priest - presbyter vs hiereus

The etymology of the word “priest” lies in the word NT word presbyter or presbuteros. That is, the modern office we call in English “priest” is the direct descendant of the early church office denoted by “presbyter”. (Another early English variant of presbyter was “prester”.)

So why is it that presbyter is not translated as “priest” in our Bibles? And how is it that the word hiereus IS translated as priest?

hiereus:
blueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/2/1120149443-3361.html

presbuterosblueletterbible.org/tmp_dir/words/4/1120149757-4174.html

How is that the meaning of “priest” shifted? Is this a post-English-Reformation thing? Did the Anglicans begin using the term disparagingly to refer to Catholic and pagan hiereus alike? That would surprise me. Did not the Anglican clergy continue to be referred to as priests after the break with Rome?

If the word “priest” was introduced into English by Christians, what was the homegrown term for a priest, that is, the pagan English version of a hiereus?

The Wycliffe English translation of 1395 has “priest” e.g. Titus 1:5 For cause of this thing Y lefte thee at Crete, that thou amende tho thingis that failen, and ordeyne preestis bi citees, as also Y disposide to thee. Maybe it was changed to “elder” due to continental (i.e. Calvinist) influence.

Because hiereus as priest in the new testament could not be used in the same sense as the old testament.

Priest in the old testament was the mediator between God and Man.
Priest in the New Testament in the same Old Testament sense can only be used for Christ.

However, that does not take away from the fact that in the New Testament, Paul mentions that he and other elders are there as ministers of Christ performing priestly functions in the name of Christ.

This is why you will not find a english translation of hiereus as priest in the New Testament. Elders or presybyters is a more accurate translation of the roles of today’s priests.

[quote=Aris]This is why you will not find a english translation of hiereus as priest in the New Testament.
[/quote]

I don’t follow you, Aris. hiereus is translated as “priest” in English Bibles.

Hi Racer,

The meaning of “presbyteros” in the New Testament is “elder”. The elder was in charge of a community, but was not necessarily an ordained priest. As a matter of fact, many think that for decades, if not centuries, there were only bishops and no priests as we think of them today. In time, the “elders” or heads of communities, were ordained. Hence the word priest derived from “presbyteros”.

“Iereus”, meaning “priest” is used in the New Testament to refer to Old Testament priests or to Christ himself.

Robert

I believe it is translated as “priest” in the Douay Rheims Bible. I have seen “presbyter” in the New American Bible, too.

[quote=Verbum]Hi Racer,
[/quote]

The meaning of “presbyteros” in the New Testament is “elder”. The elder was in charge of a community, but was not necessarily an ordained priest. As a matter of fact, many think that for decades, if not centuries, there were only bishops and no priests as we think of them today. In time, the “elders” or heads of communities, were ordained. Hence the word priest derived from “presbyteros”.

“Iereus”, meaning “priest” is used in the New Testament to refer to Old Testament priests or to Christ himself.

Robert

I understand that, Robert. But doesn’t it strike you as strange? If presbyteros --> priest, why now does priest = heireus?

I could understand that since the term priest may now mean something much more specific than did presbyteros in the first century we might hesitate in using it in a translation since it would adding meaning that is not present in the original. (Although, most Bibles use bishop for episkopos, don’t they?) But why do we use priest to mean heireus?

Hi Racer,

presbyteros --> priest, why now does priest = heireus?

It seems to me you answered your own question, when you stated that translating presbyteros by priest, would be adding a meaning it did not have in the original text. Or do I still misunderstand?

Verbum

[quote=Racer X]I don’t follow you, Aris. hiereus is translated as “priest” in English Bibles.
[/quote]

heireus is translated as priest but priest in this sense is applied only to Old testament priests or Christ.

Priests in the New testament comes from presbyteros. so this is more correctly translated as elders or ministers.

It is correct to say that the priests that we have in the Catholic Church is not the same priests in the same sense as the Old testament priests.

there is only one part in the New testament wherein the elders are referred to as priests. This is when Paul talks about himself in Romans as a minister fulfilling his preistly duties. He does not refer to himself as heireus but only that he is fulfilling his heireus-like duties.
The reason Paul and the others can not say they are heireus is because they are Jews and they would have been laughed at if they had said they were really heireus or priests because they do not have the qualification in the Old Testament sense. There is only one heireus in the New Testament who is the fulfilment of the Old Testament heireus that is Christ. See Hebrew.

So true. The catholic ministers of reconciliation are configured to the one Priesthood of Jesus Christ:

CCC - The one priesthood of Christ
1544 Everything that the priesthood of the Old Covenant prefigured finds its fulfillment in Christ Jesus, the "one mediator between God and men."15 The Christian tradition considers Melchizedek, “priest of God Most High,” as a prefiguration of the priesthood of Christ, the unique “high priest after the order of Melchizedek”;16 "holy, blameless, unstained,"17 "by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified,"18 that is, by the unique sacrifice of the cross.
1545 The redemptive sacrifice of Christ is unique, accomplished once for all; yet it is made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Church. The same is true of the one priesthood of Christ; it is made present through the ministerial priesthood without diminishing the uniqueness of Christ’s priesthood: "Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers."19
Two participations in the one priesthood of Christ
1546 Christ, high priest and unique mediator, has made of the Church " a kingdom, priests for his God and Father."20 The whole community of believers is, as such, priestly. The faithful exercise their baptismal priesthood through their participation, each according to his own vocation, in Christ’s mission as priest, prophet, and king. Through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the faithful are "consecrated to be . . . a holy priesthood."21
1547 The ministerial or hierarchical priesthood of bishops and priests, and the common priesthood of all the faithful participate, “each in its own proper way, in the one priesthood of Christ.” While being “ordered one to another,” they differ essentially.22 In what sense? While the common priesthood of the faithful is exercised by the unfolding of baptismal grace --a life of faith, hope, and charity, a life according to the Spirit–, the ministerial priesthood is at the service of the common priesthood. It is directed at the unfolding of the baptismal grace of all Christians. The ministerial priesthood is a *means *by which Christ unceasingly builds up and leads his Church. For this reason it is transmitted by its own sacrament, the sacrament of Holy Orders.

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