Church FunctionariesThe functionaries of the church included the
bishop, the priest, and the deacon, as well as various assistants.
One could become a priest from the age of thirty and a deacon from
the age of twenty-five. Women could also serve the church, as deaconesses.
The large churches were headed by a bishop (episkopos), accompanied
by a council of elders (presbyters). The deacons assisted the bishop
with the collection of donations and the distribution of charity,
and helped him perform the various rites. In the East, married men
were not prevented from joining the clergy. However, once one had
become a priest it was forbidden to marry.
Imperial law granted the members of the Christian clergy special
tax exemptions, as well as exemptions from public service. The clergymen
were tried in separate religious courts and their salaries were
paid by the bishopric.
Marble Tombstone with a Greek inscription and an engraved
cross on steps
Shivta, 7th century
Israel Antiquities Authority, 47.5351
“Came to rest Stephen (son) of Boethos, priest, now
the saints, on the 1st of the month Audynaios, indiction 13, year
Photo: The Israel Museum, Jerusalem / by Avraham Hay
the Days of Jesus |In
the Early Church |Pilgrimage
& Symbols |Monasticism
in the Holy Land