1902 Encyclopedia > Apostolic Constitutions

Apostolic Constitutions

APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS are a collection of eight books of directions and prescriptions on ecclesiastical and theological matters, for which apostolic origin and authority have frequently been claimed. It is probable that the first six books form the earliest part of the whole, and it is certain that they were known and quoted as a separate treatise, under the title ______; the seventh book was also separately known, and in many parts bears a curious resemblance to the Epistle of St Barnabas ; the eighth is also an independent work, and is more legislative than the others. Historians have differed as to the first mention of the collection. Some, without much warrant, think that the work is mentioned by Euse-bius and Athanasius, under the title _____; while others, with more justice, think that it is not alluded to by any well-known writer until Epiphanius (d. 402), quotes it under the name _____. It was well known in the 6th and 7th centuries. The book as a whole has never been received as an authority in the church, and its influence has been greater in the East than in the West. The prin-cipal defenders of its apostolic origin and authority have been such English Episcopalian writers as Stapleton, Whiston, and Pearson.

See Whiston, Primitive Christianity Revived, 1711 ; Baur, Ueber der Ursprung des Episcopats in der Christlichen Kirche.
(T. M. L.)

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