Tag Archives: Daniel Vaucher

“Sklaverei in Norm und Praxis. Die frühchristlichen Kirchenordnungen”

I am pleased to say that my book is finally out and available: “Sklaverei in Norm und Praxis. Die frühchristlichen Kirchenordnungen”, in Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim 2017: http://www.olms.de/search/Detail.aspx?pr=2009399

It is primarily a socio-historical investigation of slavery in Early Christianity, and secondarily a reflection on the interpretation of Ancient Church Orders. As an appendix, it contains an almost 30-page-overview of the transmission of the church orders with bibliography, which is, I confess, based on the fundamental work by our host Alistair Stewart.


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Another Stewart-Vaucher dialogue, in which Dr Vaucher identifies a forgotten church order and Dr Stewart goes to Oxford and gets wet

In the comments on my post Some updates there has been something of a pooling of perplexity between myself and Daniel Vaucher. Editing the comments today I managed accidentally to delete a bunch of them. So to preserve the dialogue I have edited them all out (deleting the rest) and present them here as another Socratic dialogue in which I am reduced to aporia on one point at least. It may even continue!

DV: Thanks for updating the conspectus. I do have some more for you:

Testamentum Domini: you could add the edition by A. Vööbus, The synodicon in the West Syrian tradition. 2 vols. Louvain 1975, as well as the translations by J. Cooper and A.J. Maclean. The Testament of Our Lord Translated into English from the Syriac. Edinburgh 1902 and F. Nau, La version syriaque de l’Octateuque de Clément. Paris 1913 (where TD is book I-II)

Didascalia Apostolorum / CA I-VI: as I learn, according to M.E. Johnson, there is an edition of the arab version by H. Dawud, Ad-dasquliyah aw ta’atim ar-rusul. Cairo 1924; 3rd ed. 1967. This is beyond my language skills and needs further check.

Canons of Ps.-Basil: you could add the coptic fragments by W.E. Crum, The Coptic Version of the ‚Canons of S. Basil‘, in Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 26 (1904), 57-62.

ACS: Thank-you. Perhaps you could add the Testamentum material appropriately (NB however the Synodicon does not contain the full text of the Testamentum, only excerpts.) And certainly the Canons of Basil fragments; there are also some other fragments, see my post below from March 2014.
I am intrigued by this mention of the Arabic Didascalia however, though I cannot find the book in the Bodleian library or on COPAC, which means it will be hard to check it in person; Beyond Johnson’s bibliography the only reference I can find is an Indonesian (!) website which (having passed through Google translate!) states that this is a modern Arabic translation (ergo not a textual witness) of “The Didascalia of the apostles (the Apostolic Constitutions) edited by Hippolytus in 215.” (sic) I’m not sure which of an anonymous Indonesian website or Maxwell Johnson is the the more trustworthy source.

DV: OK. I have another one though: Canones Petri or Canones by Clement or Letter by Peter… according to Georg Graf, there is an Arabic ed. by P. Fahed, 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, published 1935. And then, it is part of the Ethiopian Senodos, published by Bausi 1995. I wonder then, where are the Sahidic versions?

ACS: The Canones Petri should certainly be included… Actually it’s there already! Note there is a translation in Riedel KRQ, 165-175. Riedel opines that the work was composed in Arabic, and that the Syriac and Ethiopic are translations from Arabic.

DV: Contra Riedel, Graf, Geschichte der arabischen Literatur, opines that the work goes back to a lost Greek original. I leave the question to the learned scholars with expertise in Arabic

ACS: I certainly don’t have that kind of expertise. However, I realize that if David the Maronite made a translation from Syriac to Arabic, then if it was Arabic to start with somebody must have translated it from Arabic to start with, which seems a rather strange proceeding. Presumably the Syriac (and a presumed Sahidic) are both lost. Puzzling, certainly.

DV: I’m puzzled too, and I can’t find Fahed anywhere in Switzerland, but I have Graf in front of me. He writes p. 580 f.: “das Werk gehört einer jüngeren Zeit an, ist aber nicht (wie Riedel will) arabisches Original, sondern Ableitung aus einer oder mehreren griechischen Schriften. Eingehende Untersuchungen über Quellen und Alter fehlen noch.” (footnote 1: Vansleb, Hist. S. 259: L’épitre de saint Pierre à saint Clément, mais parce qu’elle est pleine d’absurdités, je n’ai pas voulu la mettre ici).
I think, with Vansleb he refers to the Ethiopian version, which Bausi, Il Sēnodos etiopico, vol. I, p. 284-306, vol. II, p. 109-118 edited and translated. I don’t have Bausi in front of me, but his comment on the piece might be worth a check. And Kaufhold, “Sources of Canon Law in the Eastern Churches” in Hartmann/Pennington, The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law 2012, 235 and 270, refers to a Syriac version. I wonder now whether this was the piece that Maronite priest David was translating into Arabic, and whether that David’s Arabic version was the same that Riedel refered to. This is far beyond my understanding and knowledge of the Eastern languages, but it’s at least plausible that there was a now lost Greek original, which was then translated into Syriac (only: where is this version now? – I check Kaufhold again), and from there into Arabic and Ethiopic. Given the date of the translation, anno 1059, I think it would be unsafe to assume a much earlier arabic version anyway?

ACS: I will have to look into this. Gorgias has reprinted Fahed, which is a start.

DV: To make you and us wonder some more: In 2005, Kaufhold wrote in “La littérature pseudo canonique syriaque” in: Débie (ed): Les apocryphes syriaques. Paris 2005, p. 147-168 of a yet unpublished pseudo-canonique piece in Syriac with the following title: Prédication de saint Jean l’Évangeliste qui enseigna à Éphèse et prêcha de Pâcques, au sujet des choses commises de manière mauvaise et désordonée par des prêtres et des chrétiens à l’interieur de l’Église, et admonition du peuple.” With the short summary he gives, this could well be church order! It’s found in Ms Cambr. Add. 2023, fol. 83r – 159r, and, Kaufhold refers to an Arabic version which can be found in, guess, Fahed 1935…

ACS: I recognize that catalogue number! Really, I do. It is a collection of canonical material so could well contain a church order.

DV: I note in the translation of the Didascalia by Ragucci, which you just posted, the following comment:
Le recensioni arabe sono due e sono derivate e mediate da un testo copto oggi perduto, entrambe queste recensioni sono più vicine a CA, – di cui riportano anche la stessa prefazione–, che non a DA latina o siriaca.
La prima recensione è più antica ed è la più conosciuta, è detta anche Vulgata. Potrebbe essere stata tradotta da un testo copto nell’XI secolo, è suddivisa in 39 capitoli e rielabora CA I-VI, sebbene ci siano alcune omissioni in cui si verifica una significativa alterazione nella disposione del materiale e l’aggiunta del VI capitolo. Queste differenze nella disposizione degli argomenti la rendono una traduzione poco fedele. Di questa recensione Vulgata esiste un’edizione di Dāwud del 1924 che si basa su un manoscritto del patriarcato copto e su due manoscritti privati.
but she does not indicate Dawud’s edition, but refers instead to D. Spada-D. Salachas, Costituzioni dei Santi Apostoli per mano di Clemente, Urbaniana University press, Roma 2001, p. XXVII.

ACS: OK, that’s it, enoujgh confusion! I shall have to make a pilgrimage to the Bodleian and brave the hordes of tourists, the foul weather, and the horrible traffic.

ACS (several days later): Dr Vaucher, you are now the master, and I the troublesome student.
The letter of Peter, aka the canons of Clement, are indeed preserved in Arabic translation (from Syriac, presumably lost) in the Maronite canonical collection Kitab al-Huda. This was translated by the Maronite bishop David. Critical edition, as you gave it: Pierre Fahed, Kitab al-Huda ou livre de la direction: code Maronite du haut moyen age (Aleppo: Imp. Maronite, 1935). They are headed as the Canons of Clement.
The same text, headed Letter of Peter is indeed in the Ethiopian Senodos published by Bausi, as you suggested. I think Riedel must have been wrong, and these are not originally Arabic, since they were rendered from Syriac by David. I suspect that they were from a variety of Greek sources, possibly mediated through Coptic for the Egyptian branch and (obviously) through the Syriac, from which they were rendered for the Kitab al-Huda. Mind you, that’s only a hunch.
Secondly, I went looking for this Arabic Didascalia reported by Johnson. I cannot find the Dawud text, though I am sure that Ragucci’s information was entirely from the translation of Constitutiones apostolorum by Spada and Salachas, which she cites, and they in turn had it from… Graf, Geschichte I, 568. This is also, I suspect, where Johnson got it from. The correct reference as Graf gives it is: Ḥafiẓ Dawud, ad Dasquliya au ta’alim ar-rusul (Cairo, 1924). Although I could not find Dawud, I did find: Wilyam Sulayman Qilada (ed.) Kitāb al-Disqūlīyah : taʿālīm al-rusul (Cairo : Dār al-Jīl lil-Ṭibāʿah, 1979), but the source of this text I cannot say! One can reasonably imagine that it is Egyptian.
Now, M. Kohlbacher, “Zum liturgischen Gebrauch der Apostolischen Konstitutionen in Ägypten”, in J.M.S. Cowey and B. Kramer (ed.) Paramone (Archiv für Papyrusforschung Beiheft 16; Leipzig, Saur, 2004) suggests that there may be even more recensions of the Constitutiones apostolorum in Arabic (we must remember that the Arabic Didascalia is actually the Constiutiones and not the Didascalia at all.) At this point I have to confess that I can go no further with this enquiry for the present.
However, it’s not all bad news. You mentioned Kaufhold’s mention of a Prédication de saint Jean l’Évangeliste. I have checked this out.
It is worth citing Kaufhold in full:
Dans la deuxième partie du Kitāb al- Hudā apparaissent deux séries de “Canons de saint Jean l’Évangeliste” que n’avaient jusque’à présent pas été identifiés. Le première traite du patriarche, des métropolites, des êvêques, des périodeutes, des prêtres, des diacres, et la deuxième concerne le divorce. Pour les deux séries, il est expressement dit dans le Kitāb al-Hudā qu’elles ont été traduites du Syriaque. Il s’agit manifestement d’extraits de la Prédication de saint Jean l’Évangéliste que se trouve dans le manuscrit Cambridge Add. 2023…; dans ce manuscrit, les fonctions ecclésiastiques y sont traités aux f. 129v et suiv. Et les prescriptions sur le divorce aux f. 144v; et suiv., mais les textes ne correspondent pas exactement. On doit encore les regarder de plus près.
One cannot agree more with the last statement. In the footnote he states that he has his information from Desreumaux. One wonders how anyone, even Desreumaux,  knows this, as the Cambridge text is unedited. Nonetheless, Dr Vaucher, you seem to have found us a new church order!
I will update the conspectus.


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The patristische Gemeinschaft again, and some terrible puns

As Dani Vaucher has already mentioned, we are both appearing at the patristische Arbeitsgemeinschaft in January. See: http://ls0091.uvt.nl/wordpress4/. The theme of the conference is Sakramentsgemeinschaft in der frühen Kirche.

My contribution is called: ἐκ Βιῶν εἰς ζωήν: groups, therapy, and the construction of text and community in the Church Order Tradition.

Official abstract: With a particular concentration on the Didache and the Didascalia apostolorum, this paper attempts to utilize the insights of group psychology, pioneered by Bion in the 1940s and developed by Tuckman, to understand the workings of early Christian communities, exploring the psychagogic techniques employed to construct and maintain communities, and the purpose behind their sacramental celebrations.

In essence, rather than exploring what the communities did, sacramentally, I assume that the purpose of their existence is to sacramentalize, and that in order to do so they had to function as communities. Thus I seek to see how the processes of community building are betrayed in the literature. It is a somewhat experimental paper, as I am not sure that anyone has previously employed the material of clinical psychology to explore early Christian communities, but it is worth a try, not the least because early Christian groupings were of a similar size to T-groups. Hopefully somebody better equipped than I will pick up the baton. As somebody said at a seminar once (I think it was Bill Tabbernee), it is better to work as part of a Gemeinschaft than to fall down one. A better wordplay than that in my title, I think.

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Patristische Arbeitsgemeinschaft

I’m honored to be invited to speak at the upcoming Patristische Arbeitsgemeinschaft in the Netherlands, January 2nd-5th. I will be able to present some insights into my recent dissertation on Slavery in Early Christianity.

In particular, I will speak about the attendance of slaves at Christian congregations and meals (be it agape, Eucharist or funeral meals). Considering that there are barely any sources that mention slaves, we should ask whether they were really part of the Christian cult life.

What do we make of the anonymous Vita Polycarpi §26, that mentions slaves assisting the προσφορά of Polycarp when he was εὐχαριστῶν? If there are other sources directly mentioning slaves or giving hints, please don’t hesitate to comment and indicate them.

Please note, too, that Dr. Stewart will be speaking as well, on “Group Therapy and the Construction of Text and Community in the Church Order Tradition”.


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Church Order Conspectus – matter of definition

After having been added as co-author on the blog, I’d like to reply once more on the matter of defining the church order tradition, and in regards to Stewarts conspectus (see post of January 6th 2016), on which texts we could include in the list and which not.

In my dissertation, I analyze the emergence of the church orders in the context of Church history from its beginning to the early 4th century. I’ll therefore exclude here the Church Orders from the 4th to 5th centuries. I start with the premise that the texts we normally regard as Church Orders (Didache, Traditio Apostolica, Didascalia, Apostolic Church Order) share some features with regards to content. Building on Stewarts working definition, I’d propose five features:

First, the lack of a central authority in the emerging Church. Especially after the death of the Apostles, the communities were in need of a broadly accepted authority, even more so when problems went beyond singular communities or house churches. The authors present themselves as such authorities and their texts as binding for everybody.

Second, the apostolic claim and the pseudonymity. It is clearly a sign that the anonymous authors lacked authority or that they hoped to give their texts more persuasive force this way. It also originates from the fragmentation of the early church in different house communities or schools and the fact that ancient schools tended to construct some kind of lineage.

Third, questions of authority. It is apparent that Church Orders were written in contest with other Christian authorities or leaders, e.g. prophets, patrons, widows. The texts therefore deal with hierarchy and offices to regulate Church life.

Fourth, the process of canonization, which of course is complex, but most of the early Christian texts deal with the question, what is truly Christian? It leads to the formation of a canon and simultaneously, to the construction of heresy and orthodoxy. Most Christian texts deal with integration and demarcation of other doctrines or schools. So do the Church Orders, when they treat heretic literature, false teaching etc.

Fifth, problem-oriented. This is central to my argument. These texts were written to address concrete problems and questions in Christian communities, and therefore, we deal with texts written by Christians for Christians.

It is symptomatic that many modern scholars try to define the Church order tradition but fail to do so. I’m not happy neither! Steimer, Mueller, Metzger and others, in the end, always recur to the content: the attempt to “direct the conduct of Christians and of the church”. What I’d like to propose is that we should see the Church Orders in their early Christian context, and this links them to other Christian texts. There are many more texts that share all or most of the above-mentioned features. (Certainly, not all features are equally present in all texts.) And crucially, I think, some texts are not essentially different from the Church Orders, but are sometimes not called so.

We already named the Pastorals, which are in my opinion a fictional trilogy clearly with Church Order character. I’d propose the letters by the Apostolic fathers in general, although there is more differentiation necessary (we dealt with 1 Clement, but see Alexandre Faivre for reflections on other letters). But what with deutero-Pauline letters like Ephesians, Colossians, the Johannine letters?

Stewart argues that these letters were written only to one community and not to the whole Church. But then, letters were expected to be read out aloud, to circulate in a town, or sometimes to be sent on to other cities and communities (like other letters were written to be publicized, e.g. Pliny, Seneca). What is important in my opinion is that letters were clearly problem-oriented and dealt with actual questions.

The recourse to the apostolic authority is a good point too in my opinion. But where do we find it more explicit than in the deutero-Pauline letters?

Enough for now, I await vigorous opposition.

daniel vaucher




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Did anyone take notice of the church orders?

Daniel Vaucher has submitted an extensive comment on my conspectus of church orders. This conspectus needs to be updated in several respects, though this may not happen until the fall, as I do not work much in the summer. When I do come to update it, I shall examine his suggestions for additions (apart from Epistula apostolorum and I Clement) (see the comment below.)

Within his comment Vaucher asks:

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 ?
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.


I agree entirely that the apostolic canons are church order material, though I treat them as part of the Apostolic constitutions, as I believe that they were compiled by the same author/redactor (as DV agrees.) And he is right, not only do they incorporate material from “real” synods, but they come to be incorporated in canonical collections.

I do treat of this a little in a forthcoming article in RHE on the pseudonymous Antiochene canons included in my conspectus. I take the liberty of quoting myself:

The standard statement in the history of apostolic pseudepigrapha is that such productions cease with the prominence of church councils, which become sources of authority as canon law develops.1 Whatever the truth of that statement, we may note that these “church orders” are preserved in canonical collections alongside other, more historically grounded, councils, such as the west Syrian Synodicon2 and the collection found in Paris Syr. 62, which contains the Didascalia apostolorum and an abbreviated version of Testamentum Domini alongside conciliar canons and documents such as Constantine’s summons to Nicaea. Thus even if the growth of councils and the development of a corpus of canon law led to the end of the production of pseudo-apostolic legislative and liturgical material it also led to the preservation of what had been produced. So these Antiochene canons are found in the Munich MS between African conciliar acts from the time of Cyprian and the eighth book of the Apostolic constitutions, and in the Vallicellan alongside the canons of the local fourth-century councils such as Ancyra and Gangra as well as those of the ecumenical councils. Moreover, even if the growth of conciliar legislation led to the end of the church orders, before it did so it directly affected their form as in the fourth century such pseudepigrapha adopt the form of conciliar canons. Thus we have the Apostolic canons, already mentioned above, and the rewriting of the Hippolytean Traditio apostolica into canon form in the Canones Hippolyti.

1Thus Susan Wessel, “The formation of ecclesiastical law in the early church” in Wilfried Hartmann, Kenneth Pennington (ed.), The history of Byzantine and eastern canon law to 1500 (Washington DC: Catholic University of America, 2012), 1-23 at 23; Heinz Ohme, “Sources of the Greek canon law to the Quinisext Council (691/2): councils and church fathers” in Hartmann and Pennington History, 24-114 at 31; Paul F. Bradshaw, Ancient church orders (JLS 80; Norwich: Hymns Ancient and Modern, 2015), 57-8.

2Ed. Arthur Vööbus, The Synodicon in the west Syrian tradition (Leuven: Peeters, 1975-6).

I think what I am suggesting beyond what is here is that prior to the development of conciliar law the church orders employed apostolic authority as an attempt to persuade. The fact that they were translated, copied and edited implies that they were read and noticed, but that their force was persuasive only. The adaptation of canon form to apostolic pseudonymy is the next step in lending persuasive force to the contents of the orders. The widespread distribution of the apostolic canons indicates that this was successful. Interestingly, moreover, we find the pseudonymous Antiochene canons quoted  by Gregory of Pisinuntum at the second Council of Nicaea, which again indicates that the canon form brought persuasive success. But the provisions of synodal canons could be enforced in the way that those of the church orders could not.

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Is I Clement a church order? In response to Daniel Vaucher

In response to my posting a conspectus of church orders, in an attempt to define the field, Daniel Vaucher has responded in a comment, to which I am responding in a series of posts.

As part of that post I attempted to define the field, offering a definition of a church order as “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.”

Vaucher suggests that there is a danger of too broad a definition, and that I am in danger of having to include the post-Pauline letters. He also suggests various other documents which might be included under my definition.

The only grey area for me is I Clement. I do not think that Epistula apostolorum is directive in the way that the orders are and was central to the definition, and to include that in the focus is unhelpful. I do think that we might well include I Timothy and Titus in the conspectus; we may recall Bartsch’s important study here (Die Anfänge urchristlicher Rechtsbildungen. Studien zu den Pastoralbriefen, (Hamburg-Bergstedt : Reich, 1965) and reflect that Johannes Mühlsteiger, Kirchenordnungen: Anfänge kirchlicher Rechtsbildung (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2006) includes the Pastoral Epistles. I Clement is a grey area in that it certainly seeks to direct the conduct of a church, though not the church in general, and appeals to apostolic authority, even if that authority is not central to its persuasive force. On balance I think I would exclude it on the grounds that it is addressed to one church rather than to churches in the abstract, and on the grounds that apostolic authority, whilst present, is not central. Nonetheless I can see the case for its inclusion.

This is all for today! I must add, for any reader unfamiliar with academic discourse, that my critical comments are the result of gratitude to Vaucher for his attention and contribution. He, of course, knows that.


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