Arab Nicene Canons

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[pp. 45-47]

THE ARAB-NICENE CANONS i.e. THE (PSEUDO)-CANONS OF NICAEA

(700 - 800 A.D.)

Graf 1, 586-93; Speyer 298. Griffith, Journ.- Theol. Studies IX, 1899, 545-551. (Translation of Nubian text on St. Menas and Canones Nicaeni; distinct from the Canones Arabici). Budge, Texts relating to St. Menas.

London 1909 and Canons of Nicaea in a Nubian Dialect. London 1909, is of the opinion that they date from the 10th century.

T.: Mansi 3, 964: Canon 36 of the 80 Canons

Mansi 3, 994: Canon 42 of the 84 Canons 4


[p. 46]

Canon 36. That the Ethiopians[1]ought neither to create nor to elect a patriarch, because, on the contrary, their prelate should be under the authority of him who holds the see of Alexandria. There may be among them one in place of the patriarch and should be called 'catholicos[2], because he has neither the honour nor the authority of the patriarch.

If it happens that a council be convened and that the prelate of the Ethiopians be present, let him take the seventh place, after the prelate of Seleucia [= Ctesiphon = Baghdad].

If the authority is given to him to create archbishops in his province, he will not, however, be permitted to appoint any of them [Ethiopians]. If anyone does not obey, the Synod will excommunicate him. (Mansi, 3, 964).

Canon 42. That the Ethiopians should not appoint a patriarch from among their learned men, because he is to be appointed under the authority of the Alexandrian patriarch, to whom it pertains to ordain and appoint for them a "catholicos", who is inferior to the patriarch. The aforesaid, established with the name of "catholicos", will not be permitted to appoint archbishops as the patriarch does, because he is given only the name and honour of the patriarch, but not the true authority.

[p. 47] If it happens that a Synod be called in the land of the Rūm, and that this prelate be present, he should take his seat in the eighth place, after the lord of Seleucia, which is Almodayen,[3] for this prelate has the authority of creating bishops for his province, while it has been forbidden [to the Ethiopian] to appoint anyone of them [Ethiopians].[4].

Whosoever trangresses this order, the Fathers of the Synod will excommunicate him. (Mansi, op. cit. III, 994).

  1. In Arabic, "al-ḥabash". The Bollandists are of the opinion that "al-ḥabash" here means "Nubians" on grounds that, at that time (700 - 800 A.D.), there was no dispute about the Alexandrian Patriarch's jurisdiction over Ethiopia proper, but rather over Nubia. (Acta sanctorum Sept. VI., d. 21, p. 208).
  2. In Egyptian Arabic "gathlīk".
  3. Arabic "al-madā'in", i.e. Ctesiphon Seleucia, Babylon of Iraq.
  4. After Yeshaq's manipulation, the Ethiopian version reads : "That Ethiopia appoint a Metropolitan (pāpās) from among her learned men according to her own (bafeqāde re'somu) will, because she [Ethiopia] is under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Alexandria etc." ... according to her own will and "...because she is subject etc." See: RSE, II (1942), pp. 34-35