Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XIV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Second Ecumenical Council: The First Council of Constantinople.: Canon V
(Probably adopted at a Council held in Constantinople the next year, 382. Vide. Introduction on the number of the Canons.)
In regard to the tome of the Western [Bishops], we receive those in Antioch also who confess the unity of the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
Ancient Epitome of Canon V.
The Tome of the Westerns which recognizes the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as consubstantial is highly acceptable.
Beveridge and Van Espen translate this canon differently, thus, “With regard to the tome of the Westerns, we agree with those in Antioch [i.e. the Synod of 378] who (accepted it and) acknowledged the unity of the Godhead of the Father etc.” In opposition to this translation Hefele urges that ἀποδέχεσθαι in ecclesiastical language usually refers to receiving persons and recognizing them, not opinions or doctrines.
This canon probably does not belong to the second General Council, but to the Synod held in the following year at Constantinople consisting of nearly the same bishops.
It is certain that by the “Tome of the Westerns” a dogmatic work of the Western bishops is to be understood, and the only question is which Tome of the Westerns is here meant. Several—for instance, the Greek commentators, Balsamon and Zonaras, and the spokesman of the Latins at the Synod of Florence in 1439 (Archbishop Andrew of Rhodes)—understood by it the decrees of the Synod of Sardica; but it seems to me that p. 182 this canon undoubtedly indicates that the Tome of the Westerns also mentioned the condition of the Antiochian Church, and the division into two parties of the orthodox of that place—the Meletian schism. Now, as this was not mentioned, nay, could not have been, at the Synod of Sardica—for this schism at Antioch only broke out seventeen years later—some other document of the Latins must certainly be meant. But we know that Pope Damasus, and the synod assembled by him in 369, addressed a Tome to the Orientals, of which fragments are still preserved, and that nine years later, in 379, a great synod at Antioch of one hundred and forty-six orthodox Oriental bishops, under Meletius, accepted and signed this Tome, and at the same time sought to put a stop to the Meletian schism. Soon afterwards, in 380, Pope Damasus and his fourth Roman Synod again sent a treatise on the faith, of which we still possess a portion, containing anathemas, to the Orientals, especially to Bishop Paul of Antioch, head of the Eustathians of that city. Under these circumstances, we are justified in referring the expression “the tome of the Westerns” either to the Roman treatise of 369 or to that of 380, and I am disposed to give the preference to the former, for the following reasons:—
(1.) As has been already observed, this canon belongs to the Synod held at Constantinople in 382.
(2.) We still possess in Theodoret a Synodal Letter to the Latins from this later Synod.
(3.) The canon in question, as proceeding from the same source, is, of course to a certain extent, connected with this letter.
(4.) In this Synodal Letter, the Eastern bishops, in order to convince the Latins of their orthodoxy, appeal to two documents, the one a “tome” of an Antiochian Synod, and the other a “tome” of the Ecumenical Council held at Constantinople in 381.
(5.) By the Antiochian Synod here mentioned, I understand the great synod of 378, and, as a necessary consequence, believe the “tome” there produced to be none other than the Roman Tome of 369, which was then accepted at Antioch.
(6.) It is quite certain that the Synod of Antioch sent a copy of this Tome, with the declaration of its acceptance and the signatures of the members, back to Rome, as a supplement to its Synodal Letter; and hence Lucas Holstenius was still able to find fragments of it in Rome.
(7.) The Synod of Constantinople of 382 might well call this Tome, sent back to Rome with the acceptance and signatures of the Easterns, a “Tome established at Antioch,” although it was really drawn up at Rome.
(8.) If, however, the Synod of Constantinople in its Synodal Letter speaks of this Tome, we are justified in supposing that the one mentioned in its canon is the same.
(9.) That which still remains of the Roman Tome of 369, treats expressly of the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and such were the contents of the Tome according to this canon.
(10.) It is true that the fragments still preserved of this Tome contain no passage directly referring to the Antiochian schism; but, in the first place, very little remains of it, and there is the more reason to suppose that the Meletian schism was spoken of in the portion which has been lost, as it was the same Antiochian Synod that accepted the Tome which urged the putting an end to that schism. It is still more to the purpose that the Italian bishops, in their letter to the Easterns in 381, expressly say that they had already long before (dudum) written to the Orientals in order to put an end to the division between the orthodox at Antioch. By this “dudum” I conclude that they refer to the Roman Tome of 369; and if the Westerns in their letter to the Easterns in 381 pointed to this Tome, it was natural that the Synod of Constantinople of 382 should also have referred to it, for it was that very letter of the Latins which occasioned and called the synod into being.
Lastly, for the full understanding of this canon, it is necessary to observe that the Latins, in their letter just mentioned of 381, say that “they had already in their earlier missive (i.e. as we suppose, in the Tome of 369) spoken to the effect that both parties at Antioch, one as much as the other, were orthodox.” Agreeing with this remark of the Westerns, repeated in their letter of 381, the Easterns in this canon say, “We also recognise all Antiochians as orthodox who acknowledge the oneness of the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.”
Next: Canon VI
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at