Holy Mothers of Orthodoxy


Eva Catafygiotu Topping

Orthodox Eve and the Royal Priesthood

35See Swidler, 343. Epiphanios considered women and heresies the two greatest threats to law and order. In his view, Eve planted the first heresy (PG 42. 750D-753A).
36Quoted from G. R Fedotov ed., A Treasury of Russian Spirituality (New York, 1965), 430.
37A. Wenger, a.a., Jean Chrysostome. Huit Catecheses baptismales. . . . .inedites (Paris, I 957), 126.
38Genesis 2 and 3. Cf. Swidler, 78-81
39For example, Theophilos of Antioch (PG 6. l096A); St. Athanasios of Alexandria (PG 17. 240D). An Orthodox priest in the mid-west justifies the denial of the altar to women on the basis of their primacy in sin: "Because she was deceived by Satan and brought calamity upon the human race, no woman is allowed to enter the sanctuary." Quoted by Arlene Swidler, "If deaconesses, why not priests?" National Catholic Reporter, November 25, 1977, p.8. Adam was the first, but not the last to blame Eve for sin. See Eva C. Topping, "Blame It on Eve," The Church Woman 47 (February-Match, 1981), 8, 15.
40PG 97. 1332A. In a Lenten sermon St. Basil instructs his congregation not to imitate Eve (PG 31. 168B).
41The most famous of a considerable group of reformed harlot-saints, Mary of Egypt is commemorated on April 1 and on the fifth Sunday of Lent. Hymns on the Lukan sinner are featured on Holy Tuesday. See Eva C. Topping, "The Psalmist, St. Luke and Kassia the Nun," Byzantine Studies/Etudes Byzantines 9 (1982), 199-210.
42Jurgens (note 16), 101. Hence Chrysostom did not hesitate to exclude women from the priesthood (ibid., 17, 38). See also R. Gryson, The Ministry of Women in the Early Church (Collegeville, Minnesota, 1980), 80-85.
43The term mathetria occurs only once in the New Testament (Acts 9: 36). In both patristics and Byzantine hymnography it is frequently applied to Jesus' woman followers, particularly to the Myrophoroi. For a detailed treatment of the discipleship of women see Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, In Memory of Her (New York, 1983), 130-151.
44See the lists of women disciples in Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 8: 2-3; John 19:25.
45See the perceptive remarks of Bishop Demetrios Trakatellis, "Follow Me," (Mt. 2:14): "Discipleship and Priesthood," The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 30 (1985), 271-285, especially 272-274, 276-278.
46See Schussler Fiorenza (note 43), 316-323.
47Ibid., xiii-xiv,152f
48Variations in details notwithstanding, the four gospels agree on the primacy of the women disciples' knowledge of the Resurrection. Luke 24:11 records that when the male disciples heard from the women that Christ had risen from the dead, their words seemed nonsense, and they did not believe them.
49See note 45.
50See the analysis of Galatians 3:28 by Schiissler Fiorenza (note 43), 205- 241.
51See above note 11.
52See above notes 7 to 12.
53See above note 10. St. Photeine the Samaritan woman is also celebrated on the fifth Sunday of Easter.
54Nikodemos, I, 16f.
55PG 58. 677. Chrysostom, however, approved of the axioma given to the deacon Phoebe (PG 60. 663C-664A), acknowledged the close collaboration of women and men in the early church (PG 51.236: 58. 669,677) and admitted that in the past the promise of Galatians 3:28 had become a reality (PG 60. 34).
56See E. Theodorou, "He 'cheirotonia' e "cheirothesia' ton diakonisson," Theologia 25 (1954), 430-469; 26 (1955), 57-76; Gryson (note 42). 41-43, 60-64, 69-74; Swidler, 311-315.
57See Clark (note 34) 107-144.
58As it had once become a reality in the early church. See above note 55.
59See, for example, the statement by the Rev. Dr. Demetrios Cohstantelos, cited by Arlene Swidler "If deaconesses, why not priests?" The National Catholic Reporter, November 25, 1977, p.8.
60See the article by L. Swidler, "Jesus was a feminist," in Dimensions of Man edited by H. P. Semonson and J. Magee (New York, 1973), 211 -219.
61Swidler, 192f, 272f.
62In a recent letter to the editor of the Orthodox Observer the writer states that a priest had forbidden a new mother from attending church until forty days had passed after the birth of her child. The writer does well to question this practice in 1986