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From Herodotus on, Greek designates by archiereus any “high priest” of whatever religion-classical, Jewish, or the Roman pontifex maximus. The NT follows Septuagint usage for various members of particular priestly families (plural) and contemporary practice for the president of the Sanhedrin (singular), while extending figurative meaning to Christ (Heb. 2:17, etc.). Patristic citations retain all these values while broadening their range to include archangels, the Byzantine emperor, Christian ministers (especially the bishop), and metaphorically Christians in general. In traditions where the title “dean” has not come into usage, archpriest identifies the one who services his bishop's cathedral. As a special title from 1598 to 1623 an archpriest headed the Roman Catholic seminarians who were sent to England.

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