The following chart is the result of a project that took me over a year to complete. It is the apostolic lineage of Archbishop Foley Beach and therefore all of the bishops he has consecrated. Within it includes the lineage of Archbishop Bob Duncan as well. By creation of this poster, I am not arguing for a specific position regarding the importance or method of tracing apostolic succession. Regardless of stances on those issues, I think one can at least appreciate the history. The document can be downloaded in PDF form at the bottom of this page. Please see the footnotes at the bottom right of the poster for further helpful remarks. Feel free to comment if you note an error.
Anglicans uphold the Historic Episcopate, the collective body of all bishops of the universal, or catholic, Church who are in valid succession back to the Apostles (which would include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and some Lutheran and Methodist bodies). There are, however, diverse opinions on its role and importance. Those who believe it is esse, or essential to the Church, hold it to be fundamental to the very existence of the Church. Others hold the Historic Episcopate as bene esse, that is beneficial to the life of the Church (i.e. to good order, etc.), but not essential. A third belief is that it is plene esse, that while the Historic Episcopate may not be essential to the Church, the Church is at its fullness of being when it is present.
Furthermore, there are two main methods of tracing Apostolic Succession. The traditional view is dependent on bishops physically laying on hands in the ordaining of new bishops, tracing back to those that the Apostles consecrated as their successors. The other view is that true Apostolic Succession is the continuation of and adherence to the teachings of Christ as passed on from the Apostles. Some holding this view, like many Anglicans, also believe that it must coincide with physical lineage. Regardless of view, it is clear that a valid hands-on-heads succession does not always ensure the faith of the Apostles is upheld.
There are two main ways to trace apostolic lineage:
- Lineage of Consecration: a “hands-on-heads” lineage of bishop consecrations, primarily through their chief consecrator. This is the most difficult to trace and most cannot clearly trace back to the Apostles.
- Lineage of Sees: a succession of bishops in the same episcopal see (a bishop’s area of jurisdiction such as a diocese) and the sees from which they originate, theoretically showing a continuing of teaching since the Apostles. In most cases this does not show consecrations, as most bishops were not consecrated by their predecessors.
Many bishops can trace their full lineage, name by name, all the way to the Apostles. Unfortunately for many Anglicans this can be difficult. The exact circumstances of the arrival of Christianity in Britain is unclear, as it fell outside the Roman church hierarchical structure. There are records of British bishops at early Church councils. However, most of their lineages are not known. The withdraw of the Romans and subsequent Viking raids decimated the early Church in Britain. Most Anglican lineages can be confidently traced to Godwin, Bishop of Lyon (modern France) in the 7th Century. While his succession is not known, most are confident he has a valid lineage through French bishops. Ancient tradition says that bishops must be consecrated by at least three other bishops, though often many more are present. Furthermore, each bishop also could have entirely different and valid successions through their diaconal and presbyterial ordinations. This presents an endless number of branches at each person which succession can be traced.
This document is a hybrid, but it mostly traces the lineage of sees until it reaches the four bishops who laid their hands on Archbishop Beach at his consecration. Incidentally, his consecration was also the inauguration of the See of the South which was arguably created by Archbishop Duncan and his three co-consecrators. This document assumes that the preceding bishop did not consecrate and lay hands on his successor (although it may have been the case in some instances), rather that the apostolic teaching and authority was passed on. Where new episcopal sees were created, these are viewed as successors of their mother diocese. The history of the African and South American lines was the most difficult to trace as very little history (in English) can be found. I had to rely on old news articles, consecration documents, and in some cases I contacted local clergy.
This lineage begins with three sees: Rome, Jerusalem, and Ephesus (placing Rome first was not a theological statement, it was just the first and easiest line to trace). These three connect to Canterbury in a few ways. Gregory the Great personally sent Augustine to England as a monk-priest. Though Gregory did not consecrate Augustine as bishop, it can be said that he commissioned the creation this see. Augustine was likely consecrated by Bishop Aetherius of Lyons, who can then be officially credited with the creation of the See of Canterbury. If the Augustine line is unclear, the Theodore line is not. Pope Vitalian personally consecrated Theodore as seventh Archbishop of Canterbury. The Jerusalem line can be traced through Henry Chichele, Bishop of Saint David’s in Wales, who was appointed by Pope John XXIII to be Archbishop of Canterbury. In this case it was neither a consecration nor creation of a new see, but rather an additional link back to the Apostles. An additional note shows where Vitalian of Rome personally consecrated the new Archbishop of Canterbury, though Anglicans generally reject the Medieval innovation that such a lineage is necessary for validity. The chart ends through four branches, each tracing the lineage of the co-consecrators of Archbishop Foley Beach, each of whom physically laid hands on him. Lastly, the noted role of bishops and archbishops from around the world at the creation of the ACNA and their presence at the enthronements (which were not consecrations) of Archbishops Duncan and Beach is a witness to the strength and importance of the global historic episcopate.
A few things may be noted that further strengthen this apostolic heritage. First, each bishop had a diaconal and priestly ordinations, both of which could have lineages of their own. Second, bishops historically have had at multiple co-consecrating bishops, also who have their own lineages. Third, new archbishop installations and inaugurations of new provinces are normally attended by bishops, archbishops, and primates around the world; essentially conveying their own apostolic authority through their attendance. Lastly, absent from this lineage are the various Celtic bishops that pre-dated Augustine’s arrival. These bishops, some of whom attended early church councils, can be presumed to have had valid consecrations that trace back to the Apostles. Due to invasions and turmoil in the British Isles many of these bishoprics were vacant at the arrival of Augustine and their histories lost.
The chart begins with the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, including Matthias as the replacement of Judas Iscariot, plus the Apostle Paul. Among those considered the successor to the Apostles and traditionally believed to be the first bishops of early diocese were other figures mentioned in the Scriptures, some of whom were also called Apostles. Of the attributed sees, some are derived from scripture or reliable historical accounts, others are debated Church legend. Among them, with the source in brackets and apostolic authority in parentheses, are:
|Titus||Bishop of Crete [Titus 1:5] (Paul)|
|Silas/Silvanus||Second Bishop of Crete [Tradition](Paul)|
|Apollos||First Bishop of Corinth [ Jerome] (Paul)|
|Lazarus||First Bishop of Kition, Cyprus or Marselle [Tradition] (Paul)|
|Timothy||Bishop of Ephesus [1 Timothy] ( John/Paul)|
|Clement||Third Bishop of Rome [Phil 4:3/1 Clement] (Peter/Paul)|
|Dionysius||First Bishop of Athens [Acts 17:34] (Paul)|
|Epaphroditus||First Bishop of Philippi [Tradition] (Paul)|
|Zacchaeus||First Bishop of Caesarea (Peter/Paul) [Apostolic Constitutions 7.46]|
|Publius||First Bishop of Malta [Acts 28:7-10], Second Bishop of Athens [Tradition] (Paul)|
|Mark||First Bishop of Alexandria [Eusebius/Jerome] (Peter)|
|Barnabas||First Bishop of Cyprus, First Bishop of Milan [Tradition] (Paul)|
Regardless myriad of beliefs about the Historic Episcopacy and Apostolic Succession, we as Anglicans and catholic Christians have always held the episcopacy in high regard It is sadly obvious that by merely being part of this lineage has not always meant a preservation of the apostolic and orthodox teaching. Physical lineage may be important, but adherence to the doctrine and teachings of Jesus Christ handed to us by the Apostles is, and always should be, essential to the life and mission of the Church.