Ranks of Clergy in the Nazarani Church

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The one true leader of the Nazarani people is Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the only begotten Son of God. It is by Him and through Him and the Holy Spirit that our work in this world is conducted, and it is to Him that we are solely and equally accountable.

The Holy Spirit, which comes at the time of ordination, is a loud, roaring and dynamic force. The Acts of the Apostles say that, "suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it set upon each of them.” [Acts 2:2-3] Fire begetting fire, flame kindling flame, the apostolic lineage of the Nazarani Church proceeds from the very first of Christ's disciples unto the present day in an unbroken line of descent known as apostolic succession. This line, which comes to us from the Coptic Orthodox Church, is special because it is the only extant line of apostolic succession that has come down to the modern age with an intact list of those who held office in each generation. Heaven is hierarchical, with Trinity on top, and The Church has and will always have, a hierarchical structure, for what is in Heaven, so on Earth (Matthew 6:10). This hierarchy exists, because each cleric, just as each heavenly being, has a different role to play in the collective and individual salvation of the people of God.

God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and does not show partiality or favoritism or place the faith that He has in one higher than in any other (James 2:1). There is therefore no such thing as 'prestige' before God, and even the mightiest King must answer to Him on equal terms with the lowliest beggar.

To the Apostles, who worried who amongst them would become the greatest, He said “unto them, the kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger: and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as He that serveth. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” [Luke 22:25-27]

The rank of a cleric is stated clearly on their shthara שתרע (Aramaic = “document”) which is given to them when they are ordained into Holy Orders, granting them specific duties within the Church.

The ranks of clergy are hierarchical, because Heaven is hierarchical. “If Clement knew the temple tradition, then he will also have known that the Jerusalem temple was a 'copy', and that everything in it represented some aspect of the heavenly world. Buildings, furnishings and temple servants were all copies of heavenly originals; Moses had been told to make a tabernacle in accordance with the pattern he had been shown on the mountain (Exodus 25.9, 40), and David gave to Solomon a plan of the temple he had to build, every detail of which had been given to him by the LORD (1 Chron. 28.11—19). 'On earth as it is in heaven' (Matthew 6:10) became one of the principal elements of the apocalyptists' temple-rooted traditions, and thus Clement was able to show how the degrees of glory in heaven corresponded to the ranks within the Church.” (Barker, Margaret, “The Great High Priest”, 1999, page 8.)

The Nazarani Church preserves the following ranks of clergy:


NAZARANI METROPOLITAN (Kahuna Gadula Nazarayin) כהונא גדולא

The Nazarani Metropolitan stands at the head of the Nazarani people, as their representative both before the world and their advocate before the Throne of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). The present Nazarani Metropolitan is His Excellency, Hadrian Mâr Élijah Bar Israël. As such, he has charge over all of the priests and the clergy of the Nazarani Church, and is in charge of the tending to the development of the Nazarani Rîte.

BISHOP (Eshaera / Eshaerayin) אשערא

The term אשערא (‘Eshaera’) means “chief” in Aramaic (Akkadian ‘shar’, Hebrew ‘sar’, Greek σεφ (reading right to left) =‘arch’). It over time, evolved into other similar words such as ‘coryphaeus’ which is the Latin word for Chief or leader. From this evolved into French ‘chef’, and Italian ‘capo’, and into Old English “chief”.

The bishops are those men, who having been consecrated in valid apostolic succession in an unbroken lineage from the Apostles, serve as the chief priests and shepherds of the people of God in the Church, under the authority of a Metropolitan.

Saint Paul, says, “A bishop must be blameless, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality and apt to teach, not an alcoholic, or brawler, not greedy, or covetous, but a patient man who rules his own household well.” [1st Timothy 3:2-4] In order to be consecrated as a Bishop, a man must already be a Priest, a Deacon, a Subdeacon, a Reader, and an Acolyte. The rank of bishop is covered in Title V, Section A of the Constitution of the Nazarani Church.

CORSICOPA (Karashaera / Karashaerayin) כראשערא

In Greek Χωρ (‘cor’, short for the Egyptian word ‘karnak’) means “village”, and επίσκοπος (‘episcopa’) means “bishop”, so the term Corepiscopa means literally “village bishop” and was translated from the Aramaic כראשערא (Karashaera / Karashaerayin) whereas again, פר (‘kar’, short for the Hebrew word “karakh”) means “village” and אשערא (‘eshaera’) means “bishop”. The similarity of the words “karakh” and “karnak” is because of the fact that they were at one time the same word ‘karnak’ in Old Egyptian (2686-2181 BC) which was taken from the earlier Akkadian (2334-2514 BC), word ‘karru’ meaning “town”. It is from this same word from which the Greek derived their word ‘cor’ - thus giving it a Semitic source.

This was the title traditionally given to the married bishops who served mission churches outside of major cities. It may also refer to a bishop, who has been restricted from performing his episcopal function due to marriage or other canonical issue.

The title of Χωρεπίσκοπος was first historically recorded in the proceedings of the councils of Antioch (which have only survived in Greek, but which were undoubtedly originally conducted in Aramaic) thus giving a third century witness to the antiquity of the order. The title was later affirmed at the Council of Ancyra (314 A.D.) and confirmed at Nicaea (325 A.D.).

The work of the Corepiscopa resides between the ranks priest and bishop. While Corepiscopi may perform the Confirmation of Faith, and affirm persons in Minor Orders through the laying on of hands of people in their own precincts; he is specifically forbidden to ordain anyone to Holy Orders.

According to Title V, Section C, Subsection 5 of the Constitution of the Nazarani Church, “the Corepiscopa is also a Priest, a Deacon, a Subdeacon, a Reader and an Acolyte, but not a Bishop.”

Readings for the Ordination of Karashaera

General Epistle 2nd Timothy 2:1-13 Pauline Epistle Titus 2:1-9

Gospel Reading John 14:1-16

PRIEST (Kahuna / Kahunayin) כהונא

The order of ‘priest’ came about as an extension of the apostolic order as a representation of God’s paternity and masculinity, and the relationship between the faithful and their priest was described by the Apostles as akin to that of a father with his children. [14] The care of the spiritual life of the people is the primary role of the holy order of Priest. In order to be ordained a Priest, a man must already be a Deacon, a Subdeacon, a Reader and an Acolyte.

DEACONESS (Shimshona / Shimshonotha) שימשונא

Nazarani ordain women to the order of שימשונא Shimshona / Shimshonotha. Although this word translates into English as "deaconess" it is not the same rank as a male-deacon, but is instead a unique Aramaic title which is given to those women who practice ministry in the church. This role, unlike the role of priests is political, since priests serve an altar, but deaconesses serve an entire community. Thus the Shimshoni are one rank higher than that of the priests, directly answerable to the Eshaera (Aramaic = "bishop").

Because of their high status among the angels (See: 1st Enoch 7:1-2), all women are forbidden to enter the Altar, and should always cover their hair in Church (See: 1st Corinthians 11:5-6). And thus liturgically speaking the shimshoni are comparable to deacons, standing at the Skinta (Aramaic = “place of wisdom”), rather than participating at the altar.

The subordinate (training) rank is דקשימשונא DiqShimshona which translates as "subdeaconess", and which the church considers to be ranked canonically above a male-deacon or samash.

The Shimshonotha and DiqShimhona fulfill the important function of baptism and ministry to women in the church, midwifery, and the education and baptism of women and girls, as heads of communities, and in the incredibly important role as ministers and spiritual counsellors.

They often serve as educators, and stand as heads of religious households and congregations, and serve in other important ministerial roles which do not require that they perform directly sacramental functions. And so strictly speaking the Shimshoni are liturgically comparable to deacons, standing at the Skinta (Aramaic = “place of wisdom”), rather than participating at the altar. However the subtle intention of the Aramaic words should not be mistaken for the intentionally degrading rank of deaconess in the western churches, or with the all-male ‘diaconate’ of the Greeks, Russians and Copts; but as something more; a great blessing from God.

DEACON (Shamsa / Shamsayin) שמשא

In Aramaic a deacon is known as samash, which means 'servant'.

SUBDEACONESS (DiqShimshona) דקשימשונא

The Subdeaconess is a female servant who is in training to become a deaconess.

SUBDEACON (DiqShamsa / DiqShamsayin) דקשמשא

A male servant who is in training, i.e. “under servant” is diqshamsa in Aramaic. This frequently refers to seminary students who have been set aside to serve the household of the bishop as secretary or apprentice, but is also a necessary rank toward being ordained as a deacon.

READER ( MitQirya / MitQiryain) מתקריא

Literally, “to call out”.

ACOLYTE (Abuda) עבודא

Literally, “servant”.

SINGER (Mizmarna / Mizmarnayin) מזמרנא

Literally, “singer”.

Monk (Ihidaya) יחידיא

A male monastic, from a term meaning unity as the duty of a monk is to become a living temple, unified with Allaha.

Nun (Ihidayath) יחידיאת

A female monastic, from a term meaning unity as the duty of a monk is to become a living temple, unified with Allaha.