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Apostolic Constitutions and Canons

APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS AND CANONS (Διαταγαὶ τω̂ν ἁγίωνἀποστόλων). A 4th cent. collection of instructions.

The Apostolic Constitutions claim to be written by the twelve apostles, James the brother of the Lord and Paul (VI, ch. 14). They were sent out by Clement “our fellow-minister” (VI, ch. 18), with Barnabas and others.

The Constitutions are made up of eight books. The first six are similar to the Didascalia of the Apostles, though the amount of revision and change varies. The Didascalia is almost certainly a 3rd cent. product. The author seems to have lived in the Syria-Pal. area. He may have been a bishop. There were subordinationist tendencies. The bishop was compared to the Father, the deacon to the Son, the deaconess to the Holy Spirit (ch. 9).

The seventh book of the Apostolic Constitutions begins with reminiscences of the Didaché (q.v.); the two ways are mentioned. The latter part of the book is concerned with moral rules, the rules for worship, prayer formulas, and instructions about baptism.

The major part of the eighth book was based upon the document now known as the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus, and concerned the qualifications of the clergy and procedures in worship. It closed with the eighty-five Apostolic Canons. These last were drawn from diverse sources including synods and councils.

The Constitutions were a late 4th cent. product, prob. compiled in Syria. The tendency is Arian and legalistic. Shaving, mixed bathing, and the reading of pagan books were condemned (Bk. I).


ANF, VII (1886), 385-508; R. H. Connolly, Didascalia Apostolorum (1929); J. Quasten, Patrology, II (1953), 119, 120, 147-152; B. Altaner, Patrology (Eng. tr., 1960), 54-60. See also Didache.