Quinisext Council, Canon 68.previous | next
As regards the fact that it is not permissible for anyone to destroy, or to cut up, or to turn over to book stores or to so-called druggists, or anyone else whatsoever for destruction any of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, or of our holy and eminent Preachers and Teachers, unless it be completely useless because of having been damaged by bookworms or water or in some other way. Anyone caught doing such a thing from now on, let him be excommunicated for a year. Likewise anyone buying such books, unless he keeps them for his own use and benefit, nor should he give them away to others to keep, but who attempts to destroy them, let him be excommunicated.
It is not permissible, says the present Canon, for anyone to destroy or to cut up books of the Old and New Testaments, and of the eminent teachers, or, in other words, of those who have been approved and accepted after tests (for many books have been written, but have been rejected and disapproved); nor must he give these away to book stores, or to persons who extinguish or otherwise destroy books, or to those selling drugs and perfumes, or to anyone else to destroy or make away with them — except only if they have been entirely eaten up by worms, or have rotted and have become illegible from having become too old to be read. As for anyone who might do such a thing, let him be excommunicated for a year. Likewise let him be excommunicated who buys such books, not in order to benefit himself by reading them, nor in order to give them to anyone else to have the benefit of them, but in order to spoil them or to destroy them.
 Hence it becomes evident how blameworthy those are who cut sacred books of parchment, in order to provide themselves with fish bait or in order to pack tobacco in them, or any other stuff; or who cut the saints and in general the ornaments contained in the books, or throw them into the furnace to burn up, or write barbarous and depraved remarks in their margins. Nor in general ought anyone to write anything at all in sacred books, even though what is written is for the purpose of correcting or interpreting the words in the book, except only if the book belongs to the writer or he does this with the permission of the owner of the book. For all these things amount to deterioration and impairment of the books, which is condemned to excommunication by the present Canon.
 Nevertheless, even then one ought not to use such sacred and holy books in fontanelles, or in other dishonorable and shameful services; neither ought one to give them to others who are going to use them in similar services. But, instead, one ought either to burn them, or to throw them away, or better to bury them in an untrodden spot somewhere, in order that things containing holy and sacred words may not be profaned. For that saying of Isaiah fits this particular situation most admirably, to wit: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that . . . his resting-place (i.e., of Christ the God) shall be an honorable one” (Isa. 11:10). I say these things because in the time of this Council, books, most of which were of parchment, could become completely illegible as a result the written characters in them becoming worn out and undecipherable. But in books of today, which are of paper, the written or printed characters will remain legible no matter how old they grow; wherefore they ought not to be treated dishonorably or abusively.
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