Decretum Gelasianum

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The so-called Decretum Gelasianum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis or Gelasian decree was traditionally attributed to Pope Gelasius I (492–496). Its content is particularly important because of the lists of canonical and apocryphal books it contains .


The Decretum Gelasianum is probably of southern Gallic origin and in its traditional form dates to the 6th century.

It consists of five parts:

  1. Doctrinal opinions
  2. List of canonical books
  3. Ranking of the patriarchal seats
  4. List of recognized synods and church writers
  5. List of apocryphal books

After a 1794 by Faustino Arévalo established theory, the first three parts correspond to the decisions of 382 under Pope I. Damasus held council. Accordingly, the list of canonical books contained in the Decretum Gelasianum would be the earliest surviving such compilation of an official type. According to Ernst von Dobschütz , however, the Decretum has no official character, but is a pseudonymous script from the 6th century (between 519 and 553). Today one largely follows the conclusions of Dobschütz, but it is assumed that parts of the script can be traced back to Pope Damasus.

Part One: Treatise on the Holy Spirit and the Name of Christ

The first part contains the doctrines of Pope Damasus I , which most likely come from him. However, it is assumed that today's text composition, due to the choice of words and the order of the sentences, comes from the fifth or sixth century.

Part Two: Biblical Canon

Old testament

The canon of the Old Testament largely corresponds (except for the arrangement) to today's canon:

History books

New Testament

The canon comprises 27 or (in part of the textual tradition) 26 books of the New Testament and reflects Roman practice in the development of the biblical canon. The list contains the New Testament scriptures in the following order: First the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, then the Acts of the Apostles (which, however, is only mentioned below in part of the text tradition after the Revelation of John), then fourteen or (in thirteen letters ascribed to the apostle Paul (including Philemon and the Hebrews, but the Second Corinthians is missing in a part of the text tradition), then the Revelation of John, and at the end seven other letters not written by Paul (two letters from Peter, James , three epistles of John, epistle of Jude). With this, the canon has essentially reached its present form.

Third part: primacy of the Roman See

The Roman See is given primacy over all other patriarchates . First with reference to Mt 16,18  EU (“tu es Petrus et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam”), then on the grounds that Rome was the seat of the two apostles Peter and Paul. A need to justify this primacy with a council resolution is only rejected.

Furthermore, the old patriarchates of Alexandria and Antioch are accorded a special dignity. Alexandria as the seat of the Evangelist Mark , Antioch on the Orontes as the seat of Peter before he went to Rome, also as the place where Christians were first referred to as such.

Fourth part: List of recognized synods and church writers

The resolutions of the following ecumenical councils are expressly recognized :

The first Council of Constantinople (381) is not listed, as it was de facto an Eastern Roman synod to which the Roman See had not sent a delegation.

Furthermore, the writings of the following Church Fathers are designated as accepted by the Church:

As you can see, the order of the list largely follows chronological order of the dates of life.

This list of the writings of the Fathers' Church is followed by a list of recognized individual works or groups of works. The following are recognized:

Fifth part: list of the apocryphal scriptures

This part is the most interesting part for research, as a detailed list of apocryphal writings is given here, because they often provoke scientific discussions due to the incomplete tradition or their imprecise designation in their classification.

  • Itinerarium nomine Petri apostoli, quod appellatur sancti Clementis libri numero novem ( pseudo-clementines )
  • Actus nomine Andreae apostoli ( Andreasakten )
  • Actus nomine Thomae apostoli ( Acts of Thomas )
  • Actus nomine Petri apostoli ( Acts of Peter )
  • Actus nomine Philippi apostoli ( Acts of Philip )
  • Evangelium nomine Mathiae ( Gospel according to Matthias )
  • Evangelium nomine Barnabae ( Gospel according to Barnabas )
  • Evangelium nomine Iacobi minoris (Gospel of James the Younger )
  • Evangelium nomine Petri apostoli ( Gospel of Peter )
  • Evangelium nomine Thomae quibus Manichei utuntur ( Gospel of Thomas , "as it is used by the Manichaeans")
  • Evangelia nomine Bartholomaei ( Gospel of Bartholomew )
  • Evangelia nomine Andreae (Gospel of Andrew )
  • Evangelia quae falsavit Lucianus (Gospel, forged by Lucianus; possibly Lukian of Antioch )
  • Evangelia quae falsavit Hesychius (Gospel, forged by Hesychius; possibly Hesychios of Jerusalem )
  • Liber de infantia salvatoris ( Gospel of the childhood of the Savior )
  • Liber de nativitate salvatoris et de Maria vel obstetrice (Birth of the Redeemer and about Mary, also "The Midwife")
  • Liber qui appellatur Pastoris ( Shepherd of Hermas )
  • Libri omnes quos fecit Leucius discipulus diabuli (all books by Leucius , the devil's disciple)
  • Liber qui appellatur Fundamentum ("The Foundation")
  • Liber qui appellatur Thesaurus ("The Treasure")
  • Liber de filiabus Adae Leptogeneseos ("Book about the Daughters of Adam" / "Little Genesis"; probably the book of anniversaries )
  • Cento de Christo Virgilianis conpaginatus versibus ( Cento about Christ, put together from verses of Virgil )
  • Liber qui appellatur Actus Theclae et Pauli ( Paul files or files of Paul and the Thekla )
  • Liber qui appellatur Nepotis (book attributed to Nepos)
  • Liber Proverbiorum ab hereticis conscriptus et sancti Sixti nomine praesignatus ( Sextussentenzen , see NHC XII, 1)
  • Revelatio quae appellatur Pauli ( Visio Sancti Pauli )
  • Revelatio quae appellatur Thomae (Revelation of Thomas)
  • Revelatio quae appellatur Stephani (Revelation of Stephen)
  • Liber qui appellatur Transitus sanctae Mariae (Departure of St. Mary)
  • Liber qui appellatur Paenitentia Adae (Penance of Adam)
  • Liber de Ogia nomine gigante qui post diluvium cum dracone ab hereticis pugnasse perhibetur ("Book about the giant Ogias, of which the heretics claim he fought the dragon after the flood"; is identified with the book of giants )
  • Liber qui appellatur Testamentum Iob ( Testament of Job )
  • Liber qui appellatur Paenitentia Origenis (Atonement of Origen )
  • Liber qui appellatur Paenitentia sancti Cypriani (Penance of Saint Cyprian )
  • Liber qui appellatur Paenitentia Iamne et Mambre (Repentance of Jannes and Jambres )
  • Liber qui appellatur Sortes apostolorum (Lots of the Apostles)
  • Liber qui appellatur Lusa apostolorum (Games of the Apostles)
  • Liber qui appellatur Canones apostolorum ( Canons of the Apostles)
  • Liber Physiologus ab hereticis conscriptus et beati Ambrosii nomine praesignatus (" Physiologus , written together by heretics and attributed to the blessed Ambrosius")
  • Historia Eusebii Pamphili (historical works by Eusebius of Caesarea , with the exception of Chronikon and Church History, see Part IV)
  • opuscula Tertulliani (Works of Tertullian )
  • opuscula Lactantii sive Firmiani (Works of Lactantius )
  • opuscula Postumiani et Galli (Works of Postumian and Gallus)
  • opuscula Montani, Priscillae et Maximillae (works of Montanus (Prophet) , Priska and Maximilla, i.e. the books of the Montanists )
  • opuscula Fausti Manichei (Works by the Manichaean Faustus von Mileve )
  • opuscula Commodiani (works of the Commodian )
  • opuscula alterius Clementis Alexandrini (Works of Clement of Alexandria )
  • opuscula Thascii Cypriani (Works of Thascius Cyprian)
  • opuscula Arnobii (works by Arnobius the Younger )
  • opuscula Tichonii (works of Tyconius )
  • opuscula Cassiani presbyteri Galliarum (works of Johannes Cassianus )
  • opuscula Victorini Petabionensis (works by Victorinus by Poetovio )
  • opuscula Fausti Regiensis Galliarum (Works by Faustus von Reji )
  • opuscula Frumentii Caeci (Works of Frumentius Caecus)
  • Centonem de Christo virgilianis conpaginatum versibus (apparently a duplicate; see above)
  • Epistula Jesus ad Abgarum (Letter of Jesus to Abgar, see Abgarlegende )
  • Epistula ad Abgari Jesus (letter of Abgar to Jesus, see Abgarlegende )
  • Passio Cyrici et Iulittae ( Acts of Martyrs of Cyricus and Julitta)
  • Passio Georgii (Martyrs' Acts of George)
  • Scriptura quae appellatur Salomonis Interdictio (scripture, which means prohibition (conjuration?) Solomos)
  • Phylacterua omnia quae non angelorum, ut illi configunt, sed daemonum magis nominibus conscripta sunt (all amulets that are not written in the name of angels, but rather of demons)

In addition, the curse is hurled at:

This and what is similar to him, what Simon Magus , Nikolaus , Kerinth , Marcion , Basilides , Ebion , Paul of Samosata , Photin and Bonosus, who suffered from a similar error, also Montanus with his disgusting followers, Apollinaris , Valentinus the Manicheans, Faustus the African, Sabellius , Arius , Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustatius, Iovianus, Pelagius, Iulianus of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampurus, Eutyches, Peter, and the other Peter, one of whom defiled Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with their comrades, and what all the disciples of heresy and heresies or schismatics have taught or written down, the names of which we have scarcely remembered We confess that it is not only rejected, but is excluded from the entire Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with se In the authors and the followers of the author be damned for eternity under the inextricable bond of the anathema .


Web links

Wikisource: Decretum Gelasianum  - Sources and full texts (Latin)

Individual evidence

  1. Schneemelcher p. 30
  2. See Burkitt: Review of the Dobschütz edition. In: Journal of Theological Studies 14 (1913) pp. 469-471
  3. ^ Translation from Schneemelcher, p. 32f.