Nomocanons is a term used to designate the compilations containing all special legislation for ecclesiastical purposes. SEE CANON LAW. In the Eastern Church the expression κάνονες was used to designate ecclesiastical rules, and νόμοι civil (imperial) laws. There were at first separate collections of each. The Greek canons were originally arranged in chronological order, but were subsequently divided according to their nature, as by John Scholasticus (q.v.), who was patriarch of Constantinople under the emperor Justinian (564). He arranged them under fifty heads; his collection contained, besides, eighty-five so-called canons of the apostles, the decisions of the synods of Nicaea, Ancyra, Neocaesarea, Gangra, Sardica, Antioch, Laodicea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon, and sixty- eight canons taken from three letters of Basilius (published in Justelli et Voellii Biblioth. jur. can. Lutet. [Paris] 2:499 sq.; comp. Assemani, Biblioth. jur. oriental. canon. et civil. [Rome, 1762] 3:354 sq.). The civil ordinances and laws were also gathered in collections — some official, some private. The great number of imperial decrees soon rendered it necessary, however, to collect separately such as referred to ecclesiastical matters. We know of three such collections of the νόμοι. The first, compiled by the above-mentioned John Scholasticus, patriarch of Constantinople, after the death of the emperor Justinian (tj 565), contains, besides an introduction, eighty-seven chapters extracted from ten decrees of Justinian (published in Heimbach, Anecdota [Leips. 1838], 2:202 sq.). The second, whose author is unknown, and which was compiled shortly after the first, contains twenty-five chapters of imperial constitutions from the codes and decrees of Justinian (published in Heimbach, Anecdota, p. 145 sq.). Finally, the third, by an unknown author, and written probably during the latter years of the reign of Justin II (565578), contains, 1, the first thirteen titles of the Codex; 2, a number of extracts from the Institutes and Pandects referring to the jus ecclesiasticum; and, 3, the first three titles of the commentary of Athanasius Scholasticus (Emesanus) on the decrees of Justinian, and four decrees of Heraclius (610-641) on ecclesiastical matters. This collection, published in the Bibliotheca juris canon of Voellius and Justellus, 2:1223 sq., was formerly erroneously attributed to Theodorus Balsamon, a distinguished jurist of the second half of the 11th century, whence it received the name of Pseudo-Balsamon. Soon after the death of Justinian collections began to appear, containing both the canons and such of the νόμοι as referred to ecclesiastical matters, and these received the name of Nomocanons. Among them we find,
1. A collection which was long attributed to John Scholasticus. Some MSS. name a certain Theodoretus Cyrrensis (or Cyprensis, Cytrensis), episcopus, as its author. It contains the above-mentioned work of John Scholasticus in fifty titles, to each one of which is appended the corresponding νόμοι from the collection in eighty-seven chapters of the same author, to which is added an appendix containing twenty-one other chapters of the latter collection. The MSS., which differ on several points from each other, do not give the work the title of Nomocanon; vet it was often designated by that name until the 16th century (it is published in Voellius and Justellus, Biblioth. jur. can. 2:603 sq.).
2. A second collection, which has not come down to us, is known by the description of it contained in the third, known as the Nomocanon of Photius, of which it forms the basis. It seems to have consisted of two parts, the first containing the decrees of the early councils, the so-called apostolic canons, and the decisions of the fathers, thus forming a collection of canons; the second was a nomocanon divided into fourteen titles, in which, to all canones quoted, were added extracts from the Justinian laws. This second part is to be found in the Cod. Bodlej. 715 (Laud. 73); see Zachariae Histor. jur. Graeco-Roman. delineatio (Heidelb. 1839), and Kritische Jahrb. f. deutsche Rechtswissenschaft, 6:983. This collection was written previously to the Concilium Quinisextum, in Trullo (692), and recent investigations have rendered it probable that this and the above- mentioned work of the Pseudo-Balsamon are productions of the same author. See Biener, Beitra'ge z. Revision d. Justinian. Codex (Berlin, 1833).
3. A collection by Photius is of especial importance. It appeared in 883, and is divided into two parts. It is, in fact, but an improved and enlarged copy of the preceding. Photius retained the first part of it, together with the introduction, and, as he states himself in an appendix to that introduction, completed it by means of the canon of the synods held since; he also retained the nomocanon unchanged, only adding the. more modern decrees, as also some parallels from the civil law. In the MSS. the nomocanon is placed first, and the collection of canons after it, being then correctly designated as Syntagma canonum. Commentaries on this latter portion were written about 1120 by John Zonaras, and on the whole work in 1170 by Theodorus Balsamon, who, however, arranged the divers parts in another order. His work was often published, the best edition being in the Bibliotheca jur. can. 2:815 sq.; the Syntagra, with the commentaries of Zonaras and Balsamon, is to be found in the Beveregius Synodicon (Oxon. 1672, fol.) 2:2; the nomocanon alone, without commentaries, but with references to the canons, was published in the Spicilegium Roman. (Rome, 1842) vol. vii, from a MS. of the 12th century in the library of the Vatican.
4. Notwithstanding the reputation which the collection of Photius obtained, it was found desirable to have one in better order; this want was satisfied by the Syntagma, written in 1335 by Matthmeus Blastares, which may correctly be classed among the nomocanons, although it does not bear that name. It contains 303 titles, arranged alphabetically according to the most important word in their rubric, and comprising generally under each title first the canons, then the νόμοι; yet under some titles are only κάνονες, under others only νόμαι. This work, which thus far is only to be found in the Beveregius Synodicon (2:2), acquired great renown in the Eastern Church. The great number of MS. copies, some of them modern, shows that both this work and that of Photius have retained their reputation among the Greeks, even under the domination of the Turks. See Zacharie Hist. jur. Graeco-Roman. § 54, 55.
5. The nomocanon of the notary Manuel Malaxus of Thebes, in 1561. See concerning it Zachariae Histor. jur. Graeco-Roman. p. 89 sq. The value which the Greek Church still attaches to the collections of Photius and Blastares is proved by a work published at Athens after 1852, entitled Σύνταγμα τῶν θείων καὶ ἱερῶν κανόνων, consisting of six parts, the first of which contains the nomocanon of Photius, and the sixth the Syntagma of Blastares. See Biener, Das kanon. Recht d. griechischen Kirche, in the Kritisch. Zeitschr. f. Rechtswiss. In the Russian Church there exists also a collection entitled Kormczaia Kniga, i.e. Book of the Pilot, which has been in use since the middle of the 17th century, containing the nomocanon of Photius, and which is even employed in civil law (see the Wiener Jahrbucher d. Liter. vol. 23, 25, 33). In Servia, Moldavia, and Wallachia they have also retained the ancient Greek collections, namely, in the two first-named countries the Syntagma of Blastares. In Wallachia a nomocanon was published in the language of the country in 1652, and in 1722 a Latin translation of it: it contained the nomocanon of Malaxus. See Zacharime Histor. jur. Graeco-Roman. delineatio, § 57; Neigebauer, Das kanon. Recht d. morgenl. Kirche in der Moldau u. Wallachei, in Bulau's Jahrb. Dec. 1847; Kritisch. Zeitschriftf. Rechtswiss. 12:408 sq.
Aside from the above-mentioned works, there are numerous other collections under the name of Νομοκάνονες, Κανονάρια, Νόμιμα, which contain only canons: among them we find the Nomocanon Doxapatris, and another from an unknown writer published in Cotelerius, Eccles. Grec. monum. 1:68 sq. See Biener, Gesch. u. Novellen Justinian's (Berlin, 1824), p. 157 sq.; id. Beitr. z. Revis. d. Justin. Codex (ibid. 1833), p. 25 sq.; id. De collect. canon. eccl. Grcec. (Berol. 1827); id. Kanon. Recht d.'griech. Kirche, in the Krit. Zeitsch.f. Rechtsw. 28:163.