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Apostolic Constitutions - Coptic Wiki


A vast canonical and liturgical work circulated in Christian antiquity under this name from the end of the fourth century, but without the name of the author. It is a reworking from several sources, composed by a Syrian. Books 1-6 have as their base the DIDASCALIA, which is here to contemporary institutions, with some of its prescriptions weakened. Book 7 contains three parts: Chapters 1-36 are a development of the DIDACHE; Chapters 33-38 contain five prayers, which were perhaps inspired by Jewish prayers; Chapters 39-45 give a baptismal ritual in which borrowings from the TRADITION can be recognized, here very much developed. The book ends with various appendices in Chapters 46-49.

Book 8 is also composed of three elements: Chapters 1-2 constitute a treatise on the charismata, which must have as its basis the one that preceded the text of the Tradition; Chapters 3- 46 rework the Tradition, except for the ritual of initiation, already given in Book 7; finally, Chapter 47 gives a series of eighty- five canons, in which the author appears to have relied on various sources.

The author seems to have been an Arian, and the work shows clear traces of this. The work must have been compiled after the of in 381, for its eighty-five canons were inspired by it, but before the in the same city in 394, for the latter recalls this work.

The eighty-five canons of Book 8 were circulated in Coptic under the title Canons, and the text has come down to us. The canons were edited by a P. de Lagarde, which was the pseudonym for Paulus Böetticher (1883). They were freely translated into Arabic and form the Canons of the Apostles (canons 1-56 of Book 2, ed. and trans. J. Périer and A. Périer). Without doubt, a Coptic translation existed, for fragments are known (Leipoldt, 1904; Lefort, 1911).

An epitome (abridgment) of Book 8 of the Constitutions had been compiled in Greek, edited as the Constitutions by F. X. Funk (1905, Vol. 2, pp. 72-96). In the Sources chrétiennes edition (Metzger, 1985-1986), this epitome has not appeared. It is taken up in part in the Coptic Ecclesiastical Canons and hence indirectly into Book 2 of the Canons of the .

Some parts of the Constitutions exist also in Arabic translation in the Octateuch of Clement, with an arrangement different from that of the recension.

Finally, Books 1-6 are translated into Arabic and are called Didascalia of the Apostles (Hafiz Dawud, 1924, 1940, and 1968).


  • Funk, F. X. Didascalia et Consititutiones Apostolorum. 2 vols. Paderborn, 1905; repr. Turin, 1959.
  • Hafiz Dawud. Al-Dasquliyyah aw ta‘lim al-rusul. Cairo, 1924; repr. 1940, 1968, and 1975.
  • Lagarde, P. de. “ Canons.” In Aegyptiaca, pp. 208-238. Göttingen, 1883; rep. Osnebrück, 1972. Coptic text without trans.
  • Lefort, L. T. “Note sur le texte des Constitutions apostoliques.” Le Muséon, n.s. 12 (1911):23-24.
  • Leipoldt, J. Saïdische Auszüge aus dem 8. Buche der Apostolischen Konstitutionen. Texte und Untersuchungen, N. F. 11. Leipzig, 1904.
  • Metzger, M. Les Constitutions apostoliques. vols. Sources chretiénnes 320, 329, and 336. Paris, 1985-1987. text with French trans.
  • Périer, A., and J. Périer. Les “cent-vingt-sept canons des apôtres.” PO8. pt 4, pp. 664-93. Paris, 1912.
  • Reidel, W. Die Kirchenrechtsquellen des Patriarchats Alexandrien. Leipzig, 1900; repr. Aalen, 1968.