“She Sacrificed Herself as the Priest”: Early Christian Female and Male Co-Priests
This essay is part 2 in a series about the early tradition that Mary, the Jewish mother of Jesus, was a priest. Part 1, “Collyridian Déjà Vu: The Trajectory of Redaction of the Markers of Mary's Liturgical Leadership,” appeared in the fall 2013 Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion and was that year's Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award First-Place Winner. The current essay illuminates an early tradition in the Life of the Virgin that the women disciples were at the Last Supper, and that both Mary and her son sacrificed as priests at the meal. Consistent with this Eucharistic model, early Christian authors in both East and West described a gender parallel co-priesthood. Confirming this co-priesthood was orthodox, the two oldest artifacts to illustrate people inside real churches depicted liturgical scenes with women and men in parallel flanking the altar—in the second Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and Old Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome.
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