Decree of Gelasius (about A.D. 550).

The Decree of Gelasius (Decretum Gelasianum), which contains a list of canonical books, was so called because it was formerly ascribed to Pope Gelasius (in office from 492 to 496). Various recensions of the same decree were also ascribed to the earlier Pope Demasus (366-384) and the later Hormisdas (514-523), or to councils over which they presided. But for the past century most scholars have agreed with Ernst von Dobschütz's conclusion that all the various forms of the decree derive from the independent work of an anonymous Italian churchman in the sixth century. 1

In its longer form, the article of the "decree" that lists the approved books is introduced by the sentence, Nunc vero de scripturis divinis agendum est, quid universalis catholica ecclesia recipiat [or, teneat] et quid vitare debeat ("Now indeed the divine scriptures must be discussed, which the universal Catholic church receives [or, holds], and which writings must be avoided"). Then comes a list of books, divided into four sections:

1. Incipit Ordo Veteris Testamenti

Genesis liber unus
Exodus liber unus
Leviticus liber unus
Numeri liber unus
Deuteronomium liber unus
Iesu Nave liber unus
Iudicum liber unus
Ruth liber unus
Regum libri quattuor
Paralypomenon libri duo
Psalmorum CL liber unus
Salomonis libri tres
proverbia liber unus
ecclesiastes liber unus
cantica canticorum liber unus
Item sapientiae liber unus
ecclesiasticum liber unus

1. Here begins the list of the Old Testament

Genesis one book
Exodus one book
Leviticus one book
Numbers one book
Deuteronomy one book
Joshua one book
Judges one book
Ruth one book
Kings four books
Chronicles two books
150 Psalms one book
Three books of Solomon
proverbs one book
ecclesiastes one book
song of songs one book
Also of Wisdom one book
ecclesiasticus one book

2. Item Ordo Prophetarum:

Esaiae liber unus
Hieremiae liber unus
cum Cinoth id est lamentationibus suis
Ezechielis liber unus
Danihelis liber unus
Oseae liber unus
Amos liber unus
Micheae liber unus
Iohel liber unus
Abdiae liber unus
Ionae liber unus
Naum liber unus
Abbacuc liber unus
Sophoniae liber unus
Aggei liber unus
Zachariae liber unus
Malachiae liber unus

2. Also the list of the Prophets:

Isaiah one book
Jeremiah one book
with Cinoth i.e. his lamentations
Ezechiel one book
Daniel one book
Hosea one book
Amos one book
Micah one book
Joel one book
Obadiah one book
Jonah one book
Nahum one book
Habbakuk one book
Zephaniah one book
Haggai one book
Zechariah one book
Malachi one book

3. Item Ordo Historiarum

Iob liber unus
Tobiae liber unus
Hesdrae libri duo
Hester liber unus
Iudith liber unus
Machabeorum libri duo

3. Also the list of the Histories:

Job one book
Tobit one book
Esdras two books
Esther one book
Judith one book
Maccabees two books

4. Item Ordo Scripturarum Novi Testamenti quem sancta et catholica Romana suscipit et veneratur ecclesia:

Evangeliorum libri quattuor
secundum Matheum liber unus
secundum Marcum liber unus
secundum Lucam liber unus
secundum Iohannem liber unus
Item actuum apostolorum liber unus
Epistulae Pauli apostoli
numero quattuordecim
ad Romanos epistula una
ad Corinthios epistula duae
ad Ephesios epistula una
ad Thesalonicenses epistulae duae
ad Galatas epistula una
ad Philippenses epistula una
ad Colosenses epistula una
ad Timotheum epistulae duae
ad Titum epistula una
ad Philemonem epistula una
ad Hebreos epistula una
Item apocalypsis Iohannis liber unus
Item canonicae epistulae numero septem
Petri apostoli epistulae duae
Iacobi apostoli epistula una
Iohannis apostoli epistula una
alterius Iohannis presbyteri epistulae duae
Iudae Zelotis apostoli epistula una

Explicit Canon Novi Testamenti.

4. Likewise the list of New Testament Scriptures, which the holy and catholic Roman church upholds and venerates:

Four books of the Gospels
according to Mathew one book
according to Mark one book
according to Luke one book
according to John one book
Likewise the acts of the apostles one book
The letters of the apostle Paul
in number fourteen
to the Romans one letter
to the Corinthians two letters
to the Ephesians one letter
to the Thesalonians two letters
to the Galatians one letter
to the Philippians one letter
to the Colossians one letter
to Timothy two letters
to Titus one letter
to the Philemon one letter
to the Hebrews one letter
Also the Apocalypse of John, one book
Also the canonical letters, in number seven:
of the apostle Peter two letters
of the apostle James one letter
of the apostle John one letter
of the other John the elder two letters
of the apostle Judas the Zealot 2 one letter

Here ends the Canon of the New Testament.

Toward the end of the "decree," a list of condemned books and authors is also provided, introduced by these words:

Cetera quae ab hereticis sive scismaticis conscripta vel praedicata sunt, nullatenus recipit catholica et apostolica Romana ecclesia; e quibus pauca, quae ad memoriam venerunt et a catholicis vitanda sunt, credidimus esse subdenda.

The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognized by heretics or schismatics the catholic and apostolic Roman church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below some which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics.

The work ends with an anathema upon heretics:

... et omnes heresei hereseorumque disciplui sive scismatici docuerent vel conscripserunt, quorum nomina minime retinuimus, non solum repudiata verum ab omni Romana catholica et apostolica ecclesia eliminata atque cum suis auctoribus sequacibus sub anathematis insolubili vinculo in aeternum confitemur esse damnata.

... and whatever disciples of heresy and of the heretics or schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we declare to be not merely rejected but excluded from the whole Roman catholic and apostolic church, and its authors and their adherents to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema for ever.


1. Ernst von Dobschütz, Das Decretum Gelasianum de libris recipiendis et non recipiendis in kritischem Text herausgegeben und untersucht von Ernst von Dobschütz (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs, 1912).

2. An apostle "Judas the Zealot" (not Judas Iscariot) is named in some Old Latin manuscripts in Mat. 10:3.