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To the student of the ancient synods of the Church of Christ, the name of William Beveridge must ever stand most illustrious; and his work on the canons of the undivided Church as received by the Greeks, published at Oxford in 1672, will remain a lasting glory to the Anglican Church, as the “Concilia” of Labbe and Cossart, which appeared in Paris about the same time, must ever redound to the glory of her sister, the Gallican Church.
Of the permanent value of Beveridge’s work there can be no greater evidence than that to-day it is quoted all the world over, and not only are Anglicans proud of the bishop of St. Asaph, but Catholics and Protestants, Westerns and Easterns alike quote him as an authority. In illustration of this it will be sufficient to mention two examples, the most extensive and learned work on the councils of our own day, that by the Roman Catholic bishop Hefele, and the “Compendium of Canon Law,” by the Metropolitan of the Orthodox Greek Hungarian Church,1111 As one of the few books of the Eastern Church ever translated into a Western tongue, the reader may be glad to have its full title. Compendium des Kanonischen Rechtes der einen heiligen, allgemeinen und apostoliochen Kirche verfaszt von Andreas Freiherrn von Schaguna. Hermannstadt, Buchdruckerei des Josef Droklieff, 1868. in both of which the reader will find constant reference to Beveridge’s “Synodicon.”
This great work appeared in two volumes full folio, with the Greek text, beautifully printed, but of course with the ligatures so perplexing to the ordinary Greek reader of to-day. It should however be noted that the most learned and interesting Prolegomena in Συνοδικὸν sive Pandectæ Canonum, as well as the Præfationem ad annotationes in Canones Apostolicos, is reprinted as an Appendix to Vol. XII. of “The Theological Works of William Beveridge, sometime lord bishop of St. Asaph,” in the “Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology,” (published at Oxford, 1848), which also contains a reprint of the “Codex Canonum Ecclesiæ Primitivæ vindicatus ac illustratus,” of which last work I shall have something to say in connection with the Apostolical Canons in the Appendix to this volume.
Nothing could exceed the value of the Prolegomena and it is greatly to be wished that this most unique preface were more read by students. It contains a fund of out-of-the-way information which can be found nowhere else collected together, and while indeed later research has thrown some further light upon the subject, yet the main conclusions of Bishop Beveridge are still accepted by the learned with but few exceptions. I have endeavoured, as far as possible to incorporate into this volume the most important part of the learned bishop’s notes and observations, but the real student must consult the work itself. The reader will be interested to know that the greatest English scholars of his day assisted Bishop Beveridge in his work, among whom was John Pearson, the defender of the Ignatian Epistles.
I think I cannot do better than set out in full the contents of the Synodicon so that the student may know just what he will find in its pages:
“Συνοδικὸν sive Padectæ Canonum SS. Apostolorum, et Conciliorum ab Ecclesia Græca receptorum; necnon Canonicorum SS. Patrum Epistolarum: Unà cum Scholiis Antiquorum singulis eorum annexis, et scriptis aliis huc spectantibus; quorum plurima e Biblothecæ Bodleianæ aliarumque mss. codicibus nunc primum edita: reliqua cum iisdem mss. summâ fide et diligentiâ collata. Totum Opus in duos Tomos divisum, Guilielmus Beverigius, Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ Presbyter, Recensuit, Prolegomenis munivit, et Annotationibus auxit. Oxonii, E Theatro Sheldoniano. M.DC.LXXII.”
Such is the title in full. I proceed to note the contents, premising that for all the Greek a Latin translation is given in a parallel column:
The Canons of the Holy Apostles, with the Ancient Epitome, and the scholia of Balsamon, Zonaras and Aristenus.
The Canons of the Council of Nice with notes ut supra and so throughout.
The Canons of the Council of Constantinople.
The Canons of the Council of Ephesus.
The Canons of the Council of Chalcedon.
The Canons of the Sixth Council in Trullo.
The Canons of the Seventh Œcumenical Council.
The Canons of the Council of Constantinople called the First-and-Second [in the time of Photius].
The Canons of the Council held in the Temple of Wisdom [which confirmed the Seventh Œcumenical Synod]. All these with notes as before.
The Canons of the Council of Carthage [over which St. Cyprian, the Martyr, presided] with the notes of Balsamon and Zonaras.
The Canons of the Council of Ancyra.
The Canons of the Council of Neocæsarea.
The Canons of the Council of Gangra.
The Canons of the Council of Antioch.
The Canons of the Council of Laodicea.
The Canons of the Council of Sardica. All these with full notes as before.
The Canons of the 217 blessed Fathers who met at Carthage, with the epitome, and scholia by Balsamon and Aristenus, and on the actual canons by Zonaras also. To these some epistles are added, likewise annotated.
Then, ending Volume I. is a version of Josephus Æyptius’s Arabic Introduction and Paraphrase on the Canons of the first four General Councils, bearing the following title:
Josephi Ægyptii Proæmia et Paraphrasis Arabica in Quatuor Preorum Generalium Conciliorum Canones, interprete Guilielmo Beverigio, the Arabic being given in the left hand column.
The Canons of Dionysius of Alexandria, with the scholia of Balsamon and Zonaras.
The Canons of Peter of Alexandria.
The Canons of Gregory Thaumaturgus.
The Canons of St. Athanasius. All these with scholia as above.
The Canons of St. Basil, with the Ancient Epitome and scholia of Balsamon, Zonaras, and Aristenus.
The Canons of St. Gregory Nyssen with scholia of Balsamon.
The Canonical Answer of Timothy, Bishop of Alexandria.
The Canons of Theophilus of Alexandria.
The Canonical Epistles of Cyril of Alexandria.
Extracts from the metrical poems of St. Gregory Theologus, concerning what books of the Old and New Testaments should be read.
Extracts from the iambics of St. Amphilochius the bishop to Seleucus on the same subject.
The Encyclical Letter of Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople.
The Epistle of Tarasius, Patriarch of Constantinople, to Adrian, Pope of Rome, concerning simony. All of these with Balsamon’s scholia.
The Synopsis by Alexius Aristenus of the letters called Canonical.
The questions of Certain Monks and the Answers sent by the Synod of Constantinople. With notes by Balsamon.1212 According to the Elenchus, in the beginning of this volume, both of these writings are found in the First Part and not in the Second Part of the volume.
Concerning the Holy and Œcumenical Synod which restored Photius, the most holy Patriarch to the See of Constantinople, and dissolved the scandal of the two Churches of Old and New Rome; [Styled by some the “Eighth Œcumenical Synod.”] to which is added the Letter of the Blessed John Pope of Rome to the most holy Photius, Archbishop of Constantinople.
An Index Rerum et Verborum of both volumes.
Beveridge’s own Notes on the Canons of the Councils.
An Index Rerum et Verborum of the Notes.
Such are the contents of Bishop Beveridge’s great work, and it is impossible to exaggerate its value. But it will be noticed that it only covers the disciplinary action of the Councils, and does not give the dogmatic decrees, these being excluded from the author’s plan.
Before leaving the collections of the canons we must mention the great work of Justellus (the Preface and notes of which are found reprinted in Migne’s Pat. Lat., Tom. LXVII.); Canonum Ecclesiæ Universæ Gr. et Lat. cum Præfatione Notisque Christoph. Justelli.
The author was counsellor and secretary to the King of France, was born in Paris 1580, and died in 1649. After his death there appeared at Paris in 1661 a work in 2 volumes folio, with the following title: Bibliotheca juris canonici vetus…ex antiquis codicibus mss. Bibliothecæ Christopheri Justelli.…Opera et studio Gul. Voelli et Henrici Justelli.
The Church in Paris had the honour of having among its Cathedral clergy the first scholar who published a collection of the Acts of the councils. James Merlin was Canon and Grand Penitentiary of the Metropolitan Church, and the first edition of his work he put out in 1523 in one volume folio. This work passed through several editions within a few years, but soon gave place to fuller collections.1414 I am indebted to Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. I., p. 67 et seqq., for this account of Merlin’s Collection, as also for most of the statements that follow. Hefele says (footnote to page 67): “The longest details on Merlin’s edition are found in a work of Salmon, Doctor and Librarian of the Sorbonne, Traité de l’Etude des Conciles et de leurs Collections, etc. Paris, 1726.”
In 1538, the Belgian Franciscan Peter Crabbe (Pierre Grable) issued at Cologne an enlarged collection in two volumes, and the second edition in 1551 was enlarged to three folio volumes. Besides these, there was Lawrence Surius’s still more complete collection, published in 1557 (4 vols. folio), and the Venice collection compiled by Domenick Bollanus, O. P., and printed by Dominic Nicolini, 1585 (5 vols. folio).
But the renowned collection of Professor Severin Binius surpassed all its predecessors, and its historical and critical notes are quoted with respect even to-day. The first edition, in four volumes folio, was issued at Cologne in 1606, and later editions, better than the first, in 1618 and 1636. This last edition was published at Paris in nine volumes, and made use of the Roman collection.
To the learned Jesuit Sirmond belongs the chief glory of having compiled this Roman collection, and the “Introduction” is from his pen. The work was undertaken by the authority of Pope Paul V., and much of the Greek text, copied from mss. in the Vatican Library, was now for the first time given to the reading public. This collection contains only the Ecumenical Councils according to the Roman method of reckoning, and its compilation took from 1608 to 1612.
No collection appeared from this date until the “Collectio Regia,” a magnificent series of thirty-seven volumes folio, at the royal press at Paris in 1644. But while it was superb in get up, it left much to be desired when looked at critically, for many faults of the Roman edition already pointed out by Sirmond were not corrected.
And now we have reached the time when the first really great Concilia appeared, which while only filling seventeen volumes in folio was yet far more complete —Hefele says twenty-five per cent. more complete—than the great Collectio Regia just described. This edition was the work of Philip Labbe (Labbeus in Latin), S. J., and was completed after his death in 1667, by Father Gabriel Cossart of the same Society—“Almost all the French savants quote from this edition of Labbe’s with Baluze’s supplement,”1515 Hefele, Hist. Councils, vol. I, p. 69. and I have followed their lead, availing myself of the corrections made by later editors. The title of the edition used in this work is: “Sacrasancta Concilia ad Regiam Editionem exacta. Studio Philip. Labbei et Gabr. Cossartii, Soc. Jesu Presbyterorum. Lutetiæ Parisiorum. MDCLXXI. Cum Privilegio Regis Christianissimi.”
Anything more perfect than these precious volumes it would be hard to conceive of, and while of course they contain the errors of chronology et cetera of their age, yet their general accuracy and marvellous completeness leave them even to-day as the greatest of the great, although the later edition of Hardouin is more often used by English and American scholars, and is the one quoted by Pope Benedict XIV. in his famous work De Synodo Diæcesana. Hardouin’s edition did certainly correct many of the faults of Labbe and Cossart, yet had itself many faults and defects which are pointed out by Salmon1616 Salmon, l. c., pp. 315–331, 786–831. in a long list, although he fully acknowledges the value of Hardouin’s improvements and additions. Perhaps, not unnaturally, as a Professor at the Sorbonne, he preferred Labbe and Cossart. It may not be amiss to add that Hardouin was very anti-Gallican and ultramontane.
The Dominican Archbishop of Lucca, Mansi, in 1759, put out his “Concilia” in thirty-one volumes folio at Florence, styled on the title-page “the most ample” edition ever printed, and claiming to contain all the old and much new matter. It was never finished, only reaching to the XVth century, has no indices, and (says Hefele) “is very inferior to Hardouin in accuracy. The order of the subjects in the later volumes is sometimes not sufficiently methodical, and is at variance with the chronology.”1717 Hefele, Hist. Councils, vol. I, p. 72.
I shall now present the reader with some bibliographical notes which I extract verbatim from Hefele (Hefele, History of the Councils, Vol. I., p. 74).
Among the numerous works on the history of the councils, the most useful to consult are:
1. John Cabassutius, Notitia ecclesiastica historiarum conciliorum et canonum. Lyons 1680, folio. Very often reprinted.
2. Hermant, Histoire des Conciles, Rouen 1730, four volumes, 8vo.
3. Labbe, Synopsis historica Conciliorum, in vol. i. of his Collection of Councils.
4. Edm. Richer, Historia conciliorum generalium (Paris, 1680), three volumes, 4to. Reprinted in 8vo. at Cologne.
5. Charles Ludovic Richard, Analysis conciliorum generalium et particularium. Translated from French into Latin by Dalmasus. Four volumes, 8vo, Augsburg, 1778.
6. Christ. Wilh. Franz Walch, Entwurf einer vollständigen Historie der Kirchenversammlungen, Leipzig, 1759.
7. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Græca, edit. Harless. t. xii., p. 422 sqq., in which is contained an alphabetical table of all the councils, and an estimate of the value of the principal collections.
8. Alletz, Concilien-Lexikon, translated from French into German by Father Maurus Disch, a Benedictine and professor at Augsburg, 1843.
9. Dictionnaire universel et complet des Conciles, tant généraux que particuliers, etc., rédigé par M. l’abbé P——, prêtre du Diocese de Paris, published by the Abbé Migne (Paris, 1846), two volumes, 4to.
In the great works on ecclesiastical history—for example, in the Nouvelle Bibliothèque des Auteurs Ecclesiastiques, by El. Dupin, and the Historia Literaria of Cave, and particularly in the excellent Histoire des Auteurs Sacrés, by Remi Ceillier—we find matter relating to the history of the councils. Salmon, l. c., p. 387, and Walch in his Historie der Kirchenversammlungen, pp. 48–67, have pointed out a large number of works on the history of the councils. There are also very valuable dissertations on the same subject in—
1. Christian Lupus, Synodorum generalium ac provincialium decreta et canones, scholiis, notis ac historica actorum dissertatione illustrata, Louv., 1665; Brussels, 1673; five volumes, 4to.
2. Lud. Thomassin, Dissertationum in Concilia generalia et particularia, t. i., Paris, 1667; reprinted in Rocaberti, Bibl. pontificia, tr. XV.
3. Van Espen, Tractatus Historicus exhibens scholia in omnes canones conciliorum, etc., in his complete works.
4. Barth. Caranza has written a very complete and useful abstract of the acts of the councils in his Summa Conciliorum, which has often been re-edited.
5. George Daniel Fuchs, deacon of Stuttgart, has, in his Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen, four volumes, Leipsic, 1780–1784, given German translations and abstracts of the acts of the councils in the fourth and fifth centuries.
6. Francis Salmon, Doctor and Librarian of the Sorbonne, has published an Introduction to the Study of the Councils, in his Traité de l’Étude des Conciles et de leurs collections, Paris, 1724, in 4to, which has often been reprinted.
To these I would add the following:
1. Fleury, Histoire Ecclesiastique. This work in many volumes, part of which has been translated into English, is most useful and accurate, and contains a resumé of the separate canons and definitions as well as the history of the proceedings.
2. Denziger, Enchiridion Symbolorum et Definitionum quæ de rebus fidei et morum a Conciliis Œcumenicis et Summis Pontificibus emanarunt. A most useful handbook in the original.
3. Hefele, Conciliengeschicte. This, the most recent work upon the subject, is also in some respects the most satisfactory, and it is a matter of real regret that only the first part of the work, down to the end of the Seventh Œcumenical Council, has been translated into English. The last volume of the author’s revised edition appeared in 1890. The first volume of the first edition was published in 1855, and the seventh and last in 1874. The entire book was translated into French some years ago (with full indices) by M. l’abbé Goschlerand and M. l’abbé Delarc (Paris, Adrien le Clere et Cie). It should in fairness, however, be remarked that Bishop Hefele was one of the minority who opposed the opportuneness of the definition of Papal infallibility at the Vatican Council, and while indeed afterwards he submitted to the final decree, yet he has been a somewhat suspected person since to those who held extreme views on this doctrine.
So far as I am aware no serious work has been done upon the councils by any writer using the English tongue in recent times, with the exception of the useful Notes on the Canons of the First Four General Councils, by Canon Wm. Bright.
The following is a list of the English translations which I have consulted or followed:
John Johnson, The Clergyman’s Vade-mecum (London, 2d Ed., 1714).
Wm. A. Hammond, The Definitions of Faith and Canons of Discipline of the Six Œcumenical Councils, etc.
William Lambert, The Canons of the First Four General Councils of the Church and those of the Early Greek Synods (London, s.d. Preface dated 1868).
John Fulton, Index Canonum. [This work ends with the Council of Chalcedon.] (New York, 1872. 3d Ed., 1892.)
John Mendham, The Seventh General Council, the Second of Nice (London, s. d.).
H. R. Percival, The Decrees of the Seven Ecumenical Synods. Appendix I. to A Digest of Theology (London, Masters, 1893).
It only remains that I mention two other works.
Dr. Pusey’s book, The Councils of the Church from the Council of Jerusalem a.d. 51 to the Council of Constantinople, 381 (1857) should not be omitted, and certainly the reader’s attention should be called to that most accurate and valuable volume by Herm. Theod. Bruns, Canones Apostolorum et Conciliorum Veterum Selecti (Berolini, 1839), which has been constantly referred to in preparing this work.
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