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1-2, 1995

Some Specifications With Regard To The Date

And Names Of The Second Session Of The
Sixth Ecumenical Synod


As is well-known, the two sessions of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod —

in 680 and in 691 respectively—took place in the same dome-shaped as-
sembly room of the palace of Constantinople (›Ì Ù˘ ÙÒÔ˝Îί ÙÔı
‚·ÛÈÎÈÍÔfl) ·Î·ÙÈÔ˝). 1
Concerning the date of the work of the second session of the Synod,
there is a diversity of opinion among Orthodox and Catholic historians and
canonists. This is so, even though the date of the second session of the
Synod was clearly noted by the manuscript tradition of canon 3, which
indicates : "the year 6199, after the 15th of January of the fourth past In-
diction,"2 that is to say after September 691 and consequently before January
692. The canonist P. P. Joannou noted as well that "the 'past' January be-
longed to the fourth Indiction (690-691), and this had already 'gone by',"
so the Synod was gathered "between the 1st of September and the 31st of
December, probably in October 691 " 3 Besides, the Metropolitan of Swe-
den, Dr. Pavlos Menevisoglou, noted that the exact time of the convocation
of the Synod was "in the period between the 1st of September and 31st of
December 691." 4 Very recently the same Orthodox hierarch Pavlos

P.P. Joannou, "Les canons des conciles oecuméniques," in Fonti, Fase. 9, vol.
l,pt. 1,101.
Ch. J. Hefele - H. Leclerq, Histoire des Conciles d'après les documents
originaux (Paris, 1909) 3,561.
Joannou, Les canons, p 98.
Pavlos Menevisoglou, " º ¬' Í·Ì˛Ì ÙÁÚ –ÂÌË›ÍÙÁÚ œÈÍÔıµÂÌÈÍfiÚ
”ı̸‰Ôı," ‘ȵÁÙȘÔÌ ·ˆÈ›Ò˘µ· ÂÈÚ ÙÔÌ µÁÙÒÔÔÎflÙÁÌ  flÙÒÔıÚ ¬·ÒÌ‹‚·Ì
Âfl Ù˜\ 25 ÂÙÁÒflÔÈ ÙÁÚ ·Ò˜ÈÂÒ·ÙÂfl·Ú ÙÔÌ (Athens, 1980) p. 261, n. 2.

12 The Greek Orthodox Theological Review: 40/1, 1995

Menevisoglou wrote that the Synod of 691 was convened "probably in

October or November" of that same year.5 So, it can be affirmed that the
work of the second session of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod (Penthekte or
"in Trullo") took place in the year 691, and certainly neither in the year
692 nor even in "691-692," 6 as it is incorrectly affirmed even today in the
historical or canonical literature.
For the Holy Fathers of the Synod of 691, this Synod was "a holy and
ecumenical synod," as it was affirmed by its canons 3 7 and 51. 8 Besides,
the Holy Fathers were fully aware of the fact that they decreed for "the
Church of God all over the world" (canon 56). In their speech addressing
the Emperor Justinian II (685-95; 705-11) at the end of the Synod, they
mentioned "this holy and God-chosen Ecumenical... Synod." 9 In addition,
the Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (787), who confirmed
and codified the canonical legislation up to that date, considered the 102
canons of the Synod of 691 as being the work of the Sixth Ecumenical
Synod. So, in canon 1 of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod it is affirmed that:
"... wholeheartedly we accept the holy canons and (we strengthen
unchangeably) their entire commandment as decided by the six Ecumeni-
cal Synods." 10 In the acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (787), wherein
is cited canon 82 of the Synod of 691, the latter is called several times "the

(Stockholm, 1990) Ò. 280.
Here are three recent examples: Panteleimon C. Karanikolas,  ÎÂ˙Ú Ù˘Ì ÈÂÒ˛Ì
Í·Ì¸Ì˘Ì ÙÁÚ'¡Ì·ÙÔÎÈÍfiÚºÒËÔ‰¸ÓÔı ≈ÍÍÎÁÛfl·Ú (Athens, 1970) Ò. 13;Ã.—.
Sesan, "Monotelismul. Sinodul 6 ecumenic de la Constantinopol din 680-681.
Sinodul 2 trulan (quinisext) din 691-692," Istoria Bisericeasca Universala, 1(1-
1054), 3rd ed. (I. Ramureanu - M. Sesan - T. Bodogae), p.p.388 and 395; Albert
Failler, book review: Heinz Ohme, Das Concilium Quinisextum und seine
Bischofsliste. Studien zum Konstantinopeler Konzil von 692 (Arbeiten zur
Kirchengeschischte 56) - Walter De Gruyter, Berlin - New York, 1990, 423 p., in
Revue des Etudes Byzantines, 49 (1991) 286.
Canon 3 of the Trullan Synod: "... our pious and Christ-beloved emperor,
addressed this holy and ecumenical Synod..." Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum nova
et amplissima Collectio (Florence, 1765) 9, col. (941).
Canon 51 of the Trullan Synod: "This holy and ecumenical synod entirely
forbids the so-called buffoons and their theatres," Mansiy 11, col. (968).
G. Ralles - M. Potles., ”˝ÌÙ·„µ· Ù˘Ì ËÂfl˘Ì Í·È ÈÂÒ˛Ì Í·Ì¸Ì˘Ì (Athens,
1852) 2 Ò. 298.
See Pródromos I. Akanthopoulos,  ˛‰ÈÍ·Ú ÈÂÒ˛Ì Í·Ì¸Ì˘Ì Í·È
ÂÍÍÎÁÛÈ·ÛÙÈÍ˛Ì Ì¸µ˘Ì (Thessalonike, 1991) Ò. 182.
Dura:Date and Names of the Second Session 13

Holy and Ecumenical Sixth Synod." The bishop of Nicomedia Peter and
the Patriarch of Constantinople Tarasios himself, in the framework of the
Seventh Ecumenical Synod's work, declared that the canons of the Trullan
Synod were canons of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod.
Here follow the testimonies of the two hierarchs:
"Peter, the most pious bishop of Nicomedia said: I have got another book
containing the same canons of the holy sixth synod.... Tarasios, the most
holy Patriarch said: some out of ignorance are scandalized at these canons,
wondering whether they are of the sixth holy synod; let them know that the
holy and great sixth synod was convened during the reign of Constantine
against those who were considering one energy and one will of Christ; who
[those of the synod] anathematized the heretics and declared the orthodox
faith; then they left in the fourteenth year of Constantine's reign; well, after
four or five years the same fathers gathered during the reign of Justinian,
the son of Constantine, and established the already exposed canons; and let
nobody doubt them; those who signed in the time of Constantine were the
same fathers as those who signed in the time of Justinian the present char-
ter, as is clearly shown by their identical signatures. Because they had called
the synod ecumenical, they had establish ecclesiastical canons."12

At the same time, in canon 12 of the so-called "protodeutera" synod of

Constantinople of 861, the Synod of 691 is called the "holy and ecumeni-
cal sixth synod." The editor of the second prologue of "the constitution in
fourteen titles," in 883, mentions that in this constitution he had also in-
cluded the canons "which the sixth ecumenical synod decreed."14 Besides,
some Holy Fathers referring to the canons of the Synod of 691, considered
them as issued by the Sixth Ecumenical Synod. So, for example, in his
"Third Oration Against Those Who Defame the Holy Icons," reproducing
the text of canon 82 of the Synod in Trullo with regard to the obligation to
venerate the holy icons, Saint John the Damascene (ca. 675-749) precised
that this canon belonged to the "holy sixth synod,"15 an expression which
in the Latin version was reproduced as "Sanctae Synodi Quinisextae."16 In
addition, P. Michaelis Lequien, the editor of volume 94 of the Greek col-
lection Migne, noted in the year 1864 in confession that "Hie titulus," that

See, for example, Mansi, 13, 40-41 and 417.
See canon 12 of the Trotodeutera* Synod, in: Agapios Hieromonk - Nikodemos
Monk (eds.), –Á‰‹ÎÈÔÌ 4th ed., (Athens, 1886) p. 290.
Ralles - Potles, ”˝ÌÙ·„µ·, 1, p. 8.
De imaginibus, Oratio 3, in PG94, 1417.
Ibid. 1418.
14 The Greek Orthodox Theological Review: 40/1, 1995

is to say "tes hagias hektes synodou" "multiplici vitio laborat, qui sic
intelligendus est, ut eum Latinae reddidi."17 ("This title caused no little
difficulty to be understood and reproduced in this manner in Latin").
Before 754, George of Cyprus publicly declared that "the sixth of the
holy ecumenical synods also decreed in a clear and precise manner about
the holy icons. It spoke about them as follows: "In certain representations
of the holy icons a lamb is painted to which the Precursor points his fin-
ger,..."18 Of course, this is the 82nd canon of the Trullan Synod, referred to
with the name of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod.
Referring to canon 82 of the Synod of 691, Pope Hadrian I himself
(772-795) wrote to the Patriarch of Constantinople Tarasios (784-806) the
following: "... the same six holy synods I accept, with all the canons de-
creed by them in a lawful and divine manner...."19 The letter of Pope Hadrian
I was even read in the Seventh Ecumenical Synod (787). Even the Synod
of the Church of Rome in the year 878, presided over by Pope John VIII
(872-882), made clear mention of the "regulas... a sexta synodo... editas"20
("the canons... edited ... by the sixth synod")
Therefore, as much in the Western as in the Eastern world of the eighth
and ninth centuries, the Synod of 691 was regarded as the Sixth Ecumeni-
cal Synod, and its canonical legislation considered as having a
corresponding weight.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the Synod of 691 bears the appelation
"Sixth Ecumenical Synod" even in the Orthodox canonical collections of
our times. For example, the well-known canonist Dr. Nikodim Milash
(1845-1915), Bishop of Zara (Dalmatia), attributed the 102 canons of the
Synod of 691, to "the Sixth Ecumenical Synod."21 Otherwise, even the
canonists Ralles and Potles, in the middle of the nineteenth century, con-
sidered the canons of the Trullan Synod as the work of the Sixth Ecumenical
Synod: "... and them (the canons) which the Sixth Ecumenical Synod de-
creed."22 Quite correctly then, Metropolitan Pavlos Menevisoglou of
Sweden asserts that: "generally speaking, in the Eastern Church the
Ibid. 1417-18, n. 43.
The "Nouthesia" by George of Cyprus (before 754): See G. Dumeige, Histoire
des Conciles Oecuméniques (Paris, 1978) 4, p. 235.
Mansi, 12, col. 1079.
Ibid. 982.
Nicodim Milas, Canoanele Bisericii Orthodoxe insotite de comentarii (in
Romanian), 2 vol (Neoplanta, 1895-96). Romanian translation by V. Kovincici and
N. Popovici, vol. 1, pt. 1 (Arad, 1930), p. 35 and p. 37; vol. 1, pt. 2, p. 301.
Ralles - Potles, ”˝ÌÙ·„µ·, 2, p. 8.
Dura:Date and Names of the Second Session 15

Penthekte Ecumenical Synod was always regarded as ecumenical by all

and the canons it decreed have an important place in the canon law of the
Orthodox Church..."
The Byzantine canonist and historian (of the twelfth century), John
Zonaras, commenting ahout the Trullan Synod, considered that: "... this is
called sixth, because no debate took place about faith or dogmas so that it
might be regarded as a separate synod, but it completed the incomplete
work of the sixth, that is to say, the editing of canons; and because it was
nearer to that one, it was numbered together with it."24
The second session of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod is defined in the
specialized literature by the appellations "Penthekte," "Quinisext," or
"Trullan" ("in Trullo").With the appellation "Penthekte"-"fifth-sixth," used
by specialists centuries after the second session of the synod,25 it is af-
firmed that this Synod was nothing more than the completion-in the domain
of canonical legislation-of the Fifth (553) and Sixth (first session 680)
Ecumenical Synods. According to the Byzantinologist Vitalien Laurent,
the appelation "Penthekte" was the creation of the great canonist Balsamon
(+1195). 26 In reality Balsamon writes that the Synod of 691 "is not mainly
called Sixth, but "Penthekte," because it completed what was incomplete
in the Fifth and Sixth Synods" . It is no less true, however, that Theodore
Balsamon also calls the synod of 691 "ecumenical" in this way: "It is also
ecumenical,"28 or "this holy and ecumenical synod;"29 or "... the divine and
ecumenical holy synod, which is also called Penthekte, gathered 'in the
Trullo' of the great palace ...";30 or "the 37th canon of the holy and ecu-
menical synod, gathered 'in the Trullo' of the great palace, named also
"Penthekte."31 Similarly, when he comments on canon 55 of the Trullan
Synod, he writes among other things: "... those of the old Rome say that

Pavlos Menevisoglou, …ÛÙÔÒÈÍfi ÂÈÛ·„˘„fi, p. 298.
Ralles - Potles, ”˝ÌÙ·„µ·, 2, p. 294.
See C. Dugange, Glossarium ad scriptores mediae et infirmae Graecitatis,
(Lugduni, 1688), col. 1145-46.
See V. Laurent, "Loeuvre canonique du Concile in Trullo (691-692). Source
primaire du Droit de l'Église orientale," Revue des Études Byzantines, 23 (1965)
17, no. 42.
Ralles - Potles, ”˝ÌÙ·„µ·, 2, p. 300.
Ibid. 4, p. 543.
Ibid. p. 554.
16 The Greek Orthodox Theological Review: 40/1, 1995

this synod is not ecumenical, as we have written in its preamble."32 Fur-

thermore, in his comment on the Trullan Synod of 691, Balsamon affirms
that "... the Western bishops, that is to say, Italians and Latins, decisively
hurt by the canons of this synod are opposed to it being ecumenical..."
In a recent study, Metropolitan Pavlos Menevisoglou names the synod
of 691, "the Penthekte Ecumenical Synod...."34
Concerning the appellation "Trullan" or "in Trullo," it is certainly refer-
ring to the place of the gathering of the second session of the Sixth
Ecumenical Synod. The name "Trullan," " π ”˝ÌÔ‰ÔÚ ÂÌ Ù˘‘ÒÔ˝ÎΈ"
"Concilium in Trullo," adopted due to the notes of the copyists on the
manuscripts in East and West,35 is met even in the present Orthodox36 and
Catholic canonical collections.37 Consequently, the appellations or names
'Penthekte' and 'Trullan,' which define the second session of the Sixth
Ecumenical Synod and have heen associated with the canonical language
of East and West, is still being used today.

Ibid. p. 300.
Pavlos Menevisoglou, …ÛÙÔÒÈÍfi ÂÈÛ·„˘„fi, p. 288, no. 2; p. 293, no. 8; p.
296; p. 299; See also Spyros N. Troianos, "π ÂÌË›ÍÙÁ ÔÈÍÔıµÂÌÈÍfi Û˝ÌÔ‰ÔÚ
Í·È ÙÔ ÌÔµÔËÂÙÈ͸ ÙÁÚ ›Ò„Ô," '≈ÍÍÎÁÛfl· 2 (1992), 3 (1992).
Joannou, Les canons, p. 98.
So, for example, in his canonical collection of 1991, edited in Thessalonike,
Pródromos I. Akanthopoulos keeps the title " ·Ì¸ÌÂÚ ÙÁÚ ÂÌ  ˘ÌÛÙ·ÌÙÈÌÔı¸ÎÂÈ
–ÂÌË›ÍÙÁÚ œÈÍÔıµÂÌÈÍfiÚ ”ı̸‰Ôı" ("The Canons of the Penthekti Ecumenical
Synod in Constantinople"); see  ˛‰ÈÍ·Ú, p. 98.
^ s
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