The final canon, 37, in the summary of the canons of the council of Hippo is as follows. I did get rather stuck at one point, so comments are very welcome.
37. Placuit etiam ut, quoniam praecedentibus conciliis statutum est ne quis Donatistarum cum honore suo recipiatur a nobis, sed in numero laicorum, propter salutem quae nulli deneganda est — tantum autem inopia clericorum ordinandorum in Africa patiuntur ecclesiae, ut quaedam loca omnino deserta sint — servetur quidem in istis quod iam ante decretum est, sed exceptis his quos, aut non rebaptizasse constiterit, aut qui cum suis plebibus ad communionem catholicam transire voluerint. Si enim scriptum est quod duobus si convenerit Christianis, quidquid petierint, impetrabunt, non oportet dubitare quod, remoto scandalo dissensionis, universae plebis, in unitate [pacis]** redacta concordia, idonea sit impetrare de misericordia Domini, ut ipsius pacis compensatione et sacrificio caritatis aboleantur quae, maiorum suorum auctoritatem sequentes, repetitione baptismi commiserunt.
Sed hanc rem placuit non confirmari, priusquam inde transmarina ecclesia consulatur.
Note that “pacis” is found in Mansi’s text, but not in Munier.
Here’s my attempt to translate this:
37. It was also agreed that, seeing that it was ordained by preceding councils that a Donatist shall be received by us, not with honour, but among the number of the laity; on account of the salvation which must not be refused to any, – for the churches suffer so much from the lack of ordained clergy in Africa, so that some places have been entirely deserted – it [the rule] shall be maintained even in those who already [crossed over] before it was decreed, but excepting those who either did not wait to be rebaptised, or who wished to cross over to the Catholic communion with their congregation. For if it was written “that if two Christians shall agree,** whatever they ask, they shall obtain”, [then] it is not right to doubt that, having been freed from the scandal of dissention, the concord of the whole laity in [the] unity [of peace] having been restored**, it shall be proper to procure from the mercy of God, that,
in a return** of his peace with the return of peace and by the sacrifice of charity, those people shall be abolished who, following the authority of their forefathers, have committed** the repetition of baptism, in exchange for peace itself and by the sacrifice of charity [i.e. thanks to this sacrifice of charity], those things [sc. sins] that following the authority of their ancestors, they committed by the repetition of baptism, may be abolished.
But it was agreed that these things are not to be confirmed, until after the church overseas has been** consulted.
The bit in Italics is an allusion to Mt. 18:19, which in the Vulgate and Douai is:
Iterum dico vobis, quia si duo ex vobis consenserint super terram, de omni re quamcumque petierint, fiet illis a Patre meo, qui in caelis est.
Again I say to you, that if two of you shall consent upon earth, concerning any thing whatsoever they shall ask, it shall be done to them by my Father who is in heaven.
“duobus si convenerit Christianis” – I have assumed this is an impersonal verb plus dative.
“redacta concordia” – I’m reading this as an ablative absolute, “concord having been restored”.
The bit that I am unsure about is “ut ipsius pacis compensatione et sacrificio caritatis aboleantur”. I don’t see how the dative [update: or not!] fits with the verb, to be honest. Anybody got any ideas? And … “compensation”? [Update: see comment below by Alexander Macaulay – thank you!]
This is the last of the canons in the Breviarium. Mansi gives a couple more, followed by the signatures of the bishops, but these are not part of the Breviarium, but rather material from the Council of Carthage in 397, in which the Breviarium was put together. We’ll have a look at this context material in a bit.
4 thoughts on “Canons 37 of the breviarium of the Council of Hippo (393)”
“The bit that I am unsure about is ‘ut ipsius pacis compensatione et sacrificio caritatis aboleantur’. I don’t see how the dative fits with the verb, to be honest. Anybody got any ideas?” Well, to start with, I don’t see any dative.
Thanks for this. Ablative, then? “with the return of his peace and with a sacrifice of charity”?
… to procure from the mercy of God that, in exchange for peace itself and by the sacrifice of charity [i.e. thanks to this sacrifice of charity], those things [sc. sins] that following the authority of their ancestors, they committed by the repetition of baptism, may be abolished.
The relative pronoun ‘quae’ has no explicit antecedent so ‘peccata’, or ‘ea’ at least, must be understood. ‘Ipsius’ is fem. gen. sing. agreeing with ‘pacis’, not ‘his peace’ but ‘peace itself’, the restitution of which would make the forgiveness of the Donatists’ misdemeanours worthwhile.
Thank you very much indeed: that is brilliant, and I very much appreciate the explanation. compensatione = “exchange”; the ipsius point is good also.
Nice catch on “quae”, which unlocks the rest of the sentence. There’s a definite tendency to shove the subject to the end of these sentences, which means that we have to regard anything looking like a nominative with suspicion.