The term "high priest" usually refers either to an individual who holds the office of ruler-priest, or to one who is the head of a religious organisation.

Ancient Egypt edit

Pinedjem II as High Priest of Amun in Thebes. From his Book of the Dead.

In ancient Egypt, a high priest was the chief priest of any of the many gods revered by the Egyptians.

Ancient Israel edit

Depiction of a high priest in biblical costume, end of the 17th century, orientalising representation with turban, in the collection of the Jewish Museum of Switzerland.

The High Priest of Israel served in the Tabernacle, then in the Solomon's Temple and the Second Temple in Jerusalem. The Samaritan High Priest is the high priest of the Samaritans.

Ancient world edit

China edit

India edit

Christianity edit

The Epistle to the Hebrews refers to Jesus as high priest.[4]

In Christianity, a high priest could sometimes be compared to the Pope in the Catholic Church, to a patriarch in the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Church of the East and the Eastern Orthodox Churches (the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is a primus inter pares) or to a primate in the Anglican Communion (the Archbishop of Canterbury is a primus inter pares), but it is traditional to refer to it only to Jesus Christ as the only high priest of Christianity. Throughout the episcopal body, except in the Anglican and Lutheran communions, bishops may also be referred to as high priests, since they share in or are considered earthly instruments of the high priesthood of Jesus Christ.

High priest is an office of the priesthood within the Melchizedek priesthood in most denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement.

Mandaeism edit

A high priest in Mandaeism is known as a ganzibra.[5] The head of all of the high priests within a Mandaean community is known as a rishama.

Other religions edit

  • The Celestial Masters was founded by Zhang Daoling in 142 CE, they have been the high priests and spiritual leaders in Zhengyi Order of Taoism until present days. The 63rd Celestial Master, Zhang En Pu eventually migrated to Taiwan in 1949.
  • The 16th-century Maya priesthood was headed by a high priest who instructed the other priests and advised the king.
  • Kahuna Nui, presides over the temple or heiau. Below the Kahuna Nui are various types and ranks of priests.
  • In Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, the High Priest is considered to be successor to Nichiren, through the lineage of Nikko Shonin.
  • In Shinto, a high priest, called a Guji, is usually the highest ranking priest (Kannushi) in a shrine.
  • In Ásatrú, the high priest is called a goði (or gyða) and is the leader of a small group of practitioners collectively referred to as a Kindred. The goði are collectively known as the goðar. Some countries use the term Allsherjargoði for national multi-kindred organizations, most notably Iceland's.
  • In both the Yoruba religion and a number of its various New World sects, such as Santeria, a high priest is called a Babalawo. The term means wise man, and comes from the Yoruba language of West Africa. A female holder of the title is known as an Iyanifa.
  • In Wicca, High Priest and High Priestess are the roles of the man and woman who are leading a group ritual. High Priest and High Priestess are also titles sometimes conferred on the members of a Wiccan coven when they have completed their third, or fifth year of study and practice. Sometimes called Third degree, depending on path or tradition.
  • The High Priest and High Priestess are the two highest positions of leadership and administration within the Church of Satan.
  • In some Rodnover organisations in Russia, the volkhv is the title used for the high priest, or priests in higher ranks.

Non-religious usages edit

The phrase is also often used to describe someone who is deemed to be an innovator or leader in a field of achievement. For example, an 1893 publication describes ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes as having been "the high-priest of comedy".[6]

See also edit

  • Neal Boortz often refers to himself on air as the "High Priest of the Church of the Painful Truth"[7]
  • The High Priestess is the second trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks
  • In Royal Arch Masonry the Excellent High Priest serves as leader of the chapter
  • Nina Simone is often referred to as the High Priestess of Soul

References edit

  1. ^ Dodson, Aidan; Hilton, Dyan (2010). The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt. Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-28857-3.
  2. ^ Dodson and Hilton, The Complete Royal Families of Ancient Egypt, 2004.
  3. ^ Wilkinson, The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, 2000, Thames and Hudson, p. 83.
  4. ^ see Hebrews 2:17, Hebrews 3:1, Hebrews 4:14–15, Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 6:20, Hebrews 9:11–10:39
  5. ^ Gelbert, Carlos (2005). The Mandaeans and the Jews. Edensor Park, NSW: Living Water Books. ISBN 0-9580346-2-1. OCLC 68208613.
  6. ^ Maurice Maeterlinck, Charlotte Endymion Porter, Poet Lore: Volume 5 (1893), p. 246.
  7. ^ Eagleton, John. "Neil Boortz's Commencement Speech". Archived from the original on 1 January 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2012.