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A Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood

A Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood

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Reference ID: PS-410-TM


This research work titled "A Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood" is dedicated to God for his enabling grace and to all computer enthusiasts who help to make life a pleasant experience.



I owe my indebtedness to my Supervisor (Name of your Supervisor), the Head of Department (Name of your HOD), the Lecturers in the department of Philosophy, Book Authors and Profound Scholars of existing/related research work for your moral support that facilitated the successful completion of my (Tertiary Institution level). I am grateful to God Almighty and my parent for their financial support in my career. I really appreciate you all for everything, Thank you very much.






  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Background …



  • 2.1 Introduction



  • 3.1 Introduction



  • 4.1 Introduction



  • 5.1 Introduction
  • 5.2 Summary
  • 5.3 Conclusion
  • 5.4 Recommendation



A Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood


1.1 Introduction

The term Priesthood is one of the oldest institutions of mankind all over the world. The reason is certainly associated with the religious propensities of man. Man is however religious by nature, “Homo Religiosus”. Man’s preoccupation with Sacred, which Rudolf Otto described as… “A mystery inexpressible and above creatures”1. Mysterium tremendium. – a mystery which attract and repels, must have accelerated the growth of priesthood in human society. So many social scientists are not deluded in classifying religion as one of the five social institutions of mankind2. By social institutions is meant…. “a complex or cluster of roles, which are knit together for accomplishment of given ends…”3 In religious sphere, communication with the sacred is often through sacred rites and the maintenance of the sacred order within the various spheres of human activities become an essential aspects of any society.

As a prelude to other parts of this study, this chapter will discuss the background upon which this study was initiated, the statement of problems that led to this study, the Aim and Objectives of the study. Others are Significance of the study, Scope of work, Limitation of the study and Definition of technical terms.

1.2 Background of Study

The observer in Igbo traditional priesthood sees the priest as crooked and tattered. This is because they wear tattered clothes; carry dirty bags and many other things, which make them to be feared. This helps to make the casual observers to think that they are only perpetrators of evil in the community. They see him also as a fetish priest or idolatrous priest, but no Igbo traditional priest worships idols or fabricated objects as they think. Nevertheless, they fail to understand that they have their dos and don’ts and their deity will kill them if they do evil. The traditionalists believe with their whole heart that their priests are genuine priests dedicated to offer sacrifices to the spirits for the benefit of humanity. This long essay will try to clear the prejudiced views on priesthood especially, that of Igbo traditional religion, and try to raise the status of this office of priesthood in Igbo traditional religion, to the actual elevated status it is supposed to share with the office of priesthood of other religions (especially catholic priesthood).

Emil Durkheim4 certainly exaggerated in equating religion with divinized-society. However, on its function in any society, he scored a pass mark. Since religion is endemic to any human society – ancient and modern, those tools which prop it up and fan the embers of religion in the hearts of its votaries worth giving attention. One of these tools is the institution of the priesthood. And we shall discuss it from Catholic and Igbo traditionalist perspectives. Therefore, in African traditional set up, religion is almost synonymous with culture. Africans who are notoriously religious who “eat religiously, drink religiously, bath religiously, dress religiously and sin religiously.”5 Cherish, nourish and sustain the institution of the priesthood as part and parcel of their culture. Priesthood and sacrifice are relatively interwoven. Sacrifice is an act of public worship offered in the name of the community. However, sacrifice could never be carried out without the intermediary performance of the priests, hence the importance of priesthood in religion. Man has always been longing for the need of a special mediator between himself and the object of his worship. “It is on this note that Aristotle supports the importance of having a priest in every community,”6 this issue of priesthood in religions is what we are set to discuss in this long essay, laying more emphasis on the Igbo traditional Priesthood and the Catholic priesthood. This long essay, apart from buttressing the unequivocal importance of priesthood in these two religions, will also try to make a comparative study of the concept of this office (priesthood) in the two religions.

Sacrifice is important to any religion and Igbo traditional religion in particular. In every community, sacrifice is used as a means for the individual or society to commune with spiritual beings. In the Igbo traditional society, we believe these beings have power to sustain and destroy, a good reciprocal relationship with them is beneficial to man making sacrifice important to the religious and social life of the Igbos. Sacrifice is also used to counteract the powers of destruction and evil spirit. To understand the significance of sacrifice, one has to put into consideration the Igbo cosmology, sacrificial types, rites, essence, purpose of sacrifice in Igbo traditional society compared to other living religions and its future in the modern Igbo society. Therefore, in Nigeria where the research was carried out, the activities that was conducted is to carry out A Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood.

1.3 Statement of Problems

Today there are many misceptions about the concept of sacrifice in Igbo society even among the Igbos. An average Igbo youth especially people who live outside the Igbo traditional community develop their idea of sacrifice as evil, diabolic and human acts that should be done away with and practiced by evil people. The Igbos are often associated with the evil act of blood money, cannibalism, human sacrifice and osu discrimination. The problem is to know the real native of sacrifice in Igbo society and its contribution in sustaining the Igbo traditional society. In other to correct the misconception and portray sacrifice not only as an important religious liturgical act but also significant in the individual and the society in almost all spheres of life.

1.4 Aim and Objectives of Study

The aim of the study is to carry out A Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood. In achieving this aim, the following specific objectives were laid out as follows:

  1. To examine the factors militating Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic
  2. To find out the relationship between Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood
  3. To examine one of the major elements that is in common to the both religions and then contributes our little quota to the intellectual domains.
  4. To examine some aspects of Igbo traditional priesthood in relation to the Catholic understanding of priesthood

1.5 Significance of Study

The importance of this long-essay is to show that there is not much difference between the Jews and the Greeks. We shall also understand that the Christians (Catholics) are serving their God in a conventional and accepted way, while the traditionalists are serving the same God in a traditional or natural but conventionally unaccepted way (albeit their own way) though it depends on the approach one wishes to take. We should bear in mind that traditional religion was in existence before the Christian religion. Therefore, we hope that this long essay wills also contribute in the domains of our intellectual pursuits, in trying to uphold this institution.

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.

1.6 Scope of Study

This study focuses on the Comparative Study of the Concept of Priesthood in Igbo Traditional Religion and Catholic Priesthood in Nigeria.

1.7 Limitations of the Study

During the course of this study, many things militated against its completion, some of which are:

  1. Time Constraint: The time frame given to accomplish this project was very short due to school academic calendar and it was carried out under pressure which made the researcher not to implement some necessary features.
  2. Research material: availability of research material is a major setback to the scope of the study.
  3. Frequent power failure: This made the researcher append more money on fuel to ensure sustainable power.
  4. Financial Constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet).

1.8 Research Methodology

The method to be employed in the work is a synthetic, interpretative and expository analysis. Synthetic in the sense that relevant insight of various scholars on this topic will be collated and utilized for more comprehensive knowledge of the topic under discussion. Interpretative because as an insider with some experience of the activities of some Igbo traditional priests, I will try to make sense of this religious institution. By expository we mean that all the hidden meanings and many ambiguous words will, be laid bare. For proper understanding, these methods will bring out the comparative nature of the long essay.

1.9 Definition of Terms

For the purpose of clarity and proper elucidation the following key concepts will be defined.

Sacred: According to Websters All-In-One Dictionary And Thesaurus the term sacred means devoted to one service or use.

Devoted to deity: dedicated to a deity or religious purpose

Worthy of worship: worthy of or regarded with religious veneration, worship and respects.

Dedicated to somebody: dedicated to or in honour of somebody

Inviolable: not to be challenged on disrespected Etymologically, the word “sacred” is derived from the Latin “sacrum”, which refers to the gods or anything in their powers, priest; sanctum, set apart. It was generally conceived, as referring to the area around a temple. Sacred specialists are devoted and dedicated to some religious purposes.

Igbo Traditional Religion: Unlike major world religions, the Igbo Traditional Religion, like other religious systems in Africa has no known founder, it is native and indigenous to the Igbo culture. Igbo Traditional Religion therefore, is the belief system which has been handed down from one generation to another. It is in this conceptualization that Ojike aptly and summarily defined it as “Omenani” (Onyeidu 2002:13).


2.0 Literature Review

2.1 Introduction

This chapter focuses on the review of related literature. A literature review includes the current knowledge as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to a particular topic. It documents the state of the art with respect to the topic you are writing. It surveys the literature in the topic selected. In this research work the literature review includes the …

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