Category Archives: Canon law and legal history

Rudolf Sohm’s contributions to ecclesiology and the history of canon law

Lowrie, Walter. The Church and its Organization in Primitive and Catholic Times: An Interpretation of Rudolph Sohm’s Kirchenrecht. 1904.

Sohm, Rudolph. “Wesen und Ursprung des Katholizismus.” 1909.

Sohm, Rudolph. “Weltliches und geistliches Recht.” 1913.

Sohm, Rudolph. Kirchenrecht 1. Bd. Reprint 2016.

Sohm, Rudolph. Kirchenrecht 2. Bd. Reprint 2016.

Sohm, Rudolph. Das altkatholische Kirchenrecht und das Dekret Gratians. Reprint 2014.


Manuals of Roman Law

Byzantine-Roman law is the context in which much of the ancient and Byzantine canon law developed. Therefore it is necessary to have an understanding of Byzantine-Roman law. The classic German manuals are still useful for developing such an understanding and the most important have also been translated into English and are available digitally online:

Sohm, R. Institutes of Roman Law. 3d ed. 1907.

Mackedey, F. Handbook of Roman Law. 1883.

Concerning Byzantine law, the following manuals are still useful:

Mortreuil, J.-A.-B., Histoire du Droit Byzantin 1. 1847.

Mortreuil, J.-A.-B., Histoire du Droit Byzantin 2. 1847

Mortreuil, J.-A.-B., Histoire du Droit Byzantin 3. 1846.

Zachariä von Lingenthal, Karl Eduard. Geschichte des griechisch-römischen Rechts. 3d ed. 1892.

Zhishman, J., Das Eherecht der orientalischen Kirche. 1864.

The classic manual of Byzantine canon law is still N. Milasch, Das Kirchenrecht der morgenländischen Kirche. rev. ed. 1905:


New Book on the Pan-Orthodox Council

Eva Synek. Das “Helige und Grosse Konzil” von Kreta. Kirche und Recht 29. Freistadt: Verlag Plöchl, 2017, pp. 135. ISBN 978-3-903093-15-7.

After almost half a century of preparations the Pan-Orthodox Council, or Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church (official website:, was convened at Pentecost, 2017, on Crete.

Even until the end it was uncertain if the council would convene. Five autocephalous churches said they would boycott the council (Antioch, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Russia). The Orthodox Church of Serbia changed its mind in the last minute, but four autocephalous churches still abstained from the council.

The council produced an encyclical, a message, and six documents on various topics (fasting, ecumenism, the proclamation of autonomous churches, the orthodox diaspora, marriage, and the mission of the church today). The Orthodox Churches have now entered a period of reception during which the status of the council and its documents will become clear.

The pre-conciliar process up to the 1980s has previous been studied by Anne Jensen in Die Zukunft der Orthodoxie: Konzilspläne und Kirchenstrukturen (1986).

The fall of the Iron Curtain and the subsequent political development suspended the pre-conciliar process until 2009 when it was resumed. To everyone’s surprise in 2014, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew officially convoked the council to convene in 2016.

The documents produced by the council have several implications for Orthodox canon law. Eva Synek has therefore written a short book about the council which is partially to be viewed as an addendum to the textbook on Orthodox canon law by Richard Potz and Eva Synek, Orthodoxes Kirchenrecht: Eine Einführung (2nd ed. 2014).

Synek divides her book into six chapters. The first two chapters deal with the historical background and pre-conciliar process. The third chapter analyzes the participants of the council and related issues. The fourth chapter analyzes the organization and procedural rules of the council. The fifth chapter analyzes the document of the council and their implications for Orthodox canon law. The sixth chapter discusses the status, authority, and reception of the Council of Crete.

Synek’s book is a welcome scholarly guide to the Council of Crete that put the council in its context and will help scholars and others to understand the event of the council, its documents, and the reception of the council and its documents by the Orthodox Churches.

Digitized Resources for Canon Law Studies

Bright, William. The Canons of the First Four General Councils of Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon with Notes.

Hefele, Karl Joseph von. A History of the Christian Councils from the Original Documents, vol. 1: To the Close of the Council of Nicaea, A.D. 325. 

Hefele, Karl Joseph von. A History of the Christian Councils from the Original Documents, vol. 2: A.D. 326 to A.D. 429.

Hefele, Karl Joseph von. A History of the Christian Councils from the Original Documents, vol. 3: A.D. 431 to A.D. 451. 

Hefele, Karl Joseph von. A History of the Christian Councils from the Original Documents, vol. 4: A.D. 451 to A.D. 680.

Hefele, Karl Joseph von. A History of the Christian Councils from the Original Documents, vol. 5: A.D. 626 to the Close of the Second Council of Nicaea, A.D. 787. 

Landon, Edward H. A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church, vol. 1.

Landon, Edward H. A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church, vol. 2.

Percival, Henry R. The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church: Their Canons and Dogmatic Decrees.

Schroeder, Henry Joseph. Disciplinary Decrees of the General Councils: Text, Translation, and Commentary.


English, French, Russian, and Greek Versions of the Documents for the Pan-Orthodox Council

The Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Churches will be held at the Orthodox Academy of Crete from June 16 to 27, 2016.

I will here collect links to English, French, Russian, and Greek versions of the documents for the pan-Orthodox council as they become available.





The Holy and Great Council, Crete, June 16 to 27, 2016

The primates and representatives of the autocephalous Orthodox Churches met in Geneva, January 21-28, for the fifth preconciliar meeting. The keynote address to the synaxis by the Ecumenical Patriarch is available here in English. The official announcement of the synaxis is available here in English.

The decided topics for the Holy and Great Council are the following: The Mission of the Orthodox Church in the Contemporary World, The Orthodox Diaspora, Autonomy and its Manner of Proclamation, The Sacrament of Marriage and its impediments, The Significance of Fasting and its Application Today, and the Relations of the Orthodox Church with the Rest of the Christian World. The Moscow Patriarchate insisted that the topic of calendar should not be treated by the council.

The council will be held at the Orthodox Academy of Crete from June 16 to 27, 2016. The documents of the councils have begun to be released to public. The following are now available in Greek:

Bibliography on Oikonomia

Oikonomia is a central principle in Eastern Orthodox ecclesiastical law that denotes the legitimate non-application or modification of norms. Oikonomia is one of the topics of the Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches in Thessaloniki this September. The following is a basic bibliography on oikonomia:

F. Schuppe. Die pastorale Herausforderung: Orthodoxe Leben zwischen Akribeia and Oikonomia. 2006.

H. S. Alivizatos. Die Oikonomia: Die Oikonomia nach dem kanonischen Recht der Orthodoxen Kirche. 1998.

J. Kotsonis. Problèmes de l’économie ecclésiastique. 1971.

M. A. Stiegler. Dispensation, Dispensationswesen und Dispensationsrecht im Kirchenrecht. 1901.

G. Richter. Oikonomia: Der Gebrauch des Wortes Oikonomia im Neuen Testament, bei den Kirchenvätern und in der theologischen Literatur bis ins 20. Jahrhundert. 2005.

Non-Greek Papers and Lectures by Spyros Troianos

Prof. Spyros Troianos has collected 65 of his papers, lectures, and essays in other languages than Greek (mostly in German) from the period 1969-2004 and published as Historia et Ius, 2 vols, Athens: Ant. N. Sakkoulas, 2004, 502 and 978 pages. These papers, lectures, and essays treat Byzantine law, canon law, ecclesiastical law, and Modern Greek law. Some examples of papers of special interest for canon law are the following:

Vol. 1:

2. Die Sonderstellung des Kaisers im früh- und mittelbyzantinischen kirchlichen Prozess

13. Einige Bemerkungen zu den materiellen und formellen Voraussetzungen der Autokephalie in der Orthodoxe Kirche

19. Zum Kapitel 45 der russischen Kormcaja Kniga: Ursprung und Wesen des Nomos Mosaikos

20. Kirche und Staat: Die Berührungspunkte der beiden Rechtsordnungen in Byzanz

Vol. 2:

22. Die Kanones des VII. Ökumenische Konzils und die Kaisergesetzgebung

23. Kirchliche und weltlische Rechtsquellen zur Homosexualität in Byzanz

24. Die kanonischen Antworte des Nikolaos III. Grammatikos and den Bischof von Zetunion

26. Die kirchenrechtlichen Novellen Leons VI. und ihre Quellen

28. Die Beziehungen zwischen Staat und Kirche in Griechenland

29. Nomos und Kanon in Byzanz

30. Der Apostolische Stuhl im früh- und mittelbyzantinischen kanonischen Recht

31. Le droit ecclésiastique du mariage en Grèce

32. L’embryon dans le droit canon byzantin

33. Zölibat und Kirchenvermögen in der früh- und mittelbyzantinischen kanonischen Recht

34. Das Gesetz in der griechischen Patristik

35. Die Strafen im byzantinischen Recht. Eine Übersicht

36. Die Wirkungsgeschichte des Trullanum (Quinisextum) in der byzantinischen Gesetzgebung

38. Der “Andere” im kanonischen Recht der Ostkirche: Die Mischehen

39. Rome et Constantinople dans les commentaires des canonistes orientaux du XIIe siècle

41. Die Kanones des Trullanum in den Novellen Leons VI. des Weisen

42. Ostkirche und profanes Recht

46. Der Teufel im orthodoxen Kirchenrecht

48. Ein Patriarchalakt über die dritte Ehe

50. La contribution des lïcs a la formation du droit de l’Èglise

51. Le mariage et la “disparitas ccultus” dans les sources juridiques gréco-romaines

53. Die Einweihung und Entweihung der Kirchengebäude nach orthodoxem Kirchenrecht

56. Die Entwicklung und der akutelle Stand des kanonischen Rechts und der Kanonistik in der griechischen Orthodoxie

57. Kanonistische Antworten und Abhandlungen in der Ostkirche (9.-15. Jh.). Eine Übersicht

58. Akribeia und Oikonomia in den heiligen Kanones

59. Das Gottesurteil im Prozessrecht der byzantinischen Kirche

Readings in Academic Theology with an Eastern Orthodox Focus

Introduction to Orthodox Theology

A. Louth. Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology.

E. Theokritoff and M. B. Cunningham, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology.

Church History

R. L. Wilken. The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity.

J. M. Hussey. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire.

H. Chadwick. East and West: The Making of a Rift in the Church from Apostolic Times until the Council of Florence.

S. Runciman. The Great Church in Captivity: A Study of the Patriarchate of Constantinople from the Eve of the Turkish Conquest to the Greek War of Independence.

Th. Bremer. Cross and Kremlin: A Brief History of the Orthodox Church in Russia.

R. Roberson. The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey. 7th ed.

K. Parry, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity.

K. Parry et al., eds. The Blackwell Dictionary of Eastern Christianity.

J. A. McGuckin, ed. The Encyclopedia of Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Exegetical and Biblical Theology

Th. G. Stylianopoulos. The New Testament: An Orthodox Perspective.

E. J. Pentiuc. The Old Testament in Eastern Orthodox Tradition.

M. Simonetti. Biblical Interpretation in the Early Church: An Historical Introduction to Patristic Exegesis.

E. W. Klink III and D. R. Lockett. Understanding Biblical Theology: A Comparison of Theory and Practice.

W. Zimmerli. Old Testament Theology in Outline.

U. Schnelle. Theology of the New Testament.

X. Léon-Dufour, ed. Dictionary of Biblical Theology. 2nd ed.

R. E. Brown, ed. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. 3d ed.

Th. C. Oden, ed. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. 29 vols.

History of Doctrine and Theology

J. Pelikan. Credo: Historical and Theological Guide to Creeds and Confessions of Faith in the Christian Tradition.

J. Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600).

J. Pelikan. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Vol. 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700).

A. Di Berardino and B. Studer, eds. History of Theology, Vol. 1: The Patristic Period.

L. D. Davis. The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787): Their History and Theology.

H. R. Drobner. The Fathers of the Church: A Comprehensive Introduction.

J. Quasten. Patrology. 4 vols.

P. K. Chrestou. Greek Orthodox Patrology: An Introduction to the Study of the Church Fathers.

B. Tatakis. Byzantine Philosophy.

B. Tatakis. Christian Philosophy in the Patristic and Byzantine Tradition.

Dogmatic Theology

J. D. Zizioulas. Lectures in Christian Dogmatics.

D. Staniloae. The Experience of God: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology. 6 vols.

Spirituality and Christian Ethics

D. Staniloae. Orthodox Spirituality.

A. Louth. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys. 2nd ed.

T. Spidlik. The Spirituality of the Christian East: A Systematic Handbook.

T. Spidlik. Prayer: The Spirituality of the Christian East, Vol. 2.

S. S. Harakas. Living the Faith: The Praxis of Eastern Orthodox Ethics.

Ch. Yannaras. The Freedom of Morality.


P. F. Bradshaw. Early Christian Worship: A Basic Introduction to Ideas and Practice. 2nd ed.

J. Daniélou. The Bible and the Liturgy.

R. F. Taft. The Byzantine Rite: A Short History.

H. Wybrew. The Orthodox Liturgy: The Development of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite.

J. Getcha. The Typicon Decoded: An Explanation of Byzantine Liturgical Practice.

E. Wellesz. A History of Byzantine Music and Hymnography. 2nd ed.

A. Schmemann. Introduction to Liturgical Theology.


O. C. Edwards, Jr. Elements of Homiletic: A Method for Preparing to Preach.

Pastoral Theology

K. Kern. Orthodox Pastoral Service.

J. Chryssavgis. Soul Mending: The Art of Spiritual Direction.

J. K. Kornarakis. Pastoral Psychology and Inner Conflict.

J. Meyendorff. Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective. 3d ed.

Canon Law

P. Rodopoulos. An Overview of Orthodox Canon Law.

L. J. Patsavos. Spiritual Dimensions of the Holy Canons.

W. Hartmann and K. Pennington, eds. The History of Byzantine Canon Law to 1500.

Readings in Contemporary Greek Theology

The following is an arbitrary selection of contemporary Greek textbooks of theology (from both Athens and Thessaloniki) which will hopefully give a general insight into contemporary Greek academic theology:

Introduction to academic theology

Μεταλληνός, π. Γεώργιος. Εγκόλπιον επιστημονικής έρευνας.

Κούκουρα, Δήμητρα Α. Εισαγωγή στη σπουδή της θεολογίας.

Exegetical theology

Αγουρίδης, Σάββας. Ερμηνευτική των ιερών κειμένων.

Historical theology

Μόσχος, Δημήτριος. Συνοπτική ιστορία του Χριστιανισμού. 2 τόμοι.

Systematic theology

Ξεξάκης, Νικόλαος Γ. Ορθοδόξη δογματική. 3 τόμοι.

Ξιώνης, Νικόλαος Ρ. Προλεγόμενα θεολογικής ανθρωπολογίας.

Μαντζαρίδης, Γεώργιος Ι. Χριστιανική ηθική.

Ματσούκας, Νίκος Α. Δογματική και συμβολική θεολογία. 3 τόμοι.

Practical theology

Κονιδάρης, Ιωάννης. Εγχειρίδιο εκκλησιαστικού δικαίου.

Κούκουρα, Δήμητρα Α. Η ρητορική και η εκκλησιαστική ρητορική.

Μεταλληνός, π. Γεώργιος. Η θεολογική μαρτυρία της Εκκλησιαστικής λατρείας.

Ροδόπουλος, Παντελεήμων. Επιτομή Κανονικού Δικαίου.

Σταυρόπουλος, Αλέξανδρος. Επιστήμη και τέχνη της ποιμαντικής.

Φίλιας, Γεώργιος Ν. Εκκλησιαστική ρητορική και εκφορά του σύγχρονου θεολογικού λόγου.

Φίλιας, Γεώργιος Ν. Λειτουργική.

Ordering books from Greece

The following site may be used to find the best price when ordering books from Greece: