Category Archives: Reviews

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.


New Textbook on Post-Byzantine Church History

Βλάσιος Φειδάς. Εκκλησιαστική Ιστορία Γ΄. Από την Άλωση μέχρι σήμερον (1453-2014), Athens: 2014, 1006 pages.

Vlasios Phidas, professor emeritus of church history at the University of Athens, has recently published an additional third volume to his church history (in Greek). This volume covers the period 1453 to 2014 and has the following content:


Part One: The Church during the post-Byzantine period

I. The Eastern Church

1. The Relationship between the Orthodox Church and the Turkish State

2. The Administrative Organization of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

3. The Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Quadriga of Patriarchates

4. Divine Worship and Spiritual Life

II. The Western Church

5. The Protestant Reformation

6. The Clash between the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation

7. The Western Church after the Reformation

Part Two: The Church during Modern Times

I. The Eastern Church

8. Autocephaly and the Modern Patriarchates

9. Autocephalous and Autonomous Churches

10. Confessions of Faith and Theological Literature

II. The Western Church

11. Administrative Organization, Worship, and Theological Literature of the Western Church

12. The Relationship between the Eastern and Western Church

Appendix: Ecclesiastical Literature


List of Popes and Patriarchs

Index of Names and Subjects

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

Review: Liturgy and Systematic Theology

Julia Knop, Ecclesia Orans: Liturgie als Herausforderung für die Dogmatik, Freiburg im Br.: Herder, 2012, 387 pages.

It has become a commonplace in theology since the twentieth century to claim that the actual worship of the church is important for systematic theology, but the principles of the relationship between worship and systematic theology have largely been left unexplored. In the present study Julia Knop studies the principles of the relationship between Christian worship and systematic theological reflection.

The study is divided into three parts. The first part deals with the use of liturgical warrants in patristic theology. This part is limited to the use of liturgical warrants by Augustine. This part of the study would have profited by also referring to the use of liturgical warrants by Greek church fathers (especially by Basil the Great in the context of pneumatology).

The second part of the study deals with the liturgy in the principles of fundamental theology. It first analyzes Prosper of Aquitaine and his famous principle ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi and its reception. This part also analyzes the development of loci theologici in theology after the Western Reformations (especially the model developed by Melchior Cano). This model of fundamental theology identifies various sources of theological authority from which theological reasoning may derive its postulates. Although worship was not originally conceived as a proper locus theologicus by Melchior Canon, it later came to be regarded as such.

The second part of the study ends by an analysis of so-called liturgical theology (especially Schmemann and Kavanagh). Liturgical theology views worship as the first-order-theology (theologia prima) which expresses the faith of the church while systematic theology is seen as a second-order-theology (theologia secunda) which reflects on the faith of the church as manifested by worship and derived from the the sources of theology (loci theologici).

Knop is careful to note that liturgical theology is not some sort of uncritical liturgicism (sola liturgia), but notes that although worship is given priority as a theological expression, systematic theology still has a critical function in relation to both the faith as manifested in worship and the sources of theology. Worship gradually changes over time and systematic theology still must critically reflect on the faithfulness of the current worship to the constitutive elements of Christian faith and worship. The last part of the study is a systematic reflection on the relationship between liturgical theology and the principles of dogmatic theology. Knop’s study is a valuable contribution to contemporary fundamental theology.

Orthodox Canon Law Reference Book

Fathe Vasile Mihai has recently published a reference book on Orthodox canon law. This is a very useful handbook which contains references to the canons which deal with different topics. The reference book also has an introduction with some general reflections on the function and use of canon law in the Orthodox Church.

V. Mihai. Orthodox Canon Law Reference Book. Brookline, Massachusetts: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2014, 467 pages.

Review: A Handbook of Eastern Orthodox Canon Law

R. Potz/E. Synek. Orthodoxes Kirchenrecht: Eine Einführung. 2nd ed. Freistadt; Plöchl, 2014, 570 pages.

This is a revised and updated edition of R. Potz’s and E. Synek’s handbook of Eastern Orthodox canon law. The handbook is conceived as an updated supplement to the classic handbook of Nikodim Milaš: Pravoslavno crkveno pravo (2nd ed. 1902; reprint 2008).

The handbook begins with a general introduction to the Eastern churches (chapters 1-4). It then covers the relationship between church and state today (chapter 5), the theological foundation of canon law (chapter 6), the sources of canon law (chapter 7), the doctrine of canon law (chapter 8), persons (chapter 9), ecclesial constitution (chapter 10), marriage (chapter 11), penance and penal sanctions (chapter 12), temporal goods (chapter 13), and canon law and ecumene (chapter 14).

This new edition is revised and updated. The bibliographies have been expanded and the text has been revised in response to the feedback from various canonists (especially from members of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches). The handbook also covers the new developments in the particular law of the Romanian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and the Church of Cyprus. Two excursuses have been added on human rights (in chapter 5) and the rights of children (in chapter 11).

It can be ordered for 70 € (excluding shipping) from:


Institut für Rechtsphilosophie, Religions- und Kulturrecht
Rechtswissenschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Wien
z. Hd. Gabriele Buchta
Schenkenstraße 8-10
1010 Wien

Tel. 0043-1-4277-35814 od. – 35811

Review: Collection of the Canons, Regulations, and Statutes of the Church of Greece

P. I. Akanthopoulos, ed. Κώδικας ιερών κανόνων (κείμενο – ερμηνεία – σχόλια) και εκκλησιαστικής νομοθεσίας της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος. 4th ed. Thessaloniki: Vanias, 2009, 1397 pages.

This is a collection of the canons, regulations, and statutes of the Church of Greece. It is divided into two parts. The first part (pages 25-715) contains the sacred canons which are the sources of the common law of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The sacred canons are printed both in the Byzantine Greek and with a translation into Modern Greek. The original text of the canons follows the edition of Rallis and Potlis. The first part also has a glossary of terms in the sacred canons and various tables and indexes to the sacred canons.

The second part of the collection (pages 716-1397) contains the sources of the particular law of the Church of Greece. The second part is divided into four sections. The first section contains the basic statutes of the Church of Greece before its autocephaly was recognized. The second section contains the basic statues of the Church of Greece enacted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The third section contains the relevant articles of the Constitution of Greece. The fourth section contains in chronological order the particular juridical material now in force in the Church of Greece. This section is divided into acts, decrees, regulations, and encyclicals.

Review: Modern Greek textbooks on Byzantine law

Ιστορία δικαίουThe Byzantine canon law tradition, which is the common law of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, developed in the context of Byzantine legal culture. It is, therefore, important to have a general understanding of Byzantine law when researching Eastern Orthodox canon law. Spyros Troianos and Ioulia Velissaropoulou-Karakosta have published a very useful textbook on legal history which also covers Byzantine law:

Σ. Τρωιάνος/Ι. Βελισσαροπούλου-Καράκωστα. Ιστορία Δικαίου. 4th ed. Athens: Nomiki Bibliothiki, 2010, 270 pages.

This textbook of legal history covers ancient Greek law, Roman law, Byzantine law, Post-Byzantine law, and Modern Greek law. It has extensive Οι Πηγές του Βυζαντινού Δικαίουand updated bibliographies. The third section (pp. 127-233) covers Byzantine law. This section covers the origin of Byzantine law, the sources of Byzantine law, research on Byzantine law, the periods of Byzantine law, the Byzantine state, state and church, marriage law, criminal law, the court system, and the development of Byzantine Greek legal terminology.

This textbook on legal history is a valuable companion to Troianos’ textbook on the sources of Byzantine law which also covers the sources of Byzantine canon law:

Σ. Τρωιάνος. Οι πηγές του Βυζαντινού Δικαίου. 3d ed. Athens: Sakkoulas, 2011, 492 pages.

Metropolitan Pavlos of Sweden and All Scandinavia

This year is the fortieth anniversary of Metropolitan Dr. Pavlos Menevisoglou (Παῦλος Μενεβίσογλου) of Sweden and All Scandinavia. The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Sweden and All Scandinavia was founded on August 12, 1969. Metropolitan Pavlos is a prominent scholar who is specialized in the history of Eastern Orthodox canon law and the history of Holy Myron in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Metropolitan Pavlos of Sweden and All Scandinavia

Metropolitan Pavlos was born in Turkey in 1935. He was ordained to the diaconate in 1956 and graduated from Halki Seminary in 1958. After his graduation he served in the chancery of the Ecumenical Patriarchate until his election as metropolitan. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1970 and elected as metropolitan of Stockholm and All Scandinavia on April 30, 1974. He was ordained to the episcopate on May 12. He arrived in Sweden on July 4 and was installed as metropolitan on July 14.

Metropolitan Pavlos also chairs the Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of Scandinavia which was founded on January 10, 2010, in accordance with the pan-Orthodox decision from Chambésy in 2009.

Metropolitan Pavlos has been an active scholar and has published nine books and over fifty articles. He holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Thessaloniki. His doctoral dissertation, Τὸ ἅγιον Μύρον ἐν τῇ Ὀρθοδόξῳ Ἀνατολικῇ Ἐκκλησλίᾳ [Holy Myron in the Eastern Orthodox Church] (Thessaloniki: 1972; reprint 1983), is about the use of Holy Myron in the Eastern Orthodox Church. He has also written several articles on Holy Myron and published a second book on the subject: Μελετήματα περὶ ἁγίου Μύρου [Essays on Holy Myron] (Athens: 1999).

Apart from Holy Myron his research has been devoted to the history of Eastern Orthodox canon law. His research has been focused on historical criticism of the sources and collections of Eastern Orthodox canon law. But he has also to a certain degree dealt with textual criticism and theological criticism. His first major book on the history of canon law was Ἱστορικὴ εἰσαγωγὴ εἰς τοὺς κανόνας τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκληεσίας [Historical Introduction to the Canons of the Orthodox Church] (Stockholm: 1991). This handbook must be considered together with Prof. Spyros Troianos’ Οι πηγές του Βυζαντινού Δικαίου [The Sources of Byzantine Law] (3d ed. Athens: 2011) and Ιστορία του Δικάιου [Legal History] (4th ed. Athens: 2010) as required reading for any serious student of the history of Eastern Orthodox canon law. Last year Metropolitan Pavlos also published a concordance to the canons: Λεξικὸν τῶν ἱερῶν κανόνων [Lexicon of the Sacred Canons] (Katerini: 2013). This concordance is an important contribution to future research in Eastern Orthodox canon law.

But Metropolitan Pavlos greatest contribution to the history of Eastern Orthodox canon law has been his studies on the post-Byzantine Greek Orthodox collections of canon law. Apart from some brief studies by Friedrich August Biener, Karl Eduard Zachariä von Lingenthal, and Manuil Gedeon as well as a superficial study on the Pedalion by Ivan Nikolskii in the nineteenth century, this has been a neglected area of study. The research of Metropolitan Pavlos has resulted in four important books: Δύο πολύτιμα χειρόγραφα ἱερῶν κανόνων [Two Important Manuscripts of Sacred Canons] (Katerini: 2006); Αἱ ἐκδόσεις τῶν ἱερῶν κανόνων κατὰ τὸν 16ον καὶ 17ον αἰῶνα (1531-1672) [The Editions of Sacred Canons during the 16th and 17th Centuries (1531-1672)] (Katerini: 2007); Τὸ Πηδάλιον καὶ ἅλλαι ἐκδόσεις τῶν ἱερῶν κανόνων κατὰ τὸν 18ον αἰῶνα [The Rudder and Other Editions of Sacred Canons during the 18th Century] (Katerini: 2008); Τὸ Σύνταγμα Ράλλη καὶ Ποτλῆ καὶ ἅλλαι ἐκδόσεις τῶν ἱερῶν κανόνων κατὰ τὸν 19ον καὶ 20ὸν αἰῶνα [The Collection of Rallis and Potlis and Other Editions of Sacred Canons during the 19th and 20th Centuries] (Katerini: 2009). These studies analyze all the printed post-Byzantine editions and collections of canons as well as the manuscript tradition from which they derive.

Εις πολλά έτη Δέσποτα!

Review: A new concordance to the Byzantine canons

Παῦλος Μενεβίσογλου. Λεξικὸν τῶν ἱερῶν κανόνων. ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ 28. Kateríni: Epektasis, 2013, 379 pages. ISBN: 978-960-356-147-7.

Metroplitan Pavlos Menevisoglou of Stockholm and All Scandinavia, who in 2014 will celebrate his fortieth anniversary as bishop, has this year published a concordance of the canons in the Eastern Orthodox corpus canonum. This concordance also includes an appendix which shows the different numerations of the canons in Rhallis/Potlis, Migne’s Patrologia Graeca, and the Pedalion. (Joannou has the same numeration as Rhallis/Potlis.) A complete concordance to the Byzantine corpus canonum has been needed for a long time in order to facilitate philological and doctrinal research on Eastern Orthodox canon law. The concordance is published in the series ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ (Bibliothèque Nomocanonique) directed by Archimandrite Grigorios Papathomas, professor of canon law at the University of Athens and the Institut de théologie orthodoxe Saint-Serge in Paris.

Metropolitan Pavlos Menevisolgou has also previously published several important monographs on the history of Eastern Orthodox canon law: for example, the following:

  • Ἱστορικὴ εἰσαγωγὴ εἰς τοὺς κανόνας τῆς Ὀρθοδόξου Ἐκκλησίας. Stockholm: Metropolis of Stockholm and All Scandinavia, 1990.
  • Δύο πολύτιμα χειρόγραφα ἱερῶν κανόνων (Πάτμου 172-Ἀθηνῶν 1372). ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ 20. Kateríni: Epektasis, 2006.
  • Αἱ ἐκδόσεις τῶν ἱερῶν κανόνων κατὰ τὸν 16ον καὶ  17ον αἰῶνα (1531-1672). ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ 21. Kateríni: Epektasis, 2007.
  • Τὸ Πηδάλιον καὶ ἄλλαι ἐκδόσεις ἱερῶν κανόνων κατὰ τὸν 18ον αἰῶνα. ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ 22. Kateríni: Epektasis, 2008.
  • Τὸ Σύνταγμα Ράλλη καὶ Ποτλῆ καὶ ἄλλαι ἐκδόσεις ἱερῶν κανόνων κατὰ τὸν 19ον καὶ 20ον αἰῶνα. ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ 23. Kateríni: Epektasis, 2009.

In the front matter of the concordance there is the following contact information for sending orders to the publishing house which prints the series ΝΟΜΟΚΑΝΟΝΙΚΗ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΘΗΚΗ:

B.P. 14014
GR-115 01
Ampélokipoi, Athènes