Economy in the Tradition of the Orthodox Church

There is no doubt that there exists in our days a certain interest concerning the idea of “economy” beyond the circle of specialists of canon law, more so in the Orient than the Occident. This notion is sometimes considered as essential for the comprehension of the praxis of the Orthodox Church. However, it appears that interpretations are imposed concerning the nature of Economy itself, and further, it’s field of application.

Translated by monk Savvatii








There is no doubt that there exists in our days a certain interest concerning the idea of “economy” beyond the circle of specialists of canon law, more so in the Orient than the Occident. This notion is sometimes considered as essential for the comprehension of the praxis of the Orthodox Church. However, it appears that interpretations are imposed concerning the nature of Economy itself, and further, it’s field of application. Divergent opinions have been expressed concerning this subject; they are repeated elsewhere.[1] The consensus, in which it concerns the definition of Economy in the domain of canon law, hardly goes beyond the following affirmation: the Greek term “oikonomia” is employed with a certain canonical connotation signifying a derogation of the norm, or more precisely, an ecclesiastical attitude implying the concrete possibility to apply such a measure. It is in the problems related to sacred theology that the differences in assessment appear to be more glaring. Going to the extreme, the alternative presents itself in these terms: does economy posses a real creative potential or is it good that this potential is not “sanatio in randice”? The orthodox doctrine is clearly ready-made according to the fact that the church is the dispenser (“tamioyxoc”) of divine grace. But the church is like the body of which Christ is the head.[2] This wants to say that the members of the body, while assuming responsibility for direction, evidently do not have power to reverse ecclesiastical order.


In order to frame this correctly so that it can be applied to Oikonomia, it is necessary to have first a precise idea of what the norms are. To proceed in any other methodological plan will be like to say in French “to put the cart before the bulls.” But that certainly is not an easy task, because orthodox canonical law does not present itself in the form of a code comprised of laws which we know for certain to be current, and which would cover disciplinary matters as a whole. It is a stratified corpus with a blurry outline. Many canons are being summoned in connection with precise problems. Their actual meaning is not often detected to the measure that we understand their historical context. The historian of ecclesiastical institutions notices that certain canons are being misinterpreted more than a century after their publication.[3] On the other hand, in the Byzantine Orient during the middle ages, there were many controversies concerning the interpretation of this or that canon.[4] Even the canons that indubitably constitute permanent laws—and, while still not having been discussed—must not be applied without taking into consideration other more explicit canonical resolutions. Thus the first canon of the collection called “of the Holy Apostles” must be included together with canons 4 and 6 of Nicea, 19 of Antioch, 12 of Laodicaea and 2 of Constantinople.


In mentioning the difficulties of finding the norms, we do not at all mean to pretend that this makes an insurmountable obstacle. We want to keep guard against a simple approach toward the question.


Many canons, we can say, are decisions adopted in relation to concrete problems which appeared. But these decisions were adopted in reference to a system of criteria. This is in the sense that the fathers of the first ecumenical council speak of the “kanjn ekklhsiastikoc” or simply the “kanjn.”[5] It acts as the ecclesiastical norm transmitted by tradition and not as a rule of written law, which at the time of Nicea was only just being formed. Speaking of Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria in the middle of the third century (265/65), Saint Basil qualified him as a “kanonikoc,” that is to say, “versed in the understanding of the canons.”[6] It was quite clear in the mind of the Bishop of Caesarea, expressing himself regarding a holy person of the 3rd century, that the knowledge of the canons could not in any way be brought to order of written law.


Here it is advisable to remember that in the ancient church there existed a profoundly deep conviction of mind that, if not in its details, at least in general terms, the rules determining the life and organization of the church go back to the beginning of Christianity. This is why all the liturgical-disciplinary writings of the first centuries are presented as “apostolic.” The term more current is the pseudepigraphy: The Diadach of the Apostles, the Didascalia of the Apostles, the Ecclesiastical Canons of the Holy Apostles, the Apostolic Constitutions, and the 85 canons of the Holy Apostles.[7] It is again more significant to observe that the “Apostolic Tradition” compiled at the beginning of the third century does not use the fiction of being written by the Apostles themselves. The author, probably Hippolyte of Rome, has the sense to express in his work the tradition of the primitive Church in the liturgical-disciplinary domain.[8] When in the fourth century there appeared an authoritative written law in the form of synodal stipulations, the Fathers that edited those rules did not have the intention to create a “jus novum” by substituting the previous law of custom. What they meant to do was to recall the ecclesiastical norms where deviations had been introduced[9], and to consecrate the ancient customs[10] , or again to render more precise the function of existing institutions.[11] The stipulations adopted in response to concrete problems which involve ecclesiology and sacramental theology suppose positions of principle on the part of the Fathers of Nicea and are easily discerned. Thus, the Novationists are admitted into the Church without being subject to re-baptism, although this is required for the reception of Paulianists.[12] However, we know that the latter used a correct rite for baptism, but their Trinitarian doctrine was gravely deficient, which was not the case with the Novationists, as Socrates clearly attested to in his ecclesiastical History.[13] On the other hand, the stipulations of the Nicene fathers in regards to the integration of the Novationist clergy contained a disposition aimed at protecting the unity of the episcopal jurisdiction at the local level.[14] In the grave controversy that shook the Church in the proceeding century in regards to the re-baptism of dissidents, the divergences moved themselves to the level of the norms, namely the link between the Church and the Christian initiation, as well as the value of customs. Saint Cyprian had the conviction that to re-baptise heretics and schismatics was guarded “veritatem et firmitatem catholicae regulae,”[15] while the Pope defended the contrary position by leaning on the adage “…nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est.”[16] We find no trace in Saint Cyprian of the idea in which the matter of utilitas Ecclesiae could lead to admit exceptions. Let us note that if there was a complete disagreement on what the norm should be in this instance, all agreed when it came to the existence of a norm that suffered no dispensation.


The council of Arles in 314 adopted a position with more nuances. It disapproved of re-baptism in general of dissidents but it did not line up as much with the position which seems to be that of Pope Innocent sixteen years before, that heretics supporting an erroneous doctrine about the Holy Trinity must be baptized.[17] As we have seen, the Fathers of the first ecumenical council, without discussing the question ex professo, situated themselves in the same perspective. The decisions adopted or confirmed at the subsequent ecumenical councils show their own worry to distinguish the dissidents in categories as for modes of reception into the Church.[18] So in ancient Christianity there was always a clear consciousness of constant imperatives concerning the ecclesiastic discipline. As a measure that developed written law, it is certain that there was a particular tendency to consider this as the direct source of norms and not only as their expression. In this respect the semantic evolution of the term “canon” is striking. From the sense of the norm of ecclesiastic praxis, we go towards the end of the fourth century to the sense of the rule of written law.[19] In the context of this evolution the new connotation will be sketched out in certain terms.


The idea of Acribie applied to canon law also tends to take a technical sense. It is true to say that this semantic fixation will be obvious. Properly speaking, it is not a matter of real evolution in meaning, but rather in specialization. “Akribeia” always signifies in Greek “precision, exact observance.” Already Isocrates speaks of “Akribeia nomjn.”[20] In the book of Acts, Saint Paul declares that earlier he was educated in the strict observance (“kata akribeian”) of the Law of the Fathers.[21]


In the whole first phase of written law, right after its emergence, acribia indicated only a severe attitude that does not necessarily identify with ecclesiastical norm. So, the Fathers of the council of Ancyra in 314 blame this as being “with excesses of severity (perissoterac akribeiac eneken”) or from ignorance.”[22] While explaining their attitude of relative indulgence toward Melitios, the Fathers of Nicea make remarks that, according to strict reason (“kata gar ton akribh logon”), this does not merit any indulgence.[23] Through Saint Basil, the term “kanjn” designates the whole rule clearly established and received in the Church. Acribie is the strict observance of such rules.[24] Evidently, it is possible to find in the canonical literature of this time the substantive “akribeia” and other words of the same root with the banal sense of meticulous examination. In the preface of the first series of responses by Amphilochius, Basil speaks of concern for the exactitude (“h peri to akribec merimna”) that he was looking for. Some lines further down he declares to have examined the questions posed with meticulousness (“episkefasvai akribjc”).[25] In the same manner, Saint Gregory of Nyssa, while dealing with certain penitents, writes that it is necessary to question them with care (“di akribeiac”).[26] It is clear for Saint Basil that when there is a canon, that is to say, a well defined and accepted ecclesiastical rule, we must submit ourselves to it exactly. He employs a very strong expression: “doyleyein akribeia kanonjn.”[27] An unknown author of canon 47 attributed to Saint Basil wished that a grand council would come together to fix the norm (“ton kanona”), while seeing the divergences of practice in the Church concerning re-baptism.[28]


Besides well defined rules, there is a somewhat fluid domain of customs. Thus a conscientious bishop must know what is a matter of Acribie and what is a matter of custom, “…ta thc akribeiac kai ta thc synhveiac”.[29] It is incontestable that for Saint Basil, the “Canons” are intrinsically just. They reflect through ecclesiastical decision the divine will; this is why their exact observance is imposed. This is not an original idea for the bishop of Caesarea. This concept was held by the whole Church of this epoch.[30] Custom was not assumed to be an authority on its own. Saint Basil, for example, accepted custom but he occasionally insinuated that it is not necessary in the logic of the gospel. Thus, he considers it to be normal that men and women be treated in the same manner when it comes to divorce.[31] Nevertheless, in absence of a “canon,” custom serves as a useful reference in ecclesiastical practice.[32] Since it is founded on faith with reason and holy tradition, it can be considered as a reliable law valid everywhere.[33] In the ancient canonical literature, the terms “synhveia,” “evoc,” relate more often to legitimate customs that must be so maintained. This is the sense in canons 6, 7, 18 of Nicea and 2 of Constantinople; however the details given in these texts show clearly that the employed terms have in themselves a neutral significance.[34] But there are also bad usages which must be eradicated.[35]


The prescriptions of ecclesiastical law, in its first phase of elaboration, does not ignore the possibility of a softening of the penitential norms in favor of certain categories of sins manifesting sincere repentance. The general orientation of ecclesiastical discipline in the fourth century consisted of a rejection of laxism, or as it is also considered, everyone avoided a merciless rigorism. The canons that have in view the eventual pardon anticipated by the epitimias recognize the competence of the local bishops in this matter.[36] Calling to mind the full reintegration after a time of penitence to the ecclesiastical community of Christians who actively participated in a pagan festival, the Fathers of the council of Ancyra specify: “when it comes to knowing if they should be admitted to the oblation, it is for each bishop to test and examine the life of each.”[37] A margin of liberty is also accorded to local bishops concerning the status of dissident clerics after their integration into the catholic Church.[38] However, we should be careful not to misunderstand the freedom enjoyed by the bishops. On the one hand, they were bound to follow the customs of their own local church, and they also found themselves more and more bound by the provincial synodal decisions, as well as the regional and general councils. On the other hand, in the spirit of a law understood as expressing the divine will, the non-respect of the essential norms was felt to be a form of sacrilege. Indulgence and compassion inexorably stop at this point. Besides, still in this understanding, to cross over this limit would be to commit a “praqic akyroc” (actus irritus). For example, the council of Ancyra, dealing with the case of priests who had a moment of weakness during persecution but immediately repented, decrees that they will enjoy the honor to sit with the other priests, but would from now on neither offer the eucharist, nor preach, nor perform any function proper to the priesthood.[39] The underlying idea was that for their apostasy, itself morally redeemed by their subsequent courageous attitude, they have lost sacerdotal grace. Another example of the end of condescension at the threshold of the purely sacerdotal domain is given us as a response from Basil to Amphilochius. It appears useful to us to quote in full ad litteram: “in regards to a priest who engages in an illicit marriage without his knowledge, I decide that he needs to do this: he will have his part of his office (presbyterial) but he must abstain from all the other functions, pardon being enough for such a person. Blessing another person when he has to look after his own proper wounds is inconsequential, since the blessing is a communication of sanctification. Since he did not posses this in the past because he lost it in ignorance, how can he communicate it to others? So he does not bless neither in public nor in private, and does not distribute to others the body of Christ; nor can he accomplish any other liturgical function, but he will be content with precedence and he will beseech the Savior with tears for pardon of the iniquity he committed in ignorance.”[40] This does not have to be a personal opinion of Saint Basil or even the view of a restrained ecclesiastical group. The rule will be taken word for word three centuries later by the fathers of the council of Trullo, who add only a jurisdictional detail designed so: “it is evident that this illicit marriage will be dissolved and the man will no more have any relationship with her because of whom he was deprived of the sacred ministry.”[41]


Commenting on the text of Saint Basil, Balsamon makes a remark that the occurrence of the merciful attitude of the Church—the exact term employed is “pardon” (syggnjmh)—consists in the fact that such a priest has the permission of precedence with the other priests and that, for the other part, he does not receive a specific sanction concerning illicit marriages.[42] It can be objected anyway that the exclusion of a sacerdotal minister constitutes in itself an already severe punishment for an involuntary fault. Further more, an adage of canon law is that two punishments cannot be imposed for one offence.[43] But this manner of reasoning would lead us astray, since the disposition is not regarded as an act of punishment, but only the ascertaining of incapacity resulting from the absence of sacerdotal grace. We are very far here from the scholastic doctrine of “ex opere operato.” We can find up to now a significant echo of the ancient sacramental tradition in this exclamation by the bishop during the ordination of a deacon: “This is not in effect from the imposition of our hands but by the visit (en th episkoph) of your rich mercies of grace which are given to those who are worthy of You.”[44] It is in this perspective that there must be included the canons 9 and 10 of Nicea since the other similar canons relate to irregularities in the exercise of the priesthood.[45] These questions concern ecclesiastical affairs (les “oikonomiai ekklesiastikai,” as it is also said[46]), the point in consideration being that exceptional situations can justify a certain flexibility, but this must never affect the fundamental principles of ecclesial ordinances. They mention for example canon 18 of Antioch where they deal with the status of bishops who for a good reason can not return to their diocese: they retain their dignity and honor which is attached to them but they may not immerse themselves in the affairs of the Churches on the territory where they are provisionally located. Furthermore, the interpretation of certain facts in the sense of a derogation of the norm needs attentive examination. We need to insure in which manner these and those rules were understood. And so we have Saint Basil’s position, vigilant guardian of the discipline of Nicea[47], in regards to the transfer of bishop Euphronius. We will have to revisit this matter where the term and notion of “economia” is implied by the bishop of Caesarea.[48] It is clear that in the conception of law in the ancient Church, exceptions of the norm were not considered acceptable unless they reflected the divine Will in certain circumstances. For example, canon 80 of the Holy Apostles prohibits the rapid promotion of a novice to the episcopate, but the following correction is often inserted: “…unless it happens by divine grace.” We can call to mind in this regard the celebrated case of Ambrose of Milan and Nectary of Constantinople. This is in a similar frame of thought as is understood in an opinion expressed by Timothy, bishop of Alexandria (380-395), who enjoyed a great reputation in canonical matters. The question asked is the following: “if a catechumen, a child of around seven years, or even an adult, witnesses the Eucharist offering that takes place somewhere, and without realizing what he is doing communicates of it, what should be done with him?” The response is categorical: “he must be baptized, since this is by God and He has called him.”[49] We note that this sign of a divine calling and reception of the Eucharist does not at all lead to a dispensation of baptism in sense or in form. We do not find a trace in the canonical dossiers of the Church any acts of dispensations that replace the sacraments. All to the contrary, canon 72 of Carthage, repeated in canon 84 of the council of Trullo, prescribes the baptism of children if there is no absolute certainty of a previous baptism. The non-repetition of baptism of many categories of dissidents, during their entry into the Catholic Church, depends on objective data, which allow or not the practice of “sanatio in radice.”


Certain formulas used by Saint Basil in his responses to Amphilochius are sometimes misinterpreted. It is true that in this case the wording is not simple. This comes in the first place from the fact that we do not have the text of questions posed by the bishop of Iconium. This is why certain allusions appearing in the answers are not clear to us. On the other hand, where Basil refers to Cyprian and Firmilian, he seems to mention their opinions rather than his own.[50] It is undeniable that the rigorist position seems to him worthy of consideration. Let us not forget his profound respect, in matters of discipline, for the “mos maiorum” of the plan of local churches; However, Firmilian had been his distant predecessor on the seat of Caesarea. Nevertheless the thought of Basil does not find itself in the line of thought of Cyprian. Saint Basil established distinctions between heretics and schismatics, and he draws out the practical consequences concerning the manner by which they need to be received into the Church.[51] For Saint Cyprian and those who share his views, the distinction between heretics and schismatics does not lead to the consequence of: “dicimus omnes omnino haereticos et schismaticos hihil habere potestatis et iuris.”[52] Since there is absolute nullity of baptism, in other words non-existence, no validation is conceivable. The premise of reason flowed unavoidably from the conclusion.


For Saint Basil, on the other hand, there was a great difference between heretics and schismatics. The first are completely separated from the Church since they are strangers to its faith while the second remain in a certain way attached to the Church.[53] According to Saint Basil, tradition absolutely rejects baptism conferred by heretics (“panteljc avethsai”), while the baptism of schismatics is accepted (“paradeqasvai”). The position of principle was clear but difficulties arose when it was to be applied to certain groups. Opinions varied according to places or more exactly according to regions.[54]


The jurisdiction of the historical-canonical data of the position of principle as expressed by Saint Basil is very largely accepted in the Orient. Besides, he himself maintained regarding this to be following ecclesiastical Tradition. However, his terminology relative to different categories of dissidence (Heresies, Schisms properly so called and Parasynagogues) are not found throughout all canonical documents. Therefore the fathers of the council of Constantinople in 382 go as far as officially declaring, “we call heretics those who have been excluded for a long time from the Church and those who after this have been anathematized by us, as well as those who claim to profess a sound faith but have separated themselves from the bishops in communion with us and hold separate assemblies.”[55]


The tendency of considering all heterodox in the same way was not so evident during all of the Byzantine era, and subsequently appears as a sporadic phenomenon to become in the eighteenth century the norm of the Greek Orient.[56] In the plan of praxis, we interpret “acribeia” as implying reiteration of any sacramental act outside of the Orthodox Church. At the same time we leave the door open for a more relaxed attitude in the possible application of “oikonomia.” This comprehension of Acribie and Economy is largely popularized by the success of the Pidalion.[57] Nevertheless the details that Saint Nicodim the Hagiorite is less likely to share are opinions of certain contemporaries concerning the quasi-unlimited possibilities for the application of Economy. It needs to be noted about this: “Exei metra kai oria, kai den einai pantotinh.”[58]


Having reached this point of our account, a brief glimpse is necessary of the history of the Greek term “oikonomia,” especially in relation with its employment in canon law. Specialists of linguistics warn researchers for good reasons against over-evaluation of the contribution provided by etymology.[59] Yet, in its occurrence, this element will not be neglected. The word itself designates the function of the “oikonomoc,” meaning the management of the affairs of a house. “Oikonomoc” comes from the verb “oikonomeo-j,” itself shaped from the substantive “oikoc” and the verb “nemj”. The proper sense of the term “oikonomia” exists in the Hellenic language and notably the New Testament. Thus we read in a parable of Jesus given by Saint Luke, “apodoc ton logon thc oikonomiac soy.”[60] The Apostle Paul uses the term in the figurative sense to indicate the charge to announce the gospel that the Savior gave him.[61] Already in classical Greek, there is a sense derived of “plan,” “disposition,” or the application made in the Paulian corpus of God’s plan for the salvation of Humanity.[62] There will consequently be no surprise to find this term often in liturgical texts.[63] In the Byzantine epoch the word “oikonomia” will be used in a canonical context to designate a flexible attitude, while the theological connotation is not absent. The condescension of competent ecclesiastical authority is implicitly justified, or even explicitly as a reflection of divine clemency.[64] It must be first observed that the term “oikonomia” indicating a bending of the strict rules is absent in most of the ancient canonical literature. The fathers of the councils of Ancyra and NeoCaesarea, in reference to a softening of the penitential rules, employ the term “filanvrjpia” or words with the same root.[65]


The mitigation of canonical sanctions, the anticipated eventual lifting of epitimias, or even the measures constituting an exception to the norm by reason of circumstances, are more often described without being qualified by a particular vocabulary. Thus, for example, canon 12 of NeoCaesarea stipulates: “He who is baptized during a sickness may not accede to the priesthood, since his profession of faith is not the result of a voluntary decision but from necessity, unless immediately after, he shows his zeal for the faith, and there is a lack of candidates (dia spanin anvrjpjn).[66]


The same conclusions can be made very accurately by reading the canons decreed by the council of Nicea. In it we find for the eventual anticipated lifting of penances terms of the root “filanvrjpia.”[67] The rather conciliatory measures in regard to the Novationists and Paulianists are described without being qualified by a particular word.[68] The decision concerning Melitios is said to have been inspired by a spirit of humanity (“filanvrjpoteron kinhveishc ths Synodoy”).[69]


The verb “oikonomein,” as well as the substantive “oikonomoc” and “oikonomia,” is found very frequently in the canonical literature of the fourth century, but their sense rests very near to the first meaning or the sense immediately derived by semantics. If the concrete substantive “econome” is not used for the bishop in the canonical texts, it is explained by the desire to avoid confusion. In fact, it seemed good very early on that the bishop be assisted in the management of goods in the diocese by a cleric having the title of econome.[70] On the other hand, the participle verbal substantive is used to indicate the bishops. Thus the council in Constantinople in 382 speaks of those who raise accusations “kata tjn oikonomoyntjn tac Ekklhsiac.”[71] The verb itself is normally used to indicate the exercise of the Episcopal function. There is in this case the same meaning as “dioikein.” In canon 2 of Constantinople in 381, the two verbs are alternately employed for purely stylistic reasons: the bishop of Alexandria must alone manage (“oikonomein”) the affairs of Egypt; those of the diocese of the Orient must manage (“dioikein”) those of that region; those of Asia must manage (“dioikein”) those of this diocese and those of Pont, those of Pont. Those of Thrace must manage (“oikonomein”) those of the diocese of Thrace. As we see, the usage of these two different verbs resulted in effect from rhetoric. This is a grammatical construction in the form of chiasm.


In classic Greek, the verb already has a meaning derived from “distribute,” “organize,” from which comes their canonical use to indicate the nature and duration of penances, in other words, to “fix the terms.” The verb “oikonomein” is frequently used in the series of canons 56 to 74 of Saint Basil, which are in fact a reproduction with some modifications of the Kanonikon of Palladios of Aramea. This utilization of the verb leaves traces until the middle ages. For example, in the 11th century Nicetas Stethatos writes: “kata thn tjn kanonjn oikonomoymen akribeian.”[72]


The correct determination of the meaning of the substantive “oikonomia” in the canonical texts of the fourth century must be sought while considering the different ways the verb is employed. If we neglect this connection we risk making serious errors. Obsessed by the subsequently acquired technical sense “derogation of the norm,” the texts of the fourth century have often been read with the anachronic semantic presuppositions.


“Oikonomia” can have a literal and a banal meaning of “economic-financial management.”[73]


In relation to penance, the term brings itself back to its modality of application without being tied in the least to mitigation of the punishment incurred.[74] Saint Gregory of Nyssa writes: “ One of the elements that contribute to the good celebration of the great solemnity (Pascha), is knowing the legitimite and canonical manner of behaving  (thn ennomon te kai kanonikhn oikonomian) towards those who have committed transgressions.”[75] We notice in Saint Gregory of Nyssa that the softening of the penitential rules is explained by the traditional terms of “filanvropia,” “simperifora,” and “sygkatabasic.”[76] The more standard sense is “administration of ecclesiastical affairs,” “ecclesiastical discipline,” concrete decisions concerning the affairs of the Church. The most well known text and the one that does not lead to uncertainty is canon 2 of the above mentioned council of Constantinople in 381, where it says, “if they are not invited, let bishops not go out of a diocese for a chirotonie or for some other ecclesiastical act (h tisin allaic oikonomiaic ekklhsiastikaic).


We come to a controversial question: Saint Basil died two years before the reunion of the council of 381, did he use the term economy in the sense of a derogation of a strict rule? We notice that this is an opinion almost universally admitted, yet it seems doubtful to us. We note first that the bishop of Caesarea never turns to the antithesis “akribeia – oikonomia.” For Basil, the alternative is posed between “ta thc akribeiac” and “ta thc synhveiac.”[77] It is true to say that it acts rather as a complement than an opposition. It is advisable to follow the local custom in absence of a universally accepted decision.[78]


Oikonomia, for Saint Basil, is an ecclesiastical disposition leading back most often to a concrete hierarchal act, be it the general ordering of the life of the church. The given sense is a function of the immediate context. It is well evident that for the bishop of Caesarea, “Economy” is not a term unequivocally related to a precise category of canon law. While writing about the clerics of Colonia, who’s bishop came to be transferred to the seat of Nicopolis, he affirmed that this is a “good decision (“oikonomia kalh”), which shows well that the term “oikonomia” does not necessarily have an implicit connotation as good and just act.[79] In this case the decision is good because it was made “by those to whom was entrusted the management of the churches” (“para tjn oikonomein tac Ekklhsiac pepisteymenjn”). Further on he observes that the decision taken by the bishops “conforms to the will of God.”[80] He uses the same language towards the civilian authorities of the city who are moved by this transfer.[81]


Assuredly, if we are influenced by the later technical usage of the term “oikonomia,” we can hear it with this meaning in the two letters already mentioned above. Does Basil not himself admit that the measure imposed is in fact difficult for the time?[82] On the other hand, was it not an exception to the ecclesiastical norm? Only thus, Saint Basil makes no allusions to such a norm, the application of which we would have exceptionally suspended. If the clerics and notables of the city had had recourse to this juridical argument, does it seem conceivable that Saint Basil, a fine connoisseur of the canons, could totally neglect to respond to this point? Without doubt, the bishop of Caesarea understands the rules that oppose the transfer of bishops and clerics in the sense that together corresponds to the intention of the legislation. The latter does not aim directly at just any transfer. It condemns those that leave their own place to occupy another that is considered better.[83] As Hosius of Cordoba ironically remarks in the council of Sardica, “… there is no bishop until now who would transfer from an important city to a another less important one.”[84]


Canons 1 and 47, drawn respectively from the letters 188 and 199, both addressed to Amphilochius of Iconium, are often regarded as essential for the comprehension of the idea of Economy by Saint Basil and in oriental Christianity of that time. Maybe we have not prepared sufficient attention to the fact that the particular interest born by these canons is relatively recent in the history of the Orthodox Church. It probably began to develop in the 18th century in connection with the controversies regarding baptism of the Occidentals.[85] We have seen since then the justification to resort to the circumstances of Economy or Acribia in reiteration or not of the baptism of dissidents.[86] This interest contrasts with the attitude regarding these two canons explained by the great commentators of Byzantium Zonaras and Balsamon. Both one and the other underline that these two canons are an expression of one particular opinion that must prevail in the regulation decreed by the two general councils because it is later and especially because it has an ecumenical authority.[87] Balsamon goes so far as to write concerning canon 47, in giving the reasons mentioned above, that an explanation is not necessary and it goes back to canon 7 of the second general council.[88] In his commentary of canon 1, Zonaras uses only one time the word “oikonomia,” but uniquely as a summary of the contents of the text itself.[89] He does not pick up a trace of the word “oikonomia” in the commentary of canon 1 by Balsamon. This total absence of it is indicated very well in the latter and in Zonaras in their respective commentaries of canon 47. What does Aristene say in his interpretation of these two canons? For him, it is obvious that the interest in canon 1 lays in its classification of dissidents into three categories: Heretics, schismatics and insubordinates (“parasynagjgoi”). The first are received into the church through baptism, the second through unction of myrrh, and the third are reconciled by penitence.[90] The term “oikonomia” appears one time in the brief edition of canon 1 of Saint Basil, according to the text of “the Epitome canonum” commented on by Aristene.[91] On the other hand the term has two revivals in its explanation of canon 47. Saint Basil has previously accepted on the grounds of Economy (“kata logon oikonomiac”) the baptism of the Encratites and the Novationists, but here in canon 47 he changes his position and goes in favor of their re-baptism so that he has accepted beforehand their baptism by Economy (“kat’ oikonomian”). He recalls immediately the ecclesiastical norm on this subject such that is expressed in canons 7 of Laodicaea, 7 of Constantinople and 95 of Trullo.[92]


The authenticity of the three Basilian “canonical letters” (Numbers 188, 199, 217) has been strongly questioned.[93] This is a very difficult problem. There is no doubt, as we mentioned above, that the third canonical letter contains at least one inserted part. What about canons 1 and 47 taken respectively from letters 188 and 199? The authenticity of canon 1 is very probable, but we should not forget that Basil, by his own confession, admits to have used already existing material.[94] There will be no question here to give an analysis of these two canons. This would well extend our exposition. Besides the others, before us it has fact.[95] The text is not of an always easy comprehension and one of the major difficulties comes justly from the interpretation of the word “Oikonomia.” Unless it is no less transliterated, assuming that it has a univocal technical sense, it is advisable to scrutinize the context to attempt to understand it. Let us look first at canon 1. After having clearly established the distinction between three classes of dissidents, Saint Basil declares that the Ancients have totally rejected the baptism of heretics, but not so for schismatics, because these are in a certain manner still part of the Church (“jc eti ek tic Ekklhsiac ontjn”).


Then comes a digression about the ideas of Saint Cyprian and the African bishops in the third century, ideas that Firmilian of Caesarea shared, about the necessary re-baptism of the Novationists, the Encratites, and the Hydro-parastates.[96] He then writes, “but since it has been decided by some in Asia to accept, without making the distinction (“oljc”) their baptism for the benefit of the greater number (“oikonomiac eneka tjn polljn”), let it be accepted.” It refers to the baptism of the Novationists. Saint Basil does not have a major objection to such recognition since, being schismatics and not heretics, Tradition clearly favors this sense despite some discordant voices. “Oikonomia” has here a very pronounced theological connotation. There fully belongs a benefit to the Church. The English edition of the Pidalion “for the sake of extraordinary concession (or “economy”) to the many” has a tendency to the contrary sense.[97]


While continuing with his series of responses to the punctual questions of his correspondent, Saint Basil arrives at the case of the Encratites. It seems that to mark their distance from the Church, they have recently introduced the practice of re-baptising those who adhere to their group. Saint Basil does not decide anything about the validity of their baptism, even less in a clear or authoritative manner. The bishop of Caesarea also only expresses his personal opinion[98], that they must be re-baptised. But he immediately adds after this, “nevertheless, if this must constitute an obstacle for the common good (“th kavoloy oikonomia”), we must submit to custom and follow the Fathers who have managed our affairs (“toic oikonomhsasi ta kav’’hmac Patrasin”). “Oikonomia” has the same sense as what is found a few lines above. When a verb, we can see that it was frequently employed as well to express the exercise of the Episcopal function in general. That, for Saint Basil, Economy is not in any way a derogation of Acribie, we can prove evident by what he wrote a little further along in its own context: We must “submit ourselves to the strict observance of the canons (doyleyein akribeia kanonjn).” If letter 199 (the second canonical letter) was written according to the prologue a little later than letter 189, (the first canonical letter) and they were dispatched together in 374, it is matter of fact untrue that canon 47, in the complete form transmitted to us, can have the same author as canon 1. If Saint Basil did not totally change his opinion in the brief laps of time between the publication of the two letters, he has exposed his motives in this. Besides, this is not a unique decision that is different, but in a certain manner it approaches the very question. Canon 47 appears as a partial remake of canon 1 by someone who does not know the subtle nuances of Saint Basil’s thought, or does not retain well the text that suits it. The author of canon 47, or its alteration, categorically affirms concerning the Encratites and consorts: “As for us, in virtue of the same principle, we re-baptise all people of that sort.” The rest of that sentence is rather obscure. The perplexity of the copyists is transparent by the textual variants.[99] It can be translated thus: “If, in revenge, he is forbidden re-baptism by you, as moreover by the Romans we reject this re-baptism in virtue of a certain decision (oikonomiac tinoc eneka), because of their baptism[100], then our argument keeps its force!” In every case, here, the sense of the term “Oikonomia” is clear. It has a banal meaning in the canonical-ecclesial language of this time as a disposition adopted by the hierarchal authorities. But in Rome and the Churches where they do not admit the re-baptism of dissidents without distinction, this disposition is not at all seen as a derogation of the norm by condescension.


The semantic evolution towards the sense of derogation as motivated by the prescriptions of strict laws is not made briskly and without transition. We note that this is a logical derivative that shares the original sense by means of deduction. The good management of the house supposes a certain capacity to adjust to circumstances. Does the gospel not speak of the faithful servant and advises he who understands to take appropriate action?[101] As for the skillful economy of the parable, it is admittedly not presented as an example of law, but as an adaptation in the face of a difficult situation.[102]


We find an interesting fact in relation to our investigation in a letter of Saint Athanasius, who wrote in 361/362 and addresses the bishop Rufinius. It deals with the status of clerics carried away more or less under constraint into communion with Arian bishops, without them having however shared their heretical opinions of the past. They argued in their defense that they were not resting at their post, but that they would have been unfailingly replaced by the heretics. This excuse is judged valid and in consequence it is decided that these clerics retain their place. Saint Athanasius writes concerning their behavior: “…edozen toyto pjc oikonomikjc gegenhsvai.”[103] The adverb “oikonomikjc” is encountered at the beginning of our era by Plutarch, with the meaning, “in the manner of a good intention.”[104] We note in the text of Athanasius that the particle “pjc” marks a nuance of attenuation. The prudent attitude of these clerics was admitted as a forgivable excuse. It does not deserve, for as much, a warm approval. They themselves give account of it since, according to Saint Athanasius, they referred to the conduct of Aaron during which Moses was with him on Mount Sinai.[105] He acts in both cases to avoid a very great misfortune. Nevertheless he does not need to exaggerate the employed range of this adverb in the above-mentioned text. He does not accept a technical terminology. Elsewhere, in a letter to monk Ammoun, Saint Athanasius well describes that much later he will qualify Economy, but the precise word does not appear. “In certain circumstances,” he writes, “the thing is not permitted while in other circumstances it is pardoned and excused.”[106] Saint John Chrysostom, in order to explain the behavior of the apostles Peter and Paul at Antioch uses the word “Oikonomia” in the sense of a prudent attitude. He gives it a connotation of condescension (“sygkatabasic”).[107]


The use of the term “Oikonomia” by Saint Cyril of Alexandria, in relation to canonical subjects, is very interesting. It approaches, without completely reaching, the technical sense that we shall soon see given to it. In fact, its evolution does not appear at the level of meaning as the term itself, but it is situated in the context. Economy does not identify itself with the punctual relaxing of Acribie, but it constitutes it’s justification. After his reconciliation with John of Antioch, Cyril was constrained to calm the untimely zeal of certain of his own partisans. He writes to deacon Maximus: “… in order not to give the impression to love quarrels, we accept the communion of the very pious bishop John, and accord him pardon if in the general interest (oikonomiac eneka) he justly did not look very meticulously (mh akribologeisvai sfodra) if these men did repent; because, as I have said, in this affair we must consider the general interest (oikonomiac…pollhc).”[108] While addressing archimandrite Gennadius, Cyril declares: “…Most assuredly, I praise you to desire to live in such rigor (akribeiac) but the administration of affairs (oikonomia pragmatjn) sometimes obliges some to move a bit from the prescribed path in order to obtain a much greater good.” At the end of the letter, the bishop of Alexandria observes that “a person among sensible people does not disapprove of the convention of an adaption (o thc oikonomiac tropoc).”[109] In a letter to archbishop Attikos of Constantinople, Saint Cyril affirms that “it is a good thing in regards to the general interest (oikonomiac) to appear to be moving temporarily from what would be proper in order to avoid harming useful things.[110]


The confused ecclesiastical situation resulting from the Christological controversies after the council of Chalcedon gave place for a certain development of the concept of Economy.[111] A short treatise reflects fairly well what would from now on be for the Byzantines the classical understanding of Economy. It was written by the Orthodox patriarch of Alexandria Eulogy (579-607). Although his text did not reach us, we have a suggestive summary of it in the “Library” of Photios.[112]


Economy is a multi-form attitude of flexibility in the interest of peace in the Church. In the canonical-liturgical plan, it implies, for example, that certain names cannot be excluded from the Diptychs. Nevertheless in any case, it must not attack the faith.


The council of Trullo gathered in 691 to establish a great work in the domain of Byzantine canonical legislation. In a certain manner, the Fathers of the council attempt to codify Tradition. It is not our intention to touch this vast subject. We will only examine this in direct connection with the question that interests us. Because of circumstances, this assembly published some resolutions of exceptional character. We should expect to find here express references about the notion of Economy. In fact, we have found usage of the term only once, but its sense is perfectly clear. It means a derogation of strict law, justified by an abnormal political situation. Canon 37 deals with the prerogatives of bishops who in consequence of the incursions of barbarians encounter the impossibility to return to their respective dioceses for which they were consecrated. The council considered that this calamity is evidently not the responsibility of those bishops and they do not need to lose their dignity. The canon ends with the remark: “Since Acribie is excluded, the limit of Economy (o thc oikonomiac oroc) will not be cut back.”[113] Of course, this affirmation did not carry a spirit of universal legislation. It concerned the type of situation envisioned in the canon. Elsewhere in the legislation of the council of Trullo, we find stipulations taking up Economy, but the word itself is not used.[114] It refers just as well to the application “ad faciendum” of Economy as to “ex post” dispensations.


The Fathers of this council were well inspired by the ancient terminology. While dealing with the illicit marriages of certain clerics, they remarked that the Church of Rome keeps “the rule of exactitude (ton thc akribeiac…kanona),” while those of Constantinople follow the rules “of humanity and of compassion (tjn thc filanvrjpiac kai sympaveiac).”[115]


Canon 102 of the same council constitutes a small treatise on pastoral methodology addressed to those “who have received from God the power to loose and to bind.” But to the one who practices this ministry with wisdom (tu…oikonomoynti safjc) is left the choice of strong or mild remedies. The conclusion is a literal citation of the end of Saint Basil’s third canon, “we need therefore to know both what is from strict observance and what is of tradition  (ta thc akribeiac kai ta thc synhveiac); for those who do not accept severity, it is necessary to follow the traditional rule.”[116]


The notion of Economy holds a rather modest place in canon law and in the jurisprudence of middle age Byzantium. It is, in this regard, characteristic to note the fact that Matthew Blastares does not devote a single mention about it in his systematic Syntagma (ca. 1335). Admittedly, Aristen, Zonaras and Balsamon do not at all ignore the term and its use in the sense that was fixed toward the end of deep antiquity. This is a justified derogation and exception to the norm. Balsamon holds well to precision by saying “it is not necessary that those which have been used for some things by ecomony (to kat’ oikonomian dia to xrhsimon) should be set up as a model and have the force of a canon.”[117] The Byzantines professed a great attachment to “ius scriptum,” but as the stipulations of the ancient canons do not always appear very clear, we see in the middle age a flourishing of scolies, exegises, and commentaries about the ancient canons. The jurisprudential activity of the “synodos Endemousa” was considerable. Beyond questions of routine, the more delicate questions concerned the recognition of irregular ordinations in connection with schisms. The canons give as a general rule that every irregular ordination is accomplished without value, since they are devoid of legitimacy.[118] The Latin word “irritus” reflects this well with all the nuances of that concept.[119] This excludes a strict distinction between “validity” and “license.” Nevertheless, the praxis of the Byzantine Church still implies the existence of minimal objective conditions for the applicability of Economy. No one thought that this latter possessed a creative potential in the sacramental domain. If, as we have seen, there has been a semantic evolution of the word “Economy,” it has not affected the ideas. The timely decision of the legitimate hierarchy applying Economy confers the seal of authenticity. If the question has not been addressed ex professo, it is simply because the opposing opinion does not seem to have come to mind. The controversies are situated in a concrete plan. Do the required conditions exist in this or that case for which Economy can be applied? There is nothing more instructive concerning this but the debates which appeared at the time of the first session of the seventh ecumenical council. The admission of repentant iconoclast bishops in their rank was decreed after meticulous consultation of a voluminous historical-canonical dossier.[120] This same preoccupation is seen throughout the Byzantine period. A good example of attentive examination of canons is supplied by the treatise of John Chilas of Ephesus, written toward 1296, in relation to the Arsenite schism.[121]


The modern theory—which actually has never enjoyed a real consensus—according to which the alternative application of Acribie or Economy stems from the consideration of opportunity, is found to be in complete contradiction with the canonical understanding of the ancient Church. In effect, for the ancient Church, the essential norms of discipline constitute an intangible legacy back to primitive Christianity. As father G. Florovsky remarked with justice, the extensive and lax theory of Economy is born in a period of decadence for Orthodox theology.[122] Fortunately a sound reaction has begun. A balanced expression of the idea of Economy is found in the excellent “Joint Statement” produced at a conference between Orthodox and Roman Catholics in Washington D.C. in May 1976.[123]


Historical-canonical research conducted according to a rigorous method does not carry only a purely scientific interest. Clearing up the details of tradition and dispelling misunderstandings represents a positive contribution to dialogue between Christians.


[1] Fr. Thomson, Economy, An examination of the various theories of Economy held within the Orthodox Church, with special reference to the economical recognition of the validity of non-orthodox sacraments: JTHS 16 (1965), p. 368-420.

[2] Eph, I, 22-23, Col., I, 18.

[3] This is the case with canon 6 of Nicea, which was understood very early on in the sense of a supra metropolitan recognized in the bishops of Rome, Alexandria and Antioch.

[4] See regarding this in the edited texts and commentaries by J. Darrouzйs; Documents Inйdits d’Ecclйsiolgie Byzantine, Paris 1966. We note that the interpretations of Aristene, Zonaras and Balsamon are frequently discordant.

 [5] Can. 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18. Cf can. 13 “…o palaioc kai kanonikoc nomoc”. The fathers of Nicea use the term “oroc” to designate a synodal decision; see can. 15, 17, 19.

[6] Can. 1, taken from letter 188 (to Amphilochius of Iconium).

[7] On the subject of pseudographic works, see W. Plochl, Geschichte des Kirchenrechts, I, 2nd edition, Vienne-Munich, 1960, P. 106-111.

[8] See the edition of B. Botte, La Tradition Apostolique de Saint Hippolytem Munster, 1963.

[9] The Council of Arles in 314, can, 16 (15). Nicea, can. 2, 3, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18.

[10] Can. 6 and 7; can. 13.

[11]  Nicea, can. 4, 5, 6, i. f.

[12] Ibid., can. 8 and 19.

[13] HE IV, 9 and V, 10. Pope Innocent 1st wrote this to the bishops of Macedonia in 414, “The evident reason explaining why he has made a distinction between these two heresies is that the Paulianists do not baptize at all in the name of the father, Son and Holy Spirit, while the Novationists baptize according to these same formidable and venerable names…” (Epist. XVII, PL 20, col. 533 B.) When this pontiff affirms concerning the Paulianists that they “minimally baptize”, he does not refer to the exterior conformity of the baptismal rite with the Church, but that in fact this baptism does not translate the faith of the Church in the Holy Trinity. Though it is not easy to reconstitute with precision the doctrine of Paul of Samosata, it is without doubt that he himself and his followers professed unitarian theology. See J, Quasten, Patrology, Vol. II, Utrecht-Avers 1953, p. 140-142.

[14] CSEL (G.Hartel) 3, 2, p. 766.

[15] Ibid. p. 799

[16] See concerning this baptismal controversy in the third century M. Sage, Cyprian (Patristic Monograph series, no, 1, Cambridge, Mass. 1975, p. 295-335).

[17] Can. 9 (8). Note that the expression “hanc trinitatem” is to say the Trinity according to the doctrine professed by the Church.

[18] Constantinople, can. 7 (not authentic but later accepted); in Trullo, can. 95 (literally taking again the preceding ordinance and completing it); Laodicea can. 7 and 8; Registri Ecclesiae Carthaginensis Excerpta, can. 57.

[19] We read in the address of the Fathers of the council of Constantinople in 381 to emperor Theodosius, “…yper thc eytaiqiac tjn ekklhsijn rhtoyc kanonac jrisamen”, Syntagma XIV Titulorum, edited by V. N. Benesevic, Saint-Petersburg 1906, p. 95.

For the origin and evolution of the term, see L. Wenger, Canon inden Romischen Rechtsquellen und in den Papyri, Vienne-Leipzig 1942.

[20] VII, 40, Art. “akribazj”. Greek-English Lexicon, publisher Liddell-Scott-Jones, Oxford, 1940, p. 55. See Art. “akribeia”; Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, p. 64: “scrupulousness”, “exact conformity”.

[21] XXII, 3; cf. Ibid., XXVI, 5.

[22] Can. 3.

[23] Theodoret, HE, I, 9, GCS, p. 34.

[24] Can. 3 and 89.

[25] A variant of the main text “h peri to apokrinesvai merimna”. The lesson we need to remember is attested to solidly in the manuscript tradition. It is the one that has been kept by the editor of the letters of Saint Basil in the collection “Les Belles-Lettres”, vol. II, p. 121. For a systematic critic see V. N. Benesevic, op. cit. (19), p. 460, et P. P. Joannou, Discipline Gйnйral Antique, Fonti, fasc. IX, t. II, Rome 1963.

[26] Can. 3 (extract from a letter of Letoios).

[27] Can. 1.

[28] Can. 47

[29] Can. 3, i. f. This expression goes back to a reference to Saint Basil in canon 102 i. f. of the council of Trullo.

[30] See R. Sohm, Kirchenrecht, I, Leipzig, 1892, p. 450-451. See also Y. Congar, La Tradition et les Traditions, I, Paris, 1960, p. 157-158.

[31] Can. 9.

[32] Can 4; cf. can. 1.

[33] Can. 87 (Letter of Diodore of Tarsus).

[34] Nicea, can. 6: “Ta arxaia evh”; can. 7: “Synhveia…kai paradosic arxaia”; can. 18: “oyte o kanjn, oyte h synhveia”. Constantinople, can. 2 i. f.: “kata thn krahsasan synhveian para tjn paterjn” (variants “epi tjn paterjn synhveian” and “thn…synhveian tjn paterjn).

[35] Nicea, can. 15: “thn synhveian, thn para ton kanona eyreveisan”; Sardica, can. 1: “h faylh synhveia”; “mala consuetude”.

[36] E. g. Ancyra, can. 5, 16, 21; NeoCaesarea, can. 2, Nicea, can. 12.

[37] Can. 7 i. f.

[38] Nicea, can. 8 and 19.

[39] Ancyra, can. 1.

[40] Can. 27; cf. NeoCaesarea, can. 9.

[41] Can. 26.

[42] Rhallis et Potlis, t. 4. p. 183.

[43] “Oyk ekdikhseic dic epi to ayto”; Can. 25 of the Holy Apostles; Saint Basil, can. 3. This is found in Nahum, I, 9, according to the Septuagint.

[44] Goar, Euchologion sive Rituale Graecorum; Venise 1730, loc. cit. p. 209.

[45] E. g. Canons 25 and 61 of the Holy Apostles; NeoCaesarea, can. 1, 9, 10; Theophilos, can. 3, 5, 6; Basil, can. 3, 70.

[46] See e. g. Constantinople, can. 2.

[47] See e. g. can. 88 (Letter to Priest Gregory).

[48] Letter 227, PG, 32, col. 852-856.

[49] Question no. 1, Benesevic, op. cit. (19), p. 541.

[50] Part of canon 1, starting from the words: “plhn all’ edoqe toic arxaioic…”; until “…tj alhvinu Baptismati tu thc Ekklhsiac anakavairesvai.”

[51] See can. 1 and 47.

[52] Ep. LXIX, I, Hartel, loc. cit. (14), p. 749.

[53] Can. 1.

[54] Can. 47 e. f.

 [55] Can. 6 of the second Ecumenical Council in the Oriental collections. It concerns a decision taken by the Council of Constantinople in 382. This definition appears singularly to last if its authors have in view the minority Antiochian group of Paulin, recognized by Rome and by the Occidentals. See E. Caspar, Geschichte des Papsttums, I, Tubingen 1930, p. 240-241.

[56] See our article, The Reception of Roman Catholics into Orthodoxy: Historical Variations and Norms, St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 2, 1980, p. 75-82.

[57] Seen the new edition of 1957, p. 53-54.

[58] Ibid., p. 782.

[59] e. g. J. Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language, Oxford 1961.

[60] Lc., XVI, 2.

[61] 1 Cor., IX, 17; cf. ibid., IV, 1-2.

[62] Eph. I, 10 and II, 2; Col. I, 25; Tim. I, 14.

[63] E. g. in the Anaphora of Saint John Chrysostom: “oc elvjn kai pasan thn yper hmjn oikonomian plhrjsac…” Cf. in the liturgy of Saint Basil: “…oikonomjn aytj thn ek pali ggenesiac sjrhrian.”

[64] See e. g. what Patriarch Nicolas wrote at the beginning of the tenth century: “oikonomia esti mimhsic thc veiac filanvrjpiac.” Epist. XXXII, PG 111, col. 213A.

A little further, it is defined as being a “sjthrijdhc…sygkatabasic”; col. 212 D.

[65] Ancyra, can. 5, 16, 21, NeoCaesarea, can. 2.

[66] The Byzantine commentators emphasize that lack of candidates is not a sufficient condition, zeal and faith are absolutely necessary. See Rhallis et Potlis, III, p. 88-90. This is in full conformity with the text itself of the canon, and why the French translation that is found in the “Fonti, fasc. IX, t. I, 2, p. 81, “ou le manque de candidats” completely betrays the thought of the legislation.

[67] Can. 5, 11, 12.

[68] Can. 8 and 19.

[69] Cf. note 23 above.

[70] Theophilos of Alexandria, can. 10. However the function and possibly the title go back very far in time. See can. 7 and 8 of the council held in Gangra, probably in 343.We note that we have picked up employing the term “oikonomoc” to designate very certainly the bishop in canon  of saint Gregory of Nyssa.

[71] Can. 56, 57, 58, 62, 65, 72, Cf. Gregory of Nyssa, can. 1.

[72] About the canons § 3, edited by J. Darrouzes, SC 81, Paris 1961. loc. cit. p. 468.

[73] Gangra, can. 8.

[74] Can. 60 of Saint Basil (“Kanonikon d’Amasйe).

[75] Can. 1 (Prologue to the latter to Letoios).

[76] E. g. can. 2, 3, 4, 8.

[77] Can. 3, e. f.

[78] Can. 1, cf. can. 47.

[79] Letter 227, PG 32, col. 852-856, loc. cit. col. 852 B.

[80] Ibid., col. 856 A.

[81] Letter 228.

[82] toy…kairoy thn xalepothta,” ibid.

[83] Ch. Munier writes that “The regulations of the council of Nicea concerns the transfer of bishops from one diocese to another as being formal and does not seem to permit and exception. Yet the Fathers of Nicea have approved the accession of Eustathius of Beroea to the seat of Antioch, giving thus a better interpretation of the law which he had issued. Their outline is only to prevent factions, and maneuvers inspired by pushiness. Les Statutae Ecclesiae Antiqua, Paris, 1960, loc. cit, p. 81.

[84] Can. 1: …nullus umquam inuentus episcopus qui de maiore civitate transeat ad mino rem.”

[85] See P. Rai, L’йconomie chez les Orthodoxes depuis 1755: Istina 3 (1973), p. 359-368.

[86] See e. g. Phdalion (re-edited in Athens in 1957), p. 618, note 1.

[87] Rhallis et Potlis, IV, p. 92-94 and 198.

[88] Ibid. p. 198. The regulation concerning the reception of dissidents represented by can. 7 of the second ecumenical council is an extract of a text which in original form goes back more or less to the end of the reign of Patriarch Gennadius of Constantinople (458-471). It has been inserted in its remaining form in the Syntagma in XIV titles of the first edition of this work as canon 7 of the second general council.

[89] “All’ omjc fhsin o megas oytoc pathr, oti, epei tisin edoqe di oikonomian to tjn kavarj baptisma dexesvai, estj dekton”; p. 93, lines 5-6.

[90] Ibid., p. 9-95.

[91] Ibid., p. 91.

[92] Ibid., p. 199. Although Aristene does not formally affirm that the decision of the councils must prevail, this is clearly suggested by the compositional form of his commentary, the authority of the council is foremost in evidence. Then he gives precise references regarding the synodal stipulations. The adverb “plhn” that introduces them constitutes a supplementary indication as to the logic of the author.

[93] See J. Quasten, Patrology, vol. III, Westminster, Maryland 1960, p. 223.

[94] Prologue of the first canonical letter.

[95] See, for example, Patriarch Serge (Stragorodsky), l’Eglise du Christ et les Communautйs Dissidentes, Messager de l’Exarchat du Patriarche Russe, no. 21, 1955, p. 10-32. There is a good study in the preface by V. Lossky, ibid. p. 9-10. Unfortunately, the citations of Saint Basil in the French translation are approximate because we didn’t take the pains to impart them based on the Greek text!

[96] In fact, Saint Cyprian, as we will see, advocates the re-baptism of all dissidents without distinction, and the argumentation expressed by Saint Basil applies to all the dissidents since, in the view of the bishop of Carthage, it was the non-belonging to the Church in its strict canonical boundaries that constituted the obstacle to the validity of their baptism. Saint Basil, answering Amphilochius’ precise question, only mentions the groups that were the object of the interrogation presented by his colleague in Iconium.

[97] The Rudder, Chicago 1957, p. 774.

[98] “Nomizj toinyn…”

[99] See Benesevic, op. cit. (19), p. 493; see also the edition of “Belles-Lettres”, vol. II, p. 163.

[100] “Dia to baptisma aytjn” can signify “due to what is their baptism”, or better, “due to their previous baptism.” In both cases recognition of the baptism conferred by dissidents is implied.

Our text had already been composed when Father Emmanuel Lanne was very kind to direct our attention to a possible interpretation of the differences between canon 1 and 47. His point of view is given in a communication presented at the “Troisiиme Colloque entre Catholiques et Orthodoxes”: Saint Basil’s Behavior and His Demand for the Restoration of Communion, Bari, 1981, (dactylography text). We maintain our doubts about the integral authenticity of canon 47. But it is evident that, in the field of conjecture, the explanation advanced by Father Emmanuel Lanne constitutes a worthwhile hypothesis.

[101] Luke, XII, 42.

[102] Ibid., XVI, 1-8.

[103] Benesevic, op. cit. (19), p. 554-555, the adverb is from p. 554, lines 29-30.

[104] II, 1126.

[105] Exodus, XXXII, 1-6.

[106] Benesevic, op. cit. (19),p. 551, lines 12-15.

Professor H. Alivizatos quotes this passage as a definition for Economy, H Oikonomia, Athens 1949, p. 31-32.

[107] Homily 46 on the book of Acts, PG, 60, col. 323; cf. Homily 2 on the epistle to the Galatians, ibid., 61, col. 641.

[108] Benesevic, op. cit. (19), p. 561.

[109] Ibid., p. 562-563.

[110] PG 77, col. 353 C.

[111] See concerning this in J. H. Erickson, Oikonomia in Byzantine Canon Law, in the collection Law, Church and Society, Essays in Honor of Stephan Kuttner, University of Pennsylvania, 1977, p. 227-236, and more particularly p. 230-231.

[112] Codex 227, “Les Belles-Lettres”, vol. IV, Paris 1965, p. 111-114.

[113] Another lesson, solidly attested to in the manuscript tradition, thus: “o thc oikonomias tropoc”. Benesevic, op. cit. (19), p. 169, lines 28-29. We can also translate it “to have recourse to Economy will not be banned”.

[114] E. g.: can 8, 17, 21, 26, 30, 39, 49, 88, 93. For can. 3 and 102, cf. infra.

[115] Can. 3.

[116] The last part of the phrase just quoted is not a certain interpretation. Saint Basil probably wanted to say that for those who do not accept to do penance even in a lighter form, it is necessary to apply the intended epitimia in all its strictness. It is in this way that this passage has been understood by Zonaras (Rhallis et Potlis, IV, p. 100-101) and by Nicodim the Hagiorite (Pidalion, p. 313). There is also the interpretation in the “Kniga Pravil” (re-published in Montreal, 1971, p. 169). Theoretically, we can consider the expression “epi tjn mh katadeqamenjn” as being neutral; that is what Yves Courtonne does (“Les Belles-Lettres” edition, Saint Basil, Lettres, t. II, Paris, 1961, p. 125) which is translated thus: “…and in the questions that do not admit strictness in the law, we must follow the traditional rule.”

[117] Rhallis et Potlis, II, p. 214.

[118] E. g.: Nicea, can. 6 and 17; Constantinople, can. 4; Chalcedon, can. 6.

[119] See for example canon 4 of the council of 381, “akyrjventjn” which Denis the Small translated as “in irritum”, A. Strewe, Die Canonessammlung des Dionysius Exiguous in der Ersten Redaktion, Berlin 1931,p. 61.

[120] Mansi, XII, 1019 D-1030 D; 1034 D-1039 A; 1042 A-1050 C.

[121] Darrouzes, op. cit. (4), p. 348-404.

[122] Les Limites de l’Eglise, Messager de l’Exarchat de Patriarche Russe, no. 37, 1961, p. 31 and 35.

[123] Ed. Kilmartin, Toward Reunion, New York 1979, Appendix 6: The Principle of Economy, p. 85-88.

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