Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

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The origin of the office of archpriest is unclear. After the permanent establishment of the distinction between bishops and priests, it appears that senior presbyters had certain recognized rights by virtue of their seniority; but there is no evidence of them having been called by a specific name until the late  4th century CE. In individual churches, “archpriest” is applied to the same person in the corresponding passage by Socrates (see below); in later times, the archpriest used to be the oldest presbyter, therefore the most authoritative one. We learn from Jerome that there was on…

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Ronzani, Rocco, “Archpriest”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 30 September 2022 <>
First published online: 2018

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