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The Quinisext Ecumenical Council - A.D. 692

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

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As the two last General Councils (in 553 and in 681) had not made any Canons, the Orientals judged it suitable to supply them eleven years after the Sixth Council, that is to say, the year 692, fifth indiction. For that purpose the Emperor Justinian convoked a Council, at which 211 Bishops attended, of whom the principal were the four Patriarchs, Paul of Constantinople, Peter of Alexandria, Anastasius of Jerusalem, George of Antioch. Next in the subscriptions are named John of Justinianopolis, Cyriacus of Cesarea in Cappadocia, Basil of Gortyna in Crete, who says that he represents the whole Council of the Roman Church, as he had said in subscribing the Sixth Council. But it is certain otherwise that in this latter council there were present Legates of the Holy See. This council, like the Sixth, [340] assembled in the dome of the palace called in Latin Trullus, which name it has kept. It is also named in Latin Quinisextum, in Greek Penthecton, as one might say, the fifth-sixth, to mark that it is only the supplement of the two preceding Councils, though properly it is a distinct one.

The intention was to make a body of discipline to serve thenceforth for the whole Church, and it was distributed into 102 Canons.

To this statement by Fleury some additions must be made. First, with regard to the date of the synod. This is not so certain as would appear at first sight. At the Seventh Ecumenical Council, the patriarch Tarasius of Constantinople asserted that, "four or five years after the sixth Ecumenical Council the same bishops, in a new assembly under Justinian II. had published the [Trullan] Canons mentioned," and this assertion the Seventh Council appears to have accepted as true, if we understand the sixth session aright. Now were this statement true, the date would be probably 686, but this is impossible by the words of the council itself, where we find mention made of the fifteenth of January of the past 4th indiction, or the year of the world, 6109. To make this agree at all, scholars tell us that for iv. must be read xiv. But the rest of the statement is equally erroneous, the bishops were not the same, as can readily be seen by comparing the subscriptions to the Acts.

The year of the world 6109 is certainly wrong, and so other scholars would read 6199, but here a division takes place, for some reckon by the Constantinopolitan era, and so fix the date at 691, and others following the Alexandrian era fix it at 706. But this last is certainly wrong, for the canons were sent for signature to Pope Sergius, who died as early as 701. Hefele's conclusion is as follows:

(Hefele. Hist. of the Councils, Vol. V., p. 222.)

The year 6199 of the Constantinopolitan era coincides with the year 691 after Christ and the IV^th Indiction ran from September 1, 690, to August 31, 691. If then, our Synod, in canon iij., speaks of the 15th of January in the past Indiction IV., it means January 691; but it belongs itself, to the Vth Indiction, i.e., it was opened after September 1, 691, and before September 1, 692.

[340] This statement of Fleury's is contested by those who agree with Asseman in thinking that the Sixth Synod was held in Santa Sophia, vide Biblioth. Jur., Orient. Tom. v., p. 85.

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