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Canon law touches on every area of Orthodox Church life, including Ecclesiology, Liturgy, and Ethics. Although generally referred to as canon law, it is more correctly referred to in the Orthodox community as the tradition of the holy canons. This law, the canonical tradition, involves persons who are invested with authority (such as bishops) enabled with the means of creating, formulating, interpreting, executing, validating, amending and revoking these laws through synodical or conciliar action.
The Didache, or Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.
The 85 Canons of the Holy and Altogether August Apostles, plus the Canons of the First through Fourth Ecumenical Councils (see links further down this page) constitute what is known as "The Rudder."
The Ecumenical Councils
The First Ecumenical Council
The First Council of Nice A.D. 325, called by Emperor Constantine, Pope Silvester. The council met to deal with the schism created by Arianism. The Arians wished to avoid the heresy of Sabellius who believed in a divine monad which, by expansion, projected itself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit—a form of Modalism. The Arians separated the Son from God entirely so that they believed he was a creature having a beginning. "There was when he was not." The Son was but God's first creation, yet out of nothing and hence has preeminence over the rest of creation. The symbol answers the question, "Who is Jesus Christ"? Its answer: God.
The Canons of the Councils of Ancyra, Gangra Neocaesarea
The Canons of Antioch and Laodicea
These Canons were accepted and received by the Ecumenical Synods - The Provincial Synods
Council of Sardica
343 A.D. Canon V. Sardica was the first synod which asserted, in some sense, Roman primacy in the Church.
The Second Ecumenical Council
The First Council of Constantinople A.D. 381, Emperor Theodosius, Pope Damasus.
The Third Ecumenical Council
The Council of Ephesus A.D. 431, Emperors Theodosius II And Valentinian III, Pope Celestine I
The Fourth Ecumenical Council
The Council of Chalcedon A.D. 451, Emperors Marcian and Pulcheria (in the East) and Valentinian III. (in the West), Pope Leo I.
The Fifth Ecumenical Council
The Second Council of Constantinople A.D. 553, Emperor Justinian I, Pope Vigilius
The Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople
553 A.D. Also known as the The Capitula of the Council.
The Sixth Ecumenical Council
The Third Council of Constantinople A.D. 680-681, Emperor Constantine Pogonatus, Pope Agatho I
The Canons of the Council in Trullo
Often Called the Quinisext Council, A.D. 692.
The Canons of the Synods of Sardica, Carthage, Constantinople, and Carthage
These canons were received by the council in Trullo and ratified by the Seventh Ecumenical Council.
The Seventh Ecumenical Council
The Second Council of Nice A.D. 787, Emperors Constantine VI And Irene, Pope Hadrian
The So-Called “Eighth General Council” and Subsequent Councils
Canons and Rulings Not Having Conciliar Origin
But approved by name in Canon II of the Synod in Trullo.
Articles and Books on Orthodox Canon Law
- N. Athanasiev. "The Canons of the Church: Changeable or Unchangeable?" St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, 11 (1967), pp. 54-68.
- John H. Erickson, The Challenge of Our Past: Studies in Orthodox Canon Law and Church History.Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991. ISBN 978-0881410860.
- Archbishop Peter L'Huillier, The Church of the Ancient Councils: The Disciplinary Work of the First Four Ecumenical Councils. Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0881410075.
- Lewis J. Patsavos. The Canon Law of the Orthodox Catholic Church (Mimeographed Notes). Brookline, MA.: Holy Cross Bookstore, 1975.
- Lewis J. Patsavos, Spiritual Dimensions of the Holy Canons. Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1885652683.
- Henry R. Percival, Ed. The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church: Their Canons and Dogmatic Decrees, Together with the Canons of All the Local Synods Which Have Received Ecumenical Acceptance. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1956.
- Panteleimon Rodopoulos and George Dion Dragas, Ed. An Overview of Orthodox Canon Law. Orthodox Research Institute, 2007. ISBN 978-1933275154.
- Patrick Viscuso, Orthodox Canon Law: A Casebook for Study. InterOrthodox Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1932401103.
- The Stand of the Orthodox Church on Controversial Issues by Stanley Harakas
- B. Archondonis. "A Common Code for the Orthodox Churches," Kanon I (1973), pp. 45-53.
- The Theology of Oikonomia and Its Implications for Sacramental and Ecumenical Perspectives by Sabu John
- The Canonical Tradition of the Orthodox Church by Lewis Patsavos
- The Russian Canonical Territory - some comments from an Orthodox historico-canonical perspective
- Studies in Roman and Byzantine Law - an index of articles in this journal is available online
Parallels in other religious groups
- Byzantine Catholic canon law - Code of Canons for the Oriental Churches
- Roman Catholic - Catholic Encyclopedia article on Canon Law (outdated, but informative)
- In Judaism, see w:Halakha
- In Islam, see w:Sharia, w:Fatwa, and w:Fiqh