about BISA

Acta conciliorum non leguntur“.

BISA proposes to disprove this famous saying of Eduard Schwartz, the great editor of the Greek synodal acts. These acts, especially the canons of the early Christian synods, which have to be reckoned among the most important sources of early Christianity, need to be interpreted philologically, historically and theologically in order to be understood and classified properly. Thus BISA intends to present and facilitate access to the relevant editions of sources and literature. According to its objective, BISA only takes literature concerning synodal law into consideration while literature dealing with the history of theology and dogmata is only noted in particular and exceptional cases.

Users of this bibliography are expressly invited to inform us about omissions, mistakes and their own recent publications. Do not hesitate to make any suggestions that may occur to you.

Our e-mail-address: bisa(a)uni-bonn.de.

How to use this bibliography:

There are three ways to use BISA:

1. Search for literature concerning a special subject

Here you can search systematically for literature concerning all important subjects of early Christian synodal law (e.g. clergymen, marriage, penitence, church property) and the most significant introductory questions (e.g. tradition of texts, edition of texts).
Most categories are subdivided; these subdivisions can be opened by mouse click.
An outstanding bibliography concerning medieval collections of early Christian canons has been provided by L. Kéry, Canonical collections of the Early Middle Ages = History of medieval canon law 1 (Washington 1999); therefore BISA does not contain collections of that kind.

2. Search for literature concerning a single synod

Here you can find a list of those early Christian synods (until the time of the Merovingian and Visigothic kingdoms or up to the second Nicene council respectively) whose decrees (in the broadest sense) are important for the history of canon law. Having chosen a particular synod, you will be presented with a list of all relevant publications that deal exclusively or mainly with the council you are interested in. At the top of the list you will find the quotable edition(s) (editio citanda) inasmuch as ancient source material exists. The synods of Britain and Ireland on the one hand and those of the non-Greek East on the other are classed under general terms (e.g. Concilia Britannica, Concilia Persica).

3. Search for literature of a single author

Entering the names of authors you can search for relevant modern publications.

BISA has been compiled at the Institute for Ecclesiastical History at Bonn University in connection with the research project “Ancient canon law”. This project is directed by Georg Schöllgen, while Andreas Weckwerth is in charge of the editorial work. Moreover, Anette Bräker, Hanno Dockter, Alexandra Nau, Verena Otten, Matthias Perkams, Katrin Schach, Volker Speth and Daniel Weisser have contributed considerably to this bibliography. The German Society for the Advancement of Scientific Research (DFG) supported BISA providing funds for a research assistant over a period of three years.