Metropolitan John of Pergamum is a very interesting character. He is co-president of the joint commission for Orthodox-Catholic dialogue, a job he took over from our local Bishop Ezekiel. He has written many interesting essays and books, including this one on the Kasper-Ratzinger Universal/Local Church controversy.
Today I found this article on Apostolic Succession by Metropolitan John, which is a great read, and gives deep cause for pondering a topic that comes up regularly on this blog. I offer his remarks with the full awareness that he is an Orthodox, rather than a Catholic, theologian. But he is a GOOD theologian, and a good historian, and so any opinion he has is worth listening too (a bit like our friend Tom Wright, the Anglican bishop of Durham).
There are many comments I would like to highlight, but I thought this one worthwhile for starters:
Ireneaus is known for his insistence on the continuity of apostolic teaching through episcopal succession as a reaction against the claim of the gnostics that they have some kind of secret succession of teaching that goes back to the apostles (the Gnostics must have been the first ones to insist on succession of apostolic teaching).
Sehr interessantes, nicht wahr? And, for that matter, why did Ireneaus bother pointing to the succession of bishops as the guarantee of apostolic teaching, if he could simply have pointed to the apostolic scriptures alone?