Council of Laodicea

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The Council of Laodicea was a regional synod of approximately 30 clerics from Anatolia, (now modern Turkey). It took place around 363-364 A.D., during the close of a 26 year Roman war with Persia.

Contents

Historical context

Rome's war with Persia had continued under Augustus Julian, who died of battle wounds on the last campaign on June 26, 363. Officers of the army elected his successor, Jovian, on the battle field. Julian, the last non-Christian ruler of Rome, was the last direct line descendant of Constantine, the first Christian ruler of Rome. During Julian's rule, the Christian desecration of pagan temples and persecution of pagans in general was replaced by a return to the persecution of Christians and an attempted revival of paganism.

Left in a precarious position far from supplies, Jovian ended the war with Persia unfavorably for Rome. Both he, and Valentinian, who soon succeeded him after his brief 8 month rule that ended on February 17, 364, professed the Nicene creed. Valentinian named his brother Valens, also a Christian, Co-Augustus. As the ruler of the eastern part of the empire, Valens worked to solve the theological problems that arose during Julian's non-Christian reign. During this turbulent time, west of the major battle sites of that war, clerics assembled in Laodicea, Phrygia Pacatiana (now Denizli, Turkey).

Major concerns

The major concerns of the Council involved constricting the conduct of church members. The Council expressed its decrees in the form of written rules or canons. Among the 59 or 60 canons decreed, several aimed at:

  1. Limiting the privileges of neophytes,
  2. Limiting duties of lesser clergy,
  3. Limiting any dealings with anything heretical,
  4. Limiting Judaizing among Christians.

This last one, canon 29, included no more resting on the Sabbath (Saturday), but restricted Christians to honoring the Lord on Sunday even though canon 16 says the Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath. The Council of Chalcedon in 451 approved the canon of this council, making these canon ecumenical.

Biblical Canon

There was some confusion about the number of canons decreed by the Council. The 59th canon restricted the readings in church to only the Canonical Books of the Old and New Testaments. The 60th listed the Biblical canon, only omitting the Apocalypse of John. This 60th canon is missing from some manuscripts containing decrees of the council, giving rise to the impression that the 60th canon was added later. Such a list would be required in order to obey the 59th canon, so adding such a list, if absent, would be helpful. Cyril of Jerusalem circa 350 produced a list matching that from the Council of Laodicea.

External links

Pages with complete lists of the 60 Canon:

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