I have recently finished the first four parts of The History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law to 1500 which treat Byzantine canon law (the last part treat non-Byzantine Oriental canon law) and will attempt to write a short review of the work.

W. Hartmann and K. Pennington, eds. History of Byzantine and Eastern Canon Law. Washington, DC: CUA Press, 2012, 356 pages. The book is a part of the series History of Medieval Canon Law.

The contributions are written by experts from various countries and then translated into English. The book contains the following contributions:

  1. S. Wessel, “The Formation of Ecclesiastical Law in the Early Church”.
  2. H. Ohme, “Sources of the Greek Canon Law to the Quinisext Council (691/692): Councils and Church Fathers”.
  3. S. Troianos, “Byzantine Canon Law to 1100”.
  4. S. Troianos, “Byzantine Canon Law from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Centuries”.
  5. H. Kaufhold, “Sources of Canon Law in the Eastern Churches”.

The contributions are well-researched and contain valuable references to editions and scholarly literature. The translations are, however, somewhat uneven and sometimes a bit sloppy (especially the second chapter by Troianos).

Wessel’s chapter deals with the origin of canon law and the development of church order up to the first ecumenical council of Nicaea (325). The relationship between the Torah and the church is treated, especially the eschatological re-interpretation of the Torah in Early Christianity. She focuses on the institutionalization of authority and organizational development of the church. Her chapter also deals with the development of the notions of normativity and legitimacy in the church order.

Ohme’s chapter deals mostly with the corpus canonum until the Quinisext council. He provides a short account of the various councils which issued the conciliar canons of the corpus canonum and the authors of the patristic canons. One major drawback with this chapter is that the issues of the dates of the various councils are treated in a very unsatisfactory manner and in many cases omitted; it is remarkable, considering that Ohme is an expert on the Quinisext council, that he does not write anything about the arguments concerning the date of the Quinisext council.

The two chapters by Troianos are very similar to the corresponding chapters in his ΟΙ ΠΗΓΕΣ ΤΟΥ ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΝΟΥ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ. His chapters focus on the collections of canons which were used in the canonical praxis and transmitted the sources of canon law. Apart from the canonsTroianos also treats imperial legislation on church matters (“Staatskirchenrecht”). The second chapter also treats the classic Byzantine canonists and Byzantine ecclesiastical jurisprudence.

David Heith-Stade

Lund University