Decretum Gelasianum

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The so-called Decretum Gelasianum or the Gelasian Decree was traditionally attributed to the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496. In surviving manuscripts the Decretal exists on its own and also appended to a list of books of Scripture titled as attested as canonical by a Council of Rome under Pope Damasus I, bishop of Rome 366–383. Since that list contains a quotation from Augustine, writing about 416, it is evident that the title Incipit Concilium Vrbis Romae sub Damaso Papa de Explanatione Fidei, the so-called Damasine List, is of no historical value,[1] although the canon presented herein represents the same canon as shown in the Council of Carthage Canon 24, 419 AD.[2]


The Decretal include a list of works adjudged apocryphal "by Pope Gelasius and seventy most erudite bishops." Though the ascriptions are generally agreed to be apocryphal themselves, except among the most traditional of apologists, perhaps reflecting the seventy translators of the Septuagint and the seventy apostles sent out in Luke, this list de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis ("of books to be admitted and not to be admitted"), probably originating in the 6th century, represents a tradition that can be traced back to Pope Damasus I and reflects Roman practice in the development of the Biblical canon. In the list of gospels, the order is given as Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Fourteen epistles are credited to Paul including Philemon and Hebrews. Of the General Epistles seven are accepted: two of Peter, one of James, one of the apostle John, two of "the other John the elder" (presbyter), and one of "Judas the Zealot".[3]

The Decretum is in several parts: the second part is a canon catalogue, and the fifth part is a catalogue of the 'apocrypha' and other writings which are to be rejected. These apocrypha are not the same as the Deuterocanonical Books, but include the Acts of Andrew and other spurious works. The Deuterocanonical Books are accepted by the catalogue, and are still found in the Roman Catholic Bible, though not in the Protestant canon. The canon catalogue gives 27 books of the New Testament (Parts 1, 3, and 4 are not relevant to the canon.)

Textual history[edit]

The complete text is preserved in the mid-eighth-century Ragyndrudis Codex, fols. 57r-61v,[4] which is the earliest manuscript copy containing the complete text. The earliest manuscript copy was produced c. 700, Brussels 9850-2.[5]


  1. ^ Burkitt.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Decretum Gelasianum.
  4. ^ Stork, Hans-Walter (1994). "Der Codex Ragyundrudis im Domschatz zu Fulda (Codex Bonifatianus II)". In Lutz E. von Padberg Hans-Walter Stork. Der Ragyndrudis-Codes des Hl. Bonifatius (in German). Paderborn, Fulda: Bonifatius, Parzeller. pp. 77–134. ISBN 3870888113. 
  5. ^ McKitterick, Rosamond (1989-06-29). The Carolingians and the Written Word. Cambridge UP. p. 202. ISBN 9780521315654. 

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