Index Librorum Prohibitorum
The question of a Nicaean origin c.325 CE
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Index Librorum Prohibitorum ("List of Prohibited Books")
Most historical sources cite the sixteenth century as the century of origin for the publication of such an index of "Forbidden Books". One source reports that "The principle of a list of forbidden books was adopted at the Fifth Lateran Council in 1515, then confirmed by the Council of Trent in 1546. The first edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, dated 1557 was published by Pope Paul IV. The 32nd edition, published in 1948 included 4000 titles." On the surface of things we might think that the Index Librorum Prohibitorum was published from Pope Paul IV to Pope Paul VI, a period of 404 years only.
Before the advent of the printing press (c.1439) such early indexes of forbidden books and/or authors would simply have been preserved by scribes and copyists in the old technology of codices. This brief article will gather together a number of citations which themselves suggested that it is perfectly reasonable to think that such an index of forbidden books was in operation as early as the fourth century and the Council of Nicaea. That an Index Librorum Prohibitorum was maintained from Constantine I to Pope Paul IV a period of 1641 years.
(1) Fictions which have been authored by "heretics",
(2) Completely out of accord with true orthodoxy,
(3) Absurd and impious creations to be cast aside.
* the Gospels of Peter, * of Thomas, * of Matthias, * or of any others besides them, and * the Acts of Andrew and John and * (John) and * the other apostles,which no one belonging to the succession of ecclesiastical writers
(1) Evil, wicked, rebukable, rejectable, unlawful, and anti-christian
(2) To be the subject of righteous destruction, along with their memory
(3) to attract the death penalty: if found in possession of any "banned books"
(4) The banned books and the heretics were to be dealt with by fire.
"Inasmuch as Arius imitates the evil and the wicked,
it is right that, like them, he should be rebuked and rejected.
As therefore Porphyry, who was an enemy of the fear of God,
and wrote wicked and unlawful writings
against the religion of Christians,
found the reward which befitted him,
that he might be a reproach to all generations after,
because he fully and insatiably used base fame;
so that on this account his writings were righteously destroyed;
thus also now it seems good that Arius
and the holders of his opinion
should all be called Porphyrians,
that he may be named by the name
of those whose evil ways he imitates:
And not only this, but also
that all the writings of Arius,
wherever they be found,
shall be delivered to be burned with fire,
in order that not only
his wicked and evil doctrine may be destroyed,
but also that the memory of himself
and of his doctrine may be blotted out,
that there may not by any means
remain to him remembrance in the world.
Now this also I ordain,
that if any one shall be found secreting
any writing composed by Arius,
and shall not forthwith deliver up
and burn it with fire,
his punishment shall be death;
for as soon as he is caught in this
he shall suffer capital punishment
by beheading without delay."