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No Women in Holy Orders? The Women Deacons of the Early Church.

NO WOMEN IN HOLY ORDERS? THE WOMEN DEACONS OF THE EARLY CHURCH. By John Wijngaards. Norwich, U.K.: Canterbury, 2002. pp. 222. 9.99 [pounds sterling].

John Wijngaards, a former Catholic priest who initiated www.womenpriests. org, the largest website on the ordination of women, here presents a general discussion on the question of women deacons and 50 pages of supporting texts. Much of the material is also available on the website.

The basic premise of the text is that women have been sacramentally ordained to the diaconate, and therefore can be ordained to both the priesthood and the diaconate. Most of W.'s discussion presents the various arguments set forth against French liturgist, Aime-Georges Martimort, whose Les diaconesses: Essai historique (1982) sought to dam the floodtide of factual analysis about women deacons after the reinstitution of the diaconate as a permanent state. He traces the ancestry of Gerhard Ludwig Miiller's Priestertum und Diakonat (2000) directly to Martimort. Since the 2002 International Theological Commission document on the diaconate is heavily endowed by both Martimort and Muller, W.'s text serves to remind readers about the prior contra-indicatory work of Cipriano Vagaggini and Roger Gryson, among others. Most scholars agree that the ordination of women deacons was sacramental.

In compiling an excellent bibliography of sources on the female diaconate, W. has done a fine service to the non-European reader. He provides 34 texts to support his contentions, including eight codices of diaconal ordination ceremonies for women: the famous Codex Barberini gr. 336, and the Codex Vaticanus gr. 1872, each held by the Vatican Library, and those at the Monastery of St. Catherine, Mt. Sinai; at the Italo-Greek monastery at Grottaferatta just outside Rome; at the National Library, Paris; at the Bodleian Library, Oxford; at the library of the Patriarch of Alexandria; at the Monastery of St. Xenophon on Mt. Athos. Each codex is cited from a secondary source, and it is unclear whether the manuscripts have been directly or indirectly translated into English.

While this book is replete with interesting and valuable citations and references for the scholar, it continues the popular style of W.'s The Ordination of Women in the Catholic Church (2001), and is more suitable for the general reader.


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Author:Zagano, Phyllis
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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