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The Synod of Antioch in Encaeniis - A.D. 341

Edited from a variety of translations (mentioned in the preface) by H. R. Percival

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23 Pages


Historical Introduction.

The Synodal Letter.

The Canons, with the Ancient Epitome and Notes.

Historical Introduction.

Of the Synod of Antioch which adopted the canons subsequently received into the code of the universal church we know the exact date. This is fixed by the fact that the synod was held at the time of the dedication of the great church in Antioch, known as the "Golden," which had been begun by his father, Constantine the Great, and was finished in the days of Constantius. The synod has for this reason always been known as the Synod of Antioch in Encaeniis, i.e., at the dedication (in Dedicatione), and was holden in the summer of the year 341. Ninety-seven bishops assembled together and a large number of them were hostile to St. Athanasius, being professed Eusebians, all of them were Orientals and most of them belonged to the patriarchate of Antioch. Not a single Western or Latin bishop was present and the pope, Julius, was in no way represented. This fact gave Socrates the historian the opportunity of making the statement (around which such polemics have raged), that "an ecclesiastical canon commands that the churches should not make decrees against the opinion of the bishop of Rome." [160]

But while this much is all clear, there is no council that presents a greater amount of difficulty to the historian as well as to the theologian. No one can deny that St. Hilary of Poictiers, who was a contemporary, styled it a Synod of Saints (Synodus Sanctorum) [161] ; that two of its canons were read at Chalcedon as the "canons of the Holy Fathers"; and that Popes John II., Zacharias, and Leo. IV. all approved these canons, and attributed them to "Holy Fathers." And yet this synod set forth creeds to rival that of Nice, and, it is said, that some of the canons were adopted to condemn Athanasius.

Various attempts have been made to escape from these difficulties.

It has been suggested that there really were two Synods at Antioch, the one orthodox, which adopted the canons, the other heretical.

[160] Socrates. H. E., Lib. II., cap. viij. Hefele thinks the statement may rest upon nothing more than the letter of Julius I. that the matter should first have been referred to Rome (Hefele. Hist. Councils, Vol. II., p. 59, n. 2). But the word used by Socrates is kanon!

[161] Hilar. Pict. De Synodis, seu de Fide Orient., C. xxxii. Ed. Ben., 1170.

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