Anagnostes

Anagnostes (ἀναγνώστης), reader, the name of a class of officers in the early church. In the Greek, Church they held the first rank in the lower order of officers; in the Roman Church they were next to the sub-deacons. They have sometimes been regarded as an order instituted by the apostles, and by them derived from the Jewish synagogue. Compare Lu 4:16; Ac 13:15,27; 2Co 3, There were among the Jews persons who performed the same office as readers among the Christians. There is not, however, any proof of the early appointment of a special minister in the capacity of reader: the office was probably instituted in the third century. Tertullian distinguishes the lector from the episcopus, presbyter, and diaconus; and the church observed a fixed rule respecting the office and duty of these respective ministers. Both in the synagogue and in the early Christian Church, any person who was able to discharge the duty was allowed to hold the office of reader, without reference to age. Boys of twelve, ten, and eight years of age, were frequently employed in this manner. The office was a favorite one with youths in the higher classes of society. Julian, afterward the apostate, in his younger years was reader in a church in Nicomedia. — Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes bk. 3, ch. 5.

 
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