(Prepared by Nicolas Glubokoffski, Professor of the Chair of the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament in the Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Petersburgh.) 21
In the orthodox Russian Church, editions of the Conciliar Canons and Decrees have only been issued under the immediate disposition and sanction of the supreme ecclesiastical authority, and, in fact, are amongst those things which it is not within the competence of private scholars to undertake. Such editions therefore have been published in Russia only in accordance with practical requirements.
1. The earliest printed edition of the afore-mentioned canons appeared in the Slavonic “Kormchaja Kniga” 22 (=Gk. πηδάλιον), the printing of which was commenced at Moscow, on October 7th, 1649, under the Patriarch Joseph of Moscow, and was finished on July 1, 1650; but the Patriarch Nicon caused it to be submitted to a Council for revision, in consequence of which certain pages were reprinted and inserted afresh into it. 23 Thereupon copies of this “Kormchaja” were distributed for use amongst the p. xxvi churches, and came into general circulation not earlier than the year 1653. The second edition of the “Kormchaja” appeared in 1787, after a revision under the Metropolitan Gabriel of Novgorod and St. Petersburgh, 24 and was followed by others (e.g., those of 1804, 1816, and 1823) without any alterations of importance. The latest editions differ from that of Nicon in certain particulars, but these particulars do not concern the ecclesiastical Canons, which are placed in the first part of the “Kormchaja” and include the 85 Apostolic Canons, the decrees of the sixteen councils (of Nicæa, Ancyra, Neocæsarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laodicea, the 2d, 3d, and 4th Ecumenical, Sardica, Carthage, Constantinople under Nectarius, in Trullo, a.d. 692, the 7th Ecumenical, the First-and-Second [council of Constantinople] and that in the church of St. Sophia) and the Canons of the 13 Holy Fathers.
2. In the printed “Kormchaja” the canons are set forth, not in their full text, but in a shortened form which sometimes gives but a very insufficient representation of the contents of the original. On this account attempts at full translations were made many years back, but these never appeared in print. It was not until 1839 that such an edition as this was put forth by the Holy Synod at St. Petersburgh, under the title: “The Book of the Canons of the Holy Apostles, of the Holy Ecumenical and local Councils, and of the Holy Fathers,” printed in large folio in “the Imperial city of St. Peter, the first impression in the 7347th year from the creation of the world, and the 1839th from the Birth in the flesh of God the Word, indict. 12.” In this edition there are 4 unnumbered leaves and 455 numbered pages. On each page there are two columns, for the original text and the new translation of the whole text into the Slavonic respectively, but without the commentaries of the Byzantine Canonists; occasionally, but rarely, notes based upon Zonaras or Balsamon are given, which are not always historically accurate (for instance, that to the 10th Canon of Ancyra, the 3d of Sardica, the 4th of Carthage, and the one which deals with the First-and-Second Council of a.d. 861) while in some places the text itself is not correct (for instance, in the 13th Canon of the 1st Ecumenical Council). This “Book of the Canons” subsequently went through the following editions: the 2d, printed in Moscow at the Synodal Press in 1862, in folio 8 leaves + 672 + 74 numbered pages, with Greek and Slavonic texts; the 3d ibid. in 1866, in quarto, 3 leaves + 373 pages + 1 leaf + 59 pages, with the Slavonic text only; the 4th, ibid. in 1874, in octavo, 4 leaves 4 + 455 pages + 2 leaves + 104 + 4 pages, also with the Slavonic text only; the 5th, ibid. in 1886, in folio, 3 leaves + 395 + 42 pages + 1 leaf, again with Slavonic text only.
3. The “Book of Canons” by no means represents an authorized textus receptus, and after its publication, the Holy Synod itself not unfrequently introduced the Canons as given in the Slavonic edition of the “Kormchaja Kniga” into its edicts, and moreover recommended the Athenian Edition of the “Syntagma” for all the ecclesiastico-educational establishments. This opened the way for a new work, which, with the permission of the supreme ecclesiastical authority, was undertaken by the Moscow “Society of Amateurs of Spiritual Enlightenment.” The announcement of this was made in No. 3 of the “Moscow Diocesan Church Gazette” of the year 1875, whilst in the same year in the January number of the Moscow Journal, “Lectures delivered in the Society of Amateurs of Spiritual Enlightenment,” the “programe” of the edition itself was printed (pages 79–90 in the section devoted to bibliography). In criticism of it the Professor of Canonical Law in the University of Novorossiisk, Alexis Stepanovich Pavloff (who died on August 16, 1898, as Professor of the University of Moscow) wrote “Notes on the programme of an edition, in a Russian translation of the Canons of the Church with Commentaries” in the sixteenth volume of “Memoirs of the Imperial University of Novorossiisk” (Odessa, 1875), pages 1–17 of the Appendix (and in a separate pamphlet), which was afterwards reprinted with certain additions in the Moscow Journal, “Orthodox Review,” of April, 1876 (pages 730–746), under the title: “A new translation of the Commentaries upon the canons of the church.” To these criticisms the Professor of p. xxvii Ecclesiastical Law in the Moscow Ecclesiastical Academy, Alexander Theodorovich Lavroff, wrote a reply in “Lectures delivered in the Society of Amateurs of Spiritual Enlightenment” (for the year 1877, part 2, pages 158–194), entitled “A printed letter to Alexis Stepanovich Pavloff.” Thus the plan of the edition gradually took shape. It was first printed in the Appendices to the Journal “Lectures in the Society, etc.,” and subsequently was published separately in octavo in the following parts (A) I. “The Canons of the Holy Apostles with Commentaries” in two editions—Moscow, 1876, (from “Lectures,” 1875, pages 1–163) 4 + 12 + 175 pages, and ibid., 1887, 5–12 + 163 pages; II. “Canons of the Holy Ecumenical Councils with Commentaries” (from “Lectures” 1875, pages 165–325; 1876, pages 329–680; 1877, pages 891–900), in two parts: 1st “The Canons of the Councils I.–IV.,” Moscow, 1877, 260 pages; 2d. “The Canons of Councils V.–VII.,” ibid., 736 pages; (B) “The Canons of the Holy Local Councils with Commentaries,” also in two parts (from “Lectures” 1877, pages 900–1066; 1878, pages 1067–1306; 1879, pages 1307–1410): the 1st (The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Neocæsarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laodicea, and Sardica) Moscow, 1880, 359 pages; the 2d (The Canons of the Councils of Carthage [with the letters to Pope Boniface and to Pope Celestine], Constantinople, the First-and-Second, and that in the Temple of the Wisdom of the Word of God) ibid., 1881, 876 pages; (C) “The Canons of the Holy Fathers with Commentaries,” ibid., 1884, 626 pages. Together with these is a separate “Index of subjects contained in the edition of the Canons of the Apostles, Councils and Holy Fathers with Commentaries,” Moscow, 1888, 58 pages in octavo. The Greek text of the canons follows the edition Σύνταγμα τῶν θείων καὶ ὶερῶν κανόνων…ὑπὸ Γ. Α. Ράλλη καὶ Μ. Πότλη, Αθήνησιν 1852–1854, and alongside of it is placed a literal Slavonic translation, after which follows a Russian translation of the Commentaries of the Byzantine Canonists (Zonaras, Aristenus, Balsamon), and the text and commentaries of the Slavonic “Kormchaja;” all this is accompanied by introductions and explanations of all sorts (historical, philological, etc.). This edition is rightly considered by specialists to be of very great value from a scientific point of view. Professor A. Th. Lavroff (who became a monk under the name Alexis, and died Archbishop of Lithuania and Vilna) was its chief editor and had most to do with it, but many others took part in the work, and amongst these Professor A. S. Pavloff.
4. The only Russian translation of the canons which exists is contained in the publications of the Ecclesiastical Academy of Kazan: (a) “The Acts of the Ecumenical Councils translated into Russian,” 7 volumes. Kazan, 1859–1878 (some of these volumes have run into a second edition) and (b) “Acts of the nine local councils translated into Russian,” 1 volume, Kazan, 1878. This translation was made under the direction of the Holy Synod, and the Canons are reproduced in it according to the text of the Acts of the Councils.
From the outline here presented of the printed editions of the Canons of the Councils, it will be seen that, within the limits of their practical applicability, they are reverenced as the source of the operative law in the Russian orthodox church, and therefore for her it is only the authoritative Byzantine commentaries which have any particular importance. There are works upon these by V. Demidoff, “The character and significance of the commentaries upon the Canonical Codex of the Greek Church—of Aristenus, Zonaras, and Balsamon,” in the “Orthodox Review,” vol. ii. of 1888, and of Professor V. A. Narbekoff, of Kazan, “The commentaries of Balsamon upon the Nomocanon of Photius,” Kazan, 1889, and of Professor M. E. Krasnozhen, of Jurieff (Dorpat) “The Commentators of the Canonical Codex of the Eastern Church: Aristenus, Zonaras, and Balsamon.” Moscow, 1892.
No separate scientific commentaries upon all the canons of the councils exist in Russian literature, but they are described, and explained in courses of Ecclesiastical law (of the Archimandrite John [who, when he died, was Bishop of Smolensk] of Professors N. S. Suvoroff, T. S. Berdnikoff, N. A. Lashkareff, M. A. Ostroümoff) p. xxviii in our works upon the history of the Ecumenical Councils (by Bishop John, and Professor Alexis Petrovich Lebedeff), and in monographs dealing with Canon Law and Church History. As far as a critical edition of the original text of the canons is concerned, there is a learned and useful article (upon a book by Fr. Lauchert, Die Kanones usw., Freiberg i. Br. und Leipsig, 1896), by Vasili Vasilievich Bolotoff, Professor of Ecclesiastical History in the St. Petersburgh Ecclesiastical Academy in the “Christian Reading,” vol. iv. for 1896, pp. 178–195.
Accordingly some bibliographers correctly reckon this as two editions, of which that of 1653 in folio consists of 37 + 1 + 60 + 1 + 16 + 679 pages, and was reprinted by the “Old Ritualists” (Rascolniki*), in 1785 at Warsaw.xxvi:24
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