Closet Catholic wrote:
So the three orders of Apostle, bishop-priest and deacon continued as bishop, priest and deacon. (Assuming, of course, that there is a significant overlap, almost an identity between bishop and priest in the New Testament, an assumption I doubt.)
Well, I may not know much about the exact state of the evidence currently, but one thing I do know is that modern scholars propose that in the very early Church, dioceses were run by a committee of the leading clergy in the city, and that in these committees everyone was equal and no one was 'in charge', the committee had no chairman, everything was done collectively.
And I'll tell you right out, that's a load of crap. A committee where everyone is equal and no one is the chairman, cannot accomplish anything, EVER. It certainly cannot run all the churches in a major city like Rome, Jerusalem or Antioch. A committee with no chairman is going to spend all of its time arguing with each other (or worse, just sitting around shooting the breeze and not getting any work done at all) and will never actually come to a decision. The only way that a committee can accomplish anything is if someone steps up and says 'okay, the debate is over, now we're going to vote', and who spends the entire meeting insisting that the committee follow a certain agenda which is decided on before hand. The person who steps up to the plate and does this is called 'the chairman'....and if this is how dioceses actually were run in the very early Church, where all the clergy had one big meeting, which seems at least possible, then the guy who stepped to the plate and said 'okay, the debate is over, now we're going to vote', the guy who set the agenda for the meeting and insisted that everyone else must follow it....was the bishop.