N EACON (Slákovos, minister, servant), the name given their ministry in the Latin church in the 6th century.

to the lowest order of minister in the Christian The office was abolished in the Greek church in the 12th church. From the appointment of the seven Hellenic century. deacons (Acts vi.) we learn that their duty under the apostles DEAD SEA, the largest lake in Palestine, and phy. was simply to distribute alms from the public fund. In the sically, as well as historically, among the most remarkable early church, however, they soon came to discharge higher in the world. It is called in Scripture The Salt Sea (Gen. functions. They assisted the bishop and presbyter in the xiv. 3), The Sea of the Plain, or more correctly of the service of the sanctuary ; in the administration of the Arabah (Deut. jii. 17), and The East Sea (Ezek. xlvii. Eucharist they handed the elements to the people; they 18). Josephus calls it the Asphaltic Lake (B. J. iii. 10, instructed the catechumens, and in some cases baptized; 17), a name adopted by classic writers in allusion to the and the archdeacons came to exercise in the 6th century bitumen, or asphaltum, which abounds in its basin. the judicial power of the bishop over the inferior clergy. Jerome gave it the name Dead Sea because its waters are

In the Church of England the form of ordaining deacons fatal to animal life, and in the Talmud it is called the Sea declares tzat it is their office to assist the priest in the dis- of Sodom. Its common name among the inhabitants of tribution of the holy communion; in which, agreeably to Palestine is Baheiret Lat, “ The Sea of Lot." the practice of the ancient church, they are confined to the The sea is 46 miles long, and varies from 5 to 9 in administering of the wine to the communicants. A deacon breadth. Its bed is the lowest part of the great valley of in England is not capable of holding any benefice, yet be the Jordan ; and its surface has a depression of no less may officiate as a private chaplain, as curate to a beneficed than 1308 feet beneath the level of the ocean. The Jordan clergyman, or as lecturer in a parish church. He may be valley itself, for a distance of about 80 miles to the northordained at twenty-three years of age, anno currente ; but ward and 30 to the southward, is also below the level of it is expressly provided that the bishop shall not ordain the ocean. The general contour of the sea is an elongated the same person a priest and deacon on the same day. In oval, with a number of bold promontories and deep bays Presbyterian churches, as in apostolic times, the deacons along the western shore, and a large, low peninsula on the have charge only of the pecuniary affairs of the congregation. south-east. It is shut in on the east and west by parallel In the Roman Catholic Church it is the deacon's office to ranges of mountains which rise steeply, and in some places incense the officiating priest or prelate ; to lay the corporal in precipices of naked rock, from the water. The western on the altar ; to receive the paten or cup from the sub range is the mountain chain of Judah, and is composed of deacon, and present it to the person officiating; to incense white limestone intermixed with yellow and reddish strata. the choir ; to receive the pix from the officiating prelate, Its whole eastern slopes are bare, rugged, and desolate, and to carry it to the subdeacon ; and at a pontifical forming that wilderness in which David found an asylum, mass, when the archbishop gives the blessing, to put the | in which the Baptist preached, and in which our Lord was mitre on his head, and to take off the archiepiscopal pall tempted. The average height of the cliffs along the shore and lay it on tbe altar.

is about 2000 feet; but they are deeply fissured by Deaconess.—This was the title of a ministry to which torrent beds, which are all dry in summer. There are, women were appointed in the early church, whose duty | however, a few fountains in the glens and near the shore, it was to perform certain functions towards female the most celebrated of which is the "Biblical Engedi. At catechumens during the ceremony of baptism by immersion, the north-west curve of the sea are extensive salt marshes, which could not so well be performed by the deacons, and at the south-west is a range of hills of rock salt, 7 Their age was at first fixed at sixty years, but it was after- miles long and 300 feet bigh, called Khashm Usdom, "The wards reduced to forty years, and no married woman was ridge of Sodom.” On the south of the sea lies a low eligible to the office. Abuses gradually became prevalent marshy plain, partially covered with jungles of reeds, Amongst the deaconesses, which led to the suppression of tamarisk, and broom.

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