Religion Past and Present

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Apostolic Succession
(2,883 words)

[German Version]

I. Terminology

Ecumenical discussion (Ecumenicalism), in particular, assumes that the term “apostolic succession” refers to an original and clearly defined characteristic of the church office. However, the notion that the notae ecclesiae indicate an unbroken chain, going back to the apostles, of officeholders who have each come into office through the laying-on of hands by another legitimate officeholder, appeared only relatively late and is not the original meaning of the underlyin…

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Markschies, Christoph, Wohlmuth, Josef, Felmy, Karl C., Campenhausen, Axel Frhr. von and Neuner, Peter, “Apostolic Succession”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 14 August 2022 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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