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Canons of the seven ecumenical councils

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7.

 Inasmuch as a custom has prevailed, and an ancient tradition, for the Bishop in Aelia to be honored, let him have the sequence of honor, with the Metropolitan having his own dignity preserved.

(Ap. c. XXXIV; cc. II, III of the 2nd; c. VIII of the 3rd; c. XXVIII of the 4th; c. XXXVI of the 6th; and c. XIX of Antioch.)

 

Interpretation.

The present Canon is susceptible of two different interpretations. For Balsamon and the Anonymous annotator of the Canons, with whom some Papists (i.e., Roman Catholics, as they are called in common parlance) and Calvinists agree, have interpreted it to mean that inasmuch as an ancient tradition and custom has prevailed for the Bishop of Aelia (i.e., of Jerusalem)[10] to be specially honored on account of the fact that the Lord became incarnate and suffered therein, and the salvatory declaration came forth therefrom through the sacred Apostles into all the world, let him have the honor next after the preceding one, even in subsequent times, yet only honor without any authority and office, because the authority and office ought to be preserved to the Metropolitan of Palestine whose seat was the metropolis called Caesarea[11] of Straton, to whom, as they say, Jerusalem was subject. That is to say, just as c. XII of Chalcedon prescribes that in the case of as many cities as received by virtue of imperial letters the honor of being entitled to the name metropolis, the bishops thereof were the only ones allowed to enjoy the honor, whereas the rights proper thereto were to be preserved to the real metropolis, in the same way as Marcianus (an emperor of the Eastern Empire) honored Chalcedon, and Valentinian (another emperor) honored Nicaea, according to Act 13 of the Council. But Zonaras and others would have it that just as the preceding Canon accorded seniority to the bishops of Alexandria and of Antioch, or rather to say renewed it, as an innovation (for the seniority of Rome was not renewed, because, as we have said, it had been left intact and unchanged), so and in like manner the present Canon bestowed a special honor on Jerusalem. This is tantamount to saying that just as that Canon sanctioned their being granted not only patriarchal privileges and honors, but also the order of precedence of such honors, in that the bishop of Rome came first, the bishop of Alexandria second, the bishop of Antioch third, so did this Canon sanction the granting to Jerusalem not only of patriarchal privileges and honors but also the order of precedence of such honors. On this account it did not say, let him have (special) honor, but “let him have the sequence of honor.” That is the same as saying, let him have fourth place in the sequence of honor after the other three. The expression “with the Metropolis having its own dignity preserved” denotes that this patriarchal honor is not one attaching to the person and individual (concerning which see the second footnote to c. VI  of the present Council), but is consecrated to the metropolis of Jerusalem, so as to provide for its devolving to all the bishops successively acceding to the throne, and not to this or that person alone. Witnesses to the fact that Jerusalem was a metropolis are both Josephus, who says, in his book VII on the Jews, that it was a large city and the metropolis of the entire country of the Jews; and Philo, who says that it was the metropolis, not of a single land of Judea, but also of a plurality of lands. For the Apostolic throne of Jerusalem not only stands first in nearly the whole world, but also enjoyed patriarchal privileges from the beginning, and still enjoys them even today. First, because it had provinces subject to it, and a diocese which belonged to the Patriarch. Hence it was that the neighboring officials of the churches, and not the bishop of Caesarea, ordained Dion bishop of Jerusalem when Narcissus departed. But when Narcissus reappeared, again he was called by the brethren, according to Eusebius, and not by the Brother, or the bishop of Caesarea. Narcissus, by the way, held a council with fourteen bishops concerning Easter before the First Ecumenical Council was held. Secondly, because the Bishop of Jerusalem was the first to sign at the First Ecumenical Council, while Eusebius of Caesarea was the fifth. And, generally speaking, metropolitans change round in the order of signatures, and in the places of seats at council meetings, and in the order of addressing emperors, sometimes taking the lead, and sometimes following others. But the Bishop of Jerusalem always comes first among the Fathers attending a council, and on every occasion is numbered with the patriarchs, and never with the metropolitans. Read also Dositheus in the Dodecabiblus, Book II, ch. 4. But even if we grant that Jerusalem was subject to Caesarea, what of it? Just as Byzantium was formerly subject to Heraclea, but later, after Byzantium became the seat of a patriarch, Heraclea was made subject to it; so and in like manner, if we allow (what is not a fact) that Jerusalem was subject to Caesarea, after Jerusalem was honored by being made the seat of a patriarch, Caesarea, true enough, retained its own dignity thereafter, in that it remained a metropolis of Palestine, yet it became subordinate to Jerusalem, since it is merely a metropolis, while Jerusalem is a patriarchate (i.e., the seat and headquarters of a patriarch). Read also Ap. c. XXXIV.

 

 




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