Pontiff

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A pontiff (from Latin pontifex) was, in Roman antiquity, a member of the most illustrious of the colleges of priests of the Roman religion, the College of Pontiffs. [1] [2] The term "pontiff" was later applied to any high or chief priest and, in Roman Catholic ecclesiastical usage, to a bishop and more particularly to the Bishop of Rome, the Pope or "Roman Pontiff". [3]

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Religion in ancient Rome the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome

Religion in Ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion of the city of Rome that the Romans used to define themselves as a people, as well as the religious practices of peoples brought under Roman rule, in so far as they became widely followed in Rome and Italy. The Romans thought of themselves as highly religious, and attributed their success as a world power to their collective piety (pietas) in maintaining good relations with the gods. The Romans are known for the great number of deities they honored, a capacity that earned the mockery of early Christian polemicists.

College of Pontiffs body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the state religion

The College of Pontiffs was a body of the ancient Roman state whose members were the highest-ranking priests of the state religion. The college consisted of the Pontifex Maximus and the other pontifices, the Rex Sacrorum, the fifteen flamens, and the Vestals. The College of Pontiffs was one of the four major priestly colleges; originally their responsibility was limited to supervising both public and private sacrifices, but as time passed their responsibilities increased. The other colleges were the augurs, the quindecimviri sacris faciundis , and the Epulones.

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Etymology

The English term derives through Old French pontif [3] [4] from Latin pontifex, a word commonly held to come from the Latin root words pons (bridge) + facere (to do, to make), and so to have the literal meaning of "bridge-builder", presumably between mankind and the deity/deities. The role of bridges in ancient religions, associated with resurrection, redemption and the Judgement Day is already too well known. Uncertainty prevailing, this may be only a folk etymology, [1] but it may also recall ancient tasks and magic rites associated with bridges. [5]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Resurrection concept of a living being coming back to life after death

Resurrection or anastasis is the concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of ancient religions, a dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects.

Redemption may refer to:

Ancient Rome

There were four chief colleges of priests in ancient Rome, the most illustrious of which was that of the pontifices. [2] The others were those of the augures , the quindecimviri sacris faciundis , and the epulones . [5] The same person could be a member of more than one of these groups. [2] Including the pontifex maximus , who was president of the college, there were originally three [5] or five [2] pontifices, but the number increased over the centuries, finally becoming 16 under Julius Caesar. [2] [5] By the third century B.C., the pontiffs had assumed control of the state religious system. [5]

Collegium (ancient Rome) any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations had various functions.

A collegium was any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations had various functions.

Quindecimviri sacris faciundis

In ancient Rome, the quindecimviri sacris faciundis were the fifteen (quindecim) members of a college (collegium) with priestly duties. Most notably they guarded the Sibylline Books, scriptures which they consulted and interpreted at the request of the Senate. This collegium also oversaw the worship of any foreign gods which were introduced to Rome.

Epulones group of humans

The epulones arranged feasts and public banquets at festivals and games (ludi) They constituted one of the four great religious corporations of ancient Roman priests.

Catholicism

The word "pontiff", though now most often used in relation to a Pope, technically refers to any bishop. The phrase "Roman Pontiff" is not tautological, but means "Bishop of Rome", as "Alexandrian Pontiff" means Bishop of Alexandria. [1] In the same way, the adjective "pontifical" does not refer exclusively to the Pope: a Pontifical Mass is a Mass celebrated by a bishop, not necessarily by a pope. From the adjective have been formed the nouns "the Pontifical" (the liturgical book containing the prayers and ceremonies for rites used by a bishop) [6] and "pontificals" (the insignia of his order that a bishop uses when celebrating Pontifical Mass, not papal insignia, such as the papal tiara). [7] Furtheron, while the pontificals primarily belong to bishops (as the name implies), they have also been granted by Papal favour or legally established Church custom to certain presbyters (e. g., abbots), and so (say) an abbot who (say) confers the Sacrament of Confirmation as extraordinary distributor, celebrating a Pontifical Mass at the occasion, might also be referred to as "the pontiff" (that is, celebrant of the Pontifical Mass) in this respect.

Pope leader of the Catholic Church

The pope, also known as the supreme pontiff, is the bishop of Rome and ex officio leader of the worldwide Catholic Church. Since 1929, the pope has also been head of state of Vatican City, a city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. The current pope is Francis, who was elected on 13 March 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI.

Patriarch of Alexandria Archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, includes the designation "pope"

The Patriarch of Alexandria is the archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt. Historically, this office has included the designation "pope".

Mass (liturgy) type of worship service within many Christian denomination

Mass is the main eucharistic liturgical service in many forms of Western Christianity. The term Mass is commonly used in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, as well as in some Lutheran, Methodist, Western Rite Orthodox, and Old Catholic churches.

Other religions

Inspiration for the Christian use of the name "pontiff" for a bishop could be found in the use of the same word (in Latin, pontifex, not "pontifex maximus") for the Jewish High Priest in the Vulgate Latin translation of the Scriptures, where it appears 59 times. For example, in the Vulgate Mark 15:11, "pontifices" (plural) is the Latin term used for "The Chief Priests", [8] and in the Letter to the Hebrews "pontifex" (singular) is repeatedly used with reference to the Jewish High Priest and analogously to Jesus as the High Priest of Christians.

Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible

The Vulgate is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible that was to become the Catholic Church's officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible during the 16th century. The translation was largely the work of Jerome, who in 382 had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Vetus Latina Gospels then in use by the Roman Church. Jerome, on his own initiative, extended this work of revision and translation to include most of the books of the Bible; and once published, the new version became widely adopted; and over succeeding centuries eventually eclipsed the Vetus Latina, so that by the 13th century it had taken over from the former version the appellation of versio vulgata or vulgata for short, and in Greek as βουλγάτα ("Voulgata").

The word has been employed in English also for caliphs (Islam) and swamis and jagadgurus (Hinduism). [1]

Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, claimed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.

In Hinduism, a swami is an ascetic or yogi who has been initiated into a religious monastic order. The meaning of the Sanskrit root of the word is '[he who is] one with his self'. The term is applied to religious gurus as well as yogis, with or without disciples. The term is also used in Advaita Vedanta. As a direct form of address, or as a stand-in for a swami's name, it is often rendered Swamiji.

Jagadguru, literally meaning the Guru of the universe, is a title used in Sanātana Dharma. Traditionally, it has been bestowed upon or used for Ācāryas belonging to the Vedānta school who have written Sanskrit commentaries on the Prasthānatrayī – the Brahma sūtras, the Bhagavad-gītā and the principal Upaniṣads. Historically, Jagadgurus have established a lineage, established an institution to spread Dharma, who have been based in Varanasi, famous for being the centre of Sanskrit study and the "Capital of All Knowledge".

See also

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Pontifex maximus The chief high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome

The Pontifex Maximus was the chief high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post. A distinctly religious office under the early Roman Republic, it gradually became politicized until, beginning with Augustus, it was subsumed into the Imperial office. Its last use with reference to the emperors is in inscriptions of Gratian who, however, then decided to omit the words "pontifex maximus" from his title. Although in fact the most powerful office of Roman priesthood, the pontifex maximus was officially ranked fifth in the ranking of the highest Roman priests, behind the rex sacrorum and the flamines maiores.

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The Roman Pontifical, in Latin the Pontificale Romanum, is the Latin Catholic liturgical book that contains the rites performed by bishops.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 "Pontifex". "Oxford English Dictionary", March 2007
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 William Smith, A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, article Pontifex, pp. 939-942
  3. 1 2 Pontiff, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  4. In modern French the corresponding term is pontife
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 Encyclopædia Britannica, article Roman religion
  6. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN   978-0-19-280290-3), article Pontifical
  7. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford University Press 2005 ISBN   978-0-19-280290-3), article pontificals
  8. Marcus 15:11