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Apostolic Church Directory

APOSTOLIC CHURCH DIRECTORY: A work of Egyptian origin, probably of the third century. It appears in early times to have had no fixed title, although it was generally received as apostolic. The title given above is a translation of that (Apostolische Kirchenordnung) used for it by Bickell, its first modern editor. It professes to have been delivered word for word by the apostles, whose names are given as John, Matthew, Peter, Andrew, Philip, Simon, James, Nathanael, Thomas, Cephas (!), Bartholomew, and Jude, the brother of James. John is represented as the first to speak and, after the apostles, Mary and Martha also say something. The precepts given by the apostles fall into two sections, one dealing with the moral and the other with the ecclesiastical law (chaps. i.-xiv., and xvi.-xxx.). The first part is almost a literal transcription of the Didache (i.-iv. 8), the observations at the close of it are borrowed from the Epistle of Barnabas (xxi. 2-4, xix. 11). The precepts relating to ecclesiastical organization deal with the choice of bishops and with presbyters, lectors, deacons, widows, lay people, and deaconesses. The canon referring to deacons occurs twice, in chaps. xx. and xxii., one being apparently a later insertion.

The work was evidently written for a very small community. It imposes on the clergy limitations in regard to marriage which go far for that period. The section on deaconesses is interesting, in regard to both the foundation and the regulations of the institution. A wider field of activity is assigned to the lector than one is accustomed to; but no minor orders in the later sense are known, nor is there any approach to metropolitan organization. These primitive traits induced Harnack to attempt to distinguish two sources belonging to the second century, represented by chaps. xvi.-xxi., and xxii.-xxviii.; but this is unnecessary, as primitive customs persisted for a long time in certain parts of the Church.

H. Achelis.

Bibliography: Editions from the Greek: J. W. Bickell, Geschichte des Kirchenrechts, i. 87-97, 107-132, 178 sqq., Giessen, 1843; P. de Lagarde, in C. C. J. Bunsen, Christianity and Mankind, vi. 449-460, London, 1854; A. Hilgenfeld, Novum Testamentum extra canonem receptum, part iv., pp. 93-106, Leipsic, 1884; A. Harnack, in TU, ii. 2, pp. 225-237, and ii. 5, pp. 7-31, ib. 1886. Editions from the Coptic: H. Tattam, The Apostolical Constitutions or Canons of the Apostles in Coptic with an Eng. Transl., London, 1848; P. de Lagarde, Ægyptiaca, pp. 239-248, Göttingen, 1883; U. Bouriant, Recueil de travaux v. 202-261, Paris, 1883; consult also Harnack, Litteratur, pp. 451 sqq. and cf. TU, vi. 4, pp. 39 sqq., Leipsic, 1891.

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