The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

The Early Development of Canon Law and the Council of Serdica

Synopsis

When first published in 1958, The Canons of the Council of Sardica, AD 343 at once became the standard account of the canons passed by the Western bishops assembled at Serdica in 343 and the thinking on Church matters that lay behind them. In this new edition Hamilton Hess has updated hisaccount in the light of recent literature and translated all quotations into English to reach a wider audience. There is also a new section on the development of canons in the early Church from local provisions to general rules, and an appendix with the full texts of the canons in the originalLatin, in the Greek translation, and in the recasting by Theodours Diaconus, together with English translations of all three.

Excerpt

This book is a second, augmented edition of my book The Canons of the Council of Sardica A.D. 343: a Landmark in the Early Development of Canon Law, published by the Clarendon Press in 1958. As the reader will observe, the title of this work is a virtual inversion of that of the first, and this bespeaks an enlargement of purview. the Serdican canons themselves provided the subject-matter of the earlier book, with modest treatment given to the procedures of their enactment and to the import of their form of publication for the beginnings of canon law. An additional three chapters at the beginning of the present work, being Part I, places the development of the conciliar system and the genesis of canon law at the forefront, both as a contribution in itself to the fields of conciliar and canonical studies and as a background for a better understanding of the evidence that the Serdican canons provide for critical phases in the development of the conciliar legislation from which canon law was built. the original work on the Serdican canons has been out of print for a number of years. As it was the only extensive treatment of the canons, frequently used in reference up to the present time, the publication of an updated version is needed. This is provided in Parts ii and iii.

In Part ii, as in the first edition of this work, a careful analysis of the texts supports the author's hypothesis of a double redaction of the canons, Latin and Greek, deriving from the council itself. Part iii again provides an exegetical study of the Serdican canons, and demonstrates by their shaping in council that they, as all other legislative acts, both ecclesial and civil, were thoroughly rooted in the events, the problems, the personalities, and the ideologies of the day. Expanded treatment of the canons beyond that of the first edition is provided on several points, and particularly on the matter of episcopal appeals.

The dating of the council of Serdica to ad 343, argued in Appendix iii of The Canons of the Council of Sardica, is adhered to in the present volume as the more plausible date between the now established choices of 342 and 343. Retreading this ground here does not serve the author's present purpose. Several scholars have treated this question since 1958, when the former work was published, and the results on both sides are more tentative than conclusive. Key evidences remain either contradictory among

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