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The Canons of Laodicea

Posted by Stephen Pidgeon on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at 12:00 AM

 

The Synod of Laodicea met at that place called Laodicea in Phrygia Pacatiana, now found in modern Turkey.  It is agreed by most scholars that the Synod met in the year 363 A.D.

Canons

Canon 1. It is right, according to the ecclesiastical Canon, that the Communion should by indulgence be given to those who have freely and lawfully joined in second marriages, not having previously made a secret marriage; after a short space, which is to be spent by them in prayer and fasting.

Canon 2.  They who have sinned in various particulars, if they have persevered in the prayer of confession and penance, and are wholly converted from their faults, shall be received again to communion, through the mercy and goodness of God, after a time of penance appointed to them, in proportion to the nature of their offense.

Canon 3. He who has been recently baptized ought not to be promoted to the sacerdotal order.

Canon 4. They who are of the sacerdotal order ought not to lend and receive usury, nor what is called hemioliæ.

Canon 5. Ordinations are not to be held in the presence of hearers.

Canon 6. It is not permitted to heretics to enter the house of God while they continue in heresy.

Canon 7. Persons converted from heresies, that is, of the Novatians, Photinians, and Quartodecimans, whether they were catechumens or communicants among them, shall not be received until they shall have anathematized every heresy, and particularly that in which they were held; and afterwards those who among them were called communicants, having thoroughly learned the symbols of the faith, and having been anointed with the holy chrism, shall so communicate in the holy Mysteries.

Canon 8. Persons converted from the heresy of those who are called Phrygians, even should they be among those reputed by them as clergymen, and even should they be called the very chiefest, are with all care to be both instructed and baptized by the bishops and presbyters of the Church.

Canon 9. The members of the Church are not allowed to meet in the cemeteries, nor attend the so-called martyries of any of the heretics, for prayer or service; but such as so do, if they be communicants, shall be excommunicated for a time; but if they repent and confess that they have sinned they shall be received.

Canon 10. The members of the Church shall not indiscriminately marry their children to heretics.

Canon 11. Presbytides, as they are called, or female presidents, are not to be appointed in the Church.

Canon 12. Bishops are to be appointed to the ecclesiastical government by the judgment of the metropolitans and neighboring bishops, after having been long proved both in the foundation of their faith and in the conversation of an honest life.

Canon 13. The election of those who are to be appointed to the priesthood is not to be committed to the multitude.

Canon 14. The holy things are not to be sent into other dioceses at the feast of Easter by way of eulogiæ

Canon 15. No others shall sing in the Church, save only the canonical singers, who go up into the ambo and sing from a book.

Canon 16. The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath [i.e. Saturday], with the other Scriptures.

Canon 17. The Psalms are not to be joined together in the congregations, but a lesson shall intervene after every psalm.

Canon 18. The same service of prayers is to be said always both at nones and at vespers.

Canon 19. After the sermons of the Bishops, the prayer for the catechumens is to be made first by itself; and after the catechumens have gone out, the prayer for those who are under penance; and, after these have passed under the hand [of the Bishop] and departed, there should then be offered the three prayers of the faithful, the first to be said entirely in silence, the second and third aloud, and then the [kiss of] peace is to be given. And, after the presbyters have given the [kiss of] peace to the Bishop, then the laity are to give it [to one another], and so the Holy Oblation is to be completed. And it is lawful to the priesthood alone to go to the Altar and [there] communicate.

Canon 20. It is not right for a deacon to sit in the presence of a presbyter, unless he be bidden by the presbyter to sit down. Likewise the deacons shall have worship of the subdeacons and all the [inferior] clergy.

Canon 21. The subdeacons have no right to a place in the Diaconicum, nor to touch the Lord's vessels.

Canon 22. The subdeacon has no right to wear an orarium, nor to leave the doors.

Canon 23. The readers and singers have no right to wear an orarium, and to read or sing thus [habited].

Canon 24. No one of the priesthood, from presbyters to deacons, and so on in the ecclesiastical order to subdeacons, readers, singers, exorcists, door-keepers, or any of the class of the Ascetics, ought to enter a tavern.

Canon 25. A subdeacon must not give the Bread, nor bless the Cup.

Canon 26. They who have not been promoted [to that office] by the bishop, ought not to adjure, either in churches or in private houses.

Canon 27. Neither they of the priesthood, nor clergymen, nor laymen who are invited to a love feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order.

Canon 28. It is not permitted to hold love feasts, as they are called, in the Lord's Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God.

Canon 29. Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.

Canon 30. None of the priesthood, nor clerics [of lower rank] nor ascetics, nor any Christian or layman, shall wash in a bath with women; for this is the greatest reproach among the heathen.

Canon 31. It is not lawful to make marriages with all [sorts of] heretics, nor to give our sons and daughters to them; but rather to take of them, if they promise to become Christians.

Canon 32. It is unlawful to receive the eulogiæ; of heretics, for they are rather ἀλογίαι [i.e., follies], than eulogiæ; [i.e., blessings].

Canon 33. No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics.

Canon 34. No Christian shall forsake the martyrs of Christ, and turn to false martyrs, that is, to those of the heretics, or those who formerly were heretics; for they are aliens from God. Let those, therefore, who go after them, be anathema.

Canon 35. Christians must not forsake the Church of God, and go away and invoke angels and gather assemblies, which things are forbidden. If, therefore, any one shall be found engaged in this covert idolatry, let him be anathema; for he has forsaken our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and has gone over to idolatry.

Canon 36. They who are of the priesthood, or of the clergy, shall not be magicians, enchanters, mathematicians, or astrologers; nor shall they make what are called amulets, which are chains for their own souls. And those who wear such, we command to be cast out of the Church.

Canon 37. It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.

Canon 38. It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.

Canon 39. It is not lawful to feast together with the heathen, and to be partakers of their godlessness.

Canon 40. Bishops called to a synod must not be guilty of contempt, but must attend, and either teach, or be taught, for the reformation of the Church and of others. And if such a one shall be guilty of contempt, he will condemn himself, unless he be detained by ill health.

Canon 41. None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may go on a journey, without the bidding of the Bishop.

Canon 42. None of the priesthood nor of the clergy may travel without letters canonical.

Canon 43. The subdeacons may not leave the doors to engage in the prayer, even for a short time.

Canon 44. Women may not go to the altar.

Canon 45. [Candidates] for baptism are not to be received after the second week in Lent.

Canon 46. They who are to be baptized must learn the faith [Creed] by heart, and recite it to the bishop, or to the presbyters, on the fifth day of the week.

Canon 47. They who are baptized in sickness and afterwards recover, must learn the Creed by heart and know that the Divine gifts have been vouchsafed them.

Canon 48. They who are baptized must after Baptism be anointed with the heavenly chrism, and be partakers of the Kingdom of Christ.

Canon 49. During Lent the Bread must not be offered except on the Sabbath Day and on the Lord's Day only.

Canon 50. The fast must not be broken on the fifth day of the last week in Lent [i.e., on Maunday Thursday], and the whole of Lent be dishonored; but it is necessary to fast during all the Lenten season by eating only dry meats.

Canon 51. The nativities of Martyrs are not to be celebrated in Lent, but commemorations of the holy Martyrs are to be made on the Sabbaths and Lord's days.

Canon 52. Marriages and birthday feasts are not to be celebrated in Lent.

Canon 53. Christians, when they attend weddings, must not join in wanton dances, but modestly dine or breakfast, as is becoming to Christians.

Canon 54. Members of the priesthood and of the clergy must not witness the plays at weddings or banquets; but, before the players enter, they must rise and depart.

Canon 55. Neither members of the priesthood nor of the clergy, nor yet laymen, may club together for drinking entertainments.

Canon 56. Presbyters may not enter and take their seats in the bema before the entrance of the Bishop: but they must enter with the Bishop, unless he be at home sick, or absent.

Canon 57. Bishops must not be appointed in villages or country districts, but visitors; and those who have been already appointed must do nothing without the consent of the bishop of the city. Presbyters, in like manner, must do nothing without the consent of the bishop.

Canon 58. The Oblation must not be made by bishops or presbyters in any private houses.

Canon 59. No psalms composed by private individuals nor any uncanonical books may be read in the church, but only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments.

The 59th canon forbade the readings in church of uncanonical books. There is also reputed to be a 60th canon which listed the so-called Canonical books, with the New Testament containing 26 books, omitting the Book of Revelation, and the Old Testament including the 22 books of the Hebrew Bible plus the Book of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy.

The authenticity of paragraph 60 below has been doubted by many scholars because it is absent from most manuscripts containing the decrees of the Council of Laodicea. The list was likely added later. The Greek text which supposedly sets forth this Canon was created by and according to B.F. Westcott, from his book A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (5th ed. Edinburgh, 1881).  Those who claim a list, rely on a writing of Cyril of Jerusalem, who took it upon himself to declare which books were to be read, and which not.  There was no synod concurrence, and further, there was no Canon adopted as a result.  We simply have his opinion.  By the way, he rejected the book of Revelation, and left only 26 books in the New Testament. 

First, he advised that the books of the Septuagint should be read: “Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters.”

Well, let’s see which books are in this group (Septuagint):

Genesis; Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Deuteronomy; Joshua (Iêsous in the Greek original); Judges; Ruth; I Samuel; II Samuel; I Kings; II Kings; I Chronicles; II Chronicles; I Esdras; II Esdras (Ezra-Nehemiah); Tobit; Judith; Esther; Esther with additions; I Maccabees; 2 Maccabees; 3 Maccabees; Wisdom; Psalms; Psalm 151; Prayer of Manasseh; Job; Proverbs; Ecclesiastes; Song of Solomon; Wisdom of Solomon; Sirach or Ecclesiasticus; Psalms of Solomon; The Twelve Minor Prophets [Hosea; Amos; Micah; Joel; Obadiah; Jonah; Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Haggai; Zachariah; Malachi] Isaiah; Jeremiah; Baruch; Lamentations; Epistle of Jeremiah; Ezekiel; Daniel; the Song of the Three Children; Susanna; Bel and the Dragon; 4 Maccabees; 1 Esdras, and Odes.

He declared the following books of the New Testament to be read:

Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects.

Cyril identifies seven (7) epistles of James (Ya’akov?), Peter (Kepha?), John (Yahuchanon?) and Jude (Yahudah?) as readable.  Okay, 1) James; 2) 1 Peter; 3) 2 Peter; 4) 1 John; 5) 2 John; 6) 3 John; and 7) Jude.  Revelation is omitted.

He also opposed the Sabbath and the feasts:

Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans, or into Judaism: for Jesus Christ henceforth hath ransomed thee. Stand aloof from all observance of Sabbaths, and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean.

So, Cyril of Jerusalem took it unto himself to declare the Sabbaths of no effect, and to declare all foods clean.  No synod necessary, and more importantly, no canon rendered. 

Now, let’s compare the instruction given in Westcott’s 60 Canon which does not appear in the 18 earlier editions of the Canons of Laodicea, with the list from Cyril, and see if he was faithful:

Canon 60 (as provided by Westcott):

These are all the books of Old Testament appointed to be read: 1, Genesis of the world; 2, The Exodus from Egypt; 3, Leviticus; 4, Numbers; 5, Deuteronomy; 6, Joshua, the son of Nun; 7, Judges, Ruth; 8, Esther; 9, Of the Kings, First and Second; 10, Of the Kings, Third and Fourth; 11, Chronicles, First and Second; 12, Esdras, First and Second; 13, The Book of Psalms; 14, The Proverbs of Solomon; 15, Ecclesiastes; 16, The Song of Songs; 17, Job; 18, The Twelve Prophets; 19, Isaiah; 20, Jeremiah, and Baruch, the Lamentations, and the Epistle; 21, Ezekiel; 22, Daniel.

Well, it looks like Westcott omitted a bunch of books included by Cyril and the 72 who wrote the Septuagint.

And these are the books of the New Testament: Four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; The Acts of the Apostles; Seven Catholic Epistles, to wit, one of James, two of Peter, three of John, one of Jude; Fourteen Epistles of Paul, one to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, one to the Galatians, one to the Ephesians, one to the Philippians, one to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, one to the Hebrews, two to Timothy, one to Titus, and one to Philemon.

And of course, your sixty-six book bible offends here again, having previously omitted Baruch and now including Revelation, never mentioned by Cyril of Jerusalem.  Well, the difficulties present themselves, do they not?

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