also be noted that not all assistant curates are priests, as this legal status also applies to many deacon
Deacon
Deacon is a ministry in the Christian Church that is generally associated with service of some kind, but which varies among theological and denominational traditions...

s working as assistants in a parochial setting.

The corresponding term in the Catholic Church is "parochial vicar" - an ordained priest assigned to assist the pastor (Latin: parochus) of a parish in the pastoral care of parishioners. Normally, all pastors are also ordained priests; occasionally an auxiliary bishop will be assigned that role.

Extant

  • Brahmin
    Brahmin
    Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

  • Vedic priesthood
    Vedic priesthood
    Priests of the Vedic religion were officiants of the yajna service. As persons trained for the ritual and proficient in its practice, they were called '...

  • Archpriest
    Archpriest
    An archpriest is a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches, although it may be used in the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church instead of dean or vicar forane.In the 16th and 17th centuries, during...

  • Hieromonk
    Hieromonk
    Hieromonk , also called a Priestmonk, is a monk who is also a priest in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholicism....

  • Vicar
    Vicar
    In the broadest sense, a vicar is a representative, deputy or substitute; anyone acting "in the person of" or agent for a superior . In this sense, the title is comparable to lieutenant...

  • Priesthood (Community of Christ)
    Priesthood (Community of Christ)
    In the Community of Christ, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, priesthood is God's power and authority to minister in the church and to conduct God's business on the earth...

  • Priesthood (Latter Day Saints)
  • Shaman
  • Mobad
    Mobad
    A mobed or mobad is a Zoroastrian cleric of a particular rank. Unlike a herbad , a mobed is qualified to serve as celebrant priest at the Yasna ceremony. A mobed is also qualified to train other priests....


Historical

  • Goði
    Gothi
    A goði or gothi is the Old Norse term for a priest and chieftain. Gyðja signifies a priestess.The name appears in Wulfila's Gothic language translation of the bible as gudja for "priest", but in Old Norse it is only the feminine form gyðja that perfectly corresponds to the Gothic form...

  • Druid
    Druid
    A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age....

  • Oracle
    Oracle
    In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

  • Vestal Virgin
    Vestal Virgin
    In ancient Roman religion, the Vestals or Vestal Virgins , were priestesses of Vesta, goddess of the hearth. The College of the Vestals and its well-being was regarded as fundamental to the continuance and security of Rome, as embodied by their cultivation of the sacred fire that could not be...

  • Pontifex Maximus
    Pontifex Maximus
    The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

  • Flamen
    Flamen
    In ancient Roman religion, a flamen was a priest assigned to one of fifteen deities with official cults during the Roman Republic. The most important three were the flamines maiores , who served the three chief Roman gods of the Archaic Triad. The remaining twelve were the flamines minores...

  • Hierodule
    Hierodule
    In ancient Greece and Anatolia a hierodule, from the Greek ' , was a temple slave in the service of a specific deity, often with the connotation of religious prostitution. Her prostitution would technically be excused because of the service she provided to the deity...


Issues

  • Presbyterorum Ordinis
    Presbyterorum Ordinis
    Presbyterorum Ordinis, the Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, is one of the documents produced by the Second Vatican Council. Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965, it had been earlier approved by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,390 to 4...

    , decree on the priesthood from the Second Vatican Council
    Second Vatican Council
    The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

  • Ordination of women
    Ordination of women
    Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

  • Priest shortage
    Priest shortage
    A priest shortage is the situation of a reduced number of priests in religions, especially the Roman Catholic Church.In 2008, 49,631 parishes in the world had no resident priest pastor. While the number of Catholics in the world nearly doubled between 1970 and 2008, growing from 653 Million to...

  • Ritualism
  • Sacerdotalism
    Sacerdotalism
    Sacerdotalism is the idea that a propitiatory sacrifice for sin must be offered by the intervention of an order of men separated to the priesthood...


Related

  • Priesthood of all believers
    Priesthood of all believers
    The universal priesthood or the priesthood of all believers, as it would come to be known in the present day, is a Christian doctrine believed to be derived from several passages of the New Testament...

  • Pastor
    Pastor
    The word pastor usually refers to an ordained leader of a Christian congregation. When used as an ecclesiastical styling or title, this role may be abbreviated to "Pr." or often "Ps"....

  • List of fictional clergy and religious figures

External links


  • Description of the problem of Roman Catholic and Old Catholic reunion with respect to the female priesthood