A conspectus of the church orders

A version of the following has already been posted on academia.edu. Its purpose is to provide a conspectus of the church orders. I hope it will prove useful.

The genre of church order is a phantom which was conjured up in the nineteenth century to classify a number of texts which were coming to light. As Mueller (2007) has observed, the term Kirchenordnung is a product of the reformation, and is only applied to patristic material by analogy.
Although certainly not a genre, we may use the term as a convenient receptacle to place a number of documents, some of which have been extensively discussed while others are still barely investigated, and of which a number, whilst the focus of scholarship in the nineteenth century, are now all but forgotten.
The working definition which is employed here is “a literary document which seeks to direct the conduct of Christians and of the church on the basis of an appeal to tradition derived from or mediated through the apostles.”
The main point to make by way of defending this working definition is to point out that these are literary productions, usually pseudonymous, as opposed to canons laid down by individual bishops or actual councils, which are regulations which those who promulgated them had a reasonable expectation of being observed, as opposed to the literary ideal of the church orders. It is observable that the form of “canon” was increasingly employed in the production of these literary church-orders, reflecting the growing importance of synods. The Canones Hippolyti, a reworking of an earlier church-order, the Traditio apostolica, is thus found divided into canons, even though the literary form is not that of canons. This may be the result of secondary redaction, but it is also notable that the eighth book of the Constitutiones apostolorum, also a re-working of Traditio apostolica, appends a series of canons. In time church-order material is included in canonical collections, such as the Syrian Synodicon. That Traditio apostolica should be reworked in this manner (and these are not the only reworkings), highlights a further phenomenon which is familiar to students of the orders, namely the extent to which many are in literary relationship with each other. This, alongside their common function and their frequent pseudonymy, provides further grounds for treating this somewhat disparate set of documents as a group.
The purpose of this document is not, however, to define church-orders as much as to provide a catalogue of the documents which may conveniently so be classified in order to define the field of research and to chart progress. Beyond their intrinsic interest the church-orders provide vital liturgical and social-historical evidence for the communities in which they were produced. A better understanding of the orders themselves may provide a better understanding of the evidence which they supply.
The division into tables is itself a convenience only. The first table shows the “major” church-orders, those which have been universally accepted as belonging to the “genre”. The second are “minor” church-orders, not always recognized as such but which fit the definition given above; notably most of the editions are over a century old. In time it may prove possible to add a third table, showing the larger collections in which the church-orders are now generally found.
Corrections and suggestions for expansion will be received with gratitude, as this is a step into relatively uncharted territory.
A.C. Stewart

The “major” church orders

Name: Didache
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek, Coptic fragment. Rordorf & Tuilier (1988).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Basis for CA7. Relationship with other TWT.
Notes: 1C?

Name: Traditio apostolica
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Complex transmission in versions. See Stewart (2015b).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Basis for CH, CA8, TD.
Notes: 3C Roman?

Name: Didascalia apostolorum
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (Vööbus (1979)), Latin substantial fragment (Tidner (1963)), small Coptic fragment (Camplani (1996)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Basis for CA 1-6.
Notes: 2 recensions. E rec. has distinct preface, numerous abbreviations, additional material as appendix, including K, Can. Add, Epitome of AC8. See also Stewart-Sykes (2009).

Name: Apostolic Church Order,
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek, Coptic, Ethiopic, Syriac, Latin fragment. See Stewart-Sykes (2006).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Possible common source with DA, probable common source with D.
Notes: Variously and also known as apostolische Kirchenordnung, Canons ecclésiastiques des apôtres.

Name: Testamentum Domini
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (Rahmani (1899)), Ethiopic (Beylot (1984)), Arabic (unedited), Greek fragment (Corcoran and Salway (2011)), Georgian fragments (Chronz and Brakmann (2009)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Reworking of TA. Opening apocalyptic section transmitted independently in Latin and Ethiopic versions.
Notes: Cooper and Maclean (1902) provide English version.

Name: Constitutiones apostolorum
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Metzger (1985-)), Arabic (see Funk (1891), 215-242; Dawud (1924)?; Qilada (1979)), Ethiopic (see Harden (1920 (ETr).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Books 1-6 reworking of DA, Book 7 reworking of D, Book 8 reworking of TA. Set of canons appended (apostolic canons). Ar./Eth. have distinct preface, also found in E recension of DA. Ar. also has material deriving from TD!
Notes: 4C Antiochene. Book 8 itself subject of epitome forming canons transmitted in a number of versions.

Name: Canones Hippolyti
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic (through Coptic) (Coquin (1966).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Reworking of TA.
Notes: 4C Egyptian.

The “minor” church orders

Name: Regula canonica sanctorum apostolorum (ὅρος κανονικὸς τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων)
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Bickell (1843), 133-137; Lagarde (1856), 36-37).
Relationship with other orders or documents: In same Vienna MS as K.
Notes: 18 disciplinary canons, various subjects, liturgical and ethical. Read like conciliar canons. Discussion in Bickell (1843), 98ff. Only pseudepigraphical apparatus is in title.

Name: Canones apostolorum Antiochenses
Original language: Greek.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (ed. Bickell (1843), 138-142; Pitra (1864), 88-91; Harnack (1904), 86-101). See also Stewart (2016).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Derived from NT.
Notes: Canons in “apostolic” council at Antioch.

Name: Poena sanctorum apostolorum (τῶν ἁγίων ἀποστόλων ἐπιτιμία τῶν παραπιπτόντων)
Original language: Greek.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Pitra (1864), 105-107).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Some similar content to Canons of Basil.
Notes: Brief “canons” declaring periods of excommunication for various offences.

Name: Canones Addaei
Original language: Greek?
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (Lagarde (1856), 113, with Greek retroversion p89; Cureton (1864), 24-35), Armenian (Dashian (1896), 290-358), Sogdian fragments (Hansen (1954), 893-903). Bickell (1843), 179-80 refers to Arabic (see also Riedel (1900), 18-20, 159-164), Funk (1891), 246 refers to Ethiopic. See also Witakowski (1987).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Also found in E recension of Didascalia. Lagarde’s version is from same codex as abbreviated TD.
Notes: Liturgical directions. Set in context of apostolic fiction in Cureton’s version.

Name: Canones Athanasii
Original language: Greek?
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic, Coptic (see Riedel and Crum (1904)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Some echoes in Canones Basilii, Sententiae Nicaeae.
Notes: Egyptian provenance.

Name: Canones Basilii
Original language: Greek?
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic, Coptic. German version of Arabic in Riedel (1900), 231-283. Awaiting edition of Coptic version (newly discovered). Coptic fragments in Crum (1904).

Name: Sententiae Nicaeae
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Coptic (Stewart (2015a)).
Relationship with other orders or documents: Distant relationship to D. Transmitted with (Coptic) Fides patrum.
Notes: Egyptian, 4C gnomologion, some focus on ascetics.

Name: Syntagma doctrinae
Original language: Greek.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (ed. Batiffol (1890))
Relationship with other orders or documents: V close to Fides patrum; indebted to TWT.
Notes: Ascetic rule. Egyptian, 4C.

Name: Fides patrum
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (ed. Batiffol (1887), Riedinger and Thurn (1985)), Coptic (ed. Revillout (1881), 15-62), Ethiopic (ed. Bausi (2004)), Armenian (Catergian (1893) (attributed to Evagrius)), Arabic (unedited.)
Relationship with other orders or documents: V close to Syntagma doctrinae. Coptic conclusion (Greek may be lacunose) has material found in DA.
Notes: Ascetic rule, prefaced by creed and anathemas. Egyptian, 4C. Also known as Didascalia CCCXVIII Patrum Nicaenorum.

Name: Canones Petri
Original language: Unknown.
Extant languages with principal published editions: Arabic (German translation in Riedel (1900), 165-175), Ethiopic (Bausi (1994), vol. I, p. 284-306, vol. II, p. 109-118), Syriac mediated through a canonical collection Kitāb al- Hudā (Fahed (1935))
Notes: Also known as Epistula Petri, Canones Clementis

Name: Statuta ecclesiae antiqua
Original language: Latin
Extant languages with principal published editions: Latin (Munier, 1960)
Relationship with other orders or documents: Echoes of TA, CA
Notes: Gallican 5C? Presented as canons of a non-existent 4th Council of Carthage.

Name: Praedicatio Johannis Evangelistae
Original language: Unknown
Extant languages with principal published editions: Syriac (unpublished, found in Ms Cambr. Add. 2023, fol. 83r – 159r), Arabic (version in Kitāb al- Hudā (Fahed (1935)))

Dubious church-orders

Name: Didascalia Domini (title in one MS)
Original language: Greek
Extant languages with principal published editions: Greek (Nau (1907))
Relationship with other orders or documents: Echoes in apocalyptic section of other “tours of hell”, in particular Apocalypsis Anastasiae, Apoc. Virginis Mariae.
Notes: Post-resurrection interrogation of Christ by named disciples. Issues re Lent, Wednesday and Friday fasting, clerical discipline, apocalyptic section. Other MS calls it “apostolic constitutions”, but it is not self-evidently a church-order. Closest relative is Epistula apostolorum!

Canonical collections consisting largely or entirely of church-order order material

To follow

Bibliography

Batiffol, Pierre (1887): Didascalia CCCXVIII patrum (Paris)
–, (1890): Syntagma doctrinae (Studia patristica 2; Paris)
Bausi, Alessandro (1994): Il sēnodos etiopico : canoni pseudoapostolici: canoni dopo l’ascensione, canoni di Simone Cananeo, canoni apostolici, lettera di Pietro (Leuven) (2 vols)
–, (2004): “La versione etiopica dealla didascalia dei 318 niceni sulla retta fede e la vita monastica” in Ugo Zanetti and Enzo Lucchesi (edd.) Aegyptus Christiana (Geneva), 225-248
Beylot R. (1984): Testamentum Domini éthiopien: Édition et traduction (Leuven)
Bickell, J.W. (1843): Geschichte des Kirchenrechts (Giessen)
Camplani, A. (1996): “A Coptic fragment from the Didascalia Apostolorum (M579 f. 1)” Augustinianum 36, 47-51
Catergian, J. (1893) De fidei symbol quo Armeni utuntur observationes (Vienna)
Chronz, T. and Brakmann, H. (2009): “Fragmente des Testamentum Domini in georgischer Übersetzung” ZAC 13, 395-402
Cooper, J. and Maclean, A.J. (1902): The Testament of Our Lord (Edinburgh)
Coquin, René-Georges (1966): Les canons d’Hippolyte (PO 31.2; Paris)
Cocroran, S. and Salway, B. (2011): “A newly identified Greek fragment of the Testamentum Domini” JTS (ns) 62, 118-135
Crum, W.E. (1904): “The Coptic Version of the ‚Canons of S. Basil‘” Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 26, 57-62
Cureton, W. (1864): Ancient Syriac documents relative to the earliest establishment of Christianity in Edessa and the neighbouring countries (London)
Dashian, J. (1896): Wardapetuthiun Arakheloz: anvawerakan kanonaz mateanz (Vienna)
Dawud, Ḥafiẓ (1924): ad Dasquliya au ta’alim ar-rusul (Cairo) non vidi
Fahed, Pierre (1935): Kitab al-huda, ou Livre de la Direction: Code Maronite du Haut Moyen Age, traduction du Syriaque en Arabe par l’evêque Maronite David, l’an 1059 (Aleppo)
Funk, F.X. (1891): Die apostolischen Konstitutionen: eine litterar–historische Untersuchung (Rottenburg)
–, (1903): “Ein Fragment zu den apostolischen Konstitutionen” Theologische Quartalschrift 85, 195-202
Hansen, O. (1954): “Berliner sogdische Texte II: Brüchstücke der grossen Sammelhandschrift C2” Akademie der Wissenschaften und Literature (in Mainz): Abhandlungen der geistes-und sozialwiss. Kl.
Harden, J.M. (1920): The Ethiopic Didascalia (London)
Harnack, A. (1904): The expansion of Christianity in the first three centuries (Etr of 1st ed.; London)
Lagarde, Paul de (1856): Reliquiae iuris ecclesiastici antiquissimae (Leipzig)
Metzger, Marcel (1985-): Les constitutions apostoliques (Paris) (3 vols)
Mueller, Joseph G. (2007): “The ancient church order literature: genre or tradition” JECS 15, 337-380
Munier, Charles (1960): Les Statuta ecclesiae antiqua (Paris)
Nau, F. (1907): “Une didascalie de notre-seigneur Jésus-Christ” Revue de l’orient chretien 12, 225-254
Pitra, J.B. (1864): Iuris ecclesiastici Graecorum historia et monumenta I (Rome)
Qilada, Wilyam Sulayman (1979): Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah : taʿālīm al-rusul (Cairo)
Rahmani, Ignatius Ephraim (1899): Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu Christi (Mainz)
Revillout, Eugène (1881): Le concile de Nicée d’après les textes coptes et les diverses collections canoniques (Paris)
Riedel, Wilhelm (1900): Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien (Leipzig)
– and Crum, W.E. (1904): The canons of Athanasius (London)
Riedinger, R. and H. Thurn (1985) “Die Didascalia CCCXVIII patrum nicaenorum und das Syntagma ad monachos im Codex parisinus graecus 1115 (a. 1276)” JÖByz 35, 75–92
Rordorf, Willy and André Tuilier (1988): La doctrine des douze apôtres (Didachè). Paris
Stewart(-Sykes), A. (2006): The apostolic church order: the Greek text with introduction, translation and annotation (Strathfield NSW)
–, (2009): The Didascalia apostolorum: an English version (Turnhout)
–, (2015a): The Gnomai of the Council of Nicaea (CC0021) (Piscataway NJ)
–, (2015b) Hippolytus: on the apostolic tradition (2nd ed.; Crestwood NY)
-, (2016) “The apostolic canons of Antioch: an Origenistic exercise” RHE 111 (2016), 439-451
Tidner, E.(1963): Didascaliae apostolorum, canonum ecclesiasticorum, traditionis apostolicae versiones Latinae (TU 75; Berlin)
Vööbus, Arthur (1979): The Didascalia apostolorum in Syriac (Textus) (CSCO 401/407; Leuven)
Witakowski, Witold (1987): “The origins of the ‘Teaching of the apostles’” in H.J.W. Drijvers et al. (ed.) IV Symposium Syriacum 1984: literary genres in Syriac literature (Rome)

Most recent edit: March 22nd 2017 (under continuous review)

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3 Comments

Filed under Church orders in genera(l)

3 responses to “A conspectus of the church orders

  1. Pingback: A conspectus of the church orders | Talmidimblogging

  2. Daniel Vaucher

    This is a brilliant overview. If I can contribute anything to the conspectus, I’d be more than happy.

    I like the working definition. Opposed to older definitions like that of Alexandre Faivre, who thought moral, discipline and liturgy to be predominant, in addition to their pseudonymous character, I think yours will open up the category for many more texts which have a lot of things in common. Even Faivre modified his approach and saw, that not all the texts normally thought of as church orders treated these aspects the same way, and not all of them were pseudonymous in the same way. He also saw many parallels in e.g. the first letter of Clement to the Corinthians or other letters from the so called Apostolic fathers.
    The working definition will have to set boundaries, too, otherwise you’ll have to include even the post-Pauline letters from the NT, which fulfill your working definition, too, in my opinion as do the aforementioned “Apostolic” letters. One helpful boundary is the one you mention: <>
    This leads me to two further questions. Would you suggest, then, in opposition to the synodal canons, that Church Orders had no reasonable expectation of being observed? It reminds me of Paul Bradshaws question in his recent book, if anybody took any notice of the Church Orders. Were they really just literary ideal (we have already discussed that a lot!)?
    The next one is the classification of the Apostolic canons at the end of CA VIII. It is apparent that they included material from the synods of the 4th century, but nevertheless they were probably written / compiled by the same author as the Apostolic Constitutions. The latter are in my opinion clearly a Church Order. The Apostolic Canons are somewhat in-between, if they consist of canons by individual bishops or actual synods and of material by an anonymous author of the CA. Things get even more complicated in terms of the working definition when we look at the aftermath of the Apostolic Canons. They were included in all the Canonical collections and became actual Canonic Law.

    In regards to the list:
    The epistula apostolorum is not listed, except in comparison with the Didascalia Domini (Nau 1907). I think it could fit into your working definition. What are the reasons you excluded it?
    In regards to the bibliography, the basic editions / translations are:
    Gespräche Jesu mit seinen Jüngern nach der Auferstehung: ein katholisch-apostolisches Sendschreiben des 2. Jahrhundert, (…) von Carl Schmidt. Leipzig 1919.
    L’Epître des apôtres. Accompagnée du Testament de notre Seigneur et notre Sauveur Jésus-Christ, présentation et trad. de l’éthiopien par Jacques-Noël Pérès. Apocryphes 5, Turnhout 1994.
    J.V. Hills: The Epistle of the Apostles. Early Christian Apocrypha 2, 2009.

    The mentioned Poena Sanctorum apostolorum (Pitra 1864): is there any relationship to the canons of Peter from Alexandria (in his peri metanoias, in Routh 1864, Vol. III, 321-368 / Lagarde 1856, 63-73)?
    I’ll check.

    By the way, Peter from Alexandria could be the author of a didascalia Petrou. Aren’t didascalia / diataxis the common names of church orders? Harnack (Chronologie der altchr. Litteratur, Vol 2, 1904, 73) mentions an unedited Didascalia Petrou in Cod. Vat. Gr. 2081, fol. 94v and asks whether it is Peter from Alexandria. He mentions a study by Crum, Texts Attributed to Peter of Alexandria, JTS 4 (1903), 387-397, but I can’t find a note of the didascalia.
    There was certainly a confusion about the didascalia Petrou or doctrina Petri, which is also the name Origen and others give to the Kerygma Petrou, and Hieronymus also gives the title of the iudicium Petri.
    Dobschütz (Das Kerygma Petri, 1893, 105-121) analyses some fragments attributed to the didascalia Petrou and opts for a text older than Origen independent of the Kerygma Petri that circulated under the name of Peter; he characterizes it as “innergemeindliche Belehrung (…) im Unterschied von den späteren Didascalien freilich mehr moralischen als kirchenrechtlichen Inhalts”. Given some parallels with the writings of Peter from Alexandria, he attributes these fragments to the bishop, but acknowledges, “dass dies Urteil sich wesentlich auf subjektive Beobachtungen stützt”.
    This all is old. Whether more is known about the text, whether the ominous manuscript was edited in the meantime, I don’t know.

    The canons of Peter that you mention are clearly different from any of that. Riedel gives the title “Der Brief des Petrus oder die Canones des Clemens”, so aren’t it actually the canons of Clement? He thinks that the work was written originally in Arabic, but there is a Syriac translation as well as an Ethiopic (see Kaufhold: Sources of Canon Law in the Eastern Churches, in Hartmann/Pennington: The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law 2012, 235 and 270, where he says that they “still deserve further study”).

    Next, I would ask if the Canons wrongly attributed to Nicaea in the Arabic and Coptic collections (lat. translation in Mansi 1759, Vol. II, 947-1064) would fit into the list. They are somehow similar to the aforementioned Canones Apostolorum. See Coquin, Nicaea, Arabic Canons of, in Coptic Encyclopedia VI, 1789s. They are clearly a forgery, close to the synodal canons. I stumbled across them since CanAp can. 82 with the prohibition of ordaining slaves into the clergy found its way somehow into can. 2 of these pseudo-nicaean canons.

    I would also mention the “Die Befehle der Väter, der Vorsteher, der Gebieter” (Riedel 1900, 187-193). Riedel says, they are closely related to the “30 canones apostolici” that are listed in your conspectus as “Canons of Addai”. It is an Arabic compilation consisting of 21 respectively 17 canons. Apparantly, given its late date, it stretches the boundary of the Church Order, but should be noted here nevertheless.

    Finally, I’d like to suggest to consider the apocryphal letter of Jesus-Christ, which I know nothing about, but which might fit into the working definition you suggest. Nau 1907 mentions it in relation to the didascalia Domini. There is a considerable amount of literature which I haven’t consulted yet, s. e.g.
    Bittner, Der vom Himmel gefallen Brief in seinen morgenländischen Versionen und Rezensionen, in Denkschriften der kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften : philosophisch-historische Klasse, 51 (1906) 1-240.
    Stübe, Der Himmelsbrief. Ein Beitrag zur allgemeinen Religionsgeschichte, Tübingen 1918.

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