Κυριακή, 22 Ιουλίου 2018


Petros Vassiliadis

The role of women in the Church, their access to the “sacramental” priesthood, and the order of Deaconesses, are three different – though inter-related – issues that occupy our current theological discourse. Within the Orthodox world, the ordination of women by and large was vehemently rejected as an issue of non-inner pastoral concern, and an alien western phenomenon, mainly influenced by the ideals of modernity.
Having been engaged during my tenure as an academic theologian with other more debated issues in Orthodox theology, [i] I was reluctant – as so many other theologians in our time – to engage in a thorough scholarly research for such a “non-issue” of my Church. However, quite recently, I have actively been involved for more than two years with a seminar and an international conference on “Deaconesses, the Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology,” and especially with the editing of their Proceedings.[ii] I therefore feel compelled – not to say responsible – to attempt an Orthodox theological approach, especially after the courageous decision of the Patriarch of Alexandria Mgr. Theodoros II to revive the order of Deaconesses in his Church. Dedicating with gratitude this study to him I will try to responsibly respond to the above delicate issues on the basis both of the latest decisions of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, held in Crete in June 2016,[iii] and of the latest scientific results of contemporary Orthodox theology.[iv]
The Holy and Great Council in its mission document, “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World,” has declared that the hope of the Church
“is experienced and foretasted by the Church, especially each time the Divine Eucharist is celebrated, bringing together (I Cor 11:20) the scattered children of God (Jn 11:52) without regard to race, sex, age, social, or any other condition into a single body where there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female (Gal 3:28; cf. Col 3:11)” (Preamble).
 And in its section E on “The Attitude of the Church toward Discrimination,” that
 “The Orthodox Church…believes that God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth (Acts 17:26) and that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28)” (par. 2). 
Of course, the issue of deaconesses (and indirectly the ordination of women) were not in the agenda of this vital Pan-Orthodox Council.[v] However, the issue the revival of the order of Deaconesses was high on the agenda of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Sobor before the outbreak of the communist Bolshevik revolution. And in addition, at the March 2014 Synaxis of the Primates of the Orthodox Church that decided this long awaited Council the Archbishop of Cyprus, Mgr. Chrysostomos, had stated that 
“we should ask ourselves the question of the status of women in the Church. Great Christian Denominations, like Anglicanism, have introduced the ordination of women. With biblical and Patristic arguments we should consolidate our position, and study seriously and proceed to the restoration of the order of deaconesses in the Church, taking of course into account all aspects of the issue.[vi]
More than 60 years ago Professor Emeritus Evangelos Theodorou, a respected Orthodox scholar, now 96 years old, opened the discussion within the Orthodox theological circles on the thorny issue of the ordination of women to the sacramental priesthood with his doctoral dissertation on deaconesses.[vii] The semi-official, however, position till now of the Orthodox Church on all the above issues was expressed at an ad hoc inter-Orthodox Conference in 1988 at the Greek island of Rhodes. Convened on the initiative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, this conference has come to some preliminary conclusions,[viii] the relevant to our subject points of which are as follows:
On the place of women, for the first time in official documents, an important self-critical assessment of the situation was made:
“While recognizing these facts, which witness to the promotion through the Church of the equality of honour between men and women, it is necessary to confess in honesty and with humility, that, owing to human weakness and sinfulness, the Christian communities have not always and in all places been able to suppress effectively ideas, manners and customs, historical developments and social conditions which have resulted in practical discrimination against women. Human sinfulness has thus led to practices which do not reflect the true nature of the Church in Jesus Christ” (24).
Equally significant was the position taken with regard to the order of deaconesses:
 “The apostolic order of deaconesses should be revived. It was never altogether abandoned in the Orthodox Church though it has tended to fall into disuse. There is ample evidence, from apostolic times, from the patristic, canonical and liturgical tradition, well into the Byzantine period (and even in our own day) that this order was held in high honour” (32).
Finally, with regard to the overall issue of the ordination of women:
 “The impossibility of the  ordination of women  to  the  special   priesthood as founded in the Tradition of the Church has been expressed in these  ecclesiastically rooted  positions: (a)  on the  example of our  Lord  Jesus Christ, Who did not select any woman as one of His Apostles; (b) on the  example of the  Theotokos, who did not exercise  the  sacramental priestly function  in  the  Church, even  though she  was made  worthy  to become the  Mother  of the Incarnate Son and Word of God; (c)  on  the  Apostolic  Tradition,  according to which  the  Apostles,  following the  example of the  Lord,  never  ordained any  women  to this special  priesthood in the  Church; (d) on some Pauline teachings concerning the place of women in the  Church, and (e)  on  the  criterion of analogy, according to which,  if  the  exercise  of the  sacramental priesthood by women were permitted, then it should  have  been  exercised  by the  Theotokos” (14).
Recently, however, the review of the views by His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware), the first modern Orthodox theologian who systematically formulated theological views on this issue,[ix] the studies by Elizabeth Behr-Sigel,[x] by Nikolaos Matsoukas, the Orthodox Dogmatic Theologian of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,[xi] as well as some recent doctoral dissertations[xii] and postdoctoral monographs[xiii] by Orthodox, and especially the enormous developments in Biblical, Systematic, Historical, Patristic, and even Sociological studies,[xiv] have made a better documentation of the official theological position of the  Orthodox Church a quite urgent need.
Several years ago His Eminence Metropolitan of Pergamon John (Zizioulas), representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and addressing the Anglican communion during their regular conference at Lambeth, drew the attention of all, that the solution to this thorny issue, which torments the Christian world, and has divided vertically and horizontally the various Christian denominations, can be found neither by arguments from sociology, nor exclusively by arguments from tradition. What the Christian community desperately needs is mainly theological arguments.
All these prompted the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES) to convene and international conference on “Deaconesses, the Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology”, held in Thessaloniki (20-23 January 2015). The conference covered all areas of Biblical, Patristic, Liturgical, and Systematic theology, and also some other areas related to the theme of the conference. Its main focus, and its basic concept, was the Orthodox theological approach to the revival of the traditional order “Deaconesses.” However, the conference also dealt with the thorny issue of the “Ordination of Women”, especially with the theological perspective of the admission or not of women into the sacramental priesthood, reversing somewhat the wording of the Patriarchal invitation to the conference in Rhodes late in the 80s, with the emphasis shifting from “exclusion” to the “admission.
 This small but substantial change was prompted by the reflections of the international symposium, held one year earlier and based mainly on the thoughts and proposals by the Professor Emeritus Evangelos Theodorou, to whom the conference was dedicated, who stated:
“In the debate on the general ordination of women the Orthodox theology should not resort to inappropriate use of human, biological concepts about the alleged male or female sex of each of the persons of the Holy Trinity, thus destroying the apophatic and inaccessible to human intellect character of the Trinitarian doctrine. Ecclesiological rather criteria must be used aimed at building the Church of Christ. We must also use the Christological theology, which teaches about a Theanthropic God and in God’s salvific work which incorporated and received the whole human nature, male and female. And so we must seek the division of responsibilities of the Church’s ministers according to the variety of their charisms. This variety of charisms has particularly brought forward the ancient Church”. [xv]
Prof. Theodorou made another important observation, namely that the interpretation in our canonical sources, that the deaconess as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, had a higher position than that of the presbyters, who were considered as symbols of the Apostles, should at least upgrade the status of women regarding the theological legitimacy of participation in the sacramental priesthood. None, of course, of the Orthodox theologians who have been involved or engaged in theological investigation of the matter (Metropolitan of Diokleia Kallistos Ware, Metropolitan Anthony of Souroz of blessed memory, and Prof. Theodorou) dispute, that on the basis of “tradition” and the current canonical order of the Orthodox Church (“τό γε νυν έχον”, as Prof. Theodorou brilliantly underlined) women are excluded from the sacramental “hierourgic” priesthood; but not from the “diaconal” one.
The argument, therefore, “from tradition” (a concept so important in history of the Eastern Orthodox Church – for many unfortunately, even nowadays, over and above the teaching of Jesus Christ") continues to be, despite the warning by Metropolitan of Pergamon I mentioned above, a powerful and largely non-negotiable criterion for reopening of the theological debate on the issue; in many cases, even without the necessary distinction between the Apostolic "T"radition and the various subsequent “t”raditions.
But beyond this necessary distinction, which officially the Orthodox Church has adopted – namely the preeminence of the Apostolic Tradition – just adding that she is its authentic bearer and custodian, modern theological scholarship has advanced an equally important distinction: that of authentic but latent tradition, and that which was historically formed. Classical example of this is the institution of the order of deaconesses.
However, even if we stick into this “historical” Orthodox tradition, how can one ignore the gradual degradation of women in the history of Western Christianity on three issues: the position of Mary Magdalene, St. Junia the Apostle, and the order of deaconesses, when the long tradition of the East took pride of these women and institution? The most indisputable scientific result, the existence in the New Testament and the first Christian centuries of women baring the solemn attribute “apostle” (e.g. Junia), how can it be ignored by the Orthodox, especially in the list of the theological arguments on the issue of restoring the order of deaconesses (i.e. of the admission of women into the sacramental “diaconal” priesthood)? And especially today, when it is indeed more urgently needed than ever, as the Rhodes consultation has stated,[xvi] and the Ecumenical Patriarch has openly declared at an international meeting in Constantinople?[xvii]
Finally, it is worth mentioning what revealing Patriarch Gregory of Antioch wrote in a speech on the Myrrh-bearers, as late as the 6th century AD. There he clearly connected women not only with the “ordination” but also with the “apostolic” office, (Μαθέτω Πέτρος ρνησάμενός με, τι δύναμαι κα γυνακας ποστόλους χειροτονεν, “Let Peter who has denied me learn that I am able to ordain also women as Apostles”).[xviii] This textual evidence, an indirect reference to the latent authentic tradition, perhaps proves that it is not completely without evidence in the Eastern Christian tradition a different attitude by the Orthodox regarding the liturgical status of women, at least different from the conventional one. Interestingly – even ironically – enough the same period in the West another Gregory, the famous Pope Gregory the Great, had unconsciously been responsible for degrading the memory of St. Mary Magdalene from an outstanding female leader of the Church to a repenting sinful woman.[xix]
Notwithstanding what I very briefly mentioned so far, there are also difficulties and problems in the restoration of the order of the sacramental priesthood of deaconesses. Recently in the Orthodox diaspora, mainly among the converts from the extreme conservative Evangelical stream, the following argument is being developed: Any rejuvenation of the order of deaconesses, although it is testified in the long Eastern Orthodox tradition and despite its ecumenical, synodical and canonical validity, is undesirable for the simple reason – the argument goes on – that it may open a wide window for the adoption also of the ordination of women. Such novel views, which as it happens in many issues have been imported to the Orthodox tradition, especially among conservative circles, justifies the importance of a theological approach also to the general issue of women's ordination.[xx]
And to return to the issue of deaconesses, such arguments – fortunately not officially formulated by the Orthodox Church – create a feeling of an unacceptable theological inconsistency, which will irreparably damage the reliability of Orthodox theology. How can some theologians continue to rely basically on tradition for the general issue of the ordination of women and at the same time ignore or reject it in the case of the ordination of deaconesses?
With the exception of the recommendation that the forthcoming Pan-Orthodox Council consider the restoration of the Order of Deaconesses,[xxi] the above conference did not come to other conclusions, choosing to leave any final decision to the appropriate ecclesiastical authorities in the hope that they will also consider other relevant parameters. The majority of the speakers simply underlined the inconsistency in the current conventional Orthodox view. To this end in the final communique the following theological concerns were expressed:
1.     How important, for the Orthodox Church’s theological arsenal, is the fact that the institution of deaconesses has a conciliar ecumenical and canonical foundation, which in fact has never been repealed by subsequent synodical decision?
2.      Since deaconesses were installed into their ministry through ordination (hierotonia), which was the same as that for the major orders of the clergy, and not by simple laying on of hands (hierothesia), and their ordination had an absolute likeness in form and content with the ordinations of the major order of the clergy, does not the reluctance by many Orthodox Churches to proceed to the rejuvenation of the order of deaconesses affect the witness of the Church today?
3.      Can the clear assurance in the ancient prayers that Christ did not ban women also from having liturgical duties in the churches (see, “rejecting no woman…from serving in your holy houses” [ μηδ γυναίκας…λειτουργεν τος γίοις οκοις σου ποβαλλόμενος]) help the Orthodox Church to immediately proceed to the rejuvenation of the order of deaconesses?
4.     Can the proposed distinction of the sacramental priesthood into “diaconal” and “hierourgic,” i.e., a quantitative rather than qualitative distinction, help the Orthodox Church to restore her traditional ancient practice and ordain deaconesses?
5.     How can the interpretation in the canonical sources that the deaconess, as a symbol of the Holy Spirit, held a higher position even than that of the presbyters, who were considered symbols of the Apostles, affect the possibility of upgrading the status of women in relation to the theological legitimacy of their participation in the diaconal sacramental priesthood?
6.     Can Orthodox bishops at any time, without any relevant conciliar decision, ordain deaconesses and accept them into the major orders of the clergy?
7.     If the Orthodox Church is characterized by its liturgical (and Eucharistic) theology, how crucial is it today to revive the order of ordained deaconesses for their necessary missionary witness, particularly in the area of ministry?
8.     If the human person is determined by his/her relationship with others, and if the Eucharistic community is for the Orthodox the primary framework for constructive and virtuous relationships, which are fully possible for both men and women, on what theological ground can one today exclude women from even the diaconal sacramental priesthood?
9.     Does the presence of “demonic” elements (e.g., ideas about women being cursed for their culpability in the Fall and their eternal punishment in subjugation to the man, as well as about their impurity with their consequent marginalization in the Church’s life of worship and administration, etc.) compromise the Church’s witness to the world, additionally raising an enormous ethical problem?
10.             Throughout Western Christian history, there has been a gradual, perhaps unconscious, degradation of women on three issues: the status and position of Mary Magdalene, of St. Junia, and the institution of deaconesses. The long-standing tradition of the East, on the other hand, takes pride in these persons and institutions. How can this affect the position of the Orthodox Church?
11.             How can the now academically indisputable evidence in the New Testament and in the early Christian centuries of important women “apostles” (e.g., Junia) affect the Orthodox theological argument on the need for the rejuvenation of the order of deaconesses, and even on the discussion of women's ordination?
12.             If Great Orthodox theologians, such as St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom, speak about the priesthood with metaphors based not on male paternal models, but rather on examples of virtue for the community, and if both theses hierarchs use both masculine and feminine metaphors to describe the method and the ministry of the priesthood, what theological arguments can justify the exclusion today of women even from the diaconal priesthood?
13.             Does Patriarch Gregory of Antioch’s reference connecting women, until the 6th century, with the apostolic office and ordination («Μαθέτω Πέτρος ρνησάμενός με, τι δύναμαι κα γυνακας ποστόλους χειροτονεν» PG 88, 1864b) not demonstrate that there is at least some evidence that the Church held a different attitude in the Eastern Christian tradition regarding the liturgical role of women?
14.             Does the exclusive “male priesthood” – derived from the historically indisputable male form of the Incarnate God – constitute a binding element of divine grace? How strong this theological argument, and how consistent to the dogma of Chalcedon, is?
15.             Is the exclusion of women from the sacramental priesthood, especially from the “diaconal” one in the course of history, based on human law (de jure humano) or divine law (de jure divino)?
16.            What impact can the close terminological connection that St. Basil the Great repeatedly makes in his anaphora between “diaconal” and “sacramental” have on the liturgical role of women?
17.            On the thorny issue of the ordination of women, should the Orthodox Church and its theology use liturgical, canonical, Trinitarian, Christological, ecclesiological, eschatological or sociological criteria?
18.            In selecting theological criteria, should priority be given – and if so, how much – to the long-standing “primary” liturgical tradition of the Church, over the various doctrinal expressions that were subsequently formulated?
19.            Is it theologically legitimate to use human, biological concepts of gender and the supposedly masculine or feminine structures of each of the persons of the Holy Trinity?
20.            How and to what extent does the basic Orthodox theological position, that at the eschaton there will be no discrimination based on biological sex, influence the debate about the liturgical and sacramental role of women?
21.            Does the invocation of elements of ontological reduction and the division of the human being into two hierarchically superimposed sexes negate the doctrine of the Divine Incarnation and annul its objectives?
22.            If, according to Orthodox Christian anthropology, the archetype of the human being is Christ, does the invocation then of the male sex of the Word of God provide theological, canonical, historical-critical, and liturgical grounds for the exclusion of women even from the diaconal sacramental priesthood?
23.            If every human person is created unique, complete and free, designed to achieve deification (theosis) through his/her virtuous life, how is possible theologically to define the nature of man, or even his virtuous life, on the basis of gender? Does this not lead to a denial of the completeness of human nature at the crown of creation, as well as its call to the “likeness”?
24.            Regarding the ministry of the priesthood, does not the selective use and transfer of practices based on gender—which theologically and anthropologically permit the impairment of the human person—substantially undermine rather than encourage the achievement of the Orthodox ideal of theosis?[xxii]
If Pope Francis, addressing the issue of the ordination of women, seems to insist no longer on the argument of the priest acting in persona Christi, but on an understanding of priesthood in missiological and certainly not clerical terms, thus relegating the secular demand of the admission of women into the sacramental priesthood, the Orthodox (at least some of them, as e.g. John Meyendorff, and of course some of the participants in the Rhodes conference) give priority to the importance of a liturgical renewal with a more active participation of the laity,  and in particular of women. And the reinstitution of the order of deaconesses is one of the cases.
More recently, however, a great need for our theology to focus on anthropology has been expressed. Metropolitan of Diokleia Kallistos (Ware) has clearly stated that “the focal point in the theological deliberations in the 21st century will be shifted from ecclesiology to anthropology…The key question will not be only ‘what is Church’, but also and more fundamentally ‘what is the human being’.”[xxiii] And a prominent component of Christian anthropology is undoubtedly the overall status of women, especially their public role in the liturgical life. The same is true with another specific characteristic of contemporary Orthodox theology: the ecological one, the care for the environment, God’s creation, on purely theological grounds. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with his global ecological initiatives and his sensitivity for the environment, both at a liturgical level (establishment of the feast of the protection of God’s creation on September 1) and at a scholarly and theological one (the series of the international ecological conferences), have rightly given him the nickname “Green Patriarch.” The consequences of ecology – as a projection of anthropology – for the status and role of women are not insignificant.
Except for extreme cases, Orthodox women are never entrusted with leading roles in the ritual, even though the Early Church – especially in the East extensively used deaconesses. The gender ambivalence of ritual is revealed by the dichotomy between theology and practice. While the Orthodox liturgy includes female saint veneration and reputes the Theotokos as “more honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare than the Seraphim” – that is above the world of the celestial beings – down on earth women are excluded from joining the superior clergy, even to the rank of deaconesses.
At the bottom line, therefore, the issue at stake is not the ordination of women as such, in other words as a sociological issue and a demand of modernity, but the missiological, liturgical, anthropological and ecological dimension of our understanding of the Christian priesthood.
A consideration, therefore, of the missiological, liturgical (i.e. Eucharistic), anthropological, and ecological parameters, is what constitutes an “Orthodox theological approach” to this burning and divisive issue. And with these considerations I will conclude my short and by no means exhaustive contribution.
(a) In a recent article I argue for the need to contextualize the Eucharistic event, so that the Orthodox Church can meaningfully witness to the Gospel in our contemporary society.[xxiv] The missiological consequences of the Eucharistic theology derive from a proper understanding of the Christian worship, the basic characteristics of which are full of “prophetic” elements. The core of Jesus' teaching is based on the basic principles of the Old Testament, something which we Orthodox usually forget, using the First Testament only as an exclusive pre-figuration of the Christ event. However, Jesus Christ himself had a different and more prophetic view (cf. e.g. his inaugural speech at the Nazareth synagogue, Lk 4:16ff), and the early Christian community have developed their liturgical, and especially their Eucharistic, behavior in accordance with the idea of the covenant (or covenants), particularly through the obligation of the people to a thanksgiving worship to God and a commitment to one another in the memory of the liberating grace of God in Exodus.
While in the O.T. the worship of God was primarily a thanksgiving liturgy for their liberation from the oppression of the Egyptians, at the same time was also a constant reminder for a commitment to a moral and ethical life, and an obligation for resistance against any oppression and exploitation of their fellow women and men. In this sense, the worshiping (and Eucharistic in the wider sense, thanksgiving) community was also a witnessing community. The same is true with the Eucharist of the early Christians, which was incomprehensible without its social dimension.[xxv]
When, however, the social and political conditions in Israel began to change and a monarchical system was imposed upon God's people, there was also a tragic change in their concept of communion, and consequently in their liturgy. The latter lost its communal character and was gradually institutionalized. With the construction of the Temple of Solomon the religious life of the community turned into a cult incumbent with the necessary professional priesthood and the necessary financial transactions. Jesus’ action against the money changers is quite indicative of the new situation. His repeated appeal to “mercy/charity/eleon,” instead of sacrifice, is yet another reminder of the real purpose of the true worship.[xxvi]
 All these developments, as it is well known, resulted in the strong protest and reaction of the O.T. Prophets. Whereas previously the governing principle of the communal life was divine ownership of all the material wealth, according to the Psalmist’s affirmation: “the Earth is the Lords and everything in it” (Psalm 24: 1), now the focus shifted from the justice of God to the personal accumulation of wealth. Amos and Hosea in the Northern Kingdom before its dissolution in 722 BC, and Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk and Ezekiel in Judea, began to speak of the main components of liturgy: i.e. Law and Justice, values that were lost because of the private ownership, which changed the traditional concept of society and their worship. For the Prophets of the Old Testament the abolition of justice and cancellation rights of the poor above all meant rejection of God Himself. Prophet Jeremiah insisted that knowing God was identical with being fair towards the poor (Jer 22:16). Prophet Isaiah even carries further his criticism, on the issue of the greed and avarice, as manifested by the accumulation of land: "Woe to those who add to their home and joins the field with the field, so that now there is no other place for them to stay and the only country holding”, 5:8). He does not hesitate to characterize the greedy landlords “thieves” (1:23) and characterize the confiscation of the land of indebted farmers grab at the expense of the poor.[xxvii]
This highly social and prophetic dimension of an authentic Christian worship, clearly manifested in the teach­ing, life and work of Jesus Christ, and of course in the early Church’s Eucharistic gatherings, is the model of ethics that any consideration of the ordination of women should follow. As the official documents of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church underline,[xxviii] the Church does not exist for herself but for the world.
(b) In terms of extending the consideration of the ordination of women on the basis of a liturgical theology, of paramount importance is our understanding of the sacramental and/or sacrificial character of the Eucharist.
(i) The term μυστήριον (mystery), which in Latin was rendered Sacrament, is a clearly religious terminus technicus, which is etymologically derived from the verb μύειν (meaning “to close the eyes and mouth”), and not from the verb μυεν(meaning “to dedicate”).[xxix] In antiquity it is recorded (primarily in the plural) in rituals with secret teachings, both religious and political, and accompanied by a host of exotic activities and customs. These mysteries may have originated in the ritualistic activities of primitive peoples, but they took much of their shape from the Greek religious world (Dionysiac, Eleusinian, Orphic, etc. mysteries) and then combined creatively with various Eastern cults before assuming their final form during the Roman period.  Because Christianity has spread during the height of the mystery cults, and because of some external resemblances with them, the history-of-religions school of thought formulated the theory of reciprocal dependence – and in particular the dependence of Christianity on the mystery cults. Today such a theory is not so popular among historians as it was few generations ago; after all an “analogy” can hardly be identified with a “genealogy”.
In biblical literature, as well as in the early post-biblical one, the term “mystery” was always connected with cultic ritual or with the liturgical expression of the people of God.  In the Septuagint it appears for the first time in the Hellenistic literature (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Daniel, Maccabees), where it is frequently used pejoratively to describe the ethnic mystery religions (cf. Wisdom of Solomon 14:23: “secret mysteries…connected with] child sacrifices”), or to imply idolatry.[xxx]  In Daniel, the term “mystery” assumes, for the first time, a very significant connotation, that of eschatology and in that meaning it was further developed later.[xxxi]
The only use of the term in the Gospels occurs in the Synoptic tradition, in the famous interpretation of the parables – “the mystery (-ies) of the Kingdom of God (of heaven)” (Mark 4:11 par).  Here, as well as in the corpus paulinum,[xxxii] the term is connected with the kerygma, not with ritual (as in the various mystery cults), and it was very often used in connection with terms of revelation.[xxxiii] Generally, in the N.T., mystery is never connected with secret teachings, nor do we encounter any admonitions against defiling the mystery, as in the mystery cults.
There is ample evidence in the letters of the St. Paul that, in certain circles of the Early Church, the significance of the Lord’s Supper, and by extension the profound meaning of the Eucharist, was interpreted in light of the Hellenistic mystery cults’ rituals, and thus the mystery was believed to transmit an irrevocable salvation. Paul attempts to correct this view on the basis of ecclesiological criteria – his teaching on spiritual gifts and the Church as “the body of Christ.”
According to the sacramentalistic view of the mystery cults, the person acquires, via the mysteries, a power of life that is never lost. In the mystery groups and the syncretistic environment of Early Christianity, it was widely believed that the human beings were connected with the deity through the initiation; they could acquire eternal salvation only by participating in the deity’s death and resurrection.[xxxiv] The Gnostics, being influenced by the mystery cults and adopting their “sacramentalistic” view, even performed baptism for the departed in an attempt to activate this indestructible power over death. St. Paul refuted this magical/sacramentalistic view of baptism in his Epistle to the Romans (Rom 6:3-11). It is of course true that he interprets baptism in theological terms as participation in Christ’s death on the cross, but at the same time he insists, that this must have consequences in the moral life of the faithful. For this reason, he exhorts the baptized to “walk in newness of life” (6:4) “so that (they) might no longer be enslaved to sin” (6:6).[xxxv]
Ephesians 3:3-12 is characteristic of the Pauline (and the New Testament in general) understanding of μυστήριον. There Paul’s mission to the Gentiles is clearly described as “the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; that through the Church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (3:9-10).  Mystery, therefore, is the hidden plan of God for the salvation of the whole world. The Church, then, by extension, is considered a “mystery,” because in her the mystery of salvation is accomplished. And because the Church is the collective manifestation of the Kingdom of God, the Divine Eucharist was also characterized as a “mystery,” more precisely the mystery par excellence.  Until the 4th century AD, the term “mystery” and its derivatives were not connected in any way with that which later came to be called Sacraments.[xxxvi]
Therefore it is a myth that sacramentality in the conventional sense is the sine-qua-non characteristic, at least of the Orthodox Church.
(ii) As to the sacrificial (or not) character of the Eucharist, the prevailing liturgical language used in the Orthodox Church (Αγία τράπεζα not alter, Ιερόν Βήμα, not sanctuary, receiving communion not the sacraments, the eschatological perspective of the Eucharist, and not the Eucharist  as an enactment of Christ sacrifice on the cross etc.) is quite revealing. Even from the time of the New Testament literature, several ideas worked simultaneously in the use of priestly and sacrificial vocabulary. People’s obedience to the gospel, their deeds of charity towards each other, their prayer and thanksgiving, all were called “offerings” or “sacrifices,” because in them honor was rendered to God in the freedom and power of the Holy Spirit; and their worship was called a sacrifice of praise (θυσία αινέσεως). And not only that: the people themselves as an eschatological community were considered a “living sacrifice”, a “royal priesthood”, a “temple holy to God” (1 Peter 2:4-10). Most importantly the Church’s ministers were not given priestly names: they rather bore secular designations, such as presbyteros (elder) or episkopos (bishop) or diakonos (deacon) or proestos (presider), all intended to underline their service to the community.[xxxvii]
The most powerful argument some Catholics – and sometimes theologians from all the traditional Churches, the Orthodox included – employ against the acceptance of women into the sacramental priesthood, is the cultural taboo of the uncleanness of women during childbearing, and the ensuing inability to perform sacrifice.[xxxviii]
Sacrifice from the anthropological perspective is an unnatural act that seeks to establish culture in the place of nature.[xxxix] It is by its nature exclusive and conservative. Its function is to establish clear boundaries between the sacred and the profane, between those who are pure and those who are impure, between those who are in power and those who remain outside of it. The function of sacrifice is to support and preserve an alleged God given social order. The problem is not simply that allowing women access to the upper class grants them also authority and power. Although this would be a worthy enough objective, it does not yet explain the strong resistance of the traditional Churches to accept women in the ecclesiastical sacramental orders.
The overall evidence of the N.T. literature, as well as of early architecture and frescos, especially in the catacombs, testify that women did have leadership roles in the Christian worship. There is no doubt on this.[xl] Women did occupy significant leadership roles within the community, but only until Christianity remained primarily a religion of the private sphere.
However, the question should not be whether women have been or can be ordained. The question should rather be whether the one who presides – whatever his/her sex – was acting not so much in persona Christi as in persona ecclesiae. Evidence of women presiding at the Eucharist does not necessarily translate into evidence that women were priests. Even more important is the question, whether their role is related to a certain non-sacrificial understanding of the Eucharist (as it is the case in the New Testament and the early Church), and whether the ruling metaphors are eschatological.[xli]
If the Eucharist was understood to be primarily a sacrifice, then there are all sorts of anthropological reasons why women cannot preside over the Lord’s Table. But the Eucharist originally was not understood as a sacrifice as such, but rather, as David Power put it, a “subversion of sacrifice;”[xlii] or, as Robert Daly has convincingly argued, it is “an incarnational spiritualization of sacrifice that is operative in the New Testament and the early Church.”[xliii] 
 (c) In the long history of the undivided Church (the era of the Ecumenical Councils) the theological focus was on Christology, related of course to soteriology. In the 20th century, as a result of the fragmentation of Christianity and the ensuing ineffectiveness of the Christian mission, the focus inevitably shifted to ecclesiology. The most urgent demands in today’s witness to the Gospel of Christ are undoubtedly of an anthropological character. However, in order to formulate an Orthodox anthropology we need to go beyond the widely accepted views in Christian literature. Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) argues that “many Fathers of the Church (Gregory the Theologian, Gregory of Nyssa, Isaac the Syrian etc.) believe that ‘the divine image in the human being should be associated with the soul and not with the body, and even in the soul it is related to the power of self-knowledge and of speech.’ But there are others - who may be a minority but a significant minority - who adopt a more holistic approach, asserting that the divine image includes not only the soul but the whole being, body, soul and spirit together. In this way they agree with the view expressed in the 5th Ecumenical Council and the Christian Creed. St. Irenaios of Lyon, e.g., writes: ‘The soul and the spirit can be part of, but not the entire, human being; a perfect human being is a clash and a union both of a soul, who has the spirit of the Father, and held in the image of God, a merciful flesh.’[xliv] According to Metropolitan Kallistos, “the reality of the (human) person is beyond and above whatever explanation we choose to give it. The inherent element of the person is the overcoming of him/herself, his/her ability to be always open, his/her ability to point always to the other. The human person, unlike the computer, is the one that fires every new start. Being a human being means to be unpredictable, free and creative.”[xlv]
The very concept of human identity, as it is developed in recent years, is quite ambiguous. Previously, identity was considered as something “given.” Now, after a thorough scientific research - though these findings are being questioned by some - it is argued that it is a “construction.” That is why in the secular sciences they are talking about “shaping” the identity of a person or group in the sense of a “dynamic process” through which the individual (or the group) is constantly affected by the environment, thus developing a new ethos.
Modern and post-modern ethicists attempt in every way to impose an “inclusive ethos,” while traditional societies, and especially religions, defend an “exclusive ethos.” The former seek to integrate a group into its social context, which they often attempt to shape, while the latter seek the necessary distance with persistence in the traditional values. There are, of course, cases, even in the New Testament texts, where the ethos of all groups is mixed, so its “exclusive” side marks definite boundaries, outside of which everything is excluded as heretic, while its “inclusive” side expresses the manifold and constantly developing community[xlvi]
 Christian anthropology is related to human sexuality. On the secular side a new ethos is being directly or indirectly affirmed:
“It is impossible to predict what will happen with sexual variations in the future, in two hundred or three hundred years. One thing should not be forgotten: men and women are involved in a web of centuries of cultural determinations that are almost impossible to analyze in their complexity. It is now impossible to talk about ‘woman’ or ‘human’ without being trapped in an ideological theater, where the multiplication of representations, reflections, recognitions, transformations, distortions, constant change of images and fantasies cancels any appreciation in advance.”[xlvii]
Also on the Christian side there is a similar concern. In a “Letter from Sheffield,” the city in which a WCC consultation was convened at the beginning of the Ecumenical Decade: Christian Churches in Solidarity with Women, it was stated:
"We welcome the recognition that human sexuality Does not contradict the (Christian) spirituality, which is unified and relates to the body, the mind and the spirit in their entirety ... Unfortunately, sexuality itself has been for centuries and continues to be problematic for Christians”[xlviii]
In the Bible, of course, the human being is never defined by his/her nature, whether the physical self or the material world surrounding them, but by their relationship with God and their fellow human beings. Therefore, salvation is not achieved through any denial of body, including sexuality, or through escape to a supposedly “spiritual” world. Their physical and spiritual functions are perceived as an inseparable unity, and both can either remove them from God or put them at his service, i.e. in communion with God. The human “flesh” does not lead to evil, nor is it extremely dangerous. It becomes so only when humans surrender the entire existence, not to God who created them, but to it.
But also in Eastern Christian tradition, as J. Meyendorff has long ago argued, human nature is not a static, closed, autonomous entity, but a dynamic reality. The human being is determined by its relationship with God.[xlix] The nature, therefore, of human beings did not lose their dynamism after the fall, because by the grace of God it can be transformed. Indeed, the role of God's grace is that it essentially provides them with their real and authentic nature.[l] Even more important and insightful, however, is Archbishop Lazar Puhalo’s recent contribution, entitled On the Neurobiology of Sin.[li]
 (d) In addition to the anthropological dimension in dealing with the role of women in Church and society, an ecological approach can hardly be ignored. The male and (not or) female interrelatedness is also mutually related to a Christian understanding of integral ecology.[lii] There is an interesting concern in the Roman Catholic Church and her social doctrine,[liii] recognizing that an adequate theological anthropology is required for social/ ecological justice. So far the Catholic Church (and I will add all the traditional ancient Churches) shows an ambivalent admixture of natural law and patriarchal ideology. If man and woman complete each other in both Church and society, why is patriarchal male headship still enshrined in the Church hierarchy, given that man and woman are fully homogeneous in their “whole being”?[liv]
Of course, this is something that has been consistently pursued by the secular “eco-feminist” movement. It has been long stemming from a patriarchal ideology of male domination and female submission, which for many scholars was the consequence of the Augustinian doctrine of the original sin.[lv] It is, however, also a Christian (and even ecclesiastical) anthropological concern. This is not about what women (or men) want. This is about discerning what Jesus Christ wants for the Church in the 21st century, for the glory of God, for integral human development, for integral humanism, and for integral ecology in light of an adequate theological anthropology, based on the authentic, though latent, tradition of the Church, and not just on the historically established one.
“As long as the patriarchal binary prevails, subjective human development remains defective, with pervasive repercussions in human relations as well as human-nature relations….There can be no fully integral ecology as long as humanity behaves as the dominant male and treats nature as a submissive female. There can be no lasting social justice, and there can be no lasting ecological justice, as long as human behavior is driven by the patriarchal mindset”.[lvi] 
The Old Testament exemplifies patriarchal bias in many ways, notably by the metaphor of woman coming out of man (Gen 1:22). It is inescapable, however, that this was corrected in the New Testament, notably by the Pauline explicit statement that when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). God becoming incarnate “from a woman” is a reversal of woman “coming out of man”. Not insignificantly, this seemingly innocuous clarification follows the summary of the cultural progression that is now attainable, but yet to be fully attained, in human history: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28).
What I have so far underlined is nothing more than a “contribution” to a theologically, historically and scientifically permanent solution to a pending issue that hinders the authentic witness of the Church in the 21st century. The ages-old prejudices, pseudo-theological arguments, as well as cultural habits can no longer persuade a rapidly changing society, hungry and thirsty for the truth.

[i] In a number of articles, of similar ecumenical concern, I examined “whether Eucharistic theology, commonly agreed to be the foundational theological principle of the official theological dialogue, can be reconciled with Baptismal theology” (“The Biblical [N.T.] Foundation of Baptism [Baptismal Theology as a Prerequisite of Eucharistic Theology], academia.edu/14657246, also published in GOTR, and here in this book ch.11). Also with regard to intercommunion, without questioning the theological difficulty in accepting it, on the basis of the Eucharist being an expression of, not a means towards, Church unity, I made the following remark: “Jesus of Nazareth’s inclusive kerygma, and St. Paul’s foundational teaching and praxis of a “Eucharistic inclusiveness”, remind us that the original “open”, “inclusive” and above all “unifying” character of the Eucharist somewhat challenge our contemporary views and demands a radical reconsideration of our Eucharistic ecclesiology” (The Missionary Implications of St. Paul’s Eucharistic Inclusiveness,” in N. Mosoiu [ed.], The Relevance of Reverend Professor Ion Bria’s work for contemporary society and for the life of the Church. New Directions in the Research of Church Doctrine, Mission, and Unity, Sibiu 2010, 123-128, p. 128; cf. also my articles: “Beyond Intercommunion: The Inclusive Character of the Eucharist in the New Testament”, to be published in another memorial to the late Fr. Ion Bria; “Eucharist as a Unifying and Inclusive Element in N.T. Ecclesiology,” in A. A. Alexeev-Ch. Karakolis-U. Luz [eds.], Einheit der Kirche im Neuen Testament, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2008, 121-145; and “St. Paul: Apostle of Freedom in Christ,” In the Footsteps of Saint Paul. An Academic Symposium, HC Orthodox Press: Boston 2011, 153-167). All these and other articles of ecumenical concern in electronic form can be retrieved at auth.academia.edu/ PetrosVassiliadis.
[ii] The above conference was organized by the Center of Ecumenical, Missiological and Environmental Studies “Metropolitan Panteleimon Papageorgiou” (CEMES), and symbolically launched on July 22, 2014, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the “Equal to the Apostles” in the liturgical tradition – or the “apostle of the apostles” by certain Church Fathers – of the Orthodox Church. More on this below.
[iii] All the documents-decisions of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church are displayed in various languages in the official website of the Council holycouncil.org.
[iv] Most of what follows comes from recent contributions of mine on relevant issues.
[v] Nevertheless, 15 Orthodox missiologist in the pre-conciliar process made some recommendations to the Synod in a document entitled: Some Comments by Orthodox Missiologists on “The Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World.” No 7 point reads as follows: “In the chapter on human dignity no reference at all is made to women and their ministry, nor to the traditional and canonical institution of deaconesses. It will be a completely ineffective contemporary declaration on mission by the Orthodox Church, if it fails to reaffirm the dignity of women, given the Church’s unique tradition of allowing their access even to the sacramental diaconal priesthood, in the still canonically valid institution of deaconesses. It is advisable, therefore, the sentence: “The teaching of the Church is the source of all Christian striving to preserve the dignity and majesty of the human person” to be followed by “especially of women, so highly dignified in the patristic and liturgical tradition, that they were welcomed to the sacramental diaconal ministry as deaconesses, canonically testified and never annulled in times when a clear separation of duties and commissions of the different sexes permeated social reality throughout.” (in academia.edu/26833426).
[vi] http://www.amen.gr/article/kuprou-xrusostomos-prwton-exoume.
[vii]  Ev. D. Theodorou, «χειροτονία» «χειροθεσία» τν διακονισσν, (The “Ordination” or the “Laying-on of hands” of the Deaconesses), Athens 1954.
[viii] The papers and the conclusions of the conference in Gennadios (now Metropolitan of Sassima) Limouris, (ed.), Place of Woman in the Orthodox Church and the Question of the Ordination of Women, Katerini 1992. The conclusions alone were also published in English as Conclusions of the Inter Orthodox Consultation on the Place of the Woman in the Orthodox Church, and the Question of the Ordination of Women (Rhodes, Greece-30 Oct.-7 Nov.1988), Light and Life Publishing Company Minneapollis, Minnesota 1900. For a recent assessment see Ioannis Lotsios, “The Question of Women’s Ordination: Feminist Challenge or an Ecclesiological Desideratum? (Comments on the Rhodes’ Document),” in P. Vassiliadis-E. Amoiridou-M. Goutzioudis (eds.) Deaconesses, Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology, CEMES Publications: Thessaloniki 2016, pp. 339-348.
[ix] Metropolitan Kallistos first wrote on the subject in his articleMan, Woman, and Priesthood of Christ,” in Peter Moore (ed.), Man, Woman, and Priesthood, London, SPCK, 1978, pp. 68-90, reprinted almost identical in the classical for the Orthodox theology collective work: Thomas Hopko (ed.), Women and the Priesthood, Crestwood, NY, St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1983, pp. 9-37. Nearly 20 years later (and 10 years after the Rhodes conference) Bishop Kallistos in the revised edition of Women and the Priesthood, St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1999, but also in a booklet co-edited with  Elisabeth Behr-Sigel under the title, The Ordination of Women in the Orthodox Church, Geneva 2000, he stated:οn the subject of women and the priesthood, there exists as of yet no pan-Orthodox statement, possessing definitive ecumenical authority,” commending on the Rhodes conference that “its conclusions do not possess a formal and final authority, binding upon the Orthodox Church as a whole; rather, they constitute a contribution to a continuing debate” (p. 51).
[x] See on her contribution Eleni Kasselouri-Hatzivassiliadi, “The personality of Elisabeth Behr- Sigel and the Order of Deaconesses,” in P. Vassiliadis-E. Amoiridou-M. Goutzioudis (eds.) Deaconesses, Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology, pp. 349-355.
[xi] Maria Hatziapostolou, “Deaconesses and Ordination of Women in the Theology of Nikos Matsoukas,” ibid, pp. 357-370.
[xii] ConstantinosYokarinis, ερωσύνη τν γυναικν στό πλαίσιο τς Οκουμενικς Κίνησης (The Priesthood of Women in the Framework of the Ecumenical Movement, Κaterini, 1995.  Maria Gwyn McDowell, The Joy of Embodied Virtue: Toward the Ordination of Women to the Eastern Orthodox Priesthood, PhD Diss diss., Boston College, 2010.
[xiii] Constantinos Yokarinis, To έμφυλο ή άφυλο του σαρκωθέντος Χριστού, (The Gender or Genderness of Incarnated Christ), Athens 2013.
[xiv] For a panorama of these developments in P. Vassiliadis-E. Amoiridou-M. Goutzioudis (eds.) Deaconesses, Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology, Thessaloniki 2016.
[xvi] The reinstitution of the order “would represent a positive response to many of the needs and demands of the contemporary world.  This would be all the more true if the diaconate in general (male as well as female) were restored in all places in its original, manifold services (diakoniai) with extension into the social sphere, in the spirit of the ancient tradition and in response to the increasing specific needs of our time,” in Gennadios (now Metropolitan of Sassima) Limouris, (ed.), Place of Woman in the Orthodox Church and the Question of the Ordination of Women, Katerini, Greece 1992, pp. 31ff; Also in Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald, Women Deacons in the Orthodox Church: Called to Holiness and Ministry, Holy Cross Orthodox Press: Brookline 1999,  pp. 160-67.
[xvii] In his Address to the Inter-Orthodox Conference for Women, (Constantinople, May 12, 1997) His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said: The order of ordained deaconesses is an undeniable part of tradition coming from the Early Church. Now, in many of our Churches, there is a growing desire to restore this order so that the spiritual needs of the People of God may be better served. There are already a number of women who appear to be called to this ministry.”
[xviii] PG 88f. 1864b
[xix] More in my “Mary Magdalene: From a Prominent Apostle to a Symbol of Love and Sexuality,” in www.academia.edu/2024999.
[xx] More in Valerie Karras, “Theological Presuppositions and Logical Fallacies in much of the Contemporary Discussion of the Ordination of Women,” in P. Vassiliadis-E. Amoiridou-M. Goutzioudis (eds.) Deaconesses, Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology, pp. 93-103.
[xxi] See the Final communique in P. Vassiliadis-E. Amoiridou-M. Goutzioudis (eds.) Deaconesses, Ordination of Women and Orthodox Theology, pp. 497-502.
[xxii] Ibid.
[xxiii] From his book Η Ορθόδοξη θεολογία στον 21ο αιώνα (The Orthodox Theology in the 21st century), Athens 2005, p. 25.
[xxiv] "Eucharistic Theology Contextualized?" in https://www.academia.edu/32859534/.
[xxv] Cf.  Acts 2:42ff, 1 Cor 11:1ff., Heb 13:10-16; Justin, 1 Apology  67; Irenaeus, Adver. Her. 18:1, etc.
[xxvi] See more in W. Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, Philadelphia 1978. In chapter 8 of the First Book of Kings the conversation of Yahweh with Samuel is highly instructive underlining the implications of this radical change in the relationship between God and his people.
[xxvii] Is 3:14-15. See the detailed analysis of the problem by Ulrich Duchrow and Franz Hinkelammert in their book Property for People, Not for Profit: Alternatives to the Global Tyranny of Capital, London 2004, as well as their more recent one, Transcending Greedy Money. Interreligious Solidarity for Just Relations, New Approaches to Religion and Power, New York 2012.
[xxviii] https://www.holycouncil.org/home
[xxix] “They were called mysteries because they close their mouths and nothing is explained to anyone.  And μύειν is the closing of the mouth” (Scholia to Aristophanes, 456). 
[xxx] G. Bornkamm, “μυστήριον, μυέω,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. IV, p. 813.
[xxxi] Ibid, p. 814.
[xxxii] For more, cf. W. Bauer’s Lexicon of the New Testament.
[xxxiii] For more, cf. G. Bornkamm, “μυστήριον, μυέω,” pp. 821 ff.
[xxxiv] Cf. S. Agouridis’ commentary on 1 Corinthians, Chapter 10 (St. Paul’s 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, Hermeneia of the New Testament 7, Thessaloniki 1982, pp. 161 ff. in Greek), which he aptly titles: “The mysteries are not a guarantee for the future,” and “Christianity is incompatible with idolatry.”
[xxxv] E. Lohse, Theology of the New Testament. An Epitome, Greek Translation, Athens 1980, pp. 155ff.
[xxxvi] Cf. G. Bornkamm, “μυστήριον, μυέω,” pp. 823 ff. More on the non-sacramental character of the so-called mysteries of our Church in my article dedicated to my colleague Fr. Paul Tarazi, entitled “Mysteriology: The Biblical Foundation of Sacramental Theology (Christian Mystery, Mystery Cults and Contemporary Christian Witness),” B. Nassif (ed.), Festschrift in Honor of Professor Paul Nadim Tarazi. Vol. 2:  Studies in the New Testament, New York 2015, pp. 89-98.
[xxxvii] David Power, The Eucharistic Mystery: Revitalizing the Tradition, New York 1995, p. 115.
[xxxviii] Sociologists and anthropologists argue, that in all known cultures the woman in her childbearing years are allowed to perform blood sacrifices, and that sacrifice is in fact a remedy for having been born of woman. And that only male child bearing establishes social genealogies, as opposed to merely natural ones, which also include female child bearing. One might think of the importance of apostolic succession for valid orders in this light. In the dialogue between Catholics and Anglican the question regularly raised to the Anglicans is how they accept at the same time sacrifice, and the ordination of women. It cannot be sacrifice the way the Catholics (and one can mistakenly add the Orthodox) understand it. More in Nancy Jay, Throughout Your Generations Forever: Sacrifice, Religion, and Paternity, Chicago 1992.
[xxxix] More on this in Damien Casey, “The 'Fractio Panis' and the Eucharist as Eschatological Banquet,” in http://www.womenpriests.org/gallery/mast_cat.asp (first appearance in the Mcauley University Electronic Journal on the 18th of August 2002). 
[xl] B. Witherington, Women in the Ministry of Jesus, Cambridge 1984; idem, Women in the Earliest Churches, Cambridge 1988. Also my paper “Η Πανορθόδοξη Σύνοδος και η παρακαταθήκη του Αποστόλου Παύλου για τον ρόλο των γυναικών» (The Panorthodox Council and St. Paul’s Legacy on the Role of Women), in https://www.academia.edu/26833053 (in Greek).
[xli] According to Damien Casey (“The 'Fractio Panis' and the Eucharist as Eschatological Banquet”) there is a correlation between eschatological expectation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the final days and women’s prophetic leadership. In the ecclesial typology of the East, the bishop was said to be in the image of God of Father; the deacon, of Christ; the deaconess, of the Holy Spirit; and the priests, of the Apostles. The priest, far from being in persona Christi, is only in the image of the apostles, holy men to be sure, but still only men, whereas the deaconess, as we stated above, are in the image of the Holy Spirit.
[xlii] David Power, The Eucharistic Mystery, pp. 140ff.
[xliii] Robert, J. Daly, The Origins of the Christian Doctrine of Sacrifice, p. 138. Though, according to Casey ("The 'Fractio Panis' and the Eucharist as Eschatological Banquet") “the question arises as to whether sacrifice can undergo an “incarnational spiritualization” and still be sacrifice” (n. 8).
[xliv] Ad. Heresies 5:6,1 (Η δε ψυχή και το πνεύμα μέρος του ανθρώπου δύναν­ται είναι, άνθρωπος δε ουδαμώς· ο δε τέλειος άνθρωπος σύγκρασις και ένωσις εστι ψυχής της επιδεξαμένης το πνεύμα του Πατρός και συγκραθείσης τη κατ' εικόνα Θεού πεπλασμένη σαρκί). This same view is also to be found in the celebrated passage of Michael Choniatis, attributed wrongly to St Gregory Palamas, «...μή άν ψυχήν μόνην, μήτε σώμα μόνον λέγεσθαι άνθρωπον, αλλά το συναμφότερον, όν δη και κατ' εικόνα πεποιηκέναι Θεός λέγεται» (Προσωποποιίαι, PG 150, col. 1361C).
[xlv] From the first paragraph of his ceremonial speech as an affiliated member of the Academy of Athens, “Ο άνθρωπος ως μυστήριον. Η έννοια του προσώπου στους Έλληνες Πατέρες” (The Human Being as a Mystery, The Concept of the Person in the Greek Fathers), Academy of Athens publications 2006.
[xlvi] Eberhard Bons and Karin Finsterbusch (eds.), Konstruktionen individualueller und kollektiver Identität Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016.
[xlvii] Helene Cixous and Catherine Clement, La Jeune Née, 1975, and also in English (The Newly Born Woman, 1986).
[xlviii] Connie Parvey (ed.), The Community of Women and Men in the Church: The Sheffield Report, Geneva, 1981, p. 83.
[xlix] Byzantine Theology, 1972, p. 2.
[l] Idid, pp. 143 and 138.
[li] Synaxis Press: Dewdney, Canada 2016.
[lii] On integral ecology see my paper “The Witness of the Church in Today’s World, Three Missiological Statements on Integral Ecology,” in www.academia.edu/28268455.
[liii] Cf. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church in http://www.vatican.va /roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html.
[liv] From a recent working draft (22 December 2015) – among so many others, encouraged by Pope Francis’ willingness to promote gender equality in his Church - by Luis T. Gutiérrez, entitled: “Gender Balance for Integral Humanism & Integral Ecology”.
[lv] Based mainly on Genesis 3:16. See also my article “Ο ιερός Αυγουστίνος ως ερμηνευτής του Αποστόλου Παύλου και το πρόβλημα της ανθρώπινης σεξουαλικότητας” (St. Augustine as Interpreter of St. Paul and the problem of Human Sexuality), posted with all publication details in academia.edu/1992336/.
[lvi] Luis T. Gutiérrez, “Gender Balance for Integral Humanism & Integral Ecology.”