Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent

The Fourth Session

Celebrated on the eighth day of the month of April, in the year 1546.

English translation by James Waterworth (London, 1848)

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Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures

Decretum de Canonicis Scripturis

The sacred and holy, ecumenical, and general Synod of Trent,—lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same three legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein,—keeping this always in view, that, errors being removed, the purity itself of the Gospel be preserved in the Church; which (Gospel), before promised through the prophets in the holy Scriptures, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, first promulgated with His own mouth, and then commanded to be preached by His Apostles to every creature, as the fountain of all, both saving truth, and moral discipline; and seeing clearly that this truth and discipline are contained in the written books, and the unwritten traditions which, received by the Apostles from the mouth of Christ himself, or from the Apostles themselves, the Holy Ghost dictating, have come down even unto us, transmitted as it were from hand to hand; (the Synod) following the examples of the orthodox Fathers, receives and venerates with an equal affection of piety, and reverence, all the books both of the Old and of the New Testament—seeing that one God is the author of both —as also the said traditions, as well those appertaining to faith as to morals, as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth, or by the Holy Ghost, and preserved in the Catholic Church by a continuous succession.

Sacrosancta oecumenica et generalis Tridentina Synodus, in Spiritu Sancto legitime congregata, praesidentibus in ea eisdem tribus Apostolicae Sedis Legatis, hoc sibi perpetuo ante oculos proponens, ut sublatis erroribus, puritas ipsa Evangelii in Ecclesia conservetur: quod promissum ante per Prophetas in Scripturis Sanctis, Dominus noster Iesus Christus, Dei Filius, proprio ore primum promulgavit, deinde per suos Apostolos, tamquam fontem omnis et salutaris veritatis et morum disciplinae, omni creaturae praedicari iussit: perspiciensque hanc veritatem et disciplinam contineri in libris scriptis et sine scripto traditionibus, quae ipsius Christi ore ab Apostolis acceptae, aut ab ipsis Apostolis Spiritu Sancto dictante, quasi per manus traditae, ad nos usque pervenerunt: orthodoxorum Patrum exempla secuta, omnes libros tam Veteris quam Novi Testamenti, cum utriusque unus Deus sit auctor, nec non traditiones ipsas, tum ad fidem, tum ad mores pertinentes, tamquam vel oretenus a Christo, vel a Spiritu Sancto dictatas, et continua successione in Ecclesia catholica conservatas, pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia suscipit ac veneratur.

And it has thought it meet that a list of the sacred books be inserted in this decree, lest a doubt may arise in any one's mind, which are the books that are received by this Synod. They are as set down here below:

Sacrorum vero Librorum indicem huic decreto adscribendum censuit, ne cui dubitatio suboriri possit, quinam sint, qui ab ipsa Synodo suscipiuntur. Sunt vero infra scripti.

Of the Old Testament: the five books of Moses, to wit, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Josue, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two of Paralipomenon, the first book of Esdras, and the second which is entitled Nehemias; Tobias, Judith, Esther, Job, the Davidical Psalter, consisting of a hundred and fifty psalms; the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Jeremias, with Baruch; Ezechiel, Daniel; the twelve minor prophets, to wit, Osee, Joel, Amos, Abdias, Jonas, Micheas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; two books of the Machabees, the first and the second.

Testamenti Veteris: Quinque Moysis, id est Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numeri, Deuteronomium; Iosue, Iudicum, Ruth, quattuor Regum, duo Paralipomenon, Esdrae primus et secundus, qui dicitur Nehemias, Tobias, Iudith, Esther, Iob, Psalterium Davidicum centum quinquaginta psalmorum, Parabolae, Ecclesiastes, Canticum Canticorum, Sapientia, Ecclesiasticus, Isaias, Ieremias cum Baruch, Ezechiel, Daniel, duodecim prophetae minores, id est: Osea, Ioel, Amos, Abdias, Ionas, Michaeas, Nahum, Habacuc, Sophonias, Aggaeus, Zacharias, Malachias; duo Maccabaeorum, primus et secundus.

Of the New Testament: the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; the Acts of the Apostles written by Luke the Evangelist; fourteen epistles of Paul the apostle, (one) to the Romans, two to the Corinthians, (one) to the Galatians, to the Ephesians, to the Philippians, to the Colossians, two to the Thessalonians, two to Timothy, (one) to Titus, to Philemon, to the Hebrews; two of Peter the apostle, three of John the apostle, one of the apostle James, one of Jude the apostle, and the Apocalypse of John the apostle.

Testamenti Novi: Quatuor Evangelia, secundum Matthaeum, Marcum, Lucam, et Ioannem; Actus Apostolorum a Luca Evangelista conscripti; quatuordecim epistolae Pauli Apostoli: ad Romanos, duae ad Corinthios, ad Galatas, ad Ephesios, ad Philippenses, ad Colossenses, duae ad Thessalonicenses, duae ad Timotheum, ad Titum, ad Philemonem, ad Hebraeos; Petri Apostoli duae; Ioannis Apostoli tres; Iacobi Apostoli una; Iudae Apostoli una et Apocalypsis Ioannis Apostoli.

But if any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema. Let all, therefore, understand, in what order, and in what manner, the said Synod, after having laid the foundation of the Confession of faith, will proceed, and what testimonies and authorities it will mainly use in confirming dogmas, and in restoring morals in the Church.

Si quis autem libros ipsos integros cum omnibus suis partibus, prout in Ecclesia catholica legi consueverunt, et in veteri vulgata latina editione habentur, pro sacris et canonicis non susceperit, et traditiones praedictas sciens et prudens contempserit, anathema sit. Omnes itaque intelligant, quo ordine et via ipsa synodus post iactum fidei confessionis fundamentum sit progressura, et quibus potissimum testimoniis ac praesidiis in confirmandis dogmatibus et instaurandis in ecclesia moribus sit usura.

Decree Concerning the Edition and the Use of the Sacred Books

Decretum de Editione et Usu Sacrorum Librorum

Moreover, the same sacred and holy Synod,—considering that no small utility may accrue to the Church of God, if it be made known which out of all the Latin editions, now in circulation, of the sacred books, is to be held as authentic,—ordains and declares, that the said old and vulgate edition, which, by the lengthened usage of so many ages, has been approved of in the Church, be, in public lectures, disputations, sermons and expositions, held as authentic; and that no one is to dare, or presume to reject it under any pretext whatever.

Insuper eadem sacrosancta Synodus, considerans non parum utilitatis accedere posse Ecclesiae Dei, si ex omnibus latinis editionibus, quae circumferuntur sacrorum librorum, quaenam pro authentica habenda sit, innotescat: statuit et declarat, ut haec ipsa vetus et vulgata editio, quae longo tot saeculorum usu in ipsa Ecclesia probata est, in publicis lectionibus, disputationibus, praedicationibus et expositionibus pro authentica habeatur, et ut nemo illam reiicere quovis praetextu audeat vel praesumat.

Furthermore, in order to restrain petulant spirits, It decrees, that no one, relying on his own skill, shall,—in matters of faith, and of morals pertaining to the edification of Christian doctrine, —wresting the sacred Scripture to his own senses, presume to interpret the said sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which holy mother Church,—whose it is to judge of the true sense and interpretation of the holy Scriptures,—hath held and doth hold; or even contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers; even though such interpretations were never (intended) to be at any time published. Contraveners shall be made known by their Ordinaries, and be punished with the penalties by law established.

Praeterea ad coercenda petulantia ingenia decernit, ut nemo, suae prudentiae innixus, in rebus fidei et morum ad aedificationem doctrinae Christianae pertinentium, Sacram Scripturam ad suos sensus contorquens, contra eum sensum, quem tenuit et tenet sancta mater Ecclesia, cuius est iudicare de vero sensu et interpretatione Scripturarum Sanctarum, aut etiam contra unanimen consensum Patrum, ipsam Scripturam Sacram interpretari audeat, etiamsi huiusmodi interpretationes nullo umquam tempore in lucem edendae forent. Qui contravenerint, per Ordinarios declarentur, et poenis a iure statutis puniantur.

And wishing, as is just, to impose a restraint, in this matter, also on printers, who now without restraint,—thinking, that is, that whatsoever they please is allowed them,—print, without the license of ecclesiastical superiors, the said books of sacred Scripture, and the notes and comments upon them of all persons indifferently, with the press ofttimes unnamed, often even fictitious, and what is more grievous still, without the author's name; and also keep for indiscriminate sale books of this kind printed elsewhere; (this Synod) ordains and decrees, that, henceforth, the sacred Scripture, and especially the said old and vulgate edition, be printed in the most correct manner possible; and that it shall not be lawful for any one to print, or cause to be printed, any books whatever, on sacred matters, without the name of the author; nor to sell them in future, or even to keep them, unless they shall have been first examined, and approved of, by the Ordinary; under pain of the anathema and fine imposed in a canon of the last Council of Lateran: and, if they be Regulars, besides this examination and approval, they shall be bound to obtain a license also from their own superiors, who shall have examined the books according to the form of their own statutes. As to those who lend, or circulate them in manuscript, without their having been first examined, and approved of, they shall be subjected to the same penalties as printers: and they who shall have them in their possession or shall read them, shall, unless they discover the authors, be themselves regarded as the authors. And the said approbation of books of this kind shall be given in writing; and for this end it shall appear authentically at the beginning of the book, whether the book be written, or printed; and all this, that is, both the approbation and the examination, shall be done gratis, that so what ought to be approved, may be approved, and what ought to be condemned, may be condemned.

Sed et impressoribus modum in hac parte, ut par est, imponere volens, qui iam sine modo, hoc est putantes sibi licere, quidquid libet, sine licentia superiorum ecclesiasticorum, ipsos Sacrae Scripturae libros, et super illis annotationes et expositiones quorumlibet indifferenter, saepe tacito, saepe etiam ementito prelo, et quod gravius est, sine nomine auctoris imprimunt, alibi etiam impressos libros huiusmodi temere venales habent: decernit et statuit, ut posthac Sacra Scriptura, potissimum vero haec ipsa vetus et vulgata editio, quam emendatissime imprimatur, nullique liceat imprimere, vel imprimi facere, quosvis libros de rebus sacris sine nomine auctoris, neque illos in futurum vendere, aut etiam apud se retinere, nisi primum examinati probatique fuerint ab Ordinario, sub poena anathematis et pecuniae in canone Concilii novissimi Lateranensis apposita. Et si regulares fuerint, ultra examinationem et probationem huiusmodi, licentiam quoque a suis superioribus impetrare teneantur, recognitis per eos libris, iuxta formam suarum ordinationum. Qui autem scripto eos communicant, vel evulgant, nisi antea examinati probatique fuerint, eisdem poenis subiaceant, quibus impressores. Et qui eos habuerint vel legerint, nisi prodiderint auctores, pro auctoribus habeantur. Ipsa vero huiusmodi librorum probatio in scriptis detur, atque ideo in fronte libri vel scripti vel impressi authentice appareat; idque totum, hoc est, et probatio et examen, gratis fiat, ut probanda probentur et reprobentur improbanda.

Besides the above, wishing to repress that temerity, by which the words and sentences of sacred Scripture are turned and twisted to all sorts of profane uses, to wit, to things scurrilous, fabulous, vain, to flatteries, detractions, superstitions, impious and diabolical incantations, sorceries, and defamatory libels; (the Synod) commands and enjoins, for the doing away with this kind of irreverence and contempt, and that no one may henceforth dare in any way to apply the words of sacred Scripture to these and such like purposes; that all men of this description, profaners and violators of the word of God, be by the bishops restrained by the penalties of law, and others of their own appointment.

Post haec temeritatem illam reprimere volens, qua ad profana quaeque convertuntur et torquentur verba et sententiae Sacrae Scripturae, ad scurrilia scilicet, fabulosa, vana, adulationes, detractiones, superstitiones, impias et diabolicas incantationes, divinationes, sortes, libellos etiam famosos, mandat et praecipit, ad tollendam huiusmodi irreverentiam et contemptum, et ne de cetero quisquam quomodolibet verba Scripturae Sacrae ad haec et similia audeat usurpare, ut omnes huius generis homines, temeratores et violatores verbi Dei, iuris et arbitrii poenis per Episcopos coerceantur.