If the first part of the thirteenth canon is easy to understand, the second, on the contrary, presents a great difficulty; for a priest of a town could not in any case have the power of consecrating priests and deacons, least of all in a strange diocese. Many of the most learned men have, for this reason, supposed that the Greek text of the second half of the canon, as we have read it, is incorrect or defective. It wants, say they, ποιεῖν τι, or aliquid agere, i.e., to complete a religious function. To confirm this supposition, they have appealed to several ancient versions, especially to that of Isidore: sed nec presbyteris civitatis sine episcopi præcepto amplius aliquid imperare, vel sine auctoritate literarum ejus in unaquaque (some read ἐν ἐκάστῃ instead of ἐν ἑτέρᾳ) parochia aliquid agere. The ancient Roman ms. of the canons, Codex Canonum, has the same p. 69 reading, only that it has provincia instead of parochia. Fulgentius Ferrandus, deacon of Carthage, who long ago made a collection of canons, translates in the same way in his Breviatio Canonum: Ut presbyteri civitatis sine jussu episcopi nihil jubeant, nec in unaquaque parochia aliquid agant. Van Espen has explained this canon in the same way.
Routh has given another interpretation. He maintained that there was not a word missing in this canon, but that at the commencement one ought to read, according to several mss. χωρεπισκόποις in the dative, and further down ἀλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ instead of ἀλλα μηδὲ then πρεσβυτέρους (in the accusative) πόλεως and finally ἐκάστῃ instead of ἑτέρᾳ, and that we must therefore translate, “Chorepiscopi are not permitted to consecrate priests and deacons (for the country) still less (ἀλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ) can they consecrate priests for the town without the consent of the bishop of the place.” The Greek text, thus modified according to some mss., especially those in the Bodleian Library, certainly gives a good meaning. Still ἀλλὰ μὴν μηδὲ does not mean, but still less: it means, but certainly not, which makes a considerable difference.
Besides this, it can very seldom have happened that the chorepiscopi ordained presbyters or deacons for a town; and if so, they were already forbidden, at least implicitly, in the first part of the canon.
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