Munier’s “Conciliae Africae” edition (CCSL 149) – a table of contents

The modern critical edition of the canons and acts of the African councils is Charles Munier, “Conciliae Africae A. 345- A. 525”, in: Corpus Christianorum Series Latina 149 (1974).   The volume number is indeed 149, despite being misprinted as 259 (“CCLIX”) on the title page.  Volume 149A is the companion text, the conlocutio of 411 between the Catholics and Donatists.

As I have remarked before, the CCSL 149 volume is very hard to use.  Part of that is that it does not have a table of contents.  In order to work with it, I was obliged to create one, so I will share it here.  It isn’t incredibly detailed – some things I have yet to discover.  But it is better than nothing.

This data is based on the (not very helpful) list at the Brepols site here, and looking the items up in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum (=CPL).  The CPL helpfully gives page numbers.  Each “text”  is in fact a collection of all the material from various sources relating to that particular church council.

There are any number of tiddlers, so I have placed the big texts in bold.

  • p. v – Preface
    • p. vii – a list of documents used as sources, at the foot of the page.
    • p. xiii – manuscripts and sigla.
    • p. xxiii – Chronological list of councils, table of canons, and a bibliography for each council.
  • p. 1. – Concilia Africae
  • p. 2-10 – Concilium Carthaginense sub Grato, 345-348 AD (CPL 1765a)
  • p. 11-19 – Concilium Carthaginense, 390 AD (CPL 1765c)
  • p. 20-21 – Concilium Hipponense, 393 AD (CPL 1765d)
  • p.  23-53 – Concilium Carthaginense, 397 AD.  This is comprised of:
    • 22-27 – Sources and preface
    • 28-53 – The Breviarium Hipponense (CPL 1764)
      • 28-29 – The first session.  Starts with the prefatory letter by Aurelius and Mizonius
      • 30-31 – Nicene creed
      • 32-46 – Two different versions on the canons on facing pages
      • 47 – 53 – The second session of the 13 August, 397.  Mostly signatures and bits and pieces.
  • p.54-65 – Concilium Theletense, 418 AD (CPL 1765e)
  • p. 66 – Fragment of an unknown Concilium Provinciae Byzacenae (CPL 1765b)
  • 67-78 – Concilium Carthaginense, 418 AD (CPL 1765f)
  • 79-165 – Codex Apiarii Causa = “Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae”, part 1, up to canon 33 (CPL 1765)
    •  Concilium Carthaginense, 419 AD – Acts of 25 May.
    • 33 Canones Apiarii causa, with the tituli and a speech by Aurelius at the end.  Canon 24 is the canon of scripture,
    • Epistula ad Bonifacium papam (CPL 393)
    • Epistula Cyrilii Alexandriae ad episcopos Africae (CPL 396)
    • Epistula ad Caelestinum papam (CPL 394)
  • p.248-253 – Concilium Carthaginense, 424-425 AD (CPL 1765g)
  • p.173-247 – Registri Ecclesiae Carthaginensis Excerpta (CPL 1765h)  = “Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Africanae”, part 2, everything after canon 33, and all of it relating to councils before 419, I believe.
  • p.248-253 – Concilium Hipponense, 427 AD (CPL 1766)
  • p. 254-282 – Concilium Carthaginense, 525 AD (CPL 1767)
  • p. 283 – Concilium Carthaginense, 536 AD (CPL 1767a)
  • p.284-311 – Ferrandi, Breviatio Canonum (CPL 1768)
  • p.312-313 – Sylloge Rerum Africanarum Collectionis Fossatensis
  • p.314-319 – Sylloge Africanorum Conciliorum in Epitome Hispanica (CPL 1769b)
  • p. 320-322 – Sylloge Canonum Africanorum Collectionis Laureshamensis (CPL 1769a)
  • p. 323-369 – Collectiones et Concilia Hispaniae — Concilia Africana secundum traditionem collectionis Hispanae (CPL 1790)
    • 329-341 – Concilium Carthaginense III
    • 342-354 – Concilium Carthaginense IV – Collectiones et Concilia Ecclesiarum Galliae — Statuta Ecclesiae antiqua. Recensio hispanica (CPL 1776°)
    • 355-359 – Concilium Carthaginense V
    • 360 – Concilium Carthaginense VI
    • 361-369 – Concilium Milevitana
  • p.371-425 – Indices
  • Maps

The most useful review of the book that I found was by Hubert Mordek, in Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Kanonistische Abteilung 72 (1986), 368-376.  This pointed out the numerous misprints – including the series number on the title page! – and other problems with the volume, in a 9 page review.  The first page can be seen here.


The “codex canonum ecclesiae Africanae” – looking at the Justell edition

Today I looked at a Google Books volume, here, headed on that site as “Codex canonum Ecclesiæ Africanæ promulgated at the Council of 419”.  It turns out to be a book printed in 1615 by C. Justell, consisting – seemingly – of the material from the “collectio Dionysiana” under the heading of the council of Carthage.

The text is printed from some manuscript, in Latin.  On alternate pages is the Greek translation made in antiquity.

The title – “Codex canonum ecclesiae Africanae” – “Code of canons of the African Church” – keeps turning up in discussions of canon law for centuries afterwards, and even merits a Clavis Patrum Latinorum number of its own, CPL 1765.

But … in reality it is the collection of texts relating to the Council of Carthage of 419, complete, following canon 33, with an appendix of materials from previous councils – which was probably added by Dionysius Exiguus from other sources – plus a few letters to and from the council.  One of the purposes of the council was to verify the exact text of materials from Nicaea, by requesting copies from the east, and these are included.

What is NOT included is the Breviarium of the canons of Hippo in 393, nor the introductory letter to it by Aurelius and Mizonius,

This makes matters simpler.  There are plainly two main transmission units in play here.

  1. The Breviarium and its introductory letter by Aurelius and Mizonius, both produced at the Council of Carthage in 397.  Canon 36 in the Breviarium contains the canon of scripture.

2. The canons of the council of 419, plus the appendix of earlier material added by Dionysius Exiguus.  Canon 24 contains the canon of scripture.  The appendix also contains a chunk of prefatory material to the Council of Carthage in 397.

It looks as if these two items travel down the years independently.

Progress of a sort, anyway.


Can we use Fuchs’ Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen, and do we want to?

Few will be aware that in the 1780’s G.D. Fuchs published an 4-volume German translation of the acts and canons of the church councils of the fourth and fifth centuries.  His Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen des vierten und fünften Jahrhunderts can be found online, at Google Books in low resolution, and at the BSB – Bayerische Staatsbibliothek – Bavarian State Library – in higher resolution.  Here are a few links:

  • Vol. 1 (1780) – Google Books. – BSB.  Introduction, canons up to Nicaea.
  • Vol. 2 (1781) – Google Books. – BSB.  Thyrus (335) to the first synod of Toledo (400).
  • Vol. 3 (1783) – Google Books. – BSB.  African Synods, from 348 to 426; Jerusalem, Diospolis, up to preliminaries to Ephesus in 431.
  • Vol. 4 (1784) – Google Books. – BSB.  Ephesus, Chalcedon, Constantinople etc to the end of the fifth century.

Just to add to the fun, he used a “gothic” typeface – “Fraktur” is the technical term – which is pretty much unreadable to non-Germans, even if they know the language.  But modern technology has made quite a difference.  Google can make books in Fraktur searchable.  Abbyy Finereader 15 can turn it into modern typeface using the “Old German” language setting.  The BSB has a search facility on its volumes, probably using the Abbyy engine.  It was in fact a Google search for “Mizonius”, a bishop at the Council of Carthage in 397, that produced a link to Fuchs.

Fuchs tells us that he used the text from J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum, vol. 3 (1759) In fact he wisely indicates the column numbers.  At the start of the material on the Council of Carthage in 397 (volume 3, page 63), we get as a heading “Mansi Tom. III. col. 915 = 939.” and a footnote which specifies what is where.

In the original, and in Google Translate English:

43) In der oben angezeigten Stelle hat Mansi die Aus­gabe unserer Synodalakten nach der Anleitung und den Handschriften der Ballerini, mit Anmerkungen von diesen. Vorher geht col. 909-915. admonitio BaIIeriniorum de breuiar Hippon. Wiederum col. 875-908. 1) Die alte Isidorsche Ausgabe cum titulis, annexisque quinque capitulis ex Gratiano aIiis­que desumptis, incertae originis. 2) Einige Ausga­ben, worinnen die Hipponischen abgekürzten Schlüsse von den übrigen Verfügungen durch die Aufschrift unterschieden sind, 3) Anmerkungen von Dinius. 4) Eine Nachricht von einer Synode zu Karthago, aus dem libellus synodicus, von der aber ungewis ist, ob sie hieher gehört. 5) Anmerkungen von Aubespi­ne.  6) Zwo Anmerkungen von Pagi. Die Synode wird gewöhnlich unter dem Titel, Concil. Carthag. III. angeführt, und unter den Aurelianischen wird sie als die dritte gezählt.

43) In the place indicated above, Mansi has the edition of our synodal acts according to the instructions and the manuscripts of the Ballerini, with annotations from them. Before that, col. 909-915. admonitio BaIIeriniorum de breuiar Hippon. Again col. 875-908. 1) The old Isidorian edition cum titulis, annexisque quinque capitulis ex Gratiano aIiisque desumptis, incertae originis. 2) Some editions, in which the Hipponian abbreviated conclusions are distinguished from the other provisions by the inscription, 3) Notes by Dinius. 4) A message from a synod at Carthage, from the libellus synodicus, of which, however, it is uncertain whether it belongs here. 5) Comments from Aubespine. 6) Two notes from Pagi. The synod is usually entitled, Concil. Carthag. III. cited, and counted as the third among the Aurelian.

Here’s the corresponding page from Mansi:

This is all well and good.  So I thought that I would try to identify this proemium, the introduction to the council, in other modern editions.  It can be found in the standard edition, Munier’s CCSL 149, Concilia Africae, on p.182, at the start of the “Register of excerpts of the Carthage Church”; and in Joannou’s Fonti discipline generale antique (IVe-IXe s.) vol. 1.2 les canons des synodes particuliers (1962) i.e. volume 1.2, p.250, with French translation.  In other words this preface reaches us only as part of the “Council of Carthage” in the “Collectio Dionysiana” – I talked about the collections here -, in the material that follows canon 33.  It took a little longer than I would have liked to find all those.

Just for fun, I used Abbyy Finereader 15, and I scanned Fuchs’ material for the Council of Carthage in 397, and I ran the text, and part of the copious footnotes, through Google Translate.  But scanning does make you read the text.  I found that Fuchs text was obviously incomplete.  A footnote indicated that the signatures of the bishops had been omitted; not a good sign.  Likewise in canon 1, I knew that a text of the Nicene Creed should be given; but it was omitted, as a footnote confirmed.

Let’s take a look at the Proemium, and compare what Fuchs gives us, in his archaic German, to the actual Latin text that Mansi prints.  First Fuchs (with the raw Google output after):

44) Unter dem Konsulat des Caesarius und Attikus d. 28ten August. Als sich Aurelius zu Karthago in dem Kirchenzimmer mit den Bischöfen gesezt hatte, und die Diakonen da stunden 45), so sagte er:  Wir versammleten uns, wie ihr wisset, sogleich nach dem zur Synode bestimmten Tag 46), in der Meynung, die Gesandten der übrigen Provinzen vyn Afrika seyen auch angekommen. Man las den Brief der Byzacenischen Bischöfe, welche vor der anberaumen Zeit sich hier eingefunden halten, und was diese sonst mit mir verhandelt halten, vor; man las die Vollmacht der Sitiphensischen Legaten, des Honoratus und Urbanus; nicht weniger das Schreiben des Krescentianus, des Primas von Numidien, und des Aurelius, unserer Mitbischöfe, worinnen sie versprochen haben, sie würden entweder selbst kommen, oder doch der Gewohnheit nach Abgeordnete schicken. Da nun dieses bisher nicht geschehen, und doch die Legaten von dem Sitiphensischen Mauritanien sich langer nicht aufhalten können: so wollen wir nicht nur das Schreiben unserer Byzacenischen Brüder, sondern auch den dem selbigen angehangten und für diese Versammlung bestimmten kurzen Auszug der Kirchenverordnungen noch einmal verlesen lassen, ob nicht etwas daran zu verbessern seyn möchte. Um dieses bittet der verehrungswürdige Primas Mizonius in einem Schreiben an mich.

44) In the consulate of Caesarius and Atticus, on August 28th. When at Carthage Aurelius sat in the church room with the bishops, and the deacons were there,45) he said: “As you know, we met immediately after the day that was set for the Synod 46), in the Meynnung, the ambassadors from the other provinces of Africa had also arrived. The letter from the Byzacene bishops, who were present here before the appointed time and what other things they were negotiating with me, were read out; one read the authority of the Sitiphensian legates, the Honorus and Urbanus; no less the letter from Crescentianus, the primate of Numidia, and from Aurelius, our fellow bishops, in which they promised that they would either come themselves or, as is customary, send delegates. Since this has not happened so far, and yet the legates of Mauritania Sitiphensis cannot stay longer: we want not only the letter from our Byzacene brothers, but also the Breviarium from the same, which is attached to the same and intended for this assembly Have church ordinances read out again to see if something could be improved on them. The venerable Primate Mizonius asks me for this in a letter.”

That’s pretty clear, even without tidying up.  But is it Mansi?

Sadly it is not.  Even a glance shows that Fuchs has omitted the last sentence, “Si ergo placent quae tractata sunt, legantur, & singula a vestra caritate considerentur.” – “If what [the canons] have been handed over is acceptable, let them be read, and considered one by one by your charity.”  There is plenty of verbiage about “your charity” in other places, which Fuchs has omitted.  Cutting out the piffle is sort of OK, although not very.

The Byzacene bishops arrived early, by mistake, and could not stay.  So they compiled a summary of the canons of Hippo, attached to a letter to the council.  In this first session of the council, on 28 August 397, Bishop Aurelius – really the archbishop – now wants the council to review what was said.  That lost sentence by itself is an important omission as to what the council is about to do.

Mansi and Joannou confirm Mansi’s text at this point. Let’s look at Joannou’s text and translation:

De concilio Carthaginensi, ubi multa sunt constituta.

Caesario et Attico viris clarissimis consulibus, V. Kal. Septembris, Carthagine in secretario basilicae restitutae, cum Aurelius episcopus una cum episcopis consedisset, adstantibus diam diaconis, advenientibus quoque Victore sene Puppianense, Tito Migirpense, Evangelo Assuritano, Aurelius episcopus dixit:

Post diem praestitutum concilii consedimus, ut recordamini fratres beatissimi, d arbitrabamur omnium provinciarum per Africam legationes convenisse ad diem, ut dixi, praestitutam nostri tractatus; sed cum sacerdotum nostrorum epistola Byzacenorum fuisset recitata, vel quid mecum iidem, qui tempus d diem concilii praevenerant, tractassent vestrae caritati legeretur, lecta est etiam a fratribus Honoraio et Urbano, qui nobiscum hodie concilio participantur, legatio Sitiphensis provinciae destinata; frater etiam Reginus ecclesiae Vegetselitanae literas ad parvitatem meam datas Crescentiani primae sedis, ut ipse insinuat, Numidiarum et Aurelii coepiscoporum nostrorum; in quibus scriptis vestra mecum caritas recognoscit promisisse eosdem, quod aut ipsi dignarentur venire, aut ad hoc concilium fuissent ex more destinaturi legatos. Sed hoc quia minime factum videtur, diu se detineri de longinquo venientes legati Mauritaniae Sitiphensis non posse testantur.

Et ideo fratres, si vestrae caritati videtur, literae fratrum nostrorum Byzacenorum, sed et breviarium quod eidem epistolae adiunxerunt ad hunc coetum conrogatum legantur, ut si qua forte illic movere caritatis vestrae animum possunt, in eodem breviario quae diligentius fuerint animadversa in melius reformentur. Hoc enim frater et coepiscopus noster primae sedis, vir perspectus merito suae gravitatis atque prudentiae, Mizonius, scribens ad meam parvitatem postulavit. Si ergo placet, quae tractata sunt legantur et singula a vestra caritate considerentur.

Du synode de Carthage, où de nombreuses décisions furent prises.

Sous Césaire et Atticus les clarissimes consuls, le cinquième jour des calendes de septembre, à Carthage, au secrétariat de la basilique Restaurée, sous la présidence d’Aurélius évêque, les évêques étant présents assistés de diacres, y assistant aussi Victor le vénérable évêque de Pupput, Tite évêque de Migirpa, Evangele évêque d’Assuras, Aurélius évêque de Carthage parla aux évêques.

Aurélius évêque dit: Apres le jour fixé pour la réunion du synode, alors que nous siégions, comme vous vous en souvenez, mes tris bienheureux freres, et attendions que les délégués de toutes les provinces d’Afrique arrivent au jour de notre réunion, jour fixé, dis-je, à l’avance, on lut une lettre de nos comministres de la Byzacine; on lut aussi à votre charité les discussions qui ont eu lieu entre moi et ceux qui sont arrivés avant le jour fixé pour le synode; nos frères Honoré et Urbain, qui prennent part à la session de ce jour, nous ont lu la délégation qui fut envoyée du territoire Sitifien; or notre frère Rhéginus de l’église Végétsélitaine présenta à notre modestie des lettres de nos comministres Crescentien et Aurélius, titulaires des premiers sièges des deux Numidies, dans lesquelles, votre charité s’en souvient avec moi, ils promettent ou bien de daigner venir eux-mémes à ce synode ou bien d’y envoyer selon l’usage des délégués. Mais comme cela n’a eu aucunement lieu, les délégués de la Mauritaine Sitifienne, arrivés de si loin, protestent qu’ils ne peuvent s’attarder plus longtemps.

C’est pourquoi, mes frères, si tel est l’avis de votre charité, qu’on lise dans cette réunion bénie les lettres de nos frères de la Byzacène et le mémoire qu’ils y ont ajouté, afin que soit corrigé pour le mieux ce que votre charité estimerait pouvoir être corrigé avec plus de soin; c’est cela en effet que notre frère dans l’épiscopat Mizonius, le titulaire très illustre du premier siège, demande en écrivant à mon humilité d’une manière digne de sa grandeur et de sa prudence. Si donc tel est votre avis, qu’on lise ce qui fut débattu et que votre chanté prête attention à chaque question.

As it is late, I will merely run the French through Google Translate and touch it up a bit.  My experience is that the French is sometimes a paraphrase, but it will serve for our purpose.

From the Synod of Carthage, where many decisions were made.

Under Caesarius and Atticus the most honourable consuls, on the fifth day of the kalends of September, in Carthage, at the secretariat of the Restored Basilica, under the presidency of bishop Aurelius, the bishops being present assisted by deacons, also assisting there Victor the venerable bishop of Puppianum, Titus bishop of Migirpa, Evangelus bishop of Assuras; Aurelius bishop of Carthage spoke to the bishops.

Bishop Aurelius said, “After the day fixed for the meeting of the synod, while we were sitting, as you will remember, my very blessed brothers, and waiting for the delegates from all the provinces of Africa to arrive on the day of our meeting, a day fixed, I said, in advance, we read a letter from our co-ministers of Byzacene; the discussions which took place between me and those who arrived before the day fixed for the synod were also read to your charity; our brothers Honorius and Urbanus, who are taking part in today’s session, read us the delegation that was sent from Sitifian province; also our brother Rheginus of the Vegetselitan church presented to our modesty letters from our commissioners Crescentianus and Aurelius, holders of the first sees of the two Numidias, in which, your charity remembers it with me, they promise to come to this synod or else to send delegates according to custom. But as this did not happen at all, the delegates from Mauritania Sitifiense, who had arrived from so far away, protested that they could not linger any longer.

And so, my brothers, if this is the opinion of your charity, let us read in this blessed meeting the letters of our brothers of Byzacene and the summary that they added to it, so that what your charity would think could be corrected with more care may be corrected for the better.  This is indeed what our brother in the episcopate Mizonius, the very illustrious holder of the first see, asks by writing to my humility in a manner worthy of his greatness and his prudence. So if that is your opinion, let us read what was debated and let your charity consider each question.”

There is a lot of verbiage in that, compared to Fuchs.  Fuchs gives us the essence of what Aurelius said; but not the actual wording.  So his version must not be relied on.

Looking at it differently, however, Fuchs does at least express an opinion, in fairly simple German, as to what these texts actually say, behind all the “your charity” and “our modesty” honorifics.  I have already found that the Latin can be rather involved.  So anybody working with these texts may still find the briefer version of Fuchs of use.

Update (24/03/2021): I have discovered that the NPNF has a translation of this proemium, which is in fact embedded in the “code of the African church” material here, after canon 33, just as it is in the “collection Dionysiana”.  Here it is:

Aurelius, the bishop, said:[438] After the day fixed for the council, as ye remember, most blessed brethren, we sat and waited for the legations of all the African provinces to assemble upon the day, as I have said, set by our missive; but when the letter of our Byzacene bishops had been read, that was read to your charity, which they had discussed with me who had anticipated the time and day of the council; also it was read by our brethren Honoratus and Urban, who are to-day present with us in this council, sent as the legation of the Sitifensine Province. For our brother Reginus of the Vege[t]selitane[439] Church,[440] the letters sent to my littleness by Crescentian and Aurelius, our fellow-bishops, of the first sees of the [two] Numidias, in which writings your charity will see with me how they promised that either they themselves would be good enough to come or else that they would send legates according to custom to this council; but this it seems they did not do at all, the legates of Mauritania Sitifensis, who had come so great a distance gave notice that they could stay no longer; and, therefore, brethren, if it seem good to your charity, let the letters of our Byzacene brethren, as also the breviary, which they joined to the same letter, be read to this assembly, so that if by any chance they are not entirely satisfactory to your charity, such things in the breviary may be changed for the better after diligent examination. For this very thing our brother and fellow-bishop of the primatial see, a man justly conspicuous for his gravity and prudence, Mizonius, demanded in a letter he addressed to my littleness. If therefore it meets with your approval, let there be read the things which have been adopted and let each by itself be considered by your charity.

A couple of the footnotes are interesting:

I will write more about existing English translations.


Let’s kill all the umlauts!

We all know the umlaut.  It’s those two dots above the vöwëls in German words.  It also appears in the names of low-grade heavy-metal bands, as a way to seem more Germanic.

But how many of us know that the umlaut is completely fake?

in 1783, G. D. Fuchs issued his Bibliothek der Kirchenversammlungen des vierten und funften Jahrhunderts – Library of Church Councils of the Fourth and Fifth Centuries – in multiple volumes at Leipzig.  Being German, he printed it in a “Fraktur” typeface – that horrible, unreadable Germanic “gothic” typeface.

But modern technology is wonderful, and I’ve been scanning some of it and creating an electronic text.  And I noticed something…

Here’s an example.

At the top is what the OCR software makes of the text.  At the bottom is the image being scanned.

But notice the “Umstände”.  In Fuchs text, the modern umlaut is actually printed as a tiny little letter “e”!!

I’m sure we all remember the fat Nazi Reichsmarshal from numerous war films.  In German, of course, he is “Göring”, with his umlaut correctly in place.  In English we say “Goering”.  It turns out that we are right.  That umlaut, the funny looking vowel with a funny-looking mark, is just fake.  His name really was Goering, and the Germans just wrote it in a funny way that just looked more Germanic on the page.

Longer ago, the German language in German books were rather less, um, Germanic.  I’ve noticed in the past that the spellings in Austrian books in the 1890s are less Germanic than in those produced in the Reich in the same period.  Cologne is not spelled with a K until recent times.  I get the impression that the Germans during the 18-19th centuries must have gone off on a weird tangent.  Probably it’s nationalism or something, but it doesn’t half make their books hard to read.

Thankfully they don’t use Fraktur any more.  I am told that in 1941, in a blow for sanity, Adolf Hitler banned the use of it.   Yes, you read that correctly – we don’t use the words “sane” and “Hitler” in the same sentence that often.  It’s a sign of how mad things had got, that Hitler was the voice of reason.  Today I believe that the modern German governments have been trying to simplify, getting rid of the double-s, and things like that.  It must be welcome.

But all the same… how about all those umlauts really being just an abbreviated lower-case letter “e”?  I bet bands like Moeterhead and Doekken would have been really annoyed.


Ancient collections of church council canons and acts

In the ancient period, bishops often assembled in councils.  There are famous cases, like Nicaea, where they did so in order to rule on some point of doctrine that had suddenly become a “hot button” issue.  In this case, they would issue a creed which clarified the point.  But they also held councils in order to reach agreement on administrative matters; things like whether disputes could be appealed to Rome, how the collection money should be handled, and so on.  These were not matters of belief and faith, but practical matters.  In this case the bishops would put out a set of canons, with their decisions on the questions.  A council might well do both, as Nicaea did.

The record of their administrative decisions might be published, as a list of decisions (“canons”), and perhaps a summary of the discussion (the “acts” of the council), some prefatory material, any letters to or from the council, and so on.  In the beginning this material sometimes contained doctrinal matters, but from the 6th century onwards it became entirely administrative.

Inevitably such items from authoritative councils – not every council was accepted! – were gathered into collections, and, in time, reorganised by subject matter.  These are transmitted to us in the medieval manuscripts, and it is in this form that the output from a council usually reach us.

The material was orginally arranged in historico-chronological order, but this changes to subject-matter order (“systematic” order) in the early 6th century, influenced by the structure of Justinian’s Digest of Roman Law, issued in 534.

The ancient collections are all given by Lotte Kéry, Canonical Collections of the Early Middle Ages (Ca. 400–1140): A Bibliographical Guide to Manuscripts and Literature, CUA (1999).  This lists them in chronological order.  But few have access to this, and it is probably too detailed for the newcomer.  So here is a sketch of the major collections.

*    *    *    *

Greek collections

The process of collection started in the East in the fourth century.

  1. The “Corpus Antiochenum” (lost). 193 canons. Antioch in the time of Melitius, after 379.    It was also used by Dionysius Exiguus who translated material from it into Latin for his own collection.  The canons are numbered, and as it grew, additional canons were added in numerical order at the back.  It begins with the canons of Nicaea (325), and includes the canons of the councils at Ancyra, Neocaesarea, with the canons of Antioch (328) and Gangra (343) and a collection from Laodicea.  It was later enlarged to add the canons of Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451).
  2. The “Collectio LX titulorum” (“Sixty Titles”), (lost). This replaced the “Corpus Antiochenum”. It appeared soon after the publication of Justinian’s legal code in 534, and, like the code of Justinian, was arranged in subject order.
  3. The “Collectio L titulorum” (“Fifty titles”) is extant and was compiled by John Scholasticus around 550 AD from the Sixty Titles. It is in subject-matter order. It was translated into Old Slavonic and became the basis for the canon law of Methodius.

The subsequent Greek collections are not important to us here.

Translations of the Greek Material

The “Corpus Antiochenum” collection of Greek canons was translated shortly after the Council of Chalcedon in 451 into both Latin and Syriac.  The early Latin translations are:

  1. The “Collectio Hispana” or “Collectio Isidoriana” is so-called because it was inserted in the later Collectio Dionysio-Hispana.
  2. The “Collectio Itala” or “Collectio Prisca” or “Prisca Versio” is mentioned by Dionysius Exiguus, who said that his own translations were an improvement. This is preserved best in the Collectio Ingilrami in cod. Vat. Reg. 1997, and in the MS of Justel (Bodleian, Mus.100–102).

Edition: G. Voellus and H. Justel, eds. Bibliotheca iuris canonici veteris, 2 v. (Paris 1661) 1:277–320; reprint PL 56:747–816.

The same corpus was translated into Syriac around the same time.  This was used by most of the oriental churches, and so survives in that form.

African Source Materials

Four major chunks of material originated in Africa.  This then made its way into the collections.

1. The “Breviarium Hipponense” was a summary of the decisions of the council of Hippo in 393. It was created at the Council of Carthage in 397, during the first session on 13 August 397, and modified and confirmed at the full council on 28 August. Both versions still exist.  Material from it was used by Dionysius Exiguus in his second edition.  CCL 149. 28–44.

2. The “Gesta de nomine Apiarii” or “Codex Apiarii causae”, the “Dossier of the Apiarius affair”, refers to a bogus appeal by a deposed priest named Apiarius over the head of his bishop to Pope Zosimus.  It exists to show that the African church was independent of Rome.  It contains the documents: the council in 419, all the documents proving that the Pope had no jurisdiction, and a letter from the council of 424 to Pope Celestine when Apiarius tried it on again.      This material ended up in several later collections which are preserved.  CCL 149. 89–172.

3.  The “Registri ecclesiae Carthaginensis excerpta” or “Codex canonum ecclesiae Africanae” (= “African code”) is a bunch of excerpts from African councils from Hippo in 393 to Carthage in 418, starting with the “Breviarium Hipponense”.  A big chunk of this has survived, interpolated by Dionysius Exiguus into the middle of the second edition of his collection.  CCL 149. 182–247.  First used in Coll.Dion.II, where they are numbered 34–133 following CCAR.419, and go under the rubric ‘Recitata sunt etiam in ista synodo diuersa concilia uniuersae prouinciae Africae transactis temporibus Aurelii Carthaginensis episcopi celebrata’.

4.  The “Breviatio canonum” of Fulgentius Ferrandus, deacon of Carthage, composed around 546. This followed the new eastern practice of placing material in subject order.  It consists of 232 abbreviated canons from the usual list, including African canons from Carthage 348 to Juncense 523. CCL 149. 287–306.

Latin Collections

These are the main collections of council material that circulated in the west.

1. The “Collectio Quesnelliana”, so named after its first publisher, is perhaps the earliest medieval collection, originating either in Gaul or in Rome. It was probably compiled around 494 under Pope Gelasius I. It contains canons and other historical documents focused on the Acacian schism.  Chapters 1-5 contain a Latin translation of canons from the major 4th century Greek councils, in the so-called “Isidorian” translation; together with canons from African councils.

The standard edition is that of the Ballerini brothers, Sancti Leonis Magni…. opera, vol. 3, cols. 13-472 (1757), reprinted in PL 56, cols 359A-746C.  Online here:

2. The “Collectio Dionysiana” was compiled in Rome ca. 514. Dionysius Exiguus produced two editions of a mega-collection of canons, translating Greek material very accurately, at the request of Stephen, bishop of Salona. Only the preface survives of a third edition commissioned by Pope Hormisdas.  The work is divided into two books, the liber canonum and the liber decretalium.  The second book was a collection of 41 papal decretals, essentially papal letters.  An official canon book did not exist until the 13th century, but the Collectio Dionysiana was very influential.  34 manuscripts of it are known.  The African council material is ascribed to a “Concilium Africanum”.

2.1. The first edition contained a Latin translation of the first fifty of the canons of the Apostles and the canons of Nicaea, Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Gangra, Antioch, Laodicea, and Constantinople, followed by the canons of Serdica, Carthage 419, and other materials concerning the affair of Apiarius, and finally the first twenty-seven of the canons of Chalcedon.

Modern edition: A. STREWE, Die Canonessammlung des Dionysius Exiguus in der ersten Redaktion, Berlin, 1931.

2.2. The second edition began with the canons of the Apostles, followed by the canons from Nicaea to Constantinople in continuous numeration from 1 to 165, plus the canons of Chalcedon and Serdica together with a larger body of African material from the Registri ecclesiae Carthaginensis excerpta.  Each of the three latter groups numbered separately.

Edition: Christophe Justel, “Codex canonum ecclesiasticorum Dionysii Exigui”, Paris 1628 and 1643.  Reprinted PL 67, cols 139–230. 1628:; 1643:

3. The “Collectio (Dionysio-)Hadriana” is the Dionysian collection with some additions. The prefaces of Dionysius are replaced by an epistle in verse from Hadrian to Charlemagne.  The canons of Carthage are in two groups.  It was sent to Charlemagne at Easter 774 by Pope Hadrian, and was officialy received as the code of the Frankish church in 802.  At least 100 manuscripts are known.  There is no complete edition.

Manuscripts: 2 online at the Bodleian: Also see Ms. Cologne, Dombibl. 115, 116, 117.  Online somewhere at

4. The “Collectio Hispana” or “Collectio Isidoriana” is also the Dionysian collection, but with Spanish material added. It circulated almost exclusively in Spain and remained important until the 12th century. It dates from the first half of the seventh century. The author is sometimes thought to be Isidore of Seville.  It exists in two versions.  The original “Hispana chronologica” was reworked with additional documents into subject order around 700 AD – the “Hispana systematica”.  The African material appears as the canons of eight councils (the material from the “fourth” is bogus, tho: really a 6th century document from Arles).

Modern critical edition: G. MARTÍNEZ DÍEZ, ed., La colección canónica Hispana, 5 vols, Madrid, 1966-1992.

The following collections are less important to us.

5. In the fifth or sixth century Cresconius created his Concordia canonum conciliorium (Concord of conciliar canons). This was arranged by subject (“systematically”).  It is mainly from ecumenical councils and papal decretals but includes some African canons.

Edition: K. Zechiel-Eckes, Die Concordia canonum des Cresconius, Berlin: Peter Lang (1992). Manuscript: Köln, Dombibliothek 120.

6. The “Collectio Sanblasiana” made use of Dionysius for the conciliar material, but not for the decretals. Compiled in the early 6th century, probably in Italy.

There is no edition: the text must be consulted in manuscript.  Source, manuscripts, contents:

7. In Gaul the “Collectio vetus Gallica” was compiled in the early 7th century, probably near Lyon, and possibly by Bp. Etherius of Lyon. This was in subject order and circulated north of the Alps.

8. In Ireland around 700 the “Collectio Hibernensis”, including local Irish synods. Very abbreviated, often false ascriptions.  It circulated where Irish missionaries went in Europe.

Manuscript: Köln, Dombibliothek 210

9. Around 850 an unknown author near Reims created the pseudo-Isidorian collection, complete with the Forged Decretals. It is an enlarged version of an interpolated Hispana.  It contains a chronologically arranged collection of decretals (of 29 popes before Constantine) and conciliar canons.  154 manuscripts.

Sources:;;; Horst Fuhrmann, “The Pseudo-Isidorian Forgeries,” in Detlev Jasper and Horst Fuhrmann, Papal Letters in the Early Middle Ages (Washington D.C., 2001), 137–195.

The later medieval collections are not our concern here.

It should always be remembered that, as well as the material included in the collections, there are other pieces of literature preserved from the councils, as stray bits of text in miscellaneous manuscripts.  This means that canons can sometimes be discovered, transmitted some other way.

General bibliography

  • Maassen, Geschichte der Quellen und der Literatur des kanonischen Rechts im Abendlande bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters (Graz, 1870). This is in brief numbered sections, and quite readable.

The following two books are organised in much the same way as this post, but in much more detail.

Other sources

Some manuscripts are listed here.


We need more books on “Urban Legends of Church History”

A kind correspondent drew my attention to the following volume: Michael Svigel and John Adair, Urban Legends of Church History: 40 Common Misconceptions, B&H (2020).  The book appeared at the end of last year, and is some 340 pages long.  It is issued by a publisher in Nashville, who does not seem very clued-up about how to promote the book.  There is no Google Books preview, for instance.  It has started to trickle into Christian publishers, I see.  As such it probably doesn’t have that long a shelf-life, as Christian paperbacks often do not, which is a pity.  I have access to some of it, and I’ve had a quick look at those sections that I know something about.

But before I do, I think we need to say that all such books are very welcome.  The internet is drowning in false information about Christianity.  Ordinary people have no way to know that they are being misled, or crudely lied to.  When someone says, as some people do, that “Easter is borrowed from an ancient pagan festival long predating Christianity”, then educated people rub their eyes and wonder how anybody can know so little history.  But most people do not know any history.  Such a claim is not instantly recognisable as a crude falsehood.  There are various people on Twitter who make an effort to combat this sort of thing, but the major news channels do not.  Indeed they often amplify it.  Lazy journalists scoop this rubbish up and repeat it.

There has always been a trickle of such stuff.  Some of it comes from fringe protestant groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  A lot of it comes from atheists, or neo-atheists.  I noticed in 2018 that there was a sudden upsurge: suddenly there was a mass of posts, jeering that every single Christian holiday was “pagan”.  It is possible that this is related to the rather horrible US politics of our day, and the organised online campaign against President Trump.  Whatever the reason, it is there, and getting worse.

Academics do not tend to write such books.  There is a very good reason for this, which we see as soon as we look at the list of topics covered by Svigel and Adair.  It covers the whole range of church history from 50 AD right down to our own day.  Few specialists would feel comfortable, or qualified, to write over all those fields.

But it does mean that those with the authority to demolish such claims are leaving the field open.  Svigel and Adair are writing for the Christian constituency in the US, and apparently with fringe protestants mainly in mind.  The style of the book is intended to be read by that audience.  The references are to books which, if not commonplace, may be accessible to them.  So they refer to the Theodosian Code, the legal compilation of late imperial rescripts from 450 AD.  But in doing so the footnotes refer to “Oliver J. Fletcher, in The Library of Original Sources, vol. 4, Early Mediaeval Age (Milwaukee: University Research Extension, 1907), 70″ – never heard of it – rather than the standard translation of the whole Code: Clyde Pharr: The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. A Translation with Commentary, Glossary, and Bibliography. (The Corpus of Roman Law, Vol. I.) Pp. xxvi+643; map. Princeton: University Press (London: Oxford University Press), 1952.  Then again, who has access to Pharr?  I certainly did not for a very great period.  So this is not a vice, but rather a way to serve their chosen constituency.  All the same, the book loses utility when handed to someone outside that constituency.  This is why a range of books is necessary.

But let’s return to Svigel and Blair.  They try to find the original of each legend.  Reading the book, you realise what an influence the Da Vinci Code has been in spreading misinformation.  Again and again I find that online false claims go back to that novel.

Looking at the first chapter, on the idea that the first Christians worshipped on Saturday rather than Sunday – clearly a fringe protestant claim – they rightly quote the apostolic fathers – the Didache, Barnabas, and Ignatius of Antioch.  More would have been better, but might not have suited their audience.  I’m not quite sure that the Didache is usually dated as early as 50-70 AD, as they suggest, although that date seems reasonable enough to me.  The chapter ends with some “resources” for further reading.  The pages that I have place the footnotes as endnotes – an evil practice – although as they seem to be printed from a Kindle version, possibly this is not so in the book itself.

Chapter 8 on the Trinity addresses the claim that the Trinity is a late addition.  It ought to make clear Tertullian’s role; and also his claim that what he says is what the church believed from the first.  But again the book is probably addressing Mormons or the like.  Their concern is to show from the bible that the teaching is what the bible says.  I think they do this quite well.

Something that comes across from the book is that, in order to refute the false ideas, they have to explain to the reader some very basic facts about the history of the church.  At points this will seem babyish to most readers of this blog; but they are right, and it is clearly absolutely necessary.  The critics who are so sure that this myth or that is history – “research it!” the myth-repeaters often smugly say – in fact don’t know the most elementary things.  It makes such a book very hard to read, for me.  But it probably is the only way.

I do not envy the authors.  They have grappled with a difficult task, and done it well.  Some of the legends were unknown to me, and I learned something from their chapter on it.

All the same, there is a need for more books like this.  There needs to be such a book, written by an atheist for atheists; by Hindus for Hindus, and so on.  None of this is, or should be, a question of religion.  These are matters on which there should be no disagreement, because they are simple matters of fact that can be looked up.


Eusebius of Caesarea’s Commentary on the Psalms: critical text now online. And did you know there is an Italian translation?

A kind correspondent draws my attention to an important blog post by Tommaso Interi on the Patristics.It blog, in English here, and in Italian here.  He points out that a preliminary text has appeared online of the new edition of Eusebius of Caesarea’s enormous Commentary on the Psalms.  It’s at this link:  They have also produced a text with German translation of the “Hypomnema de Psalmis” (CPG 1426), usually attributed to Origen but recently reattributed to Eusebius (online here).[1]

The edition is from the Berlin-Brandenburgischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, and the three sections of the work have been edited by Barbara Villani (Ps 1-50), Cordula Bandt (Ps 51-100) and Franz-Xaver Risch (Ps 101-150).  Only the commentary on Ps.51-100 has been transmitted to us intact; the remainder has been recovered from quotations in the catenas, the medieval Greek bible commentaries.

The site is run by Città Nuova, the Italian publisher of a great many translations of patristic texts.  The post naturally reminds us that in 2004 the company produced a two-volume translation of the entire work![2]  I don’t think that I knew this, and I suspect that I am not alone in this.  The translation was made by Maria Benedetta Artioli.  It is available still from the publisher, although I find that research libraries don’t tend to hold it.

The translation is naturally based on the text in the Patrologia Graeca, going back to the Maurist fathers of the 18th century.  My correspondent has also discovered that a generous preview of each is accessible online!

Volume 1:
Volume 2:

Here’s the cover of volume 1, in the characteristic softback livery of Città Nuova.

It is great to see such progress with one of the neglected works of antiquity.  The accessibility of

  1. [1]C. Bandt, F. Risch, “Das Hypomnema des Origenes zu den Psalmen – eine unerkannte Schrift des Eusebius”, Adamantius, 19, 2013, p. 395-435.  This includes an edition.
  2. [2]Eusebio di Cesarea, Commento ai Salmi 1 (1-71), Città Nuova (2004), ISBN 978-8831131766, Publisher page here; Eusebio di Cesarea, Commento ai Salmi 2 (72-151), Città Nuova (2004), ISBN/EAN 9788831131773. Publisher page here.

The canons of the councils of Africa – a few general thoughts

Few of us are specialists in the material left to us by the early councils of the church. But it is often said that the canon of scripture was “decided” by the “Council of Hippo” or the “Council of Carthage in 397”. This sort of claim is very hard for most of us to evaluate. Handbooks on the bible usually quote a single “canon”, devoid of context. This leaves most of us none the wiser. Many will find themselves wondering just what they are looking at. How do we find out more?  Where does this stuff come from?

I know that some readers will know a lot about this; but others won’t.  So let’s just give a quick view of what these things are.

The ancient church produced dossiers of decisions made by councils, together with prefatory matter, or letters written at the time, and so forth.  These are not literary texts, composed by a single author and intended to be transmitted exactly as written. They are technical texts, like agricultural handbooks, or, better, legal texts.  Technical texts are subject to revision, to updating, improving, abbreviating, and so forth. This is because they are created for a practical purpose, and later copyists may have other things to add on the same subject.

The medieval church had a rule book, which covered administrative matters. We refer to this material – jargon term – as “canon law”. The content within it has passed through just such a process of revision. But much of it ultimately derives from the ancient world.

Councils of bishops tended to gather from earliest times in order to decide on a common approach in case of disputes. This could be theological, but it could equally relate to practical matters of church administration and membership.

A council would often issue a set of “canons”, rules or decisions, on practical matters of church discipline. These were not “holy writ”. They could be, and were, ignored, modified, adopted, and so on. A later council might well revisit the canons of an earlier council, omitting or adding to them, as circumstances changed.

The “acts” of a council could comprise the minutes of the meeting, the signatories, any canons issued, and any covering letters or other correspondence. They might also include a summary of the canons of earlier councils.

Material of this sort starts to survive from the councils of the fourth century. There are twenty canons from the council of Nicaea in 325, covering matters such as whether eunuchs can be ordained, how people should stand in church, and the like. They are very brief. But the authority of Nicaea was widely disputed until the latter part of the fourth century.

Not all councils were considered authoritative. But over time it was natural that collections would be made of the acts of such councils as were considered authoritative.

Not every council issued canons. Not every council had its minutes recorded. In many cases the material is lost. If the canons survived, later writers might find differing versions of the canons in circulation. For instance the Council of Carthage in 419, confronted with a version of the canons of Nicaea which asserted Papal primacy in the west, discovered that this canon was in fact interpolated from the unauthoritative Council of Sardica.

It is at the end of the fourth century that the great series of councils of bishops in Africa begins, which were highly influential on other western provinces. These councils were held almost annually by Aurelius of Carthage, with the assistance of St Augustine, as a way to organise the weak Catholic church in the province in order to combat the Donatist majority. Material of various sorts from these councils survives. The council of Hippo in 393 made various decisions, but these do not seem to have circulated very well. The material from the council of Carthage in 397 begins with a covering letter by Bp. Aurelius to a summary of the canons of the council of Hippo in 393 – the Breviarium Hipponense – saying that this was necessary because many bishops pretended ignorance of what the council had decided. It seems that thereafter Aurelius left nothing to chance, and arranged for notaries to record what was said.

The African canons were well-thought out and well thought of. Material produced by this process finds its way into the medieval manuscripts from which we derive almost all ancient literature and much else. Compilations or excerpts of this material feed into later antique collections of canonical material, in Spain and Gaul. Much of it was also translated into Greek. For instance the great collection of canons by Dionysius Exiguus in the early 500s, contains a whole section devoted to the “code of the church of Africa” (Codex canonum ecclesiae Africae). From there it passes into later medieval texts like the Decretum of Gratian, which are outside our concern.

The original texts are the dossier issued by the council at the time. These do not survive as distinct and complete entities, although some – such as the Council of Carthage of 419 – come very close. The way that these texts are edited, therefore, is to gather together materials that relate to each particular council, and simply give the councils in chronological order. There is, obviously, a great deal of room for disagreement as to how such material should be organised, which is one reason why it can be hard to know what we are dealing with, when we look at an individual canon. Just where do these words come from?

The canon of scripture is listed in a canon of a couple of the ancient African councils.  This term, the “canon of scripture”, itself can confuse laymen. It has nothing to do with the use of the term “canon” for the decisions of the councils. The only connection is the use of the jargon word “canon”, for a rule or set of rules. The canon of scripture, the list of divinely inspired books, is not the product of any ancient council, but of a more gradual process which I don’t intend to address.


From my diary

I have started to look again at the canonical material relating to the councils of Africa.  What I’m trying to investigate is the material that supposedly defines the canon of scripture.  But to do so, I need to understand what I’m dealing with – the sources for the canonical material.  I’ve decided that I will have to do a set of pre-planned posts about this, which will be a first.  It’s not quite clear to me what I have to say, or how to structure this, so I’ve started to draft them offline in a Word document where I can chop stuff around a bit.  It’s quite a task just to organise my thoughts and the material to which I have been exposed.

Bit of information are dribbling in.  There is an interesting article at Wikipedia, of all places, on the Collectio Canonum Quesnelliana, a 6th century collection of ancient canon material first published by the Jansenist P. Quesnell.  The author “Eltheodigraeardgesece” appears to be genuinely learned, and started to write some articles on ancient canonical collections.  The overview is here.  I’ve seen worse.  Sadly he seems to have stopped editing three years ago.

Today I came across an interesting-sounding book, John Adair & Michael Svigel, Urban Legends of Church History, B&H (2020) – publisher page here.  I’ve been spending some time on twitter discouraging the circulation of the dafter-sounding claims about Easter, so I am very aware of the need for such a volume.  I’m not entirely sure who this is directed at – possibly some of the fringe sects of American Protestantism – but it can only do good, whoever is intended.  If I can get a review copy, I will comment on it.


“Four major challenges to discipleship”, by Justin Martyr (sort of)

Last night I saw this interesting tweet:

Justin Martyr (AD 100–165) identified four major challenges to discipleship:

1. sexual immorality
2. wealth
3. magic
4. ethnic hatred

Sub technology for magic and little has changed in almost 2,000 years

Interesting indeed, and probably entirely true.

But … Justin’s works are mainly apologetic.  So where did he say this?

The source for this, and other tweets based upon it, seems to be this tweet from 2017 by Andy Crouch:

Justin (AD 100-165) saw the four key challenges to discipleship as sexual immorality, magic, wealth, and ethnic hatred. (Apol. XIV)

I have also seen this, with added quotes, as if it was a direct quotation from the works of Justin.  Here is an example:

From a colleague: In the 2nd century, Justin Martyr named the 4 biggest challenges to Christians as “sexual immorality, magic, wealth and ethnic hatred”. Sub out magic for technology (magic w/algorithms) and not much has changed for humanity in almost 2000 years. Mike drop.

This is one way in which we get fake quotations, without anybody intending fraud.  Someone summarises in a striking way, and then others quote the summariser, and others assume the quotes refer to the author.

Thankfully Mr Crouch includes a reference, to the 1st Apology of Justin, chapter 14.  Here it is, in the old ANF translation – probably what was used:

[The demons] subdue all who make no strong opposing effort for their own salvation. And thus do we also, since our persuasion by the Word, stand aloof from them (i.e., the demons), and follow the only unbegotten God through His Son – we who formerly delighted in fornication, but now embrace chastity alone; we who formerly used magical arts, dedicate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who valued above all things the acquisition of wealth and possessions, now bring what we have into a common stock, and communicate to every one in need; we who hated and destroyed one another, and on account of their different manners would not live with men of a different tribe, now, since the coming of Christ, live familiarly with them, and pray for our enemies, and endeavour to persuade those who hate us unjustly to live comformably to the good precepts of Christ, to the end that they may become partakers with us of the same joyful hope of a reward from God the ruler of all.

One sentence without taking a breath!  Thanks, Justin.  In the Fathers of the Church 6 translation by T. B. Falls (p.46-7) it is as follows:

They ensnare, now by apparitions in dreams, now by tricks of magic, all those who do not labor with all their strength for their own salvation–even as we, also, after our conversion by the Word have separated ourselves from those demons and have attached ourselves to the only unbegotten  God, through His Son. We who once reveled in impurities now cling to purity; we who devoted ourselves to the arts of magic now consecrate ourselves to the good and unbegotten God; we who loved above all else the ways of acquiring riches and possessions now hand over to a community fund what we possess, and share it with every needy person; we who hated and killed one another and would not share our hearth with those of another tribe because of their [different] customs, now, after the coming of Christ, live together with them, and pray for our enemies, and try to convince those who hate us unjustly, so that they who live according to the good commands of Christ may have a firm hope of receiving the same reward as ourselves from God who governs all.

Which is much the same.

But is Justin Martyr talking about “the four key challenges to discipleship”?  Not really.  He’s talking about the effect that Christ has had on the lives of those who accept him.

All the same, I think Justin would probably have approved of the interpretation.