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The Hidden History of Women's OrdinationFemale Clergy in the Medieval West$
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Gary Macy

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195189704

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195189704.001.0001

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 What Did Ordination Mean?

 What Did Ordination Mean?

(p.23) 2 What Did Ordination Mean?
The Hidden History of Women's Ordination

Gary Macy (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The criteria for a valid ordination assumed by modern scholars are analyzed here in relation to actual requirements for ordination in the early medieval period. Ordination, according to this earlier understanding, referred to the appointment to any ministry within a particular community for service to that community and was not restricted to the ordination to the diaconate or to the presbyterate. Numerous examples of references to women as ordained according to these criteria, including the surviving ordination rites for women, are then presented. Some of the important implications of this early concept of ordination are explored, particularly the fact that priests were not the only ones assumed to be able to consecrate the bread and wine during Mass.

Keywords:   consecration, deacon, Mass, ministry, ordination, priest, woman

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