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APOSTOLIC CANONS—APOSTOLIC FATHERS

soul to Christ, and the like, which suggest not indeed Arianism but an inclination towards Arianism. Above all, his polemic is directed against the dying heresies of the 3rd century; and he writes with an absence of constraint which is not the language of one who lives amidst violent controversies or who is conscious of being in a minority. All this points to the position of a “conservative” or semi-Arian of the East, one who belongs, perhaps, to the circle of Lucian of Antioch and writes before the time of Julian. It is hard to think of any other time or circumstances in which a man could write like this, (iii.) The indications of time have been held to point to a different conclusion. On the one hand, the fact that the attempt to rebuild the temple by Julian in 363 is not mentioned in vi. 24 points to an earlier date; and the fact that the κοπιᾶται are not mentioned amongst the church officers points in the same direction, for elsewhere they are first mentioned in a rescript of Constantius in A.D. 357. On the other hand, in the cycle of feasts occur the names of several which are probably of later date—e.g. Christmas and St Stephen, which were introduced at Antioch c. A.D. 378 and 379 respectively. Again, Epiphanius (c. A.D. 374) appears to be unacquainted with it; he still quotes from the Didascalia, and elaborately explains it away where it is contrary to the usages of his own day. But as regards the former point, it is possible that the Apostolical Constitutions constantly gave rise to these festivals; or, on the other hand, that the two passages were subsequently introduced either by the writer himself or by some other hand, when the last book of the Constitutions was being used as a law-book. And as regards the latter, the fact that Epiphanius does not use the Constitutions is no proof that they had not yet been compiled. (iv.) As to the region of composition there is no real doubt. It was clearly the East, Syria or Palestine. Many indications are against the latter, and Syria is strongly suggested by the use of the Syro-Macedonian calendar. Moreover, the writer represents the Roman Clement as the channel of communication between the apostles and the Church. This fact both supplies him with the name by which he is commonly known, Pseudo-Clement, and also furnishes corroboration of his Syrian birth; since the other spurious writings bearing the name of Clement, the Homilies and Recognitions, are likewise of Syrian origin. Moreover, the spurious Ignatian epistles, which are also Syrian, depend throughout upon the Constitutions, (v.) But this is not all. It was long ago noticed that Pseudo-Clement bears a very close resemblance to Pseudo-Ignatius, the interpolator of the Ignatian Epistles in the longer Greek recension. Usher, as we have seen, identified them, and modern criticism accepts this identification as a fact (Lagarde, Harnack, Funk, Brightman). Lightfoot, indeed, still hesitated (Ap. Fathers, II. i. 266 n.) on the ground that Pseudo-Ignatius occasionally misunderstands the Constitutions, that the two writings give the Roman succession differently, and that Pseudo-Clement shows no knowledge of the Christological controversies of Nicaea. But as regards the first of these, it is rather a case of condensed citation than of misinterpretation; the second is explained by the writer’s carelessness as shown in other passages, and all are solved if a considerable interval of time elapsed between the compilation of the Constitutions and the spurious Ignatian epistles.

It seems clear then that the compiler was a Syrian, and that he also wrote the spurious Ignatian epistles; he was likewise probably a semi-Arian of the school of Lucian of Antioch. His date is given by Harnack as A.D. 340-360, with a leaning to 340-343; by Lightfoot as the latter half of the 4th century; by Brightman, 370-380; by Maclean, 375; and by Funk as the beginning of the 5th century.

Authorities.—W. Ueltzen, Constitutiones Apostolicae (Schwerin, 1853); P. A. de Lagarde, Didascalia Apostolorum Syriace (Leipz., 1854); Constitutiones Apostolorum (Leipz. and Lond., 1862); M. D. Gibson, Didascalia Apost. Syriace, with Eng. trans. (Horae Semiticae, i. and ii., Cambridge, 1903); J. B. Pitra, Juris Ecclesiastici Graecorum Historia et Monumenta, i. (Rome, 1864); Hauler, Didascaliae Apostolorum Fragmenta Ueronensia Latina, (Leipzig, 1900); Bickell, Geschichte des Kirchenrechts, i. (Giessen, 1843); F. X. Funk, Die apostolischen Konstitutionen (Rottenb., 1891); A. Harnack, Geschichte d. altchristl. Litteratur, i. 515 ff. (Leipz., 1893); F. E. Brightman, Liturgies Eastern and Western, I. xvii. ff. (Oxford, 1896); H. Achelis, in Hauck’s Realencyklopädie, i. 734 f., art. “Apostolische Konstitutionen und Kanones” (Leipz., 1896); A. S. Maclean, Recent Discoveries illustrating Early Christian Worship (Lond., 1904); J. Wordsworth, The Ministry of Grace, pp. 18 ff; J. P. Arendzen, “The Apostolic Church Order” (Syriac Text, Eng. trans. and notes) in Journ. of Theol. Studies, iii. 59. Trans. of Apost. Constitutions, book viii., in Ante-Nicene Christian Library.  (W. E. Co.) 

APOSTOLIC CANONS, a collection of eighty-five rules for the regulation of clerical life, appended to the eighth book of the Apostolical Constitutions (q.v.). They are couched in brief legislative form though on no definite plan, and deal with the vexed questions of ecclesiastical discipline as they were raised towards the end of the 4th century. At least half of the canons are derived from earlier constitutions, and probably not many of them are the actual productions of the compiler, whose aim was to gloss over the real nature of the Constitutions, and secure their incorporation with the Epistles of Clement in the New Testament of his day. The Codex Alexandrinus does indeed append the Clementine Epistles to its text of the New Testament. The Canons may be a little later in date than the preceding Constitutions, but they are evidently from the same Syrian theological circle.

APOSTOLIC FATHERS, a term used to distinguish those early Christian writers who were believed to have been the personal associates of the original Apostles. While the title “Fathers” was given from at least the beginning of the 4th century to church writers of former days, as being the parents of Christian belief and thought for later times, the expression “Apostolic Fathers” dates only from the latter part of the 17th century. The idea of recognizing these “Fathers” as a special group exists already in the title “Patres aevi apostolici, sive SS. Patrum qui temporibus apostolicis floruerunt ... opera,” under which in 1672 J. B. Cotelier published at Paris the writings current under the names of Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Hermas, Ignatius and Polycarp. But the name itself is due to their next editor, Thomas Ittig (1643-1710), in his Bibliotheca Patrum Apostolicorum (1699), who, however, included under this title only Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp. Here already appears the doubt as to how many writers can claim the title, a doubt which has continued ever since, and makes the contents of the “Apostolic Fathers” differ so much from editor to editor. Thus the Oratorian Andrea Gallandi (1709-1779), in re-issuing Cotelier’s collection in his Bibliotheca Veterum Patrum (1765-1781), included the fragments of Papias and the Epistle to Diognetus, to which recent editors have added the citations from the “Elders” of Papias’s day found in Irenaeus and, since 1883, the Didachē.

The degree of historic claim which these various writings have to rank as the works[1] of Apostolic Fathers varies greatly on any definition of “apostolic.” Originally the epithet was meant to be taken strictly, viz. as denoting those whom history could show to have been personally connected, or at least coeval, with one or more apostles; and an effort was made, as by Cotelier, to distinguish the writings rightly and wrongly assigned to such. Thus editions tended to vary with the historical views of editors. But the convenience of the category “Apostolic Fathers” to express not only those who might possibly have had some sort of direct contact with apostles—such as “Barnabas,” Clement, Ignatius, Papias, Polycarp—but also those who seemed specially to preserve the pure tradition of apostolic doctrine during the sub-apostolic age, has led to its general use in a wide and vague sense.

Conventionally, then, the title denotes the group of writings which, whether in date or in internal character, are regarded as belonging to the main stream of the Church’s teaching during the period between the Apostles and the Apologists (i.e. to c. A.D. 140). Or to put it more exactly, the “Apostolic Fathers” represent, chronologically in the main and still more from the religious and theological standpoint, the momentous process of

  1. Cotelier included the Acts of Martyrdom of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp; and those of Ignatius and Polycarp are still often printed by editors.