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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The distinction between clergy and laity in its most elemental form is a way of creating and setting apart an elite. The question about the clergy and the laity becomes a fascinating historical question about how the unity of the Church – symbolic, organizational, and political – comes to rest on the constitution of these two classes and the relationship between them. The premise of much of the earlier scholarship held that development of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and the clergy/laity dyad was evolutionary, an organic unfolding of an embryonic distinction between clergy and laity into a fully elaborated polarity based on the priestly functions of the clergy and the sacrality of the liturgy. Scholarship on the institutionalization of Christianity that in an earlier era had been primarily ecclesiastical and theological is now increasingly cross-disciplinary, drawing on work in sociology, politics, economics, archaeology, gender, and religion.

Keywords: clergy, laity, Christianity, ecclesiastical hierarchy, sacrality, liturgy

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