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SYNOD OF ELVIRA

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 301 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SYNOD OF ELVIRA, an ecclesiastical synod held in Spain, the date of which cannot be determined with exactness. The solution of the question hinges upon the interpretation of the canons, that is, upon whether they are to be taken as reflecting a recent, or as pointing to an imminent, persecution. Thus some argue for a date between 300 and 303, i.e. before the Diocletian persecution; others for a date between 303 and 314, after the persecution; but before the synod of Arles; still others for a date between the synod of Arles and the council of Nicaea, 325. Mansi, Hardouin, Hefele and Dale are in substantial agreement upon 305 or 306, and this is probably the closest approximation possible in the present state of the evidence. The place of meeting, Elvira, was not far from the modern Granada, if not, as Dale thinks, actually identical with it. There the nineteen bishops and twenty-four presbyters, from alLparts of Spain, but chiefly from the south, assembled, probably at the instigation of Hosius of Cordova, but under the presidency of Felix of Accis, with a view to restoring order and discipline in the church. The eighty-one canons which were adopted reflect with considerable fulness the internal life and external relations of the Spanish Church of the 4th century. The social environment of Christians may be inferred from the canons prohibiting marriage and other intercourse with Jews, pagans and heretics, closing the offices of flamen and duumvir to Christians, forbidding all contact with idolatry and likewise participation in pagan festivals and public games. The state of morals is mirrored in the canons denouncing prevalent vices. The canons respecting the clergy exhibit the clergy as already a special class with peculiar privileges, a more exacting moral standard, heavier penalties for delinquency. The bishop has acquired control of the sacraments, presbyters and deacons acting only under his orders; the episcopate appears as a unit, bishops being bound to respect one another's disciplinary decrees. Worthy of special note are canon 33, enjoining celibacy upon all clerics and all who minister at the altar (the most ancient canon of celibacy); canon 36, forbidding pictures in churches; canon 38, permitting lay baptism under certain conditions; and canon 53, forbidding one bishop to restore a person excommunicated by another. See Mansi ii. pp. 1-406; Hardouin i. pp. 247-258; Hefele (2nd ed.) i. pp. 148 sqq. (English translation, i. pp. 131 sqq.); Dale, The Synod of Elvira (London, 1882) ; and Hennecke, in Herzog-Hauck, Realencyklopadie (3rd ed.), s.v. " Elvira," especially bibliography. (T. F. C.) EL WAD, a town in the Algerian Sahara, 125 M. in a straight line S.S.E. of Biskra, and 190 M. W. by S. of Gabes. Pop. (1906) 7586. El Wad is one of the most interesting places in Algeria. It is surrounded by huge hollows containing noble palm groves; and beyond these on every side stretches the limitless desertwith its great billows of sand, the encroachments of which on the oasis are only held at bay by ceaseless toil. The town itself consists of a mass of one-storeyed stone houses, each surmounted by a little dome, clustering round the market-place with its mosque and minaret. By an exception rare in Saharan settlements, there are no defensive works save the fort containing the government offices, which the French have built on the south side of the town. The inhabitants are of two distinct tribes, one, the Aduan, of Berber stock, the other a branch of the Sha'ambah Arabs. El Wad possesses a curious currency known as flous, consisting of obsolete copper coins of Algerian and Tunisian dynasties. Seven flous are regarded as equal to the French five-centime piece. El Wad oasis is one of a group known collectively as the Suf. Five miles N.W. is Kuinine (pop. 3541) and 6 m. farther N.W. Guemar (pop. 6885), an ancient fortified town noted for its manufacture of carpets. Linen weaving is carried on extensively in the Suf. Administratively El Wad is the capital of an annexe to the territory of Tuggurt.
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