Thursday, May 26, 2011

Laodicea - Canon 13

The election of those who are to be appointed to the priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.

As has been stated previously, an election as used during this time period was not a majority opinion but choosing based on a consensus based on scriptural criteria: or so this was the intention however it was enacted.  That leaves us with a question of whom the priesthood is referring.  When addressing this canon, Alexius Aristenus1 identified them as the company of overseers,2 and this seems likely in view of the canon's placement in a way that seems to elucidate on the preceding one.

What of the multitude and their relation to the process?  The simple one-word translation of οχλος is crowd. Behind that word is the group dynamic that accompanies a large group of people.  Under proper guidance, such a body behaves in a decent and orderly manner, but very little is needed to incite passions, so the group becomes an unruly mob governed by emotion.

With these understandings the canon is attempting to dampen emotionalism in recognizing an overseer and rather relying on the scriptures and sound teaching as handed down from the apostles.

1 Twelfth-century house-manager of the Great Church in Constantinople.  See William Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Vol 1, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1867), 131.
2 NPNF2-14, 130.

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