Page:EB1911 - Volume 22.djvu/335

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321
PRIEST


of Zadok to the proposal to share the sanctuary on equal terms with these new-comers, and the theoretical justification of the degradation of the latter to the position of mere servants in the Temple supplied by 'Ezekiel soon after the captivity, need not here be dealt with. Further details respecting priestly offices and hereditary priesthoods and the relation of Aaronids to Zadokids will be found briefly discussed in Ency. Bib. vol. iii. cols. 3843~3845. Cf. Hastings's Diet. Bible, iv. 72-75; Camb. Bib. Essays (1909), pp. 100 seq., 112 seq. It is instructive to observe how differently the prophets of the 8th century speak of the judicial or “ teaching " functions of the priests and of the ritual' of the great sanctuaries. For the latter they have nothing but condemnation, but the former they acknowledge as part of the divine order of the state, while they complain that the priests have prostituted their office for lucre. In point of fact the one rested on old Hebrew tradition, the other had taken shape mainly under Canaanite influence, and in most of its features was little more than the crassest nature-worship. In this respect there was no distinction between the Temple of Zion and other shrines, or rather it was just in the greatest sanctuary with the most stately ritual that foreign influences had most play, as we see alike in the original institutions of Solomon and in the innovations of Ahaz (2 Kings xvi. IO seq., xxiii. II seq.). The Canaanite influence on the later organization of the Temple is clearly seen in theassociationofTemple prophets with the Temple priests under the control of the chief priest, which is often referred to by Jeremiah; even the viler ministers of sensual worship, the male and female prostitutes of the Phoenician temples, had found a place on Mt Zion and were only removed by ]osiah's reformation.1 All this necessarily tended to make the ritual ministry of the priests more important than it had been in old times; but it was in the reign of Manasseh, when the sense of divine wrath lay heav on the people, when the old ways of seeking ]ehovah's favour hadyfailed and new and more powerful means of atonement were eagerly sought for (Micah vi. 6 seq.; 2 Kings xxi.; and cf. MOLOCH), that sacrificial functions reached their full importance. In the time of Josiah altar service and not the function of “ teaching " has become the essential thing in priesthood (Deut. x. 8, xviii. 7); the latter, indeed, is not forgotten (]er. ii. 8, xviii. 18), but by the time of Ezekiel it also has mainly to do with ritual, with the distinction between holy and profane, clean and unclean, with the statutory observances at festivals and the like (Ezek. xliv. 23 seq.). What the priestly Torah was at the time of the exile can be seen from the collection of laws in Lev. xvii.-xxvi., which includes many moral precepts, but regards them equally with ritual precepts from the point of view of the maintenance of national holiness. The holiness of Israel centres in the sanctuary, and round the sanctuary stand the priests, who alone can approach the most holy things without profanation, and who are the guardians of Israel's sanctity, partly Dy protecting the one meeting-place of God and man from profane contact, and partly as the mediators of the continual atoning rites by which breaches of holiness are expiated.

The bases of priestly power under this system are the unity of the altar, its inaccessibility to laymen and to the inferior ministers of the sanctuary, and the specific atoning functions of the blood of priestly sacrifices. All these things were unknown in old Israel. So fundamental a change as lies between Hosea and the Priestly Code was only possible in the general dissolution of the old life of Israel produced by the Assyrians and by the prophets; and indeed the new order did not take shape as a system till the exile had made a great change in old institutions. It was meant also to give expression to the demands of the prophets for spiritual service and national holiness, but this it did not accomplish so successfully; the ideas of the prophets could not be realized under any ritual system, but only in a new dispensation (Ier. xxxi. 31 seq.), when priestly Torah and priestly atonement should be no longer required. Nevertheless, the concentration of all ritual at a single point, and the practical exclusion of laymen from active participation in it-for the old sacrificial feast had now shrimk into entire insignificance in comparison with the stated riestly holocausts and atoning rites”—lent powerful assistance to til-ie growth of a new and higher type of personal religion, the religion which found its social expression not in material acts of oblation, but in the language of the Psalms. In the best times of the old kingdom the priests had shared the place of the prophets as the religious leaders of the nation; under the second Temple they represented the unprogressive traditional side of religion, and the leaders of thought were the psalmists and the scribes, who spoke much more directly to the piety of the nation. But, on the other hand, the material influence of the priests was greater than it had ever been before; the Temple was the only visible centre of national life in the ages of servitude to foreign power, and the priests were the only great national functionaries, who drew to themselves all the sacred dues as a matter of right and even appropriated the tithes paid of old to the king. When the High Priest stood at the altar in all his princely state, when he poured 2 Kings xxiii. 7; cf. Deut. xxiii. 18, where “ dogs "=the later Galli; cf. Corp. insc. sem. i. 93 seq.

Cf. the impression which the ritual produced on the Greeks, Bernays's Theophrastus, pp. 85, III seq.

XXII. Il

out the libation amidst the blare of trumpets, and the singers lifted up their voice and all the people fell prostrate in prayer till he descended and raised his hands in blessing, the slaves of the Greek or the Persian forgot for a moment their bondage and knew that the day of their redemption was near (Ecclus. l.). The High Priest at such a moment seemed to embody all the glory of the nation, as the kings had done of old, and when the time came to strike a successful blow for freedom it was a priestly house that led the nation to the victory which united in one person the functions of High Priest and prince. From the foundation of the Hasmonean state to the time of Herod the history of the high-priesthood merges in the political history of the nation; from Herod onward the priestly aristocracy of the Sadducees lost its chief hold over the nation and expired in vain controversy with the Pharisees. The influence of the Hebrew priesthood on the thought and organization of Christendom was the influence not of a living institution, for it hardly began till after the fall of the Temple, but of the theory embodied in the later parts of the Pentateuch. Two points in this theory were laid hold of the doctrine of priestly mediation and the system of priestly hierarchy. The first forms the text of the principal argument in the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which the author easily demonstrates the inadequacy of the mediation and atoning rites of the Old Testament, and builds upon this demonstration the doctrine of the effectual high-priesthood of Christ, who, in his sacrince, of himself, truly “ led His people to God, ” not leaving them outside as He entered the heavenly sanctuary, but taking them with Him into spiritual nearness to the throne of grace. This argument leaves no room for a special priesthood in the Christian Church, and in fact nothing of thekind is found in the oldest organization of the new communities of faith. The idea that presbyters and bishops are priests and the successors of the Old Testament priesthood first appears in full force in the writings of Cyprian, and here it is not the notion of priestly mediation but that of priestly power which is insisted on. Church office is a copy of the old hierarchy. Now among the Jews, as we have seen, the hierarchy proper has for its necessary condition the destruction of the state and the bondage of Israel to a foreign prince, so that spiritual power is the only basis left for a national aristocracy. The 'same conditions have produced similar spiritual aristocracies again and again in the East in more modern times, and even in antiquity more than one Oriental priesthood took a line of development similar to that which we have traced in Iudaea. Thus the hereditary priests of Kozah (Ko§ 'é) were the chief dignitaries in Idumaea at the time of the Jewish conquest of the country (]os. Ant. xv. 7, 9), and the High Priest of Hierapolis wore the princely purple and crown like the High Priest of the Jews (De dea syria, 42). The kingly insignia of the High Priest of the sun at Emesa are described by Herodian (v. 3, 3), in connexion with the history of Elagabalus, whose elevation to the Roman purple was mainly due to the extraordinary local influence of his sacerdotal place. Other examples of priestly princes are given by Strabo in speaking of Pessinus (p. 567) and Olbe (p. 672). As no such hierarchy existed in the West, it is plain that if the idea of Christian priesthood was influenced by living institutions as well as by the Old Testament that influence must be sought in the East (cf. Lightfoot, Philippians, p. 261). The further development of the notion of Christian priesthood was connected with the view that the Eucharist (q.v.) is a propitiatory sacrifice which only a consecrated priest can perform. It is sufficient to remark here that the presentation of the sacrifice of the mass came to be viewed as the essential priestly office, so that the Christian presbyter really was a sacerdos in the antique sense. Protestants, in rejecting the sacrifice of the mass, deny also that there is a Christian priesthood “ like the Levitical, " and have either dropped the name of “priest” or use it in a quite emasculated sense. For further details as to the history and doctrine of priesthood in Christendom the reader is referred to the article, “ Priestertum: Priesterweihe in der Christlichen Kirche, ” in P.R.E., 3rd ed., Bd. xvi. p. 47 sqq. There is probably no nature religion among races above mere savagery which has not had a priesthood; but an examination of other examples would scarcely bring out any important I!