Irenaeus is cited as one of the early proponents of apostolic succession through episcopal ordination. Only bishops who could reconstruct a line back to the apostles could claim apostolic authority: "With the succession of the episcopate they received the assured gift of truth." Yet, according to K. J. Woollcombe, "in the earliest days, it is likely that bishops were elected and consecrated by their fellow-presbyters. Irenaeus can only have been consecrated to succeed the martyred Pothinus of Lyons by his fellow-presbyters. The Bishops of Rome were probably consecrated in the same way at least until the middle of the second century."
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Thursday, September 20, 2007 at 04:39 PM
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