Kitab al-Huda & the canons of John the Evangelist

In our most recent discussion, we had mentioned the Arabic Kitab al-Huda and a homily by John euphorically called a new church order. On the basis of Graf, Der maronitische Nomokanon “Buch der rechten Leitung” in Or.Chr. 33 (1936), 212-232 and Kaufhold, Sources of Canon Law in the Eastern Churches, in: Hartmann, W. / Pennington, K. (ed.):  The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law to 1500. Washington 2012, 256-259, I can report some more:

Stewart already summarized: the Kitab al-Huda is a maronite canonical collection, presumably translated by the Maronite bishop David. Critical edition by Pierre Fahed, Kitab al-Huda ou livre de la direction: code Maronite du haut moyen age (Aleppo: Imp. Maronite, 1935).

Now, Graf (and Riedel 1900, 146-148) gives a summary of the content: §1-13 are a “in sich geschlossenes” “Lehr- und Moralbuch”, §14-57 are a collection of canonical texts. For our purpose, the parts of the latter are more interesting. So:

  1. §14-22 are the pseudo-nicaean canons, known in its Latin translation in Mansi 1759, vol. II, 981-1010 (eorundem sanctorum partum 318 sanctiones et decreta), and also known in a similar Syriac version. I plan to post on them separately soon.
  2. §24 is a “Kanon des Cyrillus, Bischof von Jerusalem”, on baptism and marriage, “unbekannt”.
  3. §26 is our “Kanon des Evangelisten Johannes”, which Graf declares with certainty as of “byzantinischer Herkunft” (p. 222): “Er behandelt vor allem die Rechte und Pflichten der verschiedenen ordines, zunächst des höheren Klerus vom Periodeuten aufwärts bis zum Patriarchen, dann des niederen Klerus und das Verhältnis der einzelnen Grade zueinander. Andere Bestimmungen bestreffen das kanonische Gebet, die Sonntagsheiligung, das Verbot des commercium nuptiale an Sonn- und Festtagen, widernatürlicher Unzucht und die dafür auferlegten Bussen. Da im Anschluss an das Patriarchat auch die Machtbefugnisse und Ehrenrechte des Königs zur Sprache kommen (…), ist die byzantinische Herkunft des Kanons sicher.”
  4. §27 is the second “Kanon des Evangelisten Johannes”. An extra note in the Ms indicates that this was translated from the Syriac. Graf speculates whether this piece is identical with the kephalaia of John in the Melchite collection of Josephus of Alexandria (Riedel 1900, p. 139, Nr. 31). The Syriac version is the one that Kaufhold refered to in his article of 2005 (see previous post).
  5. §30-35 are the Canons of Clement, which Stewart treated in his previous post. Again Graf opines for a Greek origin.
  6. §36 are the well-known Canons of the Apostles.
  7. §37-45 are an excerpt of book VIII of the apostolic Constitutions, the so-called Canons of Simon. They circulated independently in many of the canonical collections.
  8. after the conciliar canons follows in §56-57 an Arabic recension of the Syro-Roman Lawbook.

The Kitab al-Huda is therefore an impressive and fascinating canonical collection which to some extent was translated from earlier Syriac texts (like §27), to some extent compiled from Arabic sources, and after all given a coherent form by the redactor. There are “redaktionelle Eingriffe”, for example in §14-22. But the collection is nevertheless important for the transmission of the lesser known church orders, and so I would welcome any modern translation of it for further study.

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