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PRIMACY AND COLLEGIALITY IN THE FOURTH CENTURY: A NOTE ON APOSTOLIC CANON 34 Brian E. Daley, SJ* Modern discussions of the structures of authority in the Church, especially by Orthodox theologians, increasingly invoke the thirty-fourth Apostolic Canon—a text from a relatively obscure fourth-century collection of rules for the behavior of the clergy—as embodying a deep ecclesiological ideal: a model for the relationships between individual bishops and their primates, which conveys a wider sense of the checks and balances needed to preserve the Churches in ordered communion.1 The passage , which has in view the relationship between local bishops and their metropolitans, can be translated as follows: The bishops of each national group (ethnos) should recognize the one who has first place among them, and consider him as head, and do nothing out of the ordinary without his agreement; but each one should do only those things which pertain to his own particular Church ( paroikia) and the rural regions that belong to it. But neither should he [i.e., the “one who has first place”] do anything without the agreement of all. For in this way like-mindedness (omonoia) will come into being, and the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit will be glorified.2 This text, which stands out in the collection of Apostolic Canons in both its form and its content, seems to represent an increasing concern of the late fourth-century churches, especially in the eastern Empire, to lay The Jurist 68 (2008) 5–21 5 * Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 1 See, for instance, Kallistos Ware, “L’exercice de l’autorité dans l’église orthodoxe (II),” Irénikon 55 (1982) 25–34, esp. 27, where he speaks ofApostolic Canon 34 as “a text of great importance for the Orthodox Church today.”. (The first part of this article appears as Irénikon 54 (1981) 451–471.) See also Metropolitan John (Zizioulas) of Pergamon, “Primacy in the Church: an Orthodox Approach,” in Petrine Ministry and the Unity of the Church, ed. James F. Puglisi (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999) 121–122. 2 There are a few modern critical editions of theApostolic Canons. This translation is based on that of Pericles-Pierre Ioannou, Pontificia Commissione per la redazione del Codice di Diritto Canonico Orientale: Fonti 9.1.2: Discipline générale antique (IVe-IXe siècle) (Grottaferrata, 1962) 24. See also Marcel Metzger’s edition of the text in Les constitutions apostoliques 3 (Sources chrétiennes [SC] 336; Paris: Cerf, 1987) 284–285. The rest of this outstanding critical edition appears as SC 320 (1985) and SC 329 (1986). 3 See Metzger, SC 320.54–60, for a discussion of the arguments for placing the Constitutions in Antioch about 380. 4 Metzger, SC 336.19. See also his article, “La théologie des Constitutions Apostoliques par Clément,” Revue des sciences religieuses 57 (1983) 292–293. For Metzger’s entire analysis of the theology of this collection, see ibid. 29–49; 112–122; 169–194; 273–294. A slightly condensed summary of this exhaustive study appears in the introduction to the second volume of his critical text and translation of the Apostolic Constitutions (SC 329.10–39). 5 See, for instance, Apostolic Canon 85, which echoes this attempt at constructing a Sitz im Leben. down guidelines for the exercise of authority within increasingly complex ecclesiastical structures, and to prevent the competition and pastoral encroachments that would inevitably fracture the liturgical and doctrinal unity of Christian communities. To understand its significance within the patristic world, and even its suggestiveness for building harmony within the vastly more complicated institutional structures of modern Christian life, it is important first to see it in its literary, theological, and historical context. I. The Apostolic Canons The collection of brief prescriptions in which this passage is found forms the concluding section of the final book (Book VIII, c. 47) of the much larger liturgical and disciplinary miscellany known as the Apostolic Constitutions. This compilation is generally agreed today to have been put together in or near Antioch, most likely around 380, just before the first Council of Constantinople3—a time and place in which...


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