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'E/cropi fxkv koL Tpcocrt to KepStov avrap 'A^atovs 
Srjpbv i/xrjs /cat (rrjs epcSos fAvrjo-ecrOcu olw. 

'AAAa. tol fxkv irpoTt.TvyQa.1 idcro/xev ol^vv/x^vol irep 
Ovfxov ivl o-TqOtcro-L (f)i\ov Sa/Aacravrcs av('iyKr). 

Iliad, xix. 63-66. 

AUG 27 1355 


This book forms a continuation, or second part, of The Orthodox 
Eastern Church by the same author. 1 Its object is to describe 
the lesser separated Eastern Churches in the same way as that 
described the greatest. " Greatest " and " lesser/' by the way, 
are only meant to qualify their size. No opinion is thereby 
expressed as to their relative merit (see p. 446) . 

There is a difference in the subject of this volume, which affects 
its treatment. These smaller Churches are much less known. 
There is a vast literature on the Orthodox Church, so that the 
only difficulty in writing the former book was that of selection 
and arrangement. Moreover, Orthodox official documents and 
service-books (at least in their original form) are in Greek, which 
it is no great merit to know. Much of the matter treated here is 
rather of the nature of a land, if not unknown, at least difficult 
of access. There is far less information to be had about the 
other Eastern Churches. And their native literature is contained 
in many difficult tongues. So to write this book was a much 
more arduous task, and the result may be less satisfactory. On 
the other hand, it has the advantage of greater originality. 
Concerning the Orthodox I said nothing which could not be found 
fairly easily in European books already. Here I think I have 
been able, in certain points, to bring what will be new to 
anyone who has not made some study of Eastern matters and 
languages. Part of this is gathered from notes made by myself 
in their lands, interviews with prelates and clergy of these rites, 
observations of their services, and information supplied by friends 
in those parts. 

As for literary sources, I have, of course, read many books on 
1 London : Catholic Truth Society, 3rd edition, 191 1. 



Eastern Churches by modern writers. But, as will be seen from 
my references, I have compiled my own book, as far as I could, 
from original sources. It is perhaps hardly necessary to say that 
all my quotations are at firsthand. Where I refer to Al-Makrizi, 
Severus of Al-Ushmunain, Shahrastani, Barhebraeus, and so on, 
I have gathered my information from their works. Only in the 
case of Armenian books am I unable, through ignorance of the 
language, to consult any. Fortunately, Langlois' collection of 
Armenian historians in a French version to some extent com- 
pensates for this. 

One of the great practical difficulties was how to spell proper 
names. Without any wish to parade scientific transliteration, it 
seems nevertheless clear that one must have some system for 
writing names from so many languages, at least enough system 
to spell the same name always in the same way. The most 
obvious suggestion would perhaps seem to be to spell each name 
in the usual, familiar way. As far as there is such a way this plan 
has been adopted. Names which have a recognized English 
form, such as John, Peter, Gregory, are left in this form. So 
also when the Latin form seems universally familiar in English— 
Athanasius, Epiphanius. But there are many names which have 
no recognized spelling. Nothing can make such as Badr algamali, 
Hnanyesu*, Msihazka, Sbaryesu' look familiar to an English 
reader. The old-fashioned way was to make the nearest attempt 
one could at representing the sound of these names, according to 
the use of the Roman letters in the language in which the book 
is written. This has many inconveniences. First, to anyone 
who knows how such names are written in their own letters it is as 
irritating as to see a well-known French writer called " Bwalo." 
Secondly, the Roman letters represent different sounds in different 
languages. A German writes " Dschafar," an Italian " Giafar," 
a Frenchman " Djafar " for the same name. In English, 
particularly, the same letter represents often a multitude of 
sounds. " Ptough," used in the translation of Ormanian's book, 1 
represents no particular sound to an Englishman. Thirdly, 
Semitic languages have letters of which the sound cannot be even 
approximately indicated by any combination of ours. And, 
1 The Church of Armenia (Mowbray, 1912), p. 148, 


lastly, the same names are pronounced differently in different 
places. East and West Syriac, Egyptian and Syrian Arabic, have 
notable differences of pronunciation. 

The only reasonable course, then, seems to be transliteration 
into conventional combinations, which always represent, not the 
same sounds, but the same letters of the original alphabet. Then 
anyone who knows the language can put the word back into its 
own letters. He who does not will be puzzled as to how it should 
be pronounced ; but this is the case always when we do not know 
the language in question. Now, the first principle of exact 
transliteration is to use one Roman letter for one letter of the 
original alphabet. The reason of this is plain. In English we 
use combinations of letters to represent one sound, such as sh, 
th, ph. In Semitic languages (and Coptic and Armenian) these 
sounds have each one letter. But the two separate sounds may 
also follow one another, each represented by its own letter (as in 
mishap, anthill, uphill). If, then, we use several letters for one 
sound, how are we to write these ? Supposing, then, this essential 
principle of one letter for one letter, it follows (since we have not 
nearly enough Roman letters to go round) that we must differ- 
entiate them by various dots and dashes. This is not pretty, and 
it gives trouble to the printer ; but it is the only way of saving the 
principle, that anyone who knows the original letters may be 
able to put words back into them with ambiguity. As a matter 
of fact, there is a system, already very commonly accepted, at 
least in scientific books, by which this may be done. It is simple 
and easily remembered. Shortly, it comes to this : for our sh 
sound (in " shop ") use s, with a wedge above : x for the softened 
Semitic " begadkefath " letters put a line below ; for " emphatic " 
letters (h, s, d, t, z, k 2 ) put a point below ; for Arabic gim put a 
dash above. The strong Arabic guttural ha has a curve below. 
'Ain is * ; and the stronger Arabic form of the same sound g (gain). 
Hamza, when wanted, is \ 8 Consonantic i and u are y and w. In 

1 This form is borrowed from Czech. 

2 k is better than q, since it applies to the k sound the same difference 
for its emphatic form as have the other emphatic letters. 

3 The signs ' and ' are chosen arbitrarily to represent sounds for which 
we have no equivalent. All that can be said for them is that printers have 
them in their founts, and that they will do as well as any other arbitrary 


this way all possible sounds may be represented, each by one 
symbol. In the manuscript of this book, despairing of the 
inconsistencies of other systems, I first adopted this one through- 
out. To Semitic languages it can be applied easily and regularly. 
Coptic has Greek letters, except seven, which may be represented 
by similar differentiation. In Armenian, too, I found how the 
names which occur are spelled in their own letters, and so trans- 
literated them on the same plan, differentiating by the accepted 
points and dashes. Then, on reading the manuscript again, I 
saw more clearly the difficulties of the plan. It involves very 
considerable labour to printers. Also, in a merely popular book, 
perhaps such exactness is superfluous. It demands much of the 
reader of such a book as this. He would have to learn that t 
with a bar beneath it is our th, that p with a bar is our/, and so on. 
So I have changed most of the spellings back to an easier form. 
ph is always superfluous, since we have /. But I have restored 
sh and th, dropping the principle of one letter for one letter. 
Even the ugly kh appears sometimes for the third (strongest) 
Arabic h sound. But I have kept the point beneath for the em- 
phatic letters. One must make some difference between " kalb," 
which means a heart, and " kalb," a dog. I have left ai and au 
for diphthongs. 1 Syriac doubled letters are generally not marked. 
Since their theoretic tashdid is neither written nor (at least in 
Western Syriac) pronounced, it seems superfluous to note it. 2 
So with this rather unsatisfactory compromise I leave the proper 
names, with the hope that they will not too much irritate anyone 
who knows how they are spelled in their own characters, and that 
he will excuse the compromise, considering how difficult it is to 
carry out a consistent plan in this matter. 

symbols. The latest plan (in Germany) is to use a figure like a 3 turned 
the wrong way for *Ain (suggested by the shape of the Arabic letter). 
This has advantages. It looks more like a real, whole letter (which of 
course 'Ain is) ; and its strong form can be made, according to the general 
rule, by a point under it. But its use means casting a special type. 

1 Ay and aw are right, but look odd. 

2 Of the softened " begadkefath " letters, p becomes / and t becomes 
th. The softening of b, g, d, and k is not noted, v looks too odd, kh 
suggests rather another letter (Hebrew Heth). bh, gh, dh do not suggest 
any particular sound to an English reader. After all, Greek 0, 7, 5 are 
softened too, yet we do not mark the softening. 


In so great a mass of details I cannot hope that there are no 
inaccuracies. But I have taken pains to verify statements, 
especially about modern practice, and I think I have given my 
authority for everything. 

For information about what is now done and believed in these 
Churches I am indebted to many people, to their own clergy 
and Catholic missionaries. More than to anyone else I owe 
thanks to the French Jesuit Fathers at Beirut. To their guest 
they were the kindest and most hospitable of hosts, in their 
" Faculte orientale " most capable teachers. Since my return to 
England they have kept up cordial relations, and have always 
answered the many questions I have sent them. In answering 
these questions, and in procuring photographs for illustration, 
Father Louis Jalabert, S.J., has been more than kind. To him 
and to his colleagues in Syria every Catholic must wish God-speed 
in the work of educating and converting Eastern Christians, 
undertaken by them according to the noble tradition of their 
nation and their order. 

I have also to thank the Rev. Dr. W. A. Wigram and the 
Rev. F. N. Heazell, of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Mission 
to the Assyrian Christians, for corrections and photographs of 
Mar Shim'un and Kudshanis ; also Mr K. N. Daniel, editor of 
the Malankara Sabha Tharaka paper at Kottayam, for infor- 
mation contained in the paragraph at pp. 368-375. 

There is no bibliography in this volume. Most books on these 
Churches treat also of matters which concern the Uniates. Rather 
than repeat the same titles in both volumes, it seems convenient 
to reserve them for the next, which will be the last of the series. 
In it there will be a fairly complete list of books on all these lesser 

And, lastly, I hope that nothing in this book will seem to argue 
anything but sympathy for the people who, isolated for centuries, 
have still kept faithful to the name of Christ ; sympathy and 
regret for the lamentable schisms which are not so much their 
fault as those of their fathers, Bar Sauma, Dioscor, Baradai, in 
the distant 5th and 6th centuries. 

Letchworth, St. Peter and St. Paul, 1913. 




Of the Lesser Eastern Churches in General . . 3 



The East Syrian Church before Nestorianism . . 17 
1. Political History. 2. The Church of Edessa. 3. The 
Persian Church. Summary. 


Nestorianism .54 

1. Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus (431). 2. The 
End of Nestorius. Was he a Heretic ? 3. Nes- 
torianism in Syria. 4. Nestorianism in Persia. 


The Nestorian Church in the Past 88 

1. General History. 2. Nestorian Missions. 3. Nes- 
torian Monasticism. Summary. 


The Present Nestorian Church 114 

1. The Rediscovery of the Nestorians. 2. The Nes- 
torian Hierarchy. 3. The Faith of the Nestorians. 
4. Nestorian Rites. Summary. 





MONOPHYSISM ......... 163 

I. The First Monophysites. 2. The Robber-Synod 
of Ephesus (449). 3. The Council of Chalcedon 
(451). 4. Later Monophysite Troubles. 5. The 
Acacian Schism (484-519). 6. The Three Chapters 
(544-554). 7. Monotheletism (622-680). Summary. 

The Coptic Church in the Past . . . . . 214 
1. The Copts in the Roman Empire. 2. The Arab 
Conquest of Egypt (639). 3. Under the Sunni 
Khalifs (639-969). 4. The Fatimids (969-1 171). 
5. Saladin and his Successors (11 71-1250). 6. The 
Mamluks (1250-1517). 7. Under the Ottoman 
Turks (1517-1882). Summary. 


The Copts in our Time 252 

1. The Patriarch and Hierarchy. 2. The Coptic Faith. 
3. Churches, Ornaments, Vestments. 4. Liturgical 
Books. 5. Coptic Services. Summary. 



The Abyssinian Church ....... 

1. The Conversion of the Ethiopians. 2. Christian 
Ethiopia in the Past. 3. Christianity in Nubia. 
4. The Negus and his People. 5. The Hierarchy. 
6. Rites and Ceremonies. 7. Ethiopic Faith and 
Customs — Judaism. Summary. 





The Jacobites 323 

1. The Foundation of the Jacobite Church. 2. The 
Jacobites in the Past. 3. Organization and Hier- 
archy. 4. The Jacobite Faith. 5. Rites and Liturgy. 


The Church of Malabar 353 

I. The Foundation of the Church. 2. Before the 
Portuguese Conquest. 3. Since the Portuguese 
Conquest. 4. The Land and People. 5. The Schisms 
at Malabar. 6. Faith and Rites. Summary. 



The Armenian Church in the Past ..... 383 

1. Political History. 2. The Conversion of Armenia. 

3. Catholic Armenia. 4. The Breach with Caesarea. 

5. Monophysite Armenia. 6. The Five Armenian 

Patriarchs. 7. The Nineteenth Century. Summary. 

The Armenian Church To-day ...... 424 

1. The Armenian Faith. 2. The Hierarchy. 3. Churches 
and Vestments. 4. The Calendar, Books and Ser- 
vices. 5. The Holy Liturgy. Summary. 

The Hope of Reunion ........ 446 

Index 451 



i. Church of St. Hripsime at Etshmiadzin . {Frontispiece) 

2. Kudshanis 127 

(From a photograph by the Rev. F. N. Heazell) 

3. The Nestorian Katholikos, Mar Benyamin Shim'un . 133 

(From a photograph by the Rev. F. N. Heazell) 

4. The Patriarchal Church at Kudshanis . . .144 

(From a photograph by the Rev. F. N. Heazell) 

5. Plan of the Patriarchal Church at Kudshanis . 146 

6. Plan of the Church of Abu Sargah at Old Cairo . 266 

7. Church of St. Mercurius (Abu Saifain) at Old Cairo 

The Ikonostasion ....... 

8. Church of St. Mercurius (Abu Saifain) at Old Cairo 

The Haikal ........ 

9. A Coptic Bishop 

10. The Abyssinian Primate, Abuna Matewos . 

n. The Abyssinian Monastery by the Anastasis at 

12. The Jacobite Patriarch, MAr Ignatius 'Abdullah 

Sattuf ....... 

13. Church at Karingachery 

14. A Malabar Bishop 

15. The Patriarchal Church at Etshmiadzin 

16. Plan of the Patriarchal Church at Etshmiadzin 

17. The Armenian Church of St. James at Jerusalem 

18. Armenian Bishop and Vardapet .... 










The Orthodox Church is considerably the largest in the East. 
But it is by no means the only Eastern Church. The idea, which 
one still sometimes finds among Protestants, of one vast " Eastern 
Church," united in the same primitive faith, knowing nothing, 
never having known anything, of the Papacy, is the crudest 
fiction. There neither is nor ever has been such a body. Eastern 
Christendom is riddled with sects, heresies and schisms, almost as 
much as the West. In the East, too, if you look for unity you 
will find it only among those who acknowledge the Pope. 1 This, 
then, is the first thing to realize clearly. There are, besides the 
Orthodox Church, other Eastern Churches, which are no more in 
communion with her than they are with us. To the Orthodox 
Christian an Armenian, a Copt, a Jacobite is just as much a 
heretic and a schismatic as a Latin or a Protestant. Though no 
other Eastern Church can be compared to the Orthodox for size, 
nevertheless at least some of them (that of the Armenians, for 
instance) are large and important bodies. This book treats of 
these other separated Eastern Churches. Their situation is not 
difficult to grasp. All spring from the two great heresies of the 
5th century, Nestorianism, condemned by the Council of 
Ephesus in 431, and its extreme opposite, Monophysism, con- 
demned by the Council of Chalcedon in 451. These two heresies 
account for all the other separated Eastern Churches, besides the 

1 Even the Orthodox Church itself (which is what these people probably 
really mean by the " Eastern Church ") is torn by schisms, as has been 
shown in the former book. 


Orthodox. Arianism was for a long time the religion of various 
barbarous races (the Goths, for instance), but it died out many 
centuries ago. There is now no Arian Church. The Pelagian 
heresy never formed an organized Church. Manichaeism made 
communities which afterwards disappeared. It is one side of a 
very great movement that produced all manner of curious sects 
in East and West till far into the Middle Ages — Bogomils, Pauli- 
cians, Albigensians, Bonshommes, and so on. All these too have 
practically disappeared, though in the West (Bohemia) the last 
remnant of this movement may have had something to do with 
the beginning of the Reformation. In the East, the Paulicians 
and Bogomils had a rather important history. But they too 
disappeared. 1 Monotheletism formed a Church which has long 
returned to the Catholic faith, and is now the one example of an 
entirely Uniate body, having no schismatical counterpart. 

So all existing separated Eastern Churches, other than the 
Orthodox, are either Nestorian or Monophysite. So far the 
situation is simple. Now enters another factor of enormous 
importance, at any rate to Catholics. At various times certain 
members, sometimes bishops and Patriarchs, of these three main 
classes of Eastern Churches (Orthodox, Nestorians, Monophy- 
sites) have repented of their state of schism from the Roman 
See and have come back to reunion. These are the Uniates, who 
will be discussed in a future volume. 

All the people of this volume are heretics 2 and schismatics. 
These are harsh words, which one uses unwillingly of pious and 
God-fearing Christians. But we must be clear on this point. It 
is, of course, true inevitably from the Catholic point of view. And 
they too, equally logically from their point of view, say that we 
are heretics and schismatics. Indeed, we are a very bad kind of 
heretic. We are Creed-tamperers, Papolaters, gross disturbers 
of the peace by our shameless way of sending missionaries who 
compass the land and the sea to make one proselyte. We under- 
stand all that, and like them the better for being consistent. But 

1 There will be a short appendix about the Paulicians at the end of the 
volume on the Uniates. 

2 We shall see in each case how far they can be accused justly of keeping 
the particular heresies of their origin. In any case, all are heretics in regard 
to the Primacy, and other dogmas too. 


they should also understand our attitude : we stand for our own 
position, on either side, and there is no malice. Secondly, they 
are equally heretical and schismatical from the point of view of the 
Orthodox, and, with the qualifications to be noted hereafter, each 
of them looks upon the others as heretical and schismatical. 
There is, then, theologically, no common unity between these 
Churches, except as much as exists necessarily among all Chris- 
tians. They are not, theologically, nearer to the Orthodox or to 
each other than they are to the Catholic Church. The entire 
conversion and reunion of one group would not affect the others. 
Yet there are some points in which all together do form one 
group. Before we come to these points let us be clear about who 
all these people are. It is not difficult to grasp. We have said 
that all are either Nestorian or Monophysite. That gives us at 
once a great division into two main groups. Theologically, 
these groups are diametrically opposed to each other ; they are 
poles apart. Nest onanism divides Christ into two persons, 
Monophysism confuses him into one nature. Each feels, or ought 
to feel (for it is a question how far these old controversies are now 
realized by any of them), nearer to us and to the Orthodox than 
to the other main group : and each accuses us (and the Orthodox) 
of the rival heresy. The Nestorian (at any rate in the days when 
these were burning questions) thought us to be practically 
Monophysites ; the Monophysite abhorred our theology as being 
infected with the poison of Nestorius. An alliance between them 
against us (there have been cases of something like it) is as 
curious a spectacle as the alliance of Claverhouse and the 
Cameronians in Scotland against William III. 

Our first group, Nestorian, now contains two Churches. First 
we have the body called the Nestorian Church, a very small sect 
on either side of the Turkish-Persian frontier, having a long 
and glorious history. This comes naturally first in our account, 
as being the oldest existing schismatical Church. It once had 
very extensive missions. One remnant of these missions remains 
along the south-western (Malabar) coast of India. It might 
seem most natural to place the Church of Malabar immediately 
after the Nestorians, as belonging to them, But the Malabar 
people were separated for many centuries from their Mother 


Church ; meanwhile, by an astonishing revulsion, they had deal- 
ings with Monophysites. Now (apart, of course, from the 
Uniates) they are mostly Monophysites. So it seems best to 
leave them to the last, as a kind of cross between both groups. 
But in origin they are Nestorian. 

We come to the second group, which contains all the others. 
All lesser Eastern Churches except the Nestorians and (originally) 
the Malabar people x are Monophysites. The Monophysite heresy 
was a much greater and more disastrous thing than that of 
Nestorius. It became the national religion of Egypt and Syria, 
and was then, apparently rather by accident, adopted by the 
Armenians. So we have three great Monophysite Churches, in 
Egypt, Syria and Armenia. To these we must add a fourth, the 
Church of Abyssinia, always the disciple and daughter of Egypt. 
These four complete our list of minor schismatical Eastern 
Churches. In Egypt we have the Copts. They come first 
because Egypt was the original and always the chief home of 
the heresy. Next we place the daughter Church of Egypt in 
Abyssinia or Ethiopia. Then follows the Syrian national Church, 
commonly called Jacobite, closely allied to the Copts. To them 
we must now add the Malabar Christians. Lastly, the Armenians, 
whose history stands rather apart. A table of the Churches 
described in this book will make their position and mutual 
relation clear : 

Nestorian : The Nestorian Church. 

Originally the Church of Malabar. 
Monophysite : The Coptic Church in Egypt. 

The Abyssinian or Ethiopic Church. 

The Jacobite Church in Syria. 

Most of the modern Church of Malabar. 

The Armenian Church. 

The next point to justify is the use of the names we use for 

these sects. In some cases, at any rate, the body in question is 

called by various names ; it is well to be clear as to what we mean 

by the ones we use and why we prefer them to others. Now, the 

1 Except also ; obviously, the Uniates. 


first general principle about the name for anything at all is to 
follow common use. We speak in order to be understood. A 
name is only a label ; as long as there is no doubt as to the thing 
labelled, it does not much matter which it is. Secondly, no 
reasonable man wants to call any body or institution by a gratui- 
tously offensive name. It is the most childish idea that you gain 
anything merely by calling people ugly names. It follows then 
that, whatever you may think about an institution, you should, 
as a general rule, call it by its own name for itself. This becomes, 
of course, merely a technical label ; no one thinks that you mean 
really to concede what the name may imply. 

In the case of the Churches here described we have this result : — 
The Nestorians must be so called. It is the name used universally 
for them since the fifth century. They do not resent it in the 
least. They glory in the memory of the Blessed Nestorius, and 
they use it for themselves. 1 A fashion is growing up among 
their Anglican friends of avoiding the word because (it is alleged) 
they do not really hold the heresy associated with Nestorius's name, 
nor were they founded by him. As for the heresy, it is now urged 
that Nestorius himself did not teach it ; so the name need not in 
any case connote any theory about our Lord's personality. They 
do not admit that they were founded by Nestorius. Of course not. 
They claim that their religion was founded by Jesus Christ. So 
do all Christians. We can hardly call them Christians as a 
special name. What is certain is that they went into schism, 
broke with the rest of Christendom, as defenders of the theory 
condemned by Ephesus. And what other name are we to use ? 
Chaldee will not do. It is always used for the Uniates. People 
have tried " the Persian Church " ; " the Turkish Church " 
would be as good. Or the "East Syrian Church": that is 
better ; but there are so many East Syrian Churches. Jacobites, 
Orthodox, Uniates of various kinds, all abound in East Syria, 
besides this one little sect. The favourite name now among their 
Anglican sympathizers seems to be " the Assyrian Church." 
This is the worst of all. They are Assyrians in no possible sense. 
They live in one corner of what was once the Assyrian Empire. 
Their land was also once covered by the Babylonian Empire. 

1 See p. 128. 


Why not " the Babylonian Church " ? As for descent, who can 
say what mixture of blood there is in any of the inhabitants of 
these lands ? The only reason for giving the name of a race or 
a nation to a religious body is that the religion is or has been that 
of the race or nation. The Assyrian Empire came to an end 
centuries before Christ. No doubt the Nestorians have some of 
the blood of its old subjects, but so have equally all the other 
sects which abound in Mesopotamia. Why should this one little 
sect in its remote corner inherit the name of the whole mighty and 
long- vanished Empire ? And, of course, " Assyrian Church " is 
emphatically not its old, accepted, or common name. It is a new 
fad of a handful of Anglicans. One sees a book called The 
Doctrinal Position of the Assyrian Church, and one wonders what 
Church can be meant — that of Asurbanipal ? 

Since we shall have to mention the Uniates already in this 
book, I add their names and the reason thereof at once. There 
is a Uniate Church corresponding to each separated one. What 
are we to call the Uniates who correspond to the Nestorians ? 
" Catholic Nestorians " would be too absurd. Of course, these 
people are Nestorians in no possible sense. They abhor nothing 
so much as the impious heresy of the detestable Nestorius, 
although they agree in rite and in many customs with their 
heretical cousins. Chaldee and Chaldcean are the names always 
used. They are not really particularly appropriate, but in this 
case we have the clinching reason of universal use. They always 
call themselves so ; it is their official name at Rome. If you 
see a book with the title Missale chaldaicum, it is the book of 
their liturgy ; if you hear of the " Patriarcha Babylonensis 
Chaldaeorum," it is their Patriarch. 

The general name Monophysite will not be disputed. It has 
constantly been used by Monophysites themselves ; it expresses 
exactly their particular belief. In the old days they retorted 
by calling us Dyophysites. We should have no difficulty in 
admitting this name, were there any need for a new one for us. 
We are Dyophysites : we are also Dyotheletes and Monopro- 
sopians. The Copts are so called without exception by friend 
and foe. The name is probably only an Arabic form of " Egyp- 
tian." What are we to call their Uniates ? Uniate Copts is 


correct and harmless. Only, now — what about the others ? 
To call two bodies the Copts and the Uniate Copts is not good 
classification. It is like distinguishing between animals and 
reasonable animals. To make our terminology accurate we 
should have to say " Monophysite Copts " and " Uniate (or 
Catholic) Copts." That is correct, but " Monophysite Copt " 
is rather cumbersome for constant use. So we may perhaps 
waive the point of logical classification. When we speak of 
the " Copts," without epithet, everyone will understand us 
as meaning members of the national (Monophysite) Church of 
Egypt. Only now and then, when we want specially to dis- 
tinguish them from the Uniates, we will add " Monophysite " or 
" Schismatical." The Syrian Monophysites are the Jacobites. 
This is a very old name, from James fla/«o/3os, Ya'kub) 
Baradai, their chief founder. They do not appear to use 
it themselves ; they call themselves simply " Syrians " or 
" Syrian Christians." With the best will we cannot use these as 
their technical names. But all the people round call them 
Jacobites ; so in this case we must, I think, use that name, 
apologizing to the worthy little sect if it hurts their feelings. Their 
Uniates are Uniate Syrians. This is again the recognized 
official name. The " Patriarcha Antiochenus Syrorum" is 
their chief, the " Ritus Syro- Antiochenus," or " Syrus purus " 
their rite. The name Jacobite is sometimes also used for the 
Egyptian Monophysites. 1 There is no objection to this, except 
that we do not want it for them ; " Copt " is sufficient. In this 
book, therefore (as commonly in all books), "Jacobite" means a 
Syrian Monophysite. 

The name Armenian Church presents no difficulty: it is the 
National Church of that race. Uniate Armenian is clear enough too. 
But in this case the faulty classification is less innocent than that of 
the Copts. The Uniate Copts are a very small body. The Uniate 
Armenians are a large, flourishing and important part of the 
nation. Can we hand over the title " Armenian Church," without 
qualification, to their adversaries ? Certainly the Uniate would 
protest that his Church is at least also an Armenian Church ; he 
would point out that one can be a good Armenian without being 
1 So Joseph Abudacnus : Historia I acobitarum seu Coptorum (Leiden, 1740). 


a Monophysite. As a matter of fact, there is an established 
epithet for the separated Armenians. It is a good example of 
what has been said about technical names. To distinguish 
them from the Uniates they are commonly called the Gregorian 
Armenians. This patently begs the whole question, as far as the 
real meaning of words goes. The name comes from St. Gregory 
the Illuminator, the honoured apostle of Armenia. Of course, the 
Uniates claim him too, and with reason. St. Gregory was not a 
Monophysite, he was certainly in union with Rome. Yet, since 
the name " Gregorian " is commonly given to the Monophysites, 
since it is always understood as meaning them, we will show that 
we are sensible people by using it of them. Plainly, we do not 
admit what it implies ; but, once more, no one is ever expected 
to admit what any technical name implies. We have, then, the 
" Gregorian Armenian Church " and the " Uniate Armenians." 
Abyssinia and Ethiopia are names used almost indifferently 1 for 
the country south of Egypt ruled by the Negus. There is no 
difficulty about the name of his Church. It is the religion of 
practically the whole nation and only of that nation. So we 
speak indifferently of the Abyssinian or Ethiopic Church. For 
the very small number of Uniates here Abyssinian or Ethiopic 
Uniate will suffice. Malabar (as a noun or adjective) and Malabar 
Uniate are obvious names too, geographical and universally 
accepted. The people themselves have a legend that they were 
founded by the Apostle St. Thomas, and so call themselves 
Christians of St. Thomas — harmless, but unnecessary, since 
Malabar is enough. 

We have seen that, theologically, there is no unity among 
these sects. On the other hand, from the point of view of Church 
history and archaeology, all Eastern Churches, including the 
Orthodox, have something in common. There are, namely, 
certain ways of doing things, a certain general attitude of mind, 
even certain ideas, which in a broad sense we may call Eastern, 
common to all these, as opposed to Western customs and ideas. 2 

1 But see p. 307. 

2 Just as there are many more and far more important customs and ideas 
common to all Christians, or again others common to all old Churches as 
opposed to those of Reformed sects. 


The mere fact that they are all opposed to the Papacy for many 
centuries and have no inheritance from the Reformation of the 
16th century is a negative common ground. But beyond this 
the Eastern attitude is a real and important point to realize. 
It applies to all these sects as much as to the Orthodox. What it 
comes to is, first, much in common with us except the Papacy. 
All have very definite ideas about hierarchical organization and 
authority ; we shall hear much about their Patriarchs, Katholikoi, 
Mafrians, and so on. All have a fully developed sacramental 
system, a clear idea of the priesthood and eucharistic sacrifice, 
elaborate rites, vestments, and ceremonies, copious incense, 
monasticism, complicated laws of fasting and celibacy, saints — 
in short, what we may call the visible, organized Church idea. 
The mere minister and Gospel preacher, the Bible only, Protestant 
ideas of Grace and Predestination, all this is as strange to them as 
to us. It follows that all Eastern Churches stand much nearer to 
us Catholics than does any Protestant sect. Most of the dogmas we 
have to explain and justify to Protestants are accepted by them 
as a matter of course. Although many have a panic fear of the 
Pope, his position can easily be explained to them. They have 
most autocratic Patriarchs already ; they have only to add the 
topmost branch to their idea of a hierarchy. What the Patriarch 
is to his Metropolitans, that is the Pope to the Patriarchs. Even 
infallibility can be no great stumbling-block to people who have 
a very definite idea of an infallible Church, of which Patriarchs 
are the authentic mouthpiece. They do not admit the Im- 
maculate Conception of our Lady, because the Pope has defined 
it. If he had not done so, they probably would. Nestorians, of 
course, will not call her Mother of God. But they have unbounded 
veneration for the all-holy, most pure and sinless Virgin ; they 
keep her feasts, and their liturgies surpass ours in glowing praise 
of her. If they do not all go to confession, they all know they 
ought to. All venerate relics and the holy cross ; most have 
numerous holy pictures in their churches. 

Then, lastly, there are many points in which they agree with 
the Orthodox rather than with us. Ferdinand Kattenbusch 
goes so far as to call them all " bye-churches " 1 of the Orthodox. 
1 " Nebenkirchen " (Lehrbuch der vergleichenden Confessions kunde, i. 205). 


That is perhaps not quite fair either to them or to the Orthodox. 
But certainly, in many ways, of the two great Churches they 
stand nearer to Constantinople than to Rome. This is natural 
enough. When they broke away they left the Eastern half of 
Christendom. The " Orthodox " Church in our technical sense 
did not yet exist, or (if one likes) the Orthodox were then Catholics. 
But they always had their own customs, rites, and in many 
points their own ideas. It was these that the lesser Eastern 
Churches took with them. And since then, since the schism of the 
Orthodox, that Church has been their great neighbour. Rome is 
far away ; most Nestorians and Monophysites have been too 
poor, too ignorant, to know much about her. The great rival at 
hand was always the Church of the Eastern Empire. Their 
relations to her have varied considerably, as we shall see. Some- 
times they have been well disposed towards her, often bitterly 
hostile. But her influence has always been great. And in one 
point they are always ready to join her. When the Orthodox 
fulminate a mighty protest against the horns of Roman pride, 
when they protest that the " mad Pope makes himself equal to 
God," then they sound a note soothing and grateful to the un- 
orthodox also. So there is a common Eastern attitude in many 
ways. The liturgies of all these little sects, widely different as 
they are, have a certain common colouring with that of the 
Byzantine Church. A Nestorian would be very much puzzled by 
either the Byzantine Liturgy or the Roman Mass, a Copt still 
more ; but of the two the Byzantine rite would seem less hope- 
lessly unintelligible. The vestments of all these sects are rather 
Byzantine than Roman. Their Calendars, again, various as they 
are, are nearer to that of the Orthodox than to ours. Titles, 
ranks, functions of all kinds can generally best be explained by 
parallel Orthodox ones. Their theology too. All these Churches 
are profoundly affected by Greek ideas, by the Greek Fathers ; 
all use Greek terms in their various languages ; all, in short, come 
from a Greek foundation. 1 So there are definite points of theo- 
logy in which all agree with the Orthodox against us. Besides 
the questions of the Papacy and the Immaculate Conception, all 

1 Most the Copts, Jacobites, Armenians, less the Nestorians and Abys- 
sinians — but these also, as we shall see. 


Eastern schismatics believe in consecration by the Epiklesis and 
reject the Filioque. 

We come to a great question which one would like to clear up 
at once. What is the attitude of these smaller sects as to the 
Church of Christ ? We believe that this is necessarily one visibly 
united body, everywhere holding the same faith, in communion 
with itself always and everywhere. So do the Orthodox, as I 
have shown. 1 We say it is our Church, they say it is theirs. But 
what about the smaller Eastern sects ? Are they logical, claim- 
ing each to be the whole true Church, in the teeth of the absurdity 
of such a claim ; or do they admit separated sects, teaching different 
faiths, as making up one Church together ? Has, in fact, the 
Branch theory adherents in the Highlands of Kurdistan, the 
Egyptian desert and the wilds of Abyssinia ? I am not sure ; it 
is a difficult point ; but I believe it has. In the first place, these 
rude folk have probably not thought much about the question at 
all ; they have too little theology of any kind to have evolved a 
clear theory about the unity of the Church. It may no doubt be 
said safely that their sects have no dogmatic position as to this 
question, except that, of course, in any case they themselves are 
all right. Whoever else may be, they are members of the true 
and Apostolic Church. Otherwise, it is a matter about which 
each member will form his own opinion, and form it differently. 
I know one case of an Armenian bishop who has a theory of juxta- 
position of all bishops with equal rights, co-ordination not sub- 
ordination, which comes to very much the same thing as the 
famous Branch theory. 2 But the others ? If one were to ask a 
Nestorian, Coptic, Jacobite bishop, what would he say ? One 
can only conjecture. The Monophysite would say that the 
Council of Chalcedon taught heresy, that all who accept its dogma 
are heretics. Could he admit that heretics are part of the true 

1 Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 365-372. 

2 See Lord Malachy Ormanian (ex-Armenian Patriarch of Constan- 
tinople) : L'Eglise Armenienne (Paris, 1910), p. 86. He admits " every 
Church which acknowledges the dogmas of the Trinity, the Incarnation, and 
Redemption " as part of the universal Church. This would include every 
kind of Protestant sect — Quakers, Christian Scientists and Mormons. He 
comes up against the fundamental difficulty of all branch theories, that 
no one can tell you which the branches are. 


Church ? Surely not. Therefore, the only real and authentic 
Church of Christ on earth consists of the Monophysite bodies. 
It follows obviously. So (with the necessary change) if one asked 
a Nestorian. He must admit that we are heretics ; surely 
heretics are outside the Church ? And yet would these people 
really have the courage of their convictions ? It would be 
magnificently consistent. The whole and only true Church of 
God is that poor little sect in Mesopotamia, or the scattered relics 
of Monophysism about the Levant— and all other Christians 
heretics wandering in outer darkness ! If one urged them, I 
doubt if they would boldly take their stand on this position. 
Probably they would hedge and get confused. Their sect in any 
case would be entirely right ; as for the others, they are not alto- 
gether wrong, they are true Churches but somewhat corrupt, not 
exactly heretics, or at any rate not much heretics. We should 
reform away our errors, but meanwhile we are parts of the 
universal Church ; only, it is sad that that Church is so griev- 
ously wounded in many of her branches. Such, I imagine, would 
be something like what they would say. It is, of course, all a 
hopeless tangle and a confusion beneath contempt ; * it would 
show that they have never considered the matter seriously. I 
feel fairly sure they have not. But I think it is what they would 
say. 2 

We may, then, conceive a vague class of Eastern Churches as one 
group. They are joined, not by intercommunion, nor indeed by 
any really important theological principle, but by a common 
attitude in certain ways, by a certain common outlook, and by 
a common descent still shown in many points of ritual and 
organization. If we make a table of all Christian Churches and 
sects, its arrangement will, naturally, depend on the basis of our 

1 Does this need demonstration ? We want an answer to two plain 
questions : i. Are we heretics ? (If not, then your special dogmas are 
not part of the faith ; so why do you insist on them ? Why have you 
broken communion with us for their sake ?) 2. Can heretics be part of 
the true Church ? (If so, then what do you mean by the Church ? Where 
is its authority to teach, etc. ?) 

2 I cannot state this absolutely, as I have no authentic documents. But 
such things have been said to me in conversation by clergy of these sects. 
I have heard them in England too. 


classification. According as we divide by various differences, so 
shall we have various schemes of genus and species. One could 
of course make the Papacy the first difference, and so begin by 
dividing Christendom into Catholic and non-Catholic. This is 
theologically, from our point of view, the vital distinction of all, 
of course. We should then subdivide non-Catholic Christendom 
into Western (Protestant) and Eastern, and e^xh species would 
have many further divisions. The Catholic species might also 
be divided into Latins and Uniates, these last with subdivisions. 
But, archaeologically (and this is the point of view of this book), 
another system suggests itself, according to what has been said. 
Under the genus Christian we put first two main species, the old 
Churches (that have so much in common, in spite of the difference 
about the Pope) , and the Reformed bodies (different in many vital 
ways from all old Churches). We need not go into the sub- 
divisions of the Protestant group. The old Churches then fall 
into the species Western (Latin) and Eastern. The Eastern are 
either Byzantine or the group of lesser Eastern Churches. The 
Byzantines are Orthodox or Byzantine Uniate ; the others divide 
into the Churches here described, each again subdivided into 
Uniate and separated. 


There is no one "Eastern Church/' Eastern Christendom is 
divided into three main groups : (1) the Orthodox ; (2) the 
Nestorians ; (3) the Monophysites. To these we must add a 
second main division, consisting of the Catholics (called Uniates). 
The Latins in the East and the various small Protestant missions 
with their converts do not form Eastern Churches. They are 
simply foreign bodies, Westerns now dwelling in the East. Turn- 
ing back to our first three groups : the first (the Orthodox), by far 
the largest and most important Eastern Church, has been dis- 
cussed in the former volume. The second group (Nestorians) 
consists of one historically important Church. The third (Mono- 
physites) has four national Churches — the Copts, Abyssinians^- 
Jacobites, and Armenians, and now most of the Malabar people.^ 
We have, further, already noted some general points about these ' 
lesser Eastern Churches ; especially that, although in no sense 


united, although separated by extreme divergencies of doctrine 
(so that theologically one group is much nearer to us than it is to 
the other), nevertheless there is a general Eastern atmosphere 
about them, which to some extent justifies us in putting them all 
together in a rough kind of class. 



The traveller who passes the Turkish-Persian frontier near Lake 
Urmi, the stranger who goes to delve among the ruins of Nineveh, 
will perhaps wonder to find in these parts buildings which are 
plainly Christian churches. Among the unhappy non-Moslem 
population of these parts he will find families who have nothing 
to do with either Catholics or Orthodox, but who honour the life- 
giving Cross, who have priests and bishops, who are baptized and 
go to Communion, who in a word are Christians. Who are these 
people ? Some new sect planted in these wilds by Protestant 
missionaries ? No, indeed ! Long centuries before Luther 
nailed up his theses these people worshipped God and Christ as 
they still do. They were once a mighty and widespread Church. 
The predecessors of the Patriarch who now rules a few families in 
Kurdistan ordained bishops for India, for Herat, for Samarkand 
and distant China. These people are the last tragic remnant of a 
Church whose history is as glorious as any in Christendom. Their 
line goes back to those wonderful missions which carried the name 
of Christ across Asia, to the great army of martyrs whose blood 
hallowed the soil of Persia, when Shapur II was the Eastern 
Diocletian, and back behind that to the mythic dawn when 
Addai and Mari brought the good news from the plains of Galilee, 
when Abgar sent letters to Jesus the good Physician, and Hannan 
the notary painted a picture of the holy face. These people are 
the oldest schismatical Church in the world. Thay have stood 
in their pathetic isolation for fifteen centuries. They are all that 
is left of the once mighty Nestorian Church. 



i. Political History 

The remote beginning of our story is to be found not far from 
where the last remnant still lingers — in Mesopotamia, along the 
frontier of the Roman Empire and the land of the Persian King 
of Kings ; just as they are now again a frontier people, where the 
abominations of Turkish governors meet the vileness of their 
Persian colleagues. The background of the Nestorian Church is 
the political history of Mesopotamia and the lands around, till 
they become the national Christian Church of Persia. Since most 
people have rather a cloudy idea of what was happening in these 
lands, it may be as well to begin with an outline of their general 

Through all changes the people, the indigenous population 
which was the prey of the two great Empires, was foreign to both. 
It is Semite. Since Aramaic in various dialects became the 
common language of Western Asia (roughly since the second 
Babylonian Empire) they have talked one of its many dialects. 
We now call Aramaic by the Greek name Syriac. If we class 
people by the inaccurate but convenient test of the language 
they use, we shall count these as Syrians, more nearly as East 
Syrians. In the period with which we have to deal the classical 
language of Mesopotamia and Syria was the dialect of the 
city of Edessa, from, which are derived those of the 
Eastern and Western Syrians. 1 This Syrian nationality and 
language remains the common factor through all political 
changes. If we go back far enough we find the remote 
ancestors of our Nestorians subject to the first Babylonian 
Empire (b.c. 2500-1600), disputed by Egypt (they seem fated to 
be a frontier folk) ; then they were absorbed by the great Assyrian 
power (b.c. 900-600) ; for a short time by the second Babylonian 
Empire (b.c. 600-550) ; then by Persia under Cyrus (b.c. 550-331). 
But all this is still remote from our story. The conquests of Alex- 
ander the Great (b.c. 336-323) introduce an important new element, 

1 With slight differences. Three Syriac alphabets are used. The old 
form is called Estvangela (arpoyyvXr]). From this are derived the West 
Syrian letters (called Serto or Jacobite), and the East Syrian or Nestorian 
characters. Serto is most commonly used in books printed in the West, 
as being the alphabet of the best-known community. 


the Greek language and Greek ideas. From his time Hellenism 
in Asia becomes a factor to be counted. He and the generals who 
divided his Empire after his death spoke, of course, Greek. Their 
courts were outposts of Hellenism in the midst of barbarians. 
But they did not Hellenize all their subjects. The native popula- 
tions went on, after another change of masters, much as before. 
Through all Eastern history, behind the battles and triumphs, 
behind intrigues at court, embassies, alliances, treachery, you 
see dimly a vast patient crowd, silent and unchanging while kings 
clamour and fight. These are the great mass of the people. You 
figure them like flocks of sheep, driven by first one shepherd and 
then another, harried by taxes, forced to build palaces and serve 
in armies against other flocks (against whom they have no quarrel) ; 
yet all the time keeping their own languages, customs, religions, 
not really changed at all by the fact that, after half their villages 
have been burned, their men murdered and their women ravished, 
they have to pay taxes to a tyrant in the far West instead of to 
one in the far East. Provinces are handed to and fro ; on our 
maps we colour vast districts red or green or yellow, according as 
they form part of Assyria, Persia, or Rome. They do not care. 
They lead their unknown life, follow their own immemorial 
customs, while far above over their heads empires crash together 
and shatter. To a child of the people the only law is the custom 
of his tribe, the only authority the village headman and village 
priest. What does it matter to him whether the booty torn from 
his people's fields is sent West to Rome or East to Persia ; whether 
the soldiers he eyes with terror as they plunder his home, march 
under the eagles of Rome or the equally strange standard of the 
Great King ? Admirably is all this expressed by the Arabic 
name for subject races, ray ah. 1 We must understand this, 
because most of all in the East political divisions are no clue 
to race. The people we have to study are not Assyrians, nor 
Greeks, nor Persians, Egyptians, Romans. They have been 
bandied about between all these powers. All the time they 
remain just the same Semitic Syriac-speaking native population 
of Mesopotamia and Eastern Syria. Nearer than that one cannot 
go in defining their race. Practically a real bond is their language ; 
1 Ra'iyah, pi. ra'did, a flock, from ra'a, pascere. 


another equally real one all over the East is religion. It seems an 
odd criterion by which to measure races ; yet, for practical 
purposes, the bond of Church membership is perhaps the nearest 
thing they have to our idea of race or nation. The Turk is not 
altogether wrong in considering each sect asa" nation." l 

After Alexander, then, we have outposts of Greek civilization 
and language thinly scattered among the native population. 
These are, of course, only small centres — a Greek court, a more 
or less Greek-speaking city, amid vast territories where all the 
peasants are barbarians. It is the same in Syria and Egypt. We 
shall understand the situation best by thinking of the little colonies 
of English amid the millions of natives in India. Moreover, just 
as we have taught many of the more educated natives to talk 
English, as we use English influence on the upper classes, whereas 
the crowded millions below remain unchanged ; so many Syrians 
in towns learned to talk Greek, and Greek ideas filtered into their 
life, although the great mass of the people went on speaking their 
own language, worshipping their own gods, hardly touched by the 
aristocratic foreign element. But we must note too that even 
this partial Hellenization took place practically only in Western 
Syria. Of Alexander's generals, Seleukos Nikator (b.c. 312-281) 
inherited Syria and the East. He founded the Seleucid dynasty 
of Greek sovereigns, who reigned till B.C. 64. At first he set up 
his capital at Seleucia on the Tigris, opposite to which (on the left 
bank) later the city of Ctesiphon arose. But the capital was soon 
moved to Antioch on the Orontes. 2 Antioch then became the 
chief centre of Hellenism in Syria. The Eastern part, with which 
we are concerned, was hardly affected by Greeks at all. However, 
Greek, in a later form of the language, the kolvtj that we know best 
in the New Testament, became the recognized international 
language among educated people throughout the East Mediter- 
ranean lands. Of the Seleucid kings the most famous — or 
infamous — is Antiochos IV, Epiphanes (175-164), against whom 
the Maccabees fought. During the reign of the third Seleucid 
king (Antiochos II, 261-246) a new monarchy arose in the East 
which deprived their empire of Persia and brought a disputed 

1 Millah (pron. millet), pi. milal. 

2 Called after his son Antiochos Soter (2 8 1 -2 61), as Seleucia was after him. 


and shifting frontier again to Mesopotamia. This is the Second 
Persian Empire, that of the Parthians. The Parthians were an 
Aryan race, followers of the old religion of Persia (Mazdaeism), 
dwelling north-east of Persia proper, under the Caspian Sea and 
so towards the Himalaya. They are really another tribe of 
Persians ; their monarchy represents practically a revival of that 
of Cyrus. Two brothers, Arsaces and Tiridates, were their 
chiefs in the third century B.C. These rose against the Seleucids ; 
in B.C. 250 Arsaces became king of the Parthian state. They had 
many great rulers (notably Mithradates I, 1 B.C. 175-138) who 
waged successful war against the Seleucids and then carried on 
the eternal contest of East and West against Rome. For already 
Rome has entered the arena. Since 200 B.C. she becomes more 
and more a factor in Eastern history. In 205 B.C. the Romans 
defeat Philip V of Macedonia ; this marks their first appearance 
on the stage they are soon to fill. At first Rome is only con- 
cerned to prevent any Eastern kingdom from becoming too 
powerful a neighbour. Antiochos the Great of Syria (Antiochos 
III, B.C. 223-187) wanted to assert supremacy over Greece, and 
had interests in Egypt. Rome opposed him in both. In 191 he 
was beaten and driven out of Greece ; in 190 Lucius Cornelius 
Scipio crossed over to Asia Minor and won the battle of Magnesia. 
Antiochos had to resign all his possessions in Asia Minor. They 
were at first given to a Roman ally, the King of Pergamon ; but 
in 133 B.C. they became the Roman province " Asia." From 
now the Seleucid kingdom gradually goes to pieces and the Roman 
Empire takes its place. Antiochos IV's attempt to Hellenize all 
Syria (of which the Maccabeean revolt was an incident) was a bad 
failure. Then comes a long series of disputed successions to the 
throne and civil wars, in which Rome is more and more concerned. 
For a time (b.c. 86-66) Syria became a dependency of Armenia 
(P- 385). But the ever-advancing Roman power defeated the 
Armenians, and so at last the inevitable happened : Pompey with 
his legions entered Syria, the last Seleucid king (Antiochos XIII) 
was deposed, and Syria became a Roman province (b.c. 64). So 
we arrive at the state of things when Christianity appears in these 
lands. Rome faces the Parthian kingdom. Rome has taken up 

1 Mithradates I is also Arsaces VI. 


the old contest for the West ; from now for seven centuries (till 
the Moslems come in 634 a.d.) East Syria is the frontier and the 
battle-ground of Rome and Persia. 

But, meanwhile, between these two mighty Empires there is 
the Syrian desert, where tribes of Bedawin wander. These desert 
folk kept a kind of independence and constantly gave trouble to 
their neighbours. At various times they have formed independ- 
ent states. So Palmyra (Tadmur) in an oasis between Damascus 
and the Euphrates (c. 230-272), Ituraea in the Lebanon, the 
Nabataan kingdom south-east of Palestine, etc. One of these 
native states is important to us. 

East of the Euphrates in the north of Mesopotamia stands a 
J very old city called Urhai. The Greeks had refounded it and 
) given it the name Edessa. It is placed on a great caravan route 
which passes between the Armenian mountains and the great 
desert to the south. Here native princes managed to found a 
kingdom (Urhai, Hellenized as Osroene x ) since about 136 B.C. 
The kingdom of Osroene remained the one centre of national 
Syrian independence between the Greek Seleucids (or, later, 
Rome) and Persia. It was also, as we shall see, the centre of 
national Syrian Christendom. There was nothing Greek, no 
Hellenization, at Edessa. The people spoke only Syriac, 2 the 
Kings of Osroene were native Syrians. Of this dynasty of kings 
most were named either Abgar 3 or Ma'nu. 4 The religion of 
Osroene was that of the pagan Semites generally — worship of the 
host of heaven (stars, sun, and moon) in general. There appears 

1 Urhai is supposed to come from the name of a founder of the city. The 
Arabs make ar-ruhd of this, Greeks 'Opporjvf], then 'Oaporjvn. Edessa 
("ESkarra) is a different word. Osroene remains the usual name of the 
kingdom, Edessa (in Greek, Latin, and European languages) of the city. 
The city in Turkish (and common modern use) is now Urfa. It is now 
mainly Turkish-speaking and Moslem ; there are a large Armenian, a 
small Jacobite, and a Syrian Uniate community. An account of the 
present state of the place will be found in Badger : The Nestorians and 
their Rituals, i. 321-333. He thinks Urhai is Ur of the Chaldees. One 
of the Armenian massacres in 1896 was here (see Sir E. Pears : Turkey and 
its People, London, Methuen, 191 1, pp. 285-289). 

2 Indeed, the dialect of Edessa became the classical Syriac language. 

3 Either from the Syrian root bgar, to shut, hinder, belame, or Armenian 
Apghar = apagh ahr, a prince. 

* Arabic root ma' an, to assert, consider, be useful, etc. 


to have been a special local cult of the Heavenly Twins. 1 A 
small native kingdom had little chance of keeping its independence 
between such neighbours as Rome and Persia. When Trajan 
(98-117) was fighting Persia the Romans stormed and sacked 
Edessa (in 116). It held out after that for another century. 
Rome asserted a kind of suzerainty over the little frontier state, 
which Osroene did not obey ; so in 216 Abgar IX, the last king, 
was sent in chains to Rome. Osroene became a Roman province 
and the Empire established itself on the other side of the Eu- 
phrates. 2 The kingdom had lasted about three centuries. 

The first centuries of the Roman occupation of Syria were 
certainly the happiest period in the long history of that much-tried 
people. They have obeyed in turn Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, 
Persia, Greeks, Rome, and then Arabs and Turks. During all these 
centuries of subjection never were they so well ruled, never did 
their chains hang so lightly, as under Rome. Even to-day the land 
is covered with splendid ruins of cities and temples, witnesses 
of the one bright period of Syrian history : from Ba'albek to 
Mosul you may read Latin inscriptions and see relics of the 
Roman rule. 

The Parthian kings carried on the old quarrel against the West ; 
there was fignting all down Mesopotamia. The Parthians were 
half-Hellenized ; easygoing and tolerant, they had not behind 
them the full force of Persian loyalty. In the third century after 
Christ their place was taken by a fiercer foe to Rome. Ardashir 
son of PabSk, Satrap of Iran, rose against the Parthian king 
(Artaban), slew him at Hormuz on May 28, 227, and gathered up 
his inheritance. Ardashir 3 (of the house of Sassan) founded a 
monarchy which was a closer revival of that of Cyrus and Darius. 
From him came the Sassanid kings, who reigned for four centuries. 
Their rule was pure Persian ; their ideal was to restore Iran as it 
had been before Alexander. One result of this was a revival 
of the old Persian national faith. The religion of Persia was 
dualism. All the universe is a battle-ground between the good 

1 The stars Castor and Pollux. These are represented on their coins. 
Burkitt : Early Eastern Christianity , p. 17. 

2 See Gibbon : Decline and Fall, chap. viii. (ed. Bury 1897, v °l- h 
pp. 207-208). 

3 Greek Artaxerxes. 


god Ahura Mazda and the bad god Anra Mainyu. 1 All nature 
is divided between their respective clients ; the dog, for instance, 
is a champion of Ahura Mazda, the frog of Anra Mainyu. Man 
has to fight for the good god against the bad one. Each has 
a court, as an Eastern king might have. The seven Amesha 
Spentas (Holy Immortals), like archangels, fight for Ahura; 
seven evil spirits oppose them in the service of Anra Mainyu. The 
symbol of Ahura Mazda, the most sacred thing visible, is the Sun 
and fire. There is a hierarchy of priests called mobeds, under 
their chief, the mobedan mobed ; in their temples they keep alive 
the sacred fire, symbol of Ahura's reign of light. What are we 
to call this religion ? It is very old, developed out of the original 
Aryan mythology, of which Brahmanism is another, a baser 
development. When the Aryans poured into the plains of 
Persia, already they brought with them at least the germ of this 
faith. It was organized, reformed (in no sense founded), by 
Zarathushtra.' 2 But to call it Zoroastrianism is as bad as to call 
Islam Mohammedanism, or worse. The small communities who 
still hold this old religion in India are called Parsis (which means 
simply Persians), in Persia " Gebers " (which is an insulting 
nickname used by Moslems). 3 " Fire-worshippers," too, is an 
offensive name, which they repudiate indignantly. According to 
our general principle, one would like to call them by their own name 
for themselves. But they have none. They call their cult " the 
good religion of Ahura Mazda " ; they call themselves often 
yazdan parast (worshipper of God). All things considered, 
" Mazdseism " and " Mazdaean," from the name of their god, seems 
the most reasonable. But we may notice that Zoroastrian, Parsi, 
Geber (guebre), Magian, Fire-worshipper, all mean the same 
thing. I add only one or two more points about Mazdaeism which 
cccur in connection with our story. It has most elaborate 
principles of ritual cleanness and defilement. The mobed wears 

1 In later Persian Ormuzd and Ahriman. Ahura Mazda = Wise Lord, 
Anra Mainyu = Evil Spirit. 

2 Now Zerdusht ; Greek Zoroaster. He was undoubtedly a real person. 
See A. V. Williams Jackson : Zoroaster, the Prophet of Ancient Iran, New 
York, 1899. 

3 Either = Kafir (infidel) or Habdr (wizard) ; perhaps Persian Gabrd 
( — Aramaic Gebar, a man). 


a mouth-covering when he tends the holy fire, lest his breath 
defile it. Especially are death and a dead body unclean. A 
corpse may not defile earth, fire nor water. So, as everyone 
knows, Mazdseans put dead bodies on their Towers of Silence, to 
be eaten by vultures. Burial, and still more cremation, are 
horrible to them. They have also a great aversion to any kind of 
asceticism. Life and pleasure are gifts of Ahura Mazda ; not to 
enjoy them is positively sinful: it is perhaps the only religion 
which considers fasting actually wicked. They hate celibacy. 
Their sexual morality is correct, save for one extraordinary point : 
they allow, even command, incest, and may (often did) marry their 
own sisters. 1 

This religion, then, under the Sassanid kings was the state 
religion of the Persian kingdom. It had not died out under the 
Parthians ; but it was now more closely identified with Persian 
nationality, and became intolerant and persecuting. It was 
death to apostatize from it ; the mobeds continually stirred up 
fierce persecution against other religions, so that, as we shall see, 
Christians in Persia suffered even more than under Pagan Rome. 
But Mazda^ism was not the one cult of all the Great King's 
possessions. Its home was among the Aryans of Old Persia, down 
by the Gulf. Among the subject Semites other cults, the last 
remnants of Babylonian mythology, still lingered. The first 
pagans whom Christianity met in Mesopotamia and Adiabene 2 
were not Mazdaeans but polytheists, worshipping Nature-forces, 
wells and trees. 

We have said that the Sassanid kings took up the old quarrel 
against Rome. During nearly all their time war rages along the 
frontier, with varying success. But they brought new energy 
to their side, so that on the whole the advantage seems to be with 
them. Julian (361-363) died fighting the Persians (against 

1 A good short modern account of Mazdaeism is V. Henry : Le Parsisme, 
Paris, 1905 (Les religions des peuples civilizes). The modern Parsi resents 
being called a dualist, and maintains that his religion has always been pure 
monotheism. Ahura Mazda is simply the old Persian name of God. Anra 
Mainyu is no more a rival bad god than our devil. This is modern puri- 
fication under Christian influence. The Brahmin too now says he is a 
monotheist. But there seems to have been always the idea of a final triumph 
of Ahura Mazda. 

2 Hadyab, the country between the Tigris and the Zab. 


Shapur II) ; his successor Jovian (363-364) had to conclude a 
disgraceful peace, giving up Nisibis and all the provinces beyond 
the Tigris (363). There were, of course, intervals, sometimes 
long intervals, of peace, during which the Emperor sent friendly 
embassies to his brother the King of Kings. But, speaking 

\ generally, the background of the story of Eastern Christianity 
A during the first five or six centuries is this eternal struggle between 

I Rome and Persia ; behind our theological discussions, synods 
and bishops, we see tramping legions and flames of burning 
cities. It might have gone on indefinitely. Would either power 
ever have worn the other out ? Each had worn itself out 
when, in the 7th century, a new factor entered the scene and 
swept them both away. Mohammed died in 632. Almost im- 
mediately his followers burst upon the Roman Empire in Syria 
and Persia. Khalid * led a Moslem army against Hlra, an Arab 
state dependent on Persia ; then under Sa'ad Ibn Wakkas they 
conquered Chaldea and Mesopotamia ; ten years later at Neha- 
wand they won the " Victory of Victories " which made them 
masters of all Persia (642). The last Sassanid king (Yazdagird 
III, 632-651) fled and was murdered by wild Turks ; the Khalif's 
power was established in Iran and spread to the land beyond the 
Oxus. Meanwhile, with equal success the Arabs were tearing 
provinces from Rome. In 634 they invaded Western Syria. 
They took Bosra, then defeated the Roman army at Ajnadain 
(July 30, 634) . At Yarmuk the Romans again suffered a crushing 
defeat (Aug. 23, 634). Damascus fell in 635, and Emesa the next 
year (636). In 637 Omar, the second Khalif, entered Jerusalem ; 
in 638 Aleppo and Antioch were taken. 2 So from now the 
situation changes. The old quarrel of Rome and Persia has come 
to an end, the people so long bandied about between different 
masters are new ruled by the Moslem Khalif. After the Arab 
conquest there is little more political history to tell. Till 750 the 
Khalifs of the house of 'Umaiyah reigned at Damascus ; then 
they were succeeded by the long line of Abbas at Bagdad. 3 This 

1 Halid Ibn Walid. 

2 The Moslems conquered Egypt in 639. 

3 Bagdad on the Tigris, just north of Ctesiphon, was chosen as his 
capital by 'Abdullah al-Mansiir, the second Abbasside Khalif (754-775) • 


line reigned there till 1258. Meanwhile the Turks had already 
appeared. The Turks are a Turanian people who came from 
Central Asia beyond the Oxus. Already in 710 the Arabs had 
pushed their conquests into this country and had begun to make 
converts there. Throughout their history the Turks are Moslems, 
pupils of the Arabs in religion, custom, and everything. 1 
There are many tribes of Turks. The civil-spoken gentlemen at 
Constantinople who wear French clothes and read French news- 
papers have wild and shaggy cousins who guard their flocks in 
Central Asia. The first on the scene are the Seljuk Turks. They 
begin to attack the Roman Empire in the nth century. Their 
Sultan 2 Alp-Arslan invaded Asia Minor and took the Emperor 
Romanos prisoner in 1071. In 1092 Nicaea (Isnik) became the 
capital of a Seljuk kingdom covering Asia Minor and Palestine. 
Theoretically the Turks acknowledged the Khalif at Bagdad as 
their overlord ; practically, the centre of gravity of Islam shifts 
from the weak titular ruler to the Turkish Sultan. It was against 
the Seljuk Turks that the Crusaders fought. 3 The Khalif had 
a Turkish bodyguard ; already the way was open for them to 
seize whatever shadow of authority was left to him. Then in the 
13th century a frightful storm burst over both. The Tatars 
under Jengiz Khan, 4 " the scourge of God," burst over Asia, 
carrying havoc into China, Persia, Europe and Syria. In 1258 
they sacked Bagdad and killed the last Abbassid Khalif, Mus- 
ta'asim. 5 Just at the same time the Osmanli Turks make their 
appearance ; when the Tatar storm had passed they remain in 
possession of Syria, invade Europe, and found the Empire of 

1 A good parallel is that of the Franks in Western Europe, who learned 
everything from Rome, and finally became the successors and representa- 
tives of the Roman Empire. 

2 Sultan, a king (Ar. salat, to rule). This was at first an inferior title, 
granted to the Turkish chieftains by the Khalif at Bagdad (like Amir) . 

3 At first. Later the independent Amirs of Egypt enter the lists. 

4 Han is a Persian word, again meaning Lord, Prince. It is one of the 
titles of the Sultan now. 

5 Abu Ahmad 'Abdullah, al-Musta'asim billah (" protected by God," 1242- 
1258). An alleged son of the house of Abbas fled to Egypt and continued 
the line of titular Khalifs there. Sultan Selim II (the Drunkard, 1566-1574), 
who lost the battle of Lepanto (1571), forced the last of this line to cede his 
rights to him. On this totally illegal bargain is based the Turkish Sultan's 
claim to be Khalif. 


which they still hold fragments. We need now only add that 
Persia became an independent state in 1499. It had gone through 
many vicissitudes already, and had suffered cruelly from the 
Tatars. Meanwhile, the Persians, now all Moslems, except for a 
poor remnant of persecuted Mazdaeans and the (Syrian) Christian 
Church, had evolved a Moslem heresy of their own which ex- 
pressed their national feeling. The religion of Persia was Islam 
in the Shiah 1 form. In 1499 a certain Ismail founded an in- 
dependent Persian Shiah state, hating and continually fighting 
the Sunni 2 Turks. That state still exists, though now under a 
foreign dynasty, the Khajars, founded by Aga Mohammed Khan 
in 1794. 

This brings us to the end of the political history of these parts. 
It forms the background of all our further story ; it is well to keep 
in mind who were the successive rulers of the Christians with 
whom we are now concerned. 

2. The Church of Edessa 

There was, of course, no Nestorian Church before Nestorius 
(428-431). However, as we shall see, the people who took up his 
cause and went into schism for it were the extreme Eastern 
Church round about Edessa and in Persia. Before his time the 
causes of their separation had already begun to work. Moreover, 
most of the special characteristics of the later Nestorian sect are 
really pre-Nestorian ; its liturgy, customs, much of its canon 
law, and so on, come from its old Catholic days. The history of 
this most Eastern province of the Church is perhaps the least 
generally known of any part of Christendom. We may, then, 
begin profitably by an account of the spread of Christianity in 
these parts, and their story down to the arrival of the heresy 
which cut them off in the 5th century. 

f The city of Edessa, capital of the kingdom of Osroene, is the 
(centre from which Christianity spread through East Syria and 

1 Si' ah, " following " ; a group of heresies based on the common idea that 
'Ali ibn Abi Talib was the lawful successor of Mohammed. It has evolved 
further mystic and pantheist developments. 

2 Sunni, a believer in the Sunnah (path = tradition), the name of the 
majority of Moslems, again divided into sects. 


into Persia. How did the faith come to Edessa ? One of the 
oldest and perhaps most famous of all the stories by which local 
Churches later connected themselves directly with our Lord and 
his Apostles is the legend of Abgar of Edessa. It exists in many 
versions ; Syrians, Armenians, 1 Arabs, Greeks and Latins all tell 
the story. But all go back to two main sources, the Syrian 
Doctrine of Addai and Eusebius' Greek version. 2 We will tell 
the story first, then see what we are to think of it. The Doctrine 
of Addai is a Syriac work by an unknown writer of Edessa, 
composed before the end of the 4th century. 3 The text with 
a translation has been published by Mr G. Phillips. 4 The story 
as here told is this. In the time of our Lord, Abgar Ukkama, 5 son 
of Ma'nu, was King of Edessa. He suffered from an incurable 
disease. 6 Abgar sent an embassy to Sabinus, the Roman governor 
at Eleutheropolis in Palestine. 7 The ambassadors were two 
Edessene noblemen, Mariyab and Shamshagram, with a notary, 
Hannan the Scribe. On their way back they pass through 
Jerusalem and there hear of the great Prophet who heals the sick. 
They see him themselves and think that he might perhaps heal 
their king. Hannan writes down all that happens, and they take 
the report back to Edessa. Abgar would like to go to Jerusalem 
to be healed, but fears to pass through Roman territory. So he 
sends Hannan back with a letter beginning : " Abgar the Black) 
to Jesus the good Physician " ; in this he says that he feels sure] 
that Jesus is either God himself or the Son of God, and invites 
him to come and live at Edessa and heal Abgar's disease. Hannan 
found our Lord in the house of Gamaliel, " Chief of the Jews." 
Our Lord answered : " Go, tell thy master who sent thee : Happy 

1 Leroubna d'Edesse : Histoire d' Abgar, in V. Langlois : Collection des 
historiens anc. et mod. de V Armenie (Paris, 1880), 1. 313-331. 

2 Tixeront : Les origines de VEglise d'Edesse, pp. 22-29. 
8 Burkitt Early Eastern Christianity, p. 11. 

4 G. Phillips : The Doctrine of Addai the Apostle (London, Tnibner, 

5 Ukkama, " Black." There is already some doubt as to which King 
Abgar he is meant to be. 

6 Not specified. Later writers say it was " black leprosy," hence his 
name (Tixeront, op. cit. p. 47) ; Bar Hebrasus says he was called Black 
because he had white leprosy (ed. Abbeloos and Lamy, hi. 14). 

7 Eleutheropolis was not so called, and had no governor, till the year 200. 


art thou, who hast believed though thou hast not seen me ; for 
it is written that they who see me shall not believe, but they who 
see me not shall believe. Concerning what thou hast written, that 
I should come to thee : I go back to my Father who sent me, 
because that for which I was sent is now finished. But when I 
have gone to my Father I will send thee one of my disciples, who 
shall heal thee of whatever sickness thou hast. He shall bring all 
who are with thee to eternal life ; thy city shall be blessed, no 
enemy shall rule over it for ever." 1 Hannan then painted a 
portrait of our Lord " in choice colours," 2 and brought the 
picture and the message to King Abgar. Abgar set up the picture 
in a place of honour. 3 After Pentecost, true to our Lord's pro- 
mise, a disciple Addai comes to Edessa. He was one of the 
seventy-two, and was sent by the Apostles. He lodged at the 
house of Tobias, a Jew, who brings him to the king. Abgar is at 
once healed and converted, with a great number of his people, 
especially the Jews of Edessa. Here occurs an interlude. Addai 
tells the story of the true Cross, not quite in the form we know. 
He says that Protonice, the wife of the Emperor Claudius, being 
converted by St. Peter, came to Jerusalem. St. James was then 
bishop there. They find the true Cross, which restores life to a 
dead man. The Jews stole the Cross and mocked the Christians ; 
that is why Claudius expelled Jews from Rome. But Abgar had 
already written to Tiberius demanding punishment on all who 
had killed our Lord. Tiberius grants what he asks, punishes 
Pontius Pilate and kills many Jews. Meanwhile, at Edessa 

1 This is the famous letter of our Lord to Abgar of Edessa, cherished all 
over Christendom in the Middle Ages. It has been found carved on a lintel 
at Ephesus, in Greek (Burkitt : op. cit. p. 15), and was worn as a charm 
in England before the Conquest (Dom A. Kuypers : The Book of Cerne, 
Cambridge, 1902, p. 205). The writer has, as usual, taken pains to repro- 
duce Biblical language, and has found a very pretty antithesis : " the}' 
who see me shall not believe," etc. But the promise about the independ- 
ence of Edessa was rash. It was sacked by Lucius Quietus in 116, and was 
finally taken by Rome in 216. However, this assertion seems evidence 
of the great antiquity of the document. A forger could hardly have written 
that after 116. Perhaps it was composed to give confidence to the Edes- 
senes about the time when the Roman danger was imminent. 

2 A scribe was, of course, an artist. 

3 The portrait of our Lord was long the Eastern counterpart of our 
Western Veronica's veil. 


among Addai's converts are Aggai, jeweller and wig-maker to the 
king, and one Palut. Addai being sick, ordains Aggai as his 
successor and Palut as priest. He then dies in peace. Abgar 
also dies, and is succeeded by his son Ma'nu, a pagan. Ma'nu 
orders Aggai to make him some heathen piece of jewellery. Aggai, 
as a Christian bishop, naturally refused, so the king sent soldiers, 
who broke his legs as he sat in church. Thus Aggai dies a 
martyr. He had not had time to ordain Palut. There was no 
bishop in Edessa. Palut therefore goes to Antioch and is ordained 
bishop by Serapion, who was ordained by Zephyrinus of Rome, 
who was ordained by St. Peter, who was ordained by Christ. And 
we are told finally that " Labubna bar-Sennak, the king's scribe, 
wrote this." 

Eusebius tells the story in his Ecclesiastical History, i. 13. He 
agrees with the Syriac document in all the main points. Abgar 
writes to our Lord as " Good Saviour " and says he has heard of 
the cures he has accomplished " without herbs or medicines." 
Our Lord writes him a letter in answer, 1 in which Eusebius 
prudently leaves out the fatal promise that Edessa shall never be 
taken by an enemy. He knew, of course, that it had been taken 
by the Romans. Addai becomes Thaddaeus ; he is sent by St. 
Thomas. The story ends with the conversion of Abgar. 

Many reasons prevent our taking this legend seriously. Apart 
from other anachronisms, there is the enormous one about Palut. 
Serapion of Antioch is a real person ; he reigned from 190 to about 
2 1 1. 2 He could not have been ordained by Pope Zephyrinus, 
because Zephyrinus reigned from 202 to 218. But this is a minor 
error. The glaring impossibility is about Palut himself. A man 
ordained priest by one of our Lord's seventy-two disciples could 
not possibly have lived to be ordained bishop by Serapion in 190. 
So we must leave the legend (though later it may suggest some 
historical considerations) 3 and seek the origin of East Syrian 
Christianity in less picturesque but more authentic sources. 

There was a Christian community at Edessa quite early, before 

1 Hence, no doubt, the popularity of this document. It would be the 
one extant authentic work written by our Lord himself. 

2 Eusebius : Hist. Eccl. vi. n, 12. 

3 See p. 33. 


the independent state fell in 216. By the year 201 the Christians 
even had a public church in the city. The Chronicle of Edessa * 
says that in a flood which happened that year the " temple of the 
Christians " was destroyed. 2 There was also a King Abgar who 
was a Christian ; Julius Africanus 3 went to his court. 4 This is 
supposed to be Abgar VIII (176-213). 5 We must suppose that 
the faith spread to the East in its first expansion after Whitsunday. 
Already, then, among those who heard the apostles speak in 
diverse tongues were " those who dwell in Mesopotamia." 6 
Further, we may no doubt suppose that the very first converts, as 
usual, were members of the Jewish community at Edessa. The 
Mesopotamians who were at Jerusalem on Whitsunday were, of 
course, Jews from Mesopotamia ; 7 it is no doubt significant that 
the legend makes Addai dwell at the house of a Jew (above, p. 30). 
How far Addai is a real person is difficult to judge. Dr. Wigram 
is disposed to admit some basis of truth in him, on the strength 
of a lately discovered history of the Bishops of Adiabene. 8 In 
any case, we have evidence of Christianity at Edessa in the 2nd 
century. From that time Edessa is the centre from which it 
spread in Mesopotamia, Adiabene, and into Persia. This is 
natural, since it was the chief city of East Syria ; we always find 
Christianity established first in the capitals and so spreading to 
the country round. Naturally, too, when local churches began to 
be organized, Edessa was the metropolitan see of East Syrian 
Christendom. The first Bishop of Edessa of whom we know for 
certain is Kona, who built a church in 313. 9 He was succeeded by 
Sa'ad (f c. 323-324), and after Sa'ad came Aitallaha. And now we 
are in the full light of history ; for Aitallaha sate at Nicaea in 325. 10 

1 Compiled about 540 from contemporary archives, published by Asse- 
mani : Bibliotheca orientalis, i. 388-417, and by L. Hallier in the Texte u. 
Untersuchungen, ix. 1 (Leipzig, 1892). See Duval : La litter ature syriaque, 
pp. 187-188. 

2 Assemani : op. cit. i. p. 390. 

3 See the Catholic Encyclopedia, viii. 565-566. 

4 H. Gelzer : Sextus Julius Africanus (Leipzig, 1898), p. 3. 

5 Tixeront : Les origines de I Eglise d'Edesse, p. 10. 

6 Acts ii. 9. 7 Acts ii. 5. 

8 Mingana: Sources syriaques (Leipzig, 1907). Hist, of Mshihazka, 
pp. 77-78. See Wigram : The Assyrian Church, p. 27. 

9 Tixeront : op. cit. p. 9. 

10 Assemani : Bibl. Orient, i. p. 394, n. xiv. 


Can we conjecture anything further about the time before Kona ? 
Mr. Burkitt, in his Early Eastern Christianity, 1 having discussed 
the Abgar legend and the few historic evidences for the earliest 
period, 2 makes an interesting conjecture as to what really hap- 
pened. He thinks that Christianity began among the Jews of 
Edessa. Addai, a Jew from Palestine, first preached the Gospel 
there, probably before the middle of the 2nd century. At 
first Christianity was largely Jewish. Then it was accepted by 
the pagan nobility, and in the 3rd century became the State 
religion. Aggai, too, may well be a real person, Addai's suc- 
cessor. But this Edessene Church stood rather apart from the 
main stream of Catholic Christianity. It was a Jewish Church, 
which might have evolved into something like the Ebionites. 
Then, after the Roman Conquest (216), there came a new stream 
from Antioch, a more Catholic influence, in direct communication 
with the great Church of the Empire. This is represented by 
Palut. At first, maybe, there was friction between these two 
parties. 3 St. Ephrem notes that at one time the Catholics were 
called Palutians, as if they were a new sect. 4 However, ulti- 
mately Palut and his party remain in possession as the official 
Church of Edessa ; others become mere sects. Then, long after, 
a writer combines the two sources and imagines a line of bishops 
Addai — Aggai — Palut. 5 Palut's successors are said to have been 
'Abshalama, then Bar-Samya, then Kona. 6 During the persecu- 
tion of Diocletian (284-305) and Licinius there were martyrs at 
Edessa. We hear of Shmuna, Gurya, a deacon Habib and 
others. 7 

Two figures stand out in the ante-Nicene Church of Edessa — 

1 London, J. Murray, 1904. 

2 Chap. i. 

3 We might compare Palut and the old Edessene Church (on this sup- 
position) with St. Augustine of Canterbury and the British Church. 

4 Burkitt : op. cit. p. 28. James of Edessa (684-687) quotes Ephrem 
as having said this. 

5 Burkitt : op. cit. pp. 34-35 

6 lb. 

7 The Jacobite bishop James of Batnan in Mesopotamia (James of Srug. 
f 521 ; cf. Duval : Litterature syriaque, pp. 352-356) composed metrical 
homilies about these martyrs. Assemani : Bibl. orient, i. 329-333 (Nos. 



Bardesanes and Tatian. Bardesanes 1 was born at Edessa in 154, 
and was educated together with King Abgar VIII (176-213). 
He became a Christian and afterwards 2 turned heretic, so that he 
is known as one of the great ante-Nicene heretics, and the leader 
of a sect. What was his heresy ? He was clearly some kind of 
Gnostic ; but " Gnostic " covers many things. The common 
and apparently correct tradition is that he was a disciple of 
Valentinus. Michael the Great, Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch 
from 1 166 to 1199, 3 gives an account of his ideas which, allowing 
for the cloudiness of all Gnostic metaphysics, agrees well enough 
with this. 4 He died in 222, and left a school. 5 Tatian (Tatianus 
Assyrus) made his name famous by his Diatessaron. He says of 
himself that he was " born in the land of the Assyrians " (i.e. 
East Syria), and had been a pagan. 6 He came to Rome, and was 
converted about the year 150 ; here he wrote in Greek an 
Apology " ?rpos "EXA^va?." 7 Then he went back to his own land 
(about 172) and settled at Edessa. Here he wrote his Dia- 
tessaron. Diatessaron (Sia Teo-o-apwi/) means " harmony." It is 
the first example of an attempt to unite the four Gospels in one 
continuous narrative. He probably wrote it in Syriac. Either 
before or after this he broke with the Church. He became a 
Gnostic of the Valentinian type, and founded, or at least greatly 
promoted, the special sect of Enkratites fEy/cpa-m-ai), who declared 
marriage, wine and flesh-meat sinful. 8 The date of his death is 
not known. His sect existed for some time after him, and was 

1 Bar-Daisan, " Son of the Daisan," which is the river at Edessa. 

2 So Epiphanius : Adv. hcsr. lvi. 1 (P.G. xli. 990-991) ; Eusebius makes 
him first a Valentinian heretic, later more or less orthodox (Hist. Eccl. 
iv. 30 ; P.G. xx. 404). 

3 Duval : Litterature syriaque, p. 207. See below, pp. 329-330. 

4 Quoted by Burkitt : op. cit. pp. 159-160. 

5 Hilgenfeld : Bardesanes der letzte Gnostiker (Leipzig, 1864). 

6 Tatian : Or. adv. Grcec. 42 (P.G. vi. 888). 
' P.G. vi. 803-888. 

8 These are Bardenhewer's conclusions (Gesch. der altkirchlichen Litteratur, 
Freiburg, 1902 ; i. 242-245). Harnack at one time maintained that Tatian 
was a Greek (Texte u. Unters., Leipzig, 1882 ; i. 1-2) ; but afterwards 
admitted that he had been mistaken (Gesch. der altchristl. Litt., Leipzig, 
1897 ; 11. i. p. 284, note 1). There are other theories about Tatian's career, 
and the dates (e.g. Funk : Zur Chronologie Tatians, in his Kirchengesch. 
Abhandl. u. Untersuch., Paderborn, 1899, ii. 142-152). 


conspicuous through using water even for the holy Eucharist. 
For a long time Tatian's Diatessaron was the official version used 
by the East Syrian Church. But the memory of the author's bad 
end was always an argument against it ; eventually the Syrians 
conformed to common Christian use and changed back to the 
Gospels as they were written, in four separate narratives. The 
official Syriac Bible, still used by all Syriac-speaking Christians, 
is the Peshitto. 1 Mr. Burkitt thinks this was introduced by 
Rabbula of Edessa (411-435 ; see p. 77). 2 

After Nicaea (325, at which Aitallaha, Bishop of Edessa, was 
present), the chief figure at Edessa is St. Ephrem. Ephrem 3 the 
Syrian is the best-known of the " Eastern "(neither Greek nor 
Latin) fathers. He was born at Nisibis (then still a city of the 
Empire) under Constantine (306-337). He is said to have had 
Christian parents, to have been the pupil and friend of James, 
Bishop of Nisibis, and to have accompanied him to Nicaea in 325. 
During the Persian sieges of Nisibis (338, 346, 350) he encouraged 
his fellow-citizens ; afterwards he wrote poetic accounts of these 
troubles. 4 When Nisibis became Persian territory (363), Ephrem, 
with many other Christians, took refuge in Edessa. He lived as 
a monk on a mountain near the city, had many disciples, and came 
frequently to preach in the churches. About the year 370 he 
came to Caesarea in Cappadocia to see St. Basil (f379)> whose 
fame had spread over all the East. Basil ordained him deacon ; 
he was not a priest. He died, the most famous theologian, 
orator and poet of the Syrian Church, in 373. St. Ephrem left an 
enormous amount of writings, commentaries on the Bible, 
sermons (in metre), hymns and poems, all in the dialect of 
Edessa. 5 All Syrian Christians count him as their greatest 
father ; his works were an important factor in determining the 
classical form of the Christian Syriac language. The Arians had 
already disturbed the peace of the Edessene Church during St. 

1 Mafakta psltta ("simple version"). 

2 Early Eastern Christianity , Lecture II. : " The Bible in Syriac," 39-78. 
8 Afrem. 

4 Carmina Nisibena, published by G. Bickell (Leipzig, 1866). 

5 Chief edition by the Assemanis in six folio volumes (Rome, 1732-1746). 
For further literature see Bardenhewer : Patrologie (Freiburg, 1894), 364- 


Ephrem's life. After his death they got possession of it for a 
short time, and drove out the Catholic bishop Barses with his 
followers in 361. But their triumph lasted only a short time ; 
then the Catholics came back. 1 It seems, indeed, that the later 
Nestorian heresy was taken up at Edessa, at least partly, as an 
opposition to Arianism (see p. 60). 

What was the ecclesiastical position of the see of Edessa ? By 
the unconscious development which we notice in the earliest 
Church organization, in which, naturally, the main centres ob- 
tained authority over lesser outlying dioceses, 2 Edessa certainly 
was the chief see of far-eastern Christendom. And when the 
first Christian missions began in Persia, they too came from 
Edessa, and looked to Edessa as their capital. We may count 
Edessa from the beginning as Metropolis of East Syria, the 
centre of Syriac-speaking Christendom, as Antioch was centre 
of the more Hellenized Churches of West Syria. But it has 
never been counted a Patriarchate. No Bishop of Edessa ever 
thought of assuming the tempting title of Patriarch of Mesopo- 
tamia. Why not ? Because, at any rate in theory, they them- 
selves were subject to Antioch. Edessa and its province, even 
(as we shall see) its outlying mission in Persia, were part of the 
great Antiochene Patriarchate. There does not seem any doubt 
of this in theoretic canon law, though it is a question how much 
real authority the Antiochene Pontiff exercised over these" distant 
lands. For one thing, all Catholic Christendom before the Council 
of Constantinople in 381 was supposed to be subject to one of the 
three original Patriarchs of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch. 3 Edessa 
was certainly not in the Patriarchate of Rome or Alexandria. 
Antioch counted as its domain " the East " (irda-q rj avaTokrj), that 
is, the Roman prefecture so-called (Oriens). 4 This covered Asia 
Minor, Thrace (Egypt), Syria, and stretched eastward as far as 
the Empire went. 5 Edessa was in that prefecture. The story 
of Palut going up to Antioch to be ordained, whether it be history 
or legend, is significant, as showing the idea of dependence on 

1 Lequien : Oriens. Christ, ii. 957. 

2 See Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 7-8. 

3 Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 8-9. 

4 Except Egypt. 

5 Orth. East. Church, pp. 16-17. 


Antioch. 1 We shall see a story of the same kind in Persia (p. 42). 
On the other hand, it is, no doubt, true that the authority of 
Antioch in these distant East Syrian lands was rather theoretic 
than practical. Edessa is a long way off. Moreover, its develop- 
ment, long before the schism, already shows signs of peculiar 
features, of a want of close cohesion with the Mother Church, 
such as often makes an all too easy beginning for schism. Lan- 
guage made a difference. Antioch was mainly Greek and became 
more and more so, as did the cities near it in West Syria. 2 Its 
liturgy was celebrated in Greek, at any rate in the cities. Preachers, 
such as St. John Chrysostom, spoke Greek ; at Jerusalem St. 
Cyril taught his catechumens in Greek. At Edessa and in the^ 
East there is no Greek at all ; everything, including the liturgy, 
is Syriac. And the East Syrian liturgy, though one might classify 
it remotely as Antiochene, was celebrated so far from its original 
source, was so little confronted with the later use of Jerusalem- ) 
Antioch, that it developed into a special rite, hardly recognizable I 
as having any connection with that of West Syria. 3 If we usej 
later language (never actually applied to this East Syrian Church) 
we may describe the Metropolitan of Edessa as the almost inde- 
pendent Exarch of East Syria and (at first) of Persia, having a 
vague dependence on the distant Patriarch of Antioch. 4 

For the present we leave Edessa. Only we may note lastly 
one other point. The story of Palut's ordination by Serapion of 
Antioch is not content to join Edessa to Antioch. It carries the 
line further, and tells us that Serapion was ordained by Zephyrinus 
of Rome, who came from Peter, who came from Christ. Serapion 
was not ordained by Zephyrinus, as we have seen (p. 31). 5 But 
that does not matter. The meaning of the legend is clear. 

1 In the East the right of ordaining always involves jurisdiction over 
the ordained ; ib. pp. 7, 45, etc. 

2 Though in the country Syriac was spoken in the West too. 

3 For the East Syrian liturgy see pp. 149-156. 

4 Even the detail that East and West Syria evolved variant forms of their 
alphabet shows their separate development. 

5 Burkitt suggests a reason for the name of Zephyrinus. He was Pope 
when Abgar IX, the last King of Edessa, was sent a prisoner to Rome in 
216. It was possibly this Abgar who was the first Christian king, who at 
least protected Christianity, and so was the origin of the story of Abgar the 
Black (Early Eastern Christianity, pp. 26-27). 


Edessa was conscious of a throne in the far West, still greater 
than Antioch, and wanted to show that it got its bishop ulti- 
mately from the main line of Pontiffs, who go back to St. Peter and 
from him to Christ. It is only a little hint ; we could hardly 
expect more in the legend of a remote Eastern Church ; but it 
is significant. Edessa, too, knew that there is another centre 
behind Antioch, that a perfect line of dependence goes on till it 
joins Peter's successor at Rome. The early Church of Edessa 
was Catholic. 

3. The Persian Church 

The same impulse which brought the Gospel to Mesopotamia 
carried it over the frontier into the rival state. The barrier of 
the Persian Empire stopped the legions ; it could not stop men 
who obeyed the command to go and teach all nations. So under 
the Great King very early we find people who were, as Tertullian 
says of the Britons, " to the Romans indeed inaccessible, but 
subject to Christ." 1 

In this case, too, we have a legend which we will examine first. 
It has various forms. The most mythical form is that of Timothy I, 
Nestorian Patriarch (728-823), who says that the Wise Men of 
the Epiphany began to preach the Gospel as soon as they came 
home. 2 Others ascribe the first mission to the Apostle St. Thomas 
and make lists of bishops from him. The chief legend is that of 
the Acta Maris? a Syriac work of the 6th century, based on 
the Doctrine of Addai* This was then repeated by many writers, 
and was, so to say, the official account of its origin accepted by 
the Persian Church, and by the Nestorians down to our own time. 

The story is that Addai sent his disciple Mari 5 to Nisibis. Mari 
there destroys pagan temples, builds many churches and monas- 
teries. Then he travels down the Tigris, preaches the Gospel by 
Ninive, around the capital (Seleucia-Ctesiphon) , and comes as far 

1 Adv. Iud. 7 (P.L. ii. 610). 

2 Labourt : Le Christianisme dans I 'empire perse, p. 10. 

3 Abbeloos : Acta 5. Maris Syriace sive Aramaice (Brussels, 1885, with 
a Latin version) ; re-edited by P. Bed j an : Acta martyrum et sanctorum, i. 
(Paris, 1890) ; German version by R. Raabe : Die Geschichte des Dominus 
Mari (Leipzig, 1893). 

4 Cf. Duval: Litter ature syriaque, 1 17-120. 

5 Greek Map^s. 


as the province of Fars, where he " smelt the smell of the Apostle 
Thomas." 1 Everywhere he builds churches and monasteries, and 
at last dies in peace at Dar-Koni, just below the capital, having 
ordained Papa Bar 'Aggai to be first Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 
This Papa is a real person, who lived at the end of the 3rd century ; 
so, again, we have an impossible connection, an anachronism of 
two centuries. Is there any historical basis for Mar 2 Mari, or is 
he only a legendary figure ? Labourt and Duval do not think 
that his story can really be defended at all. Labourt conceives 
it as a late legend, composed to exalt the insignificant village Dar- 
Koni, and to make it a place of general pilgrimage. But he would 
admit as possible that there was such a person. 3 Dr. Wigram, 
on the strength of Mslhazka, 4 would admit Addai and a bishop 
Pkida whom he ordained for Adiabene in 104. For Mari (whom 
Mslhazka does not mention) he thinks there is less evidence. 5 

Labourt regrets that instead of these legends we can advance 
" only timid conjectures" about the origin of Persian Christianity. 6 
There were flourishing Jewish colonies in Babylonia under the 
Parthian king. Whitsunday saw " Parthians and Medes and 
Elamites and dwellers in Mesopotamia " at Jerusalem, 7 that is, 
Jews from those countries. No doubt, among them in their own 
homes, too, the name of Christ was preached very early. An- 
other source of Persian Christianity was the land of Adiabene 
(Hadyab), between the Tigris and the Zab, just across the Roman 
frontier. Here during the Roman persecutions Christians would 
find peace under the tolerant Parthian kings. But there is a 
city, Roman at first, which became the second centre of East 
Syrian Christianity, and then one of the most important places 
of the Persian Church. This is Nisibis, 8 about 120 miles almost! 

1 Acta S. Maris, § 32 (transl. by R. Raabe, p. 59). 

2 Mar, by the way., is a title we shall often meet. Syriac, mar (mar a), 
fern, mart ; Arabic, mar, f. mar ah, means Lord (Lady). It is used for bishops, 
patriarchs and saints (sometimes with the first pers. suffix: mari, etc.). 

3 Labourt : op. cit. 14-15. Duval : loc. cit. 

4 Above, p. 32. 

5 Hist, of the Assyrian Church, pp. 28-30. 

6 Op. cit. 15. 

7 Acts ii. 9. 

8 NiVi/Sts. Syr: Nslbln, Nsibin, now a mean Arabic village with a few 
Armenians and Jacobites. 


due east from Edessa. It was the great frontier garrison town 
of the Empire, and Christianity was firmly established there 
before the Persians took it. 1 After withstanding repeated sieges, 
it was ceded to Persia finally in 363 (after Julian's defeat and 
death). Many of the Christians retired into Roman territory ; 
but others remained, and in time, as we shall see (p. 75) , the school 
of Nisibis became the centre of Nestorian theology. From here 
the faith spread east and south. There were Christians in various 
parts of the Parthian kingdom ; but the Church does not appear 
to have been organized in a hierarchy before the Sassanid revolu- 
tion (224). Later legends make lists of bishops back to the first 
age, especially in the case of the Metropolis, Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 
But it appears that, on the contrary, these twin cities were at 
first hardly at all influenced by missioners. 2 The Sassanid kings 
(e.g. Shapur I, 241-272) after their conquests carried out the 
old Eastern plan of deporting whole populations of subject pro- 
vinces to other parts of their kingdom. These formed large 
Christian colonies in Persia. The prisoners were often Chris- 
tians ; they took their bishops with them, built churches, and so 
founded new dioceses in Persian territory. A later legend tells us 
that when the Emperor Valerian (253-260) was taken prisoner by 
Shapur, he had with him Demetrian, Bishop of Antioch. Deme- 
trian went to Beth-Lapat, 3 east of the Tigris, and there founded the 
Metropolitan see of that place. 4 There were, however, no metro- 
politan sees in this first period, no regular organization. Bishops, 
themselves exiles or wandering missioners, looked after the people 
among whom they found themselves, as best they could. But 
already the long line of martyrs, which is the chief glory of the 
Persian Church, had begun. Even under the tolerant Parthians 
popular tumults, led naturally by the Mazdaean mobeds, had slain 
Christians for their faith. The first martyr is counted to be Sam- 
son, Bishop of Arbela (Arbel) in Adiabene, successor of Pkida, 
whom Addai had ordained. He died in 123 . 5 There were others, 
as the result of local disturbances, repeatedly. 6 The reason of 

1 St. Ephrem was a Nisibite ; see p. 35. 

2 Msihazka, ed. by A. Mingana : Sources syriaqnes, vol. i. (Leipzig, 
Harrassowitz, 1907), p. in. 

3 ~i$oxv JLl-'Ahwdz. i Labourt : op. cit. 19-20. 
5 Wigram : op. cit. 33. 6 lb. 33-37. 


their death is nearly always either that they are apostates from the 
national religion, or have converted a Mazdsean. This is typical 
of the attitude of Persians before the great persecution. Christians 
were tolerated as foreigners from the Roman Empire. The 
Mazda ans understood that these Romans had their own religion ; 
they did not interfere in this case. But there was to be no 
tampering with the faith of true-born Persians. In 225 
Msihazka says that there were already more than twenty 
Christian bishops in Persia. 1 We have seen that these must be 
conceived as missioners or exiles not yet organized in a regular 

The organization of the Persian Church was the work of Papa 
Bar 'Aggai, whom legend makes the disciple of Mari. Really 
he lived at the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 4th 
centuries. He was Bishop of the civil capital, Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 
From him we can trace an authentic list of Primates of Persia down 
to the Nestorian Patriarchs, and so to Mar Shim'un, now reigning at 
Kudshanis. Following the example of the Churches of the Empire, 
he wanted to organize the Persian sees under himself. He was 
Bishop of the civil capital : the civil centres naturally became 
the metropolitan sees of the country round. 2 But his plan met 
with strong opposition. Apparently the bishops in Persia had 
too long been used to their independence and want of organization 
to welcome such a plan. A synod met, the first of many quarrel- 
some Persian councils, at Seleucia about the year 315. 3 The 
Fathers accused Papa of immoral conduct, of pride and scorn for 
canon law. He seized the Book of Gospels to swear his innocence, 
but his excitement brought on a fit of some kind 4 and he fell sense- 
less. This, naturally, seemed a judgement from Heaven ; he was 
deposed, and his deacon, Simon Bar Sabba/e, 5 was ordained in his 
place. Papa did not yield. He appealed to the " Western 
Fathers/' a fact that is interesting as showing consciousness of 
higher authority over the local sees of Persia. Naturally his 
appeal w T ent to the immediate chief, the Bishop of the Mother 

1 Op. cit. 106. 

2 See Orth. Eastern Church, p. 7. 3 Wigram : op. cit. p. 50. 

4 He was an old man ; ordained apparently in 280 (Wigram : op. cit. 45). 

5 " Son of the Dyers." 


Church of Edessa ; x a later tradition adds James of Nisibis, 
representing the next most important Church of those parts, as 
also receiving Papa's appeal. The Western Fathers decided in 
his favour, and quashed the acts of the synod which had deposed 
him. Their decision was accepted loyally by the Persian Church ; 
Papa was restored, and Bar Sabba'e, who protested that he had 
been intruded and ordained against his will, was to await his 
death, then to succeed him. The story is interesting as the first 
example of the quarrelsomeness which distinguished the Church 
of Persia ; it is important as showing her unquestioned depend- 
ence on the " Western Fathers." Till she became Nestorian, this 
Church acknowledged a higher authority over her ; she had a 
regular place in the ordered system of Catholic Christendom, as 
a missionary Church depending immediately on her mother, 
Edessa. We shall come to other evidences of this. Papa died 
about the year 327. 2 He was succeeded by Simon (Sim'un) Bar 
Sabba'e (f34i), whose reign brings us to the great persecution of 
Shapur II. 

Although the place of the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon as 
Primate of Christians in Persia was not formally recognized (at 
least by the Government) till after that persecution (see p. 48), it 
seems that Papa succeeded in his plan practically, that from his 
time we may date his see as the first in Persia. Until the Roman 
Empire became Christian, the Kings of Persia tolerated the foreign 
religion. Before Shapur II (339-379), there was a period of peace 
for Persian Christians, broken only by occasional outbursts of 
popular hatred (p. 40). During this time the Church was able to 
establish herself, spread throughout the kingdom, 3 and prepare 
for the frightful storm that was coming. Monasticism was firmly 
established, as it was at Edessa and throughout East Syrian 
Christendom. In the early 4th century it was already a flourish - 

1 Dr. Wigram notes that he did not appeal to Antioch, and sees in this 
an argument for independence (op. cit. 53). That does not follow. An 
appeal goes naturally first to the immediate superior. Persia depended 
on Edessa, and Edessa on Antioch ; so the place of the Persian Church in 
the Catholic system was quite normal and regular. 

2 Wigram: op. cit. p. 55. 

3 There were many conversions of Mazdseans, in spite of the danger to 
both converter and convert. 


ing institution. 1 There were Solitaries (hdnanaye) and monks in 
community. The common name for a monk (but used also for a 
clerk in holy orders) is " Son of the Covenant." 2 There were also 
" Sons of the Church/' or " Sons of the Faith," men who lead an 
ascetic life, apparently without having taken vows, who had no 
" covenant " or " pact " to bind them to this life. 3 And there 
were " Daughters of the Covenant," too. A later tradition ascribes 
Persian monasticism to a certain Eugene (Augfn), who brought 
it from the Egyptian desert, and founded the famous monastery 
of Mount Izla near Nisibis in the early 4th century. 4 

The most important, almost the only, authority for these 
earliest times is Afrahat, 5 the " Persian Sage." He lived in the 
first half of the 4th century, was a monk and a bishop. Tradition 
makes him head of the monastery of Mar Matai (St. Matthew), 
north of Mosul. Between the years 337 and 345 he wrote 
twenty-three Homilies or "Demonstrations," arranged acrostic- 
ally, each beginning with a letter of the Syriac alphabet. These 
are the chief source of our knowledge of the theology, discipline 
and customs of the Persian Church before the persecution. 

Afrahat writes Trinitarian doxologies, naming the three Divine 
Persons in the usual way ; but he does not know of the Council of 
Nicaea (325). 6 His theology is hardly at all influenced by Greek 
ideas. He describes the Paschal Feast as kept on the 15th of Nisan, 
and lasting a week. It begins with baptism, and still has several 
Jewish observances. 7 " The Lord with his own hands gave his 
body to be eaten and his blood to be drunk before he was 

1 So Afrahat : Demonstr. vi. : Patrol. Syr. i. (ed. by Dom Parisot, Paris, 
1894), p. lxv. 

2 Bar kyama, : not easy to translate. Kyama is a military station, a 
law, treaty, dogma, etc. (kam, to stand). 

3 Labourt : op. cit. 29-30. 

4 See the Life of Eugene (9th cent.), ed. by P. Bedjan {Acta martyrum 
et sanctorum, Leipzig, 1 890-1 895 ; iii. 376-480). Labourt does not think 
much of this story. Thomas of Marga knows nothing of it (see p. no). 

5 , A(ppadrr]s. 

6 There was one Persian bishop at Nicaea ; see Harnack : Mission u. 
Ausbreitung des Christentums, p. 442. Labourt denies this, and thinks 
that the " John of Beit-Parsaya " found in Syriac lists of the Nicene 
Fathers is an error for John of Perrhae (Le Christ, dans I'emp. perse, p. 32, 
n. 2). 

7 Dem. xii. (ed. Parisot, i. 505-540). 


crucified." x Of Afrahat's twenty-three Homilies nine are con- 
troversy against the Jews, evidently still a burning subject. 2 
He does not dare attack Mazdaeism. Dem. i. 19 contains a 
curious archaic profession of faith and a statement of Christian 
law : " This is the faith, that a man believe in God, Lord of all, 
who made sky, earth, sea and all they contain, who made man in 
his own image and gave the Law to Moses. He sent of his Spirit 
to the prophets, and at last he sent his Messiah to the world. A 
man must believe in the rising of the dead, and in the mystery of 
baptism. This is the faith of the Church of God." The law is : 
" Not to observe hours, weeks, new moons, yearly feasts, 3 divina- 
tion, magic, Chaldaean arts and witchcraft. To keep from 
fornication, poetry, unlawful science, which is the instrument of 
the evil one, from the seduction of honeyed words, blasphemy 
and adultery. Not to bear false witness, not to speak with a 
double tongue. These are the works of faith built on the firm 
rock which is Christ, on whom all the building rests." 4 We 
can agree that the Persian, indeed the East Syrian Church 
generally, kept these rules faithfully. The dull documents of 
later ages will convince anyone that she abstained strictly from 
the seduction of honeyed words. Renan pointed out that the 
dominating note of Syriac literature is its mediocrity. 5 

Constantine wrote to Shapur II : "I rejoice to hear that all 
the chief cities of Persia are adorned by the presence of Chris- 
tians." 6 But that was the end of peace. Shapur II, the long- 

1 Dem. xii. 6 (ed. Parisot.. col. 518). 

2 There were large Jewish communities throughout Persia during all this 
time. From the 2nd to the 6th centuries, the centre of gravity of Jewry was 
in Southern Mesopotamia, where the Babylonian Talmud was composed. 
H. L. Strack : Einleitung in den Talmud (ed. iv., Leipzig, 1908), pp. 67-69 ; 
Graetz : Hist, of the Jews (Engl, translation, London, D. Nutt, 1891), ii. 
pp. 508-536. 

3 That is, pagan astrological calculations and feasts. 

4 Ed. Parisot, i. 44-45. 

5 Be philosophia peripatetica ap. Syros (Paris, 1852), p. 3. For Afrahat, 
see Labourt : op. cit. 28-42 ; Burkitt : op. cit. 79-95 ; Duval : Litter attire 
syriaque, 225-229. His homilies are edited by W. Wright : The Homilies 
of Aphraates (London, 1869 ; Syriac only) ; by Dom Parisot in Graffin : 
Patrologia Syriaca, 1. ii. (Paris, 1 894-1907 ; Syr. and Latin) ; by G. Bert : 
Aphraates des persischen Weisen Homilien (Leipzig, 1888 : Texte u. Unters. 
iii. 3-4, German only). 

6 Vita Const, iv. 13 (P.G. xx. 1161). 


lived king who was crowned in his cradle and reigned seventy 
years (309-379), full of glory and renown, began what is perhaps 
the fiercest persecution the Church has ever had to endure. 

It is strange that anyone can forget the Persian martyrs. Not 
in the worst time of Roman persecution was there so cruel a time j 
for Christians as under Shapur II of Persia. In proportion to its 
extent and the time the persecution lasted, Persia has more 
martyrs than any other part of the Christian world. The cause 
of the persecution may easily be understood. As long as the 
Roman Empire was pagan the Persian king had no particular 
prejudice against Christians. Indeed, while Rome persecuted 
them, Christians found an asylum under the protection of her 
enemy. But when Christianity became the official religion of the 
Empire, how could the Great King tolerate it in his realm ? 
Shapur II spent his life fighting Rome ; could he allow his ownj 
subjects to profess the Roman religion ? The cross was the 
Roman standard ; could he let it stand on his side of the frontier ? 
These Christians prayed with his enemies, no doubt they prayed 
for them. How could he tolerate such disloyalty behind him 
when he went out to war ? It is the tragic situation often 
repeated in history : Christianity was treason against the State. 
Without any particular wish to trouble people's consciences, a 
country at war can hardly allow what seems treason at home. 
No doubt the Persian Christians, almost inevitably, gave some 
cause for this idea. They heard with joy that across the frontier 
the faith was now honoured, protected, triumphant. How could 
they help contrasting this with their own State ? And when they 
learned that the Christian legions were marching against the 
Pagan king, how could they help hoping, praying, that their 
fellow-Christians should win, should occupy the land and bring 
to them too peace and honour, as the Church enjoyed where 
Caesar reigned ? Were there even machinations with Rome ? It 
would not be surprising if there were. In any case, the 
Persian Government thought so. In Shapur's first proclamation 
against Christians he explains his reason : " They dwell in our 
land and share the ideas of Caesar, our enemy." * The mobeds tell 
the king that " there is no secret which Simon 2 does not write to 
1 Labourt : op. cit. 46. 2 Simon Bar Sabba/e, Papa's successor (p. 42). 


Caesar to reveal." 1 Long afterwards, under Piruz (459-484), 
Babwai of Seleucia is cruelly put to death because a letter from 
him to the Emperor Zeno had been intercepted, in which he had 
written (as the Persians translated) : " God has delivered us up 
to an impious sovereign." 2 Shapur first made Christians pay 
double taxes to subsidize the war ; 3 then begins the long list of 
executions and torture which lasts throughout his reign. Chris- 
tianity is punished by death ; all Persians must show their loyalty 
to the King of Kings by accepting his religion. 4 Simon Bar 
Sabba/e, Papa's successor at Seleucia-Ctesiphon, is told to worship 
the sun. He answers : " The sun put on mourning when its 
Creator died, as a slave for its master." His companions are 
killed before him, five bishops and a hundred priests ; he dies last 
on Good Friday, 33c). 5 Shahdost, 6 his successor, was martyred in 
342 ; the next bishop of the capital, Bar Ba'shmln, in 346. 
There was then a vacancy of twenty years. 

It would be long to give even an outline of the martyrdoms 
under Shapur II. Till he died in 379, all over Persia, bishops, 
clergy, laymen and women were arrested, offered their choice 
between accepting Mazdaeism or death, and were executed with 
all manner of horrible torture. The Roman martyrology on 
April 21 keeps the memory of St. Simon Bar Sabba/e and his 
companions (Byzantine Calendar, April 17) ; and on August 4 
we commemorate : "In Persia the holy martyrs la 7 and her 
companions, who with nine thousand others, under Shapur, 
tortured by diverse pains, suffered martyrdom ; " so also the 
Byzantine Calendar on the same day. 8 The Nestorians and 
Chaldees keep on the sixth Friday of summer " the memory of 
Mar Shim'un Bar Sabba/e, Katholikos and Patriarch, disciple of 
Mar Papa Katholikos, and of the Fathers who were crowned with 
him." 9 After Shapur's death Marutha, Bishop of Maiferkat 

1 Labourt : ib. 46. 2 Ib. 143. 

3 This is ordered by his first proclamation : Labourt, 46. 

4 Jews were cruelly persecuted too. 

5 Lequien : Or. Christ, ii. 1107. Labourt gives the story of his trial and 
death, 63-68 ; also Wigram : op. cit. 63-64. 

6 Persian for " friend of the King." 

7 Eudocia (Nilles : Kalendarium manuale, Innsbruck, 1896; i. p. 234). 

8 Ib. 233 ' Ib. ii. 687. 


(see below), collected a great number of relics of these martyrs and 
brought them to his own city, which was then called Martyro- 
polis. The Byzantine Menaia commemorates on February 6 u the 
holy martyrs who rest at Martyropolis, and St. Maruthas, who 
raised up the city in the name of the martyrs." A Syriac Calendar 
in the Vatican has this commemoration on Friday after Easter. 1 
But there are many thousands of martyrs under Shapur whose 
names are not known. Sozomen tells the story of his persecution, 
and counts 16,000 as known. 2 

During Shapur IPs reign an event of great importance to the 
Persian Church happened. Persia took the city of Nisibis in 
363 (p. 26), and so this important see and theological school 
are henceforth Persian. Shapur's brother, Ardashir II (379- 
383), continued the persecution. But after his death there was 
peace for a time. 3 Two rather mysterious Bishops of Seleucia 
now appear, Tamuza and Kayuma. Labourt doubts their 
existence : 4 Wigram defends it. 5 Then comes Isaac (Ishak) I 
(399-410), contemporary with King Yazdagird I (399-420). 
During this time of peace after the first great persecution the 
Persian Church was thoroughly reorganized. 

The chief agent of this reorganization was Marutha of Maiferkat, 
already mentioned. Maiferkat was just over the frontier between 
the Tigris and Lake Van. Marutha came to Persia as ambassador 
from Theodosius II (408-450) ; while he was there he used his 
influence as representing the "Western Fathers" 7 to arrange 
the affairs of the distracted Christians in Persia. King Yazdagird 
was well disposed towards him 8 and the Christians, and encour- 
aged the work. In spite of her heroic suffering under persecution, 

1 Nilles : op. cit. ii. 334-335, and note 2. 

2 Hist. Eccl. ii. 14 (P.G. lxvii. 969). A much fuller account will be found 
in Labourt : op. cit. 63-82 ; and Wigram : op. cit. 56-76. 

3 Peace with Rome and for the Persian Christians. These two generally 
go together. 

4 Op. cit. 85-86, note 4. 5 Op. cit. 101-102. 

6 That is, I believe, the Persian form. In Syriac he is Yazdgerd, in 
Arabic Yazdashir. 7 Being a suffragan of Edessa. 

8 Socrates {Hist. Eccl. vii. 8 ; P.G. lxvii. 752) and others say that Marutha 
was a physician, and healed the king of a bad headache. Yazdagird was 
very friendly towards Christians at first ; so much so that they hoped to 
find in him the Persian Constantine, and the Mazdaeans thought him an 
apostate. But at the end he became a fierce persecutor (p. 50). 


the Church of Persia was torn by quarrels. The bishops had 
accused Isaac I of various malpractices, and he was put in prison 
by the Government. This appeal to the secular, pagan and 
persecuting power is characteristic of Persian Christians. Marutha 
used his influence to set Isaac free, convoked a great synod to 
examine the charges against him and re-establish order generally. 
The synod met at Seleucia in 410. Marutha played the chief part 
in it. It was to be for Persia what Nicaea had been for the 
Empire. About forty bishops were present. Marutha presented 
letters from the Western Fathers — first Porphyrios of Antioch, the 
Patriarch (404-413), then the Metropolitan of Edessa and others. 
Here we see Antioch at the head of its Patriarchate, including 
Persia. The synod accepts and signs the decrees of Nicaea, 
including its creed. It accepts the rules made for it by the 
Western Fathers, namely : that only one bishop shall be allowed 
in each see ; that he shall be ordained by three others ; that Easter, 
the Epiphany, the forty days of Lent and Good Friday shall be 
kept as in the rest of the Church ; that Nicaea shall be accepted. 
Twenty-one canons were drawn up on the model of those of 
Nicaea. Of these canons the most important to us are those 
which regulate the position of the Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 
He is made formally the head, the Primate of the Persian Church. 
All bishops and metropolitans may appeal to him ; he must 
confirm all episcopal elections. This then definitely realizes the 
/ ambition of Papa (p. 41) ; from now we count the Bishop of 
I Seleucia-Ctesiphon as unquestioned Primate of Christian Persia. 
From now also he is commonly called by a title that we meet for 
the first time. Metropolitan is not enough ; he had metropolitans 
under him. Patriarch is too much ; he had a Patriarch over him. 1 
He was what we should call an Exarch, like those of Caesarea 
and Ephesus. 2 As a matter of fact, he took what seems to have 
been meant as a more splendid title ; he was the Katholikos. 3 

1 It was not till the Persian Church began her path of schism that the 
Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon called himself Patriarch. Till then he was 
himself subject to the Patriarch of Antioch. 

2 Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 23-25. 

3 Katulika, Katullkus, and various spellings. Ar. gdthulik. In English 
" Katholikos " seems the reasonable form, or at any rate " Catholicus." 
" Catholicos," not seldom seen, is a bad mixture of Greek and Latin 


This had already been adopted by the Armenian Primate 
(p. 405), from whom apparently the Persians took it. It is not 
easy to account for the origin of the title. There was a civil 
Roman official so called. No doubt its suggestion of the name of 
the Church in the Creeds made it seem a suitable form for the 
chief bishop of a vast semi-independent local Church. It was 
meant to imply the next thing to a Patriarch. One could not call 
oneself a Patriarch, because there was a fixed idea of only three 
Patriarchs, and then (by act of General Councils) of five. 1 It 
would have been repugnant to all the idea of Christendom at this 
time to call any important bishop a Patriarch, as later ages have 
done ; just as our present multitude of " Emperors " would have 
seemed absurd. Later schisms destroyed this concept ; as a 
matter of fact, all the original Katholikoi now call themselves 
Patriarch too. That the two titles were understood as meaning 
nearly the same thing is shown by the fact that East Syrian 
writers about this time (4th and 5th century) very commonly 
speak of the " Katholikos of Antioch." 2 The Bishop of Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon later used various descriptions of the place of which he 
was Katholikos. The original see becomes less and less important, 
especially after the Moslem conquest. I doubt if Mar Shim'un of 
to-day considers himself Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. Rather the 
' ' Catholicate " (if one may so call it) itself becomes an office ; as one 
could imagine the Papacy a separate thing, apart from the diocese 
of Rome. Isaac I's successors are just " Katholikoi," " Katholikoi 
of the East " (this is very common), " of Persia," and so on. 

This synod of 410 drew up rules for the election of bishops, 
but made none for that of the Katholikos. As a matter of fact, 
for a long time he was nominated by the King of Persia. The 
synod incidentally found Isaac not guilty of the charges made 

1 Orth. Eastern Church, chap. i. 

2 Dr. Wigram thinks that Katholikos simply means Patriarch trom the 
beginning ; that the Katholikos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon was the equal of 
the Katholikos of Antioch (Hist, of the Assyrian Church, pp. 91-92). Event- 
ually Persia certainly claimed this ; but that was just because she had 
become a schismatical Church. In her Catholic period, no doubt the 
authority of Antioch was vague and rather theoretic, no doubt the Katholikos 
of Seleucia already tended towards independence, but by common Church 
law Antioch had jurisdiction over all the " East," and Persia was part of 
the East. 


against him. Ten years later another synod (420) under Isaac's 
second successor Yaballaha x (415-420) adopted the canons of a 
number of Western synods. 2 Already, in the early 5th century, the 
Persian Church had missions in the more eastward parts of Asia. 
In the synods of this time there are signatures of Bishops of Herat, 
Khorasan and " the tents of the Kurds." 3 Later, as we shall see 
(pp. 103-110), she became one of the chief missionary Churches 
of the world. 

Towards the end of Yazdagird Fs reign persecution broke out 
again. It began with the destruction of a Mazdsean temple by a 
Christian priest. 4 Under Bahrain V (420-438) it continued and 
raged with appalling fierceness. Again there is a long story of 
hideous tortures and cruel deaths : again the Church of Persia sent 
countless numbers of her children to join the white-robed army of 
martyrs. 5 A treaty of peace between Bahrain V and Theodosius 
II (408-450) in 422 guaranteed tolerance for Mazdaeans in the 
Empire and for Christians in Persia. Nevertheless, there are 
martyrdoms for years after that. 6 

In 421 (or 422) Dadyeshu' 7 became Katholikos ; he had two 
rivals who also claimed the see. Further, a number of bishops 
contested the primacy of Seleucia-Ctesiphon altogether. This 
party persuaded the Government to put him in prison. Then he 
was let out again and resigned his see. But a number of other 
bishops refused to accept his resignation, and so a council was 
summoned at " Markabta of the Arabs," in 424, to settle these 
quarrels. Thirty-six bishops attended. Perhaps we should 
count this Synod of Markabta as the beginning of the schism. 
Although Acacius of Amida 8 was in Persia at the time, he was 

1 " God gave " (= Theodore). 

2 E.g. of Antioch in encceniis (341), etc. Cf. Wigram : Hist, of the 
Assyrian Church, pp. 110-113. 3 lb. 103, 105. 

4 Labourt : Le Christianisme dans V empire perse, p. 105. 

5 For this persecution see Labourt : op. cit. 104-118 ; Wigram: op. cit. 
1 13-120. 6 Labourt, p. 118. 7 " Friend of Jesus." 

8 Amida (Diyarbakr) is on the Roman side of the frontier. Acacius had 
gained the esteem of the Persians by ransoming 7000 Persian prisoners 
(selling his church vessels), feeding them, and then sending them home. 
Bahram V asked him to come to Persia to be thanked (Socrates : Hist. Eccl. 
vii. 21 ; P.G. lxvi. 782-783). He had been present at the synod of 420, 
and had used much influence over it. 


not invited. No Western bishop was present. Dadyeshu' was 
persuaded to withdraw his resignation ; he is acknowledged as 
lawful Bishop of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, his authority over Persia is 
recognized. What is more important is that this synod asserts 
his complete independence of any earthly authority ; no longer 
are the " Western Fathers " to have any rights in Persia. That 
a synod in 424 should draw up such a law seems good evidence 
that till that time the Western Fathers had used authority of the 
kind now repudiated. From 424 we must date the independence' 
of Persia from Edessa and Antioch. This involves, of course, 
independence from Antioch 's superior at Rome ; so, from the 
Catholic point of view, it seems that we must date the Persian 
Church as schismatical since the Synod of Markabta. 1 What the 
synod declared was that " Easterns shall not complain of their 
Patriarch to the Western Patriarchs : every case that cannot 
be settled by him shall await the tribunal of Christ." 2 It is 
significant that the title Patriarch is used here for the first time 
for the Persian Katholikos, that he is thus put on an equality 
with the Western Patriarchs. That already is schismatical. We 
do not hear that Edessa or Antioch at the time made any com- 
plaint of this infringement of their rights. By the time they 
heard of it they were already in the turmoil of Nestorianism ; 
the insolence of a remote mission probably did not much trouble 
them. But for the unhappy Persian Church the act of Markabta 
was tragically important. The little ship left the harbour and 
sailed out alone into the coming storm. She, like England in 1559, 
" hazarded herself to be overwhelmed and drowned in the waters 
of schism, sects and divisions." 3 She was so overwhelmed and 
drowned almost immediately. 

1 A real issue is involved in this. No doubt the Persian bishops before 
424 had but little consciousness of the Papacy. That was a very remote 
power ; the furthest of the " Western Fathers " would be the Roman 
Bishop. But the situation was correct as long as they recognised Edessa. 
Edessa was under Antioch ; Antioch acknowledged Rome as the first 
Patriarchate (Orth. Eastern Church, chap. ii. passim). In an ordered 
hierarchy it is enough to acknowledge your immediate superior ; he himself 
carries the line further, and so to the centre. 

2 Chabot : Synodicon Orientale, 51, 296. 

3 Archbishop Heath in the House of Lords in 1559 (Phillips : The Ex- 
tinction of the Ancient Hierarchy, London, 1905, p. 74). 


Dadyeshu' reigned thirty-five yeais (421-456) ; meanwhile 
King Yazdagird II (438-457) continued a violent persecution, and 
the already great number of Persian martyrs was mightily 
increased. 1 Already, under Dadyeshu', we see the first beginning 
of Nestorianism. His successor Babwai 2 was Katholikos, or 
Patriarch, as they now also called him, from 456 to 485. Under 
him Bar Sauma begins his career and introduces the heresy into 
Persia. So we have arrived at last at Nestorianism, and must 
now go back and consider its origin at Antioch and Constanti- 
nople before we tell of its adoption by the East Syrians. 


This chapter is concerned with the preparation of the Nes- 
torian sect, with those people who later became Nestorians, in 
their earlier Catholic period. These are the people of Eastern 
Syria. They are Semites by blood and language, but have been 
bandied about by many foreign Powers. When Christianity 
appears, the frontier of the Roman Empire and the kingdom of 
Persia goes through their land. There is practically unceasing 
war between these two Powers. The little kingdom of Osroene 
(capital Edessa) keeps its independence till 216, then is conquered 
by Rome. Eventually the Moslems come (7th century), and 
sweep away both the old rivals. 

The first centre of East Syrian Christianity is Edessa. The 
faith was preached here already in the 2nd century. A pretty 
legend tells of a correspondence between our Lord and King 
Abgar the Black, and of the portrait of our Lord painted by 
Abgar's scribe. Addai is the traditional Apostle of Edessa. This 
city then becomes naturally the Christian metropolis of East Syria. 
Bardesanes the Gnostic, Tatian, who made a digest of the Gospels, 
and St. Ephrem of Syria are the best-known names in its history. 
From Edessa the faith spreads to Persia. Tradition gives us the 
name of Mari, Addai's disciple, as the Apostle of Persia. Afrahat, 
the Persian sage, is the one early Father of this missionary Church. 

1 For Yazdagird II's persecution see Labourt : op. cit. pp. 126-130 ; 
Wigram : op. cit. pp. 1 38-1 41. 

2 Babwai or Babai, Greek Bapa7os, Babaeus. 


In the 4th century, Papa, Bishop of the Capital (Seleucia-Ctesiphon), 
takes the first step towards the primacy of his see. Under the 
Sassanid kings, especially Shapur II, the Persian Church is fiercely 
persecuted. Later synods confirm Seleucia-Ctesiphon as metro- 
polis, and at last in 424 the way is prepared for the heresy which 
will overwhelm the Persian Church, by a declaration of inde- 
pendence of any Western authority. 



Nestorius was not an East Syrian. He was a Greek-speaking 
Antiochene, who proclaimed his heresy at Constantinople. He had 
nothing whatever to do with Edessa or Persia ; there is no evidence 
that he could even speak Syriac. 1 It seems, then, strange that 
his ideas, denounced and rooted out in their home, should become 
the official form of East Syrian Christianity for so many centuries. 
What is the special attraction of Nestorianism for East Syrians ? 
Is there any inherent tendency towards " dividing Christ " in the 
Edessene mind ? Hardly. We shall see reasons for this pheno- 
menon as we go on. Meanwhile, here are two points to note at 
once and remember throughout : (i) the acceptance of Nestori- 
anism in the East and in Persia was very largely a corollary of 
its rejection by the Empire ; (2) Monophysism, the extreme con- 
trary heresy, began almost as soon as Nestorianism. A great 
deal of East Syrian Nestorianism is at first only a vehement denial 
of Monophysism. In Syria these two often seemed the only 
alternatives between which a man must choose. During the 
centuries of discussion that come before crystallization in two 
lifeless heresies, while these were burning questions and not (as 
now) the mere shibboleths of rival " nations," a Nestorian 
considered all his opponents Monophysites, a Monophysite 
called his contradictor a Nestorian. So in Syria the two 
heresies struggled and argued, while far away to the West the 
decrees of Chalcedon obtained without question, and Rome 
1 He speaks and writes Greek always. 


taught the faith of the Apostles, which is neither Nestorianism 
nor Monophysism. 1 

1. Nestorius and the Council of Ephesus (431) 

It is not necessary to tell yet again all the details of the story 
of Nestorius and his heresy. This forms a prominent chapter 
in every Church history. Our purpose is rather to leave the main 
stream, so often described, to explore the less-known backwaters, 
namely, these schismatical Churches after they had left the 
Catholic body, during the long centuries they have lingered 
in their pathetic isolation. Still, one must begin somewhere : 
we can hardly do so otherwise than by outlining the original 
Nestorian story. 

The story of a heresy is that of certain theological ideas, though 
often other factors enter into it very considerably. 2 We must 
remember that these two great heresies of the 5th century, Nes- 
torianism and Monophysism, together make up one story ; they 
are one controversy about the nature of the union of divinity and 
humanity in Christ. That controversy followed the Trinitarian 
discussion (Arianism) at once. At its head stands Apollinaris of 
Laodicea ; St. Athanasius had not yet done with the Arians when 
he heard of and refuted Apollinaris. 

At the head of this long and bitter controversy I put the state- 
ment of Mgr. Duchesne : " Since the curiosity of men would 
investigate the mystery of Christ, since the indiscretion of theo- 
logians laid on the dissecting-table the Blessed Saviour, who came 

1 E.g. : Joh. i. 14 ; i Joh. ii. 22 ; iv. 3, 15 ; Phil. ii. 6-7 ; Rom. ix. 5 ; 
1 Cor. ii. 8 ; Acts iii. 15, deny Nestorianism. Luke xxiv. 36 seq. ; 1 Tim. ii. 
5 ; 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22 ; Heb. iv. 15, etc., deny Monophysism. 

2 For instance, all through the Nestorian and Monophysite quarrel there 
is the old rivalry between Egypt on the one hand and Antioch and the 
East on the other — Constantinople generally taking sides with Antioch. 
So St. Cyril of Alexandria, who deposed Nestorius (of Antioch and Con- 
stantinople) at Ephesus in 431, was the nephew, pupil and successor of 
Theophilus of Alexandria, who deposed St. John Chrysostom (of Antioch 
and Constantinople), Nestorius's predecessor, at the Oak-tree Synod in 403. 
But Rome, in spite of her old alliance with Alexandria, kept clear of this 
political issue. She opposed Alexandria in Theophilus's time, defended 
her in that of St. Cyril, opposed her again when Dioscor took up and 
exaggerated Cyril's cause. 


to be the object of our love and of our imitation rather than of 
our philosophical investigation, at least this investigation should 
have been made peaceably by men of approved competence and 
prudence, far from the quarrelsome crowd. The contrary happened. 
An unloosing of religious passion, a series of quarrels between 
metropolitans, of rivalries between ecclesiastical prelates, of noisy 
councils, imperial laws, deprivements, exiles, riots, schisms — these 
were the circumstances under which Greek theologians studied the 
dogma of the Incarnation. And if we look for the result of their 
work, we see at the end of the story the Eastern Church incurably 
divided, the Christian Empire broken up, the successors of Moham- 
med crushing under foot Syria and Egypt. This was the price of 
those metaphysical exercises." x 

Let us also notice this : supposing there had been no such 
discussion, supposing we could entirely forget the storms that 
raged around Ephesus and Chalcedon, any reasonable person now 
would admit that the Catholic solution is the only possible one, 
on the basis of the divinity of our Lord. Jesus Christ is God 
and man. That is the old faith held in peace by the Christian 
commonwealth long before these fatal discussions began. " The 
Word was God. The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst 
us." It follows, then, inevitably that in him divinity and 
humanity both exist, " in whom dwells all the fulness of divinity 
in the body." 2 That was enough for earlier generations. But, 
if the prying Greek philosopher must ask further, what then ? 
Plainly that these two, divinity and humanity, are as intimately 
joined as they can be without destroying each other. They are as 
intimately joined as they can be. There is only one Jesus Christ. 
He, the same he, died on the cross who reigned with the Father 
before all ages ; the Jews "crucified the Lord of Glory." 3 He, 
the same Jesus Christ, who was born of Mary, said : " Before 
Abraham was made, I am." 4 To divide our Lord, then, into two 
destroys the whole idea of who he is. If there were two, the 
Lord of Glory would not have been crucified, he (the same Jesus) 
would not himself be God and man ; there would be he who is 
God, and (another person) he who is man. Shall we say that the 

1 Histoire ancienne de l'£glise (Paris, 1910), iii. 323-324. 

2 Col. ii. 9. 3 1 Cor. ii. 8. 4 Joh. viii. 58. 


Word of God dwelt in Jesus ? No, because then Jesus would 
be not the Word, but only the dwelling-place of the Word. The 
Holy Ghost dwells in us ; x what man dares say that he is the 
Holy Ghost ? But Christ is " God above all, blessed for ever." 2 
So there is one Christ, God and man, having Godhead and 
manhood in one, joined in one, with no division or separation. 

Can one go too far in this direction ? Is there any conceivable 
limit to the close unity of our Lord's Godhead and manhood ? 
Yes ; however closely joined they are, we must not conceive 
these two as fused by a kind of amalgamation into one new 
substance ; because then both, or at least one, would cease to 
exist. If you combine oxygen and hydrogen to make water, 
what results is neither oxygen nor hydrogen but a new substance, 
water. So our Lord's divinity and humanity both would cease 
to be, forming some new impossible thing that is neither divinity 
nor humanity. Instead of having both, he would have neither ; 
he would be neither God nor man. The Monophysite rather 
conceived one as absorbed, not both. The divinity in this idea 
remained unchanged, but the humanity was absorbed into it, 
the human nature was, so to speak, swamped, lost in the infinite 
ocean of divinity. Then our Lord would have no true humanity ; 
he would not be really man. All his human life, his birth, pain, 
death, would be a mere appearance, an illusion, a fraud — as the 
old Docetes had imagined. No ; both divinity and humanity 
remain real, essentially different, though joined so closely in one 
Jesus Christ. We come, then, exactly to the faith of Chalcedon : 
" one and the same Christ, the only-begotten Lord, in two natures 
unconfused, unchanged, undivided, inseparable . . . keeping the 
property of each nature in one person." 3 In other words, if our 
Lord is really God and man, he is one person (one single individual) 
in two natures, that of God and that of man. Is this the pre- 
judice of a modern person who is anxious to avoid the pitfalls of 
Nestorius and Eutyches ? I cannot conceive how it is possible to 
describe otherwise that Jesus Christ is God and man. It seems 
(supposing that one does not refuse to discuss the question alto- 
gether) the only possible way of saying it ; and just this is the 

1 1 Cor. viii. 19 ; iii. 16 ; 2 Cor. vi. 16. 2 Rom. ix. 5. 

3 Denzinger, No. 148. 


faith of the Catholic Church. 1 This exposition of the principle 
should be a useful reminder that after the bitter controversies of 
the 5th century, after all the mutual accusations, the unholy vio- 
lence and unchristian methods of that time, the Catholic Church 
finally settled down in possession of the obviously right solution, 
the one to which a reasonable man must come in any case. Un- 
happily, the issue did not seem so clear then. Greek philoso- 
phical terms — essence, hypostasis, person — are hurled about by 
people who use them in different meanings ; the confusion becomes 
still greater when even more difficult Syriac words take their place ; 
we have the spectacle of a vast amount of energy (which might 
have been so much better spent) used in deposing bishops, appeal- 
ing to Caesar, raising an appalling turmoil with anathemas and 
counter-anathemas, all about an issue that ought not really to 
have caused any trouble at all. 

The question of Nestorianism and Monophysism is often re- 
presented as one between the schools of Antioch and Alexandria. 
Antioch was the school of literal interpretation of the Bible ; 2 
so, naturally, it insisted on our Lord's real humanity. This 
would perhaps lead to making him a merely human person, in 
whom the Word of God dwelt ; that is Nestorianism. Alexandria 
was the centre of the defence of his divinity (St. Athanasius) ; 
so at Alexandria the divinity would be insisted on, till at last 
his humanity would be conceived as lost in it ; so we have 
Monophysism. 3 The beginning of the whole question is in 
the heresy of Apollinaris of Laodicea (f c. 390). He is the first 
cause of all these Christological speculations. It was almost in- 
evitable that during the Arian controversy people should begin 
to ask how we are to conceive God the Son as being both God and 
man. Apollinaris imagined an ingenious answer. Starting from 
the Platonic idea that man consists of three elements, body (o-w//.a), 
soul (i/^x?7, which gives us life and all we have in common with 

1 Harnack thinks that " the conception of a divine nature in Christ leads 
either to Docetism or to a double personality " (Lehrbuch der Dogmen- 
geschichte, Tubingen, 1910 ; iii. p. 277, n. 3). Nineteen centuries of Chris- 
tian theology have not yet felt the force of this dilemma. 

2 Orth. Eastern Church, p. 18. 

3 So, e.g., Dr. W. F. Adeney : The Greek and Eastern Churches, p. 94, 
and many others. 


brutes and plants), and then spirit (Trvevfia, our special prerogative, 
which gives us intellect and will), he explained that in Christ there 
are a human body and soul, but that the divinity takes the place 
of the spirit. Nearly all the Fathers of the 4th century enter the 
lists against this theory. Apart from its questionable basis of 
three principles in man, it denies to our Lord an element of perfect 
human nature. But he was like us in all things, except sin ; 1 
perfect God and perfect man. St. Athanasius (f 373) wrote a 
treatise against Apollinaris. 2 A phrase attributed to him, but 
apparently really of Apollinaris himself, " One nature incarnate 
of the Word of God," 3 afterwards became a kind of watchword, 
first to St. Cyril of Alexandria, then to Monophysites. Its ortho- 
doxy depends, of course (as in so many of these declarations), on 
the sense in which " nature " (<£vo-is) is used. 

In Syria there was also a great opposition to Apollinarism. This 
took the form of insisting on our Lord's humanity. He is perfect 
man, has all that we have, except sin. Now it seems that the 
remote origin of Nestorianism is to be found in anti-Apollinarist 
zeal in Syria. Such an insistence might easily become an assertion 
that Christ had a human personality as well as his divine person- 
ality — was two persons, a man and the Son of God joined in some 
kind of moral union, the Son of God dwelling in a man. At any 
rate, the Nestorians, constantly reproach their opponents with 
being Apollinarists, and the opposite heresy, Monophysism, 
really is a kind of Apollinarism. It gathered up what was left 
of the Apollinaris t sect. 

Two Syrian doctors, masters of Nestorius, are always quoted 
as the remote source of his heresy. They are Diodore of Tarsus 
and Theodore of Mopsuestia. Diodore, founder of the Antiochene 
dogmatic school, was a contempory of Apollinaris and one of his 
chief opponents. First priest at Antioch, then Bishop and Metro- 

1 Heb. iv. 15. 

2 Contra Apollinarium, lib. ii. (P.G. xxvi. 1093-1166). For Apollinaris 
see H. Lietzmann : Apollinaris von Laodicea u. seine Schule (Tubingen, 
1904 ; Texte u. Unters. i.) ; G. Voisin : L'Apollinarisme (Louvain, 1901) ; 
Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh, 1908), i. 606-608. 

3 Mia Qihtis rov fltov Aoyov (reaapKwuevr). It occurs in the probably 
pseudo-Athanasian work, " Of the Incarnation of the Word of God." See 
Hefeie-Leclercq : Histoire des Conciles, ii. 224. 


politan of Tarsus in Cilicia (378-c. 394), he was a famous defender 
of Nicene orthodoxy during the Arian troubles. But in discussing 
the union of the consubstantial Logos with the man Jesus Christ, 
he evolved what we should describe as pure Nestorianism. There 
are two persons, the Logos (Son of God) and the Son of David. 
Not the Logos, but the Son of David, was born of Mary. The 
Son of David is the temple of the Son of God. The mystery of 
the Incarnation consists in the assumption of a perfect man by the 
Logos. The Logos dwells in this man as in a temple or a garment. 1 
These ideas then became the usual ones in this school of Antioch. 
Its greatest representative, Theodore, took them up and defended 
them. Theodore, an Antiochene by birth, became Bishop of 
Mopsuestia 2 in 392, and died in 428. 3 He was an old and faithful 
friend of St. John Chrysostom. His " Nestorianism " is open and 
avowed. The ideas of Diodore reappear in his works quite plainly : 
the man Jesus is only the temple of the indwelling Logos, and so 
on. He even anticipated the very point around which the quarrel 
of Nestorius turned, by objecting to the word Ozotokos* For 
all that, he is one of the greatest exegetes in Greek theology, and 
his influence, especially in Syria, was enormous. 5 

We see then that, as often happens, Nestorius only gave his 
name to a heresy which existed before his time, which he himself 
had learned from his masters. His opponents knew this. Cyril 
sees Diodore and Theodore behind Nestorius clearly, and insists 
continually on their condemnation. 6 So also the later Mono- 
physites recognize in these doctors the source and origin of the 
doctrine (in its extreme form) which they abhor. 7 On the other 

1 Marius Mercator (P.L. xlviii. 11 46-1 147), and Leontius Byzantinus : 
adv. Incorrupt, et Nest. (P.G. lxxxvi. 1385-1389), quote excerpts from 
Diodore containing these views. 

2 A small town in Cilicia, about twenty-three miles east of Adana. 

3 Theodoret : Hist. Eccl. v. 39 (P.G. lxxxii. 1277). 

4 Leontius Byz. : op. cit. hi. 10 (P.G. lxxxvi. 1364) ; Cyril Alex. : Ep. 69 
(P.G. lxxvii. 340). 

5 For the Christology of Antioch, of Diodore and Theodore, see Harnack : 
Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte (Tubingen, 1909), ii. 338-349 ; Tixeront : 
Histoire des dogmes (Paris, 1909), ii- 1 12-130. 

6 E.g. Ep. 45 (P.G. lxxvii. 229) ; Ep. 69 {ib. 340) ; Ep. 60 (ib. 341). 

7 The person and works of Theodore of Mopsuestia formed the first of 
the famous " Three Chapters " condemned by Justinian to please the 
Monophysites, and by the Second Council of Constantinople in 553. 


hand, it was especially the popularity of these two which caused 
the spread of Nestorianism in East Syria. Of Nestorius himself 
the theologians of Edessa and Nisibis knew little ; nor did they 
care much about him. But in the movement against him, in the 
decrees of Ephesus, they saw an attack against their revered 
masters, Diodore and Theodore ; they were (rightly) conscious of 
defending these. Often in later ages the Nestorians have protested 
that they are not the school of Nestorius, they are the school of 
Diodore and Theodore, of which Nestorius was also a pupil They 
stand for the old school of Antioch ; it is a mere coincidence that 
one disciple of that school once became Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople, and there got into trouble with Cyril of Alexandria and 
his council at Ephesus. Still, among the Nestorians "Theodore 
the Interpreter " is the honoured master against whom they will 
allow no accusation. 

Nestorius came to Constantinople from Antioch. He brought 
with him the ideas of his native city ; it was the clash of these 
with the traditions of Alexandria x that caused the Nestorian con- 
troversy. Now that we have cleared the ground, we may pass more 
quickly over the well-known incidents of the story. Nestorius had 
been a monk at the monastery of Euprepios ; then deacon, priest 
and preacher at the chief church of Antioch. He had a beautiful 
voice, was a famous preacher, and was known as an ardent disciple 
of Theodore of Mopsuestia. When Sisinios I of Constantinople 
(425-427) died, Nestorius's already great reputation secured to 
him the succession of the Imperial See. The people thought they 
had secured from Antioch a second Chrysostom. Hardly was he 
consecrated when he showed great zeal against heretics — Arians, 
Macedonians, Novatians, Quartodecimans, and such like, — little 
thinking that his own name was to go down to history as that of 
a notorious arch-heretic. Already he had managed to offend 
many people 2 when the storm began. A priest, Anastasius, 
brought by Nestorius from Antioch, preached against our Lady's 

1 St. Cyril was very conscious that he only maintained and applied the 
principles of his great predecessor Athanasius (328-373). So he always 
appeals to and quotes Athanasius. 

2 Nestorius's tactlessness was one cause of his fall. He had offended the 
Pope (St. Celestine I, 422-432), by receiving the Pelagian leaders and 
demanding explanations of their condemnation. 


title 0eoTOKO9. His arguments produced trouble in the city ; 
Nestorius defended him. The title " Mother of God " was by no 
means new. St. Gregory of Nazianzos (f390) particularly had 
said : "If anyone does not receive the Holy Mary as Mother of 
God, he is separated from the Godhead." x It was well suited to 
be the test of belief in our Lord as one person, and it became, 
as everyone knows, the immediate object of this controversy. 
The sermons in which Nestorius attacks this word show his 
heresy, his assertion of two persons (the mere man Jesus who 
was born of Mary, and the Word of God who dwelled in him), 
plainly. 2 

The dispute between the attackers and defenders of the word 
theotokos now became the chief question at Constantinople. Soon 
it spread throughout the East. It came to Egypt and disturbed 
the peace of the Alexandrine Patriarchate. St. Cyril of Alexan- 
dria (412-444), nephew and successor of the Theophilus (385-412) 
who had been St. John Chrysostom's enemy, predecessor of the 
future Monophysite leader Dioscor (444-451), appears as the 
champion of the Theot6kos, the chief enemy of Nestorius. In his 
Paschal homily of 429 he explained that the Blessed Virgin is 
Mother of God, 3 and then discussed the question again very 
clearly in a letter to the monks of the Nitrian desert. So far he 
refuted Nestorius' s heresy without naming him. Nestorius made 
one of his priests answer this letter, and Cyril wrote to Nestorius 
blaming him for the disturbance, telling him that if only he would 
cease attacking our Lady's title peace would soon be restored. 
Nestorius answered back, and other circumstances helped to 
aggravate the quarrel. 4 Cyril's second letter to Nestorius 
(Feb. 430) is the classical statement of the Catholic attitude on 
this subject. Dom H. Leclercq describes it as " Saint Cyril's 

1 Ep. 101 (P.G. xxxvii. 177). 

2 Translated by Marius Mercator, P.L. xlviii. 699-862. See quotations 
in Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, 11. i. pp. 240-247. 

3 Horn, pasch. 13 (P.G. lxxvii. 768-790). People who think that there 
is some subtle difference between " Qioroxos " and " Mother of God " 
should notice that at the very beginning of the controversy Cyril uses the 
words " M-yT-qp 6eov " as equivalent to " 6cot6kos " (ib. 777). We may 
surely assume that St. Cyril of Alexandria understood these words. 

4 Nestorius undertook the defence of certain excommunicate Alexandrine 
clerks who had come to Constantinople. 


masterpiece " ; 1 it became the most important document in 
all the later controversy. 2 

Nestorius had already written to the Pope (St. Celestin I, 
422-432) about the affair. Cyril wrote too, exposing all that had 
happened and enclosing a number of documents as evidence. 3 
Both sides were now heated by the quarrel and were saying strong 
things about each other. Cyril also wrote to the Emperor (Theo- 
dosius II, 408-450), to his wife and sister. The Pope in a synod 
held in August 430 decided that Nestorius's teaching was heretical ; 
he must retract in ten days or be deposed. Cyril was to carry out 
this sentence. 4 However, the dispute continues, and is further 
embittered. Cyril in a synod at Alexandria (430) drew up twelve 
anathemas against doctrines held by Nestorians : "If anyone 
does not acknowledge that Emmanuel is truly God, that therefore 
the Holy Virgin is Mother of God, because she gave birth, accord- 
ing to the flesh, to the Word begotten of God the Father, let him 
be anathema," and so on. 5 Nestorius answered with twelve 
counter-anathemas. 6 In many of these he denounces opinions 
which he attributes falsely to Cyril. 

At last the Emperor decided to summon a great council to 
settle the matter finally. He was inclined towards Nestorius, 
but saw that nothing but so extreme a measure as a general 
council could pacify the parties. It was to meet on Whitsunday 
(June 7) 431, at Ephesus. This is the third general council 
(Ephesus, 431) which condemned Nestorius. Nestorius arrived 
first with sixteen bishops and many soldiers. Then came Cyril 
with fifty bishops. Memnon of Ephesus had already assembled 
his forty suffragans and twelve Pamphylian bishops. Juvenal of 

1 Hist, des Conciles, n. i. p. 253. 

2 It is in P.G. lxxvii. 43-50 ; or see the summary in Hefele-Leclercq, I.e. 

3 Ep. 11 (P.G. lxxvii. 79-86) ; Hefele-Leclercq: op. cit. pp. 256-257. 

4 From this time Cyril considers himself the Pope's representative in the 
East. He is formally recognized as such by the Council of Ephesus ; Mansi 
iv. 1 123 : " The Alexandrine Cyril, who also holds the place of Celestin, 
most holy and most blessed Archbishop of the Roman Church." The 
Pope's letter had explicitly given to Cyril " the authority of our See." 
P.G. lxxviii. 93. 

5 The twelve anathemas are quoted and explained in Hefele-Leclercq : 
op. cit. 11. i. pp. 269-278. 

6 lb. pp. 280-284. 


Jerusalem and Flavian of Thessalonica arrived a few days late. On 
June 22 one hundred and ninety-eight bishops began the council. 
But John of Antioch and his suffragans had not yet arrived. The 
fact that they did not wait for him is the great difficulty of the 
story of this council. It is said that Cyril knew he was friendly 
to Nestorius and hurried on the proceedings, so as to have Nes- 
torius condemned before he came. On the other hand, John 
had written a friendly letter to Cyril ; two of his suffragans had 
hurried forward and brought a message that the council was not 
to wait for him, but was to begin and do its best without him. 1 
Perhaps Cyril thought that John delayed on purpose, so as not to 
be present at his friend's humiliation. And they had already 
waited sixteen days for him. Cyril presided, expressly as Papal 
legate. 2 The Pope had sent other representatives to Ephesus — two 
bishops, Arcadius and Proiectus, and a deacon, Philip, with orders 
to follow Cyril's guidance in everything ; but they did not arrive 
till the second session. The Emperor's Commissioner Candidian 
wanted to wait for John of Antioch ; but the Fathers rejected his 
proposal. The first session was held in the famous double church 
of Ephesus. Nestorius refused to appear. Cyril's second letter 
to him was read and judged conformable to the faith of Nicaea. A 
great number of texts of Fathers were read, and then passages 
from Nestorius which contradicted them. The Pope's condemna- 
tion of Nestorius was read too. Nestorius was condemned and 
deposed. Candidian, who had come from the Emperor hoping to 
save Nestorius, was much disappointed. 

Then, on June 26, the caravan of John of Antioch with his 
thirty bishops rolled into the streets of Ephesus. The Council at 
once sent to him to inform him of what had been done ; but now 
he refused to have anything to do with it. With Nestorius, 
Candidian, and altogether forty-three bishops he holds a rival 
synod at his own house. This rival synod excommunicates 
Cyril and his followers ; these denounce John and his. Both 
sides appeal to the Pope and Emperor, and a long quarrel follows. 

1 lb. p. 296. The fact that John of Antioch had begged the synod not 
to wait for his arrival, but to begin without him, is of great importance in 
judging the Council of Ephesus. It is examined and proved by many 
texts in M. Jugie : Nestorius, p. 49. 

2 Above, p. 63, n. 4. 


I pass over the details of this quarrel. The Emperor tried to 
reconcile the parties ; then affected to depose John, Nestorius, 
Cyril and Memnon of Ephesus. Eventually he was persuaded 
that Cyril was right, he let him go back to Egypt, and allowed 
a new Bishop of Constantinople, Maximian (431-434), to be 
ordained in place of the deposed Nestorius. 1 This means the 
triumph of St. Cyril's theology in the great Church. From now 
Nestorianism is a heresy condemned by a general council, 2 soon 
to become the teaching of a schismatical sect. 

2. The End of Nestorius. Was he a Heretic ? 

After his deposition Nestorius practically disappears from 
history. In 435 he was banished to a distant monastery at the 
bottom of the Libyan desert. Here he spent his last years 
writing his defence under a pseudonym ; and he died on the eve 
of the Council of Chalcedon. 3 

Among Protestant writers there is often a tendency to re- 
habilitate people whom the Church has condemned, to declare 
that an alleged heretic was grossly misrepresented, was really a 
person of irreproachable views falsely accused of heresy because 
of some political intrigue. Of no one has this been said so persist- 
ently as of Nestorius. His defence is not a new idea. For many 
years it has been the fashion either to ridicule the whole contro- 
versy or to say that he and Cyril really agreed entirely — the 
question was only one of words ; or that what Cyril taught was 

1 There were altogether seven sessions of Cyril's council at Ephesus. 
In the second the Roman legates appeared and made the famous declara- 
tion about the primacy which was accepted by the council (Orth. Eastern 
Church, p. 77). All the details of the Council of Ephesus will be found at 
length in Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, it. i. pp. 295-377. The 
story of Nestorius is summarized by Mgr. Duchesne : Hist, ancienne de 
I'Eglise, in. chap. x. pp. 313-388. 

2 Whatever one may think about the absence of John of Antioch when 
Nestorius was condemned, taking all bishops at Ephesus together, there 
was an overwhelming majority for St. Cyril — 198 against 43. Even if 
John had come to Cyril's council and had done all he could, he could not 
have saved Nestorius. 

3 The date and place of his death are uncertain — perhaps June 451, at 
Panopolis. His place of exile was changed several times. For the last 
years of Nestorius see M. Jugie : Nestorius, 56-62. 



exactly the same thing as the later Monophysite heresy. 1 Then, 
it is alleged, the real reason of all this controversy was Cyril's 
jealousy of Nestorius ; it is one incident in the long rivalry 
between Alexandria and Constantinople (and Antioch). Nes- 
torius's disgrace and deposition is merely a point gained for 
Alexandria. Cyril deposing Nestorius is a parallel case to 
Theophilus deposing St. John Chrysostom at the Oak Tree Synod 
in 403, and again to Dioscor of Alexandria deposing Flavian of 
Constantinople at Ephesus in 449 (p. 174) ; only, the first and third 
times Alexandria failed. 

These ideas are not new : indeed, the defence of Nestorius has 
long been almost a commonplace of Protestant Church history. 2 
They have received a new impetus, and have become one of the 
questions of the day, by the discovery and publication of Nes- 
torius's apology. In exile at the end of his life he wrote this and 
called it The Book 3 ofHeraklides of Damascus. Why Heraklides ? 
Because Nestorius' s own name was dangerous ; his works were to 
be destroyed or burnt. He hoped, then, under this pseudonym 
to pass his apology. He wrote in Greek. The original is lost ; 
but a Syriac version is preserved in the house of the Nestorian 
Patriarch. This is what has lately been published. The first 
we heard of it was in a book by Mr. Bethune Baker, Nestorius and 
his Teaching, a fresh examination of the evidence.* In this he 
did not publish the whole text, but used a copy procured by Mr. 
D. Jenks, formerly of the Anglican Mission at Urmi (translated by 
a friend), from which he makes extracts. On the strength of this, 
Mr. Baker produces an apology of Nestorius. Admitting the 
dogmatic decrees of Ephesus, he claims that Nestorius did not hold 
anything really opposed to them. What Nestorius attacked was 

1 This is the best of these ideas. Certainly you may slide easily from 
Cyril into Monophysism. The later Monophysites thought they were 
merely continuing his war against Nestorius. 

2 So Harnack : Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte (4th ed., Tubingen), ii. 
339-368. He thinks that Cyril's theology is really Monophysite or Apolli- 
narist (pp. 352-355)- 

3 Mr. Bethune Baker and others call it The Bazaar of Heraclides. Fr. 
Bejan, who first edited the Syriac text, and M. Nau, who first translated 
it, point out that this is a mistake. The Syriac word Tegurtd corresponds 
to Greek Trpay/uLaTeia, meaning affairs, treatise, book. 

4 Cambridge, 1908. 


Monophysism ; he was completely in accord with the faith of 
Chalcedon. And the technical terms used were ambiguous, 
understood differently on either side. This theory made some 
commotion. At first there were only Mr. Baker's deductions 
from the book as matter of discussion. Now the whole original 
text is published in Syriac by Fr. Bejan, a Lazarist missionary 
and recognized authority on Syriac literature, 1 and in a French 
translation by M. F. Nau, with introduction and notes, 2 so that 
anyone can test Mr. Baker's conclusions for himself. The 
conclusion will be, as both Nau and Bejan say, that this new 
defence of Nestorius is a failure as much as the older ones. The 
Book of Heraklides shows its author to hold just what his enemies 
said he held ; whatever may be said about the personal treatment 
of Nestorius by the Fathers of Ephesus, they did not misrepresent 
his doctrine ; if we accept the faith of Ephesus and Chalcedon, 
then Nestorius was a heretic. 

In the first place, it is a mistake to suppose that the whole 
question depends on what he says in the Heraklides book. That 
was written at the end of his life, long after Ephesus. We have 
plenty of authentic earlier works by Nestorius 3 in which his heresy 
is abundantly evident. The Council judged and condemned him 
on these ; it could not foresee what he would write years later. 
So, even if his Book of Heraklides were unimpeachable, we should 
only conclude that he had modified his doctrine at the end of his 
life. As a matter of fact, it confirms what he had said earlier. 
Nor is the whole dispute merely a quarrel about words. It is 
perfectly true that technical words, especially philosophical 
terms, may change their meaning or be understood by different 
people in different senses. It is always a mistake to judge a 
man's theory merely by the technical words he uses. We must 
study his context, the deductions he draws from them, his own 
explanations, to be sure of what he means. Nestorius is a heretic, 
not because he speaks of two hypostases, or even of two prosopa, 
in Christ, but because he explains this language in such a way as 

1 Le livre d'Heraclide de Damas (Paris, iqio). 

2 Nestorius : le livre d'Heraclide de Damas (Paris, 1910). 

3 Collected by Loofs : Nestoriana (Halle a. S., 1905) ; to these add the 
three homilies found by F. Nau, published in the appendix of his translation 
of the Book of Heraklides. 


to make clear that he means just what we mean by two persons, 
two Christs — namely, Jesus Son of Mary, and the Word of God who 
dwelt in him. 

The philosophical terms certainly need explanation ; our 
judgement as to their correctness will depend on how the people 
who use them do explain them. Those which occur in this 
controversy are : ova-La, cfrvcns, woo-rao-is, 7rp6o-(D7rov. In our 
later scholastic use these are simple enough. OiWa is essence, 
<f>vo-L<; is nature, viroo-rao-is or TTpoo-wirov mean person. There- 
fore, in our Lord we see two natures (or essences) 1 — that is, 
two ovo-lou, two <f>v<reis, 2 but one person (one utto'o-too-is , one 
7rp6o-o}7rov) . In the 5th century it was not quite so clear. 
OiWa and 4>va-us meant the same thing, normally "essence " or 
" nature/' Yet St. Cyril makes the phrase " one incarnate 
nature (/xta ^vo-ts o-co-apKwfievr}) of the Word of God " his axiom. 
Was he, then, a Monophysite? No, because the Word of God 
has one nature proper to himself, one infinite divine nature. 
And that nature is incarnate, o-eo-apKco^vr}, made flesh, itself 
un destroyed — as we should say, assumes a human nature. St. 
Cyril means what we mean. Then, does hypostasis necessarily 
mean person ? By no means. The Latin persona originally 
meant an actor's mask ; 3 then the part you play in a drama, as we 
say "dramatis personam "; then the part you play in life, the 
responsible individual who eats, drinks, studies, marries and dies. 
When there is a collective individuality we talk about a " persona 
moralis," as in the case of a corporation. The exact Greek equi- 
valent of this is not vivoo-rao-is but 7rpoo-w7rov. 4 <£ucns (nature) 
and 7Tp6o-(i>7Tov (person), then, are fairly clear. Hypostasis 
is one of those words which lie between two others and may 
be understood of either. Etymologically it is nearer to ^vo-is. 
e Y7rdcrTacrts exactly equals the Latin substantia, and substance 
(in scholastic use) is nature. Suppose, then, that a man or a 
school of philosophy uses <£wns of nature in general, of what we 
should call the " universal," the abstract idea of humanity or 

1 In scholastic language, essence, nature, substance are the same thing. 

2 Or dual ? Svo ovaia, 8vo <pvare*. 

3 The thing through which you speak or shout (personare) . 

4 Also originally an actor's mask or a face. 


whatever it may be ; and uses vttoo-tolo-ls of the particular con- 
crete nature of one man. Then he is quite right in saying that 
our Lord had two hypostases. He had two individual perfect 
natures, in either of which nothing was wanting. He was perfect 
God and perfect man. And if you insist very much on his man- 
hood as complete and perfect, if you are specially on your guard 
against Docetism or Apollinarism, you will perhaps insist that 
in him, besides the divinity, there was a second human hypostasis, 
meaning a complete and perfect individual (not merely abstract 
or theoretical) human nature. So many orthodox Fathers speak 
of two hypostases in our Lord ; this was particularly the language 
of Antioch ; Nestorius might have said that, if that had been all, 
without offence. Eventually, it is true, hypostasis was con- 
sidered the equivalent of the Latin persona ; so that now the 
Orthodox would consider it as scandalous to say there are two 
hypostases in Christ as to speak of his one <£iW : x It would be 
much more difficult to excuse Nestorius's expression : two prosopa 
in our Lord. But, even here, a word might be explained away. 
It is his perfectly clear explanation of what he means, his elaborate 
deductions and long arguments, that show him to be a heretic. 
First, there is his denial of the title deoroKos. Mary was not 
Mother of God ; her son was not God ; he was a man in whom 
God dwelt. So also Nestorius refused to admit such phrases as 
that God was born, God suffered. 2 He defended the idea of 
Theodore of Mopsuestia that necessarily every perfect human 
nature is a person, a man ; that therefore our Lord's humanity was 
a man, distinct from the Son of God. 3 He refused to admit of 

1 In the Greek translation of the Athanasian Creed : ef? ttolutuis, ov avyxv<rei 
(pvo-ewv, aAA' ev&crei imoardaewv (in the Horologion, Venice, ed. vii., 1895, 
p. 520) . Mgr. Duchesne has a good note on the Antiochene, Alexandrine, and 
Western attitudes and terminology in his Hist. anc. de Vkglise, iii. 319-323. 

2 In his answer to Cyril's second letter (Loots : Nestoriana, Halle, 1905, 
p. 176). Certainly if Nestorius only meant that Mary was not the mother 
of the divinity, that the divinity was not born of her, and did not suffer, 
he is quite right. Mgr. Duchesne (op. cit. iii. 325) points out that the word 
dtoTdxos needs explanation. But Nestorius's detailed explanation makes 
his meaning clear enough : the man Jesus who was born and suffered was 
not God. Sometimes he was prepared to compromise about the deoroxos 
(Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, 11. i. p. 263, and Loots : Nestoriana, 
pp. 181, 184, 273, 302, 309, etc.). 

3 See the text in Hefele-Leclercq, 11. i. p. 240. 


a " union " (evwo-is) between the divinity and humanity, and 
would only allow a " conjunction " (o-wdfaia) 1 between God 
and man. He taught that the man Jesus was only the organ, 
instrument, temple, vessel, garment, of the Son of God. 2 His 
counter-anathemas to Cyril (p. 63) are quite enough to show his 
heresy ; for instance, No. VII : " If anyone say that the man who 
was created from the Virgin is himself the Only-begotten who 
was born of the Father before the day-star, instead of confessing 
that he has a share in this name of Only-begotten only because of 
his being united to him who is by nature the Only-begotten of the 
Father ... let him be anathema." 3 At the beginning of the 
Council of Ephesus, during the preliminary discussions, Nestorius 
said : " Never will I call a child two or three months old God ; 
because of this I will not communicate with you (Cyril)." 4 

Now, the Book of Heraklides only confirms all this. M. Jugie 
says it is one of the dullest books that ever came from the hand of 
man. 5 In reading F. Nau's excellent French version I did not 
find it so: indeed, it produces a good deal of sympathy with 
Nestorius. He protests with dignity against the way he had been 
treated ; one has the impression of a respectable, well-meaning 
man, plainly always in good faith, who had been hardly used. 
The haste with which he was condemned and deposed at Ephesus, 
before his friend John of Antioch arrived, certainly seems re- 
grettable. His keen interest in the later developments is curious. 
He is strongly in favour of his successor St. Flavian, and rightly 
indignant against the Monophysite Robber-Synod at Ephesus in 
449 (see p. 173). Perhaps he might have accepted the decrees of 
Chalcedon and so have rehabilitated himself, had he lived. But 
meanwhile, in his Heraklides Book, in spite of all this, Nestorius 
is still emphatically a Nestorian. Throughout he assumes that 
hypostasis, person (tt/ooo-wttov) , and nature (individual and 
concrete nature) are exactly the same thing. If you start from 

1 See the text in Hefele-Leclercq, 11. i. p. 239-240. 

2 Loofs : Nestoriana, pp. 168, 175, 205, 303, etc. 

3 Hefele-Leclercq : ib. p. 282 ; but see the whole list. 

4 Ib. p. 293. Mr. Bethune Baker says that in this sentence 8c6v is the 
subject, and tries to excuse Nestorius, not, I think, with much success 
{Nestorius and his Teaching, pp. 79-80). 

6 £chos d 'Orient, 191 1 (xiv.), p. 65. 


this philosophic basis, you cannot possibly admit one person 
having two natures. Nor does he. In this book, as before, to 
Nestorius " Christ " denotes a composite being, or rather two 
beings, two persons joined together in a merely moral union, 
working together, much as we conceive the Spirit of God working 
with a prophet. There are two persons in the strict sense, two 
prosopa : "I say two natures, and he who is clothed is one, he 
who clothes is another ; and there are two prosopa, of him who 
clothes and of him who is clothed." x There then emerges an 
artificial (double) prosopon of union, as a servant who represents 
his king may be said to be the king's prosopon, to act in the king's 
person. 2 The union of God and man in Christ is only a moral 
union, a union of love and will (not a natural, inseparable, physical 
union) ; the prosopon of union is one of " economy " (presumably 
as members of a corporation form one artificial person, a " persona 
moralis " by " economy ") : " The natures 3 joined by will receive 
their union, not in one nature, but to produce the union of will in 
a prosopon of economy." 4 The body and the human nature of 
Christ are the temple and garment only of the Word of God. 5 
God and man in him are like the fire in the burning bush — fire and 
bush distinct. 6 " Christ " (the morally united being), not the 
Word of God, has two natures. 7 It cannot be admitted that 
the Word of God was born of a woman, died, was buried, rose 
again, and so on. 8 Lastly, Heraklides gives the same in- 
sufficient compromise about the Ocotokos as we have already 
noted in his earlier writings. 9 "Show me," he says, "that 
God the Word was born in the flesh of a woman." 10 " The 

1 Ed. Nau, p. 193 ; cf. pp. 268, 274, 183, etc. 

2 lb. p. 52 

3 He always supposes nature and person as the same thing. 

4 lb. p. 35 ; cf. 53, 63. 5 lb. pp. 139, 159. 
6 lb. p. 141. 7 lb. p. 150. 

8 lb. p. 148. This point (a favourite with Nestorius) should make the 
issue, and his heresy, clear. We say : the Word of God certainly was born 
of a woman and died, though not in his divine nature. We adore him who 
was born of Mary and died on the Cross. But we could not adore him 
unless he were God. The Word was made flesh (that is, was born of a 
woman), and dwelt amongst us till he died, was buried, rose again. 

9 Above, p. 69, n. 2. 

10 Heraklides, ed. cit. p. 131. An unaccountably rash challenge. We 
have only to show him the fourth Gospel, i. 14. 


Virgin is by nature mother of a man, but by manifestation Mother 
of God." 1 

Enough of these dogmatic discussions. We must go on to our 
proper subject, the history of the Nestorian sect. This rather 
long dogmatic excursus is inserted because of the discussion now 
going on as to whether after all Ephesus and the Catholic Church 
did not make a mistake from the beginning in excluding that sect. 
We have said perhaps enough to show that it is not so. Nestorius 
(one feels no animus against a respectable man whose cause, to us, 
is buried since fifteen centuries) , in spite of the harsh treatment he 
received and his good qualities, taught a doctrine which cut away 
the very root of Christianity ; namely, that God the Son himself, 
for us men and for our salvation, came down from Heaven, and 
was made flesh of the Holy Ghost from the Virgin Mary, and was 
made man ; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered 
and was buried. Nestorius's doctrine had to be rejected ; the 
man who persisted in it could not remain a Catholic : and the 
people who glory in the fact that they hold his doctrines are, 
at least implicitly, heretics. 2 

3. Nestorianism in Syria 

We left St. Cyril, having gained his cause, returning to Alex- 
andria from Ephesus. Nestorius was deposed and banished, his 
successor was ordained. But the quarrel between Cyril and John 
of Antioch was not yet healed. John had gone back, still a 
partisan of Nestorius, sore and angry with Cyril. There was 
enmity between the two chief Eastern sees. The Emperor was 
distressed about this. From now the great question was the 
reconciliation of the Pontiffs of Alexandria and Antioch. The 

1 P. 173. She is by nature mother of one person, who is God and man, 
though, of course, her motherhood comes only from that person's human 
nature. No Catholic ever imagined that she gave birth to the divine nature. 

2 Many more quotations from the Book of Heraklides will be found in 
M. Jugie's article: "Nestorius juge d'apres le Livre d'Heraclide," in the £chos 
d' Orient for 191 1 (vol. xiv.), pp. 65-75. For his life in general see F. Nau : 
Nestorius d'apres les sources orientates (Paris, Bloud, 191 1). Father Jugie 
has since examined the whole question in Nestorius et la controverse 
Nestorienne (in the " Bibliotheque de Theologie historique," Paris, 1912). 
See also J. P. Junglas : Die Irrlehre des Nestorius, Trier, 1912. 


Pope also (Sixtus III, 432-440, successor of Celestin I) wrote and 
took steps to bring about this reconciliation. At first John would 
have nothing to say to it. The Eastern bishops on their way 
home held a synod at Tarsus in Cilicia, in which they renewed 
their excommunication of Cyril and his adherents. In 432 the 
Emperor (Theodosius II) wrote to John imploring him to make 
peace, 1 and to St. Simon Stylites, at that time venerated by every- 
one, 2 asking him to try and bring about a reconciliation. The 
imperial notary Aristolaus went to Antioch with the letter and 
found John more tractable. Then he went to Alexandria and 
discussed matters with Cyril. The basis of his proposals was that 
Cyril should not insist on his twelve anathemas (p. 63), and that 
John should drop Nestorius. It was on this general basis that 
union was at last achieved. Cyril's anathemas were felt to be 
harsh and offensive by many Syrian bishops ; very sensibly , then, 
he let them be ignored, when John and his friends had agreed to 
an entirely sufficient and orthodox declaration. The negotiations 
took some time ; we need not go into the details here. 3 But two 
points may be noted. First, throughout the discussion Cyril 
appears as the superior. This is right and natural for several 
reasons ; among others, Alexandria was then the second see in 
Christendom, superior to Antioch the third. So it is John who 
approaches Cyril and offers explanations and a creed to him, which 
Cyril eventually accepts. Secondly, in these discussions Cyril 
makes it clear that he does not deny two natures in our Lord. He 
denies that he in any way teaches Apollinarism, he acknowledges 
a perfect human soul in Christ, he says that the Logos in his own 
nature is certainly unchanging, not subject to human conditions. 4 
He explains that he never meant that our Lord's humanity came 
from heaven (is identified with the divinity) : " One nature of the 
Son, that is the nature of one (fxiav cftvatv, d>s £v6s) yet made human 

1 The letter is in Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, n. i. p. 385. 

2 St. Simon (Simeon) Stylites, f459, the most famous of the hermits who 
lived on a column. His column was about one day's journey from Antioch 
on the way to Aleppo, where the great monastery called after him (Kal'at 
Sim'an) stands. 

3 A full account will be found in Hefele-Leclercq ; loc. cit. chap. iii. pp. 

4 So his letter to Acacius of Berrhcea ; Mansi, v. 831-835 


and incarnate." x So Cyril is in agreement with the later decisions 
of Chalcedon ; he did not, as after his death the Monophysites 
pretended, belong to them. 

The efforts of Aristolaus were crowned with success. John of 
Antioch sent to Cyril an orthodox declaration of his faith. He 
acknowledges the title Ocotokos, with a correct explanation of it. 2 
Further, he " recognized the deposition of Nestorius and anathema- 
tized his bad and pernicious novelties/' 3 This is all that could be 
expected. Cyril was satisfied. John writes again a pleasant letter, 
beginning : " Behold, again we are friends/' 4 Cyril answered 
him in a famous letter announcing complete reconciliation, begin- 
ning, " Let the heavens rejoice," 5 and in April 433 announced to 
the faithful of Alexandria that peace was now restored with 
Antioch. 6 That is the happy end of this quarrel. 

But not everyone was satisfied. In Syria three parties remained. 
First, the great majority, with the Pope, the Emperor, the faith- 
ful in the West and at Constantinople, were delighted that there 
was now peace. They accepted the Council of Ephesus and the 
word OeoTOKos. Nestorius had disappeared ; they rejoiced at 
the agreement between the two great Patriarchs — an agreement 
blessed by a still greater Patriarch far away, where the sun set over 
the Imperial City and the throne of Peter ; they argued reasonably 
that professions of faith that satisfied Cyril, John and Sixtus 
could satisfy a plain Christian man too. These are the great bulk 
of Christians, Catholic and Orthodox, till, alas ! long centuries 
later, Cerularius casts his shadow between them and Peter of 
Antioch vainly tries to prevent the great schism. 7 Then there 
were extremists on either side. In Syria there were some who 
held, with what was already a formidable party in Egypt, that 
Cyril ought not to be reconciled with John. They saw in Cyril's 
explanations a concession to the cause of Nestorius. They had 
declaimed so vigorously against the theory of two persons in 
Christ that they had come to suspect any distinction in him at all. 

1 From Cyril's letter to Acacius (Ep. 40 ; P.G. lxxvii. 192-193). 

2 lb. 172-173, quoted by Hefele-Leclercq, loc. cit. p. 396. 

3 P.G. lxxvii. 173. 4 P.G. lxxvii. 247. 

5 Ep. 39 : LcBtenlur cceli (P.G. lxxvii. 173-182). 

6 Mansi, v. 289-290. 

7 Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 188-192. 


He was one in every sense, one in nature too. These are the first 
Monophysites. We shall come back to them in Chap. VI. And, 
lastly, there were those who thought that John should not have 
been reconciled to Cyril. These are the old guard of incorruptibles 
from John's anti-synod at Ephesus. John had now condemned 
Nestorius and accepted the OeoroKos. These would do neither. 
Their Patriarch had given in to " that Egyptian " ; but they 
would not. They still held Nestorius for an injured saint, still 
denied our Lady's title, still clung to the theology of Diodore and 
Theodore. And these people, at last, are our Nestorian sect. 
From now the discussion within the Catholic Church is over ; these 
Syrian anti-theotokians are condemned by a general council, they 
break communion with their Patriarch. Already they are a local 
heretical sect. So, leaving the further story of the great Church, 
we follow their fortunes down to the pathetic little body which 
still lingers in Kurdistan. 

The Nestorian party, now in schism against its Patriarch 
John of Antioch, soon found its centre in the theological school 
of Edessa. When Nisibis was ceded to Persia in 363 a great 
number of Christians there came across the frontier to Roman 
territory at Edessa (p. 40) . Here they greatly strengthened the 
old theological school, so that in 363 it became almost a new 
foundation. This school was already greatly devoted to the 
theology of Theodore of Mopsuestia. We can, then, understand 
how, when the excommunicate Nestorians from Antioch came to 
Edessa, and told the Edessenes that Cyril of Alexandria had 
condemned Theodore's doctrine, had deposed a certain blameless 
Bishop of Constantinople because he held it ; that John of Antioch, 
at first firm, had now given way to the Egyptian, — we can under- 
stand with what indignation the teachers and scholars at Edessa 
declared that they would not obey Cyril and John, that they were 
for Theodore and Nestorius. From now till it is closed in 489, the 
school of Edessa is the centre of Nestorianism in the empire. 
But the Bishop of Edessa was no Nestorian. Strangely enough, 
the authorized pastor of the Nestorian city was a strong adherent 
to Cyril. He was Rabbula, 1 rather a famous person. Rabbula 
was a convert, son of a Mazdaean priest. He had married a 

J- 'Pa&oyXas. 


Christian wife, then had been made a Christian himself by Aca- 
cius of Berrhoea. His wife went to be a nun and he became a 
monk. In 412 he was ordained Bishop of Edessa. At Ephesus 
he took the side of his Patriarch, and was a member of John's 
anti-synod. But in 431 and 432, while at Constantinople on a visit, 
he was entirely converted to St. Cyril ; from then he becomes one 
of the chief supporters of the genuine Council of Ephesus. He saw 
the danger of Theodore's works and wrote to Cyril denouncing 
them. 1 It was Rabbula who procured a decree from the Emperor 
ordering all books of Diodore and Theodore to be burnt. So there 
was great opposition to the bishop among the Nestorians at Edessa. 
The opposition was led by two men, Ibas 2 and Bar Sauma. 3 

Ibas was an ardent student of Theodore the Interpreter ; he 
too had been at the anti-synod of Ephesus in Rabbula's following, 
but he was never converted to Cyril. Instead, he becomes a keen 
Nestorian and opponent of his bishop. Writing to a certain Mari 
in Persia, 4 he denounces Rabbula as a turncoat and a tyrant. One 
of these letters of Ibas to Mari afterwards became the third of the 
famous " Three Chapters " condemned by Justinian to please the 
Monophysites. 5 Ibas was excommunicated by Rabbula and re- 
mained leader of a schismatical party at Edessa till Rabbula died. 
Bar Sauma was the Rector or President of the Theological School ; 
he, too, shared Ibas's ideas and took part in the schism against the 
bishop. For the rest, Rabbula was a zealous and deserving pastor 
of this troublesome flock. He was an enthusiast for right order 
and ecclesiastical discipline, though he had little enough of either 
in his distracted diocese. It is believed to be Rabbula who 

1 Rabbula's letter is among those of St. Cyril (Ep. 73; P.G. lxxvii. 347-348). 

2 Yihiba (" given," Donatus). 

3 " Son of Fasting " ; in Greek 

4 There is considerable doubt as to who this Mari (Ibas's correspondent) 
was. He is called Bishop of Beth Ardashir. Ardashir is the Persian 
name for Seleucia ; so he would be the Katholikos. But the Katholikos 
at this time was Dadyeshu' (p. 50). Labourt suggests that the word Mari 
in the address of Ibas's famous letter is not a proper name at all, but merely 
Mar (Lord) with the suffix (=" my Lord "). The address might well be: 
" luth mari efiskufd dbeth ardashir " (to my Lord Bishop of Ardashir), which 
would be transcribed in Greek, ets Mdpiv i-xicrKoirov B-qQapfiaaiprivSov, and Mdpis 
would be taken for a proper name. So the Maris of the " epistola Ibae ad 
Marin " may be Dadyeshu' (Le Christ, dans I'emp. perse, p. 134, note). 

5 See p. 202, below. It is in Mansi, vii. 241-250. 


abolished the Diatessaron and substituted for it the four separate 
Gospels, in conformity with the rest of Christendom. 1 He died in 
435. At once the Nestorians got their champion Ibas ordained as 
his successor. Now, there was naturally an anti-Nestorian party 2 
opposed to him. They tried several times to get him deposed by 
the Emperor or the Patriarch, but did not succeed till the Robber- 
Synod of Ephesus in 449. 3 This deposed him and set up one 
Nonnus in his place. It was at the Robber-Synod that Dioscor 
of Alexandria quoted Ibas as saying, " I do not envy Christ for 
becoming God, for I could do so too, if I wanted to " — probably 
a lie of Dioscor. Ibas was not altogether Nestorian as bishop ; 
he was willing to admit the crucial word Theo tokos, with an 
explanation. Besides, whatever the Robber-Synod did was bad, 
so Chalcedon restored him in 45 1. 4 He died in peace in 457, and 
Nonnus then succeeded him lawfully. Ibas is one of the persons 
of this time whom one remembers with mixed feelings. First we 
think of him as a Nestorian, a schismatical opponent of Rabbula. 
Then when he has become bishop and has attracted the hatred of 
the Monophysites, we rather sympathize with him, and are glad 
that Chalcedon restored him. He is a typical case showing how 
difficult in Syria it is to draw the fine line between the two opposite 
heresies. Constantly we see that the men who oppose Nestorius 
are Monophysites, and the opponents of Monophysism take their 
stand by Theodore and Nestorius. After 451 the situation theo- 
retically becomes clearer. Chalcedon gives a standard that is 
neither the one heresy nor the other. Unfortunately, hardly any- 
one in Syria was Chalcedonian ; the two sides were Nestorian 
and Monophysite. 

Bar Sauma, too, was exiled by the Robber-Synod and came back 
after Chalcedon. But after Ibas's death (457) a violent Mono- 
physite reaction (under Nonnus) took place at Edessa ; all the 

1 Above, p. 35 ; and Burkitt : Early Eastern Christianity, p. 77. 

2 Rabbula's party. One hesitates to call them Catholic, because already 
they tend strongly towards Monophysism. It is the tragedy of this con- 
troversy in Syria that the opponents of Nestorianism nearly all go to the 
other extreme and defend pure Monophysism. Continually in Syria and 
Persia we see two, and only two, parties, Nestorians and Monophysites. 

3 See p. 174. 

4 He accepted the Theotokos, and denounced Nestorius at Chalcedon. 


" Persian School " (the friends of Theodore and Nestorius) were 
expelled ; Bar Sauma crossed the frontier, became Bishop of 
Nisibis, and was the chief agent in making the Church of Persia 
Nestorian (p. 80). This is almost the end of Nestorianism in 
the empire. The other party, the Monophysites, now became 
enormously powerful in Syria. The long story of the troubles 
caused by them and the various attempts of the Government to 
reconcile them begins. We come back to this in Chap. VI. One 
of these attempts was that the Emperor Zeno (474-491) in 489 
finally closed the School of Edessa (still a hotbed of Nestorianism) 
and banished all Nestorians from the Empire. They then went to 
swell the ranks of the heresy in the country which had already 
become its home — Persia. From now the story of Nestorianism 
is that of the Church of Persia. Before leaving Edessa, we may 
note that it now became largely Monophysite (Jacobite) and was 
the see of a Jacobite bishop. But the Nestorians had at intervals 
bishops there too, especially after the Moslem conquest of all the 
land put an end to the Roman law of banishment against them. 
The old line of bishops, Chalcedonian and Catholic, lasted till 
the nth century. According to a common confusion, these are 
called the Greek bishops by the natives, as sharing the views of 
the Emperor at Constantinople. And the Crusaders for a time set 
up a Latin bishop there too ; so there was a Bishop of Edessa for 
every taste. This is the usual development in Syria and Egypt. 
At first the various sees were handed about between the parties, 
fought for by each, and we have alternate bishops of each side, 
depositions and banishments. Then the sects settle down as 
organized bodies, and, instead of a struggle between rivals for the 
one see, we have two or more lines going on at the same time, 
each, of course, claiming to be the only lawful pastor of the place. 
And it is often very difficult to say which is the old line. 

4. Nestorianism in Persia 

We left the national Persian Church in 424, having proclaimed 
herself independent of Antioch, already schismatical, open to any 
heresy that might attack her (p. 51). The heresy that did so was 
Nestorianism. It was natural that a Church which had so long 


looked to Edessa for guidance should share Edessa's heresy. All 
this Persian Church was East Syrian in language and character ; 
her bishops had been brought up on Theodore and his ideas. So, 
almost as soon as the Nestorians made Edessa their centre, the 
effect of their teaching reached over the border to the daughter 
Church. Already the Persian bishops had learned to sympathize 
with Nestorius and hate Cyril. When, therefore, the empire 
became impossible for Nestorians, they found a fertile soil waiting 
for them across the frontier. Bar Sauma was the man who made 
Christian Persia Nestorian. He and the other exiles from Edessa 
poured into the country, hot with indignation against the Roman 
Government and the Council of Ephesus. 

We saw how the School of Nisibis had been formed again at 
Edessa when the Persians took Nisibis in 363 (p. 75). Now the 
exact opposite took place. The Nestorian School of Edessa, 
driven from the empire, was reformed under Bar Sauma at 
Nisibis. Bar Sauma became Bishop of Nisibis, and lost no time 
in propagating his heresy. He was helped by the attitude of the 
Government. We have seen that the beginning of persecution in 
Persia was that the State feared co-religionists and friends of the 
Romans in its territory. As soon as it discovered that Bar 
Sauma and the Nestorians held a form of Christianity which was 
not that of the enemy, that they had been expelled from the 
empire just because of this new teaching of theirs, that they were 
bitterly hostile to Caesar and Caesar's religion, naturally, it welcomed 
the spread of this anti-Roman doctrine among its subject Christians. 
From now the Persian Government becomes the protector of Nes- 
torians ; when the Persian Church turned Nestorian, there was 
hardly any more persecution. The king at this time was Piruz (457- 
484). Barhebraeus x tells a story which, though plainly calum- 
nious, represents very well the kind of thing that happened. He 
says that Bar Sauma went to the king and said : " Unless the 
faith of Christians in your lands be different from the faith of 

1 For Barhebraeus see p. 330. His great work is the Syrian Chronicle 
(ed. by Bejan : Gregorii Bar Hebrcei Chvonicon Syriacum, Paris, 1890 ; the 
second part only ed. by Abbeloos and Lamy : Chvonicon ecclesiasticum, 
2 vols., Louvain, 1 872-1 876). This is a most important source for Nes- 
torian and Jacobite history. We shall often have to refer to it. But his 
ardent Jacobite feeling makes him sometimes rather unfair to Nestorians. 


Christians in Greek regions, they will never have a sincere heart 
and affection towards you. ... If, then, you will give me soldiers 
I will make all Christians in your territory followers of that man 
(namely, Nestorius)." 1 Barhebrseus then represents Bar Sauma 
as going about Persia with soldiers, persecuting and massacring all 
Christians who would not adopt his heresy. 

It is certain the Bar Sauma was the chief propagator of Nes- 
torianism in Persia, mightily aided by the refugees from Edessa 
in 489 (p. 78) . Two other factors complicate the situation. The 
first is Bar Sauma/s quarrel with the Katholikos. The See of 
Seleucia-Ctesiphon was then held by Babwai (457-484). He is 
said to have ruled badly ; in any case the domineering Bishop of 
Nisibis fell foul of him and led an opposition against him. Then 
Babwai was caught holding treasonable correspondence with the 
Emperor Zeno, 2 and was hanged by his fingers till dead, in 484. 
Bar Sauma is believed to have had a hand in his death. In the 
same year Bar Sauma held a synod at Beth Lapat, 3 which is 
generally counted the first Nestorian assembly in Persia. It 
made much of Theodore the Interpreter, declared that all should 
follow him, and denounced the faith of the Roman Empire. As 
the faith of the empire, or at least of that part of it known to 
Persians, was then largely Monophysite, it is difficult to say how 
far this means that the Fathers of Beth Lapat were Nestorian. 
We have here a case of what recurs throughout this period — 
vehement opposition to what seemed the only alternative (Mono- 
physism), but some doubt to us whether that opposition meant to 
go as far as Nestorius. This synod introduces a second factor 
of considerable importance. All kinds of asceticism, especially 
celibacy, were very repugnant to Mazdaeans (p. 25). So they 
much disliked vows of celibacy among Christians. Now, when a 
small Church is surrounded by unbelievers who are particularly 
opposed to one of its principles, one of two things will happen. 
Either the Christians in opposition insist all the more firmly on 
that very point, or, on the other hand, they may be influenced by 
their neighbours and may modify or discard the practice or 

1 Ed. Abbeloos and Lamy, iii. col. 66-68. 

2 He wrote the letter quoted on p. 46. 

' A metropolitan see over to the east, north of Susa. 


doctrine in question. This is what happened in Persia. The 
Christians imbibed Mazdsean ideas against celibacy. Side by 
side with Nestorianism comes a second taint on the Church of 
Persia — the total abolition of celibacy of the clergy. Alone among 
the old Churches that of Persia dropped all laws of celibacy. This 
Synod of Beth Lapat began. It declared marriage lawful for 
everyone, even for priests after ordination, even for bishops. 
And Bar Sauma set the example by marrying a nun. 1 

But the Synod of Beth Lapat was a schismatical act of Bar 
Sauma against the Katholikos. He hoped to become Katholikos 
himself after Babwai's execution. Probably, he would have done 
so ; but in that year his protector King Plruz died (484), and he 
lost his chance. Instead Acacius 2 was appointed, as usual, by 
the king (Balash, 484-488). Bar Sauma would not recognize 
him. But in 485 another synod was held at Beth 'Adrai, and 
here he had to submit to him. The Synod of Beth Lapat was 
annulled ; it has no place among the canons of the Nestorian 
Church. However, at Beth 'Adrai a confession was drawn up 
which is at least suspect of Nestorianism, 3 and the abolition of 
celibacy was maintained. From now these two things go hand 
in hand throughout Persia. We may also notice that Zeno's 
Henotikon (482, below, p. 193) had just been published, so that, 
more than ever, Monophysism seemed the religion of the empire, 
and the only alternative. In 486 Acacius held another synod at 
Seleucia, in which he condemned Monophysism 4 and renewed the 
abolition of celibacy. Soon after this Acacius was sent on an 
embassy to Constantinople. Here he declared that he was no 
Nestorian, had only rejected Monophysism, and was quite willing 
to excommunicate Bar Sauma. When he came back, Bar Sauma 
was dead (between 492-495), killed, it is said, by monks with the 

1 In 499 another synod declared that " the Katholikos and the minor 
priests and monks may marry one wife and beget children according to the 
Scriptures," Wallis Budge : The Book of Governors, i. p. cxxxii. 

2 Akak, a fellow-disciple of Ibas at Edessa, also one of the Persians who 
fled from the empire. They all had wonderful nicknames ; Acacius was 
the " Strangler of Oboles," Bar Sauma the " Swimmer among Nests," and 
so on (see Labourt, op. cii., for a collection of these names, p. 132). 

3 Quoted in Labourt : op. cit. p. 262-263. 

4 The formula is in Labourt, pp. 147-148 ; it is correct from a Catholic 
point of view. 



keys of their cells. 1 He was certainly a Nestorian, and had done 
all he could to propagate his heresy in Persia. Only, we may 
question how far during his life he had succeeded in committing 
the Church officially as far as he was prepared to go himself. 
Acacius, too, died in 495 or 496, and was succeeded by Babwai 
II 2 (497-502). This man marks almost the lowest degradation of 
the Persian Church. He could not even read, and he had a wife. 
In his time flourished Narse, one of the great lights of the Nes- 
torians. The Jacobites call him Narse the Leper ; to Nestorians 
he is the " Harp of the Holy Ghost." He was a friend of Bar 
Sauma, helped to found the school of Nisibis, and became its 
President. He died in 507. He wrote a great number of poems 
and sermons. 3 Narse is quite openly a Nestorian. In his 
homily on the " three Doctors," Diodore, Theodore and Nestorius, 4 
he declares that our Lord is in two natures, two hypostases, and 
one prosopon. He undertakes a vehement defence of the virtuous 
Nestorius, who was betrayed for gold by enemies of the truth. 
For a time this state of things goes on. The Persian Church is 
vehemently anti-Monophysite ; many of her bishops and writers 
are clearly Nestorian. Such was Rhima of Arbela, who denounced 
Cyril and the " sacrilegious Synod of Ephesus." 5 There was 
general sympathy with Nestorius and strong feeling in favour of 
all the theology of Theodore the Interpreter. But it is perhaps 
not till we come to formal rejection of the Council of Chalcedon 
that we can fairly brand the whole Church of Persia as Nestorian. 
After the death of Babwai II in 502 follows another period 
of confusion. There are again rival Patriarchs 6 and mutual ex- 
communications. At last we come to Maraba 7 (540-552) and 
a reform. Maraba was of the school of Nisibis. He came to 
Constantinople between 525 and 533, and there refused to condemn 
Theodore and the Nestorian teachers. Having returned to Persia, 

1 Barhebrseus, ed. cit. iii. 78. 

2 Babai or Babwai, really the same name. 

3 Cf. Duval : Litterature syriaque, pp. 346-347. 

4 Published by Martin in the Journal asiatique (July 1900). 

5 Mshihazka, ed. cit. p. 144. 

6 We may use this title from now as that of the Katholikos of Seleucia- 

7 Mar-aba, " Lord Father." 


he travelled about his Patriarchate, put down abuses, notably 
that of incest, which the Christians had begun to copy from 
Mazdaeans, and held reforming Synods. But for his doubtful 
attitude about the heresy, he was in every way an excellent 
prelate. During his reign there was another persecution, result 
of a war against the empire in 540-545, but less fierce than that of 
Shapur II. Maraba himself was arrested, imprisoned a long time, 
and finally died of the treatment he had received (552). Labourt 
describes him as a " glorious confessor of the Faith, the light of 
the Persian Church, to which he left the double treasure of blame- 
less doctrine and a model life." 1 

In order to finish this account of the introduction of Nestorian- 
ism in Persia let us go at once to the 7th century. It was the 
time when Islam overturned the old Persian kingdom, when also 
Persian Christianity definitely received the form it has kept down 
to our own time. Mar Babai, called the Great, was abbot of the 
monastery of Izla (569-628) . During one of the constant vacan- 
cies of the Patriarchate especially, he had enormous influence, 
most of all in the North. Already the Persian Church had long 
been troubled by various heresies (p. 89) ; the condemnation of 
the Three Chapters in the empire (202) was to Persians an 
unpardonable attack on their heroes, Theodore and Ibas. Babai 
was a theologian and a writer. Against Monophysites and other 
heretics he wrote treatises which his countrymen have accepted 
ever since as representing faithfully their doctrine. His Book of 
the Union (namely,the union of Godhead and manhood in Christ) 2 
represents the teaching of this Church as it was fixed finally in the 
early 7th century, as it is still. It is Nestorian. Babai admits 
a certain communicatio idiomatum, 3 but only because of the 
" prosopon of union." He will not admit one united (<rw0eros) 
hypostasis. The hypostasis of the Logos cannot assume another 

1 Le Christianisme dans V empire perse, p. 191. For Maraba's life and 
reign, see ib. 163-191. 

2 It will be published in Chabot's Corpus scriptorum christianorum 
orientalium. Meanwhile it is resumed in Labourt : op. cit. 280-287. 

3 The communicatio idiomatum, admitted by the Catholic Church, means 
ascribing to the one person, Christ our Lord, the properties of both natures, 
as when we say that God the Son was born of Mary, died on the cross, the 
immortal became mortal, a man is Almighty God, and so on. To deny 
such language was always, obviously, a test of Nestorianism. 


hypostasis. Our Lord's human nature is the garment, temple 
of the Logos. He will not admit the term Ocotokos, nor the 
Council of Chalcedon. 1 

That is still the position of the Nestorian Church. They never 
allow the word Ocotokos; it has no place in their liturgy. It is 
not easy to say when they rejected the Council of Chalcedon. 
Perhaps it is more true to say that they never accepted it. 2 The 
present Nestorians reject Ephesus and Chalcedon. This, then, 
is enough to show that they deserve their name. Further, they 
honour Nestorius as a saint in their liturgy, together with Diodore 
and Theodore. 3 So it is clear that if they are to become Catholics 
they must not only give up their schismatical claim of independ- 
ence from any earthly authority over their self-styled Patriarch ; 
they must also be converted to the faith of Ephesus and Chalcedon, 
they must accept the term Ocotokos, and renounce Nestorius at 
least, if not Diodore and Theodore. In a word, this unhappy 
little sect is not only schismatical but heretical too. 4 

We saw that the Greek words used in the Nestorian controversy 
are sometimes ambiguous and add to the confusion by the fact 
that we are not always sure what the people who use them mean 
(p. 68). Much more is this the case when these already am- 
biguous terms are translated into what are supposed to be, more 
or less, their Syriac equivalents. There is so much discussion as 

1 See the texts quoted by Labourt, loc. cit. 

2 Yeshu'yab II (628-643) declared Chalcedonians to be heretics ; see 
p. 90. 

3 See, e.g., Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, p. 279. 

4 Let us note at once that in the case of all these Eastern Churches, 
indeed as a general rule, it is the schism that matters really more than the 
heresy. It is schism that makes heresy so great an evil. For you may 
think what you like about theological questions, as long as you do not deny 
what is a condition of communion with the Catholic Church. It is pre- 
ferring your own opinion to communion with the Church of Christ which 
forms the essential guilt of heresy. Heresy is wrong because it causes 
schism. The schism which results is the root evil of heresy. If there were 
no schism it would be not heresy but a harmless theological mistake. And 
the schism is what lasts and is deplorable for centuries. No one now gets 
hot over prosopon and hypostasis ; but the Nestorians suffer still from their 
tragic isolation, their schism from the rest of Christendom. A convert 
gives up his heresy because it involves schism : he wants not to be in schism, 
and for that reason he accepts all that is a condition of communion with 
the Catholic Church. 


to these technical Syriac words that we may end this chapter by a 
summary explanation of them. 

From the root ith (esse) x we have ithyd and ithuthd. These 
mean simply essence, nature (ovaia). 2 Only a Monophysite 
would deny that there are two ithuthe in Christ. 

Parsufd is tt/doo-wttoi/ transcribed, a foreign word used only 
to represent the Greek. We saw that Nestorius admitted one 
" prosopon of union " in our Lord (p. 71). So the Syrian Nes- 
torians speak of one parsufd, keeping rather the idea of a mask 
which covers the two personalities. 3 The meaning of these two 
words, then, is fairly clear. There is nothing to complain of in 
their use by these people. Nor is there any particular difficulty 
about the word kydnd.* This means nature, and corresponds 
exactly to <£iW. The Monophysite, of course, says that there 
is one kydnd in Christ ; we shall not quarrel with the Nestorian 
who says there are two. The last word, the most difficult, is 
knumd. 5 They use this for the Greek i^oo-racm ; and just as 
that word is the difficult and ambiguous one in Greek (p. 68), so 
is knumd the great contention in Syriac. All Nestorians say there 
are two knume in our Lord. That is their formula : two kydne, two 
knume, one parsufd. The question, then (just as in the case of 
hypostasis) , is what they mean by their knumd. If it means merely 
a real, individual nature (as opposed to a universal concept) , they 
agree with us ; if it means what we mean by " person/' their 
phrase " two knume " is pure Nestorianism. 6 But, once more, it 
is not because of their use of abstruse Syriac terms that we called 
modem Syrians heretics. It is because they reject the Councils 
of Ephesus and Chalcedon, because they deny the standard 

1 Hebr. Yes. 

2 Except that ithyd is originally (and generally) concrete, ithuthd always 

3 So Babai the Great. See his explanation quoted by Labourt, op. cit. 

4 From kdn, "to be " (Arabic kdna, Hebr. kdri). 

5 Derivation very doubtful. The Syrians treat k-n-m as a root, and form 
stems of a verb from it ; so Ethp. ethkanam. Ar. 'aknum, is simply derived 
from Syriac. 

6 An explanation of these terms, with illustrations of their use by Syriac 
writers, will be found in the appendix of J. F. Bethune Baker : Nestorius 
and his Teaching, pp. 212-232. 


Catholic word fleoTo/co?, 1 because they abhor the teaching of 
Cyril the Egyptian and glory in their faithfulness to that of the 
blessed Mar Nestorius, that we say they are Nestorians. 


In this chapter we have considered the rise and spread of the 
Nestorian heresy. Nestorius of Constantinople taught the new 
theory that our Lord Jesus Christ was not one person, that Jesus 
was a man in whom dwelt the Word of God. So, consistently, he 
denied that our Lady is Mother of God. His opponent was St. 
Cyril of Alexandria. The third general council (at Ephesus in 
431) condemned his heresy, affirmed our Lady's title, deposed and 
banished Nestorius. He died in exile, keeping his ideas to the end. 
For a time the Patriarch John of Antioch supported him and was 
an enemy of Cyril. Eventually John accepted the decrees of 
Ephesus and was reconciled. But Nestorius had left a party in 
Syria, chiefly because of the great influence of his masters Diodore 
of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia. This party, then, in 
schism against their patriarch (John of Antioch) and all the rest 
of Christendom, formed the beginning of the Nestorian sect. For 
a time they were strong at Edessa, and from Edessa already 
began to influence the Church of Persia. In 489 the Emperor 
Zeno closed their headquarters, the theological school of Edessa, 
and banished Nestorians from the empire. They then went over 
the frontier into Persia and spread their teaching there. Bar 
Sauma, Bishop of Nisibis, was the chief propagator of Nestorian - 
ism in Persia ; at Nisibis the heresy made a new school and new 
headquarters. So step by step the Church of Persia (already in 
schism) fell a victim to this teaching. By the 7th century at 
latest it is officially committed to the doctrine of Diodore, Theo- 
dore and Nestorius. From that time what was once the Catholic 
Church of Persia has become the Nestorian sect. To estimate 
this it is not really necessary to discuss the exact meaning of 
obscure Greek and Syriac terms. These people are Nestorians 

1 Syriac Ydldath alldkd ; Ar. wdlidatu-llah. These are the correspond- 
ing terms used in the Semitic liturgies. 


because they admit, they glory in the fact, that they stand by 
what Nestorius taught. 1 

1 If it be said that they do this under a misunderstanding, that they do 
not themselves understand what Nestorius taught, this is no doubt true in 
most cases. A modern Nestorian priest, or even bishop, probably under- 
stands very little about the philosophy of nature and person. But this 
does not save their position. They know quite well that all Christendom 
outside their body accepts Ephesus and rejects Nestorius, that they are 
in schism with everyone else because they will not do so. And they prefer 
the teaching of this one man to that of all the rest of Christendom ; they 
prefer to be in schism rather than give up Nestorius. That is the very 
essence of heresy. 



The branch which does not remain in the vine shall wither. This 
did not happen at once to the Nestorian Church. On the contrary, 
for a time it still flourished conspicuously. It was a great factor 
of civilization in Persia under the Moslem, and it sent out most 
wonderful missions all over Asia. Yet the cause of withering was 
there all the time, and gradually it began to produce its effect. 
This Church was now cut off from communion, from almost 
any intercourse, with the West, where Christianity was the leading 
power. Isolated, surrounded by an alien faith and an alien 
civilization, it sank gradually till it became a poor little group of 
families in Kurdistan, harassed and persecuted by all its neigh- 
bours. It will be clearest to take the various points of its history 

i. General History 

Here we trace in outline the external development of the 
Nestorian Church down to our own time. 

We left Maraba Katholikos and Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon 
(540-552 ; p. 83). The local title (Seleucia-Ctesiphon) now 
becomes less important, is gradually almost forgotten. The 
primates changed their seat constantly. Meanwhile the office of 
Katholikos (now always assumed to be a Patriarchate, like those 
of Antioch, Alexandria, etc.) had become a thing apart. The 
Katholikos, wherever he might be, was simply the head of the 
Nestorian Church. We shall see his titles below (p. 131). Mean- 
while we may call him simply the Nestorian Patriarch. Maraba 
was a zealous reformer (p. 83). After him follows a line of 



Patriarchs of whom there is nothing particular to say. Each 
held a synod at his election or nomination, according to what had 
become the invariable custom ; and there was the usual series of 
quarrels, rivalries and depositions, either successful or not. 1 

From the 6th century the official Nestorian Church was troubled 
by the presence of heretical bodies. First among these we must 
count the Jacobites (Syrian Monophysites) . The opposite heresy 
was much stronger in West Syria, as we shall see in Chapter X. 
Then, when it became an organized sect, it pushed towards the 
East and entered Persia. The Persia Government troubled not 
at all about these quarrels among Christians. We may reserve 
the account of Jacobitism in Persia till we come to that sect 
(p. 329). Here it is enough to say that the Jacobites eventually 
set up a smaller rival hierarchy in Persia and remained a per- 
manent opposition to the Nestorians. There were other rivals too. 

The Masalians are a sect who appear in the East from the 6th 
to about the 12th century. Their name means " people who 
pray," " orantes " ; 2 so in Greek they are eux°7 X€l/ot ' ^x iTaL - 
Epiphanius (f 403) already mentions a sect of Masalians, 3 who 
may be the same people. According to him they came to Syria 
from Mesopotamia. Their heresy consisted in denying baptism 
and all sacraments, admitting only prayer as the means of ob- 
taining grace, rejecting any kind of hierarchy, claiming to be 
themselves wholly spiritual and perfect. They are clearly one 
form of the widespread Paulician sect. These people gave 
trouble to the Nestorians, as to all Eastern Churches. They were 
strong in Adiabene, and especially in the Shiggar mountains 
between the Tigris and the Euphrates, south of Nisibis. So 
there are canons in Persia made against the "false Masalians"; 
sometimes these people were converted. The Henanians are 
more difficult to understand. They are supposed to have been 
founded by one Hnana of Adiabene, head of the School of 
Nisibis in the early 6th century. They became a considerable 

1 Labourt gives notices of each of the Patriarchs. For those between 
Maraba and the Moslem conquest (scil. 552-637) see op. cit. pp. 192-246 ; 
also Wigram : The Assyrian Church, pp 210-264. 

2 Msalyane from sld ; pa" el : salli (Ar. salla), to pray. 

Marra a\iavo\ ovroi KaAovvrai ep/xripevd^zvui-" Hcsr. lxxx. I— 3 (P.G. 
xlii. 755~7 62 )- 


party, especially at Nisibis. Many Nestorian writers inveigh 
against the Henanians. Their chief opponent was Babai the 
Great (p. 83) ; canons were drawn up against them. 1 According 
to Babai they were Origenists, Fatalists, Pantheists. But a 
significant point is that, among their other crimes, they accepted 
the Council of Chalcedon and the teaching of St. John Chrysostom 
rather than that of Theodore of Mopsuestia. So a doubt occurs : 
were these Henanians really anything but Catholics among the 
Nestorians ? 

King Chosroes 2 II (590-628) made war on Rome, captured 
Jerusalem, and took away the Holy Cross. He appointed 
Sbaryeshu' I Patriarch (596-604). Sbaryeshu' 3 was a monk who 
enjoyed a great reputation for piety. As Patriarch he ruled 
firmly and well, took steps to put down heresies, and spread the 
faith among idolaters in outlying parts of the kingdom. He was, 
of course, not allowed to make any propaganda against the State 
religion. In 603 he was made to accompany the Persian army 
and pray for its success. But this was less distressing to him 
than it would have been to his early predecessors, since, as a 
Nestorian, he looked upon the Romans as heretics. 4 Chosroes II 
began a fitful persecution of Christians, the last they had to suffer 
from the old Persian monarchy ; there were some martyrs at this 
time. Sbaryeshu' I was succeeded by Gregory (605-609). Then, 
because of the persecution, there was a long vacancy (609-628). 
At Chosroes' death peace was restored to the Church. Heraclius 
(610-641) won victories which frightened the Persian Government. 
Yeshu'yab II became Patriarch (628-643), and was sent as am- 
bassador to Heraclius in 630. Arrived at the Emperor's court he 
made a Catholic profession of faith and was admitted to Com- 
munion. On his return to Persia he was violently attacked for 
this, and for a time his name was struck from the Nestorian 
diptychs. 5 But this was only a passing phase. He had con- 
demned Chalcedon in his profession of faith already. 6 

Yeshu'yab II saw the great change which now came over the 

1 So in Sbaryeshu"s first synod, 596 (Labourt : op. cit. p. 215). 

2 Husrau. 3 " Hope in Jesus." 

4 For the reign of Sbaryeshu' I and his works, see Assemani : Bibl. Orient. 
ii. 441-449 ; Labourt : op. cit. pp. 210-221 ; Wigram : op. cit. pp. 221-224. 

5 Labourt, p. 243. 6 lb. note 4. 


country. The Sassanid monarchy of Persia was at its last gasp. 
In 632 Yazdagird III began his unhappy reign. In 634 the 
Moslems under Halid first invaded Persia. In 635 they won the 
battle of Kadesia and took Seleucia-Ctesiphon. In 642 they won 
their " Victory of Victories " at Nehawand. Yazdagird fled, and 
was murdered in 651. The old Mazdaean State came to an end, 
and now the Moslem ruled all Persia. The Mazdaeans, so long 
oppressors of Christians, were now themselves oppressed. They, 
too, like the Christians, became a ray ah under the Khalif. Vast 
numbers turned Moslem ; so that the old Persian religion is now 
represented only by a few so-called gebers 1 in Persia, and by the 
Parsi exiles in India. 

The Christians had no reason for loyalty to the Sassanid 
Government. On the contrary, the Moslem invaders were much 
nearer to them in religion, had on the whole a higher civilization, 
and offered, at any rate then, better terms to Christians under 
their rule. So we hear that Yeshu'yab and his Nestorians rather 
welcomed the invaders, and took steps to secure their protection 
and tolerance. So did the Jacobites in Persia (already a con- 
siderable community). 2 

Now the Moslem conquest, although the great turning-point 
in the political history of Persia, did not really make any vital 
difference to the Persian Church. To the Christians it only meant 
a change of masters. They had never known what it is to have a 
Christian Government. " Since twelve centuries the Aramaic 
races had been accustomed to submit to the rule of the strongest. 
The Achemenids, Seleucids, Parthians and Sassanids, one after 
another, had exploited and oppressed them without mercy. The 
Arabs continued the same tradition. To slaves it matters little 
whether they obey this or that master." 3 

1 For this word see p. 24. 

2 See Barhebrseus : Chron. eccl., ed. cit. ii. 116-118. But Labourt 
thinks that his account of the welcome given to Moslems by Christians may 
be exaggerated (in later times) to secure the favour of the Moslem Govern- 
ment ; op. cit. 245-246. The story of the Arab invasion and conquest of 
Persia has been told many times. See, for instance, Gibbon's chapter li., 
and Bury's note on the chronology, Appendix 21 to vol. v. of his edition 
of the Decline and Fall (pp. 540-543), Methuen, 1898. Bibliography will 
be found there in App. i., ib. 512-516. 

3 Labourt : op. cit. p. 246. 


The Nestorians then became a ray ah, 1 " people of protection," 2 
on the usual terms of Christians in the Khalifs domain. 3 About 
the year 750 Bagdad was built near Seleucia-Ctesiphon. The 
Abbasid Khalifs reigned there till 1258. During this time 
the Christians (nasara) , of whom we hear in their neighbourhood, 
were, of course, mostly Nestorians. They did not at once sink to 
the pitiable state in which they are now. They still had enormous 
missions (see p. 108), and they were, during all the Abbasid period, 
a very important factor in civilization in the East. 

Various legends grew up later, or were made deliberately to 
persuade the Moslem conqueror to look with special favour on the 
Nestorians among the subject communities of Christians, Jews 
and Mazdaeans. So it was said that Mohammed himself had been 
in friendly relations with a Nestorian monk named Sergius, from 
whom he had learned about the Christian system. 4 Yeshu'yab II 
was said to have gone to see Mohammed, and to have obtained 
from him a document granting privileges to Nestorians. 5 Omar 
is said to have confirmed this, 'Ali to have given another letter of 
protection to Nestorians because they supplied his army with food 
at the siege of Mosul, and other Khalifs later to have treated 
this sect with special toleration. 6 So a Bishop of Adiabene, writ- 
ing just after the Moslem invasion (650-660), says that the new 
masters are by no means so bad as they are thought to be, that 
they are not far removed from Christianity, honour its clergy and 
protect its Churches. 7 We conceive the Nestorians, then, as subject 
to the usual conditions of dimmis ; they might restore their 

1 Ra'iyyah, "herd," "flock," the legal name for an alien religious com- 
munity tolerated under a Moslem Government. 

2 Ahl-addimmah. 3 See Orth. Eastern Church, 233-237. 

4 So far this is likely enough. Mohammed's twisted knowledge of Chris- 
tianity and of various Christian legends (as shown in the Koran) was 
evidently gathered from talking to Christians. He often refers to monks 
(e.g. Surah lvii. 27). There were Nestorian missions in Arabia in his time ; 
his informant is more likely to have been a Nestorian than anything else. 
Indeed, some references to our Lord in the Koran suggest a Nestorian origin 
(e.g. S. ii. 81, 254 ; xliii. 57-65 ; v. 116-117, etc.). 

5 This is the famous Testament of Mohammed, published by Gabriel 
Sionita (Paris, 1630). 

6 Assemani : Bibl. Orient, in. (part 2), p. 95 ; here also the Testament 
of Mohammed is quoted. 

7 lb. ill. i. p. 131. 


churches, but not build new ones, they were not allowed to bear 
arms nor to ride a horse, save in case of necessity, and they must 
even then dismount on meeting a Moslem ; they had to pay the 
usual poll-tax. Yet they were favoured rather more than other 
dimmis. For one thing, when the Khalif reigned at Bagdad (750- 
1258) the Nestorians were the most powerful non-Moslem com- 
munity at hand. Moreover, they were very useful. They had a 
higher tradition of civilization than their masters. Nestorians 
were used at court as physicians, scribes, secretaries, as Copts 
were in Egypt under the Fatimids (p. 227). This body of Nes- 
torian officials at court got much influence, and eventually had a 
great voice in canonical matters, elected Patriarchs, and so on. 
They formed a kind of guild or corporate society,the "learned men" 
who had the Khalif 's ear. Indeed, the line of Arab scholarship 
which came to Spain, and was a great factor in mediaeval learning, 
begins in great part with the Nestorians at Bagdad. The Nestor- 
ians had inherited Greek culture in Syriac translations. Now they 
handed it on to their Arab masters. So we find Khalif s treating 
the Nestorians as the chief of Christian communities. At one 
time (in the 13th century), the diploma given by the Khalif to 
the newly appointed Nestorian Patriarch 1 says: "The Sublime 
Authority empowers thee to be installed at Bagdad as Katholikos 
of the Nestorians, as also for the other Christians in Moslem lands, 
as representative in these lands of the Rum (sc. Orthodox), Jaco- 
bites, Melkites." 2 This means, at any rate sometimes, civil 
authority over all Christians given to the Nestorian Patriarch. 3 

As usual, under Moslem rule, this tolerance, even favour, was 
liable to be broken by intervals of sharp persecution. At any 
time a fanatical Khalif could start harrying his non-Moslem sub- 
jects as much as he liked. The Khalif Al-Mahdi (Mohammed Abu- 
'abdullah, 775-785) made a short but frightful persecution, as a 
result of his war against the empire. Christian women received a 

1 Namely, the bard' ah (commonly called berat), which he received from 
the Government. 

2 Published in the Zeitschrift der deutschen M orgenlandsgesellschaft, vii. 
(1853), pp. 221-223. 

3 So the Turks have often made the head of one religious body civil head 
of others too (the Gregorian Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople over 
Uniate Armenians, etc.), to the great disadvantage of these. 


thousand lashes with thongs of bull's hide to make them aposta- 
tize ; yet they remained faithful. Harun Ar-rashid (Abii-ga'far 
786-809) also persecuted for a time. He ordered all churches to 
be destroyed, and Christians to wear a special dress ; from which 
Kremer concludes that already they had begun to speak Arabic, 
and to be otherwise not distinguishable from their Moslem 
neighbours. 1 

A picture of the state of the Nestorians soon after the Moslem 
conquest of Persia is given by the life of their Patriarch Timothy I 
(779-823), related by M. J. Labourt. 2 

Timothy was born about 728 in Adiabene, still the chief strong- 
hold of Christianity in those parts. His uncle, George, was Bishop 
of Beth Bagash on the Zab. The boy was sent to a famous 
monastery, Beth 'Abe, to be educated ; here an old monk pro- 
phesied to him : " Keep thyself from all uncleanness ; for thou 
shalt be Patriarch of all Eastern lands, and the Lord will make 
thee famous, as no one has been before thee nor shall be after thee." 
Timothy succeeded his uncle as Bishop of Beth Bagash. In 779 
the Patriarch Hnanyeshu' 3 II (774-779) died, and Timothy began 
intriguing to succeed him. He offered the electors a bag which 
he said was full of gold, if they would choose him. They did, and 
then he gave them the bag, which was found to contain only stones. 
The story does credit to the simple faith of the Nestorians in their 
bishops. 4 Timothy was thus made Patriarch in 780. But a 
number of bishops opposed him on sound canonical grounds, 5 set 
up a rival, Ephrem of Gandisabur, and he had much trouble before 
he crushed them. He had no mercy on Ephrem. Then Timothy 
set about his duties as Patriarch. He opposed the Jacobites, 
already a powerful community, the Catholics (who had a bishop 

1 A. v. Kremer : Culturgeschichte des Orients (Vienna, 1875-1877), ii. 168. 
An account of the state of Christians under the Khalifs at Bagdad will be 
found here, pp. 162-177. 

2 Labourt : De Timotheo I, Nestorianorum patriarcha, et christianorum 
orient alium condicione sub caliphis Abbasidis (Paris, 1904). 

3 " Mercy of Jesus." 

4 Barhebraeus tells it: Chron. eccl.,ed. cit. ii. 168; and Maris: Liber Turris, 
ed. cit. p. 63. 

5 Not because of the bribing trick ; that was fair war : but because the 
Metropolitans of Beth Lapat, Maishan, Arbela, and Beth Sluk were not 
present at the election ; Labourt : De Timotheo I, p. 11. 


at Bagdad), the Masalians and Henanians (p. 89). He wrote to 
the Maronites, then Monotheletes, and invited them to accept his 
own faith. This faith is, of course, Nestorianism in the mild form 
in which his sect held it. He repeats to the Maronites the regular 
formula, " two natural hypostases in one prosopon of the Son " ; 
they are to accept Nestorius, Theodore, Diodore, and to renounce 
"that heretic Cyril." He agrees to their Monotheletism. 1 He settled 
questions of canon law and discipline, and advanced still further 
the power of the Katholikos over his suffragans. It is sometimes 
said that it was this Timothy who stopped the scandalous practice 
of bishops and monks with wives, and brought the discipline of the 
Nestorian Church to its present state (p. 134) . 2 He was a person 
of much culture and zeal for scholarship. He was well versed in 
the Bible, theology and philosophy. He read Aristotle in a Syriac 
version, and caused other of his works to be translated in Syriac or 
Arabic. 3 Labourt gives a very respectable list of Greek and Latin 
Fathers quoted by Timothy from Syriac translations. 4 He was 
zealous about schools. He writes to a monk who became a bishop : 
" Take care of the schools with all your heart. Remember that 
the school is the mother and nurse of sons of the Church." And 
again : " Watch over scholars as the apple of your eye." 5 Our 
Timothy was on friendly terms with the Khalifs Al-Mahdi and 
Harun Ar-rashld. He is said to have settled an unpleasant ques- 
tion of divorce to the great advantage of Harun's wife Zubaidah. 
He advised her to turn Christian, be baptized, and so deserve 
death, then to go back to Islam ; in this way Harun could retake 
her without further trouble. 6 Strange advice for a Christian 
bishop to give, but it brought him great favour with the lady. He 

1 Labourt : op. cit. 18-19. It is curious that many Nestorians professed 
themselves Monotheletes, when that question came up. It seems at first 
like joining two opposite heresies. But Nestorians found the unity of 
Christ not in one hypostasis but in one operation, ivepyeia, though they 
must have meant only one operation morally. Anyhow, they were very 
civil to the Monotheletes, who thus held the unique position of pleasing 
both Nestorians and Monophysites. 

2 So G. D. Malech : History of the Syrian Nation, 269-270. 

3 We have seen that Arabic knowledge of Greek philosophy came through 
the Nestorians. Averroes and Avicenna, and through them St. Thomas 
Aquinas, may owe their knowledge of Aristotle to this very Timothy. 

4 Op. cit. 27-28. 5 lb. 29. 6 lb. 35. 


ruled over a mighty Church with suffragans all over Asia, as we 
shall see in the next paragraph about Nestorian missions (pp. 103- 
110) . So lived the virtuous Lord, Mar Timothy the first, Katholikos 
of the East, and he died full of years on May 7 in the year 823. 

The Patriarch changed his place of residence constantly. The 
idea that he was bishop of the twin cities, Seleucia and Ctesiphon, 
has almost disappeared. The Patriarchate had become an office 
of itself, independent of any see. Already before Timothy I, 
Hnanyeshu' II had moved to the new capital, Bagdad. Timothy 
resided there, as did most Patriarchs, till the Mongols came in 
1258, and for some time after that. 

In the early nth century Albiruni, a Moslem writer from Khiva, 1 
mentions the Nestorians as the most civilized of the Christian 
communities under the Khalif . He says that there are three sects 
of Christians, Melkites, Nestorians and Jacobites. " The most 
numerous of them are the Melkites and Nestorians ; because 
Greece and the adjacent countries are all inhabited by Melkites, 
whilst the majority of the inhabitants of Syria, 'Irak and Meso- 
potamia and Khurasan are Nestorians. The Jacobites mostly live 
in Egypt and around it." The Nestorian Katholikos "is appointed 
by the Khalif on the presentation of the Nestorian community." 
But he will not allow that the Katholikos is a Patriarch. He says 
Christians have only four Patriarchs, of Constantinople, Rome, 
Alexandria and Antioch. He forgets Jerusalem. 2 About a 
century later the Nestorians are mentioned by another Moslem 
philosopher, Shahrastani. 3 In his Book of Religions and Sects* he 

1 Abu Raihan Muhammad Ibn Ahmad alBIruni was born at Khiva in 973, 
and died in 1048. He wrote a work which he calls Aldthdr albdkiya 
' an-il-Kurun Alkhdliya ("Traces of Former Generations"). It is a de- 
scription of religions and sects, as he knew them, about the year 1000. 
He does not mention the Mazdseans (unless this part has been destroyed) . 
His book is translated and edited by C. E. Sachau (London : Oriental 
Transl. Fund, 1879). 

2 Ed. Sachau, chap. xv. pp. 282-284. 

3 Abu-lFath Muhammad Ibn 'Abdu-lKarim Ash-Shahrastani, born a.d. 
1086 at Shahrastan by the desert of Khorasan. He lived three years at 
Bagdad, wrote many philosophical and theological works, and died at 
Shahrastan a.d. 1153. 

4 Kitab alMilal wanNihal. It contains accounts of Moslem sects, then the 
Ahl alKitab (Jews and Christians), then people who have something " like 
a book " (mithl Kitdb) , namely Mazdaeans, Manichaeans, Gnostics, etc. The 


gives a not very accurate account of Nestorian theology. Chris- 
tians, he says, are divided into three bodies : Melkites (who follow 
Malka !), Nestorians and Jacobites. Nestorians believe that the 
Word was joined to the body of Jesus, " like the shining of the sun 
through a window or on crystal, or like the figure impressed on a 
seal." According to them, the Messiah " is God and man in one, 
but each is an essence, a person and a nature." He says the 
Nestorians are Monotheletes, and gives a very strange account of 
their Trinitarian idea. He knows the Masalians as a sect of 
Nestorians. 1 

In the 13th century came the great invasion of the Mongols 
under Jengiz Khan (1206-1227). They swept over China, Tran- 
soxiana, Persia. Jengiz's grandson Hulagu Khan stormed and 
sacked Bagdad in 1258, and put to death the last Abbasid Khalif, 
Almusta'zim billah ('Abdullah Abu-ahmad, 1242-1258). 2 This 
meant again a change of masters for the Nestorians. But it was 
not a painful one. The Mongols turned Moslem, and were at least as 
tolerant as the Arabs had been. The Crusades did not much affect 
the Nestorians in their ancient home ; though from this time begin 
their occasional relations and correspondence with Popes, to 
which we shall return when we come to the Uniate Chaldees. 

For about a century the Nestorians lived, not altogether un- 
happily, under the successors of Jengiz Khan. It was during this 
time (the 13th century) that their Church reached its largest extent 
through its wonderful missions (p. 108). We have a picture of 
their condition at this time in the life of their Patriarch Yabal- 
laha III (1281-1317). 3 He was originally named Mark, and 
came from one of the remote missions in China. He had come to 
Bagdad to visit the Patriarch Denha 1 4 (1265-1281) on his way 

second part treats of Greek, Arab, Buddhist and Hindu philosophers. 
The book is edited by W. Cureton in Arabic : Book of Religious and Philo- 
sophical Sects (2 vols., London, 1842-1846), in German by T. Haarbriicker : 
Schahrastdni's Religionspartheien 11. Philosophenschulen (2 vols., Halle, 

1 Ed. Haarbriicker, i. 259-267. 

2 For the Mongol invasion see Gibbon, chap. lxiv. (ed. cit. vol. vii. 1-22). 

3 See Chabot : Histoire de Mar Jab-Alaha, Patriarche, et de Raban Sauma 
(Paris, ed. 2, 1895). 

4 Denha means " splendour," " epiphany." J. B. Chabot published a 
panegyric of Denha I, written after his death by a contemporary monk, 



to the Holy Land. But Denha would not let him go further. In- 
stead, he ordained him Metropolitan of Kathay and Wang (Northern 
China). Then Denha died, and Mark succeeded him as Yabal- 
laha III. He governed the Nestorian Church during its most 
brilliant period. Twenty-five Metropolitans, in Persia, Mesopo- 
tamia, Khorasan, Turkistan, India and China, obeyed him. He 
was on friendly terms with the Prince of the Mongols, under whose 
civil rule he lived. This prince (Argon Khan) thought of sending 
an embassy to the Emperor, the Pope and the Western princes ; 
naturally, he imagined that a* Christian ambassador would be 
most welcome. So he asked the Nestorian Patriarch to find him 
a suitable person. Yaballaha chose a monk, Rabban Sauma, who 
had come from China with him. 1 The Khan gave him letters for 
the Emperor, the Pope and others, and sent him off with plenty 
of money, three horses and a suite. 

Rabban Sauma's embassy in Europe is one of the most curious 
episodes of later Nestorian history. By this time, the very exist- 
ence of a Nestorian Church was almost forgotten in the West. 
Perhaps the most remarkable point in his adventures is the un- 
questioning confidence with which everyone takes his word that 
he is a good Christian, as they are. So entirely had suspicion 
of Nestorians died out, that even the Pope gave him Communion. 
Rabban Sauma came to Constantinople, saw what he calls " King 
Basileus " (evidently taking that for his name), the Holy Wisdom, 
all the relics and wonders. Then he comes to Italy, lands at 
Naples, and sees King " Irid Harladu " 2 At that time Irid Har- 
ladu was fighting the King of " Arkun " (Aragon). Honest 
Sauma is amazed that in European war only combatants are 
killed. Not so is war waged in his country. Arrived at Rome, 
he finds the Pope just dead. 3 Instead of a Pope he finds twelve 
great lords, called " Kardmale." He says he has come from 
King Argon and the Katholikos of the East. The Cardinals ask 
him who founded his Church (clearly they have never heard of it) , 
and he says : " Mar Thomas, Mar Addai, Mar Maris ; we have 

John (Journal asiatique, Jan. -Feb. 1895). It tells the story of his life, 
and throws light on the state of the Nestorians in his time. 

1 Rabban Sauma was born at Han-balik (which is Pekin). 

2 This astonishing name is simply " il re Carlo due " (Chabot: op. cit.-p.6o). 

3 Honorius IV (f Apr. 3, 1287). 


their rite." They ask about his faith, and he quotes to them 
the creed as used by the Nestorians in the 13th century. It is, 
roughly, the Nicene Creed ; but it has Nestorian clauses. Sauma 
says that one of the Trinity " clothed himself in a perfect man " ; 
that our Lord has two natures, two hypostases, one person. Even 
now the Cardinals do not seem to suspect what he is. But they 
continue the discussion, and Sauma incidentally denies theFilioque. 
The horrors of theological controversy are about to begin, when 
he says : " I did not come here to argue with you, but to venerate 
the Lord Pope." As there was at the moment no Lord Pope to 
venerate, Sauma goes on to France, and arrives at Paris, where he 
sees King Philip IV (1285-13 14). Then he comes to " Kasonio " 
(Gascogne), and there finds the King of " Alangitar " (Angle- 
terre), none other than our Edward I (1272-1307). With him, 
too, the traveller discourses. Edward says he means to fit out a 
crusade, and boasts (at that time he could) that in all Western 
Europe, though there be many kingdoms and governments, there 
is but one religion. This is the furthest point Sauma reached. 
To travel from Pekin to Gascony in the 13th century is indeed an 
astounding feat. On his way back he stops again at Rome, finds 
Nicholas IV elected (1288-1292), and pays homage to him with 
exceeding reverence. Nicholas is " the Lord Pope, Katholikos, 
Partiarch of the Roman lands and of all Western people." 1 He 
asks and obtains leave to celebrate his liturgy in Rome. The 
people say : " The language is different, but the rite is the same." 
Clearly they were no great scholars in liturgy. On Palm Sunday 
Sauma attends the Pope's Mass and receives Holy Communion 
from him. This is probably the only time in history that 
a Nestorian has done so. He sees and describes all the Holy 
Week services in Rome. The Pope gives him relics " because 
you have come from so far." He had apparently received money 
from everyone, after the manner of Nestorians who come to 
Europe. At last he arrives home again, and tells all his adventures 
to Argon Khan, " who was glad and exulted with joy." 2 

1 One would not, of course, expect a Nestorian to admit more than this. 
But the surprise of seeing this Chinese Christian seems to have made the 
Romans easily satisfied with his position. 

2 For all this see Chabot : Histoire de Mar Jab-Alaha {op. cit.). 


But the insecurity of the Nestorians under Mongol rule was 
shown by another adventure of Yaballaha III. In 1295 he was 
seized by a vicious governor, tortured, and only released when he 
had paid 20,000 dinars to his persecutor. 

These years of comparative ease and splendour under the Mon- 
gols are the last rays of light in the story of the Nestorians. We 
come now to a frightful storm and then dark night for many 

The storm is the work of that appalling person the lame Timur. 
Timur Leng was a rebel Mongol chieftain. In the 14th century 
he rose against the Prince of the House of Jengiz, and swept with 
his wild hordes like a hurricane over Asia. He set up his throne 
at Samarcand, having crushed Turks and Mongols, having devas- 
tated Syria, Persia, India and China, and died there in 1405. 1 
Timur finally broke the Nestorian Church. Their missions went 
to pieces, countless numbers of Nestorians were massacred or 

Fleeing from total destruction, the Patriarch, with a feeble 
remnant, took refuge in the Highlands of Kurdistan. So we come 
to the last act of their story. Since the 14th century, the Nes- 
torians remain a tiny handful of families in Kurdistan and the 
plain of Mesopotamia. They were almost forgotten by Europe 
till Western travellers rediscovered them in the 19th century. 
There is not much to chronicle from this last period. 

After the storm of Timur Leng had passed, the modern states 
of Turkey and Persia appear. The Ottoman Turks had already 
entered the scene in the 13th century, and Persia became an inde- 
pendent state in the 15th (pp. 27-28). So the Nestorians found 
themselves on the frontier of these two Moslem countries. That is 
so still. They live around the frontier, some on one side and some 
on the other. The Patriarch lived for a long time at Mosul, some- 
time at Marga, east of Lake Urmi (in Persia) ; now he 2 has lived 
for about a century at the village Kudshanis, in the mountains 
on the Turkish side. 

1 For Timur Leng (Tamerlane) see Gibbon's lxvth chapter (ed. cit. vol. vii. 
pp. 44-68). 

2 Namely, the Patriarch of the present Nestorian line ; for there have 
been disputed successions, with the curious result noted at p. 103. 


About the middle of the 15th century the Patriarchate became 
hereditary — no doubt gradually. The electors chose the nephew 
of the last Patriarch, who had been brought up under his care 
and had learned in his house how to follow his footsteps. Then 
this became a regular principle. So we come to one of the chief 
abuses of the modern Nestorians, the existence of a " Patriarchal 
family." The Patriarch may not marry, so the office passes 
from uncle to nephew, as we shall see when we come to the present 
conditions (p. 130). In the year 1551 began a great dispute about 
the succession, whose results still last. This question also affects 
the Uniate Chaldees, since out of the quarrel emerged their lines 
of Patriarchs too. But, as it also affects the Nestorians pro- 
foundly, we must tell the story here. Its final result is very 

In 155 1 Simon (Shim'un) Bar-Mama, the Patriarch, died. It 
was in his house (the family of Mama) that the Patriarchate had 
become hereditary. So a number of bishops duly elect his nephew 
Simon Denha to succeed him. But others and the Nestorian 
"notables/' 1 apparently in order to break the hereditary idea, 
elect a monk of the Rabban Hurmizd monastery (p. 135) named 
Sa'ud, 2 whose name in religion was John Sulaka. 3 Sulaka be- 
comes a very important person ; he was the first Uniate Patriarch 
of a continuous line. 4 In order to fortify himself against his rival 
he makes friends with the Catholic Franciscan missionaries, who 
were already working among the Nestorians. They send him to 
Jerusalem, and there the " Custos s. sepulchri " gives him letters 
for the Pope. He comes to Rome, makes a Catholic profession of 
faith, and is ordained Patriarch by Pope Julius III (1550-1555) 
on Apr. 9, 1553. Then he went back as a Uniate Patriarch, hoping 
to gather all Nestorians under his authority. But in 1555 he was 
imprisoned by the Pasha of Diyarbakr, and murdered in prison by 
the machinations of his rival. We now have two successions of 
rival Patriarchs — no uncommon occurrence in this Church. We 
will take Sulaka's line first. He was succeeded by one 'Ebed- 

1 These " notables " are the heads of the chief families who succeed the 
o d courtiers (scribes and physicians) in their influence on elections (p. 93). 

2 Arabic = " Blessed." 3 "Ascension." 
4 There had been temporary reunions before. 


yeshu', 1 who kept the union faithfully, and received the pallium 
from Pope Pius IV (1559-1565). 2 He died in 1567. Then came 
Aitallaha, apparently also a Catholic. After Aitallaha came 
Denha Shim'un, who suffered much during the war between 
Turkey and Persia, fled to Persia, and died there in 1593. Mean- 
while the flock of these Partiarchs became more and more anti- 
Roman in feeling. The union seems to have been kept up fitfully ; 
that is to say, Patriarchs of this line occasionally sent Catholic 
professions of faith and protestations of obedience to Rome, receiv- 
ing in return the pallium ; others did not, and the mass of clergy 
and people were probably but little conscious of the difference 
thereby made. All Patriarchs of this line of Sulaka took the name 
Simon (Mar Shim'un). In the 17th century, Mar Shim'un VII went 
to reside at Urmi ; his successor and Mar Shim'un IX both sent 
Catholic professions to Rome. In 1670 Mar Shim'un XII sent 
the last of these professions. From that time relations with Rome 
dropped ; except that in 1770 one of the Patriarchs wrote to Pope 
Clement XIV (1769-1774) expressing his desire to restore the 
union. But by now they and their flocks had quietly dropped 
back into schism. In the 18th century they moved to Kudshanis, 
as we have said, apparently in consequence of a Turkish-Persian 
war. Here the present Mar Shim'un, the reigning Nestorian 
Patriarch, lives. The curious fact is that he does not represent 
the old Nestorian line from Papa, Dadyeshu' and Mar Aba, but 
the originally Uniate line of Sulaka. So people who inveigh 
against Uniate secessions from the ancient Eastern Churches 
should count Mar Shim'un as merely the head of a schismatical 
secession from the ancient Persian Church. 

Meanwhile the rival line of Bar Mama, went on. These Patri- 
archs all took the name Elias (Eliya). Sulaka's rival Shim'un 
Denha is said to have made his two illegitimate children bishops 
at the ages of twelve and fifteen. If this be true, Baron d'Avril 
seems to have some reason for describing him as " hardly estim- 
able." 3 His successors also negotiated with Rome. Elias V 
sent a profession of faith, which, however, Pope Sixtus V (1585- 

1 'Bedyeshu , " Servant of Jesus." 

2 He was present at the last session of the Council of Trent, Dec. 4, 1563. 

3 La Chaldee chretienne, p. 45. 


1590) rejected as stained with Nest onanism. 1 In 1607 Elias VI 
sent a sound profession and was admitted to union ; so did Elias 
VII in 1657. So at this time both the lines of Sulaka and Bar 
Mama were Uniate ; there were two Uniate Patriarchs of the 
Chaldees, an Elias at Mosul in the plains and a Mar Shim'un at 
Urmi. But the line of Bar Mama fell away too after Elias VII. 
In the middle of the 18th century a certain Joseph, Metropolitan 
of Diyarbakr, renounced his allegiance to Elias VIII, because Elias 
had broken with the Pope. Joseph came to Rome and received 
a pallium as Uniate Patriarch. This begins a third line, all 
Uniate, which lasted till 1826 and then disappeared, because the 
line of Bar Mama had come back to union (p. 129). Since 1830 
this line of Bar Mama, really the only one which has direct 
continuity from the old Persian Katholikoi, is Uniate. So we 
have the curious situation that the present Nestorian Patriarch 
represents the originally Uniate succession of Sulaka, and the 
Uniate Chaldaean Patriarch the old Nestorian line. 2 

There is nothing now to add about the Nestorians till we come 
to their present state. A little group of families in Kurdistan and 
around Lake Urmi, they have been at intervals horribly perse- 
cuted by the Kurds, never more than in the 19th century. Then 
comes their rediscovery by Western travellers and missionaries, 
which will be described later (pp. 1 15-126). 

2. Nestorian Missions 

We must note something about what is the most interesting and 
the most glorious episode in the history of this Church — its missions. 
During the long period we have been discussing, down to Timur 
Leng's destruction of everything, the Nestorians had flourishing 
missions all over Asia. As long as the empire lasted they were 

1 Dr. Neale appears to be pleasantly surprised that no Pope would accept 
a Nestorian profession of faith ; this he thinks a point in their favour (in 
Badger's Nestorians and their Rituals, i, 404). One is glad that he is 
pleased, but really these people are amazing. Apparently they think Rome 
quite capable of throwing overboard Ephesus, if it suits her purpose. 

2 For all this see J. Labourt : "Note sur les schismes de 1'liglise 
Nestorienne," in the Journal asiatique , x. serie, vol. xi. (1908), pp. 227-235; 
and A. d'Avril : La Chaldie chretienne, pp. 43-47. 


prevented from entering its territory, since Zeno drove them out 
in 489 (p. 78). But they had a force of expansion which would 
honour any Christian Church. Shut off from the West, they 
reached out towards the East and carried the name of Christ to 
India, Turkestan and China. 

In the West the Nestorians had tried to push their doctrine. 
Under the Moslem Khalif the Roman anti-Nestorian laws, of 
course, had no force ; so they sent missionaries to Syria, Palestine, 
Cyprus. In Cyprus they had churches and a Metropolitan, who 
has some importance as having come into union at the Council of 
Florence. 1 Even in Egypt there were Nestorian congregations, 
in the very home of Monophysism. Under the Patriarch Mar 
Aba II (742-752) the Nestorians of Egypt had a bishop under the 
(Nestorian) Metropolitan of Damascus. In Arabia they had still 
older settlements. Mohammed is often said to have learned what 
he knew of Christianity from a Nestorian monk (p. 92, n. 4). In 
the 6th century Nestorian missionaries had founded a great Church 
along the west coast of India. This is to us their most important 
mission, because it has had a long history of its own and still 
exists. It is the Church of Malabar, of which in Chapter XI. 
Here it shall be enough to note that the Arabian and Indian 
missions were under the Bishop of Persis (Pares). In Ceylon, too, 
there were Nestorians in the 6th century. When Kosmas 
Indikopleustes travelled in those regions (about 530) he found 
Christians in Ceylon, India, and a bishop at Kalliana 2 who was 
ordained in Persia. 3 In Khorasan they had flourishing churches. 
In the 7th century the Katholikos Yeshu'yab complains to Simon 
Metropolitan of Yakut that he is neglecting the churches of Merv 
and Khorasan. 4 The island of Socotra (Dioscorides) had a 
Nestorian church in the 6th century. Kosmas Indikopleustes 
speaks of Christians there ; 5 in 880 the Katholikos Enush sent 

1 One of the ruined churches of Famagusta is still known as the Nestorian 
church ; see Enlart : L'Art gothique et la renaissance en Chypre (Paris, 
1899), i. 356-365. 2 Now Kalyana, near Bombay. 

3 Ed. M'Crindle : The Christian Topography of Cosrnas, an Egyptian 
Monk (London, Hakluyt Soc, 1897), PP- IJ &» I2 °> 3^5- Kosmas calls these 
" Persian Christians." He was probably himself a Nestorian. 

4 His letter is in Assemani : Bibl. Orient, iii. (part 1), 130-131. 

5 Ed. cit. p. 119. 


them a bishop, in the nth century Sbaryeshu' III (1057-1072) 
ordained one bishop for the islands of the Indian see and another 
for Socotra ; x Marco Polo speaks of Christians in Socotra and of 
" an archbishop who is not in subjection to the Pope of Rome, 
but to a Patriarch who resides in the city of Baghdad." 2 Marco 
Polo, the valiant Venetian traveller of the 13th century, is our 
witness for many outlying Nestorian missions. Again, a certain 
Kyriakos (so-called), Bishop of Socotra, was present at the 
ordination of Yaballaha III at Bagdad in 1282. 3 From Khorasan 
and India Nestorian missionaries pushed north and east. In 
the strangest and most inaccessible places Marco Polo found 
flourishing Nestorian communities. At Samarcand they had a 
church, of which he tells how its central column was upheld 
miraculously ; he says that a brother of the Grand Khan was a 
Christian convert. 4 Near there is the province of Karkan, whose 
inhabitants are " for the most part Mahometans, with some 
Nestorian Christians." 5 At Kashkar the Nestorians have their 
own churches. 6 So Christianity spread into Tartary and Turk- 
estan, at Balkh and Herat. In all these places in the 12th and 
13th centuries we hear of Nestorian bishops who obeyed the 
Patriarch at Bagdad. A specially curious case is that of the land 
of Tenduch or Tenduk, just south of Lake Baikal. Its capital 
was the city Karakorum. Since the nth century there was so 
flourishing a Nestorian Church here that the country and the 
Government were Christian. The prince was named Owang or 
Unk Khan. He was a Christian. The name seems to have been 
a hereditary one, passing from one sovereign to another. Owang 
is not unlike Ioannes. So through the Middle Ages in Europe 
grew up a wonderful legend of that distant Christian prince. By 
a natural exaggeration they made this head of a Christian com- 

1 Lequien : Or. Christ, ii. 1141. 

2 William Marsden's translation, chap. xxxv. (ed. by Thomas Wright, 
G. Newnes, 1904, p. 371). But these people may possibly have been 
Jacobites, as the Portuguese thought, when they came (ib., note) On the 
other hand, there are many authorities besides Marco Polo for their con • 
nection with the Nestorian Patriarch. Did they fluctuate from one sect 
to the other, like the people of Malabar ? 

3 Avril : La Chaldee chretienne, p. 16. 

4 Marco Polo, chap. xxxi. (ed. cit. p. 84). 6 Chap, xxxii. (p. 85). 
6 Chap. xxx. (p. 83). 


munity into an ecclesiastical person. He is the famous Pr ester 
John, King and Priest. Marco Polo has much to say of him. 1 
The Crusaders in their most hopeless moments always hoped that 
suddenly from the East Prester John would come, leading an 
army to help them. A certain Bishop of Gabula was said to have 
written to Pope Eugene III (1145-1153) about this John, " rex 
et sacerdos," who, with his people, was a Christian, though a 
Nestorian. 2 Alexander III (1159-1181) sent messages to " In- 
dorum regi, sacerdotum sanctissimo." 3 John of Monte Corvino, 
the first Catholic bishop in China, in 1305, writes about Prester 
John. 4 Then the legend shifts its ground and this strange figure 
becomes a King of Abyssinia. The legend has a long story. 5 Its 
first source seems to be clearly the Nestorian Khan of Tenduch. 
One can understand how the mediaeval imagination was fired by 
that dream of a mighty king and pontiff, reigning over a great 
Christian nation out in the unknown wilds of Central Asia, who 
some day would appear in the East, leading an army under the 
standard of the cross to save the Crusaders' kingdom. 

Then, from Khorasan, Turkestan and India the Gospel was 
brought to the great land of China. It is strange, when we read of 
the first Catholic mission to China, to realize that many centuries 
earlier Nestorian missionaries had been there, that there had been 
native Nestorian Christians and a Nestorian hierarchy. We do 
not know how early the missionaries came ; but already in the 
early 8th century the Patriarch Slibazka 6 1 (714-726) ordained a 
Metropolitan for China. 7 This Chinese Nestorian Church, too, 
lasted till Timur's devastation. We have seen that Yaballaha III 
came from China (p. 97). Chinese Nestorianism has left monu- 
ments. The most astonishing of these is the tablet of Si-ngan-fu. 

1 Chaps, xliv., liv., lv. 

2 Prot. Real-Enc. (Herzog and Hauck) : "Johannes Presbyter" (3rd 
ed., Leipzig, 1901), ix. 313. 3 lb. 

4 lb. p. 313. John of Monte Corvino, O.F.M., titular Archbishop of 
Cambalia, converted a descendant of Owang and all his subjects to the 
Catholic Church in 1292. But the union did not last. 

5 See G. Oppert : Der Presbyter Johannes in Sage u. Geschichte, 2nd ed., 
Berlin, 1870. 

6 " The Crucified has conquered." 

7 Assemani: Bibl. Orient, iii. (part 2), p. 426. A considerable account 
of Nestorian missions will be found here, pp. 414-434. 


Si-ngan-fu is in Middle China, in the province of Shen-si. Here, 
in 1625, Jesuit missionaries found a stone with a long inscription 
in Chinese and Syriac. At first Protestants said they had forged 
it themselves ; now no one doubts its authenticity. For one 
thing, if the Jesuits had forged it they would have done it better. 
The Chinese part is apparently very difficult to translate. But 
there is no doubt that it is a monument put up by Nestorians in 
honour of their religion. It is dated (in our reckoning) 781. It is 
long and involved, as Chinese inscriptions are. It has as title : 
" Tablet eulogizing the propagation of the illustrious religion in 
China, with a preface composed by King-tsing, priest of the Syrian 
Church." Then it begins : " Behold the unchangeably true and 
invisible, who existed through all eternity without origin," etc. 
" This is our eternal true Lord God, threefold and mysterious in 
substance. He appointed the cross as the means for determining 
the four cardinal points," etc. Lower down : " Thereupon, our 
Trinity being divided in nature, 1 the illustrious and honourable 
Messiah, veiling his true dignity, appeared in the world as a man." 
" A virgin gave birth to the Holy One in Syria." An account of 
Christianity, of the Bible, of Christian morals follows. Then : 
" It is difficult to find a name to express the excellence of the true 
and unchangeable doctrine ; but as its meritorious operations are 
manifestly displayed, by accommodation it is named the Illus- 
trious Religion." " In the time of the accomplished Emperor 
Taitsung, the illustrious and magnificent founder of the dynasty, 
among the enlightened and holy men who arrived was the most 
virtuous Olopun 2 from the country of Syria. Observing the 
azure clouds, he bore the true sacred books ; beholding the direc- 
tion of the winds, he braved difficulties and dangers." This 
Olopun is said to have arrived in the year 635 ; which would give us 
a date for the first missionary in this part of China. The in- 
scription goes on at great length, praising the Chinese king and 
describing a most flourishing and widespread Christianity under 
his rule. And this in 781 ! Finally : " This was erected in the 
second year of Kien-chung of the Tang dynasty, on the seventh 

1 There are several curious heresies of this kind which combine to exon- 
erate the Jesuits from having forged it. 

2 Olopun or Olopwen is perhaps Syriac =Allahd-pn&. " God convert^." 


day of the first month, being Sunday." That is our year 781. In 
Syriac are names of missionaries and founders of the monument. 
For instance : . " Adam, deacon, Vicar episcopal and Pope of 
China. In the time of the Father of Fathers, the Lord John 
Joshua, the Universal Patriarch." x This monument also gives 
wonderful matter for the imagination. Discovered by accident 
nearly a thousand years later, it brought across that silent chasm 
its witness of a forgotten Church, lost centuries before in the 
storms that swept over Asia. Now, looking back through the 
mist, we have a glimpse of Olopun observing the azure clouds and 
bringing the true sacred books to the accomplished Emperor 
Taitsung, bringing the Illustrious Religion to China, thirteen 
centuries ago. 

This outline of their missions will shew that the Nestorians 
before Timur Leng were a vast and mighty Church. In the 13th 
century twenty-five Metropolitans obeyed the Nestorian Patriarch. 2 
Allowing an average of eight to ten sees for each province, this 
represents a hierarchy of two hundred to two hundred and 
fifty bishops. There is, perhaps, some excuse for what is, of 
course, really a gross exaggeration of Neale, that "it may be 
doubted whether Innocent III possessed more spiritual power 
than the Patriarch in the city of the Caliphs." 3 

All these missions have been swept away long ago. In Cyprus 
the Nestorians became Uniates. In Socotra they were Uniates 
for a time under the Portuguese ; 4 then the Arabs wiped out 
Christianity from the island. But it was chiefly the tempest 
aroused by Timur Leng which overturned the Nestorian mission 
churches. After his time no Christians were left in Central Asia, 
the churches were destroyed, the lines of bishops came to an end. 
The whole Nestorian body was reduced to a frightened remnant 
hiding in the wilds of Kurdistan (p. 100). Only one mission at 

1 Assemani : Bibl. Orient, iii. (part 2), pp. 538-552, gives a long descrip- 
tion of the monument and a translation of the inscription. Cf. P. Cams : 
The Nestorian Monument (Chicago : Open Court Publishing Co., 1909), 
with illustrations of the stone. H Thurston, S. J. : " Christianity in the Far 
East," II., The Month, Oct. 1912, pp. 382-394. 

2 Assemani : Bibl. Orient, iii. (part 2), p. 630. 

3 A History of the Holy Eastern Church, i. p. 143. 

4 St. Francis Xavier preached here in 1542. 


Malabar survived (pp. 353-358) ; and here and there a broken 
stone bearing a cross and Syriac letters is found, to bear witness 
that once Christ was worshipped in Tatary and China. 

There is another curious relic of Nestorianism in Asia, which we 
may just notice. Everyone has heard how strangely Christian 
or Catholic in external details is the Lamaism of Tibet. We 
know that Lamaist monks have a hierarchy and many rites like 
ours. People have tried to make anti-Christian capital out of 
this. Since Lamaism is Buddhism of a sort, and Buddha lived 
before Christ, it is sometimes said that we have borrowed these 
things from them. All kinds of dependence have been suggested, 
even the ridiculous idea that our Lord travelled to Central Asia 
and studied there under Buddhist monks. Now, in the first 
place, Lamaism is a quite late degradation of Buddhism, intro- 
duced into Tibet about 640 a.d. ; x and, secondly, the mysterious 
likeness is explained by the fact that at that time there were 
flourishing Nestorian churches, with an elaborate ritual, all over 
these parts. Lamaist monasticism, holy water, incense, vest- 
ments are nothing but debased copies of what the natives had 
seen among the Nestorians. There is nothing mysterious about 
these things. At the source of the Lamaist ritual which so 
surprises the modern explorer stand a Nestorian monastery and a 
Nestorian bishop celebrating his liturgy. 2 

These missions are the most remarkable and the most glorious 
episode in Nestorian history. It would be cruelly unjust to 
forget them. We think of the Nestorians as a wretched heretical 
sect, cut off from the Catholic Church and so gradually withering. 
They are that. But there is another side too. For a time, as long 
as they could, they did their share in the common Christian cause 
heroically. While they were cut off from the West, denounced 
by Catholics, Orthodox and Jacobites, while we thought of them 
as a dying sect in Persia, they were sending missions all over Asia. 
Those forgotten Nestorian missionaries, they were not Catholics 
but they were Christians. Braving long j ourneys, braving heathen 
tyrants and horrible danger, they brought the name of Christ 
north to Lake Baikal, south to Ceylon, and east right into the 

1 L. A. VVaddell : The Buddhism of Tibet, London, 1895, p. 9 

2 lb. 421-422. 


heart of China. They must have baptized thousands, and they 
taught the wild men of Tartary to worship one God, to serve 
Christ, even if they did think him two hypostases, to love his 
mother, even if they did not call her Theotokos. Let that be 
remembered to their honour. 

3. Nestorian Monasticism 

There are now no Nestorian monasteries and few monks or 
nuns. What remnant there is of East Syrian monasticism is only 
to be found among the Uniate Chaldees. But monasticism was 
once a very flourishing institution in this Church. It played so 
great a part in their history that we must say at least a word 
about it here. 

Their own tradition is that a certain Augin 1 brought the 
monastic life from Egypt in the 4th century. He had been a 
pearl fisherman in the Red Sea. Then he became a monk in the 
Nitrian desert, and eventually, with seventy companions, set out 
for Nisibis. Here he founded the first East Syrian monastery on 
Mount Izla, near the city. Three hundred and fifty disciples 
gathered round him and kept the rule he had brought from the 
Fathers of the Egyptian desert. So Mar Augin of Egypt founded 
monasticism in the East. 2 Most modern scholars doubt this 
story altogether. 3 As a matter of fact, monasticism was already 
so established in Western Syria that it must have spread eastwards 
with Christianity. There is no need to look for the name of 
one special founder here. Monks came, probably as the first 
missionaries, and monasteries were built as soon as churches. So 
East Syria and Persia received monasticism simply as a natural 
part of the Christian system. We have seen that in very early 
days there were " sons " and " daughters of the Covenant " in 
the East Syrian Church (p. 43). This was the beginning which 
only needed organization to develop into regular monasticism. 

1 Eugene. 

2 His legend is told in P. Bejan : Acta martyrum et sanctorum (Leipzig, 
1890-1895). iii. pp. 376-480. 

3 So Labourt : Le Christianisme dans V empire perse, pp. 302-314. The 
significant fact is that Thomas of Marga in the work quoted below (p. 112) 
ignores Augin altogether. 


During the 5th century, when the Persian Church was in its lowest 
state and all celibacy was abolished among the clergy (p. 81), a 
synod ordained contemptuously that anyone who wanted not to 
marry had better go to a monastery. 1 But about this time we 
hear of even monks and nuns marrying. 2 Now, monasticism 
without celibacy is no monasticism at all. Always the " angelic " 
life has been the essence of what we called religious orders. So, 
in the 5th century, the religious life was nearly extinct in Persia. 
In the 6th century came a great reform and a new beginning of 
monasticism. 3 This was made by Abraham of Kashkar, called 
the Great. He is the second founder of Persian monastic life, 
the organizer and head of all its later developement, so that he 
holds a place analogous to that of St. Basil and St. Benedict. 

Abraham was born in 491 or 492 in the land of Kashkar. 4 He 
studied at Nisibis, then went to the Egyptian desert, as St. Basil 
had done, to learn the rule of monks at the fountain-head of 
Christian monasticism. After staying at Sinai and other famous 
centres of the religious life, he came back to Nisibis and founded 
or restored a monastery at Mount Izla. Here he gathered around 
him a great number of monks, who then spread his rule throughout 
the Persian Church. He died in the odour of sanctity, aged ninety- 
five, in 586. The Nestorians remember Rabban Abraham the Great 
rightly as the " Father of Monks." Thomas of Marga says that 
God " established him to be the father of the army of virgins 
and men of abstinence " 5 ; again : "As formerly everyone who 
wished to learn and become a master of the heathen philosophy 
of the Greeks went to Athens, the famous city of philosophers, so 
in this case everyone who desired to be instructed in spiritual 
philosophy went to the holy monastery of Rabban Mar Abraham 
and inscribed himself in sonship to him." 6 After him came 

1 Synod of Acacius in 486 (p. 81), Can. ii. (Chabot : Synodicon orientale, 
pp. 302-303) : " Let them go into monasteries and wild places and stay- 

2 Bar Sauma married a nun (p. 81). In 499 a synod allowed monks 
to marry ; ib. n. 1. 

3 It was part of Mar Aba's general reform of the Church; see p. 83. 

4 In Mesopotamia, south of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. 

5 Book of Governors, ed. by E. A. Wallis Budge (2 vols., London, 1893) '> 
ii. p. 38. 

6 Ib. p. 42. See all the chapter (37-42) for Abraham's life 


Dadyeshu' as abbot. 1 Their rules have been preserved. 2 These 
are merely the old Egyptian rule slightly modified to suit Persia. 
Monks wore a tunic, belt, cloak, hood and sandals. They carried 
a cross and a stick. The Nestorian monks wore a tonsure formed 
like a cross, to distinguish them from those of the Jacobites. 3 At 
first they met seven times a day for common prayer (the canonical 
hours). Later it was reduced to four times. They worked in the 
fields ; those who could copied books. They abstained from flesh- 
meat always, ate one meal (of bread and vegetables) a day, at the 
sixth hour (mid-day). Then they all lay down and slept awhile. 
After three years of probation a monk could, with the abbot's 
leave, retire to absolute solitude as a hermit. After Abraham 
of Kashkar celibacy was, of course, enforced very strictly. 
Nestorian monks were always subject to the local bishop ; all 
their property, for instance, was administered and controlled 
by him. Labourt counts this a characteristic note of Eastern 
monasticism, and notes how it strengthened the hands of the 
hierarchy. 4 

An interesting picture of Nestorian monasticism is given by 
Thomas of Marga in his Book of Governors (Ktaba drishane), 
otherwise called Historia monastica. Thomas was a monk at 
Beth 'Abe (a dependency of Mount Izla) in the early 9th century. 
He became Bishop of Marga, and eventually Metropolitan of Beth 
Garmai, north of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, east of the Tigris. He 
wrote his book about 840. It is a collection of stories of monks, 
from Abraham of Kashkar down to his own time, like the Historia 
Lausiaca of Palladius. 5 

Labourt thinks that the Nestorians, like the Jacobites, owe it to 
their monasteries that they were able to withstand the flood of 
Islam. 6 They had flourishing monasteries, with many famous 

1 lb. chap. v. pp. 42-44. 

2 Chabot : RegulcB monastics ab Abraham et Dadjesu conditcs (Rome, 
1898) ; see also Wallis Budge's edition of Thomas of Marga, vol. i. pp. 
cxxxiv-clvi, and Duval : Litterahcre syriaque, p. 180. 

3 Book of Governors, ii. 40-41. 

4 Le Christianisme dans V empire perse, p. 324. 

5 Dr. E. A. Wallis Budge has edited it, in Syriac and English, with an 
introduction about Persian monasticism and copious notes {The Book of 
Governors, 2 vols., Kegan Paul, 1893). 

6 Op. cit. p. 324. 


monks * till the general disaster of Timur Leng. Since then the 
religious life vegetates only among them. They still have a few 
wandering monks, but no longer any fixed monasteries (p. 135). 


In this chapter we have seen a general picture of the Nestorian 
Church from its definite adoption of that heresy till the 19th 
century. From the 7th century at latest we must count the 
ancient Church of Persia as committed to the heresy condemned 
by the Council of Ephesus. It was already schismatical. In its 
isolation this Church had periods of great degradation alternately 
with moral revivals. Mar Aba I, in the 6th century, deserves to 
be remembered as an illustrious reformer. In the 7th century 
the Moslem Arabs conquered Persia ; so the Nestorian s found 
themselves under new masters. The Arab capital was Bagdad ; 
the Nestorian Patriarch came to live here, and for about six 
centuries his people were not altogether badly treated, while they 
remained the chief source of general civilization for their Moslem 
rulers. Jengiz Khan did them no great harm either. During 
this time thay had most nourishing missions all over Asia, so that 
their Patriarch was head of a large hierarchy, including bishops 
even in China. Timur Leng in the 13th century put an end to all 
their prosperity, destroyed their missions, and left them a poor 
remnant in Kurdistan. Here they had a great quarrel about the 
Patriarchal succession in the 16th century, out of which emerge 
rival lines and the beginning of reunion with Rome. During the 
time before Timur Leng monasticism was a flourishing institution 
among them ; now it has practically disappeared. 

1 E.g. Babai the Great was a monk of Mount Izla (p. 83). 



We come at last to what is left of this ancient Church. The 
Nestorians now left are but a small sect of little importance in the 
great Christian family ; yet behind them one sees their glorious 
past, the martyrs under Shapur II, the missionaries who brought 
the Gospel to China. If only for the sake of these one would 
speak of their descendants with all respect. In seeing them as 
they now are, we think first of the awful calamity of their schism. 
True, they have kept the Christian faith nobly during all those 
dark centuries of degradation. The faith of Christ — and, alas ! of 
Nestorius — is still alive where once the school of Nisibis argued 
against Cyril and Ephesus. Yet — if only they had kept it without 
the isolation of schism ! How honoured a province of the great 
Church of Christ might they now be, how strong in their union 
with the mighty Church of the West ! One would like to go back 
to the days of Bar Sauma and Akak, and to say to them : " Never 
mind about Knuma and Kyana : who can understand these 
things ? Worship Christ as does the rest of Christendom, and 
wait till you see him to understand his nature. And, if the great 
Church has cast out Nestorius, you must let him go too. At any 
rate, at any price do not make a schism. Trust Christ that he will 
not let his Church become really impossible, and stay in her 
whatever happens." Too late now ! we must comfort ourselves 
with the Chaldaean Uniates. 

This chapter will describe the hierarchy, faith, rites and 
number of Nestorians as they are now. But first we may clear 
the ground by describing what is practically their rediscovery in 



the 19th century, and the various missions which work among 

1. The Rediscovery of the Nestorians 

The word rediscovery is not inappropriate. It is true that the 
little sect was never quite forgotten. People knew that there 
were still Nestorians in Turkey and Persia. The authorities of 
the Catholic Church especially were always conscious of them. 
Since the Crusades we have had missionaries working for their 
reunion. Since the 16th century there has been an organized 
Uniate Chaldsean Church. There have been constant negotia- 
tions between East Syrian Patriarchs and Rome ; at intervals 
practically the whole body has come back to union. The Asse- 
mani and Renaudot knew much about them. Yet the general 
popular interest in these people, especially in England and 
America, dates from what was practically a rediscovery in the 
19th century. 

They owe this in the first place to the presence of Assyrian 
ruins in their land. Claude James Rich, Resident of the British 
East India Company in Bagdad, visited the ruins of Nineveh in 
1820. His report excited great interest in England and America. 1 
From that time begins the systematic exploration of Assyrian 
remains, in which A. H. Layard made for himself the greatest 
name. 2 These explorers brought back incidentally reports of the 
Christians they had found in those parts. Rich mentions them. 3 
Layard employed Nestorian workmen to excavate for him, and 
gives in his book a considerable account of these people. 4 Two 
circumstances combined to spread this interest. One was the 
surprising discovery that they still talked Syriac ; that this, 
therefore, was not a dead language, as people had supposed. It 
was almost as astonishing as would be the discovery of a nation 
which talks Hebrew. This fact seemed to give them the dignity 
of immemorial age. Were not these at last the real primitive 
Christians, unspoiled by later corruptions, still speaking the very 

1 Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan and on the Site of Ancient Niniveh, 
London, 2 vols., 1836. 

2 Nineveh and its Remains, London, 2 vols., 1849. 

3 Op. cit. i. 275-279. i Op. cit. chap. viii. (i. 240-269). 


language used by our Lord and his apostles ? All kinds of 
conjectures were wildly made, including the inevitable one that 
the lost Ten Tribes had at last been found. 1 Another circumstance 
fanned the enthusiasm among Protestants. These unspoiled 
primitive Christians, were they Papists ? By no means. They 
had no pictures in their churches ! That alone would be enough 
to show the purity of their faith. But there was more and 
better. They said something about the Blessed Virgin which 
Roman Catholics did not say ; they had heard of the Pope of 
Rome and could not abide him ; they had Bibles, and were quite 
willing to accept more. They seem in those days to have been 
prepared to agree with enthusiasm to anything their Protestant 
visitors said. Monks ? Were there monks in the Church of 
England ? No. Then they had not any either. The Holy 
Eucharist ? What did their honoured visitors believe about it 
themselves ? Nothing very definite, but certainly not what the 
Pope says. Exactly the state of the Nestorian mind on the 
subject. They, too, are not very clear about it ; but they are 
certain the Pope is wrong. So there came that wonderful myth 
of Mar Shim'un and his people as the " Protestants of the 
East." Poor little harried sect ! These well-dressed European 
travellers had money, power, influence. Pashas and Kaimakams 
trembled before them. And they were so friendly to the 
poor rayahs. What wonder that the rayahs were anxious to 
agree ? 

A further reason for interest in the Nestorians was their need of 
protection by some civilized State. They have continually been 
persecuted by their neighbours, notably by the fanatical Kurds 
who share their mountains. During the early 19th century 
there were endless raids of Kurds on Nestorian villages, accom- 
panied by the massacre, rape, burning of houses and churches, 
which form the inner history of the Turkish Empire at all times. 
There had been very bad cases of this about 1830 ; so that the 
conscience of Europe was aroused, as it was at the time of 
the Bulgarian, Maronite and Armenian atrocities. Hitherto the 
wilds of Kurdistan had been practically independent of the 

1 This is the idea of Dr. Asahel Grant, oi the American Independent 
Board of Missions : The Nestorians, or the Lost Tribes, London, 1841. 


Government and a free fighting-ground for their tribes. 1 In 1834 
the Government made a spasmodic effort to assert itself here, and 
for a time succeeded. That is to say, it sent an army and hanged 
everyone they met, till it got tired of it. This is an excellent 
proceeding and does much good as far as it goes. But they never 
hang quite everyone. So when the army has gone back, crowned 
with victory, the old state of things begins again just as before. 
The victorious arms of Rashid Pasha in 1834 did no good to the 
harmless Nestorians ; but the fuss about pacifying Kurdistan 
again called the attention of foreign consuls to their piteous state. 
So begins an invasion of Kurdistan by Protestant missionaries of 
various sects, who build schools and hospitals, set up printing- 
presses and Bible-classes. Let it be said at once that these 
Protestants have, all things considered, done immense good to 
the poor little forsaken sect. Apart from religious questions, they 
have at any rate taught and educated, they have nursed the sick 
and distributed books ; in short, they have civilized considerably. 
One result of their work is that numbers of Nestorians can read 
and write. They learn Persian and Turkish, some English, so 
that not a few sail away to make their fortune in America. 

Mr. Joseph Wolff from England came about 1820 and secured 
a copy of the Syriac New Testament. He brought this back ; it 
was printed by the British Bible Association in 1827 and distri- 
buted in great numbers around Urmi. But among organized 
missions the American Presbyterians were first in the field. 2 In 
1830 their Board of Missions sent two men, Messrs Smith and 
Davies, who brought back a favourable report. Dr. Julius Perkins 
opened a mission in 1834 ; in 1835 Dr. Asahel Grant joined him. 
This American mission has large buildings at Urmi ; men and 
women work here among the natives. They have doctors and 
a printing-press. Meanwhile no less interest was aroused in 
England. Mr. Ainsworth travelled about among the Nestorians 

1 It may be noted that this is the normal state of the Turkish Empire. 
All its more mountainous and wilder parts are practically independent and 
at the mercy of the strongest tribe which dwells there. The authority 
of the Government obtains in the towns where there is a garrison, and as 
far round as the energy of the local Wali cares to enforce it. If he neglects 
his duty (most Walis do), there may be anarchy within sight of the gates. 

2 Except, of course, the Catholics, who had been there for centuries. 


and published an account of them in 1842 ; x he had received 
instructions to inquire into their condition from the Society for 
Promoting Christian Knowledge. In 1842 Mr. George Percy 
Badger, Chaplain of the East India Company, was sent out by 
the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Howley) and the Bishop of 
London (Dr. Blomfield). He stayed there a year, visited all the 
sects of Mesopotamia, and made such good use of his time as is 
shown in the delightful book he published on his return. 2 He 
carried friendly and complimentary letters to Mar Shim'un from 
the archbishop and bishop. While he was there a Kurdish 
insurrection and massacre took place ; the Patriarch found refuge 
in his house. He also made clear to the Nestorians that the 
Church of England only wanted to help them, not to convert them. 
From this time begins the very friendly feeling of Nestorians 
towards Anglicans. Badger was eager that an Anglican mission 
should be established at once ; but nothing was done for some 
years. In 1868 a demand for missionaries to help them came to 
the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Tait) from Mar Shim'un, his 
clergy and notables. 3 In answer to this Mr. E. L. Cutts was sent 
out in 1876 to report, 4 and Mr. Rudolph Wahl, an Anglican 
clergyman, departed to open a mission in 188 1. He was not liked 
by the Nestorians, and was recalled in 1885. In 1886 Mr. W. H. 
Browne and Canon Maclean went under the guidance of Mr. 
Athelstan Riley, who published a report of all they saw and did 
till he left them. 5 This is the beginning of the present mission 
of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the " Assyrian Christians." 
They had their headquarters till lately at Urmi- ; now they have 
moved to Van. 6 They have schools, and a press which issues 

1 Ainsworth : Travels and Researches in Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, 
Chaldcea and Armenia, London, 1842, 2 vols. 

2 G. P. Badger : The Nestorians and their Rituals, ed. by J. M. W. Neale, 
London, 1852, 2 vols. 

3 A. Riley : Report on the Foundation of the Archbishop's Mission to the 
Assyrian Church (London, 1886), p. 24. 

4 E. L. Cutts : Christians under the Crescent in Asia (S.P.C.K., 1877). 

5 Riley : op. cit. 

6 In 1903 they decided to abandon Persia, leaving it to the Russians, and 
to make their centre at Van on the Turkish side (Heazell and Margoliouth : 
Kurds and Christians, London, 1913, pp. 165-168). Later still (1910) they 
proposed to move to Amadia, north of Mosul (ib. 209-212). 


editions of Nestorian service-books. Other bodies have smaller 
missions. The Danish Lutherans commissioned a converted 
Nestorian, Nestorius George Malech, to work as a missionary for 
them in 1893. 1 There is a small Baptist mission. 2 

The Russians, too, have been active here. At one time it seemed 
as if the whole Nestorian body would turn Orthodox. In 1827 
a number of Nestorian families fled to Russian territory at 
Erivan and joined the Orthodox Church. 3 Later, at repeated 
intervals, Nestorians have asked Russia for help and protection, 
and have declared themselves willing to be Orthodox in return. 
In 1898 a Nestorian bishop, with four other clergymen, went 
to St. Petersburg, said they represented their nation, and ab- 
jured their heresies. They came back with Russian missionaries 
and made a propaganda of the Orthodox faith. The Russians 
built a mission-house, set up a press, and for a time made many 
converts. 4 But their fair promises were not fulfilled. The 
Tsar sent no army to make them free and powerful ; so the 
converts slipped back to the obedience of Mar Shim'un. The 
Russian mission among them only vegetates ; though occasionally 
one hears of Russian clergy labouring among the Nestorians still. 
When to all these missions we add the long-established and zealous 
Catholic clergy, who have built up the Uniate Chaldaean Church, 
we realize that the Nestorians, once themselves so great missioners, 
now know what it is to be the objects of copious missionizing. 

The attitude of these foreign missions towards the Nestorian 
sect is very curious. Of course, that of the Catholics and Ortho- 
dox is quite simple. They frankly make converts from the 
heretical body ; with, however, this difference, that the Catholics 
make Uniates. A Nestorian who joins them does not give up his 
rite, nor any legitimate principle or custom of his nation. He 
abjures his heresy, acknowledges the Council of Ephesus, and so 

1 G. D. Malech: History of the Syrian Nation (Minneapolis, U.S.A., 1910), 
PP- 378-390 2 lb. p. 342. 

3 Avril : La Chaldee chretienne, p. 22. 

4 The Russians claimed 20,000 converts in 1900. They built an Orthodox 
Church at Urrai, founded forty parishes and sixty schools. See the lichos 
d'Orient (L'liglise Nestorienne, by A. Ratel), vol. vii. (1904), p. 349. It 
seems that practically all Nestorians in Persia turned Orthodox, though 
most appear to have gone back since {Kurds and Christians, pp. 140-141). 


returns to the state of the old Persian Church before it fell into 
heresy and schism. But the Orthodox have no Uniates. In join- 
ing them a Nestorian must leave his nation, accept the Byzantine 
rite, and become practically a Russian. This is merely the invari- 
able difference between the uniformity always demanded by 
the Orthodox and the more generous toleration of the Catholic 

The first Protestant missionaries did not at once set up special 
sects. They were on very friendly terms with the Nestorian 
hierarchy, and rejoiced rather that they had discovered these 
" Protestants of the East." So we hear of their going to church 
with Nestorian bishops. 1 And the Nestorians, as we said (p. 116), 
at first encouraged them and welcomed them, no doubt thinking 
them the " Nestorians of the West." At any rate, here were men 
who abjured the Theot6kos and the Pope, who cared nothing for 
Ephesus (or, for the matter of that, for any other council). 
These first Protestants did not work directly against the Nestorian 
hierarchy. Yet indirectly it came eventually to the same thing. 
They worked on the basis of the usual Protestant contempt for 
any rites or Church organization. They simply ignored all that, 
saying nothing directly against it, but teaching pure Gospel, faith 
alone, and so on, together with a good deal of general education 
and Western ideas. They propagated, besides Bibles, 2 such 
books as the Pilgrim's Progress 3 and the Saints' Everlasting Rest* 
No doubt they foresaw that their pupils in time would discover 
for themselves the vanity of such things as bishops, rites and 
sacraments, would quietly drop away from their ancient liturgy 
and attend only the missionaries' prayer-meetings. At any rate, 
that is what happened. Now the Presbyterians have evolved an 
East Syrian Presbyterian sect. They have their own chapels and 
services, and do, as a matter of fact, make a fairly large number of 
converts from the Nestorian Church. 5 

1 E.g. Malech : op. cit. p. 325. 

2 Dr. Perkins and Abraham Malech did the New Testament into modern 
colloquial Syriac. 

3 In modern Syriac, Urmi, 1848. 4 lb. 1854. 

5 This is just what happened in the cases of Protestant missions to the 
Orthodox. They too did not at first attack the official Church ; but did 
eventually form rival religious bodies {Orth. Eastern Church, p. 256). Of 


But there appear to be still some ambiguous people who are, it 
seems, in communion with Mar Shim'un, although they make a 
purely Protestant propaganda. The most puzzling of these is Mr. 
Nestorius George Malech, who has translated an odd book about 
his nation by his father. 1 This Mr. Malech, if we may trust his 
own account, succeeds in running with the hare and hunting with 
the hounds. He was educated at the Presbyterian School at 
Urmi, and shows us the diploma he got there. 2 He is an arch- 
deacon of the Nestorian Church, ordained by the Metropolitan, 
Mar Hnanyeshu' (p. 132). In the same work we may contemplate 
a phototype of his ordination diploma. 3 He is secretary of a 
society for " looking after the remnant of their old Church," to 
whom Mar Hnanyeshu' sent a bishop in 1900. 4 The society works 
with the bishop and pays his salary. In 1900 Mr. Malech had 
charge of a Nestorian Church of St. Mary at Urmi. 5 The society 
has formed itself into a " Patriarchal Committee " which sends 
money to the Patriarch. He in return (July 15, 1908) sends 
them his blessing and seems to be quite pleased with them. Mr. 
Malech is one of the seven who form the committee. 6 At the 
same time he is an active and zealous missionary of the Norwegian 
Lutheran Church ! They have a little mission at Urmi ; he is 
their agent and emissary there. His book (which is full of strange 
things) shows us his diploma as Lutheran missionary too, with 
the Norwegian arms ; a tariff stamp " for the amount of 100 
Kroner, but not exceeding 150 " ; his undertaking " to preach the 
Gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the doctrines of the 
evangelical Lutheran Church," and " to remain true to the evan- 
gelical Lutheran confession." For this he receives 70 kroner a 
month. This document is dated June 17, 1893, at Kristiania. 7 
Mr. Malech does not appear to have broken with the Lutherans in 
any way. The last I heard of him is that he has been collecting 
money from Lutherans in Norway and America, and was in 

course, not all the children who attend the Presbyterian schools among 
Nestorians join their sect. 

1 George David Malech : History of the Syrian Nation, etc. (op. cit. p. 119 
n. 1). 

2 Op. cit. p. 383. 3 P. 385. * P. 353- 5 P. 357- 
6 Pp. 365, 366. See also the Patriarch's letter of Aug. 17, 1908, p. 367. 
' Pp. 378-380. 


England for the same purpose. He has also a warm recommenda- 
tion from the Patriarchal Committee. 1 In his book you may see 
many strange things, including portraits of his mother-in-law and 
son, 2 of his wife and of himself in six varied and astonishing 
costumes, 3 but nothing that throws any light on the burning 
question what exactly he is. After mature examination of his 
collection of photographs, documents and infantile excursuses 
into Church history, I am reluctantly compelled to give up the 
Rev. Nestorius George Malech. But the possibility of so am- 
biguous a person as he throws a lurid light on the state of the 
present Nestorians. 

The attitude of the Anglican mission is no less ambiguous, but 
in a different way. Its beginnings were of the usual Protestant 
type. It proposed to educate and purify the Nestorians, without 
directly disturbing their organization. Mr. Badger was old- 
fashioned enough not to worry much about the Council of Ephesus. 
He loathes Popery, of course, and never fails to lay his finger on 
the wickedness of Uniates. Otherwise he seems to think the 
Nestorians very much like the Church of England, Catholic but 
not Roman, outwardly divided but one in spirit. His second 
volume examines the faith of the Nestorians in a way that must 
be gall and wormwood to the present missionaries. For he takes 
as his standard of universal orthodoxy the Thirty-nine Articles 
(of all things !), and tests the Nestorians, not unfavourably on the 
whole, by their agreement with these. For this he is scolded hard 
throughout the notes by Dr. Neale, 4 who, although for some 
reason he does not seem to mind Monophysites, 5 is very angry 
with the Nestorians. He is, naturally, hardly less angry with 
the Articles. So, between the two, poor Mr. Badger suffers 
in the notes. 6 But since Mr. Riley went out to rejuvenate the 
Anglican mission it has become very High Church indeed. The 

1 P. 386. 2 P. 381. 3 P. 359. 

4 He sent his book to be edited by Dr. Neale. 

5 E.g. Badger : The Nestorians and their Rituals, vol. hi., note 1, p. 403. 

6 For instance : vol. ii. p. 425, n. 25 : " Had Mr. Badger been more prac- 
tically acquainted with the Filioque controversy, perhaps he would have 
written this paragraph differently." Note 31 (ib.) : " It is rather strange 
to have the point of Nestorian heresy alleged in proof of the Twenty-first 
Article." Note 14 (ib. p. 424) : " The flat downright heresy of this passage 
is well worthy notice." 


missionaries now have vestments, daily celebrations, and so on. 
This makes their attitude towards the Nestorians all the more 
difficult to understand. They are not in communion with them ; x 
but short of that they go every possible length. They make no 
converts. Their little paper 2 is never tired of insisting on this. 
They are very angry with the Roman missionaries who do make 
converts ; they talk of the Uniates as schismatics from their 
lawful Patriarch. The Anglicans print books for use in Nestorian 
churches, they educate future Nestorian clergy, and teach their 
pupils the duty of obeying Mar Shim'un. They are always at 
hand to counsel, encourage and support the Patriarch. Naturally 
this attitude is pleasant to the Nestorians ; the Anglicans are on 
the best possible terms with Mar Shim'un and his clergy. Only — 
how is it possible thus to co-operate with a heretical sect ? If 
they thought the Nestorians one more branch of the Catholic 
Church, a branch long neglected, so now backward and in need of 
reform, their attitude would be most natural and right. But 
how can they think this ? The Nestorians formally reject the 
fourth general council and honour Nestorius among the saints. 
If that does not make a body heretical, what does ? Surely even 
a moderate Anglican accepts at least the first four general councils. 
How can these extreme High Churchmen so cavalierly ignore the 
fourth ? Would they thus co-operate with Calvinists or Method- 
ists ? And is it not, from their own point of view, the duty of 
each Nestorian to leave his heretical sect and join one of the true 
branches of the Church, even by becoming a Uniate ? 

The Anglican answer to this is curious and typical. They say 
first that they have the blessing and approval of the Orthodox 
Patriarch of Antioch, 3 to whose obedience these Nestorians should 
return ; secondly, that they labour for that return. They do not 
print any heretical matter in the books they supply, 4 nor do they 

1 This point is quite clear. See Riley's Report, p. 12, n. 1. 

2 A ssyrian Mission Quarterly Paper (London, Church House and S.P.C.K.), 
since 1890. The Rev. F. N. Heazell and Mrs. Margoliouth have edited a 
selection of extracts from this: Kurds and Christians (London, 1913). See 
here, p. 22 : " We are not, as they feared, only another and better sort of 

3 See the correspondence in A. Riley : op. cit. pp. 25-28. 

4 This is a curious point. Apparently the Nestorians who know this fill 
in the omitted passages by hand. But the names of Nestorius, Bar Sauma, 


teach heresy in their schools. Lastly, they are much inclined to 
find the " Assyrian Church " x not guilty of Nest onanism. Dr. 
W. A. Wigram, of this mission, distinguishes himself in this direc- 
tion, and has written a book to defend the " Assyrians " from 
heresy. 2 To this the retort is obvious. The attitude of the 
Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, if in his heart he really approves 
of the Anglican mission, 3 is only one more case of the usual 
Orthodox inconsistency. His religion does not allow him to look 
upon Mar Shim'un as anything but the heretical leader of a 
heretical sect ; his co-religionists of Russia are at this very 
moment attacking the problem in the only possible way 
(according to Orthodox principles), by making converts from 
Nestorian to Orthodoxy. And in any case the Patriarch of 
Antioch can no more make co-operation with a heretical 
sect lawful than can anyone else. That the Anglicans do not 
print heretical matter for the Nestorians is, so far, good ; 
it would be still worse if they did. But this is not enough to 
justify all they do. Once you admit that the Nestorian Church 
(or " Assyrian " Church) is a heretical sect (and how can anyone 
who acknowledges the Council of Ephesus do otherwise ?), it is 
wrong to co-operate with it in sacris at all. It has no rights as 
a religious body ; its Patriarch and bishops have no lawful juris- 
diction, no claim to anyone's loyalty or obedience. Each member 
should come out of his sect into the Catholic Church 4 at once. 
To encourage them to stay where they are, in the hope that some 
day the whole body may be converted, is to do evil that good 
may come of it— the very thing of which they so often and so 
falsely accuse us. Once more, what would these High Churchmen 
say to other Anglicans who co-operated thus with Congregation- 

and other heretics are printed in Brightman's edition of the Liturgy 
(Eastern Liturgies, 278-279). 

1 I have commented on this odd name, now nearly always used by the 
Anglican missionaries, at p. 7. 

2 The Doctrinal Position of the Assyrian Church (S.P.C.K., 1908). 

3 The Anglican recommendation comes from Gerasimos of Antioch (after- 
wards of Jerusalem, f 1897). I do not know how far the present Arab 
Patriarch, Gregory VII, approves of what his Greek predecessor did. 

4 " Catholic Church," of course, in some Anglican sense. We do not 
expect Anglicans to act on our theory ; but one may surely expect them 
to act on their own. 


alists or Baptists. 1 Perhaps the root of the ambiguous position 
of the Anglican missionaries is their (typically Anglican) neglect 
of any idea of jurisdiction. Apart from the question of Mar 
Shim'un's faith, they should consider a plain question : Has he, 
or has he not, any lawful jurisdiction from God ? As head of a 
schismatical sect, outside the Church of Christ (on their own 
theory), of course he has not. Then he has no lawful authority, 
no one is bound in conscience to obey him, and it is wrong in any 
way to assist his usurped pretensions. The Orthodox, of course, 
would say this plainly. As for the heresy of the " Assyrians," we 
have already discussed that (pp. 81-84). A Church which offici- 
ally repudiates the decrees of Ephesus, which glories in its fidelity 
to the theology of Nestorius and counts him among its saints, is 
heretical, although, no doubt, many simple souls in it do not 
understand much about that old controversy. Strangest of all, 
perhaps, is the hostility of these Anglican missionaries towards 
the Uniate Chaldees. 2 That they do not like our making converts 
from Anglicanism or Orthodoxy is natural enough. But they 
should rejoice in the Chaldees as much as in Roman Catholic 
converts from Lutheranism or Calvinism. The Chaldee abjures 
Nestorius, accepts Ephesus, and (on Anglican principles) leaves 
a heretical sect to enter the Catholic Church, in its largest branch. 
Is not this a good thing for him ? When we consider further that 
the Chaldees have the original Patriarchal line, that Mar Shim'un 
represents merely an (originally Romanist) schismatical line (p. 102) , 
the Anglican talk about Chaldees as schismatics becomes quite 
unintelligible. Except, of course, on the basis (so often assumed 
by Protestants of all kinds) that you had better be anything, even 
a Nestorian heretic, than be in union with the Pope of Rome. 3 

1 Their answer to this is very typical. They say : " But Protestant 
Dissenters have no bishops " It is the curious Anglican idea that to have 
a bishop makes a sect all right, or nearly all right. The Arians had bishops. 
Would they think it lawful to co-operate with an Arian sect ? 

2 They are nearly as cross with the Orthodox converts. They talk about 
the " Russian schism " in Persia, and rejoice to find " signs of repentance " 
among those who turned Orthodox. They contrast with the " schism " 
the " old Church," meaning the Nestorians (Kurds and Christians, p. 153). 
Do they really think that sect older than the Orthodox Church ? 

3 This curious attitude seems characteristic of High Anglicans. Mr. 
Parry was sent on a mission to the Jacobites in 1892 (p. 335). He knows 


But one would not leave the Anglican mission without noticing 
its other side. It would be ungenerous to ignore that, in 
spite of the confusion of their position, they are doing enormous 
good. These missionaries devote their lives heroically to the 
difficult task of educating fellow-Christians in a distant, ungrate- 
ful land. From our point of view, we should say that, short of 
becoming Chaldees, the Nestorians can do no better than profit 
by the instruction, accept the guidance, follow the edifying 
example of their generous Anglican guests. We, too, may wish 
the Anglican mission God-speed in its noble work, with the 
additional wish that their instructions may open Nestorian eyes 
even more than they themselves intend ; so that their pupils may 
at last seek reunion, not with the Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, 
but with a greater Patriarch, whose authority reaches further 
and is more firmly based. For it was not on the bishops of Ceru- 
larius's schism that Christ built his Church. 

2. The Nestorian Hierarchy 

The consideration of modern missions to this ancient Church 
has led us somewhat from our immediate subject. We have now 
to describe the Nestorians as they are at present. The first point 
seems to be obviously their numbers and organization under their 

The Nestorians to-day fall into two main classes : those who live 
in Persia, and those in the Turkish Empire. In Persia there are 
groups and villages of Nestorians scattered about the Province 
of Aserbaijan, 1 mostly in the plains bordering Lake Urmi ; there 
are others in the mountains towards the Turkish frontier. In 
Turkey they are found mostly in the Vilayet of Van. These, 

that " intercommunion with a Church excommunicated by the Holy 
Orthodox Church is for us out of the question, until the faith as expounded 
at Chalcedon be formally acknowledged by her " (Six Months in a Syrian 
Monastery, London, 1895, p. 312). Yet he abhors the Uniates, says they 
"cannot be considered but in the light of a schismatic body " (ib. 130), and 
always calls the Jacobites the " old Church " (e.g. p. 208). One wonders 
whether, if a Methodist joined the Church of England, Mr. Parry would 
consider that he left the old Church to join a schismatic body. 

1 Adarbaigan. Most of these appear to have gone over lately to the 
Russian Church (p. 119). I do not know how many have yet come back. 


again, fall into two classes. Those in the mountains are called 
'ashirah (tribe). 1 They consist of families, said to be courageous 


(From a photograph by the Rev. F. N. Heazell.) 

and warlike, in the mountain fastnesses, practically independent 
of the Turkish Government — for the usual reason, because the 
Government cannot get at them. They flourish and fight Kurds 
in the wild country where the great Zab takes its rise between the 
lakes Van and Urmi (Tiari and Thuma), pay taxes very irregu- 
larly, and really obey only Mar Shim'un. The other group is 
that of the ordinary raiyyah in the open country, more accessible 
to the Government, and so very much more miserable in every 
way. A triangle between Lake Van, Lake Urmi and almost 
down to Mosul encloses the home of the present Nestorians. Its 
centre is the village Kudshanis, where dwells the Patriarch. South 
of this triangle we come to the plains around Mosul and Bagdad, 
now inhabited chiefly by the Uniate Chaldees. The distinction 
of religion is not, of course, entirely geographical. There are a 
few Nestorians at Mosul, in Persian towns, Armenia, perhaps at 
Urfah and Diyarbakr ; but these are, so to say, strangers in a 
foreign land, just as there are some in America. 

1 From the root 'aSar (Arabic : " ten "), a group of ten families. 


The total number of the Nestorians is estimated variously. 
Statistics in both Turkey and Persia are generally mere guesses. 
In any case, it is now only a small remnant. The largest number 
I find is given by Silbernagl, iso^oo, 1 the smallest 70,ooo. 2 
Cuinet, who is generally sound, gives ioo,ooo. 3 What do these 
people call themselves ? It is generally difficult to find the 
technical name used by the smaller Eastern Churches for them- 
selves, because so often they have none, calling themselves simply 
" Christians," or some such indefinite title. Most Nestorians if 
asked what they are would say simply Mshihdye (Christian), or 
Surydne (Syrian) , both of which names they also give to the Jacob- 
ites. Often they distinguish themselves from us and the Ortho- 
dox as " Christians of the East." But they have not the smallest 
objection to the name " Nestorian." Mar 'Ebedyeshu', Metro- 
politan of Nisibis, in 1298 drew up a profession of faith, 4 which 
he calls "The Orthodox Creed of the Nestorians." 5 He dates 
it at the end as written in September " in the year of Alexander, 
1609, in the blessed city of Hlat, in the church of the blessed 
Nestorians." 6 He makes a list of Church books (mentioning the 
"false" Synod of Ephesus), 7 written (he says) by "Nestorian 
divines." 8 Nor has their custom changed since his time. Mr. 
Badger heard these people call themselves Surydne, Nesturyane, 
Kristyane, Mshihdye ; but never Haldaye (Chaldee), which is the 
recognized name for the Uniates. Lately a student at the Angli- 
can mission-school shocked his teachers by writing in an essay on 
his people the statement : " The Syrians have taken their religion 
from Mar Nestoris." 9 So it seems that if one were to ask one of 
these people whether he be a Nestorian, he would answer quite 
simply that he is. No doubt the more educated would say that 
their religion is that of Christ and his Apostles, as taught and 

1 Verfassung, u.s.w., p. 268. 

2 Herzog and Hauck : Prot. Realenz. (article by Petermann and Kessler), 
vol. xiii. p. 733. 

3 Namely, 10,000 in Persia, 40,000 Turkish "rayahs," 50,000 'ashirah 
Nestorians (La Turquie d'Asie, Paris, 1892, vol. ii. p. 650). The Anglican 
mission agrees with this (Kurds and Christians, p. 12). 

4 In Badger, op. cit. ii. pp. 49-51. 5 lb. p. 49. 

6 Op. cit. i. 178. 7 ii. 378. 8 j # I7 8. 

9 Maclean and Browne : The Catholicos of the East, p. 150. 


defended by the blessed Nestorius — which is, of course, what every 
heretic says about the founder of his sect. 1 

Over these people reigns the Katholikos and Patriarch, Mar 
Shim'un. He is their ecclesiastical chief and practically their 
civil chief too ; that is to say, he is the only person they obey 
willingly and loyally in all things. The Turkish governors (Wali 
and Ka'immakam) , of course, claim political authority over the 
Nestorians, as over all rayahs, and use it when they can ; but 
generally they have to count with Mar Shim'un. The Nestorian 
goes to his Patriarch to have his disputes settled. The Patriarch 
rules thus by virtue of public opinion ; his excommunication 
entails a general boycott and is much dreaded. 2 Mar Shim'un is, 
then, the recognized ra'is (civil head) of his "nation"; 3 the 
Turkish Government pays him an annual subsidy ; 4 it is not true 
that he does not receive a berat from the Turkish Government, 5 
though in troubled times no doubt it arrived irregularly. Under 
him are the chiefs of tribes, 6 who have civil authority each over 
his own group. 

Mar Shim'un, then, claims to represent the old line of Persian 
Katholikoi of Seleucia-Ctesiphon from Mari and Papa Bar Aggai 
(p. 102). His claim is not true. Really he represents the line 
of Patriarchs founded by Sulaka, originally Uniate. The old line 
is that of the present Uniate Patriarch. Logically, then, it 
should be said that the old Nestorian Persian Church (repre- 
sented by her hierarchy) is now Uniate, that Mar Shim'un 
is head of a schism from that Church which has gone back to 
Nestorianism. This is what anyone would admit, were no con- 
troversial issue at stake. But since the roles of the lines of Sulaka 
and of Bar Mama have now become so curiously reversed, non- 
Catholics ignore their origin, treat Mar Shim'un as head of the old 

1 So the Danish Lutherans in their commission to N. G. Malech tell him 
to " preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in accordance with the doctrines of 
the Evangelical Lutheran Church " (p. 121). 

2 Badger : op. cit. i. p. 259. 

3 The millah (millet) of the Nestorians. 

4 Maclean and Browne : op. cit. 188. 

5 Bard' ah, the diploma recognizing the Patriarch, and giving him author- 
ity from the State. See Silbernagl : Verfassung u. gegenw. Bestand. p. 249. 
I have seen a photograph of the present Patriarch's berat. 

6 Called in Syriac malka, Arabic malik. 



Persian (or " Assyrian ") Church, and the real old Church as 
schismatic, because it is not in communion with him. 

The Nestorian Patriarchate has again fallen into the great abuse 
of this sect ; it is hereditary. There is a " Patriarchal family," 
as there are families of bishops — the " holders of the throne." 1 
As bishops must be celibate, this means that they keep several 
nephews 2 in their house, from whom their successor will be chosen. 
The bishop may never eat flesh-meat, nor have eaten meat ; nor 
may his mother have done so during her time of pregnancy. 
Clearly, then, the choice of a bishop may only fall on one of these 
Nazarites, whose lives (and for a time those of their mothers) have 
been arranged to prepare for election. 3 The Nazarites who are 
not elected then often begin eating flesh-meat, marry, and so are 
disqualified for the episcopate. When the Patriarch dies, the 
notables elect one of the Patriarchal family, often a very young 
man, or even a child, to succeed him. 4 He is then consecrated and 
enthroned by the Metropolitan (p. 132). Now that he lives at 
Kudshanis, this takes place in the Patriarchal Church of Mar 
Shalita. 5 As in the case of many Eastern Churches, the form of 
making a Patriarch is, to all intents and purposes, an ordination, 
though the candidate is first ordained bishop. In their descrip- 
tions of the hierarchy they count the Patriarch distinct from a 
bishop, apparently in the same sense as a bishop is distinct from 
a priest (p. 134). Now the Patriarch-Katholikos always takes 
the name Simon and becomes Mar Shim'un. He is the supreme 
authority over all Nestorians. In theory he can only be judged 
by his " brother Patriarchs " ; but as he now has none who 
recognize him, 6 this means that no one can judge him. But he 

1 Arab.: ndtir cdkursi; Syr.: ndturd kursya (modern = ndtir kursi), 
*' guardian of the throne." 

2 Called also Nazarites (nsiri). 

3 However, this principle is not observed strictly. It seems that, in 
practice, abstinence for some time before ordination is considered sufficient 
(Dr. Wigram). 

4 Sometimes the Patriarch chooses his own successor. The late Patriarch 
chose the present one a fortnight before his own death. 

6 St. Artemius, martyr under Julian in 361 ; Nilles : Kalendarium 
manuale, i. 304. A plan of this church is given at p. 146. 

The Nestorian theory is that there are five Patriarchates :' Rome, 
Alexandria, Ephesus (since moved to Constantinople), Antioch, Seleucia- 
Ctesiphon — not Jerusalem (Maclean and Browne : op. cit. 189). How 


must rule the Church according to the canons (see p. 135). If 
he does not do so, presumably this would be considered a just 
reason for withstanding his orders, or perhaps even for deposing 
him. 1 Mar Shim'un has a large diocese of his own. 2 He has the 
right to ordain, translate, and depose all other Nestorian bishops. 
If the Metropolitan (p. 132) ordains a bishop, a further ceremony, 
very like a second ordination, must be performed by the Patriarch. 
The Patriarch may further ordain a priest for any diocese ; he 
alone consecrates the holy chrism (every seven years) , and blesses 
the antimensia. 3 He can make canon and liturgical laws, he 
censures books, and is named in all public prayers. His income 
consists of a tax of about threepence, levied every three years from 
all men who obey him, the first-fruits (in kind) of his own diocese 
and a tithe of the first-fruits of other bishops, fines often imposed 
instead of excommunication, free gifts (sometimes of a consider- 
able amount) made by the notables, 4 and the Turkish subsidy. 5 
His title is : " The reverend and honoured father of fathers and 
great shepherd, Mar Shim'un, Patriarch and Katholikos of the 
East." 6 He uses his own Christian name before " Shim'un " at 
the head of his letters. His seal bears in the middle the inscrip- 
tion : " The lowly Simon (Shim'un), Patriarch of the East," and 
around : " Mar Shim'un, who sits on the throne of the Apostle 
Addai." 7 The last Patriarch, Ruwil (for Rubil = Ruben) , died on 
March 29, 1903. A fortnight before (March 15) he had appointed 
his nephew Benjamin (Benyamin) to succeed him, and had or- 
dained him bishop. On April 12, the metropolitan, Mar Hnan- 
yeshu' ordained Benjamin Patriarch. There had been a good deal 
of dispute and intrigue about the succession. A cousin, Mar 

impossible this is will be seen from Orth. Eastern Church, chap, i., and from 
the account of the original position of their Katholikos. On no historical 
basis is he a Patriarch at all. 

1 Possibly by a synod of all the bishops. But such a measure would be 
a revolution, for which it is always impossible to draw up rules. It would 
almost certainly cause a schism. 

2 See at Kudshanis, including most of the " tribal " Nestorians ; Maclean 
and Browne, p. 195. 

3 The cloth with relics used by Nestorians as a portable altar, as it is by 
the Orthodox and all Eastern Churches (Orth. Eastern Church, p. 409). 

4 Silbernagl : ib. 262. 5 He receives ^100 a year from the Anglicans. 

6 Maclean and Browne : op. cit. 185 ; see also the longer title, ib. 

7 Silbernagl : p. 261. 


Abraham, had been appointed successor formerly, and he had 
many adherents, chiefly among the Nestorians of the plains. It 
was the 'Ashlrah people who made the old Patriarch change and 
appoint Benjamin. 1 Mar Benyamm Shim'un is now only twenty- 
seven years old. He became Patriarch at the age of seventeen. 

There is now only one Metropolitan (called Matran), who ranks 
as second after the Patriarch. He is always Mar Hnanyeshu'. 2 
He has a diocese partly in Turkey and partly in Persia. 3 He has 
the right of ordaining the Patriarch, and assists him in his govern- 
ment. The present Metropolitan (Isaac by baptism), a very old 
man, is greatly respected and has much influence. He resides at 
Neri, on the Turkish side of the frontier. Besides the Patriarch 
and the Metropolitan, the Nestorians have seven bishops in 
Turkey and three in Persia, of whom several have only nominal 
dioceses. Moreover, the limits of the dioceses often change and 
appear to be very uncertain. 4 The dioceses in the plain of Urmi 
follow the course of the rivers, so that to belong to a certain river 
means to belong to the corresponding diocese. The succession of 
bishops is arranged usually like that of the Patriarch. There are 
" holders of the throne" (nephews or cousins of the bishop) brought 
up specially, abstaining always from flesh-meat, one of whom is 
chosen by the leading clergy and the notables of the diocese to 
succeed, and is then presented to Mar Shim'un for ordination. 
But this arrangement, involving a kind of heredity in certain epis- 
copal families, is not according to the Nestorian canon law. Old 
custom demanded that bishops should be monks, and laws forbade 
a bishop to nominate his successor. But there are now practically 
no monks. The hereditary principle grew up as an abuse about 
three or four centuries ago. 5 It still sometimes happens that, when 
there is no " holder of the throne " who can be ordained, a priest, 
no relation of the last bishop, is chosen. One of the many bad 

1 See Echos d' Orient, vii. (1904), pp. 290-292. Mar Abraham became a 

2 " Mercy of Jesus." 3 Shamsdin in Turkey and two plains in Persia. 

4 Two lists of bishops and sees (not agreeing) will be found in Silbernagl : 
Verfassung u. gegenw. Bestand. p. 267, and in Maclean and Browne : The 
Catholicos of the East, 195-197. It appears that the custom of a special 
name for each line of bishops (like Simon for the Patriarchate) is common 
to most sees. 

* Among the Uniate Chaldees it is severely discouraged (see p. 101). 



(From a photograph by the Rev. F. N. Heazell.) 


results of the common practice is that boys, twelve years old or less, 
are chosen as bishops. 1 All Nestorian bishops (Efiskufa) must 
now be celibate. 2 But priests and all the lower clergy (except, 
of course, monks) may not only be married, but may marry several 
wives in succession, and may do so after ordination. This prin- 
ciple, held by the Nestorians alone among Eastern Churches, is a 
remnant of the old bad days when, under Mazdaean influence, 
they had discarded celibacy altogether. 

The parish priest (kahna, kashlsha, kasha) is chosen by the 
community, and must be accepted and ordained by the bishop. 
Under the bishop the Archpriest (rab kumre) counts as first in 
the diocese. In the bishop's absence he replaces him at certain 
functions. Chorepiscopi (called sa'aure, " visitors ") are not 
ordained bishop. They are priests having jurisdiction over a 
group of country parishes, whose clergy they assemble twice a 
year for examination and direction. The Archpriest is merely 
the Chorepiscopus of the city. The Archdeacon (arkidyakuna) 
looks after the bishop's finances, and acts as a kind of Vicar- 
General for the diocese. Under the priest come the deacon 
(shamasha, dyakna), the subdeacon (hufadyakna), and the reader 
(karuya, amura). The shahara. ("awakener") is the clerk (often a 
reader or an old priest) who presides at the night-office, and some- 
times at funerals. 

The Nestorians says that their hierarchy corresponds to the 
nine choirs of angels, thus : i, Patriarch (= Cherub) ; 2, Metro- 
politan (= Seraph) ; 3, Bishop (= Throne) ; 4, Archpriest ( — Domi- 
nion) ; 5, Chorepiscopus (= Virtue) ; 6, Priest ( — Power) ; 7, 
Deacon ( = Principality) ; 8, Subdeacon (= Archangel) ; 9, Reader 
(= Angel). 3 A curious point about these orders of the hierarchy 
is that each is attained by a special ordination form, with laying- 
on of hands. A priest who becomes a chorepiscopus, a deacon 
who becomes an archdeacon, is ordained, just as a priest who 
becomes a bishop. We should, of course, say that the making of 

1 The Natir Kursi of Mar Hnanyeshu' is a boy of seventeen, named 
Joseph (Kurds and Christians, p. 188). 

2 For the election, ordination, and rights of bishops see Silbernagl : op. 
cit, 262-266. 

3 See the Jewel or Pearl (margantihd) of 'Ebedyeshu' ot Nisibis (1298), 
translated by Badger ■ The Nestorians and their Rituals, ii. p. 403. 


a deacon, a priest, a bishop is the Sacrament of Holy Orders ; 
that the other ceremonies are only sacrament als, blessings at the 
appointment, like our minor orders. But this distinction does 
not appear to be very clear to Nestorians. A ceremony sus- 
piciously like reordination, for instance, is appointed for a bishop 
who becomes Patriarch. 

At one time monasticism flourished among the Nestorians (p. 
no) ; ruins of their monasteries may be seen all over the plain of 
Mosul. None are now inhabited. The monastic life fell to pieces 
since the 14th century, especially because of the characteristic Nes- 
torian prejudice against celibacy. Since the 14th century they 
admit a very easy dispensation from vows of celibacy, by which a 
monk can marry and return to the world. 1 Nor have they any 
longer convents of nuns. But a few hermits exist in Kurdistan, who 
live alone, under obedience to the nearest parish priest. There are 
also a few pious unmarried women, living with their relations, and 
occupied with good works. These take a vow of celibacy (always 
with the possibility of easy dispensation). The only monastery 
of this rite is the Uniate one of Rabban Hurmizd. 2 

All these persons (and the laity too) are governed in Church 
matters by canon law. Nestorian canon law is taken from 
three main sources. First are the " Western Synods," namely, 
such synods held in the empire before their schism as they 
recognize. Among these they count a number held against the 
Arians — Neo-Caesarea in 314, Nicsea in 325, Antioch in encceniis 
(341), Ancyra in 358, and others. Marutha of Maiferkat made a 
collection of these in 410. Later the disciplinary canons of Chal- 
cedon (451) were added to them. Some of the acts of Western 
Synods are generally added to later Nestorian collections. The 
second main source is the collection of synods held by Katholikoi 
of Seleucia-Ctesiphon down to the 8th century. These are the 
" Eastern Synods." An unknown Nestorian collected these 
between the years 775 and 790. Oskar Braun published the col- 
lection in 1900 in a German translation. 3 Later J. B. Chabot 

1 Canon of 'Ebedyeshu', II. n, quoted by Silbernagl : Verfassung, u.s.w., 
p. 272, n. 6. 

2 For Nestorian monks and nuns see Silbernagl : op. cit. 271-273. 

3 O. Braun : Das Buck der Synhados, Stuttgart and Vienna. 1900. 


published a more satisfactory edition in Syriac with a French 
version. 1 The book begins with the Synod of Mar Isaac in 410, 
and ends with a Synod of Hnanyeshu' II in 775. An appendix 
adds the Synod of Timothy I in 790. This book of the Sun- 
hadaus is the chief source of their canon law. The third source 
consists of all canons and laws made by Patriarchs and synods 
since the 8th century. These have not been codified authenti- 
cally. In the 13th century, Barhebraeus made an important 
collection of Jacobite canon law. 2 Fired by this example, 
'Ebedyeshu' Bar Barlka, 3 Metropolitan of Nisibis (f 13 18), 
undertook the same office for the Nestorians. So he compiled 
a text-book from the three sources described above. This is 
the Nomocanon of Ebedjesus, the completest collection of 
Nestorian canon law. 4 He quotes his sources, but is not always 
reliable, inasmuch as he sometimes tampers with the texts. 5 

3. The Faith of the Nestorians 

The modern Nestorians have kept the faith of their fathers 
(since they first accepted their heresy) amid Moslems, Kurds, 
Yazidis loyally. For this they deserve all honour. We should 
wonder at it the more, were it not the common phenomenon 
among all these smaller Eastern Churches. Their conservatism, 
their fidelity to their traditions in all things, is their most remark- 
able characteristic. 

Of the Nestorian faith, then, not much need be said. We have 
little against it, save the one point of their heresy as to our Lord's 

1 J. B. Chabot : Synodicon oriental e (Notices et Extraits des MSS. de la 
Bibl. Nat. xxxvii.), Paris, 1902. It is printed from a MS. written at the 
monastery of Raban Hurmlzd for the Uniate Patriarch Mar 'Ebedyeshu' 
Hayath, and given by him to the Bibliotheque Nationale, where it is 
No. 332. 

2 See p. 330. 

3 Commonly called Ebedjesus ; an analysis of his Nomocan is given by 
Assemani : Bibl. Orient, hi. pt. i. pp. 332-351. 

4 The Nomocanon or Liber Directionum is published by Angelo Mai in his 
Scriptorum veterum nova collectio, torn, x., in a Latin version made by 
Aloysius Assemani. Assemani gives an epitome of it in the Bibliotheca 
Orientalis, iii. pars. i. pp. 332-351. 

6 For other collections of Nestorian canon law see Duval : Litterature 
syriaaue, T71-183 ; Chabot : Synodicon orientate, 14-15. 


person. They use in their liturgy the Creed of Nicaea-Constanti- 
nople, with verbal changes of no importance, 1 and understand it 
all (save the one point how the Son of God became man) as we do. 
This one point has been explained at some length already (pp. 82- 
86). They believe that'there are in Christ two natures (kydne), 
two hypostases (knume) and one prosopon (parsufd) of union. 
They reject the Council of Ephesus, declare that they stand for 
the teaching of Nestorius, count him among their saints (p. 84), 
and always refuse to our Lady her title Theot6kos. They anathe- 
matize Cyril of Alexandria and those who agree with him. There- 
in lies their heresy. 2 Further, they seem to be involved in some- 
thing like the Iconoclast heresy. They have no holy pictures in 
their churches or houses, and they abhor the idea of a holy 
picture. 3 This seems to be a fairly modern development, perhaps 
under Moslem influence. There are in Uniate Churches around 
Mosul paintings of saints and angels, made by native artists long 
before the union. 4 But all Nestorians have a profound veneration 
for the Cross. They put crosses (not crucifixes) in their churches, 
on their monuments and documents, and treat these crosses with 
enormous respect. 5 They admit the Deuterocanonical books of 
Scripture, 6 grace, freewill, the value of good works. 7 They pray 
much for the dead and give alms for them ; though they are 

1 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, 270-271 ; Wigram : The Assyrian 
Church, 290-293. 

2 Their service on the feast of the " Greek Doctors " (the fifth Friday- 
after Epiphany) contains these anathemas : " Woe and woe again to all 
who say that God died . . . who say that Mary is the mother of God . . . 
who do not confess in Christ two natures, two persons (hypostases), and 
one parsopa of filiation. Woe and woe again to the wicked Cyril and 
Severus " (Badger : op. cit. ii. 80). Plainly these people cannot be acquitted 
of heresy. Mar Hnanyeshu' is now prepared to drop the anathemas {Kurds 
and Christians , p. 189). 

3 Mr. Ainsworth tells the story of a crucifix shown to the Patriarch by a 
Catholic missionary. The Patriarch was filled with horror, cried out : 
" Oh the infidels ! the blasphemers ! " and said it could only be the work of 
Jews, who wished to mock Christ's agony {Travels and Researches in Asia 
Minor, ii. p. 249). 

4 A. d'Avril : La Chaldee chrHienne, p. 14. 

5 Badger : op. cit. 132-136. 6 Badger : op. cit. ii. 82-88. 

7 lb. 98-110. No Eastern Church has any trace of Calvinism. If any- 
thing, they err in the direction of semi-Pelagian ism. See Orth. Eastern 
Church, pp. 252-253. 


quite willing to assure their Anglican benefactors that they do not 
hold with the Pope about Purgatory. 1 They honour relics and 
use dust from the tombs of saints (called hndna, " grace ") as a 
kind of charm. 2 They invoke our Lady and other saints con- 
stantly in their liturgy and prayers. They are (like most Easterns) 
rather vague as to the number of the Sacraments, inasmuch as 
they have not yet conceived a special class of rites distinct from 
the large number of what we call Sacramentals. Joseph Assemani 
thought that they have only three real Sacraments : Baptism, 
Holy Eucharist, Holy Orders. But they hold the number seven, 
though (like the Orthodox at one time) they are not quite sure 
which the seven are. The Nestorian Patriarch Timothy II (1318- 
1360) gave as the seven Sacraments : (1) Holy Orders ; (2) the 
consecration of a church and altar ; (3) Baptism and Holy Oil 
( = Confirmation) ; (4) the holy Sacrament of the Body and 
Blood ; (5) the blessing of monks ; (6) the Office for the Dead ; 
(7) Marriage. Then he adds as a supplement : " Indulgence, or 
penance and the forgiving of sins." 3 Mr. Badger says that they 
now " generally allow " : (1) Orders ; (2) Baptism ; (3) the Oil of 
Unction ; (4) the Oblation of the Body and Blood of Christ ; (5) 
Absolution ; (6) the Holy Leaven ; (7) the Sign of the Cross. 4 
Putting these two lists together, we have all our seven Sacraments, 
with some additions, such as consecrating a church and the Holy 
Leaven (see p. 150). Their liturgical books have a form for 
confession and absolution, 5 but its use is now practically extinct 
among them. The modern Nestorian does not confess his sins ; 
I am told, 6 because the clergy cannot keep the seal. They 
believe the Holy Eucharist to be a commemorative sacrifice. 7 In 
their creed, of course, they have not the Filioque clause. They do 
not seem to have considered the question of the procession of the 
Holy Ghost much ; sometimes they deny the double procession. 8 

1 Making the usual mistake of thinking material fire in Purgatory part 
of the Roman faith (Badger : op. cit. 130-131). Their attitude seems to 
be exactly that of the Orthodox [Orth. Eastern Church, 388-390). 

2 Badger : ib. 137. 

3 Assemani: Bibl. Orient, hi. (1) 356 ; iii. (2), 240. 

4 Op. cit. ii. 150. 5 Ib. 155-159. 

6 By a former Anglican missionary. 7 Badger : op. cit. ii. 176. 

8 So 'Ebedyeshu' of Nisibis in his Jewel, part iii. chap. 4 (Badger : op. 
cit. ii. 399-400) — at least by implication. 


But Mr. Badger quotes Nestorian writers who say plainly that the 
Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. 1 With regard 
to what they hold about the Church, it is difficult to understand 
exactly their position. They certainly believe that they alone 
hold the true faith as to our Lord's nature and person — that all 
who did agree with them have fallen away on this point. They 
say so plainly ; they divide Christendom into three sects, the 
Monophysites, Melkites (including L ranks), and the "Easterns" 
(themselves), who alone " never changed their faith, but kept it as 
they received it from the Apostles." Both the other sects are 
refuted from the Bible. 2 So it would follow that all others are 
heretics, that the whole and only true Church of 'Christ is the tiny 
handful which obeys Mar Shim'un. Yet I doubt whether really 
they would have so magnificent a courage of their convictions. 
Probably, especially now under Anglican influence, they have 
evolved some cloudy kind of Branch theory — themselves being the 
purest branch. One wonders whether the American Presby- 
terians and the Danish Lutherans (with the ambiguous Nestorian 
archdeacon and Lutheran missionary Nestorius George Malech) 
are branches. And it would be very interesting to know what 
Mar Shim'un really thinks of the orthodoxy, orders and ecclesi- 
astical position of his Anglican advisers. 3 

Needless to say, Nestorians entirely reject the universal primacy 
and infallibility of the Pope, though they acknowledge him as 
first of the Patriarchs. 4 If they were consistent they could not 
give him even this honour, since he is steeped in Ephesian and 
monohypostatic error, being himself a mighty leader of EpTiesian 

Nestorian theology, then, in general, is only half developed and 
cloudy, as is that of all smaller Eastern Churches. The worst 

1 lb. ii. 79. Dr. Neale is very angry with this and will not admit it 
(p. 425, n. 25). Badger is an old-fashioned Anglican who takes the Thirty - 
nine Articles seriously ; so Neale falls foul of him each time, whether he says 
" the sacramental character of Penance is denied by the Church of England " 
(ii. 154), or whether he stands up for the Filioque because of Article V. 

2 Jewel, iii. 4-5 (ib. pp. 399-401). 

3 For Anglicans certainly accept Ephesus. As for Anglican orders, 
presumably Nestorians know nothing at all about them, except what they 
are told by Anglicans themselves. 

4 See p. 130, n. 6. 


fault of these pious mountaineers is a tendency to assure pro- 
miscuous Protestant visitors that at bottom they agree with them 
on all sorts of points. As so often happens, the danger of Roman 
propaganda, their fear and dislike of the Uniates, leads them to 
welcome alliance with anyone who is against the Pope, who 
assures them that he seeks not to turn them into enslaved Chaldees. 

4. Nestorian Rites 

Their rites and liturgy are perhaps the most interesting thing 
about the Nestorians. Certainly most of the interest which the 
West takes in this obscure little sect is because of its liturgy. For 
these people in their remote mountains still keep and use one of 
the great historic rites of Christendom. 

The East Syrian rite evolved in Edessa before the 4th century. 
Saint Ephrem used and quotes it. 1 The Syriac (Jacobite) poet 
James of Srug (f 521) 2 and Philoxenos of Hierapolis (f 523) 3 
gave further information about the East Syrian rite of their 
time. Two fragments written in the 6th century in a Coptic 
monastery in Egypt (now in the British Museum) show an 
unexpected use of what is fundamentally the East Syrian rite 
in that country, 4 apparently by Nestorian colonies (p. 104). 

The origin of this rite is much discussed. Liturgies are not 
composed as original works at some definite date ; a new rite does 
not suddenly spring out of nothing. Their development is always 
gradual modification from an earlier form, till we come back to 
the original rite, fluid in details but uniform in type, of the first 
three centuries. 5 If we suppose the generally admitted principle 
that the origin of all Eastern rites is either Antioch or Alexandria, 

1 See Probst : Liturgie des tfen Jahrhunderts (Munster, 1893), pp. 308- 


2 Bishop of Batnan (Duval : Litter ature syriaque, 352-356). 

3 Also an ardent Jacobite. His name in Syriac is Aksnaya (Xenaias, see 
Duval: ib. 356-358). Hierapolis is Syriac Mabug, Arabic Manbig, on the 

4 A list of later writers from whom information about this rite may be 
gathered will be found in Brightman ; Eastern Liturgies, pp. lxxx-lxxxi. 

5 Liturgies develop by modification as do languages. They too have 
dialects and groups of related forms. See Fortescue : The Mass (Long- 
mans, 1912), chaps, i.-ii. 


we must count this one as (remotely) Antiochene. It certainly 
does not come from Egypt. Moreover, as opposed to the Alexan- 
drine group, it has Antiochene features, such as the litany-form 
of public prayer ; though the Intercession comes before the 
Consecration. 1 The Calendar, too, shows traces of Antiochene 
arrangement. On the other hand, if it is Antiochene, it is only 
remotely so. If originally it was the rite of Antioch 2 which 
came to Edessa, it evolved there into something very unlike its 
original form. The East Syrian rite lacks a great number of 
peculiarities which we associate with Antioch. So some writers 
do not see sufficient reason to class it under Antioch at all. 
It stands apart from the great liturgical group of Apostolic 
Constitutions VIII, St. James, the Jacobite, Byzantine, and 
Armenian rites ; and so they count it as forming a class of 
its own. 3 

This ancient Edessene or East Syrian rite then naturally 
spread to Persia 4 with the Edessene missionaries. It was 
used in the Persian Church, and then by all Nestorians. It is 
their speciality ; while Jacobites have the liturgy of Jerusalem- 
Antioch, and the Orthodox since the 13th century that of 
Constantin ople. 5 

The books used in this rite have not all been translated. The 
holy liturgy in the strict sense (the Eucharistic service) is natur- 
ally what has most been studied. There are many versions and 
editions of this (p. 151, n. 4). Of the other functions only frag- 
ments can be read in a European language. 

The services of the East Syrian rite are first the Divine Office 
(the Canonical Hours), which should be said daily in ev>. ry church. 
They are Ramshd (dra?nshd=" at evening") corresponding to 

1 Just before the anaphora. The Antiochene place is after the Consecration. 

2 In any case before the development of Antioch-Jerusalem represented 
by St. James's liturgy (The Mass, pp. 80-84). 

3 So Baumstark : Die Messe im Morgenland (Kempten and Munich, 
1906), 48-52. Renaudot thinks that the reason why Nestorians did not 
keep the Antiochene rite is that their sect was not formed of native Syrians 
so much as of fugitives from all parts of the empire, who gathered at Edessa 
and then in Persia (Lit. Orient. Coll. ii. pp. ii-iii). 

4 Brightman calls it " the Persian rite " (Eastern Liturgies, 245-305). 

5 The Uniate Chaldees, of course, have the same rite (corrected) as the 


our Vespers x or to the Byzantine ' eo-Tteptvov, sung just after sunset. 
Then comes the Subd'd (" perfecting"), Compline or dTroSewrvov. 
This is now sung only during the great Lent, at the " Fast of the 
Ninevites " (p. 148), and on certain vigils, when it is joined to 
Ramsha. The night-office (Nocturns, ^ctovvktlov) is Sluthd 
dlilyd (" prayer at night ") ; then comes Shahrd (vigil), to be sung 
at dawn (Lauds, opOpos). The first day-prayer is Sluthd dsafrd 
(" morning-prayer," our Prime). As a matter of fact, the night- 
office is now rarely said. Shahra and Slutha dsafra are joined 
together as the morning prayer, and the Slutha dlilya, if said at 
all, is also joined to this. There are, then, in practice two prayers 
in the day — at morning and evening. The people are summoned 
to these by the sound of a wooden Semantron, 2 and attend very 
religiously at the public morning and evening prayers. 3 The 
other services are, of course, first of all the holy liturgy ; then 
baptism, ordination, marriage and other sacraments, funerals, 
the consecration of churches, and various blessings, sacramentals 
and so on. 

The books in which these rites may be found are many and 
confused. It is a result of the archaic state of the Nestorian 
Church that its books have not yet been codified and arranged 
in an ordered scheme. There are, as a matter of fact, various 
alternative collections of prayers and services which overlap ; so 
that the same matter may be found in different books. In this 
primitive state of liturgical books there does not seem any reason 
why a man should not write out the prayers of any collection of 
services he likes and call it by some suitable name. The usual 
books are : for the holy liturgy the Taksd (t<x£is) 4 of the liturgies. 
With this are often bound up the Taksd d'mddd (rite of baptism), 
the Taksd dsydmldd 5 (rite of ordination), and other services, to 
make a book corresponding to the Byzantine tvxoXoyiov. 6 The 

1 As in all Eastern rites, the liturgical day begins with its first vespers. 

2 A piece of wood struck with a hammer ; now being supplanted by bells 
copied from Russia (Maclean and Browne : The Catholicos of the East, p. 213). 

3 For the composition of these services see below, p. 149. 

4 Taksa is a general name for the order of any service, as we say Ritus. 
So there is the Taksa of baptism {ritus baptismi), and so on. 

5 Sydm tdd, imposition of hands. 

6 So the Chaldaean (Uniate) book is : Taksd drdzd 'am nekpaydthd (the 
Book of the Mystery with continuations) , 


deacon's part of the service is sometimes written in a separate 
book (Shamashutha, Smkovikov) . The lessons are contained in 
three books ; the Kerydnd (" readings ") contain the Old Testa- 
ment and Acts, the Ewangeliyun, the Gospels, and the Shllhd 
(" Apostle "), the Epistles of St. Paul. The Choir uses the Dauidd 
(Psalter), the Hudrd (" circle ") containing the variable chants for 
all Sundays, the Kdshkul (" containing all ") for the week-days, 
and the Turgdmd ("interpretation "), in which are found the verses 
sung between the lessons, like our Gradual. These books also 
contain part of what is wanted for the Divine Office. They are 
further supplemented by the Gazd ("treasury"), 1 the Wardd 
(" rose "), 2 which supply certain variable hymns and anthems; 
also the Kddm wadathar (" before and after "), containing selec- 
tions from the psalter and prayers for Sundays and week-days. 
The Abu-halim (called after its composer) has collects for the end 
of the Night-prayer on Sundays. The Bauthd dmnwdye (" nocturn 
of the Ninevites ") has metrical hymns ascribed to St. Efrem, said 
at the Fast of the Ninevites. Besides these are books containing 
special offices, those of baptism ('mddd) and ordination (Sydmldd), 
mentioned above, those for the marriage-service (Brdkd, " bless- 
ing "), for the burial of clergy (Kahnuthd, "priesthood") arid 
laymen ('anidd, " funeral "). The Taksd dhusdyd (" rite of 
mercy ") gives the services for reconciling penitents and for 
absolution. There are other books containing other functions. 3 

From this it will be seen that the Nestorian liturgical books are 
in a bewildering state of confusion. It is no light matter to put 
together any given service from the various books used in it. Nor 
do they always know their own books. The difficulty is avoided 
to a great extent by the fact that singers know vast quantities of 
the services by heart. 4 The chief books have been printed (in 
Syriac) by the Anglican mission. 5 The Dominicans at Mosul and 

1 Td£a ; Persian : Gang. 2 Arabic : ward. 

3 For Nestorian service-books see Badger : The Nestorians and their 
Rituals, ii. 16-25 ; and Maclean and Browne : The Catholicos of the East, 
229-233. 4 Maclean and Browne : op. cit. p. 232. 

5 But apparently incompletely, inasmuch as the Anglicans leave out the 
names of heretics (Nestorius, etc.) and obviously heretical matter. Rather 
a feeble compromise, if one is going to print the service-books of a heretical 
sect at all. The Nestorians, I am told, who buy and .use these books, supply 
in manuscript or from memory what the Anglicans have omitted. 


the Lazarist missionaries publish the Chaldaearj books, which 

J£UAX?©JCG jLtei £&3X 

«jjsa/mij-- ^r>\«... t , "'■•-jofl^vv". _l l «&V milk . 



(From a photograph by the Rev. F. N. Heazell.) 

correspond, but have been revised and corrected at Rome. 
These Chaldaean books also are arranged on a more systematic 
way, under the influence of our liturgical books. 


Nestorian churches are mostly small and poor ; though some 
are of considerable antiquity and archaeological interest, and a few 
fairly large and handsome. The Moslem law, till the other day, 
was that Christians might repair their existing churches, but not 
build new ones. 1 On the outside the churches have no con- 
spicuous sign to proclaim what they are (and so attract the fana- 
ticism of Kurds and Turks) — only a small plain cross over the 
door, which is kissed by people as they go in. A special feature, 
now almost a recognized tradition (at least in Turkey), is that the 
only entrance to the church is by one very low and narrow door, 
about three feet high (often less), through which one stoops and 
crouches to go in. This is said to be so made in order that every- 
one be forced to bow as he enters the holy place. The real reason 
is no doubt to prevent Kurds driving their cattle into the church. 
Inside, the nave is divided from the sanctuary by a wall right up 
to the roof which is pierced by an arched opening about five or six 
feet wide. The division, then, is more marked than in Byzantine 
churches by the Ikonostasion. There is a curtain which can be 
drawn across this arch, sometimes doors as well. Outside the 
sanctuary wall is a platform, as high as the sanctuary ; then steps 
down and a low wall broken in the middle, something like our 
communion-rail. Against this low wall are one or more tables 
(not really altars) on which rest books and a cross, kissed by the 
faithful on entering and leaving. The choir stands in a group on 
one side in front of this low wall. The Divine Office is sung in the 
nave ; sometimes (as in the Patriarchal church at Kudshanis) 
there is an open-air chapel, partly roofed over, at the side of the 
church, with another table for the cross, where the office is sung 
in summer. Inside the sanctuary 2 is a raised platform under a 
canopy. On this stands the altar, generally adorned with a plain 
cross, two candles and the gospel-book. A lectern for reading the 
gospel is moved to the sanctuary-arch during the liturgy. There 
are cupboards in the sanctuary for the holy oils and vessels. The 

1 I do not know how far this has been modified by the new Constitution. 
But for some time back it was possible to evade the law by bribery, and to 
obtain a firman for building a new church. A great number of Christian 
churches of all sects were built all over the Turkish Empire in the 19th 

2 Kdush kudshe, " Holy of holies." 



baptistery forms a room leading out of the sanctuary or nave. 
It is often also used as a vestry, and generally has a stove for 

baking the 
bread to be 
consecrated. 1 
churches are 
called after 
our Lady 
(Mart Mary- 
am), the ap- 
ostles or other saints, 
very often after a mar- 
tyr of the Persian per- 
secutions or their own 
hermits or bishops. 
Everyone takes off his 
shoes in church, but the 
turban or tarbush only 
during services. The 
clergy in ordinary life 
do not wear a special 
dress ; in the mountains 
they often have a black 
turban. Bishops gener- 
ally wear a long robe, 
like a cassock, and the 
usual turban. The ton- 
sure, though prescribed by the canons, at least for monks, is 
not now worn ; but all the clergy have a beard. To shave the 
beard is a sign of degradation and a punishment inflicted by the 
Patriarch for certain offences. 2 

The universal liturgical vestment is the tunic, called kuthind 
(x L ™ v )> corresponding to the ottolxo-piov or alb. It is girdled by a 

1 See plan of the Patriarchal church (Mar Shalita) at Kudshanis above. 
Plans of other churches in Maclean and Browne : op. cit. pp. 296, 301. The 
inside of a large church at Mosul in Badger : op. cit. ii. pp. 20-21. 

2 Maclean and Browne, pp. 97, 204. 



A, Sanctuary; B, Baptistery; C, Place for baking the 
holy bread ; D, Entrance (by ladder) ; E, Room 
where Rabban Yuhanan (Yonan) lived. 


belt, zundrd (^mvaptov). Subdeacon and deacon wear a stole 
(urara, updptov) ; the subdeacon winds it from the left shoulder 
under the right arm, 1 the deacon's stole hangs straight down 
from the left shoulder. The priest's (and bishop's) stole is made 
like the Byzantine iTnTpaxrjXtov, hanging down in front like 
ours, but sewn together (or rather one piece) with a hole through 
which to put the head. The garment corresponding to our 
chasuble {kaflla^paklld, paind, ma'prd) is the same as the 
Byzantine (paivoXiov, except that it is not permanently joined in 
front. It looks then exactly like our cope without a hood. It is 
worn by priests and bishops, and is used as both cope and chasuble. 
They have no omophorion. 2 Bishops wear a kind of embroidered 
amice, called birund, over the head ; they carry a pastoral staff 
(hutrd) and a small cross with which they bless the people. They 
have no liturgically fixed colours. 3 

The East Syrian Calendar is based on the Julian reckoning 
(Old Style), for the months, and on the " Era of the Greeks," 4 
namely from 311 B.C., for the years. They now know and 
begin to use the ordinary Christian reckoning for the years. 
The ecclesiastical year is divided into nine periods of, more 
or less, seven weeks each. Each of these is called a shabu'd 
("seven"). The year begins with Subdrd ("annunciation") 
on December 1 ; 5 Subdrd has four Sundays as preparation for 
Christmas, and so corresponds exactly to our Advent. The 
second Shabu'a is of the Epiphany ; the third is the Great Fast 
(Lent) beginning the seventh Monday before Easter ; the fourth 
is the Shabu'a of the Resurrection (to Pentecost) ; the fifth that of 

1 This is the theory in the case of the subdeacon and all lesser clerks, as 
the Byzantine lesser clerks were the epitrachelion. But, as a matter oi 
fact, no subdeacon is now ordained (see p. 157). 

2 J. Braun : Die liturgische Gewandung im Occident u. Orient (Freiburg 
i. Br., 1907), p. 666. 

3 No Eastern Church has. Sequence of colour is a late and purely 
Western feature. For Nestorian vestments in general see Assemani : Bibl. 
Or. hi. pt. ii. pp. 682-683 ; J. Braun : op. cit. under each heading ; Maclean : 
East Syrian. 

4 Namely, of the Seleucids. 

5 The Kalendars usually begin with the month of Tishrin 1 (October), 
and popular calculation often counts the Epiphany as the beginning of a 
new year (cf. Maclean and Browne : op. cit. p. 328). 


the Apostles (six Sundays) ; the last of these Sundays is the Sun- 
day of the twelve Apostles and the first of the next Shabu'a (of 
summer). This Shabu'a (the sixth) lasts till the seventh Sunday 
after that of the Apostles. Then begins the seventh Shabu'a, of 
Elias. Two Sundays of Moses and four of the Dedication (of the 
Churches) form the eighth and ninth Shabu'e. 1 There are four 
fasts in the year : Subara (Advent) , lasting twenty-five days 
(counted back from Christmas) ; the Fast of the Ninevites, namely 
the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday beginning twenty days 
before the Great Fast, in memory of the penance of Nineveh 
when Jonas preached ; then the Great Fast, forty-nine days before 
Easter ; 2 and the Fast of St. Mary from August 1 to August 15. 3 
The fasts include Sundays, and are kept, as by all Eastern people, 
exceedingly severely. Every day is what we should call a " black 
fast/' including abstinence from flesh-meat, lacticinia, eggs and 
all animal produce. All Wednesdays and Fridays are days of 

The chief feast is, of course, Easter ('ad'idd kabird, " great 
feast"). Christmas (December 25) is the " little feast " ('ad'idd 
katind). The Epiphany (January 6) is also a great day; it is 
the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord, as with all Easterns. 
Other great feasts are Lady-day, Ascension-day, WTiitsunday, the 
Transfiguration, Death of St. Mary (August 15), Holy Rood (Sep- 
tember 13), etc. The main part of their Calendar consists of mov- 
able feasts, not fixed to a day of the month, but falling on a 
certain week-day after a Sunday — mainly determined by Easter. 
Thus all Fridays are feasts of great Saints : the Friday after the 
first Sunday after Epiphany is St. Peter and St. Paul, the next 
Friday the Four Evangelists, the next St. Stephen, and so on. 
Mar Addai is on the fifth Sunday after Easter, Mar Mari on the 
second Friday of the summer Shabu'a. Mar Nestorius comes with 
Diodore and Theodore as the " Greek Doctors " on the Friday 

1 Nilles : Kalendarium manuale, ii. 681. Maclean and Browne (p. 350) 
count four Sundays of Moses. Their number, and the number of those 
after Epiphany, must depend on whether Easter falls early or late. 

2 Sometimes they begin this fast on the Sunday (our Quinquagesima), 
making it last fifty days. 

3 Like the Byzantine Fast of the Holy Mother of God ; only, with the 
Nestorians it is, of course, not " of the Mother of God." 


after the fourth Sunday after Epiphany. Maundy Thursday is 
the " Passover," Good Friday is " Friday of Suffering " (alitur- 
gical), Holy Saturday " the Great Sabbath " or " Sabbath of 
Light." 1 

We have already noted the order of the Divine Office, now 
practically morning and evening prayer (p. 142). It consists of 
psalms, collects, anthems, and many special compositions, hymns 
in rhythmical prose like the Byzantine rpoTrdpta. The psalter is 
divided into twenty portions called hitldle (" praises ") like 
KaOio-fjLaTa. The Lord's Prayer and psalms are often farced. 
All the services are said in classical Syriac, of which the common 
people understand perhaps as much as modern Greeks or Russians 
do of their services. All is sung in the strange enharmonic 
cadences which Eastern people know by heart. A careful and 
interesting description of the office will be found in Maclean and 
Browne : The Catholicos of the East. 2 This book is so easily 
accessible that it does not seem worth while to repeat the account 
here. Instead, as a specimen of Nestorian prayer, the Ldk mdrd 
(" Thee, O Lord ") may serve ; it is a short responsory occurring 
constantly in all their services : " Thee, Lord of all, we confess ; 
and thee, Jesus Christ, we glorify ; for thou art the quickener of 
our bodies, and thou art the saviour of our souls. *I was glad when 
they said unto me, We will go into the house of the Lord.*Thee, 
O Lord, etc.*Glory be to the Father, etc. From everlasting to 
everlasting, Amen.*Thee, O Lord, etc." 3 

In all Christian Churches the Holy Eucharist is the chief rite. 
The Nestorians celebrate it rarely, on the chief feasts — not even 
every Sunday. 4 It is celebrated early in the morning, except on 
fast-days, when it sometimes comes in the afternoon. Everyone 
who receives Communion must be fasting from midnight. The 

1 The whole Nestorian Calendar is given by Nilles : Kalendarium 
manuale, ii. 684-688. See also Maclean and Browne : op. cit. 346-352. 

2 Chap x., The Daily Services, pp. 212-242. 

3 lb. 219. This prayer is attributed to Simon Bar Sabba'e (see p. 41). 
The Syriac text, with the notes to which they sing it (but made chromatic), 
will be found in the Revue de I 'Orient chretien for 1898, p. 231. 

4 lb. 243-244. The usual Syrian name for the rite of the Holy Eucharist 
(corresponding to our word " Mass ") is Kurbdnd (Ar. Kurbdn, " oblation "), 
also Kuddshd (Ar. Kudddsh, " holy thing "). Lahmd dkuddshd {" Bread of 
holiness ") is the Blessed Sacrament. 


celebrant and deacon should by law first have taken part in the 
evening prayer the day before, and in the night and morning 
prayer. Normally there is only one Liturgy in the same church 
on one day. 

They have a curious belief about the "holy leaven," 1 sometimes 
even counting this as one of the seven Sacraments (p. 138). 
Namely, they say that St. John the Baptist kept some of the 
water which fell from our Lord at his baptism. He gave this to 
St. John the Apostle. At the last supper our Lord gave St. John 
two loaves. St. John mixed one with the baptism water and 
with the blood which flowed from our Lord on the cross. The 
Apostles then ground this to pieces, mixed it with flour and salt, 
and divided it amongst themselves, so that the leaven of the body 
and blood of our Lord should always remain in the Church. The 
Nestorians believe that they have this still, alone among Christians. 
Nestorius, when he was deposed, took it with him and left the 
West without it. They renew this " holy leaven " each Maundy 
Thursday. What remains from last year is mixed with fresh 
flour, salt and oil by the priest and deacon, in a special service. 
It is then kept in a vessel in the sanctuary all the year, and a small 
portion is mixed with the bread for the Holy Eucharist before 
each liturgy. No liturgy may be celebrated without it. 

Most Eastern liturgies begin with a preparation of the bread 
and wine to be consecrated. 2 The Nestorians begin at the very 
beginning by first baking the bread. The celebrant and the 
deacon 3 mix flour and yeast 4 with a little oil and some warm 
water, in the baptistery or other place where the oven for this 
purpose may be. The celebrant breaks off some for the antidoron 
and some to mix with that of the next liturgy after this one. 5 He 

1 Called malkd (king). 

2 The Byzantine irpoa-Ko/xiH. It is really the offertory act, which takes 
place at the beginning of the whole service. 

3 They wear the tunic, girdle, and their respective forms of stole (p. 147). 
The celebrant puts on the ma'prd at the beginning of the liturgy of the 
faithful (p. 153). 

4 Their Eucharistic bread is, of course, leavened. 

5 This is another principle, to mix some of the bread from the last liturgy 
with that now being prepared. This is meant to emphasize the unity of 
the sacrifice, like the old Latin sancta and fermentum (Fortescue : The Mass, 
pp. 174-175, 366-37°) • 


brings the vessel containing the holy leaven from the sanctuary 
and mixes a small portion of that with what he has prepared. 
So he makes the loaves, at least three (there should be seven), 
stamps each with a wooden stamp, puts a little incense on the 
fire and bakes them. Then they are put on the paten (much 
larger than ours) and carried to a recess in the sanctuary. He 
pours wine into the chalice with water. During all this pre- 
paration he says psalms (three huldle, Ps. i.-xxx.) and prayers. 1 
The deacon sweeps the sanctuary and makes all ready. To 
save time all this is generally done while the choir are saying 
morning prayer. Then the semantron is struck and the people 
are summoned to the holy liturgy. 

There are now three liturgies, those of the " holy apostles 
(Addai and Mari)," "of Nestorius," and "of Theodore the In- 
terpreter." Once they had others. Liturgies " of Bar Sauma," 
" of Narse," " of Diodore of Tarsus " are mentioned, but are no 
longer extant. 2 Of the three now used, the liturgy of the Apostles 3 
is the normal one, presumably the oldest, which represents the 
ancient East Syrian rite by direct descent. The other two are 
fragments completed as to the rest by parts of the liturgy of the 
Apostles. In other words, when they are used, certain parts of 
the normal rite are left out and the corresponding parts of one of 
these two are substituted. The Ordo communis (that is, the pro- 
anaphoral part and the prayers after Communion) is always that of 
the Apostles. The liturgies of Theodore and Nestorius are practi- 
cally only alternative anaphoras, with a few special prayers in the 
Ordo communis. All Nestorian liturgies have been translated and 
edited many times. 4 None of the ascriptions of these three rites 
(to Addai and Mari, Theodore, Nestorius), except perhaps the last, 
is to be taken seriously. The normal one is, as we have noted, 
merely the old rite of Edessa, presumably having come there 

1 For these see Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, pp. 247-252. 

2 See Brightman : op. cit. p. lxxx. 

3 Not the twelve apostles, but Addai and Mari. 

4 Renaudot gives all three : Liturgiarum orient, collectio (ed. ii., Frank- 
furt, 1847), ii. 578-632. Badger translates the Liturgy of Nestorius {The 
Nestorians and their Kites, ii. chap. xlii. pp. 215-243) ; Brightman gives that 
of the Apostles (Eastern Liturgies, 247-305) ; Maclean and Browne describe 
the same rite (op. cit. 247-265). 


originally from Antioch, but considerably modified in the East 
(p. 141). The Theodore anaphora is a not very important variant 
of this, with, however, one important difference (p. 155). The 
so-called Nest onus anaphora is considerably different. It has 
long been suspected of being a foreign element, imported inde- 
pendently from somewhere else. Dr. A. Baumstark has now, 
perhaps, solved the riddle. By a careful comparison he shows its 
close resemblance, not only in arrangement, but in many liturgical 
forms, with the Byzantine St. Basil rite. He concludes that it is 
nothing but the old rite of Constantinople, with heretical modi- 
fications, which may be the work of Nestorius himself, translated 
into Syriac by Maraba I (536-552 ; see p. 82) . l 

On the Sundays from Advent to Palm Sunday the liturgy of 
Theodore is used ; on five days — namely, the Epiphany, St. John 
the Baptist (Friday after Epiphany), the Greek Doctors (Friday 
after the fourth Sunday after Epiphany), Wednesday of the Fast 
of the Ninevites (p. 148), and Maundy Thursday — that of Nestorius. 
On all other days the Holy Eucharist, if celebrated, has the rite 
of the Apostles. The order of this, in outline, is as follows : After 
the preparation of the offerings the celebrant and deacon begin 
the Enarxis. 2 They say the beginning of the Gloria in excelsis 
(I.e. ii. 14), the Lord's Prayer, some psalms farced, the " an- 
them of the sanctuary," Lak mara (p. 149), Ps.xxv. 6 (" Lavabo "), 
and a few other prayers. Then begins the liturgy of the cate- 
chumens. The Trisagion is sung. Two lessons (normally from the 
Old Testament and Acts) are read by lectors at the platform out- 
side the sanctuary wall, inside the low wall. 3 An antiphon, called 
shurdyd ("beginning"), generally consisting of a farced psalm 
(irpoKtifxevov, " gradual "), is sung. The deacon reads the " apostle" 
(always from an epistle of St. Paul), and the choir answers : "Glory 
be to the Lord of Paul." Incense is blessed and burnt, the Alle- 
luia is sung with verses called zumdrd ("chant "), then a long 
anthem (turgdmd, " interpretation "), and the celebrant reads the 

1 A. Baumstark : Die Chrysostomosliturgie u. die syrische Ltturgie des 
Nestorios, in Chrysostomika (Rome, 1908). pp. 771-857. 

2 'Ej/ap£js, the opening of all Eastern rites. The Nestorian enarxis is 
modelled on the beginning of their evening prayer (Ramsha). 

3 In practice these are very often omitted. 


gospel of the day. The " anthem of the gospel " follows, ending 
the liturgy of the catechumens. 

The liturgy of the faithful begins with a long litany (the Antio- 
chene-Byzantine ovvaTmq). 1 This is the prayer of the faithful. 
It follows the usual order — petitions for all classes. The people 
answer : " O our Lord, have mercy on us," and then to a second list 
of petitions : " Amen." It ends like the Antiochene and Byzan- 
tine forms : " Let us commit our souls and one another's souls 
to the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost." Meanwhile, the 
celebrant incenses the altar and puts on the ma'prd (chasuble) 
which has been lying on it. He says a prayer aloud, summing 
up the petitions of the prayer of the faithful. A blessing by the 
celebrant (the " Inclination ") follows, and then, rather late, the 
deacon says the form of dismissing the catechumens. 2 Now the 
bread and wine are brought to the altar ; they are again offered 
and covered with a veil. The " anthem of the mysteries " is 
sung ; meanwhile the celebrant says a number of prayers pre- 
paring to offer the sacrifice. Here follows the Creed. 3 The pre- 
paration for the anaphora consists of prayers said aloud by the 
deacon, and a number of others said silently by the celebrant. 
The great Intercession follows ; they count the kuddshd as be- 
ginning at this point. 4 The place of the Intercession is an impor- 
tant element in classifying liturgies. In the normal Antiochene 
family it follows the Consecration ; at Alexandria it comes after 
Sursum corda, during what we should call the Preface. Its place 
in the East Syrian rite, before the Sursum corda, as soon as the 
gifts are brought to the altar, following (or a part of) the offertory- 
act, is now unique, though there are reasons which make this 
place seem natural. 5 The diptychs are read— namely, a list of 
petitions for the church, katholikos, bishops, clergy, kings, and 

1 Called karuzuthd (K-noixraeiv). 

2 Merely a form now, of course. 

3 The Nicene Creed with verbal variants and, of course, without the 
Filioque clause. 

4 It is chiefly from here to the Communion that the other two liturgies 
have different prayers. 

5 Namely, if the people once offered the bread and wine, it would seem 
natural to pray for them at that moment. The Intercession came at the 
offertory in the old Gallican rite. Dom Cagin and his school think that 
originally it did so at Rome too (Fortescue : The Mass, pp. 103, 144). 


so on (diptychs of the living), then those of the dead. 1 To each 
clause the people answer : " Amen." The diptychs of the dead 
contain a very long list of saints. The form is : " Let us pray 
and beseech God the Lord of all that this oblation be accepted for 
all the just and righteous fathers who were well-pleasing in his 
sight (let us pray). Also for the memorial of Adam and Abel. . . ." 
" And of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. ..." There is first a 
list of saints of the Old Testament. Then : " And for the 
memorial of the Lady Mary, the Holy Virgin who bore Christ our 
Lord and our Saviour." Then follow St. John the Baptist, St. 
Peter, St. Paul, the evangelists and apostles ; " Mar Addai and Mar 
Mari, the apostles who were the converters of this Eastern region " ; 
St. Stephen ; a long list of the old Persian Katholikoi, beginning 
with Papa, " our holy fathers the 208 bishops who were assembled 
in the city of Nicaea for the raising up of the true faith " ; and a 
great number of East Syrian and Persian bishops, monks and 
martyrs. The people answer : " And our Lord make us all to 
partake with them in his grace and mercy for ever. Amen." After 
the Intercession comes the kiss of peace. The deacon warns the 
people to attend, the gifts are unveiled, and the anaphora begins. 
The celebrant blesses the people with the form : " The grace of 
our Lord Jesus Christ . . ." (2 Cor. xiii. 13). 2 Then : " Lift up 
your minds." R. : " Unto thee, O God of Abraham and Isaac 
and Israel, O glorious King." Priest : " The oblation is offered 
unto God the Lord of all." R. : " It is meet and just." The 
priest says a short silent prayer, and then as a Ghdntd : 3 " Worthy 
of praise from every mouth ..." He mentions the " holy cher- 
ubim and spiritual seraphim," then (kanuna) : "shouting and 
praising without ceasing, and crying out to another, and saying." 
The choir sings : " Holy, holy, holy ..." A short prayer follows, 
and leads to the " signing of the mysteries " ; then follows the 

We have come to what is the amazing point in the Nestorian 

1 No actual diptychs (with names to be filled in at discretion) appear to 
be now used. 

2 This is the regular Antiochene beginning of the anaphora. VIII Apost. 
Const, xii. 4, etc. 

3 The Ghdntd (" inclination ") is a prayer said in a low voice (^vcttikcos). 
The ending chanted aloud (iiccpwvrjaris) is called kdnunq. 


rite. The liturgy of the Apostles does not contain the words of 
institution. This is naturally a grave scandal to the friends of 
this Church. The Anglican editors of their liturgy have fitted in 
here the narrative of the Last Supper containing the words. It 
interrupts the prayer most awkwardly. 1 It is often said that the 
Nestorians always recited the words of institution, but did not 
write them in their books, through excessive reverence. This 
does not seem likely. Their prayers from the Sanctus to the 
Epiklesis form a consecutive whole ; there is no sign of anything 
left out, and no room for an insertion. It should, however, be 
noted that Narse, in the 5th century, mentions the words of 
institution. 2 The liturgies of Nestorius and Theodore have the 
words of institution. It would seem, then, that, no doubt because 
of a great insistence on the Epiklesis as the " form " of consecra- 
tion, they thought it a matter of indifference whether the words 
of institution were said or not. The Anglicans teach their pupils 
to say them scrupulously ; but they admit that, " unfortunately, 
it is not uncommon now for the more ignorant priests altogether 
to omit this essential part of the Sacrament." 3 The Epiklesis of 
the liturgy of the Apostles is vague : " And may there come, O 
my Lord, thine Holy Spirit and rest upon this offering of thy 
servants and bless it and hallow it, that it be to us, O my Lord, 
for the pardon of offences and the remission of sins, and for the 
great hope of resurrection from the dead, and for new life in the 
kingdom of heaven, with all those who have been well-pleasing 
in thy sight." Certainly, if we look for a categorical " form " of 

1 Anglican edition of the liturgies, p. 16 ; Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, 
p. 285. They take the form of i Cor. xi. 23-25. 

2 Connolly: Liturgical Homilies of Narsai (Cambridge, 1909), p. 17; cf. 
pp. 83-84. 

3 Maclean and Browne : op. cit. p. 257. The question of validity with- 
out the words of institution is a dogmatic one into which I need hardly 
enter here. Most Catholic and most Orthodox theologians would un- 
doubtedly deny it. On the other hand, if one accepts the idea of con- 
secration by the whole barahah (see The Mass, p. 405), valid consecration 
without the words of institution explicitly might perhaps be defended. 
One point about the Anglican mission may be noted here. They have 
(quite rightly) " tampered " with the historic rite in this point, which they 
think essential, as they have also by leaving out heretical names and clauses. 
They can hardly, then, blame Rome for having done the same in the Uniate 
rites, in cases which we consider essential. 


the Sacrament, we shall have difficulty in finding it in this liturgy. 1 
Some prayers and psalms, a washing of hands and incensing lead 
to a complicated fraction and commixture. The mixture is made 
by dipping. There is a blessing, the Lord's Prayer with an intro- 
duction, and the usual verse : " For thine is the kingdom, etc.," 
and an embolism, an elevation with the form : " The holy things 
to the holies is fitting in perfection." Then, while anthems are 
sung, the clergy and people make their Communion. Normally 
the two kinds are received separately ; the celebrant gives the 
holy bread, the deacon the chalice. The forms of administration 
are : " The body of our Lord to N.N. 2 for the pardon of offences," 
" The precious blood for the pardon of offences, the spiritual feast 
for everlasting life to N.N. (as before)." Quite small children 
receive Communion, by intinction. The thanksgiving consists 
of one verse by the deacon (a much shortened litany) with the 
answer : " Glory be to him for his unspeakable gift," a few prayers, 
another kiss of peace, and now (in practice) the Communion of 
the celebrant and deacon. 3 There is a final blessing (no formula 
of dismissal), and the antidoron (see p. 150) called mkafrdnd is 
distributed. So the liturgy ends. 4 It appears that most people 
do not wait for the end. Immediately after their Communion 
they go to the door of the baptistery, take the mkafrdnd, 5 and go 
home. Also they often come late, so that generally the lessons 
(except the Gospel) are not said at all, and the Gospel is moved 
from its proper place, read and explained by a homily just before 
the Communion. 6 The Nestorians do not now reserve the Holy 
Eucharist at all, and have no provision for Communion of the sick. 
The Baptism service is a long rite modelled closely on the holy 

1 The other two rites have an Epiklesis of the usual Antiochene or Byzan- 
tine form. They are quoted in Maclean and Browne : op. cit. p. 258. 

2 "The discreet priest," or "the deacon of God," or "the circumspect 

3 Maclean and Browne : op. cit. 261. This is clearly a dislocation caused 
by the fact that the order of the liturgy contains no clear direction that they 
should communicate first. So their communion has coalesced with the 
consumption of what remains of the Sanctissimum at the end. 

4 The prayers and exact rubrics will be found in Brightman : Eastern 
Liturgies, 247-305. From the end of the Epiklesis the other two rites take 
(with a few special prayers) the Ordo communis of the normal liturgy. 

5 Often the mkafrdnd is not given at all. Maclean and Browne, p. 260. 

6 lb. 251. 


liturgy. It has an " Apostle," Gospel, Creed, Litany, " Sursum 
Corda," Sanctus, Epiklesis, and so on. It takes place after the 
liturgy ; many children are baptized together, private baptism is 
not allowed. Soon after birth there is a curious imitation of 
baptism ; water is blessed, and the child is washed in it. This is 
called " signing." Then it waits till the next feast, when there 
will be a liturgy in the Church and, following that, a general public 
baptism. The child's name is given at the " signing." In the 
Baptism rite the children are anointed all over with olive oil (oil 
of the catechumens) . The Nestorians have a holy oil believed to 
come from St. John the Evangelist, like the holy leaven. This is 
kept in the sanctuary, renewed as the leaven is, and a small 
portion of it is mixed with the oil of the catechumens. At the 
actual moment of baptism the child is held facing the east over 
the font ; the priest dips it three times, saying : " N. is baptized 
in the name of the Father (R. : Amen), in the name of the Son 
(Amen), in the name of the Holy Ghost, for ever (Amen)." It is 
confirmed at once by laying-on the right hand. No chrism or 
other oil is now used for Confirmation. 1 

The ordination of clerks below the rank of deacon 2 is now 
obsolete. Deacons, priests, and bishops are ordained by laying- 
on the right hand, with a suitable form. Several other bishops 
assist the Patriarch or Metropolitan in ordaining a bishop ; they 
lay their hands on his side. The Nestorians have the rite of 
vesting the subject during the ordination service ; but they do not 
appear to have an anointing. We have seen that they have what 
seem to be ordination forms for making a deacon an archdeacon, 
a bishop a Patriarch, and so on (pp. 134-135). 3 In the marriage 

1 It appears that once oil was used for Confirmation, as everywhere else 
in Christendom. See G. Bickell : Das Sakr. der Firmnng bei den Nest. 
(Zt.f. Kath. Theol. 1877, 85-117); Bib. Or. hi. (i), 576. Further details 
of the Baptism service are given by Maclean and Browne : op. cit. 267-279 ; 
the whole rite by Badger : op. cit. ii. 195-214; also by G. Diettrich : Die 
nestorianische Taufliturgie (Giessen, 1903), who ascribes its composition to 
the Katholikos Yeshu'-yab III (652-661), holds it to be the oldest extant 
form in Christendom, and illustrates it with interesting notes. Denzinger : 
Ritus Orientalium (Wiirzburg, 1863), i. 364-383. 

2 Badger gives the forms (with imposition of the bishop's right hand) for 
readers and subdeacons ; ii. 322-325. 

3 Badger, ii . 322-350, gives the services. Denzinger : op. cit. ii. 226-274. 


service they crown the spouses with threads of red, blue, and white, 
and have several curious customs. 1 They have far-reaching im- 
pediments of consanguinity and affinity, 2 but allow divorce for 
many reasons. 3 Their burial service is very long. It differs for 
clergy and laity. They sing anthems and psalms (special ones for 
all manner of specialcases — a man murdered, drowned, betrothed, 
etc.),. and have many prayers for the dead. They offer the holy 
liturgy for the repose of their souls. 4 

And here we take leave of the pathetic little Church. The 
curious customs, superstitions, popular traditions of the modern 
Nestorians do not concern the purpose of this book. An account of 
them may be read in the work of Dean Maclean 5 and Mr. Browne, 
to which I am already considerably indebted. 6 The Nestorians 
have a wonderful history. It is strange to realize that out there, 
among Kurds and Yazldis, there still exists a remnant of that 
ancient Church, mother of the great army of martyrs whose 
glorious blood hallowed the Persian soil, the Church which spread 
the Christian name deep into the heart of China. That they have 
kept the Christian faith for thirteen centuries of tragic isolation 
gives them a right to all our respect and affection. They, too, are 
our brothers and sheep of Christ, though they are imprisoned in 
the fold of Nestorius. Our last hope for them is that they 
may come out of that other fold back to the one flock. Only, to 
do that they must accept Ephesus and call the mother of their 
Lord by her right name. There are many tragedies in the long 
story of the people of Christ ; not the least of them is that Bar 
Sauma of Edessa once quarrelled with his bishop Rabbula. 


This chapter has described the Nestorian Church as it exists 
to-day. It was in a sense rediscovered by Western Europe in 

1 Maclean and Browne: op. cit. 142-159; Badger gives the rite, ii. 244- 
281. 2 The table in Badger, ii. 277. 

3 Maclean and Browne, p. 158. 

4 For funeral rites see Badger, ii. 282-321 ; Maclean and Browne, 279- 
289 ; Kurds and Christians, 227-232. 

5 Now Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness. 

6 The Catholicos of the East and his People, London, S.P.C.K., 1892. 


the 19th century, first by explorers who went to Mesopotamia to 
find Assyrian remains. Since then it has been the object of great 
interest and of many missionary expeditions. Besides the Catholic 
missions, which have been there for a long time and belong to a 
different category, the chief of these are the American Presby- 
terian mission at Urmi and the Anglican mission at Amadia. 
The Orthodox Russians, too, have a mission here. There are 
now about 100,000 Nestorians living in Kurdistan and around 
Lake Urmi on either side of the Turkish-Persian frontier. Their 
religious (and to a great extent civil) head is the Patriarch and 
Katholikos, who always takes the name Mar Shim'un. Under 
him are one Metropolitan and ten bishops. The Patriarchal and 
Episcopal lines are now practically hereditary. They have a 
hierarchy of the usual Eastern type, but do not now in practice 
ordain anyone below the rank of deacon. Priests and deacons 
have no law of celibacy at all. There are a few monks and nuns, 
no monasteries. Their faith differs from ours in the great point 
of our Lord's person. They have a kind of iconoclasm, except 
that they greatly reverence the holy Cross. Naturally they reject 
the primacy of the Pope ; their attitude about the Filioque seems 
undetermined. They use the old Eastern Syrian rite in classical 
Syriac. Their divine office is now practically reduced to morning 
and evening prayer. They have three forms of liturgy, the 
normal one " of the Holy Apostles," and supplementary ana- 
phoras of Theodore and of Nestorius (this, apparently a version 
of the old Byzantine rite) used on a few days. The most curious 
points in their rite are that they begin the liturgy actually by 
making and baking the bread, their curious superstition about the 
" holy leaven " which they mix therewith, and, strangest of all, 
that their normal liturgy does not contain the words of institution. 




We have already noted that all other Lesser Eastern Churches 
are Monophysite. An outline of the great Monophysite con- 
troversy will therefore introduce the history of the Copts, Abys- 
sinians, Jacobites, Malabar Christians and Armenians. 



Now we go back to the 5th century and take up again the story 
of the great Christological controversy, of which the first part is 
the Council of Ephesus and the condemnation of Nestorius. The 
second part is Monophysism. But it is all one story. Mono- 
physism, the extreme opposite of Nestorianism, begins merely 
as an ardent opposition to that heresy. The first Monophysites 
were the men who cried loudest for the faith of Ephesus and of 
Cyril. It is difficult to say exactly when they begin. They exist 
certainly before the Nestorian quarrel is settled. The Mono- 
physite sects come out (on the other side) of the same turmoil 
which produced the Nestorians. They are vastly more important. 
Nestorianism was soon crushed, expelled from the empire, which 
it never again troubled ; it became one sect in Persia. Mono- 
physism made an appalling disturbance throughout the whole 
Eastern Empire for about two centuries,, and then settled down in 
not one but four great national Churches. All the lesser schis- 
matical Eastern Churches, except the one we have discussed, are 

i. The First Monophysites 

There is no one man who stands out as the founder of Mono- 
physism, as Nestorius is the founder of his heresy. This accounts 
for the different kinds of name the two great Christological errors 
bear. Nestorianism is called after a man. Monophysism is a defini- 



tion of the heretical idea. 1 It is true that it has often been called 
Eutychianism (a Monophysite being a " Eutychian ") after 
Eutyches (p. 167). But he was only one of many Monophysites, 
not by any means the inventor of the theory or leader of the 
party. 2 He acquired some fame by bringing the heresy to or 
by agitating for it at Constantinople, but he was not really its 

Monophysism, then, is simply the extreme opposite of Nestorian- 
ism. As soon as Nestorius began to divide Christ into two persons, 
there were among his opponents those who insisted on the unity 
of our Lord to such a degree that they confused his humanity 
with his divinity as one thing. They declared him so much one 
person that he had but one nature. In him the humanity was 
absorbed in the divinity, as a drop of wine would be in an ocean of 
water. There is nothing to distinguish in Christ ; in all things, 
personality, hypostasis, even nature (<f>v<ris), he is one. But 
then the more moderate people began to see a danger on that 
side too. If in Christ the humanity were absorbed in the 
divinity, then he would have no real human nature, would not 
really be man. These vehement opponents of Nestorius were 
falling into the old Apollinarist heresy and so justifying the 
constant accusation of Nestorians ; 3 they were becoming Docetes 
— the still older heresy which made our Lord's humanity, his birth, 
life, and death, a mere appearance and a useless mystification. 
As soon as that was realized, as soon as the extreme deniers of 
Nestorianism began really to maintain this idea, Monophysism had 
begun. 4 It was to have a long and stormy career. 

1 Moio<pvaicrp.6s, fiouo^voriTrjs, from /uopr] (fivcris, " one nature." 

2 If it were necessary to name one man as leader it would be rather 
Dioscor of Alexandria (p. 165). 

3 Throughout this controversy the Nestorians accused all their opponents 
of being Apollinarists (see p. 59). 

4 Both the opposed heresies admitted the same false premise, that person 
(vtt 6 Gravis) and nature ((pvais) are the same thing. Nestorians said that 
our Lord has two natures, therefore he is two persons ; Monophysites 
answered that he is certainly one person, therefore he has one nature. 
Both antecedents are right ; the consequents, assuming the false supposi- 
tion, are wrong. The good of these heresies is that the Church by them 
was obliged to realize more clearly the simple truth she had always held 
(that one Jesus Christ is both God and man), and so to conceive the essential 
difference between nature and person. 


The first home of Monophysism was Egypt ; and the Mono- 
physites always maintained that they were merely upholding the 
teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria against Nestorius. If they 
admitted a " founder " at all, they claimed Cyril as the founder of 
their school. 1 The phrase quoted by Cyril, " one nature incarnate 
of the Word of God," became their watchword. 2 Then, when Cyril 
made peace with John of Antioch (p. 74), some of his partisans 
accused him of compromising with Nestorianism. These are the 
first Monophysites. Cyril died in 444, just before the Mono- 
physite quarrel broke out. He was succeeded by his archdeacon 
Dioscor, 3 who had accompanied him to Ephesus. As Patriarch of 
Alexan dria,Dioscor becomes the real head of the Monophysite party. 
During Cyril's lifetime he had enjoyed a good reputation ; but from 
the moment he became Patriarch and leader of the Monophysites 
he is represented as a typical ecclesiastical villain. Although he 
owed everything to Cyril, he began his reign by despoiling and 
persecuting Cyril's heirs. He exacted so much money from the 
people that his pastoral visitations became a terror throughout 
Egypt ; people fled before him and hid their property, as they 
would before a hostile army. He maltreated all the clergy 
ordained by his predecessor. He led a notoriously immoral life, 
and was accompanied everywhere by a mistress named Pan- 
sophia. 4 It is true that these are accusations made by his enemies, 
so that they should be received with a certain amount of caution. 
On the other hand, there seems to be unanimous contemporary 
authority describing him as a deplorable person from every point 
of view. And there is no doubt at all that he was a heresiarch 
and quite unscrupulous in fighting for his heresy. 

Meanwhile, there was still an " Eastern " party in Syria, 
disciples of the Antiochene school, inheritors of the ideas of 
Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia (pp. 59-60), 
the friends of John of Antioch. These are not Nestorians — at 

1 Really, of course, they said that they were defending the teaching of 
the gospels (as defended by Cyril) — which is the attitude of all heretics. 

2 They quoted " the Word was made flesh " too constantly, understand- 
ing this as meaning identity of nature. 

3 Ai6(TKopos, Dioscorus. 

4 See the accusations against Dioscor made by his clergy at the Ihird 
session of Chalcedon. Hefele-Leclercq : Histoire des Conciles, ii. (2), 691 699 


least, most of them are not. They accepted the terms of re- 
conciliation between John and Cyril, they tempered the ideas 
of Diodore and Theodore, recognized the Council of Ephesus, 
and no longer defended Nestorius. But they were the natural 
opponents of the first Monophysites. John of Antioch died in 441 
or 442. He was succeeded by his nephew Domnus x II (441-448), 
who shared all his ideas. In the vast Antiochene Patriarchate 
Ibas was now Bishop of Edessa (435-457), 2 and Theodoret Bishop 
of Cyrus (423-458) . 3 Theodoret was the chief theologian o that 
side. He had been a friend and partisan of Nestorius, an active 
opponent of Cyril. But about the year 435 he joined the union 
between his Patriarch (John) and Cyril ; since then he remained 
a Catholic. He was naturally a great enemy of Dioscor and the 
Monophysites. They deposed him in their Robber-Synod (449 ; 
see p. 77). At Chalcedon (451) he made a perfectly correct 
profession of faith, condemning Nestorius as well as the opposite 
heresy, was restored to his see, and died in peace in 457. 
Theodoret succeeded the older masters as the leader of the 
Antiochene school of theology ; he is also famous as a great 
defender of the Roman primacy. 4 His Patriarch, Domnus, had 
great confidence in him. Proclus succeeded Maximian (p. 65) as 
Bishop 5 of Constantinople (434-447). He was on good terms 
with the Eastern bishops, and leaned towards their views. But 
already he began to usurp Patriarchal jurisdiction in Illyricum 
and Asia Minor, 6 so that Dioscor, naturally wishing to disturb the 
good relations between the capital and his enemies in the East, 
writes to the Easterns that by allowing this they betray the rights 
of Antioch and Alexandria. 7 

1 A6flV05 

2 See pp. 76-77. Ibas must be counted as very nearly a Nestorian. 

3 Kyrros (Kvppos), a little town in Syria, near the Euphrates, two days 
from Antioch. 

4 See his appeal to Pope Leo I, when he was deposed by the Robber- 
Synod (quoted in Orth. Eastern Church, p. 56). The Monophysites always 
hated him. His writings were condemned as the second of the Three 
Chapters, to please them (see p. 202). 

5 It is a question how far one can speak of a Patriarch of Constantinople 
before Chalcedon. 

6 This is part of the gradual advance of Constantinople towards the 
second place in Christendom (Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 28-47). 

» Theodoret : Ep. 86 (P.G. lxxxiii. 1280). 


The trouble began with the affair of Eutyches, 1 archimandrite 
of a great monastery just outside the walls of Constantinople. 
Eutyches was known as an ardent opponent of Nestorianism. He 
had distinguished himself on the side of St. Cyril at Ephesus. 2 
He was also a person of considerable importance ; in his monastery 
he ruled over three hundred monks. He was a kind of leader of 
Byzantine monasticism in his time, known and respected by all 
the empire. He was also godfather, spiritual director and 
intimate friend of the Grand Chamberlain and Chief Eunuch 
Chrysaphios, leading minister of the Emperor Theodosius II 
(408-450). Eutyches conceived the idea of perfecting the work 
of the Council of Ephesus. Nestorianism, he thought, was not 
yet dead. It lived still in that suspicious Eastern school. In 
this enterprise he could count on the support of Egypt and the 
Egyptian Patriarch, besides that of his friends at court. So he 
began preaching what purported to be a crushing attack on 

He went far beyond St. Cyril. The basis of the Catholic 
position was Cyril's agreement with John of Antioch in 433 
(p. 73). Cyril had then accepted John's profession of faith 
which defended " the union of two natures " 3 in our Lord ; he 
himself had written in his famous letter of union (Lcetentur cceli) : 
" Therefore Jesus Christ is one, although the difference of natures, 
indelibly united, may not be ignored." 4 Eutyches apparently 
thought this a concession to John and the " Easterns " which 
should now be revoked. His theory was a complete fusion and 
identification of the natures in Christ. A result of this idea was 
that he said plainly that our Lord was not " consubstantial " 
with other men, had not the same nature as we have. So here 
his heresy is patent. This flatly contradicts Scripture : 5 our 
Lord would not really be man. But Eutyches went beyond what 

1 EVTV\7}S. 

2 Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. ii. (i), p. 513 (Dom Leclercq's note) ; Hefele 
himself doubts whether Eutyches was actually at Ephesus (ib. p. 514). 

3 Swo yap <pv<Tfo>v evwais ye-)oi>6. See the letter in Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. 
ii. (1), p. 396. 

4 Such expressions as this and the whole text of the letter show that 
St. Cyril was not a Monophysite. See above, p. 73. 

5 E.g. Heb. iv. 15 ; Rom. v. 15 ; 1 Tim. ii. 5. 


became later the Monophysite creed. This is of great importance. 
Most modern Monophysites (e.g. the Armenians) will deny that 
they hold Eutyches' doctrine. They are generally as ready to 
condemn him as we are. People think that this proves them to be 
innocent of the heresy with which they are charged. It does not 
do so at all. A man may be as pure a Monophysite as was 
Dioscor, and may yet disagree with Eutyches on several points. 
For he evolved the extraordinary idea that our Lord has two 
natures before the hypostatic union, but that then (presumably at 
his incarnation) these two natures were fused into one. 1 There 
are other altogether wild ideas in Eutyches's system. Christ's 
body was not formed of his mother. It was created by the Logos 
long before his birth ; the Logos assumed this body, fusing it with 
the Divinity, in the womb of the blessed Virgin. She was thus 
only the channel through which her so-called son passed. 2 Thus 
Eutyches arrived at a curious conclusion. Starting as the great 
champion of Ephesine doctrine, of which the dogma that Mary is 
Mother of God is the very essence, he came to a conclusion which 
(were he logical) denied that dogma. A channel through which 
a totally disconnected being passes, a person who is merely the 
place in which a pre-existent body is combined with the eternal 
nature of that being, is in no possible sense his mother. 3 

Now, much of this goes far beyond mere Monophysism. A 
Monophysite is a man who believes in the identity of the human 
nature and the Divine nature in Christ. 4 It is quite possible to 
hold this heresy without accepting Eutyches' further wild theories 
about a pre-existing body of Christ, and so on. Hence, almost 
from the beginning of the dispute many Monophysites were quite 

1 St. Leo I points out that the exact contrary is true. " Eutyches says • 
I confess that our Lord was in two natures before their union ; but after 
the union I confess one nature ... he says that the only-begotten Son 
of God had two natures before the incarnation, as impiously as he wickedly 
asserts one nature in him after the Word had become flesh." Ep. xxviii. 
cap. 6 (P.L. liv. 777). 

2 This revives a very common idea of the old Docetes ; see Docetism in 
Dr. J. Hastings' Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics (Edinburgh: T. & T. 
Clark, 1911), iv. 832-835. 

3 A statement of Eutyches' strange system will be found in Hefele-Leclercq: 
op. cit. ii. (1), p. 515. 

4 Practically, as we shall see, a Monophysite is a man who rejects the 
dogmatic decree of the Council of Chalcedon. 


ready to throw Eutyches overboard. We must remember that a 
man or a national Church is by no means proved innocent of 
Monophysism because of a declaration against Eutyches. 1 

As soon as the Archimandrite of the great Byzantine laura 
began to propagate these novel ideas he found indignant oppo- 
nents, naturally first among the " Eastern " theologians. They 
had given up Nestorianism, they accepted the union of 433 
between Antioch and Alexandria ; but they were not prepared 
to admit the extremest form of anti-Nestorianism. It was one 
thing to acknowledge our Lord as one person, in the strictest 
sense ; it was quite another to conceive his human nature so lost 
that he would not be a man at all. The Easterns were quite 
right. Monophysism is a much worse heresy than Nestorianism. 
Of the two errors it is less harmful to conceive our Lord as a moral 
union between two hypostases than to deny that he was really 
man at all. Theodoret of Cyrus in 447 published a dialogue which 
he called The Beggar, or the many-shaped one. 2 In this, without 
naming Eutyches, he attacks the new heresy. The title means 
that these Monophysites are people who beg their ideas from many 
old heretics, from Gnostics, Docetes, Apollinarists. The book is 
in the form of three dialogues between the " Beggar " and an 
orthodox Christian, who, of course, confutes all the beggar's 
arguments and exposes the viciousness of his theory. The 
parties were now formed. It is no longer a question of the 
orthodox who defend Christ's oneness against Nestorians, but of 
orthodox who defend his real human nature against Monophysites. 
The Egyptians, who see in Eutyches a defender of the teaching of 
Cyril and Ephesus, are for him ; the Eastern (Syrian) school is for 

Meanwhile Proclus of Constantinople was dead (447), and 
was succeeded by Flavian (447-449). This Flavian is the 
hero of the Catholic side in the Eastern Empire. He was not a 
man of any great parts ; but he knew enough theology to under- 

1 For this reason it is convenient and not uncommon to distinguish between 
two heresies, Eutychianism (meaning the acceptance of all Eutyches' ideas), 
and Monophysism (meaning the assertion of one nature in Christ and the 
rejection of the Faith of Chalcedon). Hefele makes this distinction (ed. cit. 
ii. (2), 857-858). 

2 'Epaviar}]5 t)toi wo\v/j.op4>os (P.G. lxjpdii. 27-336). 


stand that a system which denied our Lord's humanity is intoler- 
able. He was throughout a firm champion of the faith against 
the new heresy, and he died a martyr for that faith. Meanwhile 
old Nestorius from his place of exile watched this struggle, saw 
(not unnaturally) in Flavian the man who would rehabilitate his 
own ideas, and conceived the struggle between Flavian and Dioscor 
as merely a repetition of the fight between himself and Cyril. 

The man who comes out best in the whole Monophysite contro- 
versy is the Pope of Rome. It has often happened in the story of 
a great heresy that the earthly head of the Church was not the 
leading champion of her faith. Popes have not always been the 
greatest theologians of their time. Some other bishop (Athan- 
asius, Cyril, Augustine) has led the attack against the new 
heresy and the Pope has approved, giving to their side the 
enormous weight of his authority. But this time it was not so. 
When Monophysism began the chair of St. Peter was occupied by 
one of the very greatest of his successors, Leo I, called the Great 
(440-461). St. Leo was a skilled theologian. We count him one 
of the chief Latin Fathers of the Church. He was perfectly com- 
petent to understand the danger of Eutyches's heresy ; through- 
out the first period of Monophysism (till he died in 461) he is to 
the Catholic side what Athanasius had been in Arian times. 

Domnus of Antioch took up the cause of Theodoret. 1 Mean- 
while some of Eutyches' monks went to Alexandria to ensure the 
support of Dioscor. As long as Theodosius II lived, the court was 
for the Monophysites. Very likely the Emperor thought that 
Domnus and Theodoret were trying to revive Nestorianism ; and 
Eutyches had the ear of the Chief Chamberlain Chrysaphios. So 
Theodosius wrote an angry letter back to Domnus telling him 
that all Nestorians must be deposed and excommunicated. 
Eutyches wrote to Pope Leo, warning him against this " Eastern " 
backsliding into Nestorianism. The Pope answered cautiously, 
refusing to take any steps till he had heard more of the matter. 2 
Then Eusebius of Dorylaeum 3 brought the matter up at a meeting 

1 Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Cone. ii. (1), 509. 

2 Ep. xx. (P.L. liv. 713). 

3 Eusebius was in no way suspect of Nestorianism. He had been one of 
the first opponents of Nestorius and a great defender of the Theot6kos. 
Dorylaeum (AopvXcuof) is in Phrygia. 


of the Synod of Constantinople l in November 44s. 2 Flavian was 
at first not very willing to act in the matter ; but Eusebius 
insisted. So Eutyches was summoned, refused to leave his 
monastery, and got up a (heretical) declaration of his faith, which 
was signed by a great number of his monks. After a great deal of 
discussion he at last came and was heard. He was found guilty 
of Apollinarism and Valentinianism, 3 deposed and excommuni- 
cated. The chief offence on his part was that he taught that 
Christ is not " of the same nature as we are/' 4 which shows that 
his judges well understood the real issue from the first. So this 
synod at Constantinople in 448 adds the parallel clause to what 
Nicaea had declared in 325. Then, against the Arians, the Church 
had declared our Lord to be consubstantial to the Father ; in this 
controversy she declared, against the Monophysites, that he is 
consubstantial to us men. In other words, our Saviour is truly 
God and truly man, which is the faith of the gospels. The 
synod in condemning Eutyches carefully explained that the faith 
of St. Cyril and of Ephesus was not to be questioned. 5 

2. The Robber-Synod of Ephesus (449) 

Eutyches was not prepared to submit to his condemnation. 
Instead he wrote letters justifying his ideas to the Pope ; 6 to St. 
Peter Chrysologus (f c. 450), Archbishop of Ravenna, a great 
theologian among the Latins ; 7 apparently also to Dioscor of 
Alexandria and his Egyptian friends. These at once took up his 
cause hotly. So did his friends at Court. The Emperor Theo- 
dosius II was entirely under the influence of Eutyches' patron 
Chrysaphios ; as long as he lived Eutyches triumphed. The 

1 This is not a special synod called together to judge this case, but the 
permanent council of advisers of the Patriarch, called ZvvoSos evd-qaova-a, 
a regular institution of the Byzantine Patriarchate (Orth. Eastern Church, 
p. 3 1 )- 2 Mansi, vi. 652. 

3 Because Valentinians were Docetes. 

4 ovk flwov . . . ojxoovctlov t]ij7v (Mansi, vi. 741). 

5 For this Synod of 448 see Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. ii. (1), pp. 518-538. 
Its acts are in Mansi, vi. 649-824. 

6 Ep. Eutychis ad Leonem ; No. xxi. among St. Leo's letters (P.L. liv. 
714-717) ; also in Mansi, v. 1014-1015. 

7 In Mansi, v. 1347. 


Emperor summoned a synod to revise the judgement of Flavian. 
It was to meet at Ephesus, like the council of 431. The Pope was, 
of course, invited. He could not come (Attila was just then at 
the gates of Rome) ; but he sent legates— Julius, Bishop of 
Puteoli, a priest Renatus, a deacon Hilarius, 1 and a notary 
Dulcitius. They brought letters to the Emperor, to Flavian of 
Constantinople, to the monks of the city, and to the synod. St. 
Leo's letter to Flavian is the most important document of this 
story. It is his famous Tome or Dogmatic Letter. 2 In his other 
letters he refers to this one as containing a plain statement of the 
Catholic faith. The Dogmatic Letter of Leo I to Flavian 
categorically rejects Eutyches' novelties. 3 It states the Catholic 
faith exactly as all Catholics (and the Orthodox too) have learned 
it in their catechism ; the technical terms and language generally 
are those we still use. Our Lord is one person having two natures, 
of God and of man. Each nature is real, complete, perfect. 
" The property of either nature and substance 4 remaining and 
being joined in one person, lowliness is assumed by majesty, 
weakness by might, mortality by the eternal. To pay the debt 
of our condition an inviolable nature is joined to a nature which 
can suffer ; so that, as befits our salvation, one and the same 
mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, could die 
in one nature, could not die in the other. Therefore God was born 
in the perfect nature of a true man, perfect in his own (nature), 
perfect in ours. We say in ours, which the Creator made in the 
beginning,. which he assumed to redeem it. . . . Wherefore he, who 
remaining in the form of God created man, he the same in the form 
of a servant was made man. Either nature holds without defect 
its properties ; as the form of God does not destroy the form of 
a servant, so the form of a servant does not lessen the form 
of God." 5 

1 Afterwards Pope Hilarius (461-468). 

2 No. xxviii. among St. Leo's letters (P.L. liv. 755-781 ; Mansi, v. 1366) ; 
see Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. ii. (1), 567-580. 

3 The constant references to Eutyches in this letter are, together with 
the fact that his condemnation began the great controversy, the reason why 
he has acquired undeserved importance as the founder of Monophysism. 
Really his case was only an incident in the great quarrel. 

4 Nature, substance, essence mean the same thing. 
6 P.L. liv. 763. 


The Dogmatic Letter of St. Leo became the symbol of all 
Catholics throughout this quarrel. It is this which was solemnly 
accepted by the fathers of Chalcedon when they cried out/' Peter 
has spoken by Leo " (p. 178). The Pope further says that when 
Eutyches has withdrawn his error, the old man is to be treated 

But the last thing Eutyches thought of was to withdraw his 
error. All the weight of Egypt under its " ecclesiastical Pharaoh " 
was coming to back up the obstinate monk. 

On August 8, 449, Dioscor opened the synod in the great Church 
of the Theot6kos at Ephesus, the same church in which the former 
council had been held. He had arrived with twenty bishops and 
a great crowd of parabolani, sturdy fellows armed with clubs, who 
understood nothing about nature and person, but were going to 
brain anyone who annoyed their Pharaoh. 1 The Emperor sent 
Count Elpidius and many soldiers to protect Eutyches. This is, 
then, the infamous " Robber-Synod " 2 of Ephesus. No synod 
in all Church history has left such a name for flagrant brutality. 
Three hundred and sixty bishops attended, many of them creatures 
of Dioscor. The others afterwards (at Chalcedon) said that they 
had only agreed with him in a panic at his brutal violence. 
Dioscor presided 3 and made the synod do all he wished. There 
was no pretence at a free discussion. The Emperor had com- 
manded the bishops to crush Flavian and restore Eutyches ; 
Dioscor made them do so. The synod lasted two days. 4 On the 
first day (August 8, 449) Dioscor called for the soldiers ; they and 
the crowd of his parabolani rushed into the church ; there followed 
the scene of wild disorder which gained for this meeting its name 
of a gang of brigands. Eutyches was declared innocent ; his 

1 The Parabolani (irapafioAcivot, " exposers of their own life ") were a 
corporation at Alexandria, originally founded to nurse the sick. They 
became a kind of rowdy bodyguard of the Patriarch and a public danger 
to peaceful citizens. It was the Parabolani who murdered Hypatia in 415. 

2 Latrocinium Ephesinum, avvodos \-narpiKri. It is St. Leo's name for 
it (Ep. xcv. 2 ; P.L. liv. 943), which has become its regular title. 

3 This was, of course, already an offence against right order. The Papal 
legates should have presided ; see Duchesne, Hist. anc. de I'lkglise, iii. 415, 
n. 1, for an explanation of this anomaly. 

4 This is the usual theory (Hefele : op. cit. ii. (1) 585 ; Duchesne : op. cit. 
419). But see Leclercq's note (Hefele, he. cit.). 


absurd formula — that our Lord had two natures before the hypo- 
static union, one after it — was approved. There were shouts and 
cries, " Eusebius (of Dorylaeum) to the fire ! Burn him alive ! 
Cut him in half ! " The opponents of Eutyches were to be thrown 
in the sea. The wretched bishops were driven about, threatened, 
struck ; Flavian clung to the altar. The soldiers tore him from 
it, and so maltreated him that he died a few days afterwards. The 
Roman legates cried out their protest, " Contradicitur," then 
left the tumult in disgust. Dioscor spared no violence to the 
trembling bishops. Terrified for their lives, they signed the acts 
condemning and deposing Flavian, restoring Eutyches. On August 
22 a second session was held, in which Domnus of Antioch, 
Theodoret of Cyrus, and a number of Eastern bishops were deposed. 
Flavian and the legates were not present at this second session. 
One of the legates, Hilary, later (as Pope) built a chapel in the 
Lateran basilica as a votive-offering that he had escaped with his 
life from the riot at Ephesus. 1 Then Dioscor sent a copy of the 
acts to the Emperor ; Theodosius approved them and thought he 
had settled the matter. Anatolius (449-458) was made Bishop 
of Constantinople in place of Flavian, and Maximus was set up 
at Antioch instead of Domnus. 2 

But Dioscor had counted without the Pope. From all sides 
appeals and protests came to Rome. Flavian had time to appeal 
before he died. Theodoret sent a letter of appeal, 3 and the 
legates who had escaped from Dioscor 's violence came back and 
told Leo what had happened. St. Leo then held a local synod 4 
and protested against the Robber-Synod. Dioscor, in answer, 
had the impudence to pretend to excommunicate the Pope. 
Referring to this, the Council of Chalcedon writes to Leo : " the 
enemy like a beast roaring to himself outside the fold . . . had 
stretched his madness even towards you, to whom the care of the 

1 The inscription over the door of the chapel of St. John the Evangelist 
may still be read : " Liberatori suo beato Iohanni euangelistae Hilarius 
episcopus famulus Christi." 

2 The acts of the Robber-Synod are in Mansi, vi. 827-870 ; for the whole 
story see Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, ii. (1), pp. 584-606. 

3 This is the famous letter which contains such strong things about the 
Primacy (P.G. liv. 848-854) ; see Orth. Eastern Church, 56. 

4 October 13 or 15, 449 ; Mansi, vi. 509 ; Hefele-Leclercq ii. (1), 625. 


vineyard was given by the Saviour ; that is, as we say, against 
your Holiness ; and has conceived an excommunication against 
you, who hasten to unite the body of the Church." 1 

3. The Council of Chalcedon (451) 

The court was on Dioscor's side ; Anatolius, the new Bishop of 
Constantinople, was a mere creature of Dioscor. 2 There would 
have been great trouble, no doubt a schism, between the East and 
Rome ; but that just then, fortunately for everyone but himself, 
the Emperor Theodosius II died (July 28, 450). His sister 
Pulcheria succeeded him. She married a soldier Marcian, who 
thereby became Emperor. 3 Marcian and Pulcheria were con- 
spicuously pious and orthodox. Marcian at once wrote a most 
respectful letter to the Pope, calling him guardian of the faith, 
and declares himself anxious to assist a great synod authorized by 
Leo. 4 He hopes that Leo himself will be able to come to it ; if not, 
Marcian will summon it to some convenient place. It shall define 
the faith according to Leo's dogmatic letter to Flavian. 5 Pul- 
cheria writes in the same way. She too says the synod is to be 
summoned by the Pope's authority. 6 Leo had asked Theodosius 
II to summon a council ; 7 clearly they mean only to carry out his 
wish. Already in November 450 Anatolius of Constantinople had 
held a local synod in the presence of the legates whom Leo had sent 
to Marcian at his accession (Abundius of Como and others) . In this 
he had formally accepted Leo's dogmatic letter and had sent it to 
be signed by all Eastern Metropolitans, 8 with a condemnation of 
both Nestorius and Eutyches. He also sent notice of this to Leo, 
with a protest of his orthodoxy and a demand to be recognized as 
Flavian's lawful successor. In spite of the stain on his accession 
(he was ordained by Dioscor after the murder of Flavian), Leo, 
seeing him to be not a Monophysite, recognized him " rather in 

1 P.L. liv. 954 ; Orth. Eastern Church, p. 37. 

2 He had been Dioscor's legate (apocrisarius) at the capital. 

3 See the Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. "Marcian" (ix. 644-645). 

4 aov avQ4vTos. Ep. 73 among those of St. Leo (P.L. liv. 900). 
6 Ep. 76 (P.L. liv. 904). 

6 Ep. 77 (P.L. liv. 906-908). 7 Ep. 44, 3 (P.L. liv. 826). 

8 Anatolius is already behaving as a Patriarch. 


mercy than in justice." x For a time the Pope hoped to restore 
peace without so serious a step as another great council. Moreover, 
the times were bad. Attila was raging in the West, Geiserich and his 
Vandals were an imminent danger. 2 Meanwhile, however, Marcian, 
thinking that he was carrying out the Pope's wish, 3 summoned all 
the bishops of the empire to a synod to be opened at Nicaea on 
May 17, 451. Leo then, seeing what had happened, agreed. He 
could not come to the council himself ; but he sent as his legates 
Paschasinus, Bishop of Lilybaeum in Sicily, and a priest named 
Boniface. The bishops came to Nicaea, but the Emperor wrote 
and told them to wait till he could join them himself : he was 
busy defending the empire against the Huns. They complained 
of the delay ; then he told them to go to Chalcedon, a suburb of 
Constantinople across the Bosphorus ; 4 there he could attend to 
the council without leaving the capital. 5 On October 8, 451, the 
bishops opened the council in the Church of St. Euphemia at 
Chalcedon. This synod, the fourth general Council of Church 
history, which has made the name of that obscure suburb so 
famous, completed the work begun at Ephesus in 431, and finally 
settled the question of our Lord's nature and person. It is famous 
for two other things as well. First Chalcedon, the largest synod 
of antiquity, is also the most pronounced in its recognition of the 
Pope's primacy. Nothing could exceed the plainness with which 
these fathers recognize the Pope as supreme bishop and visible 
head of the whole Church, or of their acknowledgement that his 
confirmation is necessary to give authority to all they do. 6 
Secondly, it was this Council which, in its famous 28th Canon, 
made Constantinople into a Patriarchate, giving it the second 

1 Ep. Leonis 104 ad Marcianum : " Nos vestrae fidei et inter ventionis 
habentes intuitum, cum secundum suae consecrationis auctores eius initia 
titubarent, benigniores circa eum quam iustiores esse voluimus. . . . 
Vestrae pietatis auxilio et mei favoris assensu episcopatum tantae urbis 
obtinuit " (P.L. iiv. 995). 

2 See Leo's letters to Marcian, No. 78 ; to Pulcheria, 79 ; to Anatolius, 
80 (P.L. Iiv. 907-909, 909-912, 912-915). Geiserich sacked Rome in 455. 

3 It is clear that this was a misunderstanding. Marcian had not yet 
received Leo's later letter disparaging the idea of a council. Hefele- 
Leclercq : op. cit. ii. (1), 639. 

4 Now Kadikoi. 5 His letter is in Mansi, v. 557. 

6 The texts which show this will be found in the Orth. Eastern Church, 
PP- 36-37, 40-4 1 - 


place after Rome. 1 The Council held altogether twenty-one 
sessions 2 lasting till November 1. Of these only the first eight 3 
have oecumenical authority (October 8-25) . Altogether about 630 
bishops attended ; we have noted that Chalcedon is considerably 
the largest synod of antiquity. All were Easterns, except the 
legates and two Africans. 

The Papal legates presided, as representing the chief Patriarch. 
There is no doubt at all about this. They sit in the first place, 
open the Council, and sign the acts first. The Council writes to 
the Pope : " You, as being the head, presided in the person of those 
who represented you." 4 Leo himself says of his legates : "They 
presided over the Eastern Synod in my place." 5 The Emperor 
sent a number of commissioners to keep order and to arrange 
practical details. 6 They had, of course, no vote. The Council 
says of them : " The Emperor ruled for the sake of order." 7 The 
Papal legates were Paschasinus Bishop of Lilybaeum, Lucentius 
Bishop of Ascoli, and the Roman priest Boniface. Julian, Bishop 
of Cos in the Cyclades, had an additional commission from the Pope ; 
he acts with the others as supplementary legate. But he had not 
been named with the others in Leo's original letters ; he was an 
Eastern bishop, under the jurisdiction of John of Rhodes, so he 
sat, not with the legates, but among the bishops. 8 After the 
legates sat Anatolius of Constantinople. This place, higher than 
that to which he had a right, has something to do with his obtain- 
ing it permanently by the 28th Canon. He should have sat below 
the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch. But Dioscor of 
Alexandria had already been condemned by the Pope. He 
appeared at the Council only as a culprit to be judged. Maximus 
of Antioch was a mere creature of Anatolius who was not likely to 
insist on his rights. 9 

Paschasinus as Papal legate opened the Council in Latin. He 

1 lb. 37-42- 

2 See the corrected table in Hefele-Leclercq, ii. (2), pp. 655-656. 

3 Generally numbered as six, the fourth having three parts. 

4 Mansi, vi. 148. * Ep. 103 (P.L. liv. 988). 

6 Their names in Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. ii. (2), 665. 

7 BcctnAeus 5e trphs tvnocrfxiav f^rjPX 0V t Mansi, vi. I47. 

8 For the reasons of his rather anomalous position see Hefele-Leclercq : 
ii. (2), 667, n. 1. 

9 Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 35-36. 



said : " The instructions of the most blessed and apostolic Bishop 
of Rome forbid us to sit here in company with Dioscor, Arch- 
bishop of Alexandria/' and he ordered him to leave his place 
among the judges and to sit in the middle to be judged. 1 The 
Secretary of the Council translated this command into Greek, 
and it was obeyed. Theodoret of Cyrus, on the other hand, was 
admitted among the bishops, because the Pope had restored him, in 
spite of the tumult of the Egyptians. They shrieked at Theodoret : 
" Turn out the teacher of Nestorius I " " Turn out the enemy 
of God ! " The " Eastern " bishops shouted back at Dioscor : 
" Turn out the murderer of Flavian ! " The Imperial commis- 
sioners called for order, and explained that this kind of thing did 
no good, and was not dignified conduct for bishops. Dioscor, 
Juvenal of Jerusalem and four other Monophysites were judged, 
condemned and deposed. They did not appear in the second 
session. The second session (October 10) heard and received the 
" Nicene " Creed, 2 two letters of St. Cyril, and the famous 
dogmatic letter of Leo to Flavian. It was then that the Fathers 
cried out the famous words : " This is the faith of the Fathers ; 
this is the faith of the Apostles. So do we all believe ; the ortho- 
dox believe this. Peter has spoken by Leo ! " 3 Some bishops 
now asked for mercy on those who had taken part in the Robber- 
Synod. These confessed that they had only taken Dioscor 's side 
in abject fear of his violence. In the third session (October 13) 
Eusebius of Dorylxum and others brought forth many accusa- 
tions against Dioscor. He was invited to hear them, but would 
not come. In the fourth session (October 17) his accomplices at the 
Robber-Synod retracted all they had done, signed the Pope's 
dogmatic letter, and were pardoned and restored. Dioscor him- 
self alone refused to submit. His deposition was confirmed, and 
it was ordered that a successor be chosen to fill his see. The fifth 
session (October 22) drew up the profession of faith of Chalcedon, 
which has ever since been the standard of the Catholic faith 
against both Nestorianism and Monophysism. It affirms again 
the faith of Ephesus in 431, and includes the Theot6kos : " We 
confess one and the same Christ Jesus, the only-begotten, in whom 

1 Mansi, vi. 580-581. 

2 Of course with the later additions. 3 Mansi, vi. 972. 


we acknowledge two natures without mixture, without change, 
without separation, without division ; 1 for the difference of the 
two natures is not suppressed by their union. On the contrary, 
the attributes of either nature are kept intact and subsist in one 
person and one hypostasis. We confess not a (Lord) divided and 
separated in several persons, but one only Son, only-begotten, the 
Word of God, our Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 

This, then, is the famous symbol 3 of Chalcedon, which henceforth 
is the test of Catholicism as opposed to Monophysism. From now 
the situation theologically becomes simple. A Catholic is (as far 
as the Christological question is concerned) one who accepts the 
dogmatic decree of the fifth session of Chalcedon ; a Monophysite 
is not a man who accepts all Eutyches' ideas, but one who rejects 
this. We shall still hear very much about Monophysite troubles. 
The disturbance lasted for centuries in the empire, and finally 
produced the four heretical Churches of which the stories remain 
to be told. But from now there is no more controversy among 
Catholics. The Monophysites soon settle down as rival sects . This 
symbol ends the discussion which began twenty-two years before, 
when Anastasius preached against the title Theotokos (p. 61). 
Now let the reader look again at this symbol and ask himself : 
Was it worth all this disturbance, these synods and anti-synods, 
depositions of bishops and anathemas, the noisy meetings and 
shrieking crowds which fill up so much of the 5th century, in order 
to arrive at a conclusion so obvious that one would think that 
any reasonable man who knew his New Testament would admit 
it at once ? 

The Council had done its work ; it would have been better if 
the bishops had gone home at once. However, they stayed at 
Chalcedon some time longer, and made further laws which were to 
have far-reaching and by no means happy results. Marcian and 

1 aavyKVTOis, aTp€TTTws (against Monophysism), aSicupercoy, dx^piVrcos 
(against Nestorianism) . 

2 The text of the whole decree is in Mansi.vii. 116; also in Hefele-Leclercq, 
ii. (2), 722-726 ; cf. Denzinger : Enchiridion, No. 148. For the question 
of the variant readings, eV 860 (pvaernv or e* dvo (pvaewv, in this declara- 
tion, see Hefele-Leclercq, ii. (2), p. 723, n. 1. 

3 Symbol in rather a different sense from the creed of Nicsea. That was 
as condensed a statement as possible ; this Chalcedonian declaration is 
long and detailed. 


Pulcheria had not so far honoured the synod with their Imperial 
presence. They now came to applaud and confirm all that had 
passed. The sixth session (October 25) saw them arrive in great 
pomp with a huge retinue and all the senators. Marcian made a 
speech in Latin x beginning, " Since my reign began I have always 
had the purity of the faith at heart," and expatiating on his own 
virtue and piety, 2 as Emperors do. And the bishops acclaimed 
him as bishops do : " Long life to the Emperor ! Long life to 
the Empress ! Glory to Marcian the new Const antine ! " The 
decrees of the Council were again read out with acclamations. 
Marcian declared them the law of the empire, and threatened dire 
penalties against all who should reject them. Again one asks 
why the Fathers did not now go home. 

But further sessions 3 dragged on till November 1. In these they 
made disciplinary canons. Theodoret of Cyrus anathematized 
Nestorius, and was now considered quite orthodox. 4 Juvenal of 
Jerusalem at last succeeded in getting his see raised to a Patriarch- 
ate, 5 and Anatolius persuaded the Council to raise Constantinople 
to the second place in Christendom. The 30 Canons (of which the 
28th gives this rank to Constantinople) were passed in the absence 
of the legates (session 15, October 31). The legates protested 
in the last session against the new position given to Constantinople, 
to the detriment of Alexandria and Antioch. 6 Rome and the West 
never accepted this canon. It remained as the germ from which 
the great schism would arise, four centuries later. 7 Then at last 

1 This detail may be noticed. Marcian and practically the whole synod 
spoke Greek naturally. Marcian probably knew very little Latin. But 
Latin was still the official language of the Roman Empire, and on so solemn 
an occasion as this the Emperor's dignity required that he should use it. 
The speech which he had laboriously learned in a foreign language then 
had to be translated into Greek, so that the bishops could understand it. 

2 Mansi, vii. 129-130. 

3 Leclercq counts ten more, sixteen altogether. 

4 Till the question of the Three Chapters began, in which he was again 
made a scapegoat, to please the Monophysites (p. 202). 

5 Orth. Eastern Church, p. 27. 

6 This is the reason of their protest and of that of St. Leo later. No one 
thought of attacking the Pope's first place. Constantinople was to be 
second after Rome. 

7 The whole question is discussed in the Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 


the Council was closed. 1 An exceptionally respectful letter was 
sent to the Pope, asking for his confirmation. 2 He confirmed the 
dogmatic decree, but explicitly rejected the 28th Canon. 3 On 
February 7, 452, Marcian, together with his Western colleague 
Valentinian III, 4 published a decree deposing and banishing all 
who resisted the Council. Eutyches died in exile just at this 
time"; Dioscor died, also exiled, at Ganges in Paphlagonia, 454. 5 

4. Later Monophysite Troubles 

It would seem now as if Monophysism were dead. A general 
Council had rejected it ; the Pope had confirmed its rejection. 
East and West alike condemned it. Unhappily, there was to be 
as tragic a sequel to this heresy as there had been to Arianism 
after Nicsea. It was still to cause enormous trouble in the 
Eastern Empire before it finally settled down in the heretical sects 
of Copts, Abyssinians, Jacobites and Armenians. Before we 
come to the special history of these sects it will be well to trace the 
general disturbance this heresy caused in the empire. This will 
lead us beyond the foundation of the separated Churches ; but it 
is more or less one story, which we may as well clear up before we 
leave the great Church of the empire and discuss their local history. 

After Chalcedon there was still a great number of people, 
chiefly in Egypt and Syria, who refused to accept its decrees, who 
sympathized with Dioscor and saw in his deposition an attack on 
St. Cyril and on the Council of Ephesus in 431, who thought 
Chalcedon had given way to Nestorianism. These are the Mono- 
physites, whom various Emperors will vainly try to conciliate. 
Out of these attempts to conciliate the Monophysites arise a 
crowd of minor heresies, compromises and evasive formulas which 
satisfy no one, which lead to fresh schisms and further confusions. 

1 For all the story of the Council of Chalcedon see Hefele-Leclercq : op, 
cit. ii. (2), 649-834. 2 P.G. liv. 958. 

3 Ep. 105 (P.L. liv. 997-1002), 114 (ib. 1027-1032). 

4 Emperor in the West, 423-455. 

5 For the Papal acceptance and sequel of Chalcedon see Hefele-Leclercq, 
ii. (2), 835-857. Note that the East, too, abandoned Canon 28 till it was 
revived by Photius [ib. 855-857). It has never been included in any collec- 
tion of canon law made by Catholics. As Orthodox canon law it dates, 
not from Chalcedon, but from their schism. 


There are subdivisions and all manner of strange new heresies 
among the Monophysites themselves ; one of these off-shoots of 
Monophysism falls into the worst abomination of which a so-called 
Christian can possibly be guilty — Polytheism ; for there was a 
sect of people who at last plainly said there are three Gods (p. 208). 
The 6th century in Eastern Christendom offers a desolating 
picture of confused heresies. And all the time the Barbarians 
loom on the frontiers of the empire. Never had Roman 
citizens so urgent reason to stand together and keep off the 
common foe as at this time, when they were tearing each other, 
murdering, raising tumults, deposing Emperors for the sake of 
ambiguous formulas. And then in the hot desert of Arabia arose 
the little cloud which was to burst over the richest province of the 
empire. Now from the churches for which these sects quarrelled 
and fought the altars have been taken away ; from their towers 
the mu'eddin proclaims that Mohammed is the Apostle of God. 
It is a dismal story ; one can hardly deny that these preposterous 
Eastern Christians deserved the appalling disaster which swept 
over all their sects. Meanwhile, with the one exception of Pope 
Vigilius' incident (pp. 201-205), the whole West behind its 
Patriarch stood solid for Chalcedon and watched the turmoil in 
the East scornfully. 

There is another general issue to be considered in the later 
Monophysite quarrels. Was the heresy their real motive at all ? 
It is difficult to believe that the reason which drove crowds of 
Egyptian peasants and Syrian monks to wild acts of violence, 
to rebellion, fighting, burning soldiers alive, was an abstruse 
question about our Lord's nature. So most historians see in all 
this story really a political motive, working under guise of a 
theological dispute. Egypt and Syria were just the two provinces 
in the East which had never been really loyal to the empire. 
They had never been thoroughly Hellenized. Both kept their own 
languages, both had ancient civilizations of their own, totally 
different from that of the Greek court of the Roman Emperor at 
Constantinople. To Syria and Egypt he was a foreign conqueror. 
The governors and soldiers whom he sent to keep order in these 
provinces were foreigners, holding down unwilling natives by 
force. So these countries were always ready for revolt, always 


gave trouble to the Government. We see how loose was the bond 
which held them to the empire by the ease with which they fell a 
prey to the Arabs in the 7th century. In Syria and Egypt the 
natives welcomed, instead of resisting, these enemies of the 
empire. It was no doubt this same feeling of local patriotism, of 
anti-imperialism, which made the natives of these countries 
Monophysites. To Egyptians especially it was a matter of 
national honour. They remembered the Council of Ephesus in 
431 as the great triumph of Egypt over the " East " and over 
Constantinople. There the Egyptian Patriarch had deposed the 
Bishop of Constantinople. St. Cyril was their great national hero. 
Understanding very little of the theological issue, the Egyptian 
monks, parabolani, peasants, triumphed again when at Ephesus in 
449 their Patriarch once more deposed a Bishop of Constantinople. 
It was the same thing over again. As Cyril had defeated Nes- 
torius, so didDioscor, Cyril's successor, defeat Flavian, Nestorius's 
successor. And then Chalcedon reversed the process. There 
Anatolius of Constantinople and the Emperor deposed Dioscor. 
It was an appalling, an unheard-of outrage on Egypt that its 
Patriarch, its " ecclesiastical Pharaoh," should stand as a culprit 
before Byzantine bishops, should be deposed, excommunicated, 
banished. So Egypt rose to defend its Pharaoh, to defend the 
cause of Ephesus and Cyril, which was the cause of the old 
Fatherland by the Nile. It was Egyptians who first persuaded 
people in Syria and Palestine to join them in the common cause 
against the Emperor and his Government. The decrees of 
Chalcedon were made the law of the empire ; they were enforced 
by Government, sometimes very cruelly. So these provinces 
found in resisting Chalcedon an outlet for their simmering hos- 
tility to the Emperor. What really mattered most to the great 
crowd of Monophysites who remained after Chalcedon was not a 
difficult point of metaphysics : it was that the Government wanted 
to enforce this teaching — therefore they were against it. The faith 
of Chalcedon was Caesar's religion, therefore it was not theirs. If 
they could not overturn Caesar's rule altogether, at anyrate they 
could stir up riots in this matter and could show how they hated 
him by refusing to accept his theology. 
Then there was the usual reversed movement. As heresy 


sprang from political movements, so did political movements 
spring from the heresy. The Monophysites became a powerful 
and dangerous faction. They had their own leaders in politics ; 
the question of conciliating the Monophysites comes up continu- 
ally, in the usurpations and rivalries around the Imperial throne 
there are pretenders — claimants who come forward avowedly as 
champions of Monophysism, who are backed by all Monophysites, 
while the Chalcedonians fight against them. 

The first scene of Monophysite agitation was naturally Egypt. 
Egypt heard of the humiliation of its hero Dioscor with fury. Al- 
ready at Chalcedon thirteen Egyptian bishops refused to sign the 
decrees. 1 After the Council the party in Egypt which accepted 
it 2 elected one Proterius, formerly a priest of Alexandria, 3 who 
accepted Chalcedon, to succeed Dioscor. We have already seen 
that Dioscor was banished to Gangra in Paphlagonia, and died 
there in 454. Before he died, the Egyptian Monophysites send a 
deputation to assure him of their unswerving fidelity to him and 
to his Robber-Synod. The Emperor, on the other hand, pub- 
lished a new decree (July 28, 452) threatening dire penalties 
against all who do not acknowledge Proterius. So we have al- 
ready clearly the two parties in Egypt. The " Imperial " party, 
the Greek garrison, officials, governors — in short, the foreign ruling 
class — obey the Emperor, accept Chalcedon and acknowledge 
Proterius. This party acquires a name which was to become 
famous in Egypt and Syria, which is still used, though now in a 
different sense. They are the " Imperialists," in Greek /WiAikoi. 4 
In Syria the Emperor (/Sao-iAeus) is always malkd, in Arabic 
almalik. From this comes the form Melkite? meaning exactly 

1 Their excuse was ingenious. They said that their Patriarch was 
deposed ; no other had yet been appointed. Therefore they had no chief 
and could not do anything. Mansi, vii. 482. 

2 That is the Court party, the Greek official class. Liberatus calls them 
the " nobiles civitatis " (Breviarium Histories Nestorianorum et Eutychi- 
anorum, written between 560 and 566, cap. 14 ; P.L. Ixviii. 1016). These 
are the first " Melkites." 

3 Liberatus calls him Archpriest (ib.) ; Eutychius of Alexandria (933-940 ; 
Contextio gemmarum, P.G. cxi. 1054) says he was Archdeacon. 

4 So Timothy Salophakiolos, Proterius' successor, is called &cl(ti\ik6s 
by Evagrius (Hist. Eccl. ii. 11 ; P.G. lxxxvi. 2533). 

5 Me\KiTr)s, with a Greek ending. The Syriac form is malkdyd, Arabic 


the same as /WiAikoY A Melkite, then, is a man, in Syria or 
Egypt, who accepts Chalcedon, the opposite of a Monophysite — in 
short, an orthodox Catholic. So the name is used down to the 
great schism between the " Orthodox " and Catholics in the 
nth century. Since then, though it has still sometimes been 
used for both sides in that schism, 1 the name Melkite, by a strange 
accident, is generally restricted to people in these lands who are 
in union with the Pope and use the Byzantine rite. 2 Now, Byzan- 
tine Uniates in Semitic countries are the Melkites. But before 
the great schism Catholics and " Orthodox " are one, so we may 
call them indifferently by either name, or Melkites, as opposed to 
Monophysites and other heretics. Opposed, bitterly opposed, to 
the Melkites, to the Emperor's Patriarch Proterius, was the great 
mass of the native Egyptian population. Especially now we see 
how much politics had to do with this heresy. The native 
Egyptians, who kept their own language, hating the empire and 
the Imperial functionaries and soldiers, were ardent Monophysites, 
loathed Proterius and clung to Dioscor, their national hero. 
Since the Egyptian language is already Coptic, we may now call 
these Egyptian Monophysites Copts (p. 215). We shall see that 
they become the national Church of Egypt. The Emperor sent 
an additional garrison of 2000 soldiers to Alexandria to keep down 
the Monophysites and enforce Proterius's authority. Proterius 
did enforce his authority ; he oppressed the natives cruelly. Then 
came the news of Dioscor's death in 454. 3 This should have 
helped to bring about order by removing Proterius's rival. In- 
stead, it inflamed his adherents with the memory of his sufferings. 
The Copts, the great crowd of Egyptian monks, who had never 
recognized Proterius, clamoured for a successor to Dioscor. 
Naturally Proterius, the garrison and the Melkites would not 
admit that Dioscor needed a successor. Just then the Emperor 
Marcian died (February 1, 457). He was succeeded by Leo I (457- 
474). The Copts took advantage of the inevitable disturbance 
at a change of reign to break into open revolt. Their leader was 

1 This should be noted Even now the Orthodox, as well as Uniates, 
are sometimes called Melkites, in the old sense, as opposed to Monophysites. 

2 It is a strange accident, since Imperial is just what the Uniates 
are not. 

3 The Copts keep his memory as that of a saint and martyr (p. 287). 


one Timothy, surnamed the Cat. 1 He had been a friend of St. 
Cyril, then of Dioscor. He was a pronounced Monophysite, though 
he formally rejected Eutyches's special ideas. 2 Now he emerges 
as the chief Monophysite leader after Dioscor's death ; he is one of 
the founders of the heretical Coptic Church. Timothy was schis- 
matically ordained by three Monophysite bishops as Dioscor's 
successor. Proterius, protected by the soldiers, of course refused 
to acknowledge him in any way. But at Easter 457, Proterius was 
murdered by the mob, and his body was dragged around the city. 
Timothy at once occupied the Patriarch's palace, excommunicated 
and drove out all Chalcedonian bishops. These protested to the 
Emperor. 3 Meanwhile the mob shut up the soldiers in the old 
Serapeion (Temple of Serapis), set fire to it, and burned them alive. 
All Egypt was in an uproar. Timothy also had written to the 
Emperor asking to be recognized as Patriarch of Alexandria. 
The Emperor (Leo I) embarked on that futile policy of trying to 
conciliate the Monophysites which was to cause so much trouble 
for centuries. Instead of rejecting the Cat's insolent petition at 
once, instead of sending an army to avenge the massacre of his 
soldiers and punish the rebels, he fell back on the time-honoured 
expedient of summoning a new council to discuss Timothy's 
claim and, presumably, to reopen the whole question settled by 
Chalcedon. Anatolius of Constantinople urged him to do this. 
The self-styled Patriarch of Constantinople still felt uncertain 
about his position and his 28th Canon of Chalcedon. The legates 
and then the Pope had rejected it formally. Anatolius thought 
that a new council might, incidentally, fortify and regularize his 
own position. So in October 457, Leo, the Emperor, sent out a 
letter (composed by Anatolius) 4 to all bishops of the empire, 
asking their opinion about events in Egypt, and inviting them to 
a synod to discuss the matter. But this time there was no council. 
With one exception 5 they all answered that there is nothing to 

1 Tiix6dtos Mkovpos. Kl\ovpos is a cat or weasel ; in Egypt more likely to 
be a cat. This is apparently a nickname given by his enemies. 

2 This is again evidence that a man may be a Monophysite and yet reject 

3 Evagrius : Hist. Eccl. ii. 8 (P.G. lxxxvi. 2524-2525) ; Mansi, vii. 

4 Mansi, vii. 521-522 ; cf. 795. 5 Amphilochins of Side in Pamphylia. 


discuss. Chalcedon has settled the question ; Timothy is a 
heretic and a bloodthirsty rebel ; he must be turned out. 1 
Pope Leo answers strongly to the same effect ; he wants no more 
synods about Monophysism, he insists that Timothy can never be 
acknowledged lawful Patriarch of the see which he has iniquit- 
ously seized. 2 Then Anatolius died (July 3, 458), and was suc- 
ceeded by Gennadius I (458-471), a learned and accomplished 
person, 3 firmly devoted to the faith of Chalcedon. Gennadius 
and the uncompromising answers of the Pope and bishops per- 
suaded the Emperor to give up his idea of a new synod. Instead, 
he took a stronger line and banished Timothy the Cat. It was 
not till early in 460 that the Imperial garrison again obtained 
enough power in Egypt to carry out this sentence. Then the Cat 
was brought to Constantinople and sent into exile in the Cher- 
sonesus. He ought to have been put to death for a rebel and a 
murderer. Another Timothy, called Salophakiolos, 4 a Catholic, 
was made Patriarch of Alexandria. He was kind to the Mono- 
physites, perhaps too ready to compromise with them. They are 
reported by Libera tus to have said to him : " If we do not com- 
municate with you, yet we love you." 5 

Meanwhile, there was as much trouble in Palestine. 6 Juvenal 
of Jerusalem was one of Dioscor's chief supporters at the Robber- 
Synod. At Chalcedon he expressed great regret for this, rehabili- 
tated himself, signed the Chalcedonian decree, and in return at 
last secured the Patriarchate for himself and his successors. 7 
But when he came home he found a great part of his newly 

1 Some of these letters are in Mansi, vii. 537-627. 

2 Ep. 162 (P.L. liv. 1143-1146). 

3 " Gennadius, Pontiff of the Constantinopolitan Church, a man of polished 
speech and acute mind, was so well versed in the writings of the ancients 
1hat he made a literal commentary on the whole of the prophet Daniel. 
He also composed many homilies. He died while the elder Leo held the 
empire." Gennadius of Marseilles : de Viribus illustribus, 89 (ed. Bernoulli 
in Kriiger's Sammlung, xi., Freiburg and Leipzig, 1895, p. 92). 

4 2a\o0o«'oAos= Wobble-hat {adhos and (pctKidAiov). These people have 
curious nicknames. This one is apparently a term of reproach implying 
weakness of character and general vacillation. 

5 Breviarium cans. Nest, et Eutych. 16 (P.L. lxviii. 1020). 

6 Since Chalcedon made Jerusalem a Patriarchate (Orth. Eastern Church, 
p. 27) we may count Palestine (under Jerusalem) separate from Syria (under 
Antioch)," 7 Op. cit. pp. 26-27. 


acquired Patriarchate up in arms against him. He had changed 
sides, had denied the very cause of which he had been so great 
a champion. It was chiefly the monks of Palestine who now 
declared for Monophysism. There was an enormous number of 
them — ten thousand. An Egyptian monk, Theodosius, who had 
been an unwilling witness of the Council of Chalcedon, persuaded 
his Palestinian brethren that this synod had betrayed the faith of 
Cyril and Ephesus, had gone over to Nestorius. And their bishop, 
now returning in the pride of being a Patriarch, was contaminated 
by this stain. A lady then living in retirement at Jerusalem 
took the side of the angry monks vehemently. This was the 
Dowager Empress Eudokia, widow of Theodosius II. She had 
been a pagan at Athens, named Athenais, daughter of an old 
professor Leontios. When Theodosius's sister Pulcheria looked 
out for a bride for her brother, her choice fell on this little pagan 
girl. Her extraordinary beauty and talent made her not un- 
worthy of the Emperor's love, while her humble station seemed 
to secure that she would not interfere with her powerful sister-in- 
law. So Athenais was baptized, taking the more Christian name 
Eudokia, and was duly married to Theodosius (June 7, 421). For 
a time she was very powerful ; surrounded by Christian influence, 
she became ardently Christian, went on pilgrimages, 1 and had 
more influence over her husband than Pulcheria liked. Then 
came her tragic fall ; she was accused, rightly or wrongly, of 
misconduct with a courtier, Paulinus. The story is all about an 
apple. Theodosius, master of the Roman world, thought he 
would give his wife a really handsome present. So he gave her 
an apple from Phrygia of incomparable size and ripeness. Eudo- 
kia, overwhelmed by the splendour of the gift, thought the apple 
far too fine to be eaten by her ; so, alas ! she gave it to her guilty 
lover Paulinus. Paulinus, possessed of this gorgeous object, 
having no idea whence it originally came, thinks he can curry 
favour with the Emperor by offering it to him. So the apple goes 
all the way round and comes back whence it started. Theodosius 
is naturally furious when his apple comes back to him. He hides 
it in his robe, goes to find his wife, and asks her what she had done 

1 It was Eudokia who brought St. Peter's chains from Jerusalem. See 
the lessons of the second nocturn in the Breviary for Lammas-day (Aug. 1). 


with the apple he had given her. " I ate it," said Eudokia. Then 
of course, he produced it, and there was a scene. 1 As a result of 
the suspicion about Eudokia and Paulinus 2 she was banished, 
went to Jerusalem in 442, and stayed there eighteen years, till her 
death in 460. At Jerusalem whatever old remnants of the Pagan 
philosopher there were faded away. Eudokia became a kind of 
nun, devoting her old age to meditation on the Passion of Christ at 
the place hallowed by its memory. She fell in with the Mono- 
physites. Perhaps the fact that her old enemy Pulcheria and 
Pulcheria's husband Marcian had so much to do with Chalcedon 
made her more ready to believe that that synod had betrayed the 
faith of Ephesus, held during her own reign. With her meditation 
she mixed Monophysism, and became, as Dowager Empress, a 
great power to that party. There are few more romantic episodes 
in Byzantine history than the story of the little Pagan Athenian, 
after her short burst of splendour as Empress, spending her old 
age in long years of mortification and prayer at Jerusalem, the 
head of a turbulent body of heretical monks. 3 

The monks then, with their patroness, drove out Juvenal and 
set up the Egyptian Theodosius as anti-Patriarch. Other Chal- 
cedonian bishops were expelled and a Monophysite hierarchy 
intruded in most sees. Nearly all Palestine was Monophysite. 
Juvenal fled to Constantinople and implored the Emperor's help. 
Marcian published an edict against the heretics in Palestine and 
sent soldiers to enforce it. The monks had already shed blood in 
their rebellion. Now it was put down severely. After some fight- 
ing, order was restored. Theodosius was brought a prisoner to 
Constantinople, where he died in captivity ; the Monophysite 
intruded bishops fled, mostly to Egypt. 4 Juvenal and the Catholic 
hierarchy were restored ; for a time there was quiet. At the end 
of her life Eudokia was converted to Chalcedon by the Catholic 

1 This odd story is told by John Malalas : Chronographia, xiv. ; ed. 
Dindorf (Corp. Script. Hist. Byz., Bonn, 1831), pp. 356-357. 

2 She always swore that she was perfectly innocent ; very likely she was. 
The mighty Pulcheria was jealous of her influence, and wanted to get rid 
of her. 

3 Eudokia's story is told by C. Diehl : Figures Byzantines, i. (Paris, 1906), 
pp. 25-49. 

4 One of the chief of these was Peter of Iberia, who had been made Bishop 
of Gaza. 


monk Euthymius, who was a great power on that side. She 
died reconciled to the Church. 

At Antioch a priest, Peter the Fuller, 1 started an agitation 
against Chalcedon ; so that while the Eastern part of the Antio- 
chene Patriarchate was falling away into Nest onanism, the West 
and the Patriarchal city itself were torn by the opposite heresy. 
Peter was protected and encouraged by the Emperor's son-in-law 
Zeno, then commander-in-chief of the forces in Syria ; 2 he, too, 
gathered around him a strong party, succeeded in driving out the 
lawful Patriarch, Martyrios, and set himself up as Patriarch of 
Antioch (about the year 471). This Peter is famous as the author 
of a liturgical clause which was destined to cause much trouble. 

Just before the lessons (or just after them) in the Antiochene 
rite they sing the Trisagion. This is the verse which occurs in 
the Roman rite on Good Friday : " Holy God, holy and strong, 
holy and immortal, have mercy on us." 3 Peter added a clause 
to this, and made his clergy sing : " Holy God, holy and strong, 
holy and immortal, who wast crucified for us* have mercy on us." 
At first sight it is not easy to see anything wrong in this, nor 
why all Chalcedonians objected to it so strongly It depends, of 
course, on who is addressed. If the prayer is made to Christ, the 
addition is perfectly correct ; it might well stand as a protest 
against Nestorianism. He (the same person) who is God, holy 
and immortal, was crucified for us. On the other hand, it was 
always supposed that the Trisagion is addressed to God, to the 
Holy Trinity. 5 In this case Peter's addition would involve the 
idea that the Holy Trinity was crucified. This is one of the 
strange corollaries of the Monophysite idea. It would follow. If 
our Lord has only one nature, we cannot say (as we do) that he 
died in his human nature, while his divine nature remained im- 

1 Yvcupevs, fullo, a cloth-dresser, apparently his trade. 

2 Afterwards himself Emperor (474-491). 

3 In the Greek Antiochene liturgy it occurs before the lessons (Brightman : 
Eastern Liturgies, p. 35) ; in the Syriac form it follows the first (ib. p. 77). 
The Byzantine (p. 370), Armenian (p. 423), Alexandrine (118, 155), Abys- 
sinian (218), and Nestorian (255) rites also have the Trisagion at about the 
same place. 

4 6 (rravpwQ^is $1 y^as, destlebth hldfain. 

5 Its triple form suggests this ; though, of course, one must not think 
that the three invocations are meant one for each Divine Person. 


mortal. It would follow that his Divinity died. This really is a 
contradiction in terms. It would also follow (since there is only 
one Divinity, since Christ's Divinity is identical with that of his 
Father and the Holy Ghost) that the Holy Trinity died. Between 
Good Friday and Easter Day there would be no living God. The 
idea is plainly monstrous and blasphemous. Nevertheless, there 
was a sect, a subdivision of Monophysites, which held this. They 
are called Theopaschites ; x their watchword is : " God was cruci- 
fied " 2 (p. 201). Peter the Fuller was the first Theopaschite. 
His clause in the Trisagion was adopted by the Monophysites as 
a kind of profession of their heresy. For this reason it was rejected 
by all who kept the faith of Chalcedon. Peter's second successor, 
Kalandion (p. 192), finding the formula established and greatly 
beloved by the people, being himself a Catholic, amended it by a 
further addition, which made it entirely orthodox. His Trisagion 
was : " Holy God, holy and strong, holy and immortal, Christ 
the King who wast crucified for us, have mercy on us." This makes 
it clear to whom the prayer is addressed ; in this form there is 
nothing whatever to complain of. But the Monophysites would 
not accept the words : " Christ the King." Better than any- 
thing else this fact shows that they really did mean heresy by 
their formula. So Kalandion 's addition had no success. The 
words " who wast crucified for us," in the Trisagion remained a 
declaration of Monophysism. They are still used in the liturgy of 
every Monophysite Church. 3 Dionysius Bar Salibi (f 1171), 
Monophysite bishop of Amida, and one of their great liturgical 

1 OeoTTcurxiTcu {Qebs ird<rx*i, "God suffers"). The name needs explana- 
tion. We are all Theopaschites in the sense that we believe that God the 
Son suffered. 

2 dibs iaravpccOr]. Again a perfectly correct form, if it means that 
God the Son was crucified. It is difficult to understand the strong feeling 
of many Catholics against these formulas unless we remember that they 
arose in Monophysite circles, and were known to be meant as indirect 
attacks on Chalcedon. Even deoroicos might have been suspected if it 
had arisen under these circumstances. 

3 In the Coptic liturgy (Brightman, p. 155), Jacobite (ib. p. 77), Arme- 
nian (p. 423), Abyssinian (p. 218). On certain feasts, similar suitable 
clauses (" who wast born of the holy Virgin Mary," " who didst rise from 
the dead") are substituted. Unless we remember their origin, we see 
nothing in these but what is edifying. The second Trullanum Council 
(692), Can. 81, forbade the clause to the Orthodox. 


writers (p. 331), gives a long justification of the addition. One 
of his explanations is that when our Lord was buried three choirs 
of angels bore his body to the grave ; one choir sang " Holy 
God " ; one, " Holy and strong" ; one, " Holy and immortal " ; 
then Joseph and Nicodemus added : " who wast crucified for us, 
have mercy on us." 1 

Peter the Fuller did not reign long. The Emperor, Leo I, was 
determined not to allow Monophysism anywhere. So after a few 
months the soldiers received orders to turn him out. Martyrios 
was not restored ; he was weary of the trouble, and had freely 
resigned the Patriarchate. A certain Julian became Patriarch 
in 461. 2 There is now an organized and powerful Monophysite 
party in Egypt, Palestine and Syria ; it has adherents at Con- 

Leo I (the Emperor) died in 474. He was succeeded by his 
grandson, Leo II, a child, who died almost at once. Then came 
Zeno (474-491). Soon after there was a revolution ; Zeno fled, 
and a usurper, Basiliskos (brother-in-law of Leo I), made himself 
Emperor for a short time (475-476) . Basiliskos was the avowed 
champion of the Monophysite party. Timothy the Cat was his 
intimate friend. He immediately restored the Cat at Alexandria, 
and the Fuller at Antioch; he ordered all his subjects to an- 
athematize the Tome of Pope Leo I and the Council of Chalcedon. 
Five hundred bishops obeyed. Then Zeno came back with an 
army ; Basiliskos was defeated and murdered (476) . The situa- 
tion was again reversed. Salophakiolos was restored at Alex- 
andria ; John Kodonatos became Catholic Patriarch of Antioch. 
But in Egypt the Copts set up Peter Mongos, 3 former archdeacon 
of Timothy the Cat, as rival Patriarch. At Antioch, Stephen II 
succeeded John Kodonatos. They murdered him in 479. Then 
came Stephen III and Kalandion ; while all the time Peter the 
Fuller had the allegiance of the Monophysites, and waited to be 

1 Expositio Liturgies, ed. H. Labourt (Corp. Script. Christ. Orient. ; 
Scriptores Syri, ii. Tom. 93), Latin version, pp. 43-45. 

2 Theophanes Confessor : Chronogr. (P.G. cviii. 292) ; Liberatus : Brev. 
xviii. (P.L. xlviii. 1026-1030). 

3 M0770S, stammerer. Timothy the Cat died just at this time (July 31, 
477) > c f- Gutschmid : Verzeichnis der Patriarchen v. Alexandrien (in his 
Kleine Schriften, Leipzig, 1890, ii. p. 453). 


restored. In 481 Salophakiolos died. The Copts clamoured for 
Peter Mongos ; but a Catholic, John Talaia, was elected. During 
these disturbances Pope Simplicius (463-483) upheld firmly his 
own supreme authority x and the faith of Chalcedon. 

5. The Acacian Schism (484-519) 

But the Emperor Zeno had learned in Basiliskos' rebellion the 
strength of the Monophysite party. He now began that fatal 
policy of conciliating it, which did not succeed, which brought 
distress to all faithful Catholics and a schism with Rome. In 
this policy he was encouraged by Acacius, Patriarch of Constanti- 
nople (471-489). Peter Mongos, having fled to the capital when 
John Talaia was elected, persuaded Acacius and Zeno that his 
party, the Monophysites, would give endless trouble to the Govern- 
ment unless they were met half way. So in 482, Zeno published 
a decree called Henotikon, 2 which was meant to satisfy all parties. 
It was drawn up by Acacius, helped by Peter Mongos. The 
Henotikon declared as symbols of the faith the creed of Nicaea- 
Constantinople, the twelve anathemas of Cyril of Alexandria, and 
the decrees of Ephesus only. Nestorius and Eutyches 3 are both 
condemned. The expression " two natures " is avoided ; our 
Lord is said in general to be " one, not two." This completely 
ignores Chalcedon. Worse, the decree contains the phrase : 
" Whoever thinks or has thought otherwise, whether at Chalcedon 
or at any other synod, is excommunicate." 4 Everyone was to 
sign this Imperial " Unification," and everyone was to be satisfied. 
Naturally, no one was satisfied. The Monophysites wanted a 
categorical rejection of Chalcedon, an acceptance of the decrees of 

1 His letter of January 9, 476, to Acacius of Constantinople says : " In his 
(Leo I's) successors this same standard of the apostolic teaching remains. 
To them the Lord gave the care of the whole flock ... he said that what 
is bound by their sentence on earth cannot be loosened in heaven " (Thiel: 
Ep. Rom. Pont. p. 178). 

2 'Ei>utik6i/, unification. 

3 We have seen that the Monophysites were quite willing to condemn 
Eutyches (pp. 168-169). 

4 The text of the Henotikon is in Evagrius : Hist. Eccl. iii. 14 
(P. G. lxxxvi. 2620-2625), and Liberatus : Breviarium, 17 (P.L. lxviii. 1023- 
io 2 4). 



Dioscor's Robber-Synod ; and no Catholic could accept this com- 
promise or sign a document which treated the last general council 
in such a way. Zeno's Henotikon is one of many attempts to 
shelve a hotly disputed question instead of solving it ; such 
attempts are always doomed to failure. 

But there were time-servers willing to please the Emperor, 
whatever he demanded. Peter Mongos willingly signed the 
Henotikon, in whose composition he had played a great part. 
He was restored to Alexandria by the Government ; John Talaia, 
the Catholic Patriarch, was driven out and fled to Rome. Here 
he became the friend and counsellor of several Popes, notably of 
Gelasius I (492-496). 1 Mongos imposed the Henotikon on the 
clergy of Alexandria. But a number of extreme Monophysites 
(chiefly monks) would not accept it from their side, renounced his 
jurisdiction, and became the sect of the Akephaloi 2 So also in 
the Patriarchates of Antioch (where Peter the Fuller now came 
back in triumph, 485) and Jerusalem (where Martyrios, Juvenal's 
successor, accepted it) the Henotikon was imposed on equally 
reluctant Catholics and Monophysites. 

From all sides complaints came to the Pope. At this time 
Felix II (or III, 3 483-492) reigned. He sent legates to Con- 
stantinople to maintain Chalcedon and restore the deposed 
Catholic bishops. But Zeno threw them into prison, and then 
bribed them to accept Mongos's restoration. Just then John 
Talaia arrived in Rome, and was able to report to the Pope all 
that went on in the East. In 484 Felix held a Roman synod and 
excommunicated Acacius of Constantinople as responsible for the 
intrusion of Mongos and the Fuller, and as the author of the 
Henotikon. Once again we see Rome upholding the faith of a 
genera] council without compromise against the secular Govern- 
ment, while practically the whole East tamely accepted the 
tyrant's interference in a question of dogma. 

1 See " John Talaia " in the Catholic Encyclopedia. For his possible in- 
fluence on the development of the Roman Liturgy see Fortescue : The Mass 
pp. 164-165. 

2 'AK<z<pa\oi, " without a head." 

3 The numbers of all Popes Felix are given differently, according as one 
does or does not count Felix, the anti-pope in the time of Liberius (who held 
the see from 357 to 365), as Felix II. 


Acacius answered by striking the Pope's name from his diptychs. 1 
We have come to the great " Acacian schism/' the most famous 
of the temporary schisms of the Byzantine Church, which prepared 
the way all too well for the great schism of Photius. 2 It lasted 
thirty-five years. Rome would never accept the compromising 
Henotikon. Acacius died in schism (489) ; so did Peter Mongos 
(490), Peter the Fuller (488), and the Emperor Zeno (491). 
But Zeno's successor, Anastasius I (491-518), maintained the 
Henotikon, and the Eastern bishops accepted it. After Acacius 
of Constantinople came Fra vitas or Fla vitas (489-490) . He was 
anxious to return to communion with the Pope, but he would not 
break with Mongos nor reject the Henotikon ; so no union could 
be established. Euphemius of Constantinople (490-496) was still 
more disposed to end the schism. He restored the Pope's name 
to his diptychs, even gave up Mongos, but could not make up 
his mind to renounce the Henotikon, or to admit the error of his 
two predecessors. Macedonius II of Constantinople (496-511) 
was made to sign the Henotikon at his accession. 3 Now we see 
the result of these compromises. The Emperor Anastasius had 
sworn at his coronation to maintain the faith of Chalcedon ; he 
began merely by continuing Zeno's compromising policy ; but 
gradually the tendency of all compromises to revert to one 
extreme or the other made itself felt. Anastasius already had all 
the West, staunch upholder of Chalcedon, against him ; he 
gradually slipped into the other extreme and became, in the 
latter part of his reign, frankly a Monophysite. Timothy I of 
Constantinople (511-518) was simply a Monophysite, hand in 
glove with the Monophysites of Egypt and Syria. 

1 Gustav Kriiger considers that this was " the only right thing to do " 
(Herzog and Hauck : Realencyklopadie, xiii. p. 382, 1. 57). I suppose it 
was, from the point of view of the Byzantine Patriarchs. Nearly always 
they prefer the Emperor's favour to the Catholic faith ; so they follow their 
masters, condemn what they themselves have defined, define what they 
have condemned, as the wind blows from the court. This saved them a 
lot of trouble. But it is difficult to see how anyone can think it dignified. 

2 Orthodox Eastern Church, p. 84. 

3 Macedonius II did gradually come round to the Catholic position. 
But the Emperor had now taken up Monophysism definitely ; so Mace- 
donius was deposed and banished (511), and Timothy I was intruded in 
his place. 


Meanwhile, at Alexandria, after the death of Peter Mongos (490), 
a line of Monophysite Patriarchs followed. It seemed as if, since 
John Talaia had fled (p. 194), Egypt was to remain definitely 

At Antioch and Jerusalem the situation was more complicated. 
Peter the Fuller of Antioch (f 488) had a Monophysite successor, 
Palladius (490-498) ; then came Flavian II (498-511). He had 
once signed the Henotikon ; but later he returned to the faith of 
Chalcedon and became firmly Catholic. The Monophysites were 
very strong in his Patriarchate, and they succeeded in driving him 
out. In the east of Syria especially the Monophysites were a 
power, as the opponents of Nestorianism. Nestorianism was now 
becoming a formal heretical sect, as we saw in Chap. Ill (p. 75). 
Its opponents in that part of the world naturally gravitated 
towards the other extreme, considering Chalcedon to be a con- 
cession to their chief enemies. We are coming to the situation 
already noted (p. 77) when the Eastern part of Syria was divided 
practically between Nestorians and Monophysites, neither of 
whom had a good word to say for Chalcedon. So from the 
vehement anti-Nestorians of the East came Syrian Monophysite 
leaders. Two of these are especially famous. Philoxenos or 
Aksnaya 1 was a Persian from Tahul by Beth Germai. He had 
been a disciple of Ibas at Edessa. Then he changed — not only gave 
up Nestorianism, but became the most ardent of Monophysites. 
Barhebraeus says that it was he who persuaded the Emperor Zeno 
to close the school of Edessa in 489 and to expel all Nestorians 
from the empire (p. 78). 2 Peter the Fuller made him Bishop of 
Hierapolis (Mabug, near the Euphrates) in 485. Philoxenos is a 
famous Syriac writer and authority for liturgical matters (p. 140, 
n. 3). He also became a fierce enemy of his Patriarch, when 
Flavian II was orthodox. He adopted the usual Monophysite 
plan of calling everyone who accepted Chalcedon a Nestorian. 3 

An even more famous Monophysite was Severus, a monk from 
Pisidia, at first in Constantinople. He was always a most vehe- 
ment opponent of Chalcedon. He became a friend of the Emperor 

1 Xenaias. 2 Barhebraeus : Chron. EccL, ed. cit. iii. 56. 

3 See his letter to the monks of a monastery near Edessa, written in 512, 
quoted by Assemani : Bibl. Orient, ii. 15. 


Anastasius II, was the chief cause of the Emperor's acceptance of 
definite Monophysism and of the deposition of Macedonius II 
(p. 195). Severus tried to introduce the famous addition to the 
Trisagion, made by Peter the Fuller (p. 190) at Constantinople. 
But the population of the capital was still orthodox ; it suspected 
Antiochene formulas. So there was a riot which prevented his 
plan and showed already that the Government's Monophysite 
policy was not popular. 

At Jerusalem, after the Monophysite Theodosius was expelled, 
Juvenal was restored (453), and reigned till his death in 458. Then 
came Anastasius (458-478) ; Martyrios (478-486), who signed the 
Henotikon (p. 194) ; Salustius (486-494) ; and Elias (494-513). 
Elias was Catholic and held with Flavian II of Antioch. Severus 
at Constantinople wanted the Emperor to summon a synod which 
should finally revoke the decrees of Chalcedon. But Flavian 
and Elias succeeded in preventing this. The fall of both was 
now arranged by the Monophysites. Philoxenos of Hierapolis 
appeared at the capital at intervals (499 and 506), and further 
fortified his party. The Emperor was completely won by the 
heretics ; so they secured their triumph all over the East. At 
Constantinople Timothy I, their devoted partisan (p. 195), already 
reigned ; in Egypt John II (p. 219) was also a Monophysite and 
need not be interfered with. But Antioch and Jerusalem must 
be purged of their Chalcedonian Patriarchs. So in 512 Philoxenos 
held a synod, deposed Flavian of Antioch and made Severus 
Patriarch instead. Then, between them, they drove Elias from 
Jerusalem and set up John, Bishop of Sebaste, a Monophysite 
(John III of Jerusalem, 513-524), as his successor. Now all the 
Christian East, as represented by its Patriarchs, was solidly 
heretical. Its leader was Severus, now of Antioch. So much was 
he a recognized chief that " Severian " is the usual name for one 
group of Monophysites. 1 None of these people now cared to make 

1 Severus was not an extreme Monophysite. His attitude is rather that 
of a compromise on the lines of the Henotikon. But he was a determined 
opponent of the decrees of Chalcedon, thinking them to be nothing but 
revived Nestorianism. He was also a forerunner of the later Monothe- 
letes, inasmuch as he (apparently first) invented and defended the expression 
that in Christ there is one composite Divine-human operation (pia dtavUpticr) 
hepyeta). See p. 210. 


any approaches to Rome. The Acacian schism reached its climax ; 
the separation between the Catholic West and the Monophysite 
East was complete. But there were Catholics in the East too. 
During all the thirty-five years of the Acacian schism the 
" Akoimetoi " x monks of Constantinople broke with the 
heretical Patriarchs, kept the faith of Chalcedon and were in 
union with the Pope. And frcm all parts persecuted Catholics 
(Severus persecuted fiercely), monks, unjustly deposed bishops, 
sent appeals to the chief Patriarch in the distant Western land. 
Pope Gelasius I (492-496), one of the great successors of St. 
Peter, made advances and tried to heal the schism, but he 
could not compromise with Monophysism. Pope Anastasius 
II (496-498) and his successor Symmachus (498-514) were 
equally unsuccessful. Then came Hormisdas (514-523), who 
was to heal the breach. Just when Monophysism had triumphed 
throughout the East, when the heretics had established them- 
selves firmly on all the Patriarchal thrones, the whole situation 
changed, as it does in the Eastern Empire, by the death of the 
Emperor. Anastasius II died suddenly in 518. He was 
succeeded by Justin I (518-527), already under the influence 
of his nephew the future great Emperor Justinian I. Both were 
Catholic ; as we have seen (p. 197), the people of Constantinople, 
too, were eager for the restoration of the faith of Chalcedon. 

So, as soon as Justin reigns, there is a complete reaction ; the 
Monophysites are expelled, Chalcedon is again accepted by the 
Eastern Church, union with Rome is restored, the Acacian schism 
is ended. The Emperor and the people of Constantinople force 
the Byzantine Patriarch, John II (518-520), who succeeded 
Timothy I, to subscribe to Chalcedon and to excommunicate 
Severus. Severus, guilty not only of heresy but of having 
persecuted Catholics, of having shed orthodox blood, was deposed, 
and by flight escaped the death which probably awaited him. He 
came to Alexandria, the one place still held by his co-religionists. 
After one more vain attempt to assert his cause at Constantinople 
(in 533), after being again excommunicated in 536, he died in 

1 'A/coi'ur/Toj, " sleepless." This does not mean that they never went 
to sleep. It was a monastery which had the special rule of keeping up 
continual prayers in its church, by successive relays of monks. 


Egypt in 538. 1 A Catholic, Paul, became Patriarch of Antioch 
(519-521), and began persecuting Monophysites, just as Severus 
had persecuted Catholics. At Jerusalem John III, who was 
orthodox, was made Patriarch (518-524). Only Egypt under 
Timothy III of Alexandria (518-538) remained Monophysite. 

Then reunion with Rome was arranged easily. Pope Hor- 
misdas sent legates to Constantinople with his famous formula. 
The Formula of Hormisdas is one of the classical evidences of 
Papal authority in the early Church. It not only condemns 
Nestorius, Eutyches, Dioscor, Acacius and the other Monophysite 
leaders, insists on the Tome of Leo I and on Chalcedon, but it 
declares in the plainest language possible the supreme authority 
of the Pope and his right finally to define questions of faith. The 
Patriarch of Constantinople, the Emperor and all the Eastern 
Patriarchs and bishops (except in Egypt) sign it. The Pope's 
name is restored to the Byzantine diptychs ; on Easter Day 519 
union between East and West is restored. 2 

But the end of this wearisome Monophysite quarrel has not yet 
come. For another century and a half it was still to disturb the 
Eastern Church ; many more attempts at reconciling the still 
powerful Monophysite party were to be made, and a large number 
of other heresies were to grow out of the main one. Egypt was 
still the stronghold of Monophysism ; the more than half re- 
bellious population of that richest province of the empire was 
always a grave danger. 

6. The Three Chapters (544-554) 

The great Justinian I (527-565), statesman, lawgiver, conqueror, 
builder of the Church of the Holy Wisdom, 3 occurs in our story 

1 Severus of Al-Ushmunain, the Monophysite historian of the Copts, 
naturally glories in the memory of " the Patriarch Severus, the excellent, 
clothed with light, occupant of the see of Antioch, who became a horn of 
salvation to the orthodox (i.e. Monophysite) Church, and who sat upon the 
throne of the great Ignatius." History of the Patriarchs of the Coptic Church 
of Alexandria, ed. B. Evetts (Patrol. Orient, i. 449). See also Zachary 
Scholasticus : Life of Severus, in F. Nau : Opuscules Maronites, ii. (Paris, 
1900). J. Lebon : Le Monophysisme severien (Louvain, 1909). 

2 For the formula of Hormisdas see Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 84-86. 

3 There is now a tendency to belittle Justinian. It is, of course, always 
possible to say that the work done by a mighty sovereign is really due t9 


less favourably as a compromiser with Monophysism. He began 
well. As soon as he came to the throne he commanded acceptance 
of the four councils (Nicaea, Constantinople I, Ephesus, Chalcedon) 
from all his subjects. Even in Egypt he tried to establish the 
orthodox faith. When the Monophysite Timothy III died in 
538, Justinian insisted on the appointment of a Catholic successor, 
Paul (538-542). But his wife led him astray. In 523 he had 
married Theodora. She had been a public dancing lady, and 
was always a strong Monophysite. The Empress Theodora, who 
takes a prominent place in our story (she secured a Monophysite 
hierarchy for Syria ; see p. 324) , is a very strange figure. Procopius 
of Caesarea, the chronicler of the scandals of this time, 1 gives .an 
appalling account of her career ; Gibbon accepts this with his 
usual sneer. 2 Later writers have some doubt as to whether we 
are to accept all Procopius's foul anecdotes with confidence. 3 In 
any case, the lady who faces her husband in the mosaics of San 
Vitale at Ravenna had a career romantic rather than commend- 
able. Perhaps the strangest thing about her is that this ardent 
Monophysite of not even doubtful reputation is now a saint 
in the Orthodox Calendar — so easy for princesses is the Byzantine 
road to heaven. 4 

his good fortune in finding statesmen and generals to do it for him. It 
remains true that Justinian's reign is the most glorious episode of the 
Empire in the East, that he stands out as one of the five or six mightiest, 
most brilliant rulers in the history of the world. Dante puts him in the 
heaven of Mercury : " Cesare fui, e son Giustiniano," makes him confess 
his temporary Monophysism : 

" E prima ch'io all 'ovra fossi attento, 
Una natura in Cristo esser, non piue, 
Credeva, e di tal fede era contento," 
and his conversion by Pope Agapitus (Paradiso, vi. 10-21). Gibbon has 
little respect for his victories, but cannot withhold his admiration for his 
legislation : " the laws of Justinian still command the respect or obedience 
of independent nations " (Decline and Fall, chap, xliv., ed. Bury, vol. iv. 
p. 441). 

1 Secret History (ed. Dindorf, Bonn, 1 833-1 838). See Gibbon, chap. xl. 
(ed. cit. vol. iv. pp. 210-218). 

2 " If the creed of Theodora had not been tainted with heresy, her exem- 
plary devotion might have atoned, in the opinion of her contemporaries, 
for pride, avarice and cruelty " (ib. p. 217). 

3 So Charles Diehl : Figures Byzantines, i. (Paris, 1906), 51-53. 

4 Orth. Eastern Church, p. 104. For Theodora's strange career see Diehl : 
Thdodora, Jmperatrice de Byzance (Paris, 1904). 


Theodora, then, always faithful to her side, persuaded Justinian 
to attempt yet another colloquy between Catholics and Mono- 
physites, with the hope of reconciling them. This took place at 
Constantinople in 533. Severus, formerly of Antioch, came from 
Egypt as head of the Monophysites. But they gained nothing 
from this. Anthymos I of Constantinople (536) was suspect of 
leanings towards the heresy; so he was deposed, and Mennas 
(536-552) succeeded him. Mennas was firm for Chalcedon, and 
drove all Monophysites from the city. 

During Justinian's reign the so-called Theopaschite dispute 
broke out again. This is the question whether one may say 
" God suffers," x and whether Peter the Fuller's addition to the 
Trisagion be lawful. We have explained the issue above (pp. 
190-192). Pope Hormisdas in 521 declared the formula not in 
itself heretical, but dangerous as suspect of Monophysism and 
because it was supposed to contradict Chalcedon. Instead of 
"One of the Trinity suffered " he proposed the form : "One of 
the three Divine Persons suffered in the flesh," which leads to 
no equivocation. There was much agitation about this question. 
The formula of Peter the Fuller became yet another of the many 
suggestions made by people weary of the long strife, who hoped 
thereby to go a little way towards conciliating Monophysites. 
At last in 533 Justinian published an edict declaring as the 
lawful formula : " The incarnate and crucified Son of God is 
one of the holy and consubstantial Trinity." 2 This is plainly 
correct. Justinian sent to Pope John II (533-535) asking him to 
approve it ; he did so in 534. 

The next incident is the deplorable story of Pope Vigilius. 
Theodora thought to gain the heart of Chalcedonian orthodoxy, 
Rome itself, for her heresy. When Pope Agapetus (535-536) 

1 6 Oebs irdax^u 

" 'O (rapKcodtls ko.1 (Travpeodels vths rov deov efs iarri tt)s aylas koI 6/xoovaiov 
rpia86s. The modern man naturally asks what this kind of thing 
has to do with the Government. We should be very much amused if 
the British Government were to make a law telling us what formulas 
we may use concerning the Holy Trinity. But in Byzantine times we 
must be prepared for this kind of thing. The Emperors are always tell ng 
their subjects what mayor may not be believed. If such laws are correct, 
Rome accepts them ; if not, she resists them fiercely, as she resisted the 


died, she promised the papal throne to a Roman deacon, Vigilius, 
on condition that he made concessions towards Monophysism. 
The Imperial general Belisarius, then fighting Goths in Italy, was 
to secure his succession. Vigilius promised all the Empress asked. 
But Silverius (536-540) was lawfully elected Pope. In 536 
Belisarius seized Silverius and sent him in exile to Patara, in Asia 
Minor, under pretext of his treasonable intercourse with the Goths. 
Vigilius was schmismatically ordained Pope. So he starts his 
career as an anti-pope. But in 540, Silverius being dead, he is 
accepted by the lawful electors and begins his legitimate but 
unhappy reign (540-555). He had made promises to Theodora ; 
but now as Pope he finds the Papacy, the strong Catholic feeling 
of the West — shall we say the Providence of God, who will not 
allow the chief See to lead others into heresy — too strong for him. 
In all Vigilius's miserable vacillation he never really compromised 
with Monophysism. Pitiful as his figure appears, scandalously as 
he neglected his duty of confirming his brethren by a firm line 
held consistently, he did not, he could not, make shipwreck of the 
whole Catholic system by defining heresy. The issue was no 
question of faith, but of the opportuneness of casting opprobrium on 
men long dead, in the hope once more of conciliating Monophysites. 
Vigilius's story is that of the Three Chapters. Theodore Askidas, 
Metropolitan of Caesarea in Cappadocia, and others thought they 
could perhaps reconcile these stubborn heretics by a new pro- 
nouncement which should make it quite clear that to accept 
Chalcedon did not mean becoming a Nestorian. The great 
" Eastern " doctors, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Diodore of Tarsus 
and their school, were the people whose memory Monophysites 
specially hated. These were, they said, the masters from whom 
Nestorius had imbibed his poisonous ideas. So Theodore 
Askidas persuaded Justinian to publish an edict condemning 
three documents, alleged to be Nestorian. These documents, 
the famous Three Chapters, 1 are : (1) the person and writings of 
Theodore of Mopsuestia (p. 60) ; (2) the writings of Theodoret 
of Cyrus in his Nestorian days (p. 166) ; (3) the Nestorian letter 
of Ibas to Maris (p. 76). Let it be understood at once that, as 
far as our faith is concerned, a Catholic could condemn these three 


chapters to any extent. All three are really Nestorian. But it 
was a question whether there was sufficient reason, after about a 
century, to revive the memories of persons long dead, in order 
to curse them. The Councils of Ephesus and Chalcedon had 
declared the faith quite plainly enough. Why not let Theodore 
and Theodoret and Ibas alone ? So while the East accepted 
this condemnation, as it accepted all the Emperor did, the West 
was indignant and saw in this new edict yet another veiled 
concession to Monophysism. And the Pope wavered helplessly 
between the two. 

In 544 Justinian published his edict condemning the Three 
Chapters. As usual, all bishops were to sign it. Mennas of 
Constantinople (536-552) signed, under the express condition 
that no attack against Chalcedon was meant and that the Pope 
should sign too. Otherwise his consent was not to count. The 
other Eastern Patriarchs signed. But all the West (where these 
condemned persons were no longer remembered, where there was 
grave suspicion of the Byzantine Government's edicts) refused to 
accept the condemnation. Justinian was naturally most anxious 
to obtain the Pope's consent. He implored him to come to 
Constantinople to examine the matter. Vigilius, after much 
delay, very unwillingly came in 547. Then begins the unhappy 
tale of his indecision and repeated change of mind. He was torn 
between two tendencies. On the one hand, he knew that there 
was no intrinsic reason why he should not condemn the works of 
these long-dead Nestorians ; Justinian was doing everything 
possible to force the Pope to do so ; all the East saw in this measure 
the one chance of reconciling the Monophysites, of putting an end 
to the disastrous turmoil which had troubled the Church already 
for a hundred years. On the other hand, Vigilius knew that his 
own Western bishops were fiercely opposed to the condemnation 
of the Three Chapters, that if he condemned them he would be 
looked upon as a traitor by his own best friends ; no doubt, too, he 
inherited the traditional Roman suspicion of Byzantine Emperor- 
made theology. As a further excuse for his want of decision, we 
must remember that he was being himself badly persecuted to 
make him accept the condemnation. At first he refused to 
condemn the chapters. Justinian then began treating him as a 


prisoner. Vigilius is reported to have said a word which shows a 
fine sense of the dignity of his See, of the difference between the 
mighty throne of Old Rome and its present feeble occupant : 
" Even if you imprison me, you cannot take the Apostle Peter 
prison er." Then followed conferences with the Byzantine 
bishops. On April n, 548, Vigilius published a Iudicatum in 
which, with a most careful insistence on the faith of Chalcedon, he 
condemned the Three Chapters. At once, as he might have 
foreseen, the Western bishops protested indignantly against this 
act. Dacius of Milan, Facundus of Hermiane and the Africans 
were most angry with what they considered the Pope's treasonable 
concession to the Byzantine court. From now we have the 
curious spectacle (unique in Church history) of the Pope and the 
Eastern bishops on one side, opposed to the West. Justinian 
than demanded the usual remedy for such quarrels, a general 
council. Vigilius agreed and meanwhile withdrew his Iudicatum. 
But most of the Western bishops refused to attend the council. 
Now Justinian by his own authority issued a new decree, again 
condemning the Chapters (551). The Pope was very indignant 
at this ; Theodore Askidas, the original author of the whole 
quarrel (p. 202), began excommunicating people who would not 
accept the Emperor's edict, so Vigilius excommunicated him. 
The Emperor tried to seize the Pope, but he took sanctuary in a 
church and there withdrew his consent to the council, excommuni- 
cating all who took part in it. However, a council met on May 
5, 553, at Constantinople. Only 165 bishops attended it. Mennas 
of Constantinople was just dead (August 552) ; his successor 
Eutychius (552-565, 577-582) presided, after great efforts had been 
made, in vain, to persuade the Pope to do so. Vigilius sent to the 
council a Constitution, which was another attempt at compromise. 
In this he condemned sixty propositions taken from the works of 
Theodore of Mopsuestia, and forbade any other condemnation. 
The council refused to accept this, condemned the Three Chapters 
as the Emperor had done, authorized the formula, " One of the 
Trinity suffered," and incidentally declared Origen a heretic. 1 

1 The question of the doubtful orthodoxy of Origen's works was another 
matter much agitated during Justinian's reign. For the acts of this 
Synod see Mansi, ix. 173-420 ; Hefeie-Leclercq : op. cit. iii. (1) 68-132. 


Vigilius then, worn out with the long strife, gave in, confirmed the 
acts of the council, and condemned the Three Chapters in another 
Constittttum (February 23, 554). He now only wanted to be set 
free and to go home. He was allowed to do so. But the unhappy 
Pope never again saw Rome. Worn out by that miserable time 
in Constantinople, he fell sick and died, on his return journey, at 
Syracuse in June 555. Never has there been so pitiful a Roman 
Pontiff as Vigilius. 

In the West there was furious opposition to the council. In 
Africa especially, the bishops thought the Pope had betrayed the 
faith utterly, and they went into formal schism against their own 
Patriarch. In Northern Italy, Gaul, Spain and Britain too, there 
was great indignation. Pope Pelagius I (555~56i) accepted the 
council, which his predecessor had at last confirmed. But the 
provinces of Africa, Illyricum, Milan and Tuscany remained in 
schism. This Western schism as the final result of the Three 
Chapters lasted a long time. Most of Africa returned to union 
with Rome in 559. Milan came back in 571, after Justin IPs 
Henotikon (p. 206). In Illyricum the schism produced a result 
which lasts till now. The Metropolitan of Illyricum at Aquileia 
had already begun to assume (without any warrant) the title 
Patriarch. 1 Macedonius of Aquileia (539-556), leader of the 
schismatics, took the title definitely. His successor, Paulinus 
(557-571), moved his residence to Grado, a small island opposite 
Aquileia, keeping the title " Patriarch of Aquileia/' This line 
of bishops returned to union with Rome in 606. As generally 
happens, they were allowed to keep the title they had already 
used for so many years. 2 Meanwhile, their schismatical suffragans 
restored the line of schismatical Patriarchs at Aquileia itself. 
There were now two " Patriarchs " — one of Aquileia-Grado, a 
Catholic, and a schismatical one at Aquileia itself. Aquileia- 
Grado then became Grado alone. It was not till 700 that a synod 
at Aquileia put an end to the schism altogether. Both lines of 
Patriarchs are now merged in the title of Venice . Venice absorbed 

1 Illyricum, on the frontier of East and West, was long a fruitful source 
of dispute between Rome and Constantinople (Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 


2 We shall see many cases of this among the Eastern Uniate bodies. 


Grado in the 15th century. The city of Aquileia was overthrown 
by an earthquake in 1348 ; but its titular Patriarchs went on at 
Udine. This too was Venetian territory. So the Bishop of 
Venice took the title " Patriarch of Aquileia and Grado," till in 
1751 Benedict XIV changed the old title to " Patriarch of Venice." 
These Catholic Patriarchs of Aquileia, Grado, and then of Venice 
have never had more than Metropolitan jurisdiction. It is the 
first case of the so-called " minor " Patriarchates, mere titles, in no 
way to be compared to the real Patriarchates in the East. 1 The 
Patriarch of Venice owes his title to the schism of the Three 

The Aquileian synod of 700 put an end to the last remnant of 
this schism in the West. 2 St. Gregory I (590-604) had done much 
to appease it. So eventually the Second Council of Constantinople 
(553) > which condemned the Three Chapters, although it was 
oecumenical neither in its summoning nor its sessions, by the 
Pope's later acceptance and by universal recognition became the 
fifth general council. 3 

The quarrel of the Three Chapters gradually subsided. The 
Emperor Justin II (565-578), Justinian's successor, published a 
sensible edict in 571 (called Henotikon, like that of Zeno) in which 
he said that the faith is now sufficiently defined, people are to 
stop quarrelling over persons and syllables. 4 This, unlike most 
Imperial attempts at ending theological controversy, really does 
mark the end of the disturbance. 

During this time the Monophysites have broken up into a be- 
wildering number of minor sects. Out of the movement begun 
by Eutyches and Dioscor the strangest complications have arisen. 
Severus, ex-Patriarch of Antioch, when at Alexandria (p. 198) in 
519, expressed his opinion that the body of Christ, although joined 
" in one nature " with the Divinity, is corruptible (<t>6apr6<;). 

1 See the Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. " Patriarch and Patriarchate." 

2 See Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. m. i. 141-156. 

3 The first and second Councils of Constantinople (381 and 553), counted 
as second and fifth among general councils, are both irregular in the same 
way. Both are oecumenical only by reason of a later acceptance. 

4 Evagrius : Hist. Eccl. v. 4 (P.G. lxxxvi. (2), 2793-2801). Evagrius 
calls it a irp6ypafi f xa (2793). The " persons " are Theodore, Theodoret and 
Ibas ; the " syllables " are the a of &<pdapTos (see p. 207). 


Julian, Bishop of Halicarnassus, 1 then also at Alexandria, more 
consistently Monophysite, hotly maintained that it must be in- 
corruptible. This approaches very near to Docetism, which is 
a fairly reasonable sequel of Monophysism. So Egypt is torn 
between the Phthartolatrai 2 and the Aphthartolatrai. 3 This con- 
troversy is of considerable importance in the history of the Coptic 
Church. We shall return to it (p. 219). Meanwhile, as part of 
this general sketch of the heresy, we may note that Philoxenos of 
Hierapolis was an ardent Aphthartolatres, and pushed this idea 
into pure Docetism ; our Lord did not really suffer pain nor any 
other natural human weakness, he accepted only the appearance 
of these things. At the end of his life Justinian was converted to 
Aphthartolatry, and wanted to make all bishops in his empire 
subscribe to it. 4 But he died too soon (565), so the Church was 
spared at least this trouble. The Aphthartolatrai broke up into 
Ktisolatrai, 5 who conceded that Christ's body was created, and 
the Aktisnetai* who denied this. Out of the Phthartolatrai came 
the sect of the Agnoetai 7 or Themistians, founded by a Mono- 
physite monk of Alexandria called Themistios. These held that 
there were things which Christ did not know. Now the curious 
point about this sect is that it must abandon the whole Mono- 
physite idea. If our Lord were ignorant of anything, he must 
have a nature which could be ignorant, which, therefore, is not 
identified with the essentially all- knowing Divine nature. So the 
Themistians were excommunicated by Monophysite Patriarchs 
of Alexandria, as being no better than the common enemy, the 
Dyophysites. They remain in Egypt as a sect till the 8th cen- 
tury. A Monophysite at Constantinople in the time of Justinian, 

1 Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. Julian had been deposed for Mono- 
physism during the Catholic reaction when Justin I became Emperor (p. 198). 
Like Severus and many Monophysites, he came to the harbour of his party, 
Alexandria. He arrived in 518, and apparently spent the rest of his life 
in Egypt. 

2 (pdapToXarpai, worshippers of the corruptible. 

3 acpdaproAaTpcu, worshippers of the incorruptible; also called a<pdapTodonriTai, 
believers in the incorruptible. 

4 So Evagrius : Hist. Eccl. iv. 39 (P.G. lxxxvi. (2), 2781-2784). 

5 KTiaohdrpai, worshippers of the created. 

6 cLKTiovorai, believers in the uncreated. 


one John Askusnages, at last evolved pure Polytheism, teaching 
that the three Divine Persons are three Gods. This goes even 
beyond what one might expect in a Christian heresy. He was 
banished ; but he formed a school of Tritheists. John Philo- 
ponos (a professor of philosophy) , a monk Athanasius and others 
defended this monstrous error in various works. Stephen Niobes, 
philosopher at Alexandria, carried the Monophysite principle a step 
further. He saw that, if Monophysites conceded any difference 
of Divine and human attributes in Christ, this would lead logically 
to admitting two natures in him. So his cry was : no differences 
(Sia<f>opat) in Christ at all. Damian, Monophysite Patriarch of 
Alexandria (570-605 ?), and his colleague Peter (of Kallinikos), 
Patriarch of Antioch (580-591), opposed this opinion ; others 
(Probus, priest at Antioch, and John Barbur, Abbot of a Syrian 
monastery) took up and formed yet another sect (the Niobists). 
They were excommunicated by the other Monophysites, and, 
strangely enough, many members of this extreme sect eventually 
came back to the Catholic Church. Hefele notices aptly that if 
the Monophysites who excommunicated Niobists really admitted 
distinct Divine and human attributes in our Lord, there could 
have been little but a mere verbal difference between them and 
Chalcedon, in spite of their formula, " one nature only." x 

Towards the end of the 6th century Monophysism in Syria was 
going to pieces. In Egypt it was too strong, and had too much 
hold on the native population, to be much persecuted ; but in 
Syria (always less united than Egypt) it was only one party among 
others. There were severe laws against it. It was breaking up 
into all manner of minor sects. It seemed as if it were about to 
disappear altogether. Then came James Baradai, who spent his 
life gathering up the Syrian Monophysites into one strong body. 
He gave them a hierarchy and an organization ; and so practically 
founded the Jacobite Church. His story will be told when we 
come to Chapter X (pp. 323-325). 

1 Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, ii. (2), p. 878. 


7. Monotheletism (622-680) 

In the 7th century there were the various Monophysite sects 
we have noted and many others — a bewildering ramification from 
the original trunk of Dioscor. 1 The heresy by this time had 
formed the organized Churches of the Copts, Jacobites, Armenians, 
and had conquered Abyssinia. As a movement within the 
empire it was now at an end. Then came the Moslems, and 
conquered just the provinces where Monophysism was strongest. 
We might almost leave its general history here. But there was 
one more result of this long quarrel, one more heresy, an offshoot 
of Monophysism, which we must notice. This is Monotheletism 
We need not discuss it at any length, because it would be 
rather far from our main subject. It would be quite possible to 
consider the Monothelete story as a really different matter ; 
moreover, since Monotheletism is the origin of the Maronite Church, 
we must come back to this heresy when telling the story of that 
now most Catholic body. On the other hand, a word about 
Monotheletism should, perhaps, be added here, since it is the last 
of the great disturbances which arose out of the general Mono- 
physite controversy. 

It was, as usual, one more attempt to conciliate the Mono- 
physites. The Emperor Heraclius (Herakleios, 610-641) was 
fighting Persians in Syria. The disloyal attitude of the Syrian 
Monophysites was a grave danger to the empire. Sergius I, 
Patriarch of Constantinople (610-638), had already evolved the 
idea that in our Lord there is but one will, one source of energy. 2 
Heraclius thought that this formula would be a moderate conces- 
sion, by which the Monophysites might be persuaded to return to 
union with the great Church and to loyalty towards the State. 
In 622 he proposed it to Paul, one of the leaders of the Armenian 
Monophysites. In 626 he suggested the same idea to the Jacobite 
Patriarch of Antioch, Anthanasius (c. 621-629), and to Cyrus, 
Metropolitan of Phasis in Colchis (on the Black Sea) . They were 

1 For the almost endless Monophysite sects see Hefele-Leclercq, ii. (2), 
875-878, and Gustav Kriiger : Monophysiten, in Herzog and Hauck's 
Realencyklopadie, xiii. 398-401. 

2 iv 64\7}/j.a xa\ uia (j/epyeia.. 



both pleased with it. Cyrus became Orthodox Patriarch of Alex- 
andria (c. 630-642), and did with this formula reconcile many 
Monophysites in Egypt. But it was at the cost of fidelity to 
Chalcedon. The heretics realized this and triumphed, saying, 
" We have not gone to Chalcedon ; Chalcedon has come to us." 
However, there was great rejoicing at Constantinople at their 
apparent conversion. But Sophronius, a monk of Jerusalem, 
realized what had happened, and made a firm stand against this 
compromise. He became Patriarch of Jerusalem (634-638), x and 
was the great opponent of the new heresy. 

The issue is simple. Our Lord's human will was certainly al- 
ways in perfect accord with the eternal Divine will. In this 
sense we may say that he was of one will with his Father : "I 
do not seek my will, but the will of him who sent me " (Joh. v. 
30) . So his Divine will and his human will were never opposed 
to each other ; he had one will, in the sense that there was 
always perfect harmony in our Lord. Never could it happen 
that his human will desired anything opposed to his Divine will, 
for that would be sin. In this sense, then, one might say that 
Christ had but one will, not one faculty, but always the same 
object of desire as God and man, one volitum, one thing willed by 
both natures. On the other hand, if we mean by will the faculty 
of willing, our Lord had two wills, because he had two natures. 
He had the eternal unchanging Divine will ; 2 he had also a 
perfect human nature, involving all human faculties, therefore 
involving a created, natural human will. He says so himself : 
" Not my will, but thine, be done " (Lc. xxii. 42). Exactly the 
same applies to the source of energy, the " ivepyeia," so much 
discussed in this controversy. Christ had two energies, Divine 
and human, though they were always in perfect accord. So the 
theory of " one will and one energy," Monotheletism, 3 again cuts 
away the difference of his two natures ; it denies his real and 

1 It was this Sophronius who was Patriarch when the Arabs conquered 
Jerusalem in 637 ; Omar " entered the city without fear or precaution ; and 
courteously discoursed with the Patriarch concerning its religious anti- 
quities " (Gibbon, chap. li. ; ed. Bury, vol. v. p. 436). 

2 Identified, of course, as are all Divine powers, with the one Divine 

8 MovutitAr}Ticr/j.6s, fx6vov OtAr)/j.a, one will. 


perfect humanity, and the Copts were right in saying that by this 
new formula Chalcedon had come to them. Sergius of Constanti- 
nople wrote to Pope Honorius I (625-638) telling him how by this 
formula, " one will and one energy in Christ/' many Monotheletes 
had been converted ; and Honorius made his dire mistake, little 
thinking how dear his name would become, long centuries later, 
to Protestants and Old Catholics. We cannot now go into the 
Honorius question. He approved the formula as an easy way of 
stopping the controversy ; he insisted on Christ's two natures, he 
admitted " one will " clearly enough in the sense of complete 
concord, and desired the expressions " one " or " two energies " 
to be avoided equally. He said nothing heretical, and no later 
Pope would ever admit that he had. He made a deplorable 
blunder in tolerating an ambiguous expression, and had no idea 
how large the question would loom, how futile it was to try to 
hush it all up. Then he died, leaving his name to become a 
stock reproach to the Papacy in the mouths of thousands of 
people who do not know what he really wrote, who do not 
understand what an ex cathedra definition means, who know 
nothing of the whole story beyond a cloudy impression that Pope 
Honorius once did something awful which fearfully compromised 
the Catholic theory. 1 

Except for this one feeble act on Honorius 's part, Rome and all 
the West were solidly opposed to Monotheletism. Heraclius tried 
to force it on the Church by a decree, the Ekthesis, 2 in 638. The 
Popes John IV (640-642) and Theodore I (642-649) condemned 
this. At Constantinople Abbot Maximus also became a firm 
opponent of Monotheletism. The Emperor Constans II (641- 
668) renewed the law of the Ekthesis in a fresh decree, Typos (648). 
Pope Martin I (649-655), in a Lateran synod (649), condemned 
both decrees. He was seized by the Imperial Exarch, brought to 
Constantinople, ill-treated and banished to the Chersonesus, where 
he died of his treatment, lacking even food, on September 16, 655, 

1 The literature on Honorius is enormous. His story (with further biblio- 
graphy) will be found in Hefele-Leclercq : Hist, des Conciles, hi. i, pp. 347- 
397, and in Dom J. Chapman : The Condemnation of Pope Honorius (C.T.S., 

2 "E/cfleo-is. 


the last martyr-Pope. 1 There was schism between Constantinople 
and Rome, while seven Byzantine Patriarchs held Monotheletism. 
Abbot Maximus was horribly tortured, and died in 662. Then, 
Constans II being dead, under his successor Constantine III 
(Pogonatos, 668-685), by arrangement with Pope Agatho (678- 
681), in 680 the sixth general council (Constantinople III) was 
held. The council confirmed the decree of the Lateran Synod of 
649, condemned the Monothelete heresy, and anathematized a 
number of Monotheletes, counting Pope Honorius among them. 
It is well known that the fathers themselves distinguished the 
Pope in various sessions from the actual originators of the heresy, 
that Pope Leo II (682-683), who confirmed their decrees, admitted 
a condemnation of Honorius, not as a heretic, but as one who 
" did not cleanse this x\postolic Church by the teaching of Apos- 
tolic tradition, but by a profane betrayal allowed the immaculate 
faith to be overturned," 2 which exactly expresses the extent of 
his guilt. 3 

Monotheletism then disappeared, 4 except that it continued among 
the simple folk of the Lebanon, where it formed the Maronite 
Church. And with Monotheletism ends this long story of Mono- 
physite disturbances. By the 8th century the controversy of 
nearly three centuries was over. The Monophysites were by no 
means extinct, any more than were the Nestorians. But they 
now had established their own organized Churches, whose story 
we have still to tell. In the Church of the empire, not yet divided 
by the schism of Photius, the faith of Chalcedon reigns supreme. 
Its next trouble is Iconoclasm, which is quite another matter. 
And as soon as Iconoclasm was over came the beginning of the 
most disastrous of all schisms, which cut away the " Orthodox " 

We keep the feast of St. Martin I, Pope and martyr, on November 12 ; 
the Byzantine Calendar has his feast on April 13, September 15, and Sep 
tember 20. For an Orthodox acknowledgement of Papal rights, see their 
Synaxarion in his honour, quoted in Nilles : Kalendarium manuale, i. 

2 Hefele-Leclercq : op. cit. hi. (1), p. 519. 

3 See Chapman : op. cit. 

4 The story of this heresy will be found at length in Hefele-Leclercq, hi. 
( I )» 3I7-47 1 ; that °f the sixth General Council, 472-512 ; the condemna- 
tion of Honorius, 515-538. 


from the Catholic Church. That story is told in the volume 
on the Orthodox Eastern Church. 


This chapter is concerned with the long and involved story of 
the Monophysite heresy. Monophysism began as an exaggerated 
opposition to Nestorianism. Egypt, the land of Cyril, was always 
its headquarters. The essence of this heresy is that our Lord has 
only one nature, that his humanity is so absorbed in his Divinity 
that he would not really be a man at all. Eutyches, Archiman- 
drite at Constantinople, first brought this view into prominence. 
Dioscor of Alexandria, St. Cyril's successor, was its chief champion. 
Dioscor first. triumphed at the Robber-Synod of Ephesus in 449. 
He was defeated and deposed, and Monophysism was condemned 
by the fourth General Council at Chalcedon in 452. The faith of 
Chalcedon remains always that of the Catholic Church, as opposed 
to Monophysism. Pope Leo I had already declared this faith in 
his Tome, accepted with acclamation by the Council. After 
Chalcedon the Monophysite party was by no means extinct. It 
continued to cause enormous trouble to both Church and State for 
about two and a half centuries. During all this time there were 
continual attempts on the part of the Government to conciliate the 
heretics by meeting them half way. None of these attempts were 
successful, most of them were themselves a betrayal of the faith, 
all led to further trouble with Rome and the West. Zeno's Heno- 
tikon caused the Acacian schism, which lasted thirty-five years 
(484-519) ; Justinian's condemnation of the Three Chapters 
brought about the tragic incident of Pope Vigilius and the fifth 
General Council (Constantinople II, 553) ; Heraclius' compromise 
of Monotheletism caused the scandal of Pope Honorius I and the 
sixth General Council (Constantinople III, 680). Meanwhile, 
Monophysism produced a crowd of strange dependent sects. It was 
firmly established in Egypt and Abyssinia ; it had many adherents 
in Syria and Palestine ; the Armenian Church turned Mono- 
physite solidly. So this heresy produced four Monophysite 
Churches (the Copts in Egypt, the Abyssinians, the Jacobites in 
Syria and Palestine, the Armenians), with a reaction on the 
distant missionary Church of Malabar (originally Nestorian). 



The Coptic Church is the national Church of Egypt — the Alex- 
andrine Patriarchate turned Monophysite. The overwhelming 
majority of the population of Egypt accepted this heresy. The 
orthodox in Egypt — the so-called Melkites — who clung to Chalce- 
don and the " Emperor's Church/' were never more than a small 
minority of foreign (Greek) functionaries and the Imperial garri- 
son. The situation is that Christian Egypt turned Monophysite. 
As a matter of historic continuity, the old Church of Egypt, the 
Church of Athanasius and Cyril, is now represented by the Mono- 
physite Copts. They are the old Church, fallen into heresy and 
schism. The Orthodox in Egypt, with their foreign rite and 
foreign language, are just as much foreigners as the Latins. If a 
man pins his faith on the idea of one Catholic Church made up of 
separated national branches, the Egyptian branch should be 
the Coptic sect. 

For the history of the Copts I use chiefly Eutychius, Orthodox 
Patriarch of Alexandria (933-940), L Severus of Al-Ushmunain, 2 

1 Sa'id Ibn Batrik (Eutychius) : Contextio Gemmarum (in Arabic, nazm 
algawdhir, ed. by L. Cheikho, S.J., in the Corp. Script. Christ. Orient., 
1906-1909 ; Latin version in P.G. ci. 889-1232), a history of the world 
down to 938 with details about the Church of Egypt from the orthodox 
point of view. 

2 Severus, Monophysite Bishop of Al-Ushmunain : History of the Patri- 
archs of Alexandria (Arabic and English, ed. by B. Evetts in the Patrologia 
Orientalis, vols. i. and v.), a Coptic rival work to Eutychius. Severus' 
history (to the 6th cent.) is continued by other writers to the 19th, and 
forms a kind of Liber Pontificalis of the Coptic Church. 



Makrlzi, 1 AlMakin, 2 Renaudot. 3 Another modern compilation 
from these sources is Dr. Neale's History of the Patriarchate of 
Alexandria* Abii-Dakn's little book 5 contains some curious in-, 
formation. Mrs. Butcher's Story of the Church of Egypt 6 has no | 
value at all ; she has not the most elementary notion of either 
Church history or theology. 

i. The Copts in the Roman Empire 

The name Copt means simply Egyptian. It is an Arabic form 
of the Greek for Egypt or Egyptian. 7 Its present ecclesiastical 
sense is not very old. The Arab conquerors called all the natives 
they found in Egypt by this name, without any idea of a religious 
connotation. But since these natives practically all were members 
of the Monophysite national Church, 8 from about the 14th century 
Europeans have used the word Copt for a member of that Church. 
In this sense it is now universal. A Copt is a member of the 
Monophysite Church of Egypt. 9 

It is not necessary to begin our account of the Coptic Church at 
the first evangelizing of their land, nor to discuss the doubtful 
authenticity of the tradition that St. Mark brought the Gospel 

1 Takiyu-dDin alMakrlzi, a Moslem writer in Egypt (f 1441), wrote a 
history (" Book of Exhortation and Consideration," Kitdb alMuwa'az wa- 
ll' tabdr), which contains a long account of the Copts. This part has been 
edited in Arabic and German by F. Wiistenfeld : Macrizi's Gesch. der Copten 
(Gottingen, 1845). 

2 AlMakin (f 1275) : Historia Saracenica (Arab, and Latin), ed. T. 
Erpenius, Leiden, 1625. 

3 Historia Patriarcharum Alexandr. Jacobit. (Paris, 1713), mostly taken 
from Severus of Al-Ushmunain. 

4 History of the Holy Eastern Church, vols. iv. and v. (London, Masters, 

5 Joseph Abudacnus : Hist. Jacobitarum seu Coptorum, Oxford, 1675. 

6 London, Smith, Elder, 2 vols., 1897. 

7 Kibt, Kibti, from Myvirros, aiyunrios. This derivation is now 
admitted by almost everyone. The loss of the first syllable is quite in 
accordance with Arabic philology. They would consider it as wasla, then 
drop it. So bu for abu, -bn for ibn, etc. A further consideration is whether 
aiyviTTos comes from Ha-ka-ptah, " Houses of Ptah." The Arabic for Egypt 
is misr, the old Semitic name (Hebr. misraim). 

8 A handful of native Egyptians has always been Melkite. 

9 It is better not to call them Jacobites, keeping that name for their co- 
religionists in Syria, where it is much more suitable (see pp. 9, 336), 


to Alexandria. In the case of the Nestorians their sect arose in 
an outlying little-known corner of the Church, whose previous 
history demanded some account before we came to the beginning 
of the heresy which eventually cut it off. But Egypt was a very 
important province of the Church. The origin of the Alexandrine 
Patriarchate, once second in Christendom, its famous school, the 
tragic story of Origen, the Arian heresy, the life of the greatest 
of all Alexandrine Patriarchs, Athanasius— this is in the strictest 
sense part of general Church history, which one may suppose 
known to every reader. And Cyril's war against Nestorianism, 
also well known, has been told again in our first part. Leaving 
all this, then, we begin our account of the Copts with their 

Our general account of Monophysism (Chapter VI) has already 
covered much of this. The shortest statement of the events 
which led up to the founding of a stable Monophysite Patriarchate 
in Egypt will be enough here. 

At first, as happens in nearly every heresy, the heretics did not 
constitute themselves in a separate organized body. The quarrel 
begins more or less within the Church. 1 In Egypt we now see 
several lines of Patriarchs, each claiming the title of Alexandria, 
with a further qualification (Coptic Patriarch, Orthodox Patriarch, 
Uniate Patriarch, etc.), each agreeing to differ, and, side by side, 
ruling the various groups which recognize them. Now they have 
their berat from the Government, each for his own " nation " ; 
they even pay each other friendly visits on New Year's Day. Not 
so at the beginning. No one then conceived the possibility of 
two Patriarchs side by side on terms of practical mutual recogni- 
tion. There could be only one Patriarch, as there could be only 
one bishop in each see. The two parties, Monophysite and 
Catholic, struggled and fought over these. When a Catholic, 
supported by the Government, succeeded in holding the Patriar- 
chal throne, he promptly drove out all Monophysite bishops, for- 
bade Monophysite theology, tried to stamp out the heresy, and 

1 In most cases it is difficult to say exactly at what moment a sect has 
begun to exist outside the Church. At first the heretics are rather dis- 
turbers of the peace within. It is only gradually that, being excom- 
municate, they form themselves into a schismatical group, and so begin 
their career as a separate body. 


persecuted the heretics without scruple. Then, when the native 
population succeeded in driving him out or murdering him, they 
set up a Monophysite as his successor, who immediately ejected 
all Catholic bishops, recalled the Monophysites and persecuted 
Catholics. This state of things lasted almost till the Arab con- 
quest. It is a succession of Catholics and Monophysites, having 
in turn the upper hand over the same body, rather than two 
communities side by side. Sometimes there were two Patriarchs 
at the same time ; but neither in any way admitted the claim of 
the other. Generally there is one in possession of the Patriarchal 
palace and church and one deposed, who does not admit his 
deposition. So the situation lasts for about a century. It pro- 
duces the result that the present Coptic and Orthodox Patriarchs 
of Alexandria, each claiming succession straight down from St. 
Mark, St. Athanasius, St. Cyril, must count representatives of the 
other faith among his own predecessors. The Orthodox counts 
Dioscor, the Copt Proterius, as (from their respective points of 
view) unworthy predecessors of their correct selves. During this 
long time of confusion, however, the two faiths were gradually 
forming two groups (an enormous Monophysite group, a tiny 
Orthodox group of Greek functionaries) ; so that eventually each 
kept its own line of Patriarchs, each became a separate body. 
Then different rites and different liturgical languages accentuated 
the separation. It would have saved much trouble, and incident- 
ally much murdering, burning and mutual persecution, if that 
state of things had been admitted from the beginning, if the 
Government of Constantinople had frankly acknowledged two 
religions in Egypt, had let each have its own Patriarch and 
hierarchy. But this is a modern idea of toleration which we must 
not expect in the Byzantine state. Nor would it have satisfied 
the Monophysites : for in those days heretics were by no means 
content to be allowed their own religion ; they always hoped to 
capture the whole body of Christians to their view, just as Catholics 
always hoped to stamp out the heresy altogether. Let us again 
note, as a last general point, that all through this trouble, ever 
since Dioscor and his Robber-Synod (449), the Monophysites in 
Egypt were the overwhelming majority ; they had practically 
all the native population. Chalcedonianism was the religion of 


the Greek garrison and officials, which the Byzantine Government 
was trying to force on turbulent and rebellious natives. 

St. Cyril's successor, Dioscor of Alexandria (444-451, -f 454), 
was, we have seen, a vehement Monophysite. In Lequien's list he 
is the twenty-fifth Patriarch since St. Mark. 1 We may count him 
as the first Coptic Patriarch, in the modern sense of Monophysite. 
But he was not, of course, conscious of beginning any new Church. 
He protested that he was defending the old faith of Athanasius 
and Cyril. And for a long time after him there is still only one 
line, held alternately by Monophysites and Orthodox. When 
Dioscor was deposed by the Council of Chalcedon (451), the 
Government made a Catholic, Proterius (451-457), Patriarch. 
Proterius was murdered in 457 and the Copts set up Timothy the 
Cat (457-460). Then he was banished, and a Catholic, Timothy 
Salophakiolos (460-475), was set up. Salophakiolos was ejected 
by the usurping Emperor Basiliskos in 475, and the Cat was 
restored. Zeno deposed the Cat and brought back Salophakiolos 
in 476. He reigned then till his death in 481. When the Cat 
died (479) the Copts set up Peter Mongos ; but at first he did not 
obtain possession. Instead, the Catholic John Talaia was 
appointed (482). Then came the Henotikon. Talaia would not 
sign it and fled to Rome. Peter Mongos signed, obtained the 
palace and church, and reigned till his death (482-490). Talaia 
was the last Catholic Patriarch for about sixty years. With 
Mongos we come to the time of the Acacian schism (pp. 193-199) ; 
Egypt becomes more and more the central home of all Mono- 
physism, the harbour of refuge to which these heretics flee from 
all countries. Six Monophysite Patriarchs follow. Mongos 
fiercely persecuted all Melkites in Egypt. He became a tower of 
strength to his party, so that " communion with Mongos " was 
the recognized outward sign of inward Monophysism. But in 
Egypt the extreme Monophysites, who from their side were as 
dissatisfied with the compromising Henotikon as were loyal 
Catholics, refused to accept it, broke with Mongos because he did 
so, and formed the schism of " those without a Chief (Akephaloi, 
p. 194)." 2 There were a number of other schisms and sects, 

1 Lequien : Oriens Christianas, ii. 409. 

2 Alladdn Id rd's I ahum in Severus of Al-Ushmunain (ed. cit. p. [210]). 


strange parties with wild ideas into which the great Monophysite 
movement was breaking up. 1 After Mongos came Athanasius II 
(490-497), who tried in vain to force the Henotikon on Catholics 
and Akephaloi. Then followed John Hemula (John I, 497-507), 
who made an attempt at reunion with Rome, but without success, 
since he would not give up the Henotikon. John II (Nikiotes, 
507-517) went beyond the Henotikon. He was an out-and-out 
Monophysite, who refused communion to everyone who would 
not formally reject Chalcedon. Dioscor II (517-520), a nephew 
of Timothy the Cat, reconciled the Akephaloi, since he too 
abandoned the Henotikon and taught pure Monophysism. 
During his time the end of the Acacian schism took place (517, 
p. 199) ; so he found himself out of communion with every other 
Patriarch and remained the one great Monophysite in the East. 
Severus of Antioch and Julian of Halicarnassus came to Egypt 
while Dioscor II was Patriarch ; further quarrels between 
factions of Monophysites began (pp. 206-208). Then came 
Timothy II (520-536), also a Monophysite. The Themistian 
heresy (p. 207) began in his time. The tide at Constantinople has 
now turned. The Acacian schism is over ; the Emperors Justin 
I (518-527) and then Justinian (527-565) are Catholics. Natur- 
ally Justinian tried to secure a Chalcedonian Patriarch at Alex- 
andria. He summoned Timothy II to Constantinople, that he 
might give an account of himself. Timothy was about to obey, 
when by dying he was spared the deposition which awaited him. 
Then came a schism among the Monophysites themselves. We 
have referred to the sects of the Phthartolatrai, who, following 
Severus, admitted that the body of Christ was corruptible 
(moderate Monophysites), and of the Aphthartolatrai, the extreme 
party of Julian of Halicarnassus, which denied this teaching, 
practically Docetes (pp. 206-207). The Phthartolatrai at 
Timothy's death elected one Theodosius (538), their opponents 
chose a certain Gainas. 2 Theodosius succeeded in persuading the 
Government to banish his rival ; but he could not secure peace 
for his own reign. The people were extreme Monophysites, and 
looked upon him as little better than a Melkite. There were 

1 Lequien : Or. Christ, ii. 430-433. 

2 Otherwise called Gaianus, Kayanus in Severus, p. [192]. 


tumults, riots, bloodshed. So Theodosius went to Constantinople 
to ask for help. Here he was warmly welcomed by the Empress 
Theodora, who was herself a Monophysite (p. 200) . But, although 
he belonged to the more moderate (and less logical) party, he 
would not accept Chalcedon. The Government of Justinian 
insisted on this ; so he was kept near the capital in exile. Mean- 
while, in Egypt the two factions, his and that of Gainas, tore each 
other. In 539, Justinian, by the advice of the Papal legate, sent 
a monk Paul to be Patriarch of Alexandria. Paul (539-541) was 
a Catholic, the first since John Talaia (p. 194). As a Melkite he 
had all the natives against him. Theodosius wrote letters to 
them exhorting them to resist the usurper and to remain faithful 
to himself. Paul fell foul of the Government, and perhaps became 
himself a heretic. 1 He was deposed and banished ; Zoilus 
(542-550) was made (Melkite) Patriarch in his place. The 
quarrel of the Three Chapters (pp. 202-205) now begins. Zoilus 
had signed their condemnation. Then he retracted and was 
deposed. Apollinaris (550-568) was intruded in his place. 
During the reign of the Melkite Apollinaris his Coptic rival 
Theodosius died (567). Apollinaris thought the schism was over, 
and gave a banquet in his delight. 2 On the contrary, from now 
the rival lines of Coptic and Melkite Patriarchs are established ; 
they were destined to last to our own day. 

For a time there were two Monophysite claimants ; the fol- 
lowers of Theodosius and Gainas each had a successor to their 
Patriarch. When Gainas died the two parties agreed to elect 
one Patriarch for both. They chose Dorotheus. But he went 
over to the Gainites altogether, 3 so the Theodosians withdrew 
their obedience from him and chose one John, who soon dis- 
appeared. Then they chose Peter. The Gainites now become 
a small further schism, which eventually died out. 4 The claimant 
of the Theodosians, Peter III (567-570), was consecrated by the 
Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch (Paul I, c. 549-578). He and his 

1 So Lequien : Or. Christ, ii. 435. 

2 Severus of Al-Ushmunain, p. [206]. 

3 It will be remembered that there was a theological difference between 
the two parties. The Gainites were the Aphthartolatrai, the Theodosians 
Phthartolatrai (p. 207). 

4 They had a bishop as late as 700 (Or. Christ, ii. 454). 


successors are the line of Coptic Patriarchs, acknowledged by the 
great mass of Egyptian Christians, which still exists. 

So at last, after all this confusion, we come to a fairly clear 
parting of the ways. Apollinaris and his successors are the 
Melkite Patriarchs, Peter III and his form the Coptic line. Here 
we are concerned with the Copts. A few words will be enough 
with which to dismiss the Melkites, before we come back to our 
main subject. 

Apollinaris was succeeded by John I (568-579) ; then came 
Eulogius (579-607), the friend and correspondent of Pope St. 
Gregory I (590-604) ; then Theodore (607-609) and John II, 
surnamed the Almoner (609-620). George (621-630) followed; 
then Cyrus (630-642), who accepted Monotheletism and by it won 
over many Monophysites to a false union (p. 210). During his 
time came the Arab conquest (639) . He was succeeded by Peter 
II (643-c. 655), also a Monothelete, who, finding all Egypt in the 
hands of the Arabs, and the Copts recognized by the new masters 
as the Christianity of the country, went back to Constantinople 
and stayed there, thus setting an example of non-residence which 
was to be followed by many of his successors. After the death 
of Peter II the Melkite see was vacant for over seventy years. It 
was again filled by Cosmas I in 727 (to about 775). This line 
then continues, with various interruptions, till now. The Melkite 
Patriarchs shared in the schism of Photius and Cerularius ; in the 
13th century they adopted the Byzantine rite ; they became 
more and more Byzantinized, Greeks ruling over a little flock in 
the midst of the hostile Copts. After the Moslem conquest, for 
long periods, finding they had little to do in Egypt, they went 
to reside at Constantinople. Mere servants of the Byzantine 
Patriarch, generally nominated by him, they added to the splen- 
dour of his court their Patriarchal vestments and empty title. 1 
When they were in Egypt these Orthodox Patriarchs lived at 
Cairo, like their Coptic rivals. Their history belongs to that of the 

1 An obvious parallel is the case of the Latin Patriarchs and bishops set 
up in the East by the Crusaders. When all the Crusaders' lands were lost, 
when there were practically no more Latin communities in the Levant, 
these came to Rome and carried on merely titular lines as ornaments of the 
Papal Court. 


Orthodox Church. 1 Their little flock has now only four non- 
resident suffragans, 2 and is governed by the Lord Photios, Ortho- 
dox Patriarch of Alexandria. This line of Patriarchs no longer 
concerns us — except that incidentally we shall hear of the Melkites 
during their frequent quarrels with the Copts. 

Turning to the Coptic line, we come back to Peter III (567-570). 
He was succeeded by Damian (570-c. 603) ; then followed 
Anastasius (603-614). A schism had arisen between the Copts 
and their Monophysite brethren, the Jacobites of Syria, during 
the time of Damian. 3 Anastasius of Alexandria was able to heal 
this. The victories of Chosroes II of Persia (590-628 ; see p. 90) 
had begun. In 614 he captured Damascus and overran Syria ; 
in 615 he took Jerusalem and carried away the relic of the Cross. 
The Jacobite Patriarch Athanasius (p. 334) fled before him and 
came to Egypt. Here he was reconciled with Anastasius. He 
was received with great honour and pomp, and communicated 
with his Coptic brother. But Sophronius of Jerusalem, who was 
orthodox, curses both, and their union. 4 

During all this time, till the Moslem conquest, the Melkites, 
although so small a party, naturally enjoyed the favour of the 
Byzantine Government. They held the chief churches and the 
old Patriarchal palace. The Melkite Patriarch was generally 
made Imperial commissioner for Egypt ; so he had supreme 
political authority in the land. But Melkite power was practically 
confined to the Hellenized cities of Lower Egypt, chiefly to 
Alexandria. Upper Egypt, the Thebais and the desert, with its 
crowd of monks, was all Monophysite. The Coptic Patriarchs, 
driven out of Alexandria by their rivals, lived for the most part 
in the monasteries of Upper Egypt. However, some of them 
were able to stay in Alexandria. In 616 the Persians invaded 
Egypt. John the Almoner (the Melkite Patriarch) fled to Cyprus ; 
the Coptic throne was occupied by Andronicus (614-620). The 
enemy held Egypt till the treaty of 628, when Heraclius' victories 
compelled him to withdraw his troops. During these twelve 

1 See Orthodox Eastern Church, pp. 285-286. 2 lb. 285. 

3 For the frequent schisms which interrupted the normally friendly 
relations between the Monophysites of Egypt and Syria, see below, pp. 333- 


4 Ep. Synodica ad Sergium Const. (P.G. lxxxvii. part 3, 3193A). 


years the Copts felt the weight of that same arm which was 
crushing their old opponents the Nestorians. Chosroes II was a 
bitter persecutor of all Christians. Churches were destroyed, 
monks massacred, nuns ravished. These years of Persian 
oppression were a bitter foretaste of the long Moslem persecution, 
now soon to begin. When the Persians withdrew, the Copts were 
again able to elect a Patriarch. They chose a monk Benjamin 
(620-659). In his time occurred the union of many Copts to the 
Orthodox, achieved by the Melkite Patriarch Cyrus, on the basis 
of Monotheletism (p. 210). Benjamin, as a staunch Monophysite, 
refused to accept the Monothelete compromise and fled to Upper 
Egypt. " For Heraclius the misbeliever had charged them (his 
soldiers), saying : ' If anyone says that the Council of Chalcedon 
is true, let him go ; but drown in the sea those that say it is 
erroneous and false/ . . . Then Heraclius appointed bishops 
throughout the land of Egypt, as far as the city of Antinoe, and 
tried the inhabitants or Egypt with hard trials, and like a ravening 
wolf devoured the reasonable flock, and was not satiated. And 
this blessed people who were thus presecuted were the Theo- 
dosians." x Then in 639 came the victorious Arabs. 

2. The Arab Conquest of Egypt (639) 

That the True Believers, in the first impulse of their victorious 
career, swept irresistibly over Persia, Syria and Egypt is well 
known. During the first century or so after the Prophet's death 
(632) no one could withstand them. They crushed every army 
sent by the Emperor or the Great King, made all Persia Moslem, 
and tore from the empire its richest provinces. In December 639 
'Amr, 2 fresh from the conquest of Syria, invaded Egypt. He 
overran the whole country, defeated the Romans in three pitched 
battles, besieged and took the city Babylon, on the right bank of 
the Nile, in 640, and Alexandria in 641. By the winter of 641-642 
Egypt was part of the Khalifs domain, the army of 'Amr was 

1 Hist, oj the Patriarchs of Alexandria (ed. B. Evetts), pp. [227-228]. 

2 Abu 'Abdillah, 'Amru-bnu-rAsi-bni Wa'ili-ssahmi, of a noble family of 
the Kuraish, was converted to Islam soon after Mohammed took Mekkah. 
He was the conqueror of Syria and Egypt. 


employed to restore order, garrison the towns and arrange the 
usual Moslem terms of submission for the native Christians. It is 
commonly said that the Copts, hating the Roman Government 
and the Melkites, helped the Arab conquerors. Their Patriarch 
Benjamin, then in exile, is said to have sent a message to his 
people urging them to submit peaceably to 'Amr. The Arab 
historians tell of a certain Christian, Al-Mukaukis, who betrayed 
the land to them. 1 This person justly incurs the scorn of all 
Christians, as the arch-traitor to his faith and fatherland. But 
there is some doubt as to who he may be. Mukaukis is clearly the 
transliteration of a Greek title. 2 He is often said to be no other 
than the Coptic Patriarch, Benjamin. Mr. A. J. Butler, on the 
other hand, defends a view exactly opposite to this. He main- 
tains that the Copts were bitterly hostile to the Moslems, that 
Al-Mukaukis is the Melkite Patriarch, Cyrus. 3 Considering the 
extreme improbability of this (since the Melkites were just the 
Government party, the Copts always hostile to the empire), and 
that the Moslems at first favoured the Copts and persecuted 
the Melkites, his view is difficult to accept. 4 

'Amr made Fustat (" the Camp," where his army had lain 
during the siege of Babylon) his capital. Alexandria from now 
becomes a city of secondary importance. Egypt was ruled by a 
governor under the Khalif . When the Moslems became masters 
of the land they found it inhabited almost entirely by the Mono- 
physite Copts, with a small handful of Melkites. Al-Makrizi, 
who now becomes a chief authority, says : " When the Moslems 
entered Egypt it was rilled with Christians, who were divided into 
two separate parts by descent and religion. One part, the 
governing body, consisted only of Romans from the army of the 

1 See S. Lane-Poole : A History of Egypt in the Middle Ages (Methuen, 
1901), pp. 6-7. 

2 ntyaux'f)s> " glorious." 

3 The Arab Conquest of Egypt (Oxford, 1902), pp. 508-526. 

4 AlMakin (ib. 511) : " Al-Mukaukis was Governor of Egypt in the 
name of Herakl. He and the chiefs of the Copts met together and made 
peace with 'Amr, son of 'Asi, on the terms that they should pay tribute." 
J. Karabacek has written a monograph on this person, using newly found 
Egyptian documents (Der Mokaukis von Aegypten, in the Mittheilungen 
from Archduke Rainer's papyri, pt. 1) . According to him George Megauches 
was a Copt, Imperial governor for taxes (Pagarch) in Lower Egypt. 


master of Constantinople, the King 1 of Rome, whose opinions 
were those of the Melkites, whose number was about 300,000. 
The other part, consisting of the great mass of the people of Egypt, 
called Copts, was a mixed race, so that it is no longer possible to 
distinguish whether any one of them be of Coptic, Abyssinian, 
Nubian or Jewish descent. All these were Jacobites [he means 
Monophysites] ; some of them were in Government offices, 2 
others were tradesmen and merchants, others bishops, priests and 
such-like, others farmers and tillers of the soil, others servants and 
slaves. Between these and the Melkites, people of the State, 3 was 
so great enmity that they hurt each other by betrayals, and even 
mutual murders took place. Their number 4 was several hundred 
thousand, 5 for they were properly the people of the land of Egypt, 
of its upper part and of its lower part." 6 He tells us further: 
" The Copts sought to make peace with 'Amr on the condition of 
paying tribute ; and he granted this, confirmed their possession of 
lands and other property, and they helped the Moslems against 
the Romans till God drove these in flight and expelled them 
from Egypt." 7 

The immediate result of the Moslem conquest was to secure for 
the Copts the position of recognized Christians in Egypt. They 
had long been persecuted by the Melkites. Now the position was 
reversed. The conquerors found them the vast majority and 
preferred them, as being already enemies of the Roman Empire. 
So they gave them every advantage over the Melkites. The Copts 
got back many churches out of which they had been driven ; 
their Patriarch could now reside openly at Alexandria, or where 
he would. The Melkites for a time almost disappear. They are 
the avowed enemies of the new Government, and are trodden 
down, almost stamped out. Many of them flee to lands still held 
by the Emperor, some turn Moslem, some turn Copt. It is the 
darkest hour of the Orthodox Church in Egypt. We have seen 
that at this time, after the death of Peter II (c. 655), the Melkite 
Patriarchate was left vacant for more than seventy years (p. 221). 

1 Malik ar-rum. They always call the Emperor Malik. 

2 Kuttdb al-mamlakah, " writers of the kingdom." 

3 A hi adDaulah. 4 Of Copts. 5 He might say millions. 

6 Al-Makrizi : Ahbdr kibt misr (ed. cit. p. 20 of the Arabic text). 

7 lb. p. 21. 



It is not till long afterwards, when all have settled down under the 
Moslem tyrant, that the Melkites reappear as a small rayah in 
Egypt, and reclaim their property and rights. 

The Copts then obtain the usual terms of rayahs or dimmis 
under Moslem rule. At first their condition was not altogether 
hopeless. They may not serve in the army ; they must pay the 
heavy poll-tax. They may restore their existing churches, not 
build new ones. Their churches may have no external Christian 
sign (such as a cross) ; nor may they ring bells. 1 They may not 
ride a horse nor bear weapons. It is death to convert a Moslem, 
to speak against Islam, to seduce a Moslem woman. It is death 
for a Copt who has once accepted Islam to return to the faith of 
his fathers. The word or oath of a Copt may not be taken in a 
law-court against that of a Moslem. It is death to rebel or to 
traffic with any foreign power against their masters. But, if they 
keep all these conditions, they are to be let alone and not perse- 
cuted because of their faith. They are not to be forced to 
apostatize ; even a Christian woman married to a Moslem is to be 
allowed to practise her own religion. They become a subject 
" nation (mill ah) " in the usual Moslem sense. 2 The civil head of 
this nation was the Coptic Patriarch. He was, of course, himself 
subject to the Moslem governor ; but, within the limits the 
conqueror allowed him, he had considerable power over his people, 
even in civil matters. Questions of wills, marriages, even of 
property, were settled by his courts. Any Copt at any moment 
could shake off the Patriarch's authority and join the ruling class 
by professing Islam. But for those who would not do so there 
was considerable internal self-government within their own 
nation. The Patriarch had rights of first-fruits of benefices and 
of tithes, which were enforced by the Government. 

1 The Prophet, and after him his True Believers, hated bells. 

2 The Moslem Governments (Arab and Turk) always count a man's 
" nation " by his religion. Each religious body becomes a millah, with its 
own administration, in civil affairs too. If you profess the Monophysite 
faith in Egypt, you belong to the Coptic millah. The Moslems would force 
a man to obey the regulations of his own " nation " ; it was (till quite 
lately) almost impossible to pass from one religious society to another, to 
become a Catholic if you had been Orthodox, for instance. The Orthodox 
bishop could and did force you to continue to obey him. All through the 
history of Arab and Turkish government this difficulty recurs. 


However, all this represents the very best the Copts could 
expect. At intervals under a humane governor they enjoyed so 
much of contemptuous toleration ; but we must remember that 
all the time they were utterly at the mercy of an alien power, 
which hated and despised them. Egypt under Moslem rule had 
even for a Moslem state an exceptionally large proportion of 
fiendish lunatics as governors. Such men always, besides behaving 
abominably to their own co-religionists, begin torturing, perse- 
cuting, massacring the helpless Christians. Even a good governor 
often acquired conscientious scruples about leaving unbelievers 
in peace. So the story of the Copts under Moslem rule, in spite 
of interludes, is really one long and sickening account of horrible 
persecution. During this time enormous numbers apostatized. 
That is not surprising. It was so easy, during a general massacre 
of Christians, to escape torture and death by professing Islam. 
Then it was death to go back. The wonder is rather that any 
Copts at all kept the faith during these hideous centuries. 

When there was no actual persecution, Copts were able to serve 
their masters in many ways because of their superior civilization. 
One of the commonest professions for a Copt was to be writer (katib, 
secretary) to the Moslem governor of some province. The Coptic 
katib became a recognized institution ; even now in Egyptian books 
and plays he appears, generally as a comic character, an ingenious 
rascal, whose astuteness is finally defeated by True Believing 
honesty. Meanwhile the Coptic language slowly died out. When 
the Arabs came all Egypt talked Coptic, except a handful of 
Greek Melkites. Coptic is the direct descendant, or later form, 
of the old Egyptian language of the hieroglyphs. 1 The Arabs 
brought their own totally different Semitic speech to Egypt. 
This became the language of the governing class ; Copts had to 
acquire it, in order to talk to their masters ; so very slowly their 
own language disappeared. It did not disappear altogether till 
the 17th century. Now it exists only as their liturgical language 
(p. 274). All Copts talk Arabic. 

1 As a matter of fact, interest in Coptic and its study among Europeans 
is chiefly due to its usefulness in deciphering the hieroglyphs. The pro- 
nunciation of many words represented by ideograms is made conjecturally 
from Coptic. 


3. Under the Sunni Khalifs (639-969) 

We have seen that, at the moment of the Moslem conquest, the 
Coptic Patriarch Benjamin I had fled (p. 223) . The last act of the 
Roman power in Egypt was a great attempt to force reunion on 
the Monophysites on the lines of Monotheletism (p. 223). Ben- 
jamin was a consistent Monophysite, and resisted this compromise 
on his side as thoroughly as Catholics did from theirs. 1 He fled 
to the usual refuge of his sect, Upper Egypt, where everyone was 
Monophysite, where the Melkites could not get at him. One of 
the first things 'Amr did after the conquest was to send a letter to 
Benjamin, a safe-conduct with assurance of his protection. 2 This 
is the first bara'ah (berat) given by a Moslem governor to a bishop 
in Egypt. It is tragically characteristic that the immediate 
result of the Moslem conquest should be to free a Christian bishop 
from the persecution he had suffered from a Christian Government. 
Benjamin came out of hiding, after thirteen years, saw 'Amr, 
accepted the usual humiliating conditions offered to him and his 
flock, and established himself at Alexandria. The Copts then 
obtained possession of all churches formerly held by Melkites. 3 

Now for over two centuries Egypt was a province of the vast, 
still united Moslem Empire, whose head was the Khalif at 
Damascus. 4 It was ruled by a governor (the Amir of Egypt) who 
could be removed, imprisoned, slain at the Khalifs pleasure, 
but who meanwhile was an absolute tyrant over all the land, who 
(as long as he sent sufficient revenue to Damascus) was not likely 
to be disturbed, and could do much as he liked. 'Amr was 
considered not to have sent enough money to his master, so he 

1 This is the result of all these compromises. Zeno's Henotikon, the 
condemnation of the Three Chapters, Monotheletism, and the other attempts 
of the same kind naturally found some time-servers who agreed to what- 
ever the Emperor asked. But they were equally obnoxious to conscien- 
tious Monophysites and to conscientious Catholics. The Monophysites 
would be content with nothing less than the total repeal of Chalcedon ; 
Catholics would not allow anything less than its complete acceptance. 
Between these no compromise was really possible. 

2 AlMakrizi (German translation, p. 51). 3 lb. 

4 The sixth Khalif Mu'awiyah (661-680) made Damascus his seat. It 
remained the capital till his dynasty fell in 749. The Khalifs of the house 
of '.\bbas (749-1258) lived first at Kufah, then at Bagdad. 


was given a lower place ; 'Abdullah ibn Sa'd was made Amir of 
all Egypt. 1 The new governor conquered Nubia and gave the 
Christians of that land a document of protection, with conditions, 
which is a good specimen of the terms Moslems gave to Christian 
dimmis. 2 

The Patriarch Benjamin died in 639, and was succeeded by 
Agatho (659-677). He converted many Gainites (p. 220) to 
normal Monophysism, and rebuilt the great church of St. Mark 
at Alexandria. 3 Then came John III (677-686). 'Abdu-l'AzIz 
suddenly demanded a hundred thousand pieces of gold from him, 
and burned his feet with hot coals till he paid all he could raise — 
ten thousand pieces. 4 

There is no object in naming all the Coptic Patriarchs who 
succeeded to this ill-fated throne, who, one after another, bore 
torture and disgrace to make them pay enormous sums, claimed 
without the shadow of an excuse by the tyrant. A few specimens 
of the way the Copts were treated during this dreadful time will 
be enough. Persecution was always latent, constantly broke out. 
In the time of Isaac (686-689) a deputation came from " India " 
asking him to ordain a bishop for that land. 5 This is interesting, 
as being, apparently, the first relation between the Malabar 
Christians and Monophysites (see p. 360). Alexander II (703-726) 
was twice branded with hot irons and was mulcted of six thousand 
pieces of gold. 6 At this time there was a fearful persecution. 
'Abdu-1'Aziz had a census of all monks made, imposed a special 
tax on them, and forbade anyone in future to become a monk. 
The Khalif 'Abdu-lMalik (692-705) made his own son 'Abdullah 
governor of Egypt. 'Abdullah levied enormous taxes on all 
Christians, which he then doubled and trebled. He despoiled and 
ruined churches, branded strangers on the face or hand. Enor- 
mous numbers of Copts died of starvation. His successor, 
Kurrah ibn Sharik, continued the same extortions. These two 
" brought on Christians evils such as they had never before 
suffered." 7 Under Kurrah a great number of Copts tried to 

1 S. Lane-Poole : History of Egypt in the Middle Ages, p. 20. 

2 Quoted ib. 21-23. 3 AlMakrizI, p. 52. 

4 Hist, of the Pair, of Alex. pp. [268-269]. 

5 AlMakrizI, p. 53. • Ib. 7 Ib. 


escape their misfortunes by flight ; so he sent soldiers to watch 
the harbours and kill all who tried to escape. Then, goaded to 
despair, some of them rose in open rebellion. This was put down 
and a great number were killed. 1 A law was made that every 
monk should bear an iron fetter round his wrist, marked with his 
name and that of his monastery ; whoever was found without 
this fetter had his hand cut off. 2 'Usamah ibn Zaid at-tanuhi 
" upset the monasteries and caught a great number of monks 
without their mark. Of these some were beheaded ; the others 
were scourged till they died. Hereupon churches were destroyed, 
crosses broken, and the idols, of which many were found, all 
smashed." 3 Hisham ibn 'Abdi-lMalik (Khalif, 724-743), who 
ruled over the united Moslem Empire at the time of its greatest 
extent, meant to be tolerant and sent orders to Egypt that 
Christians there were to be treated fairly, according to the law for 
dimmis. But the Amir Hanzalah ibn Safwan, in spite of this, 
carried on a cruel persecution. He increased the poll-tax on 
Christians, made them all carry a mark stamped with the figure 
of a lion, and had the hand of everyone cut off who was found 
without it. 4 There was another rebellion followed by a massacre. 
A bishop, who was seized and commanded to pay a thousand 
pieces of gold, was hung up at the door of a church and scourged 
almost to death, till his friends collected three hundred pieces. 5 
This was a favourite method of raising money, used by needy 
governors throughout this period. A perfectly inoffensive bishop 
or Patriarch was suddenly seized and some quite impossible 
amount of money demanded of him. He naturally protested that 
he had not a tenth part of what was asked. He was told that his 
friends must raise it. Meanwhile he was kept in prison, scourged 
and tortured till as much as the sight of his anguish could procure 
from his people was raised ; and by this he was ransomed. 

Under the Khalif Marwan II (744-750), a savage tyrant who 
particularly hated Christians, the persecution became still fiercer. 
A number of Coptic nuns were torn from their convents and 
handed over to the soldiers. MakrizI tells a curious story of one 
of these nuns who by a trick saved her honour at the price of her 

1 AlMakrizi, p. 55. 2 lb. a j 55 _ 5 6. 

4 lb. p. 56 ; Hist, of the Pair. p. [329]. 5 lb. pp. [332-333]. 


life. She told her captor that she had a wonderful oil which made 
her invulnerable. Having aroused his curiosity about this oil, 
she undertook to show him its power. She anointed her neck and 
told him to strike with his sword. He did so and beheaded her. 
So she died (allowing for her mistaken conscience) a martyr. 1 
The Coptic Patriarch Michael I (Hail, 743-766) spent a part of his 
reign in prison. 

So far the Melkites have almost disappeared. Their see was 
vacant since the death of Peter II (654). The Moslems during 
this time acknowledged only the Copts as the Christian dimmis of 
Egypt. In spite of the fierce persecution which they themselves 
suffered, the Coptic Patriarchs used the help of the infidel Govern- 
ment to force all other Christians in the land to acknowledge their 
authority and to enter their communion. So we have the curious 
spectacle of these suffering Copts in their turn worrying Melkites 
and Gainites. 

But the little Melkite community was never quite extinct. 
Now, in 727, they elected a certain needle-maker, Cosmas, to be 
their Patriarch (727-c. 775). Cosmas and his friends succeeded 
in obtaining recognition asa" nation " from the Amir. Some at 
least of their churches were given back to them ; so from now the 
Melkites have a fairly regular succession and reappear as a small 
group of dimmis, by the side of the Copts. But the persecution 
of all Christians went on. Makrizi continues his woeful tale of 
massacre, famine, scourging, forced tribute. At times Christians 
are reduced to eating corpses ; 2 there are spasmodic attempts at 
insurrection followed by ghastly general massacres. 

During the reign of the Coptic Patriarch Michael I, one of the 
schisms occurred which frequently interrupt the generally 
friendly relations between the Monophysites of Egypt and Syria. 
The Jacobite see of Antioch was occupied, in defiance of the canons, 
by Isaac, Bishop of Haran, in 754. The Copts refused to acknow- 
ledge him, and broke communion with the Jacobites. It was not 
restored till some time after Isaac's death (see p. 334). We have 
now a sufficient idea of the state of the Copts under Moslem rule. 
It is not necessary to continue the tedious story in detail. It 
is always the same wearisome series of ill-usage of all kinds. 

1 Al-Makrlzl, p. 57. 2 lb. p. 57. 


One Patriarch succeeds another ; one after another has to pay 
extortionate bribes. Imprisonment, scourging, massacre go on in 
sickening uniformity. 1 

4. The Fatimids (969-1 171) 

In the 10th century a great revolution took place in Egypt, 
after which the country for two centuries accepted a different 
form of Islam as State religion, breaking all dependence on the 
Khalif at Bagdad. For a long time a party among Moslems had 
secretly maintained the hereditary principle, holding that the 
lawful head of Islam should be a descendant of Mohammed, 
through his daughter Fatimah and his son-in-law 'Ali ibn 'Abi- 
Talib. These are the Shi'ah Moslems. 2 They would not acknow- 
ledge the Khalifs of the Ommeyad house at Damascus, nor their 
successors (since 749) the Abbasid Khalifs at Bagdad. Instead 
they venerated a line of Imams (Chiefs) beginning with 'Ali, his 
two sons Hasan and Husain, Husain's son, and so on, by hereditary 
descent to Mohammed Abu-lKasim, the 12th Imam, who dis- 
appeared in the 9th century of our reckoning. The Shi'ah faith 
teaches that he is not dead. He lives hidden somewhere and will 
one day return as the Imam Mahdi, to reward his faithful and 
punish the wicked. 3 Especially under the Abbasid Khalifs did 
the Shi'ah make secret propaganda. One of their missionaries 
came in 893 to Western Africa (the Mugrib, Morocco) and there 
proclaimed one 'Ubaidullah as the true Khalif. This 'Ubaidullah 
professed to be of the blood of the Prophet, through Fatimah. 
He begins the line of Fatimid Khalifs. 4 A large army was rapidly 

1 AlMakrizi gives details, pp. 58-81. 

2 Shi'ah, " a following " (collective). They now form the official religion 
of Persia. 

3 This is the normal Shi'ah faith, held by most, and now the official form 
in Persia. A sect of Shi'ah, however (the Isma'iliyah), acknowledge only 
seven Imams. There are other schisms among them, which turn on the 
question of the succession of the Imam. The best short account of Shi'ah 
I know is in I. Goldziher : Vorlesungen uber den Islam (Heidelberg, 19 10), 
pp. 208-230. 

4 'Ubaidullah is variously represented as being the brother of the 12th 
Imam, or the son of a hidden Imam recognised by the Isma'iliyah, or in 
other ways descended from Fatimah. There is considerable doubt as to 
who he was really. His opponents said he was a Jewish impostor. 


gathered together. In 910 'Ubaidullah was proclaimed in Kaira- 
wan ; he and his descendants soon held all Africa, except Egypt. 
The fourth Khalif of the Fatimid line, Al-Mu'izz (953-975) , invaded 
Egypt in 969. He easily conquered the country. Then he built 
Cairo 1 north of the old city Fustat (p. 224) to be his capital. 
Cairo has been the political centre of Egypt ever since. The 
Shi'ah form of Islam was imposed on all Egyptian Moslems ; the 
name of the Abbasid Khalif at Bagdad was banished, in all 
mosques prayers were said for Al-Mu'izz as lawful Khalif. The 
black standards and hangings of the Abbasids were replaced by 
white, the Fatimid colour. Al-Mu'izz was recognized in the holy 
cities (Mecca and Medina) and in Syria. So the empire of the 
Abbasids was reduced for a time to Mesopotamia ; this Fatimid 
invasion struck a blow at their declining power from which it 
never altogether recovered. 

The Fatimids reigned in Egypt about two centuries (till 1171). 2 
Their power abroad declined rapidly. Soon they lost all West 
Africa, which returned to the nominal allegiance of the Abbasids. 
The Abbasids were also able to send armies to Syria, 3 so that there 
was continual righting there. But Mecca and Medina (the 
Higaz) for a long time acknowledged the Fatimid Khalifs at Cairo. 
In Egypt they reigned as foreign conquerors supported by foreign 
mercenaries. The old vigour of the Arabs had now declined. 
Both rival Khalifs held their thrones supported by foreigners 
converted to Islam, who were bought as slaves or enlisted as a 
bodyguard. From the nth century the Selgvik Turks appear on 
the scene. Enlisted at first at Bagdad as a guard, they soon 
become the real masters of the feeble Khalif. In 1055 their chief 
Tugril Beg is acknowledged and prayed for as Amir and lieutenant 
of the Khalif. This means his master. Till the final destruction 
of the Khalifate of Bagdad (by Hulagu Khan the Mongol in 1258 ; 

1 Al-Kahirah, "the victorious." The city was first called : alMu'izzIyat 
alkahirah, the victorious (city) of Mu'izz. 

2 For their names and dates, see S. Lane-Poole : Hist, of Egypt in the 
Middle Ages, p. 116. 

3 Armies of new tribes, Turks and Kurds, who were converted to Sunni 
Islam. The war between the Abbasids and Fatimids was (like nearly all 
Moslem warfare) a religious one. All Sunnis acknowledged the Abbasids, 
and fought for them ; the Shi'ah were for the Fatimids. 


see p. 97) the Selguk Turks nominate and depose Khalifs as they 
please. In Egypt, too, Turks and Berbers are employed to guard 
the Fatimid's throne. From this time the Turkish guard play a 
great part in Egyptian history. 

Under the Fatimids the Christians enjoyed on the whole rather 
more toleration than before. But their condition was still 
wretched, they were no less subject to outbursts of frightful 
persecution. Al-'Aziz (975-996), son and successor of Al-Mu'izz, 
was a good ruler, specially tolerant to his Christian subjects. He 
had a Christian wife ; he made her two brothers Melkite Patriarchs 
of Alexandria and Jerusalem. 1 The Coptic Patriarch Ephraim 
(977-980) was a favourite at court ; he obtained leave to rebuild 
the church of St. Mercurius (Abu-sSaifain) by Fustat. Ephraim 
was a zealous bishop, and took steps to put down the simony and 
concubinage which were then rampant among his clergy. 

After Al-'Aziz followed his son, the fiendish lunatic Al-Hakim 2 
(996-1021). This man has left the reputation of being the most 
appalling tyrant who ever sat on even a Moslem throne. He 
became quite mad, and persecuted his Moslem subjects almost as 
cruelly as the Christians. His mad laws and examples of his 
ghastly cruelty may be read in Stanley Lane-Poole. 3 To Chris- 
tians, both Copts and Orthodox, his reign marks the height of 
their long persecution. He is said to have been excited against 
them by a disappointed Coptic monk who had wanted to become 
a bishop. 4 Moreover, till he declared himself a god, he was a 
fanatical Moslem. Under him degrading laws about dress, which 
occur earlier, are enforced relentlessly. First he made them wear 
yellow stripes on their clothes ; then they were to dress entirely 
in black. Christian men had to carry a heavy wooden cross 
around their necks ; they were not to ride a horse, their asses must 
have black trappings. They could possess no slaves, were not to 
be rowed by Moslem boatmen, must dismount whenever they met 
a Moslem. Then Hakim began to destroy all churches, or to turn 

1 S. Lane-Poole : Hist, of Egypt in the Middle Ages, p. 119. 

2 AlMansur Abii-'Ali AlHakim bi'amrillah. He was the son of Al- 
'Aziz' Christian wife ! 

3 Hist, of Egypt, pp. 123-134. See also S. de Sacy : Expose de la Religion 
des Dmzes (Paris, 1838). 

4 Renaudot : Hist. Pair. Alex. p. 388. 


them into mosques. The Moslem adan 1 was cried from the great 
church at Cairo. He plundered monasteries, murdered bishops, 
massacred monks. Enormous numbers of Copts apostatized to 
escape persecution. Of the faithful who, in spite of all, clung to 
their faith, Makrizi says : " troubles came upon them such as they 
had never yet borne." 2 Makrizi calculates the number of 
churches destroyed by Hakim as over 1030. 3 During this reign 
Christian services practically stopped in Egypt. At the end of 
his life he became slightly more tolerant towards Christians. He 
offended Moslems irreconcilably by declaring that he was an 
incarnation of God ; and he was murdered by them in 1021. The 
end of this monster is that he is still worshipped by the astonishing 
sect of the Druzes in the Lebanon. During Hakim's reign the 
Coptic Patriarch was Zachary (ioo4-i032),who managed to escape 
with his life during the persecution. Hakim was succeeded by 
his son Ad-Dahir (1021-1036), who reigned justly and mercifully. 
Shenut II 4 (1032-1047) became Patriarch of the Copts. The 
custom had arisen of paying a large sum to the clergy of Alex- 
andria who elected the Patriarch. He also had to pay a bribe 
to the Khalif. The Patriarchs refunded themselves by selling 
bishoprics to the highest bidder. Simony is the constant vice of 
the Coptic Church. It forms a main subject of complaint in 
nearly all Coptic synods. Shenut II was a specially bad offender. 
He not only sold holy orders openly, but he made a synod to 
declare this practice lawful. After him came Christodulos 5 (1047- 
1077). He published a code of thirty-one canons, which hold an 
important place in Coptic canon law. For instance : marriage 
is forbidden in Lent, baptism and funerals on Good Friday ; no 
foreigner may hold any benefice in the Coptic Church ; Wednes- 

1 The call to prayer. 

2 AlMakrizI : op. cit. 63-65. The Jews were no less cruelly persecuted. 
They had to ring a bell wherever they went, and to wear a wooden calf's 
head, in memory of their adoration of a golden calf under Moses. Moslems 
have nearly always persecuted Jews even more cruelly than Christians. 

3 lb. 56. 

4 This name often occurs among Copts. In Coptic it is Shenut (see A. J. 
Butler : Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt, i. p. 352, n. 2). In Arabic it 
becomes Shanudah ; Makrizi writes Sanutir {op. cit. Arabic text, p. 27). 
In Latin it is Sanutius. 

5 In Arabic 'Abdu-lMasih (" Servant of Christ "). 


days and Fridays are fast-days ; Holy Communion must be given 
to every child (except in case of impossibility) immediately after 
baptism ; marriage with a Melkite is invalid, unless performed 
by a Coptic priest. 1 It was under Christ odulos that the story of 
the martyr Nekam occurred. Nekam was a young Copt who 
apostatized to Islam. Then he repented, returned to the faith of 
Christ, refused to hide himself, or to accept a chance of life by 
pretending to be mad ; and boldly bore the death (by beheading) 
which was the fate of everyone who renounced Islam for Christian- 
ity. 2 This story is typical of many others which honour the sect 
during the long ages of its oppression. 

Christodulos established himself permanently at Cairo. He 
made the churches of St. Mercurius 3 outside Fustat and of the 
Blessed Virgin, in the " Greek Street " (arRum) at Cairo, his 
Patriarchal churches. From his time the Coptic Patriarch of 
Alexandria has resided at Cairo. His successor is said to have 
fixed the Patriarch's dress — blue silk for ordinary wear, red silk 
embroidered with gold for festal occasions. 4 We may leave 
Christodulos with an edifying anecdote about him. As part of 
the spasmodic persecution which fills Coptic history he was once 
thrown into prison till he had paid a fine. At the same time the 
Government in a fit of zeal erased the inscription : "In the name 
of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, one God " 5 
over the door of his house. The Patriarch had to let them do so ; 
but he said : " You cannot erase the words from my heart " 6 — 
which is the attitude of the Copts during their centuries of 
persecution. Under Christodulos' successor, Cyril II (1078-1092), 
a great number of Armenians settled in Egypt. The Khalif 

1 More of Christodulos' canons will be found quoted in Neale : Hist, of 
the Holy Eastern Church, ii. 213-214. 

2 Neale : op. cit. ii. 215-216. 

3 Called Abu-sSaifain (" father of the two swords ") in Arabic, because he 
is represented as brandishing a sword in either hand. The monastery and 
church of Abu-sSaifain is one of the most important of Coptic buildings. 
It is described at length in Butler : Ancient Coptic Churches, i. pp. 75-154. 
The legend of St. Mercurius will be found ib. ii. 357-360. 

4 MakrizI, ed. cit. 66-67. 

5 Arab-speaking Christians use this formula (bismi-ldb walibn warruhi- 
Ikudus alldhi-lwdhid) constantly, as their equivalent to the Moslem : "In 
the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate." 

G S. Lane-Poole : Hist, of Egypt, p. 144. 


Al-Mustansir (1036-1094) made an Armenian, Badr alGamali 
(probably a Christian, at least in secret), his Wazir. Badr 
governed the land wisely and well for twenty-two years (1073- 
1094). Many of his fellow-countrymen came to Egypt. Al- 
though the Armenians have always held rather aloof from other 
Monophysites (see p. 414), there is no particular reason why they 
should do so. They agree practically in faith with the others. 
An Armenian bishop Gregory, one of the many claimants to their 
Patriarchate, came to Egypt ; he and the Coptic Patriarch found 
that their faiths agreed, so they joined in communion with one 
another ; Cyril II was able to proclaim this union as a triumph 
for Monophysism. Since then there have been various lines of 
Armenian bishops in Egypt, who kept irregularly friendly re- 
lations with the Copts. It is specially mentioned of this Cyril 
that he took pains to learn Arabic — a sign of the gradual dying 
out of the Coptic language. 

During the time of Cyril's successor, Michael IV (1092-1102), 
occurred the first Crusade. It was preached at the Council of 
Clermont in 1096 ; the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099. Since 
we are so much concerned with Moslem cruelty towards Christians, 
we must not forget on the other side the ghastly massacre of 
Moslems by which the Christians began their reign in the Holy 
City. 1 The episode of the Crusades now fills the history of the 
Levant for two centuries, till the last possession of th^ Christians 
(Acre) fell in 1292. From several points of view the Crusades 
affect our story. The Crusaders were fighting against both 
Khalifs- — of Cairo and Bagdad. The Fatimids in the eleventh 
century held Syria, but were constantly attacked and driven out 
of cities by Sunni Turks, who fought for the Abbasid Khalif at 
Bagdad. This disunion among the Moslems was th? great 
opportunity of the Crusaders. 2 Then when Saladin overturned 
the Fatimids and ruled Egypt and Syria under the Abbasid, the 
Crusaders turned their arms against Egypt. The Crusades 
further brought the Eastern schismatical Churches into relation 

1 They murdered seventy thousand Moslems when they took Jerusalem. 

2 As a matter of fact, the Crusaders, without knowing it, chose the very 
best moment possible for their attack. Instead of meeting a strong, united 
Moslem power, they found two Moslem forces at war with each other. 


with Catholic Latins, for the first time since the original schisms. 
The relations were not happy. The Latin knights knew very 
little of the native Christians, except that they were stubborn 
heretics out of communion with the Pope. So on the whole they 
ignored them, or even persecuted them. In many cases they 
took away the churches, which even the Moslem had spared. 
They set up Latin hierarchies wherever they had the power, and 
tried to harry the Easterns into reunion. It is a question whether 
they would not have had more success if they had from the be- 
ginning proclaimed themselves champions of all Christians against 
Islam, if they had left theological issues alone for the time, and 
had respected the ecclesiastical state of things they found, while 
stirring up a general insurrection of Christians throughout 
Palestine and Egypt. There were still enormous numbers of 
these. On the other hand, the native Christians, accustomed to 
tremble before their Moslem masters for centuries, showed a 
capacity for bearing persecution meekly, which did not argue 
much fighting-power on their part. Perhaps the only result of 
such an appeal from the Crusaders would have been a general, 
unresisted massacre of Christians throughout the Moslem States. 
Another point to remember is that these Eastern Christians were 
divided among themselves into bitterly hostile sects. It would 
have been difficult to unite Nestorians, Monophysites and 
Orthodox, difficult to persuade them that the Latins, whom they 
all abhorred, were the friends of all. So during the Crusades the 
Copts, as the other Eastern sects, sit quiet at home and watch 
the fight between their masters and these strangers. The only 
results, as far as they are concerned, are an increased tendency 
to persecute among Moslems x and a further complication of the 
ecclesiastical position by the establishment of Latin Patriarchs 
and bishops in the East. However, there was eventually one 
permanent result. In spite of all, the Crusaders were not always 

1 This fell rather on the Orthodox than on the Copts. The Orthodox 
were, theologically, so much nearer to Latins that they, almost alone, made 
certain tentative efforts to help them. The Moslems seem always to have 
had a fairly accurate knowledge of the issues between various Christian 
sects (alas ! the Christians were always carrying their quarrels before Moslem 
Kadis) ; so they knew this, and gave the Orthodox a particularly bad time 
during the Crusades. 


hostile. The priests and bishops they brought with them did 
some peaceful missionary work among the schismatics. So from 
the time of the Crusades we date the first beginning of restored 
relations between the Christian East and West, the first intercourse 
of friendly letters between the various Eastern Patriarchs and the 
Pope, and the beginning of Uniate Churches. The Copts made 
no advances of this kind ; but Nicholas I, Orthodox Patriarch 
of Alexandria, 1 corresponded with the Popes Innocent III 
(1198-1216) in 1210 and Honorius III (1216-1227) in 1223. 2 
His very submissive letters are one of the many examples 
of attempted reunion, leading up to the formation of Uniate 
Churches. It was the upheaval of the Crusades which eventually 
destroyed the Shi'ah Fatimid rule in Egypt, restored the country 
to Sunni Islam, to a nominal dependence on the Khalif of 
Bagdad and practical independence under its own Sultan. The 
man who wrought this revolution was the famous Saladin. 

5. Saladin and his Successors (1 171 -1250) 

Almalik annasir, Abu-lMuzaffar, Salahu-ddunya wa-ddin, 
Yusuf ibn Aiyub, 3 called by Europeans Saladin, was a Kurd, 
son of a chief at Mosul. He was a Sunni Moslem, holding a 
commission from the Abbasid Khalif. A mighty warrior, on the 
whole a just ruler, he made his fortune by fighting against the 
Crusaders, inspired them with great respect for his valour and 
chivalry, and left his name that of the Moslem hero most famous 
throughout Europe. 4 First he asserted the Abbasid authority in 
Syria ; then for a time he accepted office under Al-'Adid (1160- 
1171), the last Fatimid Khalif in Egypt, causing prayers to be said 
for both Khalifs in the mosques. In 1171, when Al-'Adid died, 

1 His exact dates are unknown. He was reigning in 1210, and in 1223. 

2 Lequien : Or. Christ, ii. 490-491 ; Neale : Hist, of the Holy Eastern 
Church, ii. 278-280. 

3 " The victorious king, father of ' Him to whom victory is given ' (AlMuz- 
affar, his son's name), Honour of the State and of Religion, Joseph, son of 
Job." Saladin is for Salahu-ddin (Honour of Religion). The Europeanized 
form is too well known to be changed. 

4 See Stanley Lane-Poole : Saladin, in the series : Heroes of the Nations 
(Putnam, 1890). 


Saladin made Egypt return to the Sunni faith and the obedience 
of the Abbasid Khalif (Al-Mustazi, 1170-1180). But by now the 
Abbasids were mere figure-heads politically. They kept their 
spiritual authority ; in the mosques prayers were said for them 
as Khalifs, successors of Mohammed, vicegerents of God on 
earth. But practically their once vast state was breaking up 
into separate kingdoms, ruled by chiefs, who merely went through 
the formality of securing a commission as Wazir or Sultan 1 from 
the Khalif. So Saladin, though acknowledging the spiritual 
authority of the Abbasid Khilif, in temporal matters was really 
independent. He founded a dynasty of Sultans of Egypt (the 
Aiyubids), 2 which reigned nearly a century (till 1252). 3 

Although Saladin was so chivalrous and sent such polite 
messages to his noble enemy, King Richard Lion-heart, he 
treated his own Christian subjects harshly. From the beginning 
of Moslem rule in Egypt the conquerors had been obliged to 
employ the better-educated Copts as writers, secretaries, financiers, 
doctors, architects, and so on. Throughout their oppression we 
find Copts holding high places in the Government (p. 227). 
Saladin tried to stop this. He forbade Christians (and Jews) to 
hold any public office. He renewed laws against their use of 
bells or of crosses which could be seen outside. He forbade 
public processions of Christians, ordered all churches to be 
painted black, and even tried to stop church singing. 

The Patriarch Gabriel II (1131-1146) drew up thirty canons, 
which are part of Coptic canon law. 4 Under John V (1146-1164) 
began a controversy which troubled the Coptic Church for some 
time. This is the controversy about Confession and Incense. 

1 Wazir (Vizier) originally meant a porter (wazara, to carry a burden) ; 
then it became the general name for a chief minister, governor of a province, 
high official. Sultan is really an abstract word meaning " power " (salita, 
to be hard, to rule). Since about the nth century (when Turks and other 
foreigners became powerful) it is given as a title to their chiefs by the Khalif. 
Its meaning at first was that of a prince under the Khalif ; but many Sultans 
soon became really independent. It might almost be translated " king." 
The title Sultan was so long associated with the Chief of the Turks that he 
still keeps it as his usual one, although since the 16th century he claims to 
be Khalif too. Henceforth we may speak of the Sultan of Egypt. 

2 Saladin was " the son of Aiyiib (Job)." 

3 A list of them will be found in S. Lane-Poole : Hist, of Egypt, pp. 212- 
213. 4 Renaudot : op. cit. 511-513. 


The Copts had inherited from their fathers, like the rest of 
Christendom, belief in and the practice of sacramental confession. 
But, as in the case of many Eastern Churches, while the theory 
remained, the practice gradually became rare. Then began a 
curious compromise. Most Eastern rites associate the use of 
incense in the liturgy with a public confession of sin. The idea 
is fairly obvious. They prayed that as the savour of this incense 
goes up to God, so may our humble prayer for forgiveness of sins 
ascend to him, so may he send down on us in return grace and 
pardon. There is a special reason for this, inasmuch as the 
incense is burned at the beginning of various services, as a pre- 
paration for some solemn act, with the idea of hallowing, purifying 
the holy place. So is a prayer for forgiveness the natural pre- 
paration for such an act. 1 The Coptic liturgy expresses this 
connection between the offering of incense and confession of sins 
very plainly. 2 So, by a curious confusion, there grew up the 
idea of an inherent connection between incense and forgiveness ; 
the incense was looked upon as a kind of sin-offering, a sacrifice 
which atoned for sin. Why, then, go through the unpleasant 
process of confessing to a priest, when the burning incense ob- 
tained forgiveness for your sins ? So the Copt whose conscience 
was troubled found a simple way of recovering the grace he had 
lost. He simply lit a thurible in his own house and confessed to 
that. Truly the path of salvation is easy ; but it cannot be 
quite as easy as this. The abuse had become common by the 
12th century, when a certain priest, Mark Ibn alKanbar, 3 began 
to preach against it, urging the necessity of absolution by a 
priest. John V defended the popular abuse and excommunicated 
Mark. There was strong feeling on both sides ; eventually they 
took the unusual course of appealing to the Jacobite Patriarch of 
Antioch, Michael I (1166-1199). 4 This is a strange and rare 
proceeding ; since in theory a Patriarch of Alexandria stands 
above his brother of Antioch. Michael answered ambiguously, 

1 As in the Roman rite the celebrant begins Mass by saying Confiteor and 
Misereatur. 2 E.g. Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, p. 150, etc. 

3 Makrizi : op. cit. p. 28 (Arabic text). Barhebraeus calls him Markus 
bar Kunbar (ed. cit. i. 573-575). 

4 Michael the Great, one of the most famous and important Jacobite 
Patriarchs (see p. 329). 



but on the whole condemned Mark. Mark then turned Orthodox, 
went back to the Copts, turned Orthodox again, and then wanted 
to go back to his own people once more. But this time they 
would not have him back ; he died in obscurity, apparently out 
of communion with everyone. 1 After his time we hear no more 
of the absurd abuse he attacked ; so he seems to have accom- 
plished his purpose. But confession among Copts has always 
been, and is now, a rarely used Sacrament (p. 279). About the 
same time we hear of controversies about circumcision. All 
Copts circumcise ; but they argued at length whether this should 
be done before or after baptism. 

During the 13th century the Crusaders repeatedly attacked 
Egypt. In 12 19 they took Damietta ; 2 but in the same year 
they were driven back. In 1249 St. Lewis IX of France (1226- 
1270) invaded Egypt and again seized Damietta. It is well 
known that then he himself was taken prisoner, ransomed by a 
heavy sum, and lost all his conquests. From the first siege 
of Damietta (12 19) dates the establishment of a line of Latin 
Patriarchs of Alexandria, who, however, soon became merely 
titular. 3 

Cyril III (Coptic Patriarch, 1235-1243) was one of the worst of 
his line. He acquired his place by intrigue and bribery, and 
practised barefaced simony throughout his reign. However, 
during his time a reforming synod was held and canons were 
drawn up, which he did not obey, but which form part of the 
Coptic law. These canons begin by a profession of Mono- 
physism, ordain that a general synod be held every year during 
the third week after Pentecost, that boys be circumcised before 
baptism, that a complete collection of canons be drawn up, and so 
on. The collection of canons was duly made. 4 At this time a 

1 A very hostile account of Mark Ibn alKanbar (accusing him of many- 
strange heresies), by Michael, Metropolitan of Damietta, will be found" in 
Abii Salih (ed. cit. pp. 33-43). 

2 It was then that St. Francis of Assisi (f 1226) came to Egypt, seeking 
to convert the Sultan (Al-Kamil Muhammad, 12 18-1238) or to die a 
martyr's death. He succeeded in neither ; but from his place with God 
he must rejoice to see his friars for long centuries, and still to-day, the 
heroic guardians of the Catholic faith throughout the Levant. 

3 The list in Lequien : Oriens Christ, iii. 1143-1146. 

4 Renaudot : Hist. Pair. Alex. 582-586. 


Coptic bishop (of Sandafah) apostatized to Islam. To the eternal 
credit of the Egyptian Christians, this is, during thirteen centuries 
of cruel persecution, the only known case of an apostate bishop. 
Cyril III further made a great quarrel with the Jacobites in 
Syria by ordaining a bishop for Jerusalem to minister to the 
Copts ; although a Jacobite bishop already sat there. In spite 
of Jacobite protests, this arrangement still lasts (p. 335). 

During all this time the wearisome recurrence of fierce persecu- 
tion against Christians continues. There are over and over again 
incidents of excited mobs massacring Christians, defiling churches, 
robbing Coptic property. And even when no massacre w r as 
going on, the Copts were always subject to the same humiliating 
laws affecting their dress 1 and habits, stamping them as an 
inferior caste. During all this time there were apostasies in vast 
numbers, to escape massacre. Then it was death to return to 
Christianity. Few had the courage to risk this ; so the number of 
Copts diminishes steadily ; there were many people outwardly 
Moslems, who would be Christians again if they dared. 

Al-Makrizi here enlivens his pages with contemporary poems 
about the Copts : 

" The unbelievers were forced by the sword to profess Islam ; 
But as soon as they were free they returned to unbelief. 
They professed Islam for love of money and peace ; 
Now are they free, but not Moslems." 2 

Again : 

" The unbelievers are forced to wear bad hats, 
Which by God's curse increase their shame. 
I spoke to them : we have not put turbans on you ; 
We put on your heads old shoes." 3 

1 The law was made and repeatedly enforced that Christians were to 
dress in black and wear black turbans. Each time they gradually modified 
this into dark blue, which became the special Coptic colour (p. 253). A 
special part of their dress is a girdle. This appears to have its origin in a 
symbolic linen girdle given at baptism (Abii-Dakn with Nicolai's notes : 
ed. cit. pp. 51, 126-127, 162). This girdle was sometimes commanded, 
sometimes forbidden, by law. But they always wore it. One of the names 
for Copts is " People of the girdle (Ahl-almantalkah)," in Italian, " Cristiani 
della cintura." 

2 MakrizI, p. 31 (Arabic text). The last lines contain two plays on words 
such as Arabs love : " Aslamii min rawahi mali wa-riih " : " Fahum sali- 
muni, la muslimun." 3 lb. p. 32. 


So the wolf made fun of the lamb. The Copt had no answer to 
this pretty wit (it is ill bandying retorts with the man who has 
the weapons). He bore it meekly. He could join the scoffers in 
ten minutes by making the Moslem profession before the nearest 
Kadi. But he counted the faith of Christ more worth having 
than anything else. Whatever happened, he knew, like the 
Patriarch, that " You cannot take those words from my heart " 
(p. 236), and he bore the smiting which God sent him through 
Islam, and waited for better days. It is true that he was a 
Monophysite heretic and hated Chalcedon ; but can we, who sit 
in comfort under a tolerant Government, ever forget what he 
bore for his Lord, and ours ? 

6. The Mamluks (1250- 1517) 

In 1250 another revolution gave the Copts new masters. 
We have seen that foreign mercenaries, chiefly Selguk Turks, 
originally bought as slaves, gradually became the real power at 
Bagdad (pp. 27, 233). The same thing happened in Egypt. 
Already under Saladin there was a guard (half ah) of slave- 
soldiers to protect the Sultan. About the same time as the Turks 
reduced the Khalif at Bagdad to being a mere figure-head, they 
seized power in Egypt. They had become the most powerful 
force in the country. In 1250 they murdered the Aiyubid Sultan, 
Al-Mu'azzim Turanshah, and set up the widow of the former 
Sultan (As-Salih Aiyub, 1240-1249). This lady was named " Tree 
of Pearls" (shagar-addurr) . They made Tree of Pearls marry 
one of their officers, who took the name Al-Malik al-mu'izz ; at 
first they allowed a boy Al-ashraf Musa to be counted as fellow- 
Sultan ; but he was deposed in 1252. The anomaly of a queen in 
Islam was too strange to last. The Khalif at Bagdad (who had 
once had Tree of Pearls in his harem,) sent them a message : 
" If you cannot find a man to rule you, I will send you one." So 
they murdered poor Tree of Pearls in 1257. From now begins 
the rule of the Slave -Sultans, the Mamluks, 1 in Egypt. It is 
a curious situation. For over two and a half centuries, till its 
conquest by the Ottomans in 1517, Egypt was ruled by Mamluk 
1 Mamluk (pi. mamalik), one of the usual Arabic words for " slave." 


Sultans. They were rich, powerful sovereigns, who brought their 
court to a high state of culture and luxury. And they were all 
either slaves bought in a public market or the descendants of 
slaves. There was no kind of disgrace in being a Mamluk. The 
Mamluk soldiers held the whole country in their power. They 
set up their own officers as Sultans ; unless a man were one of 
them, he had no chance of becoming Sultan. 

The time of Mamluk rule is divided into two periods. The 
finest regiment of the slave-guard was that of the Bahri 1 
Mamluks. They put an end to the Aiyubid dynasty and set 
up their officers as Sultans. The seventh of these (Kala'un, 
1279-1290) succeeded in founding a hereditary dynasty, so 
that his descendants reigned till 1390. The Bahri Sultans 
really ruled, and kept their fellow-Mamluks under. Then 
follows a second line, called the Burgi 2 Sultans. This 
line is not hereditary. The soldiers set up one officer after 
another, nearly all Circassian slaves (though two were of Greek 
blood). 3 These Sultans had no power over the army which 
appointed them. The foreign soldiers do as they please ; the 
Government becomes anarchy and licence. Under it Egypt, both 
Moslem and Christian, suffers every kind of misery, till in 15 17, 
the Ottoman Sultan conquers the country, adds it to his already 
vast empire, and gives it what is, compared to the former state 
of things, the advantage of normal Ottoman rule. 

The most famous Mamluk Sultan is Baibars 4 (1260-1277). He 
had only one eye, and began his career by fetching about £20 in the 
market. He had belonged to an Amir called Bundukdar, who 
sold him to the Aiyubid Sultan As-Salih Aiyub (1240-1249) . He 
murdered his predecessor (Kutuz, 1259-1260), and became a 
splendid tyrant of the Moslem kind. He was a mighty warrior, 

1 Bahr, which we generally translate " sea " or " lake " (the Dead Sea 
is Bahr Lut, the " lake of Lot "), is also used in Egypt for the Nile. The 
Bahri (maritime) regiment was so called because its barracks were on an 
island of the Nile opposite Fustat. 

2 Burg is a castle, in this case the citadel of Cairo. 

3 Hush-kadam (1461-1467) and Timur-buga (1467-1468). Both were, 
of course, Moslem^. 

4 As-Sultan al-Maliku-zZahir, Ruknu-dDunya wa-Dln, Baibarsu-lBun- 
dukdariyu-sSalihi (the Sultan, the manifest King, Prop of the State and 
Religion, Baibars, of the Archer, of Salih). 


fought valiantly against the Crusaders, was just and humane to 
Christians, raised Egypt to a great and powerful state, overran 
the Sudan, and left a reputation in Egypt second only to that of 
Saladin. He died from accidentally drinking a cup which he had 
prepared for someone else. 1 During Baibars' time the Mongols 
had put an end to the Abbasid Khalifs at Bagdad (p. 97). He. 
then brought an Abbasid (Al-Hakim) to Cairo in 1262, and set him 
up as Khalif, but with a purely spiritual authority. From now 
till 1538 there is a Sunni Khalif in Egypt, under the protection 
of the Mamluk Sultan, reverenced by all Sunni Moslems as their 
spiritual head, but having no claim to temporal authority. It is 
through these last Abbasids at Cairo that the Khalifate comes to 
the Sultan of Turkey (p. 248). 2 The next most famous Mamluk 
Sultan is Kala/iin 3 (which means a duck), 1279-1290. He too 
had been a slave of As-Salih. He succeeded in founding a dynasty 
in his own family, which lasted till the end of the Bahri Sultans 
(1390). His son Halll (1290-1293) took Acre, the last possession 
of the Crusaders, in 1292, and so ended the episode of the Crusades. 
The period of the Bahri Mamluks was brilliant. They built 
splendid mosques, endowed Moslem colleges, and made Egypt the 
most sumptuous kingdom in Islam. 4 But the fitful massacre 
and continual persecution of Christians went on under them as 
before. During all the 14th century there was continual fierce 
persecution. In 1320 various fires burst out in towns of Egypt. 
These were ascribed, not, it appears, altogether without reason, 
to Christian incendiaries. There was enormous excitement among 
the Moslem mob. Vast numbers of Copts were massacred, 
churches without number were pillaged and destroyed. For a 
year no one dared to celebrate any Christian service in Egypt. 
Makrizi says that persecution was caused by the unparalleled 
insolence of the Copts, of whom one (a writer in a government 

1 There are several cases of this in Moslem history. If you habitually 
prepare poison for other people, you should be very careful to keep their 
drinks separate from your own. 

2 A list of the Khalifs in Egypt is given by Lane-Poole : Hist, of Egypt, 
p. 265, n. 1. 

3 As-Sultan al-Maliku-lMansur, Saifu-dDIn, Kala'un al-Alfiyu-sSalihi 
(the Sultan, the Victorious King, Sword of the Religion, the Military Duck 
of Salih). 

4 A list of the Bahri Sultans is given by S. Lane-Poole : op. cit. p. 254. 


office) dared to ride (without dismounting) past the Al-Azhar 
mosque at Cairo wearing boots, spurs and a white turban. 1 

In 1389 a great procession of Copts who had accepted Islam 
under fear of death marched through Cairo. Repenting of their 
apostasy, they now wished to atone for it by the inevitable conse- 
-quence of returning to Christianity. So as they marched they 
proclaimed that they believed in Christ and renounced Moham- 
med. They were seized, and all the men were beheaded one 
after another in an open square before the women. But this 
did not terrify the women ; so they, too, were all martyred. 

The time of the Burgi Sultans (1390-1517) was one of utter 
misery for all Egyptians. A series of helpless puppet-kings was 
set up by the lawless Mamluks. These kings, constantly deposed 
or murdered, 2 had no control of the soldiers. The country was 
in a state of anarchy ; the soldiers did just as they liked, 
plundered and slew peaceable citizens of any creed with impunity. 
No decent woman dared go out of doors. And the unhappy 
Christians, always victims of Moslem misrule, naturally suffered 
tenfold in this state of things. The hideous condition of the state 
produced continual and ghastly famines in the Nile valley, richest 
land of the Levant, which had once supplied corn for all the empire. 
Honest Makrizi, who has been our faithful guide so long, lived at 
this time (he died at Cairo in 1441). He gives a lurid description 
of one such famine, in the year 1403, from which he too suffered. 3 

The only Coptic Patriarch who stands out in this period is 
Gabriel V (1409-1427), who wrote an explanation of the Coptic 
rite and reformed their liturgical books. 4 John XI (1427-1453) 
showed some desire for reunion at the time of the Council of 
Florence (1438-1439). He sent John, abbot of an Egyptian 
monastery, as his legate to the council. A union with the Mono- 
physites of Syria and Egypt (called Jacobites) was proclaimed, 
and Abbot John signed the decree. 5 But the union fell through 
almost at once, or rather was never really carried out in Egypt. 

1 Op. cit. p. 78. 

2 S. Lane-Poole : op. cit. p. 324, gives a list of the Burgi Sultans. 

3 Hist, des Sultans mamlouks de VEgypte (ed. by M. Quatremere, Paris, 
1837), i- P- v - 4 Or. Christ, ii. 499. 

5 Decretum pro Iacobitis in Denzinger : Enchiridion (ed. 11), Nos. 


7. Under the Ottoman Turks (1517-1882) 

Meanwhile, the kingdom founded by Osman 1 (1281-1326) on the 
ruins of the Selgiik power 2 had grown to a mighty empire. It was 
gathering all Moslem states in the Levant under its power. When 
Mohammed the Conqueror entered Constantinople in 1453, he sent 
news of his conquest to the Mamluk Sultan at Cairo (Inal, 1453- 
1461). Cairo was illuminated in honour of so glorious a triumph 
of Islam ; but I imagine it was done without enthusiasm. The 
power of the Ottoman Turks was becoming a very serious danger 
to all their neighbours— Moslem as well as Christian. It must 
already have been clear that they would swallow up everything 
until they were resisted by a greater force than their own ; every 
victory they gained made that less likely. Then for half a 
century the Ottoman Sultan was too busy conquering his Christian 
neighbours to trouble about Egypt. But in 15 14 the inevitable 
happened. Selim I (15 12-1520) picked a quarrel with Egypt, 
invaded the country, in 1517 easily conquered Cairo from the 
effete Mamluks, and so made himself master of Egypt. Tuman 
Beg, the last Mamluk Sultan, was hanged ; the last Abbasid 
Khalif, Al-Mutawakkil III, was carried off to Constantinople. 
Later he was allowed to return to Cairo ; he died there in 1538, 
bequeathing his title to the Turkish Sultan. 3 

We have noted that, after the abominations of the later Mam- 
luks, the rule of the Ottomans came as a benefit to Egypt. Bad 
as Turkish rule is, it was better than the anarchy which had gone 
before. From now till Napoleon's invasion, Egypt is a province 
of the great Turkish Empire. A Turkish Pasha was its governor. 
But the Mamluks revived their strength and gradually became 
again a great power in the land. Their chief Amir (the Shai&u- 
lbilad) 4 was always a dangerous rival to the Pasha. In 1768 

1 'Utman. 2 The Mongols finally crushed the Selgiik Turks in 1300. 

3 The Turkish Sultan's claim to be Khalif of all Sunni Islam rests solely 
on this bequest of Mutawakkil. It is an utterly illegal title, as every honest 
Moslem theologian knows. The Khalif has no power of leaving the Khalif- 
ate to whom he likes. A lawful Khalif must be at least an Arab, if not 
of the tribe of Kuraish. As a matter of fact, the original idea of the Khalif - 
ate is utterly bankrupt since Mutawakkil died. 

4 " Old man ( =Lord) of the land." 


the Mamluks succeeded in driving out the Pasha and making 
Egypt independent again. But this only lasted four years. Then, 
as usual under the Porte, the province became very nearly inde- 
pendent. As long as the Sultan was acknowledged in theory, 
and received his tribute regularly, he took no trouble about the 
internal affairs of the various provinces. So the Mamluks fought 
among themselves and again reduced the unhappy land to its 
usual state of misery. Only this time each usurper went through 
the formality of getting an appointment from Constantinople. 
Meanwhile, the Copts have scarcely any history. For one thing, 
our sources have come to an end before this time. Makrizi died 
in 144 1 ; the continuators of Severus (in the History of the Patri- 
archs) and Renaudot's compilation from them, Wansleb and 
Abu-Dakn, give nothing but a meagre list of Patriarchs. This is 
less to be regretted, since from what we know of the general 
state of Egypt and of all Christians under the Porte, we can 
imagine the lot of the Copts fairly accurately. They became 
one more mill ah (nation) of rayahs, like the others. Their bishops 
paid the usual fee and got their berat from the Government ; the 
laity paid their poll-tax. Centuries of persecution had wrought 
the natural effect. When the Moslems first entered Egypt in the 
7th century, except for a small minority of Orthodox, the whole 
land was Coptic. Under the Turks the Copts had become a mere 
handful among a Moslem population (descendants of apostates) ; 
the Orthodox were a still smaller body. Both suffered from the 
unruliness of the rebel Mamluks. One result of the Turkish 
conquest is curious. The Turk of the two preferred the Orthodox 
to the Copts. He was used to the Orthodox. He had millions 
of them already in his empire. They acknowledged some kind of 
vague authority on the part of the Patriarch of Constantinople, 
who was the Sultan's creature and, in any case, was the civil chief 
of all his co-religionists. 1 So the Orthodox were the Christians 
centralized at Constantinople. The Turk gave them at least 
equal rights with the Copts ; indeed, he was inclined to be on 
their side in a quarrel. Under the Turk the Orthodox community 
of Egypt revives and is comparatively flourishing again (as far 
as any Christians can be said to flourish under a Moslem govern- 

1 See Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 239, 284-285, etc. 


ment) ; it even makes some converts from the Copts. 1 But the 
Copts were not worse treated than other rayahs. For about 
three centuries there is nothing special to chronicle. Then comes 
the series of events which form the history of modern Egypt. 

In 1798 Napoleon won the battle of the Pyramids and made 
the country a French province for three years. In 1801 the 
English drove out the French and restored the authority of the 
Turks. In 1805 Mohammed 'Ali drove out the Turkish Pasha, 
massacred the chief Mamluks, and founded a dynasty of Khedives, 2 
who still rule Egypt, with a merely nominal dependence on 
the Turkish Sultan. Since 1882 Great Britain exercises a protec- 
torate over Egypt, which differs from governing the country 
only in theory. 

This period has at last brought peace to the Copts. The inter- 
ference of Europe means, at any rate, the end of persecution and 
decent conditions for people of all religions. Now the Copts have 
nothing of which they can complain, except that they say that 
we favour the Moslems at their expense and have not yet given 
Copts complete equality in everything. 3 


The fourteen centuries of Coptic history are one long story of 
persecution. From the time the Egyptian Monophysites organ- 
ized their Church after the Council of Chalcedon (452) till the 
English took over Egypt in 1882 they have been cruelly persecuted. 
For the first century they were persecuted by the Roman Empire, 
which tried to make them Orthodox. The interludes of this 
persecution are the moments when they got the upper hand and 
retaliated by murdering their oppressors. In 639 the Moslem 
Arabs conquered Egypt and persecuted both the rival Churches 
of Copts and Orthodox. For three hundred years Egyptian 

1 The great affair of Cyril Lukaris, Patriarch first of Alexandria (1603- 
1620), then of Constantinople (at five intervals between 1620 and 1638), 
does not concern the Copts (Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 264-268). 

2 Hudaiwi, " Lord " (from hada, " to march "), one of the many possible 
names for a dependent prince. 

3 This is the complaint of Kyriakhos Mikhail : Copts and Moslems under 
British Control in Egypt (London: Simpkin, Marshall, 1911). 


Christians groaned under the tyranny of Amirs of the Sunni 
Khalifs (at Damascus and Bagdad). From 969 to 1171 Egypt 
has a Shi ah Khalif (of the so-called Fatimid House) of her own. 
The Fatimids are, on the whole, a shade less outrageous in their 
treatment of Christians ; but one of them, the unspeakable 
Hakim (996-1021), is the worst persecutor under whom Egypt, 
perhaps any country, ever suffered. In 1171 the great Saladin 
restored the Sunni faith, and set up a line of practically inde- 
pendent Sultans. His descendants (the Aiyubids) persecuted 
too. In 1250 the slave-guard (Mamluks) get the upper hand ; 
their officers reign for two centuries and a half, during the latter 
part of which time anarchy and misrule of every kind reduce 
the country to utter misery, and the Copts suffer again untold 
misfortunes. In 15 17 the Ottoman Turks conquer Egypt and 
give the Christians, not real toleration nor even decent treatment, 
but a rather better tyranny than they had yet known. It was 
not till the 19th century that European interference at last 
brought peace to the Copts. 

During all this time the line of Coptic Patriarchs, from Dioscor 
and Timothy the Cat, continues unbroken, side by side with that 
of their Orthodox rivals. Both lines can show a long series of 
pontiffs who bore appalling ill-usage for their faith. The Coptic 
clergy and people keep alive the Christian religion almost mira- 
culously through the long centuries of ill-usage. Their old 
language died out, except in the liturgy ; they all learned to speak 
Arabic. Enormous numbers apostatized during the continual 
persecution, but not all. The comparatively small number which 
remain are those who, bearing everything with that extraordinary 
meekness which is characteristic of the native Egyptian, yet never 
let the faith of Christ be quite stamped out. What they have 
borne for it we can hardly conceive. Honour to the countless 
unknown Coptic martyrs who shed their blood, to the still greater 
number of confessors who bore poverty, imprisonment and torture 
for the Lord of all Christians. For, when the last day comes, 
weightier than their theological errors will count the glorious 
wounds they bore for him under the blood-stained cloud of Islam. 



From some points of view the Coptic Church is the most interest- 
ing of all in the East. It is now quite a small body, but it has 
wonderful traditions. The Copts are the chief of the Monophy- 
sites. That heresy began in Egypt— Egypt was always its centre. 
Except the Armenians (who in many ways stand apart), all 
Monophysites look to Alexandria (or Cairo) as the stronghold of 
their faith. So the Copts form the other great Eastern Church, 
which we can compare with the Orthodox— great not in numbers, 
but in ecclesiastical importance. What they have in common 
with the Orthodox we may put down as generally Eastern ; what 
they do not share is specifically Byzantine. Indeed, the Copts are 
archaeologically more important than the Orthodox. Coptic 
archaeology is the most curious, the most ancient in Christendom. 
In many things the Copts keep an older custom than the Orthodox. 
Among Eastern Churches the Orthodox have by no means the 
most ancient stamp. Their rite is a late one ; during their years 
of prosperity (down to 1453) they developed and modified much 
of ancient Christian custom. But the Copts are wonderfully 
primitive. Their isolation, the arresting of their development, 
happened in 639. During the centuries of their obscurity under 
Moslem tyrants they have attempted nothing but to keep un- 
changed the customs of their free fathers. A more faithful 
picture of the days of Athanasius is kept in a Coptic than in an 
Orthodox church. And this is natural and right. For the 
Alexandrine Patriarchate, which the Copts represent, is a far more 
venerable see than the upstart Byzantine throne which so long 
domineered over, and spoilt, the Orthodox Church. 



1. The Patriarch and Hierarchy 

We are now clear as to what is meant by a Copt. A Copt is 
a native Egyptian who is a member of the national Monophysite 
Church. We do not call an Egyptian who belongs to any other 
religious body a Copt, 1 nor do we so call a Monophysite who is 
not an Egyptian. 

In 1900 the total number of Copts was estimated at 592,374 ; 
that is about one-fifteenth of the whole population of Egypt. 2 By 
far the largest group is in Cairo (27,546). Alexandria has 5338 ; 
the rest are scattered through towns and villages of Lower, 
Middle, and Upper Egypt. After Cairo they are most spread in 
Upper Egypt (As-Siut, Girgah, etc.) ; here in many villages they 
form the majority of the population. They all talk Arabic ; even 
the clergy know very little Coptic (p. 277) ; they dress in the 
usual Arab dress, a long shirt down to their feet (sirbal, kamls) 
girt around their waist, a cloak (mashlah, 'aba'), and a turban. 
But the cloak and turban are nearly always dark (black or blue), 
remnant of the days whey they were forced by law to wear dark 
colours. The tight black or dark-blue turban is characteristic of 
Copts, especially of their clergy. 

The most remarkable qualities of the Copts have always been 
their power of reviving and their comparative prosperity, in spite 
of fierce persecution. In this they resemble the Jews. Copts have 
never been fighting men. They have lain down under treatment 
which would have driven any Western race to desperate resistance. 
So the Moslem looks upon them as poor creatures. But no perse- 
cution could extinguish them. We read of ghastly massacres, 
wholesale confiscation of their property ; then a generation or 
two later they are again a rich and large community, ready to 
be plundered again. There are Coptic peasants (fellahfn) who 
till the soil ; but their leaders are rich merchants at Cairo and 

1 There are native Egyptians who are Latins, many who are Orthodox 
or Byzantine Uniate (Melkite), even a few Protestants. The Uniate Copts 
form a class apart, of which in our next volume. 

2 K. Beth : Die ovientalische Christenheit der Mittelmeerlander (Berlin, 
1902), pp. 129-130. 


All Copts obey their one Patriarch (of Alexandria). In theory 
they admit seven Patriarchs, four greater ones, of Rome, 1 Alex- 
andria, 2 Antioch, and Ephesus, which they count as transferred 
to Constantinople, and three lesser, merely titular, ones : Jeru- 
salem, Seleucia-Ctesiphon, and Abyssinia. 3 But of these, all, 
except Alexandria, Antioch (of course the Jacobite see) and 
Abyssinia, have fallen into Dyophysism and the wicked heresies 
of Chalcedon ; so they are separated from the true Monophysite 
Church. The Coptic Patriarch is elected by the twelve bishops 
who form his court. He is always a monk, generally abbot of 
one of the chief monasteries. He may not already be a bishop. 
The Copts keep the old law which forbids the transference of a 
bishop from one see to another. He must be celibate, the son of 
a father who was his wife's first husband. He must be a native 
Egyptian, and at least fifty years old. What happened in practice 
till quite lately was that the monks of a chief monastery proposed 
someone (usually their abbot) and the bishops elected him. Often 
there was only one candidate. The Patriarch had to lead an 
exceedingly abstemious life ; so the dignity was not much coveted. 
Indeed, one hears of the elect being seized by force and chained 
up in Cairo till they ordained him. The election was made by 
lot. The names were written on slips ; a slip was added inscribed 

1 It is perhaps hardly worth noticing that every Eastern Church, as a 
matter of course, acknowledges the Pope as first Patriarch and chief bishop 
in Christendom, and also as Patriarch having lawful jurisdiction over all 
the West. The idea, which one sometimes hears from Anglicans, that all 
bishops are equal, is unknown to any ancient Church. They all have the 
most definite idea of a graduated hierarchy among bishops ; Metropolitans, 
Exarchs, and Patriarchs lord it over their suffragans, generally tyrannically. 
They are not really far from our concept of the Papacy. They have only 
to add that the chief Patriarch has jurisdiction over the other Patriarchs, 
as these have over Metropolitans, as Metropolitans have over simple bishops. 
The Anglican who thinks that he makes a great concession by admitting 
that the Pope is the chief bishop in Italy is as ludicrously far from any 
concept of the Eastern Churches, or of antiquity, as the Presbyterian who 
is prepared to concede that a bishop is the chief clergyman in larger towns. 
The standard of agreement of all so-called branches of the Church gives 
the Pope a position which would surprise most Anglicans. Notably it gives 
him jurisdiction over England. 

2 They keep the old order, which was the rule before Chalcedon, counting 
the Alexandrine See as second after Rome (Orth. Eastern Church, pp. g, 
42, 50, etc.). 

3 Vansleb : op. cit. pp. 9-10 ; Silbernagl : Verfassnng, u.s.w. p. 278. 


" Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd." These were put under an 
altar and the holy liturgy was celebrated on it for three days. 
Then a boy drew out a slip. If the one with the holy name was 
drawn, this was a sign that God chose none of the candidates, so 
new ones replaced them. In the past the election was often made 
a mere form by the intrusion of someone whom the Moslem 
authorities desired, or who had bribed them. Now, the Patriarch 
is always a monk from the great monastery of St. Antony in the 
Eastern desert, by the Red Sea. 1 The bishops choose him by lot. 
He receives the orders of deacon and priest, and is made an abbot 
(kummus), if he has not these qualities already. He is then 
ordained bishop during the holy liturgy. The eldest bishop 
presides, but all lay their hands on him. He is enthroned, 
acclaimed by the people, and gives his blessing. The Patriarch's 
full title is : " Most holy Pope and Patriarch of the great city 
Alexandria and of the places subject to Egypt, of Jerusalem the 
holy city, of Abyssinia, Nubia, the Pentapolis, and of all places 
where St. Mark preached." 2 But there are alternative, longer 
titles, in which the old epithet, " Judge of the world " occurs. 3 
The Patriarch is the supreme authority in his Church. He can- 
not be deposed for any cause ; he alone appoints and ordains all 
bishops ; he alone consecrates the Holy Chrism. His income consists 
of free offerings, to which every Copt contributes, stole-fees and 
stipends for ordinations, also of considerable funds invested for 

1 For this monastery see Butler : Ancient Coptic Churches, i. 342-346. 

2 Vansleb : Hist, de 1'E.glise d'Alexandrie, p. 27 ; Silbernagl : op. cit. p. 
282 ; Denzinger : Ritus Orientalium, li. 35-63, gives the laws for the election 
and ordination of the Patriarch, from Ibn Nasal, Abii-lBirkat, etc. 

3 Vansleb : Hist, de l'£glise d'Alexandrie, p. 7. The title " Judge of the 
World " has been assumed by both the Orthodox and the Coptic Patriarchs 
of Alexandria ; according to the usual account, since St. Cyril presided at 
Ephesus. Renaudot : de Pair. Alex. (Lit. Or. Coll. i. 348-349). " Pope " 
(irdinras) is simply late Greek for " Father." As far as the word goes, it 
might be assumed by any bishop or even priest (as in Russia). It is only 
gradually that titles get a special technical sense. The sometimes sug- 
gested derivation from Coptic Pi-abba (Abba with the strong article) is 
fantastic and absurd. The title Anbd, used for saints, and now given 
generally only to the Patriarch, is not easy to explain. It is generally 
understood as a form of 'APfias (Syriac : Abba), and is translated " Father." 
See Wiistenfeld's introduction to Al-Makrizi (ed. cit. p. 6). The Arabic 
Abu (Father) in Egypt is often contracted to Bii. This form (bii) is not 


his use. His dress in private life is the usual monastic one, a 
black cloak and black turban, but with the bishop's pectoral cross. 
Needless to say, like all Eastern clergy, he wears a beard. Photo- 
graphs of the present Coptic Patriarch show him wearing a number 
of decorations given by various Governments (this is a weakness 
to which all Eastern prelates are subject), and holding the little 
cross with a handle with which he blesses people. 1 

In 1844 there were thirteen dioceses under the Coptic Patriarch, 
including Khartum, erected in 1835 for Nubia. 2 Six of these 
bishops have the title Metropolitan. 3 The only see outside 
Egypt is Al-Kuds (Jerusalem), of which the Coptic bishop lives 
at Jaffa. But the diocesan administration is hardly a reality. 
Beth says : " One cannot speak of any real diocesan administra- 
tion among the Copts at all." 4 Namely, the bishops, in spite of 
their titles, live at Cairo and form the Patriarch's Curia ; he alone 
exercises episcopal jurisdiction throughout Egypt. But I doubt 
how far this is now true. The bishops of Jerusalem and Khartum 
certainly reside in their dioceses ; it seems that the present 
revival in the Coptic Church includes a movement towards 
making bishops look after their flocks. In 1897 the Patriarch 
increased the number of his episcopate to eighteen, making the 
abbots of the four chief monasteries bishops. 5 All bishops must 
be celibate, so all are monks. They dress as monks, with an epis- 
copal pectoral cross. A great number of priests are ordained in 
masses without any preparation. One of the constant reproaches 
against this Church is the want of education among her clergy. 
Many priests cannot read even Arabic, still less Coptic. They say 
the Coptic prayers by heart, without understanding them ; 
frequently in the liturgy the Gospel is read by a layman, because 
the priest cannot do so. Quantities are ordained without any 
provision being made for their work or maintenance. A priest 

1 Such a photograph may be seen in Archdeacon Dowling : The Egyptian 
Church, p. 10. 

2 The list in Silbernagl, pp. 289-290 ; cf. Vansleb : Hist, de I'Eglise 
d'Alexandrie, pp. 17-26. 

3 Butler says four only : Alexandria (separate from the Patriarchate ?), 
Memphis, Jerusalem, Abyssinia (op. cit. ii. 313). 

4 Die orientalische Christenheit, p. 133. 

5 Their names and sees will be found in Mrs. Butcher : op. cit. ii. 429. 
Butler (op. cit. ii. 318) gives only fourteen sees, including three in Abyssinia. 


may be married (before ordination) to a virgin ; x after ordination 
he cannot marry again. All, except monks, are married and 
many carry on some mean trade. As for the deacons, Beth says : 
" These are truly miserable creatures, boys thirteen or fourteen 
years old, often blind boys who are ordained as some sort of 
provision for them." 2 The minor orders (for instance, the 
Lectorate) are now extinct. 

Egypt, the home of monasticism, has still quantities of monks. 
As among the Orthodox, they form the aristocracy of the clergy. 
Only monks can become bishops. They abstain always from 
flesh-meat, sing the divine office, and do manual work. There are 
a number of large and, archaeologically, extremely interesting 
Coptic monasteries throughout Egypt, which are the homes of al] 
that is characteristic in the sect. 3 The most famous Coptic 
monasteries are St. Mercurius (Dair Abii-sSaifain, see pp. 268- 
269) at old Cairo ; 4 then four in the Nitrian desert, where once 
was a great number, notably AlBaramus, 5 those said to have been 
founded by St. Antony and St. Paul in the Eastern desert by the 
Red Sea, 6 and Dair AsSuriani, also in the Nitrian desert, where 
Curzon found precious manuscripts. 7 The abbots of AlBaramus, 
St. Antony, and St. Paul are now bishops. There are two classes 
of monks, inasmuch as some only, who aspire to higher perfection, 
after years of probation receive the " angelic habit " and are 
bound by severer rules. The abbot (kummus) 8 is appointed by 
a rite which looks very like a sacramental ordination. The title 
kummus is also given as an honour to the chief priest of certain 
great churches, who is a titular abbot or archpriest. Beth even 
distinguishes two orders, " archpriests " and " priests." 9 But 

1 Secular priests are invariably married. Indeed, the law seems to imply- 
that they must be. Among the testimonies required before ordination 
is one that the candidate is lawfully married (Butler : op. cit. ii. 319). I 
am not sure whether a Coptic bishop would refuse to ordain a celibate man ; 
but I think he would. 2 Beth: op. cit. 134. 

3 Long and accurate descriptions of these will be found in A. J. Butler 
Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt, vol. i. 

4 Butler : op. cit. i. 75-154. 5 lb. 286-340. 6 lb. 342-348 

7 lb. 316-326. R. Curzon : Visits to Monasteries in the Levant, chap, 
vii.-viii. (ed. 6, Murray, 1881), pp. 98-113. 

8 From riyov/jievos. Copt : hygomenos. 
Op. cit. p. 134. 



kummus is only a higher title, given (as is that of archimandrite 
among the Orthodox and Melkites) to priests who are not really 
abbots at all ; or, as we have monsignori, honorary officials of the 
Pope's court. There is also a special rite for making an Arch- 
deacon, 1 who is a kind of vicar general to the bishop. Both 
these ranks of kummus and the archdeacon are always counted 
as orders of the hierarchy. There are a few convents of nuns. 2 

Lately there has been a strong movement among the Copts for 
reform in many directions. The reforming party demand better 
education for the clergy and a lay right of control in certain 
matters, particularly in finance. This is undoubtedly due to 
European, especially to English, influence. 3 The conservative 
party denounce the reformers as Anglicized Semi-Protest- 
ants. American Presbyterians also have been active among 
the Copts. In 1890 they opened the flourishing Trunk school, 
which educates numbers of Coptic boys, but is said to leave 
them with diminished loyalty towards the national Church. 
The English Church Missionary Society and an " Association for 
the furtherance of Christianity in Egypt " have done the same 
kind of work. The Patriarch is bitterly opposed to these. Forced 
by their rivalry, he has at last opened a theological school at 
Cairo, and has even sent two students to the Rhizarion school at 

1 Ra'is shamamisah. 

2 Mrs. Butcher says three only (The Story of the Church of Egypt, ii. p. 41 1). 
She gives 418 as the total number of Coptic Churches (ib.). A list of 
monasteries will be found in Silbernagl : Verfassung, u.s.w. p. 293. There 
is a Coptic Monastery at Jerusalem, in the Harat anNasara, next to what 
English tourists call the Pool of Hezekiah. 

3 The Church Missionary Society sent Mr. Lieder to Egypt in 1830. Mr. 
Henry Tattam, an authority on the language, who wrote a Coptic grammar 
(London, 1830), came in 1838, made friends with the Copts, and wrote a 
report of their state for the Archbishop of Canterbury. Curzon came in 
1833 ; he wrote an account of what he saw in his Monasteries of the Levant. 
A Mr. T. Grimshawe came in 1839. All these persons worked for the en- 
lightenment, but also, it would seem, for the Protestantizing of the Copts. 
Tattam edited a book of Gospels in Coptic and Arabic ; Lieder opened a 
school, which had to be closed in 1848 because of the hostility of the Patri- 
arch. These gentlemen and the Church Missionary Society have rather 
spoiled the field for High Church missionary effort. It has been proposed 
that the Archbishop of York should do for the Copts what Canterbury is 
doing for the Nestorians. But the Copts understand more about the state 
of the Church of England than do the Nestorians, and they are suspicious 
of what High Churchmen tell them about Anglicanism. 


Athens, evidently preferring the danger of Orthodox teaching to 
that of Protestantism. 

The present Patriarch is Cyril V. 1 His family name is Matar. 
The last Patriarch, Demetrios II, died in 1873. At that moment 
the agitation for reform was very strong. The reformers had 
drawn up a scheme for the establishment of councils, composed 
of both clergy and laity, to administer the property of each diocese. 
For two years the throne was vacant while the reformers and 
conservatives struggled, each for their own representative. At 
last, in 1875, Cyril V was chosen. He was the candidate of the 
reformers ; at his election he promised to admit the councils and 
to introduce all necessary reforms. But he has bitterly dis- 
appointed his party. Soon he abolished the councils, shut up 
schools, and showed himself in every way the most hardened 
conservative. He is fiercely opposed to all reforming societies ; 
he has excommunicated their leaders, and has always used his 
authority to put down every " Anglicizing," modernizing, or 
Protestant tendency. Both he and his rivals have constantly 
appealed to the Government against each other. All reforming 
Copts, pupils of English or American schools, imbued with modern 
Western ideas, will tell you that there is no hope of improving the 
state of their Church while Cyril V lives. On the other hand, of 
course, the old-fashioned people say that this ardent spirit of 
reform, this eager desire to adopt English ideas, really means a 
Protestant tendency which is a grave danger to their venerable 
Church. Lord Cyril V still reigns, a very old man. 2 If the 
reformers succeed in making one of their party Patriarch when he 
dies, there will probably be startling changes. 

2. The Coptic Faith 

Copts are Monophysites. There is not the least doubt about 
this, though their Monophysism is of the more moderate (and less 

1 Beth calls him Cyril XI ; I do not know why (op. cit. 131). 

2 I have no reason to doubt that His Holiness is a pious and zealous 
prelate. But he will not see strangers. When you go to his palace (next 
to the Coptic Patriarchal Church, in the Darb alwasah at Cairo) he sends 
you his blessing by a secretary. 


logical) school of Severus of Antioch (p. 197). As in the case 
of all Eastern Churches, their heresy is seen most plainly, not 
directly by metaphysical statements concerning nature and 
person (for among their ill-educated clergy we cannot expect to 
find clear ideas on such difficult points), but implicitly by their 
attitude towards historic facts. They reject and abhor the 
Council of Chalcedon. They detest the Dogmatic Letter of St. 
Leo I. They maintain that this and the council renewed the 
impious heresy of Nestorius. They declare that Catholics and 
Orthodox are heretics, because we accept the Dyophysite errors 
of Chalcedon. They venerate the memory of the leading Mono- 
physites — Dioscor, Timothy the Cat, Severus, as saints and 
champions of the true faith taught by St. Cyril of Alexandria. 
A man who holds these views is a Monophysite. As long as they 
had a literature they argued against what was defined at Chal- 
cedon. In the 13th century a Coptic divine, Ibn -nasal, wrote a 
treatise, Collection of the Principles of Faith, in which he argues 
against Pagans, Jews, Nestorians and Melkites. 1 Indifferent 
outsiders, such as Makrizi, understand and explain the difference 
between three kinds of Christians, Nestorians, Melkites and Copts, 
quite accurately. 2 Lastly, the present authorized Coptic cate- 
chism contains plain Monophysism. It teaches that our Lord 
" became one only person, one only distinct substance, one 
only nature, with one will, and one operation." 3 Indeed, in 
spite of the modern craze for denying that heretical bodies 
really hold the heresy of which they are accused, I have 
not yet found anyone who claims that the Copts are not 
Monophysites. That may come. The people who so hotly 
maintain that Nestorians are not Nestorians may quite as well 
take up the defence of Monophysites. 4 This then is plain. 
Ignorant sympathizers with this ancient and venerable Church, 
who see no reason why Anglicans should not join in communion 

1 Renaudot: Hist. Patr. Alex. p. 585. 

2 Al-Makrizi : Hist, of the Copts, ed. cit. p. 83. 

3 Tanwtr almubtada'tn fi talim ad-din (The Blossoming of the Beginner 
in the Study of Religion), by the Hegumenos Filutha'us. New edition at 
ths Press of Tuflk at Cairo, 1629 (sera mart.) =1912 a.d., p. 23. YJ\ 

4 This has already happened in the case of the Armenians (p. 425, n. 3). 


with it, 1 must first make up their minds about the Council of 
Chalcedon. Reunion with the Copts is only possible if Anglicans 
turn Monophysite, or succeed in converting Copts to Chalcedon. 
This last case may be ruled out at once. To convert Copts to 
Chalcedon is just what Rome does ; and they all denounce a 
Copt who abandons Monophysism as a renegade from his 
national Church. If all Copts abandoned the special teaching 
which constitutes their sect, that would mean the destruction of 
the very body which Anglicans call the Coptic Church. They all 
protest loudly that they do not want that. 2 

On the other hand, it is no doubt true that an unsophisticated 
Coptic priest, or even bishop, probably understands very little 
about the issue defended at Chalcedon. If you showed him a 
Catholic statement, and he did not know whence it came, it is 
quite likely that he would say it is correct. This only means that 
his knowledge of all theology is a negligible quantity. 

The Copts do not, of course, say the Filioque in their creed. 
They do not seem to have considered the question ; 3 but they 
would undoubtedly now describe it as a fresh Latin error, only 
adding a slightly darker shade to people who are already black 
with Chalcedonianism. Needless to say, they altogether reject 
the Pope's primacy and infallibility. To them, as to all scbis- 
matical Easterns, the Pope is a terrible danger, a mighty ogre 
who wants to swallow up pious Copts and turn them into Latins. 
Nor does the sight of the Uniate Copts give them any confidence. 

1 E.g Mrs. Butcher : ii. 411. She understands so little of what Mono- 
physism means that she calls ignoring it " to face the facts of the case." 

2 Dr. Neale, in spite of his prejudices and often childish diatribes, at least 
was clear on this point. He will have nothing to do with the Coptic sect, 
denounces it roundly as a heretical body, and wants Copts to turn Orthodox. 
We should say : Why Orthodox rather than Papist ? Neale's diatribes 
against Roman schism in Egypt are very quaint. From the " national 
Church " point of view his friends the Orthodox are just as much schismatics 
as Romanists are. But the erection of a Latin see is an " act of open 
schism committed by Rome " {Holy Eastern Church, ii. 288) ; yet when a 
man turns Orthodox he " joins the Catholic Church " {ib. 265). 

3 The only Eastern Church which has ever seriously discussed the Filioque 
is that of the Orthodox. To them this has become the great hindrance 
to reunion (or the next greatest, after the Papacy). But the way of reunion 
to Nestorians and Monophysites is blocked by so much greater differences 
that they do not, so to say, come far enough along it to arrive at the Filioque 


They think that Uniates will be made Latins as soon as the Pope 
has got his hand in ; they hate them, as renegades and apostates, 
even more than they hate us who were born in Latin darkness. 
Their idea of the Catholic Church is hard to fathom. In principle 
they should say, and when urged they do say, that only Mono- 
physites are the true Church of Christ. But practically all they 
demand is to be recognized and let alone. They make no kind 
of effort to convert the millions of Dyophysite heretics who 
surround them. In vain have I tried to make Coptic clergy see 
that they ought to missionize us and to set up a proper Mono- 
physite Patriarch of Rome. When one assures them that one is 
not offended, they will admit that Pius X is a hardened Dyophysite 
(which, of course, he is). They believe that St. Peter founded the 
Roman See, and that his successor should be the first of Patriarchs ; 
but they shake their heads over the present state of Rome. I 
suppose the legitimate Roman Patriarchate collapsed when Leo I 
signed his Tome. As for the Immaculate Conception, they have 
so extreme a devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and are so convinced 
of her freedom from all sin, that it would go hard if they did not 
admit her freedom from original sin too. 1 The title Theot6kos is 
one of their great watchwords, as we might guess from its origin. 
It occurs repeatedly in their liturgy. You may say what you like 
about a Monophysite, but you cannot say that he is a Nestorian. 
In all other matters they agree with us, except that they share 
the usual Eastern vagueness on many points. The Eastern 
Churches have had no scholastic period. The Copts say the 
Nicene Creed in their liturgy and understand all of it (except the 
Filioque and the " Catholic Church ") exactly as we do. They 
believe in the same Sacraments. Mr. Butler puts as the title of a 
chapter in his book, " The Seven Sacraments." 2 Beth says this 
is incorrect, that the Copts have no idea of a special category of 
seven " mysteries," but look upon every ritual action done by a 
priest asa" mystery." 3 This is true enough ; but our seven are 
all there and only need to be classified. A word or two will be 

1 I know one Coptic priest who said that he certainly believed the Mother 
of God to be free from all stain of original sin, but that he did not believe 
in the Immaculate Conception, because that is what the Uniates say. 

2 Ancient Coptic Churches, ii. chap. vii. p. 262. 

3 Oriental. Christenheit,jp. 414. 


said about them when we come to the rites (pp. 278-286). The 
faith of the Copts in the Real Presence leaves nothing to be desired. 
Just before his Communion the Coptic celebrant says : " The 
body and blood of Emmanuel our God this is in truth. Amen. 
I believe, I believe, I believe, and I confess unto the last breath 
that this is the quickening flesh which thine only-begotten Son 
our Lord and our God and our Saviour Jesus Christ took of the 
Lady of us all, the holy Mother of God St. Mary." x It may indeed 
be noticed that no liturgy in Christendom contains such categorical 
statements of the real, objective, essential change of bread and 
wine intothe body and blood of our Lord as does that of theCopts. 2 
Two unpardonable errors are constantly made about the Copts : 
namely, that they do not pray for the dead, or do not offer the 
holy Sacrifice for them ; and that they do not pray to saints. 
They pray for the dead explicitly and at length in every liturgy ; 
as soon as the diptychs of the dead are read the deacon says : 
" Pray for our fathers and our brethren who have fallen asleep 
and gone to their rest in the faith of Christ." 3 The celebrant 
prays : " Vouchsafe to grant rest to all their souls in the bosom of 
our holy fathers, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob," etc. 4 Their 
funeral service is full of prayers for the dead. But they share a 
certain vagueness, common in the East, about purgatory. Any- 
how, all we could demand on this point is, at least implicitly, 
contained in their prayers. The official catechism published by 
Abuna Filutha'us (kummus of the Patriarchal Church at Cairo) 
contains exactly what a Catholic would say : " (Q) Are (faithful) 
souls (of the dead) profited by prayers and good works ? (A ) 
Yes. The prayers of the Church and the offering of the holy 
Sacrifice and works of mercy profit those souls which have 
passed away with some imperfections and faults of weakness 
(but not those which were sunk in vice and hardness of heart 
and have not done penance nor asked pardon). This truth 
has been held by the universal Church of Christ from the 
first ages, and the Church of Israel bears witness in the 
Book of Maccabees that Judas Maccabaeus offered sacrifices 

1 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, p. 185. 

2 lb. pp. 177, 180, 181. 3 lb. p. 169. 
4 lb. p. 170. 


for the departed soldiers." x They have copious indirect 
invocations of saints in their liturgy. It keeps the archaic form 
of praying for saints. 2 But so anxious are they not to be mis- 
understood that the celebrant explains to God : " Not that we, 
O Master, are worthy to intercede for their blessedness who are 
there (in heaven), but with intent that, standing before the 
tribunal of thine only-begotten Son, they may in recompense 
intercede for our poverty and weakness. Be the remitter of our 
iniquities for the sake of their holy prayers, and for thy blessed 
Name's sake whereby we are called.' ' 3 The Coptic Divine Office 
is full of direct, explicit invocation of saints, addressing them 
(especially the Blessed Virgin) with exceeding reverence, with a 
greater accumulation of titles, more superlative praise than can be 
found in the sober Roman Office. Let anyone take up Mr. 
O'Leary's translation of the Daily Office ; 4 there is hardly a page 
which is not full of examples. I select one at hazard : " Hail thou 
who hast found grace, Holy Mary, Mother of God : blessed art 
thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Thou 
hast borne to us the Saviour of our souls. Glory be, etc. Holy 
John, who baptized Christ, remember our congregations, that we 
may be set free from our misdeeds. Thou hast received favour to 
intercede for us. Both now, etc. Our holy fathers, the great 
Abba Antony, the three Abbots Macarius, our father Abba John, 
our father Abba Pishoi, our father Abba Pakhom, our father 
Abba Theodore, and our righteous father the great Abba Samuel : 
intercede for us, that we may be delivered from trouble and 
distress : we have you as intercessors before Christ. O Mother of 
God, we have recourse to the protection of thy mercies : despise 
not our prayers in need, but save us from destruction, O thou 
alone blessed. Lord have mercy, etc. (forty-one times)." 5 

Copts keep relics and treat them with great honour. They 
share the usual Eastern prejudice against solid statues ; but 
their churches are full of pictures of saints. These they treat 
with great, we should almost say with excessive, respect. Once 

1 Tanwir almubtada'in, ed. cit. p. 67. 

2 So the Apostolic Constitutions, viii. x. 7 (Brightman, p. 10) : " uvdp," 
which word is ambiguous. 

3 Brightman, p. 169; cf. 187-188. 4 See p. 279, n. 1. 
1 From the Prayer of the eleventh hour, op. cit. p. 105. 


they had an Iconoclast Patriarch. Cyril IV (1854-1862), in many 
ways a reformer, thought his people guilty of idolatry. 1 So he 
made a collection of holy pictures, burned them publicly and told 
the people to adore God alone. 2 In burning valuable pictures he 
was guilty of foolish and wasteful conduct. Nor could he have 
burned more than a few. Coptic churches are still full of old 
pictures. But he would have found his Dyophysite brother at 
Rome in warm agreement with his warning. We, too, have 
learned that we may not adore these things, for they can neither 
see, nor hear, nor help us. Lastly, the Copts are vague about the 
Canon of Scripture. They include in it, besides our books, 3 the 
Epistle of Barnabas, Hermas, Clement of Rome, various Clemen- 
tine and other strange apocryphas. 4 

From all this we see that, except for their Monophysism 
(which is, of course, the great question of all), the Copts in 
matters of faith occupy much the same position as the Orthodox. 
They differ from Catholics in little except Monophysism, rejection 
of the Papacy, and perhaps the procession of the Holy Ghost. 
I do not think that their characteristic heresy occupies nearly 
as large a place in their consciousness now as it did in that of 
Dioscor and the Cat. The cause they stand for with ardour is 
rather the existence of their National Church, their customs and 
traditions, and a vehement rejection of the Pope, whom they 
look upon as a foreign tyrant who wants to make them all his 
slaves, to Latinize them and oppress their Patriarch. 

3. Churches, Ornaments, Vestments 

We have noted (p. 252) that Coptic archaeology is a special 
and an important subject. It is indeed to this that the present 
sect owes its importance. Archaeologists recognize that the art, 
architecture and customs of the Copts are not merely a subdivision 
of Byzantine archaeology ; they are an independent stream full of 

1 He had been educated in Mr. Lieder's Protestant School (p. 258, n. 3). 

2 Mrs. Butcher : op. cit. ii. 398-399. 

3 They admit, of course, the deutero-canonical books. 

4 F. Scrivener : A Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the N. Test. (4th 
ed. London, 1894), 9 I ~ I 44- J- M. Fuller : " Coptic Church " in Smith's Diet, 
of Christ. Biography (London, 1877), i. 664-686. 


its own interest, in many ways coming down unchanged from an 
older type than that of the Eastern Empire, in some a living 

survival of ancient 
Egypt. Egyptolo- 
gists are more and 
more disposed to 
study the Copts as 
the descendants of 
the people who 
obeyed Pharaoh. 1 
What follows is an 
outline of such in- 
formation as may 
help to understand 
their services. 

A Coptic church 
has no external 
architectural feat- 
ures. Outside there 
no sign of the 
domes and apses 
which you see with- 
in, nor even (as a 
rule) of the exist- 
ence of a large open 
space. It is extern- 
ally a jumble 
of buildings in 
no order ; rooms 
for the clergy 
and their fami- 
lies, sometimes shops, crowd around the church and hide it 
from without. You go in by an inconspicuous door and 
are surprised to find yourself in a large and handsome church. 
This elaborate care to conceal their buildings outside speaks 
eloquently of the centuries of persecution. The church is practi- 

1 A. J. Butler: Ancient Coptic Churches of Egypt contains a mass of inform- 
ation about Coptic archaeology. A. Gayet : L'Art Copte (Paris, 1902). 

fig. 6.- 

A, Hig 
D, Pulpit 



1 altar ; B, Stairs to crypt ; C, C, C, Lecterns ; 
: E. Font ; F, Patriarch's throne ; G, G, Tanks. 


cally never cruciform. 1 It is a long hall, generally divided by two 
rows of columns into a nave and aisles. Over these columns may 
be either an entablature or arches. Above the aisles are large 
triforia, where once the women prayed. Now these are generally 
disused or walled off from the church to form apartments for the 
priests' families. The churches are always orientated, the altars 
being at the east. At the west is first a narthex, once used for 
catechumens, penitents, and for certain offices. Now it is rarely 
used. In some churches it contains a great tank ; not the font, 
but the place where the blessing of the waters on the Epiphany 
takes place. There is often a smaller tank for ablutions before 
entering, as one sees in front of mosques. Inside, the church is 
divided into three parts by screens across it from north to south. 
We come first to the nave. Here are divisions, sometimes light 
open screens, making a special place for women. They occur in 
various directions and are wanting in the desert monastic churches, 
to which a woman would hardly come. In the nave sometimes 
stands a throne for the Patriarch. Beyond the nave is the choir, 
generally raised a step. This is sometimes cut off by a screen, 
generally of open lattice-work, often adorned with holy pictures. 
The pulpit, a longer platform than we see in the West, stands on 
the north side, just without the choir. Beyond the choir we 
come to the sanctuary, which they called Haikal. 2 This is again 
often raised a step, and generally (not always) has a screen across 
it. The haikal screen corresponds to the Byzantine ikonostasion, 
except that it does not carry a mass of pictures. It is a solid 
wall of wood, generally beautifully carved and inlaid with mother- 
of-pearl in geometric patterns. It has three doors opening 
inwards towards the sanctuary ; in front of them hang curtains ; 
over them are Coptic or Arabic inscriptions. The pious Copt who 
visits a church goes up to the haikal screen, prostrates himself and 
kisses the hem of the curtain. The haikal always has three 
altars in a line. This marks a chief difference between Coptic and 
Byzantine churches. The Byzantine church has only one altar. 
In the Coptic Church the side altars are real altars, dedicated to 
saints, used for the holy liturgy once a year, on the saint's feast. 

1 Mr. Butler found only two churches with a transept ; op. cit. i. 22. 

2 The usual Arabic name for " temple." 



Behind each altar is an apse. 1 At least over the central altar is 
nearly always a low cupola ; often there are other cupolas over 



the side altars, or down the nave. Round the apses behind the 
altars are benches for the clergy. All the church is full of paint- 
ings and mosaic. Coptic mosaic is an exceedingly beautiful 
thing. Unlike the Byzantine kind, it is not made of coloured 
glass nor of opus sectile. It consists of coloured marbles and 
mother-of-pearl in geometric patterns. There is nearly always 
a niche in the apses, sometimes painted with a figure of our Lord, 
before which a lamp burns. These niches are not used for any 
purpose ; they look curiously like the mihrab in a mosque. High 
up in the apse are frescoes or paintings of our Lord and the twelve 
apostles. Along the top of the haikal screen you see our Lady 
with her Child and other saints ; over the central door of the choir- 

1 These apses, each with its altar, form really two separate side chapels, 
one on either side of the central sanctuary containing the high altar. 



screen is a crucifixion and on either side are saints. The columns 
and walls are adorned with paintings of saints or with pictures 



hung up. Coptic painting has a manner of its own, which many 
artists prefer to Byzantine work. The pictures never have the 
shield of metal, pierced for the face and hands, which protects 
Byzantine ikons. They are generally painted on a gold back- 
ground. You may see the Blessed Virgin holding her Son, in a 
manner which suggests vaguely the picture at St. Mary Major. 
You see venerable pontiffs with long white beards, dressed in 
Coptic vestments and holding a book, or St. George charging 
along on a white horse killing his dragon. 1 

The altar is a large cube of stone, or built up of bricks, standing 
free from any wall, hollowed out underneath, with an opening 
behind (to the east) . This was once the tomb for relics ; now it is 

1 Examples of Coptic painting may be seen in the frontispiece of Mr. 
Butler's second volume. In modern churches one often sees Byzantine 
(Russian) eikons. The vestments in these proclaim their origin. 


empty. The modern Copts do not put their relics under the 
altar, but keep them sewn up in what look like bolsters about the 
church, mostly under the pictures of the saints. The altar has 
a sunk space on its table into which a wooden board is let. This 
board is consecrated separately ; it corresponds to the Byzantine 
antimension, and is in fact a portable altar. 1 In case of necessity 
it may be used on a common table for the holy liturgy. At least 
over the high altar there is always a ciborium — a cupola of wood 
on four columns. The altar is consecrated with chrism in an 
elaborate rite. It is covered all over with a cloth of silk or cotton, 
dyed any colour and brocaded or embroidered. At least during 
the liturgy there must be a second cloth over this. On the altar 
stand two candles only, though others may stand around, and 
lamps often hang from the ciborium. No cross stands on the 
altar ; but a small hand cross, used for blessing, lies on it, with 
the gospel-book and vessels used in the liturgy. In the haikal 
stands a reading-desk, and by it a large candlestick, from which 
the thurible sometimes hangs. The desk is often a very 
beautiful specimen of wood-carving and inlaid mother-of-pearl. 2 
It has a cupboard underneath, in which the books are kept. The 
baptistery with the font (a large basin not unlike ours) forms a 
side-chapel, which may be placed almost anywhere, leading out 
from the body of the church. In the church hang crowns, which 
support many candles and a number of lamps. As in most Eastern 
churches, a common ornament is real or artificial ostrich eggs 
hanging from the roof. Strange as they seem to us, these eggs 
form a very decorative feature. Often other churches open out 
from the main church, each having its complete arrangement of 
choir, haikal and three altars. So a large Coptic church is often 
a labyrinth of strange, dark chambers. The Copts once had 
church bells ; some belfries and even a few bells still remain. 
But the Moslem law forbade their use ; so for many centuries 
they have used a Semantron (a wooden board or metal plate struck 

1 So the Coptic altar is the exact reverss of our wooden altare portatile. 
This is a wooden frame supporting an altar-stone ; they have a stone 
frame supporting a wooden board. 

2 In Mr. Butler's book (op. cit. ii. 66-67) m l Y be seen illustrations of the 
reading-desk and candlestick in the Patriarchal church (itself a dull modern 
building) at Cairo. 


with a hammer) instead. But in the church they strike bells as 
part of the accompaniment of their singing. 

The instruments used in the liturgy are the chalice, paten 
(disk), aster (called " dome " in Arabic), 1 spoon. These are the 
same as in the Byzantine rite. 2 The ark 3 is a square wooden box 
which just holds the chalice ; at the consecration the chalice 
stands in this box. 4 They have several round veils 5 and a larger 
corporal 6 with which they cover the oblata during the liturgy. 
Their fans (like Byzantine rhipidia) are not now generally used 
to fan the Holy Eucharist, but are carried as ornaments in pro- 
cessions. North of the altar on a low stand are the basin and 
ewer with which the celebrant washes his hands. They have 
gospel-books, which are carried about and kissed, but cannot 
be read, because they are so bound, or rather nailed up, in 
costly metal covers that they cannot be opened. This was done 
originally, no doubt, to preserve a specially precious copy. Now 
there seems to be some doubt as to what is really contained in 
these closed covers. Mr. Butler says that some, on being opened, 
were found to contain nothing but a few tattered pages and some 
fragments of silk. 7 But when the gospel is read in the liturgy, 
such a closed book is still brought with great honour and placed 
on a stand with lighted candles around it. The deacon standing 
by it reads the gospel from a modern copy which he can open. 

There has been a great discussion about Coptic vestments. 
Abu Dakn, 8 Vansleb, 9 Renaudot, 10 Denzinger 11 give accounts 
which are not consistent. Mr. Butler quotes all these at length, 
discusses their differences, and then gives an elaborate account 
of each vestment, with illustrations, according to information 
gathered from Coptic priests. 12 His erudition and laborious care 
deserve recognition. 13 But it is all rather superfluous. What 

I Kubbah. 2 Orth. Eastern Church, 408-409. 

3 Ar. : KursI; Copt. : Pitote. 4 Butler : op. cit. ii. 42-43. 

5 Ar. : Hasirah ; Copt. : Pithom. 6 Ar. : Lafafah ; Copt. : Prosfarin. 

7 Op. cit. ii. 59. 8 Historia Iacobitarum, pp. 143-150. 

9 Hist, de I'Eglise d 'Alex. 60. 10 Liturg. Orient. Coll. i. 161— 163. 

II Ritus Orientalium, i. 130. 12 Op. cit. ii. chap, iv.-v. pp. 97-23. 
13 It may be noted that throughout his two volumes [Ancient Coptic 

Churches of Egypt) Mr. Butler gives the reader much more than his title 
promises. In every detail he tells you all about parallel customs among 
the Orthodox, Armenians, all other Eastern Churches, and even about 


emerges finally is that Coptic vestments are, with slight differences, 
the same as those of the Byzantine rite. The differences are 
hardly greater than in the shape and use of Roman vestments in 
the West. This is true of all Eastern rites. We may say, once for 
all, that the vestments we know as Byzantine 1 are, with slight 
local variations, common to all Eastern Churches. The Coptic 
forms are as follows : 

They are of any colour and almost any material. In poorer 
churches one sees cheap calicoes with dreadful sprawling flowers 
printed all over them ; richer vestments are of silk (more usually 
satin) or velvet with gold and silver embroideries or braid. White 
with coloured patterns, pink and red are favourite colours ; but 
sky-blue, apple-green, mauve, are not uncommon. In general, 
modern Levantine taste is very bad. They see no incongruity 
in the tawdriest designs and flimsiest material. One of the shocks 
the Western traveller must expect is to see a venerable Pontiff 
chanting his ancient liturgy vested in calico covered with large 
pink roses. The remains of ancient Coptic vestments often show 
exceedingly beautiful embroidery in colours, all the more exquisite 
because it is faded and tarnished. 

The deacon wears a stichanon (our alb, but coloured) 2 with a 
girdle (the Byzantine £<oj/apioi/), 3 which is not a rope, but a belt of 
coloured stuff (silk or velvet) with clasps. From his left shoulder 
hangs a stole (wpapioj/). 4 During the liturgy he winds this around 
his body as does his Orthodox rival. He wears a small round 
cap. 5 Clerks and singers also wear a sticharion and a narrower 
orarion wound around them, again just as in the Byzantine rite. 
The priest who celebrates wears a rather handsomer sticharion 
and girdle. But the Coptic priest, unlike the Byzantine, has 
an amice. 6 This is the only Coptic vestment unknown to the 

Roman and Sarum use. His work is a mine of general information about 
ecclesiastical antiquities in general. Unfortunately the authorities he 
quotes (Rock, Marriott, Bloxam, Bock, and my brother E. F. K. Fortescue) 
are all a little out of date ; so that much of what he says is antiquated. 

1 See, for instance, Orth. Eastern Church, 405-408. 

2 Ar. : tuniyah ; Copt. : potirion, mappa. Butler, ii. 109-117. 

3 Ar. : zunnar ; Copt. : zounarion. Butler, ii. 124-127. 

4 Ar. : batrashll ; Copt. : orarion, shordion. Butler, ii. 127-143. 
6 Illustrated in Butler, ii. 211. 

6 Ar. : shamlah, tailasan ; Copt. : ballin, efouti. Butler, ii. 11 7-124. 



Orthodox. It is much larger than our amice, made of white linen 
embroidered with two large crosses. One end hangs down the 
back, the other is wound round the head to form a hood. The 
priest's stole, though called by the same name as that of the 
deacon, is exactly the Byzantine epitrachelion. The two ends 
are sewn together to form a wide band which hangs down in 
front, while he puts his head through the loop left at the top. 1 
He wears epimanikia 2 on his arms, and over all a phainolion or 
chasuble. 3 In Egypt 4 the phainolion has 
gone through the one further step of 
evolution at which in the Byzantine 
Church it has not arrived. The Byzantine 
chasuble reaches to the ground behind ; 
it has been cut away, not as with us at 
the sides, but in front, so that it is quite 
short here and forms a mere broad band 
across the chest. In the other Eastern 
Churches this band has been cut through, 
and is joined by a clasp. So their 
phainolion has become exactly like our 
cope without a hood. They use it as 
both chasuble and cope (not only for the 
holy liturgy) ; but historically it is the 
old planeta, our chasuble. Copts have no 
epigonation. 5 The priest does not now FIG> 
wear a cap, since he has an amice. The 

bishop wears sticharion, girdle, epitrachelion, epimanikia and 
phainolion. 6 He has a special amice of coloured silk, em- 
broidered with texts, which he wears when he may not wear 
his mitre (on Good Friday, in the presence of the Patriarch, 
etc.). He has a mitre, or rather crown, of metal (silver-gilt), 7 a 


1 Butler shows a picture of one at p. 130 (vol. ii.). 

2 Ar. : kaman ; Copt. : kamasion. Op. cit. ii. 163-172. 

3 Ar. : burnus ; Copt. : felonion (in Greek the form <\>ai\6viov is often 
found), kouklion, amforion. Op. cit. 173-200. 

4 And also among all other Eastern Churches. 

5 Orth. Eastern Church, p. 406. 6 Now often a sakkos (see fig. 9). 
7 Ar. : tag (crown) ; Copt. : mitra, klam, shripi. Butler : op. cit. ii. 200- 

217. Butler (ii. 205) gives an illustration of the present Patriarch's crown, 



pectoral cross (iyKoX-n-Lov), which should, but now does not, 
contain relics, also a crozier (SiKavUiov) 1 consisting of a staff 
with two curving serpents at the top. He may not use his mitre 
or crozier in the Patriarch's presence. The Patriarch adds to the 
bishop's vestments only the omophorion. 2 This is always sewn 
together in the form of a broad Y. The omophorion is now also 
worn by other bishops. 

These are the official vestments given at ordination, which 
should be worn during the holy liturgy. But, as a matter of 
fact, poverty and carelessness dispense with many of them, 
except on great occasions. In a small church on an ordinary 
Sunday the celebrant usually wears only the alb, amice and 
stole, the deacon (if there is one) alb and stole. 

4. Liturgical Books 

The liturgical language of the national Egyptian Church is 
Coptic. 3 But her prayers were originally in Greek. The Coptic 
forms show the plainest traces of being translations from Greek, 
and there remain a very great number of formulas throughout the 
services which are still said in Greek. No other non-Greek rite is 
so permeated with Greek influence and phrases as that of the 
Copts. There is a curious point about these Greek formulas. 
Not only are quantities of short ejaculations and prayers (such 
as Kvpce iXerjaov, So£a crot /a'pie, the Trisagion, Gloria Patri, 
Sanctus) in Greek, but most commands addressed to the people, 
which one would expect to be in their language (" Look towards 

sent to him as a present by the King of Abyssinia. It has three bands of 
ornament round the high metal cap, and so shows an accidental resem- 
blance to the Pope's tiara. 

1 Ar. : 'akaz ; Copt.: shvot. Op. cit. ii. 217-231. 

2 Ar. : batrashil, ballin ; Copt. : omoforion, pallin, ballin. Butler : 
op. cit. ii. 143-162. 

3 G. Steindorff : Koptische Grammatik, 2nd ed. 1904 (Berlin ; Reuther 
u. Reichard : Porta linguarum orientalium) . An easier grammar to begin 
with is A. Mallon, S.J. : Grammaire Copte, 2nd ed., Beirut, 1907. It is 
an exceedingly difficult language. Since the 3rd century it is written in 
Greek characters (of a most beautiful uncial form), with seven additional 
letters, taken from demotic characters, for sounds which Greek cannot 
represent. There are five Coptic dialects. The liturgy is in Bohairic, the 
old dialect of the Nile Delta, and the most important in every way. 


the East," " Bow to the Lord in fear," " Peace to all," " Salute 
each other with a holy kiss," and so on), are Greek too. This 
means that such short formulas were so well known and universally 
understood J that it was not worth while to translate them. 
Moreover, short liturgical formulas always have less tendency to 
change. In the Coptic rite, all short formulas and dialogues 
(e.g. " Sursum corda," etc.) and, oddly, most rubrics (" the deacon 
says," " silently," etc.) remain Greek. 

That the Egyptian service was originally Greek follows 
naturally from the history of Christianity in this country. The 
Gospel was first preached at Alexandria, a thoroughly Hellenized 
city. But in the first centuries no one had any idea of a special 
liturgical language. As the faith spread to the villages of Upper 
Egypt the same prayers were, as a matter of course, translated 
into the popular language of the country. The first translators 
certainly did not think that thereby they were sealing Coptic as 
a sacred language, and giving it a liturgical life which would last 
for centuries after it had otherwise died out. A detail of the 
life of St. Antony, " Father of Abbots," throws light on the date 
when the liturgy was first celebrated in Coptic. As a young man 
he heard in church our Lord's words : " If thou wouldst be perfect, 
go sell what thou hast," etc., 2 and, applying them to himself, 
went to be a hermit. 3 Now Antony was no scholar ; he was a 
man of Upper Egypt, living about the middle of the 3rd century. 
He must have heard that text in Coptic, or he would not have 
understood it. So at least the gospel was read in Coptic in his 
time. We are further told that St. Pachomius translated the 
psalms into Coptic about the year 300 ; 4 and there are further 
indications in Palladius of regular services among the first Egyptian 
hermits, which must have been in their own language. Certainly 
the fathers of the desert knew no Greek and did not say their prayers 
in it. We may take it then, that at least since the 3rd century 
the liturgy in Egypt was translated into Coptic for the use of the 

1 As the simplest Catholic knows what " Dominus vobiscum," " Sursum 
corda," etc., mean. 

2 Matt. xix. 21. 

3 St. Athanasius : Life of St. Antony, 2 (P.G. xxvi. 841). 

4 Palladius : Paradise of the Fathers, chap. 33 (ed. E. A. Wallis Budge, 
London, 1907, pp. 145-146). 


natives. Meanwhile the Hellenized Alexandrines prayed in their 
language — Greek. Both tongues went on side by side, and nobody 
seems to have thought the language of prayers of any importance, 
till the Monophysite schism in the 5th century. Then, when 
gradually two communities had been formed, there came a 
natural parting of the ways. The Monophysites were from the 
beginning the national party ; so they used the national language, 
till it became their criterion. The Greek Melkites used Greek. 
Down to the 12th century they kept the old Alexandrine liturgy 
of St. Mark in Greek, though through their attachment to 
Constantinople they gradually introduced into it Byzantine 
elements. 1 Then occurred an outrageous example of Byzantine 
arrogance. By this time the (Ecumenical Patriarch was making 
himself a very bad imitation of the Pope. He arrogated jurisdic- 
tion over the other Orthodox Patriarchs, 2 and carried his aggres- 
sion so far that he made them abandon their own enormously 
more ancient and venerable rites for his modern liturgy. Mark II 
was Orthodox Patriarch of Alexandria from about 1195 to 1200. 
He came from Constantinople 3 and was used to the Byzantine 
rite. Instigated by Theodore Balsamon, a Greek who was after- 
wards made Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, he abolished the 
ancient Egyptian rite. Since his time the Orthodox in Egypt 
use the foreign and comparatively modern liturgy of Constanti- 
nople. 4 The old Greek liturgy of St. Mark is not now used by 

Under the Arabs their language spread throughout Egypt, and 
Coptic gradually died out. Already in the 9th century Severus 
of Al-Ushmunain says that he writes his history of the Patriarchs 

1 For instance, the np oaKo^xibi], a Great Entrance, and so on. 

2 His see is the most modern of all Patriarchates, and is not apostolic. 
From every point of view the Patriarch of Constantinople should be the 
least of the Patriarchs. His one title to honour is the shamelessly Erastian 
principle that the Emperor once reigned in his city. The same basis would 
make Berlin a Patriarchate. 

3 Another abuse. Constantinople for centuries foisted its clerks on the 
old thrones of Antioch and Alexandria. Generally these Greek Patriarchs 
stayed at Constantinople, not even troubling to visit their sees. 

4 All the Orthodox now use the Byzantine rite, as a witness of their long 
servitude under the upstart Byzantine Patriarch. Note that on the other 
hand the Pope has never tried to force his Roman rite on Catholics of other 


in Arabic because few Egyptians know Greek or Coptic. 1 The 
language is now quite dead, though one hears doubtfully authentic 
stories of remote places where Coptic is said to have survived till 
the 19th century. 2 Even the priests who say the prayers in 
Coptic often do not understand a word of the language. Most 
Coptic service books have a parallel Arabic version. The lessons 
in the liturgy are read first in Coptic, then in Arabic ; so 
their service includes three languages. The survival of the old 
Egyptian tongue in the liturgy is an astonishing phenomenon. 
Mr. Butler says well : " The romance of language could go no 
further than to join the speech of Pharaoh and the writing of 
Homer in the service-book of an Egyptian Christian." 3 

The Coptic service-books are not clearly defined. The rite for 
each service is fixed ; but various services may be given in 
different arrangements in various books. This want of recognized 
compilations (such as our missal, breviary, ritual) is common to 
most Eastern Churches. However, the usual books are : The 
Euchologion, 4 containing the celebrant's parts for the liturgies 
and for other sacraments and blessings ; the Diakonikon 5 for 
the deacon ; and the Kutmarus, 6 containing lessons for all 
services. There is sometimes a special Gospel-book. The 
Synaxarion 7 gives the lessons from lives of saints read in the 
morning service, and on some occasions in the liturgy (p. 283). 
The hymns and chants are contained in many collections, those 
to our Lady in the Theotokia, 8 others in the Difnari 9 and the 
Doxology. The Psalter, of course, contains the psalms. Then 
there is a multitude of excerpts and rearrangements. A church 
will possess, for instance, separate books giving the prayers and 
rites for ordinations, funerals, confession, baptism, consecration 

1 History of the Patriarchs, ed. Evetts, p. 17. 

2 In the Zeitschrift fur agyptische Sprache u. Altertumskunde for 1901 
J. E. Quibell wrote an article (" Wann starb das Koptische aus ? " p. 87), 
maintaining that there were villages in which Coptic was still spoken at the 
end of the 19th century. 

3 Ancient Coptic Churches, ii. 247. 

4 Ar. : hulagi ; Copt. : euchologion. 

5 Ar. : Kitab ash-shamamisah. 

6 Kara ixepus. 

7 Ar. : sinaksar ; Copt. : synaxar. 8 See p. 278. 

9 g.VTi<puvapiov. ■ ' •'■ 


of churches or altars or fonts. 1 The Coptic Patriarch in 1868 
gave the Bishop of Salisbury a book containing the rite for con- 
secrating an altar and Epiphany tank. 2 The service-books 
of the Monophysites are now being arranged and edited in 
splendid form by Mr. Gladios Lablb, 3 a wealthy Copt who is 
doing much for the good of his Church. 

5. Coptic Services 

The Copts have a divine office divided into these hours : Mid- 
night (fXio-ovvKTiov, matins) ; Dawn (6 a.m. opOpos, lauds— more 
or less) ; the third hour (9 a.m.) ; the sixth hour (midday) ; the ninth 
hour (3 p.m.) ; evening service (at sunset, ecnrcpLvov, vespers) ; 
night service (before going to bed, airoSenrvov, compline). These 
consist of psalms, prose hymns, lessons, prayers. 4 Only monks 
say the whole office. An idea of its arrangement can be got from 
Lord Bute's The Coptic Morning Service for the Lord's Day. 5 
They have a special long office of our Lady called Theotokia. 6 
There is a special one for each day in the week. It consists of 
four parts : 1, Psali, an invitation addressed to the people, 
calling on them to sing the praises of the Mother of God ; 2, the 
Theotokia proper (Arabic, tadakiyah), a long hymn to her arranged 
in chapters; 3, Lobsh (roof), an explanation of what has been 
sung, completing it, as a roof completes a house — this always 
ends with a prayer; 4, Tarh (cry, interpretation), an explana- 
tion and compendium of all in Arabic. This is not said, but may 
be studied by people who know no Coptic while the service is 
going on. They now sing the Theotokia only during the month 

1 See, for instance, the list of books in a church near Luksor in Butler : 
op. cit. ii. 258-259. 

2 Edited and translated by G. Horner (London, 1902). The Uniate 
Copts have more systematic arrangements, modelled on our missal, breviary, 
etc. See a list of the books of both Uniates and Monophysites in Mallon : 
Grammaire Copte, pp. 265-267. 

3 Labib's Kutmarus is published in four quarto volumes at Cairo, 1900- 
1902 ; his Euchologion, ib. 1904 (8vo) ; Funeral rite, ib. 1905. 

4 Cf. Vansleb : Hist, de l'£gl. d'Alex. pp. 65-71. 

5 Translated into English, London, 1908. 

6 Plur. of OeoToniov, but used in Coptic as a singular. 


of Hoiak (December) . Often they sing those for the whole week 
on. Saturday evening, and stay all night in church. 1 

Coptic boys are circumcised on the eighth day after birth, but 
no religious idea is attached to this. Circumcision after baptism is 
now strictly forbidden. 2 Boys are baptized forty days, girls eighty 
days after birth. It is a long ceremony. They are immersed 
thrice, and confirmed immediately with chrism by the priest. 
A liturgy should follow, during which the child receives Holy 
Communion. If it is too young to receive both kinds, the priest 
dips his ringer in the consecrated wine and moistens its lips. 3 
Confession is taught plainly in theory. In practice it has become 
rare ; though a pious Copt always goes to confession before 
marriage and (if he can) when dying. 4 Marriage should take 
place immediately before a liturgy, at which husband and wife 
communicate. Both are anointed and crowned. 5 There are 
special ordination forms for the Patriarch, bishops, kummus 
(p. 257), priests, archdeacons, deacons, sub-deacons, readers, and 
a blessing for making a monk. Copts appear to consider these 
all on the same level, having no clear idea of a special (sacramental) 
character in the case of bishop, priest, and deacon. We have 
mentioned the election of the Patriarch (p. 254). His ordina- 
tion involves long ceremonies. It should take place at the Church 
of St. Mark at Alexandria, during the holy liturgy. The senior 
bishop presides, and lays his right hand on the head of the elect in 
silence ; then he and all other bishops lay on both hands and say 
the ordination prayer. The Patriarch is proclaimed, and every- 
one cries a£io?. The Gospel-book is laid on his head, he is vested 
in his robes, all other bishops take off their crowns. He continues 
the liturgy himself. 6 All other bishops are ordained by the 

1 See A. Mallon, S. J. : " Les Theotokies " in the Rev. de I'Orient chret. 1904, 
pp. 17-31. De Lacy O'Leary : The Daily Office and Theotokia of the Coptic 
Church (Simpkin, Marshall, 191 1), translates all, and gives an excellent idea 
of the arrangement of the Coptic Divine office. 

2 The idea being that this would be a return to the Old Law after Chris- 
tianity. There have been heated controversies on this point (see p. 242). 

3 A. Evetts : The Rites of the Coptic Church (D. Nutt, 1888) ; translation 
of the baptism and marriage services. Butler : Ancient Coptic Churches, 
ii. 262-274. 4 lb. ii. 298-300. 5 lb. ii. 323-326 ; Evetts : op. cit. 

6 Renaudot : Ritus ordinationis Alex, iacobitarum patr . (Lit. Orient. Coll. 
i. 441-468) ; Vansleb : op. cit. pp. 162-169 ; Butler : op. cit. ii. 302-312. 


Patriarch, 1 who lays his hands on their head. The assisting 
bishops lay theirs on the shoulders of the elect. The Patriarch 
breathes on him saying : " Receive the Holy Ghost ; whose sins, 
etc." The ordained is vested. 2 Priests are ordained by the 
imposition of the bishop's hands, and are then vested by him. 
A priest who becomes a kummus is made one by much the same 
rite, exactly like ordination. 3 The archdeacon and deacon are 
ordained by laying on hands, not the sub-deacon and reader. The 
deacon receives the Eucharistic spoon as the symbol of his office, 4 
the sub-deacon a lighted candle. 5 

The anointing of the sick has curious features. It should be 
done, if possible, by seven priests. The matter is oil from a holy 
lamp. 6 To procure this, little lamps with places for seven wicks 
are specially made. 7 One of these is placed before a picture of a 
saint ; prayers are said, each priest lights a wick in turn. While 
it burns, there are more prayers and a gospel is read. Then the 
sick man is anointed with the oil. This service can only take 
place in church ; if the man is too sick to come himself he sends 
a friend as a substitute, who receives the sacrament in his name. 8 

1 Remember that in the East the man who ordains you acquires thereby 
jurisdiction over you. 

2 Silbernagl : op. cit. p. 287 ; Butler : op. cit. ii. 312-318. 

3 Except (a theologian would say) that the different prayers make all the 
difference. The ordination prayer is (in our language) the " form " which 
determines the meaning of the imposition of hands (for a father may lay 
his hand on his son's head, asking God to bless him). Now a prayer that 
a deacon may be made a priest is a " form " of the Sacrament of Holy 
Orders. A prayer that a priest may become a kummus is not, since the 
kummus is no part of the hierarchy founded by Christ. So the Coptic 
bishop when he makes a priest administers a sacrament ; when he makes 
a kummus he only gives a sacramental. And this may be true, even if he 
himself has no clear idea of the difference. 

4 Not a Gospel-book. The connection between deacon and gospel has 
never been quite so clear in the East as it became in the West. At bottom 
all lessons could be (and once were) read by a lector (Fortescue : The Mass, 

5 For all these orders see Vansleb : op. cit. 162-190 ; Butler : op. cit. ii. 
3 1 8-322 . There is no evidence of chrism being used at any Coptic ordination . 

6 Anointing with oil from a lamp which has burned before a holy picture, 
or in church, is an old form of blessing in the East. See, for instance, 
Ignatius : Vita Tarasii, ed. Heikel (Helsingfors, 1891), pp. 421, 436. 

7 See the picture of one in Butler : op. cit. ii. 76. 

8 Butler : ii. 326-329. 


The most important and the most interesting rite of the Coptic 
Church is naturally the Eucharistic Liturgy. 1 We have seen that 
the parent-rite of Egypt is the now disused Greek St. Mark. The 
Coptic liturgies began as translation of this. They have three 
alternative forms. The pro-anaphoral part (to " Sursum cor da," 
which begins the anaphora) is common to all three. This is 
merely a Coptic version of the St. Mark rite, with certain variants. 2 
Its normal anaphora is headed : " of the most blessed Mark or of 
the holy Cyril," 3 that is Cyril of Alexandria. It is generally 
referred to as St. Cyril ; but the anaphora, too, is only the Coptic 
form of the St. Mark rite. 4 Then they have two other foreign 
anaphoras, one ascribed to St. Gregory (Nazianzene) , which has 
the almost unique peculiarity of being addressed to Christ through- 
out ; 5 the other (of St. Basil) is a shortened and adapted form of the 
Byzantine Basil Liturgy. 6 Both of these are also from the Greek ; 
both were once used in Greek by the Orthodox. It is then clear 
that, historically, the anaphora of Cyril or Mark is the most 
important. This is the old Alexandrine anaphora in its Coptic 
form ; but it is now rarely used. The ordinary Coptic liturgy 
consists of the invariable pro-anaphora (of St. Mark) with the 
anaphora of St. Basil. Their Euchologion prints this first. Then 
follow the two alternative anaphoras : St. Gregory, used three 
times a year (at midnight on Christmas, Epiphany, Easter), and 
St. Cyril, used in theory during Advent (the little fast) and Lent 
(the great fast). 7 Mr. Brightman, rightly from the student's 
point of view, gives this Cyril anaphora. But as here we intend 
to describe usual modern Coptic practice, we will suppose the 
Basil anaphora. 

1 Ar. : kurban ; Copt. : prosfora. 

2 In some ways it represents the old Alexandrine rite better than the 
Greek form, which has been considerably Byzantinized (p. 276). 

3 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, p. 164. 

4 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, 144-188 ; Renaudot : Liturg. Orient. 
Coll. i. 38-51. 

5 One Maronite anaphora also has this feature. For the text of Coptic 
St. Gregory see Renaudot : Liturg. Orient. Coll. i 25-37. 

6 lb. 1-25 (joined to the common pro-anaphora). 

7 It seems that in practice the Cyril anaphora is now only used once a 
year, on the Friday before Palm Sunday (Lord Bute : Coptic Morning 
Service, p. ii), 


The holy liturgy should be celebrated every Sunday, greater 
feast-day, and on special occasions such as weddings, ordinations, 
and so on. Only one liturgy may be celebrated on any altar on 
one day ; nor may the holy vessels and instruments be used more 
than once a day. The bread is leavened, made the same morning 
in flat round cakes about an inch thick and three inches in diameter. 
It is stamped with nine crosses, and around them the Trisagion (in 
Greek). 1 Three are baked ; the celebrant chooses one for conse- 
cration, the others become the antidoron (p. 285). There is some 
uncertainty about the wine. During the worst periods of Moslem 
persecution it was forbidden under severe penalties to ferment 
any wine at all in Egypt. It seems that from that time the use 
of unfermented grape-juice for the liturgy began. Butler says 
roundly : " The Eucharistic wine is unfermented." 2 This is a 
mistake. At any rate, now they make a liquid of dried raisins 
and leave it to ferment. Fermented raisin-juice is wine, and would 
satisfy our condition of validity. 3 

The holy liturgy is celebrated in the morning, generally at 
about seven o'clock. It should follow the office of the third 
hour. The celebrant, and all who receive Communion, must be 
fasting since midnight. On the altar stand all the vessels re- 
quired ; the chalice is put in the ark (p. 271), where it stands 
till the Communion ; the two candles are lighted ; the haikal 
doors are open and the curtain is drawn back during the 
whole liturgy. While the choir finishes the office, 4 the celebrant 
and deacon see that all is ready and say preparatory prayers. 
The celebrant chooses the loaf to be consecrated (called the 
" Lamb ") and washes his hands. The deacon bears the 

1 See the illustration in Butler : op. cit. ii. 278, who points out that Neale's 
picture (Holy Eastern Church, vol. v. 214, copied from Denzinger : Ritus 
Orient, i. 81) is incorrect. 2 Op. cit. ii. 281. 

3 I believe that in Upper Egypt they sometimes use fermented date- juice, 
which we, of course, should deny to be valid matter. 

4 In small churches there is no choir ; the people sing the responses. 
In practice the celebrant, deacon, and one or two more learned laymen get 
through the office at a tremendous pace, then begin the preparation of the 
liturgy. There is often no deacon. So the celebrant takes his part too, 
and manages as best he can with help from people standing round. They 
are all very careless, and often ignorant what to do next. They stop and 
argue about it at the top of their voices in excited Arabic. I have seen men 
finishing their cigarettes in church after the liturgy has begun. 


wine in a cruet ; they veil the offerings and process with 
them round the altar, while the choir sing an anthem. A 
little water is mixed with the wine, the offerings are placed on 
the altar and blessed. All this corresponds to the Byzantine 
Great Entrance, but takes place before the Liturgy of the Cate- 
chumens. Then follows the Enarxis, offertory prayers and a 
prayer for forgiveness of sins. 1 Here begins the Liturgy of the 
Catechumens. The celebrant incenses the offerings, the altar, 
the church and the people. The deacon says a short litany, 
praying for the whole Church, the Patriarch and the people. 
The lessons follow. There should be four : one from St. Paul, one 
from the Catholic Epistle, one from Acts (or a saint's life from 
the Synaxar), and a Gospel. But the second is often left out. 
The deacon should read all. When there is no deacon the cele- 
brant reads them. But sometimes he cannot read (he knows the 
Coptic prayers by heart, often not understanding them, unless he 
has studied the parallel Arabic version in his book) ; in this case, 
any educated layman reads. Often no one knows what should 
be read, so they squabble over it in vociferous Arabic. A prayer 
is said after the first two lessons ; before the Gospel the Trisagion 
is sung. 2 Each lesson is followed at once by a short verse sung 
(■n-poKeifxevov, gradual), and is then read in Arabic. During 
the lessons the thurible is swung all the time. While the Trisa- 
gion is sung a procession is formed with the sealed Gospel-book 3 
(Little Entrance) ; while the deacon reads everyone takes off his 
tarbush (which all Easterns wear in church), and the celebrant 
waves the thurible towards the book continuously. A prayer 
follows, then sometimes a sermon or the proclamation of notices. 
The catechumens are no longer dismissed by a formula. 4 Here 
follows the Liturgy of the Faithful. There is a " Prayer of the 
Veil," 5 the deacon sings a litany, the Nicene Creed(in a plural form: 

1 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, 144-149. 

2 In Greek, with the famous alleged Monophysite clause : " who wast 
crucified for us " (p. 190). Throughout the liturgy many portions are in 
Greek (p. 274). 

3 P. 271. The procession goes with lights to the lectern outside the 
haikal (all lessons are read here).| 

4 Brightman : op. cit. 150-158. 

5 While the bread and wine'are unveiled. 


" We believe ") is said by all, and the kiss of peace is given. 1 So 
we come to the anaphora (of Basil). 2 The deacon cries out : 
" Come, stand with fear, look towards the East. Let us attend." 
Celebrant : " Mercy, peace and a sacrifice of praise. The Lord be 
with you." R. : " And with thy spirit." Celebrant : " Lift up 
your hearts." R. : " We have (them) to the Lord." Celebrant : 
" Let us give thanks to God." R. : " Right and just." Celebrant : 
" Right and just, etc." The people sing the Sanctus, and the cele- 
brant takes up the idea in a prayer like the Gallican " Vere sanctus." 
The words of Institution soon follow, the people interspersing them 
with Amens. Incense is swung meanwhile, lighted tapers are held 
around the altar, and everyone uncovers his head. At the words 
of Institution the bread is broken into three parts. After them, 
after our Lord's command to do as he had done, 3 the people 
answer : " We announce thy death, O Lord, and we confess thy 
resurrection." Then comes the Epiklesis : " We sinners, thy 
unworthy servants, pray thee, Christ our God, and we adore thee 
by the favour of thy goodness, that thy Holy Spirit come upon 
us and upon these offered gifts, that he may hallow them and 
make them thy holy of holies." 4 R.:" Amen." Priest :" And that 
he should make this bread (he shall sign it thrice with the cross) 
the holy body (he shall bow his head and point to the body with 
his hand) of the same Lord God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, 
which is given for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life to him 
who receives it." R. : " Amen." The corresponding form (with the 
same rubrics) follows for the chalice. 5 Then comes the Intercession, 
a litany said by the deacon with a prayer by the celebrant after 
each clause. 6 There is a long list of saints, including many 

1 lb. 158-163. The " kiss " takes the form of touching each other's hands. 

2 Here we part company with Brightman, who gives the Cyril anaphora . 

3 Quoted in an expanded form ; Renaudot, i. 15. 

4 The rubric directs : " Meanwhile the priest shall have his hands 
stretched out and lifted up, praying for the descent (of the Holy Ghost)." 
Notice the comparatively rare feature that the Invocation-prayer is addressed 
to Christ. 

5 Renaudot, i. 15-16. This Epiklesis (of the Coptic Basil liturgy) is 
clearly modelled on that of the Byzantine Basil ; Brightman : op. cit. 330. 

6 So this originally foreign anaphora does not show the typical note of 
the Egyptian rite, namely, the Intercession before the Consecration, as in 
Coptic St. Mark (Brightman, 165-175). See Fortescue : The Mass (Long- 
mans, 1912), p. 96. 


Egyptian martyrs (under the Romans) and fathers of the desert ; 
then the diptychs of the dead. The fraction and intinction follow. 
The consecrated bread is broken into five portions, which are 
arranged on the paten in the form of a cross. Of these the central 
portion, a large square, is called the Isbodikon, 1 and is reserved 
for the communion of the celebrant and clergy. Intinction is 
made by the celebrant dipping his finger in the consecrated wine 
and marking a cross with it on the holy bread. The Lord's Prayer 
is chanted by all, the celebrant alone saying its introduction and 
embolism. A further memory of the living and dead follows ; 
then he elevates the Isbodikon, holding it aloft as he comes to the 
door of the haikal, and says : " Holy things for the holy." The 
people cry : " Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord." 
After this he puts the Isbodikon into the chalice. Here he says 
the prayer " I confess " already quoted (p. 263). In its latter part 
(not quoted above) there is a Monophysite clause. 2 He receives 
Communion, gives it to the clergy and people. The laity receive 
both kinds together (intincted) with a spoon. Men come into the 
haikal ; the celebrant goes down to the women at the haikal doors. 
The clergy consume what is left of the Blessed Sacrament, and 
one or two prayers of thanksgiving are said. None of the three 
Coptic liturgies give a formula of dismissal, such as is usually said 
by the deacon. If a bishop be present, he washes his hands in 
water which he then sprinkles over the people. 3 Lastly, the 
unconsecrated loaves are distributed as blessed bread. 4 The 
liturgy lasts from an hour and a half to two hours. The people 
do not kneel ; 5 they stand to pray and, as a special sign of 
reverence, prostrate themselves. 

Coptic Church music has systems of its own which have hardly 

1 A Coptic corruption of 8t<nroTiKbv {au/xa). 

2 Renaudot : op. cit. i. 23. 

3 This rudimentary form of holy water is common among the 

4 The avriSupov or tv\6yicu, common to all Eastern rites, as once in 
the West and still in France. Descriptions of the liturgy, not in every 
detail agreeing with this, may be read in Butler : op. cit. ii. 275-297 ; Beth : 
op. cit. 408-413. All Eastern rites, especially those of the smaller and 
more backward Churches, are liable to a certain amount of variation. 
Neither the books nor local practice are quite uniform. 

5 Copts never kneel, except (I think) during Lent. 


yet been studied. The notes are not written down x but are handed 
on by experts, generally blind singers. This leads to considerable 
variation in form. Grace-notes and ornamental modifications are 
added ad libitum. Where there is no choir the people sing ; they 
appear familiar with the general form of the tune, but everyone 
adds little ornaments of his own, and they do not at all mind not 
keeping together. Their tunes are obviously enharmonic, and 
abound in the augmented second. 2 I regret to say that the in- 
fluence of British brass bands and French gramophones begins 
to effect a certain tendency towards diatonic, or at least chromatic 
notes, and an appalling inclination to sharpen the last note but 
one. It would be well to obtain some record of their traditional 
melodies before they have preverted all into our minor scale with a 
sharpened leading note. 3 But so far this tendency seems to obtain 
only in Cairo and Alexandria. In the villages you may still hear 
the real thing. They have, of course, no organs ; but they 
accompany their singing by ringing bells and clashing cymbals, 
with the strangest effect. 

People rarely go to Communion, generally once a year, at 
Easter or thereabouts (practically during Lent). The Copts 
certainly once reserved the Holy Eucharist for the sick. 4 Now 
they no longer do so, and have no kind of tabernacle or vessel 
for reservation. 

The Ecclesiastical Calendar has a peculiar reckoning, the " Era 
of the Martyrs." 5 This means from the martyrs of Diocletian's 
reign. It begins on the 29 of Mesori (August), 6 284, of our cal- 
culation. Otherwise they follow the Julian Calendar. This year 
then (1913) is 1629 of the Martyrs. In civil life they date by 

1 Father Badet, S.J., has collected some in Les Chants liturgiques des 
Coptes, 2 parts, lithographed, Cairo, 1899. 

2 Cf. Vansleb : Hist, de 1'E.glise d'Alex. pp. 56-58. 

3 Badet, on the contrary, thinks that the older Coptic tunes are really 
diatonic (in seven tones, on re, la, mi, si, fa, do, sol), and that enharmonic 
intervals come from Arab influence (op. cit. pp. v, 24). I am sure this is 
not possible. The diatonic scale is a purely Western invention. 

4 See Renaudot : Hist. Patr. Alex. 429-430, for evidences of this and 
for an account of its discontinuation. 

5 Ar. : Sanat ash-Shahada. 

6 The names of the months in Bohairic, Sa'idic and Arabic will be found 
in Mallon : Grammaire Copte, p. 81. For the Mr a Martyrum see Nilles 
in the Innsbrucker Zeitschrift f. Kath. Theol. 1897, pp. 579 and 732. 


the Higrah, or by our Calendar. The ecclesiastical year begins on 
Tut (September) 1. Feasts are divided into three classes. Seven 
greater feasts of our Lord, 1 seven lesser feasts of our Lord, 2 and 
saints' days. There are many of these. They keep the birth 
(September 10) and falling asleep (August 16) of the holy Theo- 
t6kos, the apostles, " St. Antony the Great, star of the desert " 
(February 22), " St. Athanasius the Apostolic, Patriarch of 
Alexandria " (May 7), " St. Michael Archangel, and prayer for the 
rising of the Nile " (June 12), the " Four incorporeal animals " (in 
Ezechiel, November 8), the " twenty-four elders sitting around the 
throne of God " (November 24). They also keep feasts of many 
Monophysite leaders — Severus, Dioscor, and a number of Alexan- 
drine Patriarchs who have little title to canonization other than 
their opposition to Chalcedon. They have four chief fasts : The 
great fast (Lent), beginning fifty- two days before Easter, the fast of 
the Apostles (about forty days before July 5, St. Peter and St. 
Paul), the fast of the Mother of God (fifteen days before August 16), 
and the little fast (Advent), from December 1 till Christmas. The 
fast of Nineveh (in memory of Jonas) lasts three days, about a 
fortnight before Lent. The fast of Heraclius 3 now coincides with 
the first week in Lent. Their fasting is a very serious matter. 
Like Ramadan it involves complete abstinence from any food 
between sunrise and sunset, and when they do eat, abstinence 
from many things besides flesh-meat. 4 

Throughout the year they have various special rites which 
occur on special days. On the feast of our Lord's Baptism (the 
Epiphany, but January 11) they bless the waters — the Nile or 

1 Annunciation, Nativity (December 29), Baptism (January 11), Palms, 
Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost. 

2 Circumcision (January 6), first miracle (January 13), Presentation 
(February 8), Last Supper (Maundy Thursday), Sunday of Thomas (first 
after Easter), Entry into Egypt (May 24), Transfiguration (August 13). 

3 According to their legend, because the Christians in Jerusalem promised 
the Emperor Heraclius (610-641) that, if only he would massacre all the 
Jews in the city, they would fast for one week every year, till the end of 
the world, for his benefit. Lured by this bait he carried out their pious 
wish (Vansleb : op. cit. 74—75). 

4 But delicate people get some slight dispensation. An idea of the Coptic 
Calendar may be had from Nilles : Kalendarium manuale, ii. 690-724 ; 
but what he gives is the Calendar of the Uniates. For fast-days cf. 
Vansleb : Hist, de I'lLglise d' Alex. pp. 71-77. 


the sea if they are near them, otherwise a tank in the narthex of 
the church (p. 267) .* Holy Week begins with " Osanna Sunday/' 
when they have a service and procession of palms (which do not 
lack in Egypt). On Good Friday ("Great Friday") there is a 
symbolic burial of a crucifix, like the Byzantine Ta</>os rite. 2 

We have noted that the chief interests in the Coptic Church are 
its memories and its archaeology. Its heresy is no longer of acute 
importance even to Copts themselves. It is maintained by a 
kind of inertia, because it was so long a national patriotic cause. 
Nor has a small local sect in one country any great practical 
importance to-day. But the memories of the old Church of 
Egypt give it a dignity not shared by many larger and more 
prosperous Churches in the West. These memories cling wonder- 
fully still to their services, customs, buildings. The Orthodox 
Church keeps alive the palmy days of the Eastern Empire, from 
Justinian to 1453. But the ghosts which hover around Coptic 
altars are older than this. Perhaps nowhere in the world can 
you imagine yourself back in so remote an age as when you are 
in a Coptic church. You go into a strange dark building ; at 
first the European needs an effort to realize that it is a church 
at all, it looks so different from our usual associations. But it 
is enormously older than the clustered columns, moulded arches 
and glowing clerestory, than the regular aisles and balanced 
chapels to which we are accustomed. In a Coptic church you 
come into low dark spaces, a labyrinth of irregular openings. 
There is little light from the narrow windows. Dimly you see 
strange rich colours and tarnished gold, all mellowed by dirt. 3 In 
loops from the vault above hang ropes bearing the white ostrich 
eggs, and lamps sparkle in the gloom. Before you is the exquisite 
carving, inlay in delicate patterns, of the haikal screen . All around 
you see, dusty and confused, wonderful pieces of wood carving. 

1 The rite is given in Lord Bute and E. A. Wallis Budge : The Blessing 
of the Waters (London : H. Frowde, 1901), pp. 102-137. 

2 The services for Holy Week and Easter are printed in a special book, 
called Kitab albaskah. 

3 The beautiful dirt of a Coptic church is one of its most picturesque 
features. If ever English and American missionaries succeed in their feli 
purpose of making Copts clean their churches, they will destroy their 
character, and will make them gaudy and hideous, like the Patriarchal 
church at Cairo. But I do not think there is much danger. 


Behind the screen looms the curve of the apse; on the thick 
columns and along the walls under the low cupolas are inscrip- 
tions in exquisite lettering — Coptic and Arabic. The impression 
is a confusion of dark misty colour, out of which gleam patches of 
crimson and blue from the paintings— St. George's cloak and our 
Lady's mantle. If you assist at a liturgy you see the clergy moving 
in and out of the haikal door in their shabby, gaudy vestments ; 
the incense fills the dark vault with clouds of blue smoke, and the 
strange wailing goes on with clashing cymbals and jangling bells. 
They sing chant after chant in the ancient tongue which they do 
not understand themselves ; but the ghosts of their fathers know 
it, Rameses II would know it, and the heavenly powers whom 
they address know it. Then, in the same way as the colours of 
the holy icons gleam from the gloom around, so out of the Coptic 
come familiar fragments of Greek ; suddenly you realize that 
what they are singing is : " Agios o Theos, agios ischyros, agios 
athanatos, o stavrotheis di' imas (memory of Peter the Dyer !) 
eleison imas." So here amid the dirt and the incense smoke, 
while Coptic and Greek roll around the haikal screen, you may 
dream of the mighty men who once lived here, Pachomius and 
Pambo, Antony star of the desert, and Paul, the first hermit, 
Athanasius fleeing from the sword of Constantius. For the sake 
of these glorious memories, for the sake, too, of the long line of 
their martyrs under Islam, we can feel nothing but respect, wish 
nothing but good to the people of Christ in Egypt. They have 
stood for his name so faithfully during the long, dark centuries 
now past. May they stand for it always in happier ages to come. 
May they confess it (honouring the all-holy Lady Theot6kos) no 
longer, please God, in unhappy isolation, but joined again to the 
Church which acknowledges him throughout all the world, the 
evil done to them by Dioscor and the Cat being at last undone. 
So may God again say : " Vidi arnictionem populi mei qui est in 
Aegypto et descendi liberare eos." 


The Copts are the Monophysite Church of Egypt. There are 
over half a million of them, under their Patriarch and about fifteen 



other bishops. They have the usual orders of the hierarchy, with 
a special rank (kummus) for higher priests, many monks, and a 
few nuns. The standard of education among the clergy is low, 
now raised in some respects, with doubtful advantage, by Pro- 
testant missionaries. They cling to their hereditary heresy and 
still ahbor Chalcedon ; otherwise there is little to say against 
their faith. Particularly they pray to saints, for the dead, and 
have the greatest possible devotion to our Lady. Their churches 
and services are the most interesting feature of this sect. Their 
customs are in many ways more archaic than those of Byzantine 
Christians. Their services are in Coptic (otherwise a dead lan- 
guage), with many formulas in Greek. Their rite is the old rite 
of Alexandria, attributed to St. Mark ; though on most days they 
use, not the original anaphora, but a later one modelled on the 
Greek St. Basil. They have a Calendar of their own, reckoned 
from the " Era of the Martyrs," which is our year 284. Like 
all Eastern Christians they fast in a way that we should find 



These three, smallest and least important of the lesser Eastern 
Churches, may be dismissed with shorter descriptions. The 
Abyssinian Church is really a province of the Monophysite Church 
of Egypt » sharing its heresy and imitating its customs. The 
Jacobites are the Monophysites of Egypt, a kind of poor relations 
of the Copts, never more than a comparatively small and scattered 
sect. The Malabar people, the one existing remnant of Nestorian 
missions, have wavered between Nestorian s and Monophysites. 
Their chief interest is their re-union with Rome in the 16th 
century ; so that they will occupy a greater place in the volume 
about the Uniates. This part, then, contains sketches of these 
three Churches. 



Far south of Egypt, in the heart of East Africa, is the kingdom 
of black people over whom rules the Negus. Everyone has heard 
of Abyssinia. We made war on its king, Theodore, in 1867 ; the 
British army took Magdala and brought back many curious church 
vessels, books, pictures and garments, which now adorn the 
British Museum. Still more recent is the disastrous Italian 
expedition of 1895, which ended with their defeat and frightful 
losses at Adua. Most people know, too, that the black warriors 
of the Negus are Christians. One would hardly hold up their 
Christianity as a model ; nevertheless they are Christians. Out 
here in the wilds, south of the Red Sea, surrounded by Islam, is 
a Christian kingdom ; the sign which crowns their mountains is 
the cross ; these black Africans on Sunday gather to their 
churches to offer the same holy sacrifice which the Pope offers 
at Rome. 

i. The Conversion of the Ethiopians 

What we know of the history of Ethiopia x begins with its 
conversion to Christianity. Before that we can only conjecture 
that a Semitic people crossed the Red Sea from Arabia, 2 con- 
quered and dominated the native African tribes in the highlands 
between that sea and the upper Nile. It is a question whether 
there was any Judaism or Jewish influence among them before 
they became Christian. It is not impossible. We know that 

1 Ethiopia and Abyssinia are practically convertible terms ; see p. 307. 

2 Their language is nearly akin to Arabic. 



Judaism was a considerable power in Arabia before Mohammed ; J 
the Abyssinians may have taken some traces of it with them into 
Africa. But, on the whole, there is not enough evidence to 
justify us in supposing this ; the Judaistic elements in their 
Christianity can be explained otherwise (p. 319) . We may suppose, 
then, that they were originally Pagans of the usual Semitic kind, 
polytheists, like their cousins the Arabs before Mohammed. 

There are two accounts of the conversion of the Ethiopians. 2 
The one most commonly received, believed by themselves, which, 
all things considered, remains the most probable, dates it in the 
time of Constantine, about 330-340. The story is told by 
Rufinus, 3 copied by Theodoret, 4 Socrates 5 and Sozomen. 6 Rufinus 
calls Ethiopia " India," as do many ancient writers, to the great 
confusion of their modern readers. He tells the story thus : At 
the time of Constantine certain philosophers, Metrodorus and 
Meropius, a man of Tyre, travelled about in the East " for the 
sake of seeing places and examining the world." Meropius had 
with him two Tyrian young men, the elder Frumentius and 
Aedesius the younger, to whom he was tutor. While they were 
coming back, presumably up the Red Sea, they were attacked by 
barbarians. Meropius got to his ship and escaped ; but the two 
boys stayed behind " meditating under a tree and preparing their 
lessons." So they were caught and taken to the barbarian king. 
At that time the Ethiopians had established a kingdom with 
Aksum 7 as its capital ; they are often called Aksumites. Their 
king made Aedesius his cup-bearer, and Frumentius whose 
admirable qualities he soon recognized, his Chancellor. When 
the king died, leaving two infant sons, Frumentius and Aedesius 
become governors in their name. They were Christians, and 
began to preach the faith. The two princes, named Abreha and 

1 The Himyarite kingdom, in the Yaman was Jewish. 

2 The eunuch of Queen Candace (Acts viii. 26-39) plays less part in 
Ethiopic legend than one would expect. 

3 Hist. Eccl. i. 9 (P.L. xxi. 478-480). 

4 Hist. Eccl. i. 22 (P.G. lxxxii. 969-972). 

5 Hist. Eccl. i. 19 (P.G. lxvii. 125-130). 

6 Hist. Eccl. ii. 24 (ib. 995-1000). 

7 Aksum, the first centre of Ethiopic Christianity and the Metropolitan 
See of Abyssinia, is in the Tigre country, among the high mountains in the 
north of the present kingdom, west of Adua. 


Asbeha, grew up and become joint kings ; then the strangers 
" at last came back to our world." Aedesius hastened to Tyre 
to see his friends and relations. But Frumentius came to Alex- 
andria (the nearest Christian centre) saying " that it was not 
right to hide the Lord's work." Here he found the great Athana- 
sius Patriarch. " He told the bishop that he should provide a 
worthy man to be bishop of the barbarous land for the many 
Christians already assembled there and for the churches they 
had already built." Athanasius in a council of his clergy said : 
" And whom else shall we find in whom is the Spirit of God, as 
in thee, who could so well do this ? " So he ordained Frumentius 
bishop of the Abyssinians. Frumentius went back to Aksum, 
preached the gospel with signs and wonders, converted the kings x 
and a great number of people. " From which time in the lands 
of ' India ' people became Christian, churches were built, and a 
priesthood began." And Aedesius, having been ordained priest 
at Tyre, also came and helped his old friend to convert the 
Ethiopians. 2 

The other account puts the whole story much later, either 
about 450, under a King Tazana, 3 or even at the time of Justinian 
(527-565). 4 But there seems no reason to doubt Rufinus' date 
(all agree as to the names of the first missionaries) ; it is indeed 
powerfully confirmed by a notice given by St. Athanasius himself 
(p. 297). So St. Frumentius and St. Aedesius 5 are the apostles 
of Ethiopia. St. Frumentius is the first Metropolitan of Aksum 
and Primate of Abyssinia. After his death he was given the title 
Aba salama (father of peace), 6 still used by his successors. 

1 Kings Abreha and Asbeha are saints in the Ethiopic Calendar 
(October 1). 2 Rufinus, loc. cit. 

3 So E. Littmann : article " Abyssinia " in Hastings' Ency. of Religion 
and Ethics, i. 57. 4 So Nikephoros Kallistos, xvii. 12 (P.G. cxlvii. 252). 

5 Aedesius is also called Sidracus (Sidrakos). 

6 Ludolf quotes an Ethiopic hymn about Frumentius : 

" With joyful voice I greet him, 
praising and magnifying him, 
Salama, gate of mercy and of grace, 

who made the glorious splendour of Christ 

shine in Ethiopia, 
where before were night and darkness." 

(L. iii. c. ii.). 


We notice already the dependence of Abyssinian Christianity 
on Egypt. This is natural. Egypt, with its Patriarch (the 
second in Christendom), was the nearest Christian country. 
Frumentius was ordained by the Patriarch of Alexandria ; 
ordination in the East always produces ecclesiastical dependence. 
So the new Church fell into its place in the Christian world 
naturally. It was never independent nor autocephalous. Till 
Cyprus claimed to be autocephalous x there was no idea of inde- 
pendence of a Patriarch. In the first period there were three and 
only three Patriarchs — of Rome, Alexandria, Antioch ; every part 
of Christendom was subject to one of these three. Missionary 
Churches beyond the empire were added to the domain of the 
centre from which they received their faith and bishops, practically 
the nearest centre. So, just as the Persian Church was counted 
an outlying province of Edessa and through Edessa belonged to 
Antioch, so Abyssinia became simply a province of the Alexan- 
drine Patriarchate. 2 This position has hardly been disputed 
(except perhaps once, unsuccessfully) ; 3 indeed the bonds which 
bound the Abyssinian Church to Alexandria have always been 
exceedingly close ; they have worked disastrously to Abyssinia 
by making her share the Coptic heresy. The Primate of Abys- 
sinia has never been counted as an independent Patriarch ; he 
has always been a suffragan of Alexandria, has always been 
ordained there, and is now always a Coptic monk (p. 309) sent from 
Egypt. We shall find the Church of Abyssinia, then, in every 
way a humble and backward daughter of the Coptic Church. 4 
Her liturgy, vestments, canon law and, to a great extent, customs 
are Coptic in origin ; but she has evolved some local practices 
of her own. In general, we may say that she owes all the good in 
her to the Copts, she shares their weaknesses and has further weak 
points of her own. The Copts themselves do not hold a very 
enlightened form of Christianity ; we can imagine what a 
backward dependent of their Church must be, we can conceive 
how little culture, theology and spirituality there is in a body 

1 Orth. Eastern Church, pp. 47-48. 

2 Barhebraeus sees this parallel ; ed. cit. i. 656-658. 3 See p. 300. 

4 A discussion of the dependence of Abyssinia on the Coptic Church will 
be found in Renaudot : Liturg. Orient. Coll. (ed. cit.), i. 417-419. 


which looks to the Coptic Patriarch as its highest standard, 
conscious that it lags some way behind that exalted ideal. So we 
are not surprised to find the Church founded under such happy 
auspices, when Athanasius laid his hands on Frumentius, now 
considerably the most backward part of the whole Christian 

2. Christian Ethiopia in the Past 

The Church founded by Frumentius and Aedesius soon became 
the religion of the State of Aksum and of all the real (Semitic) 
Abyssinians. From their time till to-day there has been a powerful 
Christian State south of Nubia. Its frontiers have varied con- 
siderably, as the King of Abyssinia gained or lost territory by the 
fortune of war. Not all his subjects have been Christian. The 
King himself, his court and his own people are always ; but they 
have often ruled and still do rule over subject tribes who remain 
Pagan or Moslem. The next thing we hear of the Ethiopic Church 
is a happy omen of its orthodoxy, unhappily not to be fulfilled in 
later years. It refused to accept Arianism. In 365 Constantius 
wrote to beg the Abyssinian King to send Frumentius to Alex- 
andria, that he might learn the true faith from (and join in com- 
munion with) the Arian intruded Patriarch George (356-362). 
At the same time he warned him against Athanasius, who had 
been deposed " for many crimes." x But Frumentius and the 
king remained faithful to the saint from whom they had received 
their hierarchy. 

Christianity was then strengthened and extended in Abyssinia 
by the monks of Upper Egypt . These have hardly had j ustice done 
to them as propagators of the faith. They preached the gospel 
with great zeal among the heathen south of Egypt. They built 
up flourishing churches in Nubia (p. 305), and so met the Christian 
Ethiopians. In the 5th and 6th centuries Coptic monks came to 
Abyssinia and revived or reorganized Christianity there, so that 
the Ethiopians count this as a kind of second conversion of their 
country. About the year 480, in the time of King Ameda, came 
the " Nine Saints," still honoured as secondary apostles of the 
country. They were Coptic monks, named Aragawi, Pantaleon, 

1 Athanasius : Apol. contra Arianos, 30 (P.G. xxv. 297-299). 


Garima, Alef, Sahara, Afe, Likanos, Adimata and Oz or Guba. 
During this time the Negus extended his power mightily. Invited 
by the Roman Emperor, he crossed the Red Sea in the 6th century, 
defeated the Jewish Himyarite king in Arabia and established his 
Government in the Hadramaut and Yaman. But the Persians 
soon came and drove out the Ethiopians, so that before the end of 
the 6th century thay had lost their possessions in Arabia. The 
" Year of the Elephant," x famous in Moslem history, was an 
incident of the Abyssinian war in Arabia. The year of the Ele- 
phant is 570 or 571 — the year of Mohammed's birth. 2 In that year 
an Abyssinian Christian general, whom the Arabs call Abrahatu- 
1 Ashram, marched on Mecca with an army and elephants, 
threatening to destroy the Ka'ba. But he was defeated and his 
army was destroyed in some unknown manner, concerning which 
the Koran has a story of signs and wonders. 3 

We do not know how, nor at what moment, the Abyssinian 
Church turned Monophysite. But that it should do so was almost 
inevitable. We have seen that Monophysism became the national 
religion of Egypt. Especially Upper Egypt, with which Abys- 
sinia was in nearest contact, was solidly Monophysite. There 
seems no doubt that the " Nine Saints " were Monophysites. 
Naturally the Coptic monks who came to Abyssinia would tell the 
people their version of the story ; how the Roman Emperor was 
reviving the heresy of Nestorius, undoing the work of Ephesus 
and trying to force Nestorius's heresy on Egypt, how the lawful 
Patriarch Dioscor had been maltreated at Chalcedon, how the 
true Egyptian Christians were being persecuted by Greek Melkites. 
Naturally, too, the Ethiopians believed all that their instructors 
said. So the Copts easily dragged their daughter-Church into 
heresy with them. Ever since the Copts have been Monophysites 
the Abyssinians have shared their heresy, agreeing with the 

1 'am al-fil. 

2 Sprenger calculates the date of the Prophet's birth as April 20, 571 (Das 
Leben u. die Lehre des Mohammad, 2nd ed., Berlin, 1869, vol. i. p. 138). 

3 Surah 105 (Suratu-lfil) . The legend here told is one of the paradoxes 
of the Koran. The Abyssinians were Christians, and their religion, accord- 
ing to Mohammed, was at that time the right one. They were about to 
destroy the Ka'ba, then a pagan temple. Yet God interferes and works 
miracles to save the pagan Ka'ba from Christians. 


mother-Church with which they are in communion. But it is 
one of the most excusable, one of the least responsible schisms in 
Church history. What could these poor blacks in the heart of 
Africa understand of the issues involved, how could they realize 
the importance of the agreement of the great Church beyond 
Egypt ? They have never seen further than the monks of Upper 
Egypt and the Coptic Patriarchate — to them the centre of the 
world. Then to the Ethiopians, too, Monophysism (never really 
understood) became the national Church and the national cause. 
All they know about it is that they are against anyone who annoys 
their father at Alexandria. But their heretical patrons did good 
to them also. It was Coptic monks who first translated the 
Bible into their language (Ge'z). 

There now follows a period of darkness for centuries. The 
Abyssinian kingdom fell back into a small highland state, sur- 
rounded by Islam on all sides. We can only imagine Christianity 
living still in the Tigre mountains, following in its development 
the lines of the Coptic mother-Church. The Abyssinians evolved 
their liturgies on the Coptic model (p. 316) ; they had monasteries, 
as had the Copts ; their Metropolitan (Abuna, see p. 308) came to 
them from Egypt, always ordained by the Coptic Patriarch. 
Kosmas Indikopleustes (6th century, p. 104) knows that there are 
Christians and bishops in Ethiopia. 1 In Jerusalem there was an 
Abyssinian monastery in the Middle Ages. In 1177 and again at 
the time of Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447) the Abyssinian king 
made advances towards union with Catholics, and a monastery for 
his people was established at Rome. 2 The dependence of the 
Abyssinian Church on the Coptic Patriarchate during all this time 
was clearly marked. Already it seems that the Abyssinian Abuna 
was normally, if not always, not only ordained in Egypt, but 
himself a Coptic monk, as is now the rule. The Coptic Patriarch 
Benjamin I (620-659, p. 228) sent one of his monks, named Cyril, 
to be Abuna of Abyssinia. 3 The Copts managed to keep the 

1 Ed. cit. pp. 50-68 (cf. p. vi). 

2 Baronius : Annates Eccl. vol. xix. (Lucca, 1746), p. 451 ; Raynald : 
Ann. Eccl. vol. ix. (Lucca, 1752), p. 367. 

3 Renaudot : Hist. Patr. Alex. p. 455. The definite law that Abuna 
must always be a Copt is said to have been made by Abuna Takla Hai- 
manSt about the year 1270, in the reign of King Yekuno Amlak. 


appointment and consecration of Abuna in their own hands by 
not allowing the number of Abyssinian bishops to increase. 
Probably in the 8th century they forged an alleged canon of 
the Council of Nicsea, according to which Ethiopia is not to 
have a Patriarch, but is to be subject to Alexandria. The 
Abyssinian Metropolitan is called Katholikos, " which is 
less than a Patriarch." 1 At the same time they imposed 
on the daughter-Church a further law by which even the 
Abyssinian suffragan bishops must be ordained by the Patriarch 
of Alexandria. 2 About the year iooo there was a revolution in 
Ethiopia by which a usurping Jewess made herself queen ; her 
dynasty lasted till 1268. For a time the line of Metropolitans was 
interrupted ; no Abuna came from Egypt. Then Philotheos of 
Alexandria (c. 981-1004) ordained one Daniel and sent him to 
Aksum. 3 In 1268 there was a counter-revolution. Yekuno 
Amlak, of the old line, was restored ; under him and his successors 
the kingdom again becomes powerful. One version of the legend 
of Prester John (p. 106) places him in Abyssinia. 4 It is sometimes 
said that the story may have arisen from the fact that, in the 
absence of a bishop, the King of Abyssinia performed episcopal 
functions. But the great majority of legends place Prester John 
in Central Asia. As people in Europe knew that there was a 
Christian king in Ethiopia, as the mediaeval concept of " India " 
was so vague, it can be understood that a variant of the story may 
have transferred its scene to the equally vague " Ethiopia." At 
intervals we hear of the ordination of a Coptic monk as Abuna of 
Abyssinia ; such incidents, telling us generally a mere name, are 
all we have of Ethiopic Church history. 5 The Moslem rulers of 

1 Canons of Nicaea in the Arabic version, Can. 42 (Mansi, ii. 994). The 
Copts also set up a law that a Metropolitan must be ordained by twelve 
bishops. Then, by not allowing the Ethiopians to have more than seven, 
they secured the right of ordaining Abuna themselves. 

2 Renaudot : Hist. Pair. Alex. ib. He quotes the Canons of Ibn Nasal 
(p. 242). 3 Lequien, Or. Christ, ii. 650. 

4 Oppert : Der Presbyter Johannes (Berlin, 1870), pp. 94-95. Abu Salih 
shares the popular idea. He says : " All the Kings of Abyssinia are priests, 
and celebrate the liturgy within the sanctuary " {Churches and Monasteries, 
ed. cit. p. 286). 

5 Ludolf gives an incomplete list of Metropolitans of Ethiopia (Hist. JEth. 
L. iii. c. iii. §§ 17-25). The Abyssinians do not count the Uniates of the 
i6th-i7th centuries among them. 


Egypt often interfere in these appointments ; they insist on being 
consulted and demand a bribe from the Patriarch each time. The 
Christian King of Abyssinia to the south of their domain was 
always an object of suspicion to the Moslems. They did all they 
could to discourage and hinder communication between him and 
their Coptic rayahs. 1 In the nth century we hear of Severus, 
Metropolitan of Aksum, obtaining his place by bribing the 
Fatimid Khalif and promising to persuade the Abyssinians to 
accept the Khalif's rule. So he succeeded in ousting a rival at 
Aksum. He turned out to be rather a good bishop, and took 
steps to put down the polygamy or concubinage which has always 
been the great stain on Ethiopic Christianity. The Egyptian 
Moslems were able to force the Abyssinian king to maintain a 
certain number of mosques in his country for the benefit of his 
subject Moslem tribes. These were occasionally torn down by 
the Christian Ethiopians. When Badr was mighty in 
Egypt (1073-1094, see p. 237) he heard of such a destruction of 
mosques in Abyssinia, and wrote threatening to destroy all Coptic 
churches unless the mosques were rebuilt. But the king 
answered that if the stone of a Coptic church were touched he 
would cross the sea to Mecca, grind up the Ka'ba and send it in 
powder to Cairo. 2 There were other occasions on which the 
Abyssinians interfered to protect the Copts. Thus, when a 
Mamluk Sultan put the Patriarch Mark IV (1348-1363) in prison, 
the King of Abyssinia threatened various retaliations, which had 
the effect of setting Mark free. In the 13th century Abuna Kilus 
behaved badly ; he had a priest flogged to death. He had to flee 
the country, came to Cairo, was tried and deposed by the Patri- 
arch ; and people paid three dirhems for the hire of one donkey 
to see it done. 3 Meanwhile the Copts had repeatedly prevented 
attempts of the Abyssinians to raise the number of their sees to 
twelve, so that they could ordain their own Metropolitan ; indeed, 
for a long time there were no other bishops in the country except 
Abuna himself. Under the Coptic Patriarch Gabriel II (1131- 
1145) the king wanted Abuna Michael to ordain more suffragans, 
in order that they might themselves ordain his successor. The 

1 Renaudot : Hist. Patr. Alex. pp. 381, 454, etc. 

2 Renaudot : op. cit. 463-464. 3 lb. 360-363. 


Copts prevented this. 1 So we must conceive this Church always 
dependent on the Copts, having little special history to chronicle, 2 
till the 16th century. Then comes an important incident, and we 
have suddenly a flood of information about the country and its 
Church. The Portuguese came to Africa, made a treaty with the 
King of Abyssinia, sent zealous Catholic missionaries into the 
country and brought about a union with the Catholic Church. 
But this story belongs to our next volume, on the Uniates. Here 
it must be enough to note that the Portuguese missionaries were 
the first Western people to study the Abyssinian Church. We 
owe to their accounts most of our knowledge of its customs. 3 
For about a century (1555-1640) the Abyssinian Church was 
Catholic. During that time it broke its connection with the Copts; 
Abuna was nominated by the Pope. At the beginning of this 
intercourse with Rome, King Claude (1540-1559) sent a profession 
of his faith. 4 It is a good statement of Monophysite Christianity, 
and shows that the writer understood the issue and was quite 
consciously Monophysite. Then came a reaction. A new king 
(Basilides, 1632-1665) drove out the Jesuits and all Catholic 
missionaries, forbade any Catholic priest to live in his land, and 
restored the dependence of his Church on the Coptic Patriarch. 
Meanwhile during the Portuguese ascendancy they had saved the 
country from a Moslem invasion under Mohammed Ahmed 
Gran ye (1528) . 5 
From the failure of the Portuguese missionaries we date 

1 Renaudot : op. cit. 510-51 1. There have been continual revolutions 
and changes of dynasty in Abyssinia. 

2 The Liber Axumce (edited with a translation by K. Conti Rossini as 
vol. 8 of the second series of Ethiopic authors in Chabot's Corpus scrip- 
torum christianorum orientalium, Paris, 1909) throws interesting light on 
the mediaeval Abyssinian Church. It is a list of donations made to the 
Metropolitan Church at Aksum, with many curious legends and historical 

3 For instance, Bermudez, translated into English by Purchas (Purchas 
his Pilgrimes, London, 1625, part 2), and French by La Croze Mendez 
{LittercB cethiopicce, Mecheln, 1628), Lobo {Voyage historique d'Abyssinie, 
transl. by M. le Grand, Paris, 1728), etc. 

4 In Ludolf's Comment., pp. 237-241. Archdeacon Dowling (The 
Abyssinian Church, pp. iv-v) quotes this very incompletely and admires 
it vastly. But probably he does not know of the rest. 

5 He overran Abyssinia, and threatened to wipe out the Christian State 
from 1525 to 1540. He was probably a Somali or Galla. 


modern Abyssinia. The characteristic of its history is a great 
distrust and fear of Europeans and European missionaries. No 
doubt they thought that the Portuguese meant eventually to 
annex their country ; maybe this idea was not altogether wrong. 
Their Church is their nation ; they do not want either to be 
interfered with by Europe. So there have been repeated laws 
forbidding missionaries of any other religion to come into the 
country. 1 The accounts of the Portuguese aroused considerable 
interest in this ancient kingdom. A number of missionaries, both 
Catholic and Protestant, tried to approach Abyssinia. In times 
of slack discipline they succeeded ; but always, as soon as they 
began to make converts, they were driven out again. These 
missionaries never succeeded in forming rival Churches to the 
State religion ; they are only important inasmuch as they brought 
back accounts of the country. Peter Heyling from Liibeck, 
the first Protestant missionary, came in 1634 ar *d made a vain 
attempt to preach his religion. In the early 19th century the 
Church Missionary Society made a great effort. James Bruce 
travelled in Abyssinia in the years 1768-1773, and wrote an 
account of the country. 2 He persuaded an Abyssinian monk to 
translate the Bible into the modern language (Amharic) ; this 
was published by the British and Foreign Bible Society. 3 In 1830 
the C.M.S. sent Samuel Gobat 4 and Christian Kugler ; they 
were followed by C. W. Isenberg and Ludwig Krapf . The mission 
had to be abandoned by the year 1850. In 1858 a Protestant 
missionary society at Basel made an equally unsuccessful attempt. 
We shall describe the Catholic missions in our next volume. 
They alone, in spite of enormous difficulties, remain in the country 
and have a seminary in which they educate a native Catholic clergy. 
But the Catholic mission is still very small. Practically there is 
no tolerance in Abyssinia. 5 There is a colony of the ubiquitous 
Jews between Aksum and Gondar. The great danger is Islam, 
which surrounds the Ethiopic Church on all sides. Many tribes 

1 Already in the Middle Ages they had a law that no foreigner who 
entered Abyssinia should ever return home. 

2 Travels in Abessinia, London, 1790. 3 Not complete. 

4 Afterwards Anglo-Lutheran Bishop of Jerusalem (1845-1879). 

5 There is now one small Swedish Lutheran mission, under Dr. Adolf 
Kolmadin, on the frontier, in the Italian colony Eritrea. 


politically subject to the King of Abyssinia are Moslem. They 
are not allowed to build mosques in the central (Christian) part of 
the country, and the conversion of a Christian to Islam is still 
forbidden by law. But, in spite of that, Islam is making alarming 
progress among the Tigre tribes in the north. It is said that 
already nearly two-thirds of these tribes have been won by Moslem 
missionaries from the Sudan. 1 Lastly, we may note that the 
Orthodox Russians show great friendliness to the Abyssinians, and 
may very likely make an attempt to detach them from their 
ancient dependence on the Copts and to turn them into an 
Orthodox Church dependent on the Czar. In 1904 the Abyssinians 
quarrelled with the Copts over the possession of the Coptic 
monastery (Dair asSultan) by the Holy Sepulchre, which they 
said ought to belong to them, since St. Helen gave it to the King 
of Abyssinia. The Negus was so angry about it that he broke all 
relations with the Coptic Patriarch, made a schism from Egypt, 
and sent a general, Metshetshia Warkye, to Jerusalem and 
Constantinople to persuade the Turks to hand it over to him. 
He was overwhelmed with attentions by the Russians, who took 
up his cause hotly. They hoped great things from the schism 
against the Copts ; Orthodox papers began to foretell the speedy 
conversion of Abyssinia to Orthodoxy. However, the English 
Embassy took up the cause of our clients (Egypt) , and the Sublime 
Porte, as usual, promised everything to everybody and did 
nothing at all. So far the Abyssinians have not turned Orthodox 
and have not got the monastery. 2 

3. Christianity in Nubia 

Before we describe the Abyssinian Church as it is to-day, we 
must say a word about the old Church of Nubia, if only to point 
out that once there was one. It is difficult to realize that the 
heart of the Sudan, the desert which we associate with the horrors 
of the Mahdi and Khalifa, of Khartum and Omdurman, was once 

1 See the article by E. Littmann in Der Islam (Hamburg) for 1910, and 
Karl Cederquist : Islam and Christianity in Abyssinia (The Moslem 
World, vol. 11. 1912, Feb. pp. 152-156). 

2 See the £chos d' Orient, 1904, pp. 309-310; 1906, p. 124. 


a flourishing Christian country. It needs an effort to imagine 
Dongola, of all places, as a centre of Christianity. 

Apart from legends about the Eunuch of Queen Candace as a 
missionary, Barhebraeus counts the conversion of Nubia 1 as 
made under Justinian (523-565) by a Coptic monk, Julian. 2 In 
any case, it seems due to the zeal of the monks of Upper Egypt. 
They preached the gospel south of their monasteries and con- 
verted tribes of blacks. These people got their bishops from 
Egypt, and so, like the Abyssinians, followed Egypt into Mono- 
physism. The Syrian historian John of Ephesus, 3 in the 6th 
century, took a great interest in the Nubian Church, and describes 
its origin and state at length. 4 In the 7th century there was a 
mighty Christian kingdom of Nubia between Egypt and Abyssinia, 
which formed a great barrier to the Moslems of Egypt. Its 
capital was Dongola on the Nile. 5 There was constantly fighting 
between the King of Nubia and the Moslems. The Moslems sent 
embassies to their neighbour, invaded his land or were invaded 
by him. From the ambassadors we have descriptions of this 
Church. They say that in the capital there were churches, well- 
built and large, full of golden ornaments. Under the king were 
thirteen governors, who were also bishops. The people are all 
Monophysites dependent on the Coptic Patriarch. Their holy 
books were written in Greek ; but they had versions in their own 
language. 6 The Nubians also came to the defence of the Copts. 

1 Nubia is the Northern Sudan, beginning at the southern frontier of 
Egypt (now by Wadi Halfah) . 

2 Chron. Eccl. i. 230-233. 

3 John of Ephesus (f soon after 585) was a Monophysite monk at Con- 
stantinople and a friend of Justinian. He wrote the first Syriac Church 
History (the third part was edited by W. Cureton, Oxford, 1853, trans- 
lated by R. Payne-Smith, ib. i860 ; all that remains, in German : Die 
Kirchengeschichte des Johannes von Ephesus, by J. M. Schonfelder, Munich, 
1862). See Duval : Litter atur e syriaque, 191-195. 

4 Ed. Payne-Smith, iv. 6-8 (pp. 251-258). 

5 Besides this kingdom, of which the sovereign is generally called King of 
the Nubians (malik an-Nub) by Moslem writers, there were other Christian 
States between Egypt and Abyssinia ; notably we hear of a King of Aluwah 
in the 10th century. 

6 So the Kitab alfihrist and 'Abdu-llah ibn Ahmad ibn Sulaim, who 
came on an embassy from the first Fatimid Khalif (Mu'izz, 953-975) to 
King George of Nubia. Their accounts are translated by Quatremere : 
Memoires geographiques et historiques sur VEgypte (Paris, 1811), ii. 1-126. 



When the Patriarch Michael I (743-767) was imprisoned, they 
attacked Egypt and forced the Government to let him go. 1 But 
the Moslems, on the whole, did succeed in asserting some kind of 
supremacy over Nubia. They made the Nubians pay a yearly 
tribute of money and slaves. The king had to tolerate Islam in 
his domain, and to keep a mosque in good repair on the out- 
skirts of his city. 2 In the nth century Nubia began to lose 
ground and to decline. There was a revival ; but at last, about 
the 15th century, Islam swept this Christian State away. The 
Nubians had no mountains in which they could take refuge, like 
the Abyssinians. As late as the 17th century, Vansleb says that 
there are still churches in Nubia, not used because there are no 
priests. 3 Now nothing is left but ruins all over Northern Sudan ; 4 
the descendants of these valiant Christian warriors are the 
savages who rose for the Mahdi. 

We have, then, the picture of this extinct Christianity lasting 
over a thousand years. From about the 4th to the 15th cen- 
tury Nubia was Christian. Of its theology and rites we know 
little or nothing directly ; but we may deduce fairly safely that 
they were based on those of the Copts ; though Abu Salih's 
" Greek " books are rather surprising. Did they keep a Greek 
(St. Mark ?) liturgy, or does he take Coptic characters for Greek 
(a pardonable mistake in an Arab) ? The mass of ruins the Chris- 
tians have left give us an idea of the prosperity of their Church. 
They had a large hierarchy and a flourishing civilization. Ibn 
Sulaim says he " passed through nearly thirty towns with fine 
houses, monasteries, numberless palm-groves, vineyards, gardens 

There is an essay on Christian Nubia and its relation to the Coptic Patriarch 
in Renaudot : Liturg. Orient. Coll. (ed. cit.) i. 416-417. See also Abu 
Salih : Churches and Monasteries of Egypt (ed. Evetts and Butler), pp. 

1 Lequien : op. cit. ii. 662. 

2 See the terms granted by 'Abdu-llah ibn Sa'd to the Nubians in 652, 
after he had defeated them, in S. Lane-Poole : Hist, of Egypt in the Middle 
Ages, pp. 21-23. 

3 Hist, du Patr. d'Alexandrie, p. 30. 

4 These are described by Rosellini : / monumenti dell' Egitto e della Nubia, 
Pisa, 1832-1844 ; Champollion : Monuments de I'Egypte et de la Nubie, 
Paris, 1844 ; G. Mileham : Churches in Lower Nubia (E. B. Coxe, Jr., 
Expedition to Nubia, vol. ii.), Univ. Museum, Philadelphia, 191 o. 


and wide-spreading fields, besides herds of camels of great 
beauty and breeding." Khartum, then, had splendid churches 
and fine houses. 1 

4. The Negus and his People 

Ethiopia and Abyssinia are practically convertible terms. 2 
Lately, however, geographers begin to use Ethiopia as a purely 
geographical term for the highlands between the Upper Nile and 
the bottom of the Red Sea, Abyssinia as a political name for 
the domain over which the Negus is king. The heart of this 
domain is the mountain-land with high tablelands to the north 
of the present kingdom. There are three races of inhabitants in 
Abyssinia. The aborigines (Shangala) are African negroes, mostly 
fetish-worshippers and animists, with witch-doctors ; some are 
Moslems, a few Christian converts. The Hamitic tribes form the 
main stock of the population. They are akin to the ancient 
Egyptians, and keep a language of that family. The Gallas to the 
south belong to this race. They are Polytheists or Moslems, 
with some Christians . The dominant race, the Abyssinians proper, 
are the Semites who invaded the country, probably from Arabia. 
Most of these are Christian. They are much mixed in blood with 
the older Hamitic tribes. It is this race of Semites which made 
the kingdom ; the Abyssinian Church is their Church. They 
hold the Government and rule over the others. Their language 
is Semitic. When you have mastered the difficult syllabic letters 
it turns out to be closely allied to Arabic. Indeed, Amharic, 
when you hear it spoken, sounds like a rough Arabic dialect. The 
old form of the language is Ge'z (lesan ge'z). 3 This is the classical 
language of their ancient literature, still used for all Church 

1 Quatremere : loc. cit. ii. 6-35. 

2 The old name is always Ethiopia (Greek AWioty, " Burnt-face," from 
alQw o\p, Latin Aethiops). They call themselves this (TtySpya, Ttyopyawi). 
Abyssinia is a comparatively modern formation from the Arabic habas, 
" mixed " (originally a term of contempt for the mixed races and religions 
of the country). The y has no justification at all. The older form Abes- 
sinia (used still in German) would be much better. 

3 " The tongue of the freemen (or of the Ethiopians)." Ge'z is the old 
name for Ethiopian (Praetorius : Gramm. csthiopica, p. 63) ; the Hebrew 
Kus (Ezechiel, xxix. 10) ? 


services. 1 It is now dead; no one speaks it, even the clergy 
hardly understand it. It has developed into three modern dialects 
— Tigre, spoken in the northern mountains ; Tigrinya around 
Aksum; and Amharic, the language of the Government, court 
and official classes generally. 2 

The ruler of all these people is the Negusha nagasht za'ftyopya. 3 
He claims to descend from King Solomon by the Queen of Sheba. 4 
In Ethiopic legend that lady's name was Makeda ; her son, the 
first Negus, was Menelek I. The Negus is proud of his supposed 
Jewish descent ; he speaks of " my fathers, the Kings of Israel," 5 
he is the Lion of the tribe of Judah ; he uses, as a kind of coat of 
arms, a lion passant-gardant, crowned imperially, bearing in the 
sinister jamb a banner of the Ethiopian colours, gules, or, vert, 
fesswise; and his motto is: " Vicit leo de tribu Iuda." The 
present King is Menelek II ; he drove out the usurper John in 
1889. He is an absolute sovereign, whose power is tempered by 
that of about forty governors or princes (Ras) ruling parts of his 
domain under him. There are said to be between three and five 
million inhabitants of Abyssinia, of whom most are members of 
the national Church. Till 1892 the capital and royal residence 
was Gondar. Now it is Adis Ababa in the central province (Shoa). 

5. The Hierarchy 

The head of the Church of Abyssinia (under the Coptic Pat- 
riarch) is the Metropolitan of Aksum. He now resides in Adis 
Ababa. He is called Abuna (" our father ") ; 6 also Aba 
Salama (" father of peace "). We have seen that Abuna is always 
a Coptic monk, chosen and ordained by the Coptic Patriarch. 

1 F. Praetorius : Grammatica cethiopica (Karlsruhe u. Leipzig, H. Reuter, 
Porta ling, orient. 1886). A still more useful grammar is M. Chaine, S.J. : 
Grammaire ethiopienne (Beyrouth, 1907). 

2 Praetorius : Die amharische Sprache (Halle, 1879). 

3 " King of the Kings of Ethiopia." He is often called the Emperor of 
Abyssinia. But this comes only from the silly practice of calling almost 
any powerful sovereign an emperor. 

4 As a matter of fact, the hereditary line has been broken several times 
in known history. 

5 Ludolf : Comm. in hist, cethiop. p. 237. 

6 To say " the Abuna " determines a Semitic word twice over, and is as 
wrong as " the Alcoran." 


When a Metropolitan dies, the king sends an. embassy to Cairo, 
with gifts for the Khedive and governor, asking for a successor. 
On several occasions of late the Abyssinians have threatened to 
shake off their ancient subjection under the Coptic Patriarch. 
The Government has approached the Armenians and the Jacobites 
with a view of getting bishops ordained by them ; stranger still, 
lately they seem to accept the advances of Orthodox Russia not 
unwillingly. 1 However, a schism from the Copts has not yet 
happened. Among the holy men of Egypt there is no undue 
ambition for the honour of being Abuna. On the contrary, they 
do all they can to avoid it. In the past we hear of a monk being 
caught, ordained by force, and carried off to Abyssinia under a 
strong guard. The reason of this is that Abuna never sees his 
fatherland again. He must end his days an exile in what, even 
to a Copt, is a barbarous land. The flesh-pots of Egypt may not 
seem very attractive to us (in the case of a Coptic monk), but 
they seem more desirable to them than exile in Gondar. One of 
the many disadvantages of this system is the long period of sedes 
vacans. It used to take about two years after the death of one 
Metropolitan before his successor entered the capital. 2 The new 
Primate is received with great pomp when he enters the country, 
and is escorted by the king, nobles, clergy and soldiers to the 
palace where he is to reside. Umbrellas form a great feature 
of Abyssinian processions. Abuna alone has the right to one 
of cloth of gold held over him. He alone crowns the Negus, 
administers the sacrament of Holy Orders to bishops, priests and 
deacons, 3 consecrates churches and altars, and rules all the 

1 Stranger because the Armenians and Jacobites are fellow Mono- 
physites. But communion with the Orthodox would mean a change of 
religion. It would be very interesting if, after all this trouble for fifteen 
hundred years, a whole Monophysite Church accepted Chalcedon, because 
the Copts will not give them a small convent in Jerusalem. 

2 Renaudot : Lit. Orient. Coll. i. 418. When at last he arrives Abuna 
has to learn two foreign languages. 

3 This seems strange ; but all authors seem to agree that no other bishop 
is allowed to ordain even priests and deacons {e.g. Gondal : Le Chris- 
tianisme an pays de Menelik, p. 18). If so, one may ask what is the good 
of them. But I suspect that this idea comes from the frequent periods 
in which Abuna was the only bishop in Abyssinia. Now that he has 
suffragans (p. 311), I think that they may ordain their priests and deacons, 
as do[Coptic bishops. 


Ethiopic Church under the Patriarch of Alexandra. The Patri- 
arch treats him just like his other Metropolitans, sends him 


Paschal letters, as to the others, and considers Abyssinia simply 
as one more province of his patriarchate. 1 Abuna is never very 
popular among his people. He is a foreigner ; the language, 
liturgy, customs are strange to him. We said that he can ordain 
other bishops. There is some complication about this. The old 
law exists still in theory ; he may ordain not more than seven 
suffragans (p. 300, n. 1). But constantly it transpires that there are 
no suffragans at all ; so that some writers state as a general fact 

1 Renaudot : loc. cit. i. 419. 


that Abuna is the only bishop in Abyssinia. 1 Certainly in the 
past he has ordained suffragans, and has wanted to ordain twelve. 
Now he has suffragans, but does not ordain them. The Coptic 
Patriarch has succeeded in applying the rule about Abuna to other 
Abyssinian bishops too, or has enforced the general principle that 
he alone ordains all bishops of his patriarchate. So the modern 
practice is that all bishops in Abyssinia are Coptic monks ordained 
by the Patriarch. I believe I am right in saying that the present 
Primate 2 has two suffragans, Peter and Luke. 3 Abyssinian 
institutions, laws, faith and arrangements generally are those of 
the Copts, with local variety. In order not to say the same thing 
twice over, we will here assume that everything corresponds to 
Coptic use, with the following exceptions. 

The priests are even more illiterate than those of Egypt. They 
are ordained in great numbers without any kind of training. 
Lobo's account of an ordination in the 16th century is interesting. 
He quotes from Fr. Alvarez, of the Portuguese mission. Abuna 
rode up on a mule and made a speech in Arabic, 4 to the effect that 
if, among those to be ordained, anyone were present who had been 
twice married, he must withdraw, under pain of excommunication. 
Hereupon he got off his mule and sat by a white tent specially 
prepared for him. Alvarez says that 2356 men were waiting to 
be ordained. 5 Meanwhile some priests arranged these in rows, 
and examined them by giving to each a book to read. They 
touched those whom they approved on the arm and made them 
step forward. After this examination Abuna went into the tent, 
and the candidates were admitted, one by one, before him. 
Abuna laid his hand on each one's head, said several prayers, and 
blessed him repeatedly with his little bronze cross. Then followed 
the liturgy, at which the newly ordained priests received Com- 
munion from Abuna. 6 Deacons are boys who can just read. The 

1 So Gondal : op. cit. p. 21 ; Silbernagl : Verfassung, u.s.w. p. 295 ; 
Lobo : Voyage hist. p. 353. 

2 He is Matthew : Abuna Matewos, aba salama. 

3 I know nothing more about either Peter or Luke, except that they are 
Egyptian monks, ordained at Cairo. 

4 Presumably the only language he knew ; I suppose no one present but 
Alvarez could understand him. 

5 Apparently some are stark naked. 

6 Lobo : Voyage historique d'Abyssinie, pp. 341-342. 


kom5s 1 corresponds to a Coptic kummus (p. 257). The Dabtara 
is a learned man who instructs the clergy, teaches them their 
duties, supervises churches, and so on ; but apparently is him- 
self a layman. 2 There is an enormous number of monks. As 
their founder they honour St. Takla Haimanot, a very popular 
Ethiopic saint, who is said to have introduced, or reorganized, 
the angelic life about the year 620. His name means " Plant of 
life." His feast is December 24. So in their diptychs for the 
dead, they pray always : " Remember, O Lord, the soul of thy 
servant, our father Takla Haimanot, and all his companions." 
He was the first Ttshage. 3 The organized monks, who take the 
usual vows (like Coptic monks), live in monasteries under a 
komos. The head of all of them is the Ttshage, who lives at 
Gondar, and is the second greatest ecclesiastical person in the 
land. The Ttshage, being a native, is more popular, and is a 
formidable rival to Abuna. There are also many hermits, 
wandering holy men who beg, people possessed by various spirits, 
and monks (of a kind) who continue to live with their families, 
are not celibate, but wear a religious dress and practise certain 
special devotions. There are nuns in convents. 4 Monks wear 
a tunic, a belt, a great cloak and a hood. 5 The secular priests 
and bishops dress much as do the Copts, except that a kale- 
maukion seems common. 6 

6. Rites and Ceremonies 

There is an enormous number of churches all over the country, 
many more than are needed. 7 The Abyssinian church is, appar- 
ently always, a round building with the sanctuary in the middle. 

1 A dignitary called Alaka seems to be the same as a komos. 

2 Ludolf (Hist. Aeth. L. iii. c. vii. §§ 26-29) calls him " Canonicus." 
More about the hierarchy will be found there, c. vii. 

3 Ludolf : Hist. Aeth. L. iii. c. iii. §§ 15-28 ; and his Comment, p. 402. 

4 Further information about the angelic life in Ethiopia will be found in 
Ludolf : Hist. Aeth. L. iii. c. iii., and Lobo : Voyage hist. pp. 356-357. 

5 There seems to be no principle as to colour, and not much as to shape 
or material. The Abyssinian monks I saw in Jerusalem were dressed in 
very dirty rusty black. Curzon saw them in bright yellow clothes of 
leather (Monasteries of the Levant, p. 106). 

6 Most of those I have seen were very dirty, greasy and unpleasant. 

7 I have been told that there are over six thousand churches in Abyssinia. 



This appears to be founded on the same illusion as to the shape of 
Solomon's temple as produced our round Templar churches in 


Europe. In Abyssinia itself the churches, at least in country 
districts, are said to be very poor structures — a round mud wall 
and thatched roof. I examined with some care the big church 
they built lately outside Jerusalem. 1 Dull and ugly as this 
church is, it has an interest, since it reproduces the plan of their 
churches at home on a larger scale. It is built of stone, quite 

1 North-west, a mile or so from the walls, beyond the Russian pilgrims' 
hospice. Its title is " Church of Paradise." Besides this church (and the 
convent they hope to take from the Copts, p. 304) the Abyssinians have in 
Jerusalem a monastery with a great court (in which is the very same olive- 
tree where Abraham found the ram), east of the Anastasis (see fig. 11). 
Next to it is the Coptic monastery Dair asSultan (which the Abyssinians 
claim). In the Anastasis they have one small chapel. The Abyssinian 
and Coptic monks quarrel very badly ; the Copts (and Armenians) used 
to lock the Abyssinians in at night ; would not let them get to their chapel, 
and so on. 


round, with a dome. Over the door is sculptured their crowned 
lion. Within there is a broad passage around the central choir 
and sanctuary. This has a wall all round it up to the roof, and 
beyond, for it rises above the outer wall and becomes the drum 
of the dome. The central space is divided by a straight screen 
across it into choir and sanctuary. The arrangement of the altar, 
vessels, and so on, is sufficiently Coptic to justify a reference in 
general to that use (pp. 267-270). They have, of course, no statues, 
but numbers of paintings of our Lord and of saints. All the 
Abyssinian paintings I have seen are exceedingly rude, without 
artistic merit of any kind, 1 but very curious and interesting. 2 

The ark (tabot) on every Ethiopic altar has puzzled many 
people. 3 The Abyssinians say that the Queen of Sheba brought 
the ark of the Covenant back with her to Aksum, where it is kept 
in the Metropolitan church. 4 Every other church has a tabot, 
a copy of the one at Aksum. They pay enormous reverence to 
the tabot. Their liturgy contains a special prayer for blessing 
it ; 5 they carry it in processions, bless with it, bow down before it. 
What then, exactly, is this ark ? It is tempting to suppose that 
it must be a vessel containing the Holy Eucharist, as Neale 
thinks. 6 It seems, however, that it is not so. The Abyssinians 
have, at least now, no reservation of the Holy Eucharist (cf. p. 286) . 
The real explanation is a simple one. The tabot is the Coptic 
pitote, a box, otherwise empty, in which the chalice stands 

1 Coptic paintings are rude too, in the sense of showing very na'ive draw- 
ing and ignorance of all the usual rules ; but the older ones have great 
artistic beauty. I do not think the most enthusiastic archaeologist could 
find any beauty at all in Abyssinian painting, though much of their orna- 
ment form (crosses, geometric patterns, and so on) shows a sense of design 
and Coptic influence. 

2 Some curious Abyssinian paintings, ornaments and church vessels 
(brought back by the expedition of 1867), may be seen in the British 
Museum (Christian Room, wall-cases 16-18). But the guide to this room 
(by Mr. C. H. Read) contains many bad blunders, including the amazing 
statement that Ge'z is written from right to left (p. 96). 

3 Renaudot : Liturg. Orient. Coll. i. 498 ; Neale : Holy Eastern Church, 
Gen. Introd. i. 185-186. 

4 For this legend see Ludolf : Hist. Aethiop. L. ii. cap. iii. § 8. For the 
tabot in other churches, ib. L. iii. c. vi. § 62. The tabot at Aksum is 
magnificent, covered with gold and jewels. Abu Salih describes it (Churches 
and Monasteries, pp. 287-288). 

5 Renaudot : loc. cit. i. 474. 6 hoc. cit. i. 186. 


during the liturgy (pp. 271, 282). But it may also contain the 
wooden altar-board (p. 270, called tablith in Arabic), or be joined 
to this (stand on it). The reverence, probably, was originally 
addressed to the altar-board. The resemblance of the two names 
(tablith and tabot x ) , the box-like form of the pitote, and the usual 
Judaizing tendency of Abyssinian Christianity (p. 319) may be the 
origin of the name tabot, of the legend connecting it with the 
Jewish ark, and of the transference of reverence from the board to 
the box. At any rate, it seems clear that the modern tabot contains 
nothing at all, that it just stands on the altar, and is used in the 
liturgy as by the Copts. 2 

The official vestments of the Abyssinian rite are the same as 
those of the Copts (pp. 272-274) ; like the Copts, they use only 
some of these (p. 274) on most occasions. Abuna has a fine triple 
crown, a little hand cross with which to bless, and any number 
of orders and decorations. All their services are in Ge'z. Ex- 
cept " Amen," " Haleluya," and " Kiralayeson," they have no 
mixture of any foreign language ; nor do they read the lessons in 
the vulgar tongue. Ge'z has much the same relation to the vulgar 
tongue (Amharic, etc.) as Old Slavonic to Russian. It is said 
that even the clergy know but little of the classical language ; no 
doubt they (and the people too) know by heart what the prayers 
mean. In general, all their services are based on those of the 
Copts. In Abyssinia the Coptic rite translated, is used, with 
considerable local variations. Except the holy liturgy, their 
books have not yet been printed, hardly at all studied. 3 We 
must imagine them as following the main lines of the Coptic 
books, with local differences. The order of the administering of 
Sacraments is also Coptic in essence. The holy liturgy has been 

1 Which is the usual name for the old Ark of the Covenant. 

2 I tried, without success, to make an Abyssinian priest open the tabot, 
or tell me what is in it. I am persuaded that it is empty. It is, of course, 
quite possible that when they had Reservation they used the tabot and 
that it has kept the reverence once meant for what it contained. 

3 The Abyssinian Theotokia were published by Dr. Fries ( Wedase Marjam, 
Leipzig, 1892) and by I. Guidi (Wedase Marjam, Rome, 1900). Trumpp 
published their Baptism rite (Das Taufbuch der athiopischen Kirche, Munich, 
1878). Quotations from the Theotokia will be found in H. Goussen : 
Aphorismen iiber die Verehrung der hi. Jungfrau in den altorient. Kirchen 
(Paderborn, 1903). 


edited and translated several times. 1 The book which contains 
it is called (their name for the liturgy) . They have an 
unchanging Ordo communis (the Pro-anaphoral part, Intercession 
and Post-Communion prayers), which they ascribe to Basil of 
Antioch ; to this is normally joined the " Anaphora of all the 
Apostles/' The Ordo communis is really a version of the Alex- 
andrine St. Mark ; the Anaphora of the Apostles is an independent 
one, from the old Egyptian Church Order. 2 The original form had 
no Sanctus. This has been added, awkwardly, later. They 
also have a number of alternate anaphoras, which may be sub- 
stituted for that of the Apostles. That of " Our Lord Jesus 
Christ " 3 contains prayers from the " Testament of our Lord " 4 
in place of the normal ones. Those of " Our Lady Mary, by 
Kyriakos of Behnsa," 5 of " Saint Dioscor," 6 of " St. John Chry- 
sostom," 7 have also been published. Brightman gives the titles 
of eleven others, not yet printed. 8 These are ascribed to St. 
John the Evangelist, St. James, St. Gregory the Armenian, the 
" 318 Orthodox " (of Nicaea), and so on. One (St. Basil) is 
merely a version of the Coptic St. Basil. Many of them are not 
complete anaphoras, but fragments, which may be substituted for 
the corresponding parts of the Apostles' liturgy. They seem to 
be used only on rare occasions, some of them not at all. 

The normal rite, with the Apostles' Anaphora, as we have said, 
follows the lines of the St. Mark Liturgy. The instruments and 
vessels are prepared ; the celebrant goes to pay reverence to the 
tabot, which he covers with a veil. The bread and wine are made 

1 Namely the usual Anaphora (of all the Apostles) and four others ; 
see below. 

2 The immediate source is the Ethiopic Church Order, a translation (with 
variants) of the other. For the nature and relation of these documents 
see Funk : Das Testament unseres Herrn u. die Verwandten Schriften (Mainz, 
1901) ; A. J. Maclean : The Ancient Church Orders (Cambridge, 1910). 

a In Petrus Ethyops : T estamentum nouum (Rome, 1548), and Ludolf : 
Comm. ad suam hist, csthiop. (Frankfurt, 1691, pp. 341-345). 

4 See Funk : op. cit. 5 p e trus Ethyops : op. cit. 

6 In Ludolf : Lexicon cBthiopicum (London, 1661 ; appendix), and Lebrun : 
Explication . . . dela messe (Paris, 1716-1726), iv. 564-579. 

7 In Dillmann : Chrestomathia csthiopica (Leipzig, 1866), 51-56. These 
are all translated in Rodwell : Ethiopic Liturgies ami Hymns (London, 

8 Eastern Liturgies, p. lxxiv ; cf. Ludolf : Comment, pp. 340-341. 


ready, and offered. During the Enarxis is a long litany by the 
deacon, with answer : " Kiralayeson " to each petition. This 
litany is taken from the " Testament of our Lord," and is an 
Ethiopic peculiarity, not in the Coptic rite. The Liturgy of the 
Catechumens begins with a general incensing (of which the tabot 
has a special share). There are four lessons, with Graduals and 
the Monophysite Trisagion, as by the Copts (p. 190). The Cate- 
chumens are dismissed by a special form (cf. p. 283). Then 
follow the Creed, washing of hands, kiss of peace. " Sursum 
corda " 1 follows, and the Intercession 2 in the normal Egyptian 
place, before the consecration. The people sing the Sanctus ; 
then come the words of Institution and Epiklesis, the Lord's 
Prayer, Intinction (as p. 285), and Communion (apparently always 
in separate kinds, the deacon bringing the chalice) . At the end are 
a last thanksgiving, the Lord's Prayer again, and the dismissal. 3 
There is a peculiarity about the words of Institution which has 
caused some discussion. The words for the bread are: "Take, 
eat, this bread is my body, which is broken for you for forgiveness 
of sins," 4 instead of " This is my body." Theologians have 
argued whether such a form be valid. It is further discussed 
whether, in view of the incredible carelessness with which they 
ordain, their orders can be admitted as certainly valid. This 
would only affect priests and deacons. As long as their bishops 
are ordained by the Coptic Patriarch, they at least are really 

The Ethiopic Calendar has many peculiarities. It follows the 
Era of the Martyrs and is counted as by the Copts (p. 286) . 5 
They also have the Coptic fasts (p. 287).° But they have their 

1 Here begins the Anaphora of all the Apostles. 

2 In it they pray for Abuna and the Coptic Patriarch (Brightman : 
Eastern Liturgies, 228). In the deacon's litany they pray for these two and 
the king (ib. 206-207). 

3 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, 194-244. 4 Ib. 232. 

5 They group four years under the patronage of each of the four Evan- 
gelists. St. Luke always has the leap year. Thus " Matthew " was their 
1901 (our September 11, 1908-September io, 1909), "Mark" 1902 (1909- 
1910), " Luke " 1903 (1910-1911), " John " 1904 (1911-1912). Further 
information about the Abyssinian reckoning will be found in M. Chaine : 
Grammaire ethiopienne (op. cit.), pp. 92-95. 

6 Ludolf : Hist. Aeth. L. iii. c. vi. § 90. 


own feasts, very strange ones. They have the same feast over 
and over again during the year. Our Lord's birth is kept once 
a month (except March) on the 24th or 25th. Our Lady, St. 
Michael, 1 and " Abraham, Isaac and Jacob " (one feast) also 
once a month. Their own saints, kings, martyrs and monks 
occur ; but not one Metropolitan (since Abuna is an unpopular 
foreigner). They have very strange legends of their saints ; on 
June 25 they keep Saint Pontius Pilate, of all people, and his 
wife Procla. 2 They have music in their churches, bells, rattles 
like the old sistrum, and especially big drums. To these the 
priests dance before the ark, as did David. They sing wild 
melodies, and the women make the strange shrill cries which one 
hears all over the East, either for rejoicing or mourning. 

7. Ethiopic Faith and Customs — Judaism 

The Abyssinian Church is Monophysite ; it agrees in all points 
with the Copts. We need not then discuss these again. But it 
has some further peculiarities of its own. There are vehement 
discussions and three schools 3 concerning the hypostatic union 
and the birth of Christ. The normal Monophysites believe that 
our Lord was born of the Father from eternity, born of his mother 
in time, when he united, absorbed a human nature into his 
Divinity. This is the recognized and official school, to which 
Abuna and most of the clergy belong. A second party teaches 
that the union of Christ's humanity and Divinity into one nature 
(understood in the usual Monophysite sense) took place when he 
received the unction of the Holy Ghost at his baptism ; so they 
count this as a third birth, the birth of our Lord's one theandric 
nature. A third school maintains that, as son of Mary, Christ 
was man only ; later God infused into him Divinity, without 
changing his human nature. Now, as far as the doctrine of two 

1 St. Michael is the national patron of Abyssinia. 

2 Ludolf : Comment, p. 433. The wife because of her dream ; Pilate 
because he said he was innocent. The Byzantine rite has St. Procla (alone), 
on October 27. The whole Calendar is given in Ludolf : ad suam. hist. ceth. 
Commentarius, pp. 389-427, with notes. 

3 I do not call them sects, because they are all in communion with each 


perfect natures goes this is Catholic ; indeed, in the idea of a later 
infusion of Divinity, it exceeds on the other side and takes up an 
idea of Nestorius (p. 70) — strange to find this among professed 
Monophysites. 1 Among the logical Monophysites there are many 
who carry that heresy to the length of paying too great reverence 
to the Blessed Virgin, making her divine. This may follow from 
Monophysite premises. For, if our Lord had only one Divine 
nature, his mother would be not only mother of God, but mother 
of his Divinity. If she gave him a Divine nature she must have 
had it herself. So among Abyssinians there is a real exaggeration 
of honour paid to her, culminating in adoration, in the idea that 
she too died for our sins, is our redeemer, that all grace can only 
come through (or even from) her. Certainly in no part of the 
Christian world does devotion to our Lady reach such a point as 
in Abyssinia. A curious point is that, among an unlettered and 
ignorant people, these theological quarrels are so acute that when 
the last king, the usurper John, marched against Shoa, to inflame 
his soldiers he used as a chief argument that his enemies taught 
the threefold birth of Christ. 

But the most conspicuous characteristic of the Abyssinian 
Church is its Judaism. However this may be explained, the fact 
is undeniable and very remarkable. It is unique in Christendom. 
We need not attach much weight to the practice of circumcision ; 
this is common throughout the East. The Abyssinians probably 
took it from the Copts ; like the Copts they see no religious idea 
in it (p. 279). But they keep Saturday holy, as well as Sunday. 
On both days equally they celebrate the Holy Eucharist and rest 
from work. They keep the Jewish law of food, abstain from 
Judaically unclean meats, eat only of that which chews the cud 
and divides the hoof. And there is their legend about the Ark 
of the Covenant at Aksum, and the enormous reverence they pay 
to it and to the tabot in every church. 

A common explanation of this feature is that they were origin- 
ally converted Jews, and have kept much of what they then 

1 It is in this third school that the Russians, not without reason, see hope 
of making the Abyssinians Orthodox. So they favour it, and wish it to 
spread. But they must take care lest, in persuading their new friends to 
accept Chalcedon, they make them contradict Ephesus. 


practised since they became Christians. This is possible, but 
there is no direct evidence that they ever were Jews (p. 294). 
Nor do I think this explanation necessary. A backward and 
almost isolated people, who receive the Old Testament as the 
word of God, an Eastern people surrounded (like the Jews) by 
unbelievers, to whom much of the Mosaic Law must seem natural, 
might easily evolve the idea that it applies to them too. They 
know nothing of the anti- Jewish struggle which forms a chapter 
in our early Church history, and they set great store by King 
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba ; the Negus thinks the Kings of 
Israel his own glorious ancestors (p. 308). I doubt if we need 
look further than this for the origin of their Judaizing practices. 
But they count St. Paul (and Hebrews) among the canonical 
books ; they read St. Paul in their liturgy. Apparently in 
Ethiopia, as in some other places, he has not succeeded in making 
himself understood. 

The Abyssinian Bible contains many strange books, more than 
that of the Copts (p. 265). Besides our canonical books, it has the 
Book of Enoch x (quoted in Jud. 14-15), the Book of Jubilees, 
fourth Book of Esdras, Ascension of Isaias, 2 Epistle of Jeremias, 
Apocalypse of Baruch, the Shepherd of Hermas, Apostolic 
Constitutions and Canons, Epistles of Clement and others. 3 

It is often said that polygamy is allowed in Abyssinia. This is 
not true and not just to the national Church. She has exactly 
the same law of monogamy as have all Christians. No man can 
marry more than one wife at a time. What does happen is that 

1 This is the most famous Ethiopic Apocryphum. Bruce brought a 
copy of it from Abyssinia in 1773 (Fleming : Das Buck Henoch, Leipzig, 
1902 ; R. H. Charles : The Book of Enoch, Oxford, 1893). 

2 Dillmann : Ascensio I sales (Leipzig, 1877). 

3 There is considerable divergence as to which books exactly are, or are 
not, canonical. They treat collections of Fathers, Decrees of General 
Councils, even civil laws, with enormous reverence, and often write them in 
the same book as the Old and New Testaments. Perhaps it is best to say 
that Copts and Abyssinians have not yet arrived at a clear idea of inspired 
Scripture as a distinct category, just as they are vague as to the specific 
idea of a Sacrament (see p. 262). Petrus Ethyops (p. 316, n. 3) published the 
New Testament (Rome, 1548), Ludolf the Psalter (Frankfurt, 1701) ; 
other books have been printed by various people. All these are now super- 
seded by Dillmann's great edition of the whole Ethiopic Bible — hitherto 
three volumes are published (Leipzig-Berlin, 185 3-1 894). 


before marriage a great number of men live with several ladies, 
with whom they make a temporary arrangement. This seems to 
be exceedingly common, tolerated by public opinion, almost a 
recognized institution. But it is not marriage ; no priest has 
anything to do with the bargain for mutual sin, no man living in 
such a way can go to Confession or receive Communion. It 
appears that even lax public opinion looks upon marriage as much 
more respectable. The accusation of Abyssinian polygamy then 
means that many young men live disorderly lives — the same 
might be said of London ; that public opinion is lax — in England 
it is not exactly severe ; that the Church should do more to put 
down rampant sin — we might do more in Europe too. 

However, all travellers seem to agree that Christianity in 
Abyssinia is in a very low state. The people are at best only half 
civilized, the clergy are almost as illiterate as the laity. Some 
accusations I very much doubt. When I see that a Protestant 
traveller says that the priests take money to forgive sins, I 
remember that many of them think that Catholics do so. In- 
veighing against superstitions, ignorance, and so on leaves us cold 
when we reflect that they often say much the same of us. For if 
a man can remain as grossly ignorant of an institution at his very 
door as many well-meaning Protestants are of us, how shall he 
understand Ethiopia ? But if it be true that Abyssinians adore 
our Lady as God, believe that she dwells in sacred trees, holy 
wells and high places, this is very bad. They appear to have an 
extensive demonology ; there are were-wolves, devil-serpents and 
devil-hyaenas. There is a special lady-devil who eats small 
children. These are smoked out with fire and conjured away 
with amulets containing holy words. I can certify that all the 
Ethiopians I have seen, and their churches, are appallingly dirty. 
They anoint their black faces with oil, which runs down even to 
the hem of their garment. But it would be absurd to mind that. 
If a man is an African he is an African. In any case they are 
Christians. 1 Coram illo procident Aethiopes. 

1 The proud mark of an Abyssinian Christian is the blue cord he wears 
always round his neck ; on it are strung crosses, amulets, toothpicks, 
scratchers, and so on. He also carries in his belt two or three pistols, and 
perhaps five daggers. At his side hang a broadsword and a rapier ; a gun 




The kingdom of Abyssinia in the middle of East Africa is 
Christian. The gospel was first preached here by St. Frumentius 
and St. Aedesius. From Frumentius descends the line of Metro- 
politans of Aksum, called Abiina. The Church depends on that 
of the Copts, is under the Coptic Patriarch, and shares the Coptic 
heresy. Abiina is always a Coptic monk, ordained in Egypt. 
For one century (roughly 1550-1650), under Portuguese influence, 
it was Uniate. The Abyssinians use a rite based on that of the 
Copts, in the old form of their language (Ge'z). Their faith and 
canon law are Coptic, with variations of their own. They are 
certainly backward in civilization and are said to have remnants 
of pagan superstition. They judaize in many points and pay 
great reverence to an ark in every church, made on the model of 
the Ark of the Covenant, which they keep at Aksum. Their king, 
Negush Negashti, is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, because he 
descends from Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. In any case, 
surrounded by Islam, he upholds the name of Christ in his wild 

is slung across his back, and he carries one in his hand. A gentleman of 
quality is followed by his servants who carry the rest of his weapons — 
several more guns and swords, a bayonet or two, pistols and daggers. 



The Jacobites are the Monophysites of Syria. They have never 
been more than a comparatively small, poor and scattered sect. 
They never succeeded in capturing all Syria, as their co-religionists 
the Copts captured all Egypt. Now, especially, they are a very 
small body scattered around Diyarbakr, with colonies in most 
Syrian towns. In religion they agree with the Copts, with whom 
they are in communion. In rite they are quite different. They 
alone keep, in the Syriac language, the old rite of Antioch. This 
is perhaps the chief importance of the sect to students. 1 

i. The Foundation of the Jacobite Church 

In discussing the general history of Monophysism we have seen 
that already in the 5th century the Egyptian party (against 
Chalcedon) made many converts, expecially monks, in Palestine 

1 For all Jacobite history the chief sources are the Chronicle of Michael 
the Syrian (Michael I, Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch, 1166-1199), ed. in 
Syriac and French by J. B. Chabot (Paris, 4 vols., 1899-1910), and Bar- 
hebraeus (Gregory Abu-lFarag ibn Harun, called Bar 'Ebraya), Mafrian 
(f 1286) : Chronicle, of which the Ecclesiastical history has been edited by 
J. B. Abbeloos and T. J. Lamy : Gregorii Barhebrcsi chronicon ecclesias- 
ticum (two sections in three volumes, Louvain, 1 872-1 877, Syriac and Latin). 
Barhebraeus was a prolific writer, and one of the most learned men the 
learned little sect produced (p. 330). However, a comparison shows that 
he took most of the matter of his Chronicle from Michael. Joseph Simon 
Assemani : Bibliotheca Orientalis, vol. ii. : De Scriptoribus Syris Mono- 
physitis (Rome, 1721), with a Dissertatio de Monophysitis, contains a mass 
of material. But the Dissertatio is not paged. 



and Syria (p. 183). These are the beginning of the present 
Jacobite Church. At first, as in Egypt, the Monophysites were 
rather a party within the Church than a separate sect (see p. 216). 
They did not set up rival sees, but tried, with varying success, 
to capture the existing ones. In Jerusalem they drove out 
Juvenal, set up a Monophysite, Theodosius, in 452, and supported 
him by Monophysite suffragans. But the Government soon drove 
these people out. At Antioch for a long time there were alternate 
vicissitudes of Monophysite and Chalcedonian Patriarchs. The 
great leaders of the heresy in Syria got temporary possession of 
the see — Peter the Fuller (471, 475), Severus (512-after 536). l 
At last Justinian I (527-565) made a firm stand for Chalcedon, 
expelled all Monophysite bishops, and demanded acceptance of 
the council from everyone. The Monophysites lost ground 
throughout Syria. It seemed as if the sect were about to die out. 
But the Emperor's wife, Theodora, was their friend ; she suc- 
ceeded in restoring their hopes and giving them a hierarchy. 
The man who did this under her protection, the restorer of the 
sect in Syria, in some sort the founder of the present Jacobite 
Church, is James Baradai. 2 He was born at Telia early in the 
6th century, and became a monk at Constantinople. He owes 
bis nickname Baradai to the fact that later, as the organizer of 
Syrian Monophysism, he went about in a ragged cloak. 3 When 
he was at Constantinople his heresy (he was always a Monophysite) 
was at a very low ebb. John of Ephesus 4 says that only two or 
three of their bishops remained out of prison. 5 Theodosius, 
Monophysite Patriarch of Alexandria (p. 220), was in prison in 
the capital. Under the Empress's protection he, to save the situa- 
tion, ordained two bishops — Theodore for Bosra and the South, 
James Baradai for Edessa and the East (probably in 543). As 

1 For these earlier Monophysite disturbances see pp. 190, 192, 196. 

2 In Syriac Ya'kub burd'aya (or burd'ana ; see Barhebraeus : ed. cit. 
ii. 97). 

3 Barda'tha, a coarse horse-cloth (from barduna, a mule). The Greeks 
call him 'laKwfios TCdvT(a\os. 

4 John of Ephesus (f after 585 ; see p. 305, n. 3) is the chief authority 
for this story. 

5 J. M. Schonfelder : Die Kirchengesch. des Johannes v. Ephesus (Munich, 
1862), i. chap, xxxiv. (pp. 33-34). 


soon as Baradai was ordained he began those amazing journeys 
up and down Syria which fill the rest of his life, by which he 
practically re-created his sect, for which certainly he deserves the 
everlasting gratitude of the Jacobites who inherit his name. 1 He 
was, of course, compelled to hide from the Government (then 
rigidly enforcing the decrees of Chalcedon). Fleeing always from 
the officials, soldiers and Melkite bishops, disguised in the ragged 
cloak which his name has made famous, for nearly forty years 
James travelled over Syria, Egypt, Thrace and the islands of the 
Archipelago. For a great part of his missionary journeys he was 
accompanied by two monks, Konon and Eugene, whom he had 
sent to Egypt to be ordained bishop, so that he with them could 
ordain others. 2 Everywhere he fanned into flame the dying 
embers of Monophysism. He is said to have ordained twenty- 
seven bishops and one hundred thousand priests and deacons 3 
for his sect. He acted always in friendly co-operation with the 
Egyptian Monophysites. But he was not so much wanted 
there, where the party was already strong. His work was in 
Syria. He did not himself become Patriarch of Antioch, but 
he ordained two. When Severus of Antioch was dead in exile 
(c. 543) 4 he ordained Sergius of Telia (543-546) to succeed him, 5 
then an Egyptian monk, Paul. From these descends the line of 
Jacobite Patriarchs of Antioch, by the side of their Orthodox 
rivals. From this time, then, we may count the Syrian Jacobites 
as a separate sect. Worn out by his labours, Baradai died in 
578. Although the Monophysites of Syria naturally look back 
to Severus of Antioch 6 as their great champion, we may rightly 

1 See p. 336. 

2 There was already the general rule that it takes at least three bishops 
to ordain one. 

3 Assemani : Bibl. Or. ii. (Diss, de Monoph.) v. says he ordained more 
than two thousand priests. 

4 Gustav Kriiger says that Severus died in 538 (Prot. Realenc. xviii. 256) . 

5 So the Life of James Baradai in Land {Anecdota syriaca, ii. 256). 
Lamy doubts whether Baradai ordained Sergius (Barhebraeus, i. 214, n. 2). 

6 " The Patriarch Severus, the excellent, clothed with light, occupant 
of the See of Antioch, who became a horn of salvation to the Orthodox 
Church (the Monophysites)." Hist, of the Patr. of Alexandria (ed. cit.), 
p. [185], see Barhebraeus i. 194 : " the holy Severus, scorning life and 
despising earthly glory." 


consider their sect, as a separate organized body, to be founded 
by the James after whom they are called Jacobites. 1 

2. The Jacobites in the Past 

From the foundation of the sect till modern times there are not 
many events of importance to chronicle. Through all the vicissi- 
tudes of Syrian history, for thirteen centuries, we must conceive 
this Church as existing obscurely by the side of the Orthodox and 
the Nestorians. Its first general note is that it has always been a 
small and scattered body. It never became the national Church 
of the whole country, as did the Copts in Egypt. The reason of 
this lies in the different state of the two countries. Egypt is 
practically an island, surrounded by desert and sea, peopled by 
one race with one language. For centuries it had been one 
mighty kingdom under Pharaoh. It was also at some distance by 
sea from the centre of the empire at Constantinople. So Egypt 
was always one isolated, compact whole. All Egypt moved 
together. When it became part of the Roman Empire it was 
still one land, inhabited by one non-Roman race, much as it is 
now under British control. The Roman, then Greek functionaries 
were a small minority of foreigners, as the English are now. So it 
was natural that a national movement, as was Monophysism, 
should become the cause of the whole land. Nothing of this 
applies to Syria. Syria (with Palestine) has no natural frontiers. 
It has always been the home of several races, keeping their own 
languages. It is in no sense one, neither physically nor in popula- 
tion. It is also quite near and most accessible from Greece and 
Constantinople. From the time of Alexander it has had a large 
and powerful Greek population, which had become as much one 
of its constituent races as the others. Greek influence, Greek 
language, which in Egypt were foreign, became in Syria almost as 
much native as Syriac ; and the Emperor could fill Syria with 
his soldiers, could impose his will on it much more easily than 
in distant Egypt. So Monophysism, imported into Syria from 

1 Barhebraeus knows and admits this name (Chron. Eccl. i. 218). For 
Baradai see John of Ephesus : Hist. Eccl. (ed. Cureton, Oxford, 1853); 
Assemani : Bibl. Orient, ii. 62-69 ; H. G. Kleyn : Jacobus Baradeus, de 
stichter der syrische monophysietische Kerk (Leiden, 1882). 


Egypt, never became a national cause of the whole country. 
East Syria had adopted the extreme opposite heresy — Nestorian- 
ism. All over Syria the Orthodox were always a large body. Nor 
was their faith a foreign Greek religion, as in Egypt. Great 
numbers of native Syrians were and remained Orthodox. The 
lines of Orthodox bishops and patriarchs were never interrupted. 
All Baradai's efforts only produced a new sect by the side of the 
Orthodox Church. At no time in their history were the Jacobites 
as numerous as the Orthodox in Syria. 

As long as the empire held their country the Jacobites were 
persecuted ; the continual efforts of the Government to bring 
Monophysites to communion with the Orthodox, either by force 
or by various compromises, naturally affected them too. Then 
came the Moslem Arabs. In 634 they defeated the Roman army 
at Yarmuk ; they took Damascus, Antioch, Jerusalem, occupied 
the whole country, and from 661 to 750 made Damascus the centre 
of their vast dominion. From that time all Christian Churches 
were equally subject to Moslem rule. The Jacobites received the 
same terms as the Orthodox and Nestorians. They, too, became 
a " nation " of Christians ; they suffered intermittent fierce 
persecution, as did the rival Churches. By virtue of the aston- 
ishing power of survival, common to all Christian bodies in the 
East, they lasted through the dark centuries which followed. 
They lost numbers of apostates to Islam, they had their own 
internal affairs, obscure quarrels among themselves. But one 
Jacobite Patriarch succeeded another ; their lines of bishops, 
though gradually reduced in numbers, went on ; they are still 
there, scattered about Syria, a small, poor sect, 1 which still loathes 
Chalcedon, glories in the memory of Severus and Baradai, and is 
in communion with the Copts. 

There are several points to notice during this time. It is 
curious that the Jacobites did not attempt to keep up a Jacobite 
line of Patriarchs of Jerusalem. They had followers in Palestine, 
and once the Monophysites had intruded a man of their party 
there (Theodosius, p. 189). But they let that succession go. 

1 Already in the 13th century Barhebraeus' brother (who continued his 
Chronicle) calls them " the small and weak people of the Jacobites " (ed. cit. 
ii. 474). 


The Orthodox were allowed to keep the line of Jerusalem un- 
challenged. We hear incidentally of a Jacobite bishop of Jeru- 
salem, Severus, who ordained Athanasius I of Antioch (595-631), * 
but after of no other till the time of the Crusades. Then they 
made Ignatius I Metropolitan of Jerusalem, to save their people 
from the Latin Patriarchs. He reigned from about 1140 for 
forty-five years. 2 With him begins a regular line of Jacobite 
Bishops of Jerusalem. These were sometimes (rarely) called 
Patriarchs. 3 Now the title of Jerusalem is merged in that of 
the Mafrian (see p. 340) . The one Patriarch whom they all obey 
is he of Antioch, successor of Sergius of Telia whom Baradai 
ordained (p. 325). Another curious point is that their Church 
shifted gradually towards the East. At first the situation was 
simple : East Syria was Nestorian, West Syria Jacobite. This 
old distinction is still kept in their liturgical language and char- 
acters. Jacobite liturgies are in the West Syrian dialect, written 
in West Syrian letters, different from those of the Nestorians 
(p. 18, n. 1) . But in the West and in Palestine, the Orthodox were 
strong. So the Jacobites moved eastward and soon came into 
contact with their great adversaries — the Nestorians. They even 
got a footing in Persia. Here they became the rival body to 
Nestorians. Each was the heretical body to the other. We have 
noted how they agreed in one thing, that their respective theories 
were the only alternative ; neither took into account a third 
possibility — that a man might be neither a Nestorian nor a 
Monophysite (p. 54). 4 A result of the smallness and poverty of 
the Jacobites is that their Patriarch has never been able to live in 
his titular city — Antioch. Antioch itself was held as a stronghold 
by the Orthodox. The Jacobite claimant 5 wandered about 
Syria, chiefly to the East, as that became the centre of gravity of 
his sect. He resided often at Amida, which is now Diyarbakr, 

1 Barhebrseus, i. 262. 

2 lb. i. 496, 596. Assemani : Bibl. Orient, ii. (Diss, de Mon.), § viii. 
(sic for vii.). s Lequien, ii. 1443. 

4 There is also always the curious position that a man who accepts 
Chalcedon is called a Nestorian by Monophysites, and a Monophysite by 

5 A list of Jacobite Patriarchs will be found in Lequien : Orient. Christ. 
ii. 724-776, and Barhebraeus : Chron. Eccl. (ed. cit. vol. i.). 


sometimes in various monasteries of his party, for considerable 
intervals at the monastery Dair Za'faran, north of Mardin in 
Mesopotamia. Already, in the end of the 6th century, Jacobitism 
obtained a foothold in Persia. Tagrith on the Tigris, and the 
famous monastery of Mar Mattai in the heart of the Nestorian 
country, south-east of Mosul, were the centres from which their 
missionaries spread in all directions. They converted a number 
of Nestorians, among others Gabriel of Shiggar, chief medical 
adviser of King Chosroes II (590-628). Even the King's chief 
wife, Shirin, became a Jacobite Christian. 1 The Jacobites had a 
Metropolitan for Persia (under their Patriarch of Antioch) who at 
first lived at Mar Mattai. In the 7th century their Patriarch 
Athanasius I (595-631) organized the Persian mission on a larger 
footing. Chosroes II, after his victories, had brought a great 
number of Syrian prisoners back to Persia, who were mostly 
Monophysites. Athanasius moved the Metropolitan see to 
Tagrith. Here Marutha, a monk who had been a zealous mis- 
sionary, ruled over twelve suffragans in Persia. 2 Then he made 
three more sees. 3 Later the Persian Jacobite Metropolitan 
acquired a special title, famous in the history of this sect, which 
still exists ; he was the Mafrian (mafryana, p. 340). Naturally 
the Nestorian Katholikos always detests Jacobite activities in his 
territory and excommunicates the Mafrian and his adherents as 
obstinate heretics. 

The Jacobites, nevertheless, continued to make converts. 
They had during the Middle Ages flourishing schools of 
theology, philosophy, history and science of all kinds, so 
that their sect at one time held an exceedingly high place in the 
history of Christian literature. Notably in the 12th century was 
there a great revival of letters among the Jacobites. 4 One of 
their great scholars was the Patriarch Michael I (1166-1199), the 
same who condemned Mark ibn alKanbar in Egypt (p. 241). His 

1 For Jacobite Missions in Persia see Labourt : Le Christianisme dans 
V empire perse, pp. 217-221. 

2 Barhebrseus : Chron. Eccl. ii. 1 18-128. 

3 lb. Labourt {op. cit. p. 241) considers fifteen sees to be impossible 
in the 7th century. 

4 Duval (Litter, syriaque) and Wright (Syriac Literature) give an idea 
of this. 


great work is a Chronicle, only lately discovered. 1 This is now 
the chief source for Nestorian and Jacobite history. 2 A liturgy 
is also ascribed to him. 3 The most notable, perhaps the greatest 
man they ever had, is Barhebraeus. His original name was John 
Abu-lFarag ; he was of Jewish descent, hence his nickname 
Barhebraeus. 4 He was born at Melitene on the Euphrates 
(north of Edessa) in 1226 ; after many troubles at the time of the 
Tartar invasion (1243), he came to Antioch. Here he became a 
monk, no doubt in order to qualify for the episcopate. He went 
to Tripolis (then under the Franks), where he had a Nestorian 
teacher. At Antioch and Tripolis he studied medicine, rhetoric, 
philosophy and many things, so that he became one of the most 
learned men of his age. In 1246 the Jacobite Patriarch (Ignatius 
II, 1222-1252) ordained him bishop, when he took the name 
Gregory ; in 1264 he became Mafrian. In spite of his numerous 
duties as Mafrian he found time to write on philosophy, theology, 
physics, astronomy, mathematics. He knew Syriac, Arabic, 
Persian, Turkish, but not much Greek. He was a famous 
physician, and wrote on medicine too ; he composed a Syriac 
grammar, commentaries on the Bible, and a collection of Jacobite 
Canons. But to us his most valuable work is his Universal 
History, in great part adapted from Michael I's Chronicle. Parts 
II and III of this are an invaluable source for Jacobite and 
Nestorian history, from their first schisms down to his own time 
(13th century). 5 He has not as much prejudice against the Nes- 
torians as one would expect. He died in 1286, respected by 
everyone. Orthodox, Jacobites, Nestorians and Armenians for 
once joined to honour the memory of so learned a man. He is 
buried at Mar Mattai. 6 

1 A bad Armenian version was already known (Duval : op. cit. p. 207). 

2 Edited with a translation by J. Chabot (p. 323, n. 1). 

3 Renaudot : Lit. Or. Coll. ii. 437-447 (see below, p. 347). 

4 Syriac : Bar 'Ebraya. 

5 Continued by others down to 1496 (see p. 323, n. 1). 

6 Badger describes his tomb : The Nestorians and their Rituals, i. 97. 
For Barhebraeus see Duval: Litter, syriaque, 208-210, 409-411; Wright: 
Hist, of Syriac Literature, 265-281 ; and his own work : Chron. Eccl. ii. 431- 
486. There is a sketch of Barhebraeus in Th. Noldeke's : Orientalische 
Skizzen (Berlin, 1892), 253-273. His brother says of Barhebraeus : "lam 
not able to define nor to describe in a book his kindness, humility and 


The Jacobites had the first and one of the most brilliant 
schools of liturgical science. Their bishop of Edessa, James 
(f 708), wrote a liturgy, a compilation of prayers for the Divine 
Office, homilies on their rite, and letters on liturgical subjects. 1 
Very many Jacobites followed in his steps. Benjamin of 
Edessa, Lazarus bar Sabta, Bishop of Bagdad (deposed in 
829), 2 Moses bar Kefa, Bishop of Mosul (f 903, as bishop his 
name was Severus) 3 wrote valuable treatises on the Jacobite 
liturgy. Especially Dionysius bar Salibl (f 1171), Bishop of 
Amida, is famous as the author of a treatise (on St. James' 
liturgy) 4 such as no other Church could show in the Middle Ages. 
The result of this is that we know more about the history of the 
Jacobite rite than of any other. 

About the 12th century the Jacobite Church was probably in 
its most flourishing state. The Patriarch had then, immediately 
subject to himself, twenty Metropolitans and about a hundred 
bishops in Syria, Asia Minor, Cyprus, and eighteen more bishops 
under the Mafrian in the East. 5 But the Patriarchal dignity itself 
does not seem to have been much coveted. Barhebraeus says that 
he is better off as Mafrian. 6 ShahrastanI (12th century) knows 
the Jacobites and gives a fairly accurate account of their views. 7 
On the whole, they were a tolerant and kindly folk, who got on 
with their neighbours of other religions better than most people in 
the Middle Ages. In their zeal for scholarship they seem always 
to have been ready to learn from others. We saw that Barhebraeus 
had a Nestorian master at Tripolis (p. 330) ; later he employed 
Orthodox artists to work for him ; 8 he even writes scornfully of 
the differences between Christians, thinking it a pity that they 
run after Nestorius or Baradai, whereas Christ alone matters, and 
he quotes 1 Cor. iii . 5 . 9 The mild an d harmless little sec t was treated 

meekness, nor his sweet conversation and high soul, because I am rude, 
weak and not eloquent. I must rather be silent, trusting that the masters 
and brethren and approved teachers who knew him well will give him 
credit for his virtues " (ed. cit. ii. 486). 

1 Duval : Litter, syr. 375-378. 2 lb. 389. 

3 lb. 391-392. 4 Expositio liturgies (cf. p. 191). 

5 Assemani : Diss, de Monoph. § viii. 6 Barhebraeus, ii. 460. 

7 Ed. Haarbrucker, i. 267-270. 

8 Barhebraeus, ii. 464. 9 Noldeke : Orient. Skizzen, 267. 


kindly by its neighbours on many occasions. When Barhebraeus 
entered Bagdad as Mafrian in 1265, the Nestorian Katholikos 
(Mkika, 1257-1281) sent his two nephews and a deputation to 
welcome him. 1 Mar Yaballaha III (1281-1317, p. 97) was very 
well disposed towards Jacobites. 2 Even with the Crusaders, who 
persecuted all schismatics, Jacobite relations were not always 
bad. Sometimes the Latins ill-treated them ; 3 at other times 
they seem to have got on well together. Michael I praised the 
tolerance of the Franks. 4 

The sect at one time had several outlying colonies. Even as 
late as the nth century they still had a community and a church 
at Constantinople. 5 They had a great monastery " of the Mother 
of God " in the Nitrian desert, 6 and many churches in Egypt. 7 
For their relations with Armenians see p. 432, n. 3. But through- 
out their history they have had continual quarrels, schisms and 
rival Patriarchs among themselves. From about the 6th till after 
the 8th century there was in Syria a smaller Monophysite body, 
the " Julianists " who were aphthartolatrians (p. 207) ; these 
had their own Patriarch. 8 In Barhebraeus' time there was a 
schism, and two Patriarchs. Dionysius of Melitene was elected 
without the consent of the Mafrian (John Bar M'adene) in 1252. 
This was against the canons (p. 337) ; so Bar M'adene not only 
refused to recognize him, but got himself elected rival Patriarch. 
Both then began bribing Moslem officials, Jacobite bishops and 
notables in order to be recognized. Barhebraeus was on Diony- 
sius' side and was employed as a go-between. The schism lasted 
till Dionysius, who had murdered his two nephews, was himself 
murdered by the monks of Mar Bar Sauma, while he was standing 
at the altar during the Night Office on February 18, 1261. 9 

But the great trouble was from 1292 to 1495. During these two 

1 Barhebraeus, ii. 436. 2 Noldeke, loc. cit. 267. 

3 Martin : Les premiers princes croises et les Syriens Jacobites de Jerusa- 
lem ; " Journ. asiatique," viii. 12 (1888), pp. 471-490. 

4 Ed. Chabot, iii. 183, 222 : " The Pontiffs of our Church were among 
them, without being persecuted or hurt." 

5 lb. iii. 185. 

6 Dair asSuriani ; Butler : Anc. Coptic Churches, i. 316-326. 

7 Baumstark : Festbrevier u. Kirchenjahr der Syr. Jakobiten (Paderborn, 
1911), p. 10. 

8 Michael I (ed. Chabot), ii. 263-267. 9 Barhebraeus, i. 696-744. 


centuries there were formidable schisms among the Jacobites, 
resulting in no less than four rival Patriarchs. 

In 1292 the Patriarch Ignatius IV died. His name had been 
Philoxenus or Nimrod. 1 His election had been disputed and he 
is said to have been ordained by force (in 1283). 2 When he died 
the quarrel revived and three men were made Patriarch, each by 
a party. They were Constantine Metropolitan of Melitine, 
Michael Archimandrite of Gawikath and Bdarzake 3 Bar Wahib 
of Mardin. Michael and Bdarzake both took the name Ignatius, 
according to what was already the custom (see p. 338). Constan- 
tine was killed the next year by the Kurds ; Michael reigned at 
Sis in Cilicia, Bdarzake at Mardin and Tur 'Abdin. 4 But other 
rivals spring up, so that for a time there seem to have been four 
lines, at Mardin, Sis, at the monastery of Mar Bar Sauma, and at 
Tur 'Abdin. Then two were left, Ignatius Mas'ud at Tur 'Abdin 
and Ignatius Noah at Mardin (1493-1509). Mas'ud retired to a 
monastery in 1495, forbade his followers to choose a successor to 
him, and exhorted them to submit to Ignatius Noah. This they 
did ; so Noah (who was Ignatius XII) at last united all the sect 
under his authority. 5 

During all the Middle Ages elections bought for money and 
bribery of all kinds were common. 6 

In the 14th century especially the Jacobites were persecuted by 
Moslems ; from that time their sect shrank to a small body. In the 
16th century they consisted of only fifty thousand poor families ; in 
the 17th their Patriarch had five Metropolitans and about twenty 
bishops under him. From that time begins the Uniate Syrian 
Church, of which in our next volume. Meanwhile the Mafrian 
was no longer really the head of the Eastern Jacobites, but had 
become a titular Metropolitan, second to the Patriarch and some- 
thing like his Vicar-General (p. 340). 

Their relations with the Copts are interesting. They profess 

1 lb. i. 782. 2 lb. 780. 

3 Bdarzake = "The conqueror scatters," or it may be Arabic: Badr 
zakah, " Splendour of Purity." 4 Barhebraeus, i. 782-792. 

5 lb. i. 847. 

6 For the Jacobite successions see Chabot : " Les fiveques Jacobites " in 
the Revue de I'Orient. chret. 1899, pp. 444-451, 495-511; Lequien : Or. 
Christ, ii. 1 357-1408, and, of course, Barhebraeus, vol. i. 


the same faith l and are normally in communion with them. 
Indeed, the Jacobites have always looked up to the Copts as the 
leaders of their religion, as a larger and wealthier body ; also 
because the old canon law, which in this point they maintain, 
gives Alexandria precedence over Antioch. But they are a 
quarrelsome folk, and frequent schisms have interrupted these 
good relations. Under Damian of Alexandria (570-593 or 605) 
and Peter Kallunlkya of Antioch (578-591) 2 there was a schism 
concerning some dispute about the Holy Trinity. 3 It lasted till 
Anastasius of Alexandria (603-614) and Athanasius I of Antioch 
(595-631) , who came to Egypt and made peace. 4 The illegitimate 
succession of Isaac of Haran as Patriarch of Antioch in 754 5 
caused another schism with Egypt. 6 Under Kuryakus (Cyriacus I) 
of Antioch (793-817), the Jacobites set up an anti-patriarch, 
Abraham (or Abira). Many followed him and this caused again a 
schism with the Copts, which lasted till 825. 7 Under Christodulos 
of Alexandria (1047-1078) there was schism, because the Jacobites 
mixed salt and oil with the bread for the Holy Eucharist, which 
the Copts would not allow. 8 In the 12th century the question of 
Confession raised by Mark ibn alKanbar (p. 241) made a schism, 
since the Jacobites wavered. 9 However, except for such 
quarrels as these, the two sects have been in communion. Each 

1 Practically. See p. 342. 

2 Counting St. Peter as first Patriarch, and Peter Fullo, he would be 
Peter III (Lequien, ii. 1359). 

3 Barhebraeus says that Damian was guilty of Tritheism, " because " he 
called the notional properties (dilayatha maiknaniyatha) of the Holy Trinity 
persons (knume). Ed. cit. i. 257. Severus of Al-Ushmunain, on the Coptic 
side, says that Peter of Antioch was like a deaf asp, and " divided the un- 
divided Trinity" with "a tongue which deserved to be cut out" (ed. 
Evetts, p. [213]). 

4 See above, p. 222 ; Barhebraeus, i. 270 ; Severus, pp. [216-217]. When 
Athanasius received the Synodical letter of Anastasius he said : " The world 
to-day rejoices in peace and love, because the Chalcedonian darkness has 
passed away " (ib.). 

5 He was already a bishop (see p. 231) ; Barhebraeus, i. 316. 

6 Bibl. Orient, ii. (Diss, de Mon.) § hi. Renaudot : Hist. Patr. Alex. 217. 
His account, taken from AlMakin, is inaccurate. He makes John II, 
Isaac's predecessor, the uncanonically transferred bishop. 

7 Barhebraeus, i. 342, 360 ; Renaudot : Hist. Patr. Alex. 248-249, 270. 

8 Renaudot, 425 ; Assemani : Bibl. Orient, loc. cit. 

9 Barhebraeus, i. 574-576. 


new Monophysite Patriarch sends an announcement of his 
succession and " Synodical letters " to his brother Patriarch, 
asking for his prayers and inter-communion. This custom began 
when Athanasius I of Antioch and Anastasius I of Alexandria 
made peace (p. 222). 

A great quarrel, which however did not lead to a schism, 
occurred when Cyril III (Ibn Luklus) of Alexandria (1235-1243 or 
1250) ordained a Coptic Metropolitan for Jerusalem. This was 
certainly a wrong done to Antioch. The frontier of the two 
Patriarchates does not seem to have been very clearly marked 
(Barhebraeus says it was at al'Arish) ; x but in any case Jeru- 
salem would belong to Antioch. The Jacobites had a Metropolitan 
there (p. 328). They remonstrated and their Patriarch, Ignatius 
(David) II (1222-1252), as a kind of revenge, ordained a bishop for 
Abyssinia. Eventually the Copts promised that their bishop of 
Jerusalem should not use jurisdiction beyond the frontier of 
Egypt (which they said was at Gaza) . 2 In spite of this they keep a 
Metropolitan of Jerusalem at Jaffa, who orders the affairs of their 
colony in Palestine (p. 256). About 1840 Mr. J. W. Etheridge 
visited the Jacobites and wrote an account of their Church. 3 
Mr. G. P. Badger, when visiting the Nestorians in 1842 (p. 118), 
also examined the Jacobites and wrote an interesting account of 
them. 4 He wanted Anglicans to missionize this body ; but, so 
far, hardly any such attempt has been made. In 1892 Mr. Oswald 
H. Parry visited the Jacobite Patriarch, to see what prospect 
there might be of an Anglican mission to his people (no doubt on 
the lines of the mission to the Nestorians) ; 5 but nothing seems to 
have come of it. There is a small Low Church mission in Jeru- 
salem, conducted by a lady, which makes a few converts. But 
American Protestants are active among the Jacobites. American 
Congregationalists and Presbyterians have divided Mesopotamia 
between themselves, and have mission stations at most centres. 

1 Barhebraeus, i. 657. 

2 Barhebraeus, i. 656-664; Renaudot, 579-580; Assemani : loc. cit. § vi. 
The Franks supported the Copts in this quarrel. 

3 Etheridge : The Syrian Churches (Longmans, Green, 1846). 

4 Badger: The Nestorians and their Rituals (Masters, 1852), i. chap. vi. 
pp. 59-65, etc. 

5 Parry : Six Months in a Syrian Monastery (London, 1895), pp. 312-313. 


As usual they began with the idea, not of making converts, but of 
educating and spiritualizing, then quarrelled with the hierarchy, 
and now have small sects of ex- Jacobite Protestants. 1 

3. Organization and Hierarchy 

The name Jacobite, known to us in England in a more honour- 
able connection, 2 is since about the 8th century the usual one for 
the Monophysite Church of Syria. 3 It has been explained in 
other ways, for instance, as derived from St. James the Less 
(whose rite they use) ; but there is no doubt that it comes really 
from James 4 Baradai (p. 324). 

The total number of Jacobites is now estimated at about eighty 
thousand. 5 Most of them live in the district of Tur 'Abdin by the 
upper Tigris, between Diyarbakr and Mardin. Here are about one 
hundred and fifty Jacobite villages. They have smaller colonies 
at Diyarbakr, Edessa, Mosul, very few families at Bagdad, 
Damascus, Aleppo, 6 hardly any in Palestine, except a small 
colony at Jerusalem. They are now a poor and backward people, 
neglected by the more advanced parts of Christendom, suffering 
still from centuries of oppression and isolation, generally despised 
by their neighbours. All who know them admit that the Mono- 
physite Jacobites stand far behind their brothers who have 
returned to union with Rome. 7 All talk Arabic, except thirty or 
forty villages in Tur 'Abdin, who still speak Syriac. 8 

1 Parry: ib. 306-310. 

2 It is interesting to note that Eusebe Renaudot, the great authority for 
all Eastern Churches (f 1720), was employed by Lewis XIV to assist the 
English refugees at St. Germain (Villien : L'abbe Eusebe Renaudot, Paris, 
1904, pp. 48-55) . So he had to do with Jacobites in both senses of the word . 

3 It occurs among the anathemas of the Second Council of Nicaea (787) : 
" To all Eutychians and Monotheletes and Jacobites anathema thrice." 
Of course the Jacobites always call themselves orthodox. 

4 Ya'kiib, Jacobus. " Jacobite " is in Syriac Ya'kubaya, or Ya'kubitha ; 
Arabic : Ya'kubiyah. 

5 Etheridge in 1846 gives their number as one hundred and fifty thousand 
(op. cit. p. 149) ; Socin (Der neu-aramaische Dialekt des Tur 'Abdin, 2 vols., 
Gottingen, 1881, pp. iv-v) says there are only forty thousand; Badger (op. 
cit. i. 62) says about one hundred thousand (in 1842). Parry says one 
hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand (Six Months, p. 345). 

6 Bagdad, Damascus, and Aleppo have large Syrian Uniate communi- 
ties. There are Uniates throughout the Jacobite country. 

7 E.g. Badger : op. cit. i. 63-64. 8 Cf. Socin : op. cit. p. vi. 


Over this scattered flock rules the Jacobite " Patriarch of 
Antioch, the Divinely-protected City, and of all the domain of the 
Apostolic Throne." He is always a monk. He receives a berat 
from the Government. The bishops, under the Mafrian, elect him. 
A great principle has always been that : " Neither the Patriarch 
without the Mafrian, nor the Mafrian without the Patriarch can 
be appointed." x There have been cases of election by lot. 2 The 
old rule was very clear against the translation of a bishop from one 
see to another ; so the Patriarch was never already a bishop. 
But isolated exceptions to this rule occur fairly early. Thus in 
668 the Metropolitan of Tarsus had been Metropolitan of Amida, 3 
Athanasius VII (Patriarch, 1090-1129) transferred the Metropoli- 
tan of Gubos to Melitine. 4 One of the first cases of a Patriarch 
already a bishop was that of Athanasius VI (Haye, 1058-c. 1064), 
who had been bishop of Arishmitat ( Arsamosata) , and at his 
election there was a tumult and a schism for this very reason. 5 
Then the custom of transferring bishops became more and more 
common. Eventually the Mafrian himself constantly became 
Patriarch, in direct opposition to the old principle. In the 15th 
century the continuer of Barhebraeus says : "It was the custom 
that either the Mafrian should be made Patriarch himself, or that 
he should ordain whomever he thinks fit." 6 Now the Mafrian 
generally become Patriarch. Since the Patriarch appoints the 
Mafrian, this means practically naming his own successor. Bar- 
hebraeus insists strongly that if the Patriarch is already a bishop, 
he should not be reordained, but only the additional special 
prayers and ceremonies for a Patriarch's ordination should be 
used. 7 In the old days the Patriarch was ordained by the senior 
bishops. Then the custom was that the Mafrian should ordain 
him, and vice versa. The first case of this was the ordination of 
Dionysius V (1077-1078). Now that he is himself generally the 
Mafrian, they return (in such cases) necessarily to the old rule. 
Barhebraeus gives an account of the office of each bishop at a 
Patriarchal consecration in his time (in his account of Michael Fs 
consecration, 1166). The Mafrian ordains, and twelve other 

1 Barhebraeus, ii. 130, 456. 2 So John 11 (740—754), ib. i. 306—308. 

3 Ib. i. 284. * Ib. i. 466. 5 Ib. i. 438. 

6 Ib. ii. 538. 7 Ib. 702, 794. 



bishops also lay on their hands. The Metropolitan of Edessa 
celebrates the holy liturgy, he of Melitine reads the gospel, and he 
of Bar Salibi the other lesson. He of Kishum proclaims the 
Patriarch, he of Gihun and he of Gubos say the prayers. 1 In the 
past there are many cases of the Mafrian and other bishops 
ordaining to the episcopate, 2 and once each bishop consecrated 
his own chrism. 3 But now for centuries (apparently since the 
time of Barhebraeus) the Patriarch alone ordains all bishops and 
blesses the chrism for all Jacobites. 4 

The first Patriarch to change his name for Ignatius was Ignatius 
III (formerly Joshua, 1264-1282). 5 Since Ignatius V (Bar Wahlb 
of Mardin in 1292, p. 333) all Jacobite Patriarchs take this name 
in memory of the great martyr-bishop of Antioch, who, by the 
way, was certainly not a Monophysite. 6 

The seat of the Patriarch has varied considerably (p. 328). 
Ignatius VI (Ismael, 1333-1366) was the first to reside at Tur 
'Abdin. 7 Now he generally resides at Diyarbakr or Mardin ; but 
the church of Dair Za'faran (five miles east of Mardin) is counted 
as his Patriarchal church. 8 Indeed, although his real title is, of 
course, Antioch, he is now commonly called " the Patriarch of 
Za'faran." The present Jacobite Patriarch is Lord Ignatius 
'Abdullah Sattuf. His Holiness was born at Sadad, a village 
about six hours south of Horns, where many Jacobites live. His 
original name is 'Abdullah Sattuf. Having entered a monastery, 
he became Bishop of Horns and Hama, taking the name Gregory. 
Then he was Metropolitan of Diyarbakr. He came once to 
England (as Bishop of Horns and Hama), collected money and 
imbibed here some Protestantizing ideas. He also went to look 
after his co-religionists on the Malabar coast, and there fraternized 

1 Barhebraeus, i. 542. 

2 Barhebraeus says that in 629 the Patriarch refused to ordain the 
Mafrian, because a canon of Nicaea says that his own suffragans should do 
so ! (ii. 122). 

3 Bibl. Orient, ii. (Diss, de Mon. viii. for vii.). 4 lb. 5 lb. i. 750. 

6 E.g. ad Smyrn. iv. 2 : "I bear all things, sustained by him who 
became a perfect man." St. Ignatius is particularly indignant with 
Docetism (ib. v.), of which Monophysism was a kind of revival. 

7 Barhebraeus, i. 802. 

8 For a description of this, see O. H. Parry : Six Months in a Syrian 
Monastery (London, 1895), 103-111. 



with Protestant missionaries. Returning to Syria he had already 
begun to agitate against the use of holy pictures, and otherwise 


spread Protestant ideas when, as a result of some obscure quarrel, 
he surprised everyone by turning Uniate in 1896. He was a 
Syrian Uniate for nine years, and held the Uniate see of Horns. 
Then, in 1905, he went back to the Jacobites, received again his 
see of Diyarbakr and a promise of the Patriarchal throne, when it 
should be vacant. Soon after, in 1906, the former Patriarch, 
Ignatius 'Abdulmaslh, was deposed and went to Malabar. In 
spite of the promise it cost Sattuf much intrigue and £T35o 


(borrowed from the resident Jacobite bishop at Jerusalem) to 
secure his own election ; eventually he had to spend altogether 
/T500. He was enthroned on August 15, 1906 (O.S.). As an 
exception, he has never been Mafrian. There are discontented 
Jacobites under him who say that His Holiness stains the Patri- 
archal throne by various faults, of which excessive avarice is the 
chief. Many hope for and expect his deposition. 1 

Immediately under the Patriarch, as his assistant, counsellor, 
and vicar-general, comes the Mafrian (mafryana.). 2 Since the 
collapse of the Jacobite Church in the East (practically since the 
quarrels and schisms of the 14th century) the Mafrian has resided 
near the Patriarch, having no real see of his own, but acting as a 
vicar-general and auxiliary bishop. Before that he was almost 
a second Patriarch for Eastern Jacobites, a kind of opposition 
Katholikos. 3 He could ordain bishops, consecrate the chrism, 
and so on. Now he has lost these rights. On the other hand, 
since he ceased to exercise jurisdiction in the East, he unites to 
his dignity that of their see of Jerusalem. The Jacobite Metro- 
politan of Jerusalem is the Mafrian. But it appears that the 
institution of the Mafrian is rather in abeyance in the latest 
period. A Mafrian is no longer regularly appointed. They have 
now eight metropolitans, of Jerusalem (the Mafrian), Mosul, Mar 
Mattai (the Abbot of that monastery), Mar din, Urfah (Edessa), 
Harputh, and two "general" (temelaya) metropolitans without 
fixed sees. There are three simple bishops, in monasteries in Tur 
'Abdin. The Mafrian has a delegate bishop to represent him at 
Jerusalem. Diyarbakr itself counts normally as the Patriarch's 

1 I should perhaps add that I have these details from first-hand sources 
in Syria. I regret that they are more curious than edifying. 

2 Mafryana means " fructifier " (from fra, to make fruitful, beget). 
Marutha (the first Mafrian) made Tagrith a fruitful soil of Jacobitism 
(p- 3 2 9)- The name, given first to him as a compliment, became a regular 
title (Labourt : Le Christianisme, etc. p. 241). Cf. Apost. Const, viii. 
X. 12 : 'TVep rvv Kapiro(popovnwv if -rtf ayia eKK\7]<ria. Michael I calls the 
Mafrian by a Greek name, " epitronisa " (eVtflopw), to make fruitful; or 
iiridpoviCw ? (ed. Chabot, iii. 451). In Arabic he is often called the Patriarch's 
" wakil " (vicar). 

3 The Mafrian was sometimes called Katholikos and Wakil (vicar) by 
the Jacobites. Barhebraeus gives a list of Mafrians and their lives (Chronicon 
Eccl. ii.). 


own diocese ; though, as we have seen, the present Patriarch 
held that see before his accession. A metropolitan has no 
suffragans. It is now a mere title for many bishops. 1 The bishop 
must be celibate. He is named and ordained by the Patriarch, 
who at the ordination has two or three assistants. Most of their 
chief sees carry a new name with them ; thus the Metropolitan 
of Mosul is always Basil, he of Mardin always Athanasius, and so 
on. 2 There are now five Jacobite monasteries in Tur 'Abdin, 
Mar Mattai near Mosul, 3 Dair Za'faran by Diyarbakr, Mar Muse 
between Damascus and Palmyra, Mar Markus at Jerusalem north- 
east of the great Armenian monastery. 4 This is only a poor 
remnant of the vast number of monasteries (seventy in Tur ' Abdin 
alone) which they once had. The bishops live nearly always in 
monasteries. There are, I believe, no Jacobite nuns now. 
Secular priests must be married once only before ordination. 
A priest whose wife dies must go into a monastery, unless 
they make him an uskuf (see n. 1). There is a curious idea 
that the priest should come from the village he serves. When a 
parish priest dies the village council chooses a suitable deacon and 
sends him to the bishop, who ordains him without any preparatory 
training. The priest receives small fees from his people and ekes 
out these by working in the fields like anyone else. The title 
Chorepiskopos is a mere ornament given to priests of important 
parishes. The Jacobites have innumerable deacons, ordained in 
crowds. Most of these remain in the same state as laymen, 
earning their living ; but they serve as deacons in church. Most 
monasteries are subject to the jurisdiction of the ordinary ; but 
those which contain tombs of Patriarchs or Mafrians are Stauro- 
pegia. All clergy shave the head entirely and, of course, wear a 
beard. The minor orders (singer, reader, subdeacon) are now 

1 Namely the metropolitan (Mutran) is a bishop who is a monk. A 
secular priest and widower may become an uskuf (iirivKorros), and so take 
a lower place in the hierarchy. 

2 Silbernagl : op. cit. 308-312. 

3 Where Barhebraeus is buried. Badger : op. cit. i. 95-98. The adjoin- 
ing monastery, Mar Behnam, is Uniate. 

4 Behind the Harat anNabi Da'ud. They also have a chapel in the 
Anastasis against the outside wall, immediately behind the Holy Sepulchre. 
Parry gives a list of Jacobite sees (Six Months, 321-323). See also ib. 320 
for a bishop's ordination. 


obsolete. Of the canon law which rules all these people the 
classical collection is that of Barhebraeus. 1 

4. The Jacobite Faith 

For this we may in general refer to that of their co-religionists 
in Egypt (pp. 259-265). But there are one or two special points to 
notice. That they are Monophysites hardly needs to be said. 
Their formula is that our Lord is one " from two natures (now 
become one nature)." As they identify nature and person, they 
also say that he is one person " from two persons." 2 Like most 
later Monophysites, they anathematize Eutyches (p. 168). But 
there is some slight difference between the Monophysism of Egypt 
and of Syria. The Syrians were always less vehemently opposed 
to the Orthodox than the Egyptians. They took up the cause 
less hotly (p. 326), and on the whole stood nearer to the faith of 
the empire. So in their authors the concept of our Lord is less 
strictly Monophysite, less Docetic than among the Copts. 3 But 
I doubt how far they are conscious of any difference now. Con- 
cerning the Procession of the Holy Ghost, although they have, of 
course, no Filioque in their creed, and declare that they believe the 
Holy Ghost to proceed from the Father alone, Renaudot observes 
that they are less opposed to us on this point than the Orthodox, 
and he quotes from their authors sentences very like our dogma. 4 
Concerning the Sacraments they agree in general with the Copts. 

1 Nomocanon (Ktaba dHuddaye), in Latin by J. A. Assemani in Mai: 
Script, vet. Nova Coll. x. At Mardln there is a curious group of semi- 
Christian Jacobites who were once sun- worshippers. They put themselves 
under the Jacobite bishop, were baptized and conformed to his religion, in 
order to escape Moslem persecution in the 18th century. They are called 
the Shamsiyah ("Sun-people"), and consist of about a hundred families, 
who live in a special quarter of the town. They conform to all Jacobite law, 
but also keep their own pagan observances. See Silbernagl : op. cit. 

2 Assemani : Bibl. Or. ii. (Diss, de Mon.) § v. 

3 See Harnack : Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte (4th ed., Tubingen, 
1909), pp. 408-412 ; Kattenbusch : Confessionskunde, p. 223. (He 
says : " The Coptic Christ is a mere Wonder-being.*') 

4 Lit. Orient. Coll. ii. 72. Parry says they hold " a position half way 
between those of the Greeks and Romans," about the procession of the 
Holy Ghost (Six Months, p. 355). 


They do not circumcise. It is an absurd calumny that instead of 
baptism they ever branded children in the cheek with a hot iron. 1 
They have had strange ideas about the Holy Eucharist ; Barhe- 
braeus thinks that there is a hypostatic union between the bread 
and wine and the body and blood of Christ. 2 If we add to this 
the Monophysite idea about hypostatic union, we have a very 
strange position. They believe that the Epiklesis consecrates. 
They were once really defenders of Confession, as they showed 
at the time of Mark ibn alKanbar 3 (p. 241), though now they 
practise it little. But now we come to an appalling possibility. 
We saw that Baradai was ordained bishop secretly at Constanti- 
nople, and then himself ordained other bishops (p. 324). All 
their orders come from him. But it has been said, not without 
some appearance of truth, that Baradai was never ordained 
bishop, but only priest. So Renaudot doubts all Jacobite orders 
on this account. 4 However, Assemani thinks his doubt un- 
necessary. 5 Jacobites pray to saints and for the dead, as do 
the Copts. They deny Purgatory, but have a theory which 
comes to the same thing. When good people die angels take 
their souls to the earthly Paradise ; bad people are taken by 
demons somewhere very uncomfortable, outside the inhabited 
world, till the day of Judgement. Yet they pray already to 
saints. 6 

5. Rites and Liturgy 

This little sect owes its importance to its rites. The Jacobites 
supply an excellent example showing that faith, rite and litur- 
gical language are three totally different things, which may occur 
in every possible combination. For in faith they are one with 
the Copts ; in rite they are poles apart. Their rite has abso- 
lutely no connection with the Coptic rite, except that which 
joins any two Christian orders of service. The Jacobites, almost 

1 Assemani : loc. cit. § v. 2 lb. Cf. Parry : op. cit. 355. 

3 Although they condemned Mark they defended Confession. Dionysius 
Bar Salibi wrote : " Canons concerning the manner of receiving a penitent 
in the Sacrament of Confession," and an " Order " (Taksa) for administering 
the Sacrament. These are printed in Assemani: Bibl. Or. ii. 171-174. 

4 Lit. Orient. Coll. i. 345-346. 5 Loc. cit. § v. 6 lb. 


alone in Christendom, 1 use the other great parent-rite of the East. 
As the Copts keep the old rite of Alexandria, so do the Jacobites 
keep that of Antioch, the parent of the Byzantine and Armenian 
liturgies. In rite, therefore, the Jacobites stand much nearer 
to their enemies the Orthodox. And in language they are one 
with their extreme enemies of all — the Nestorians. In the East 
you can never determine a man's rite by the language in which 
he says it, 2 nor his religion by his rite. 3 

There is little of special interest to see in a Jacobite church. 
They do not have the Coptic principle of three altars always ; 
neither have they the Byzantine rule of one only. Generally 
there is only one ; but in larger churches there may be one or 
more side-chapels with an altar. They seem to have no rule 
about an ikonostasion or haikal-screen. I have seen many 
churches in which there is no screen at all. 4 In others (at Damas- 
cus, etc.) there is an ikonostasion, copied, I suppose, from the 
Orthodox. But there should always be at least a curtain before 
the altar. In front of the sanctuary stand one or two lecterns. 
There are the usual pictures, but poor and uninteresting as a 
rule. 5 The Syrians are not an artistic folk. Their churches 
have nothing of the archaeological interest of Coptic churches. 6 
Also they have been much affected by Orthodox and Byzantine 
influence. They call the sanctuary Madbkhd (literally, " altar "). 
On their altars stand the gospel-book, vessels, crosses and candles. 
Their vestments are : for a bishop, the alb (kuthina), 7 apparently 

1 Except that the Orthodox use the Antiochene rite in two churches, 
once a year in each (Orth. Eastern Church, p, 395, n. 1), and, of course, 
the Syrian Uniates have the same rite as their heretical brethren, and the 
Maronites have a form of it. 

2 Hence the never to be sufficiently denounced absurdity of talking 
about the " Greek rite." 

3 Neither can you in the West. A Jansenist uses the Roman rite in 
Latin ; a Milanese Catholic has the Ambrosian rite ; in Dalmatia Catholics 
use the Roman rite in Slavonic. In short, every possible combination of 
religion, rite and language occurs. 

4 E.g. in their church at Beirut. 

5 There seems to be a Protestantizing movement against pictures among 
them now. See Parry : Six Months, 191. 

6 Parry gives descriptions and plans of Jacobite churches (Six Months, 

7 From x'tc^. 


always white, amice (masnaftha), 1 girdle, stole (urara), 2 epi- 
manikia (zende), phainolion (faina), 3 omophorion (also called 
urara). He carries a pastoral staff, like that of the Copts and 
Byzantines. Does a Jacobite bishop (or even the Patriarch) 
wear a crown or mitre ? Assemani says not. 4 On the other 
hand, the crowning of the bishop forms a conspicuous part of 
his ordination rite. 5 I am not sure, but I am inclined to think 
that the use of the crown has disappeared, 6 especially since Uniate 
Syrian bishops have a Roman mitre, presumably in default of 
one of their own rite. The priest wears the alb, amice, girdle, 
stole, zende, faina ; the deacon has only an alb and a stole (of 
a different shape) from the left shoulder, as in the Coptic rite 
(p. 272). The celebrant, whether priest or bishop, wears a black 
cap with white crosses. There are no fixed liturgical colours. 
It will be seen, then, that their vestments (except for the mitre) 
are the same as those of the Copts (pp. 272-274). In ordinary 
life the clergy wear a black or dark cassock ('aba') and a pecu- 
liarly shaped black turban, which may be seen in fig. 12, p. 339. 
The Patriarch wears a gold pectoral cross, and, on state occasions, 
a scarlet 'aba'. 

The holy liturgy is the old rite of Jerusalem-Antioch, called 
the Liturgy of St. James, in Syriac. 7 This came originally from 
Jerusalem to Antioch, there displaced the pure Antiochene use 
(of which it is itself a modified form), and from the Patriarchal 
city spread throughout Syria. It is the most prolific of all rites, 
and has a large family of daughter liturgies. Of these the wide- 
spread Byzantine rite is the best known. What happened in 
Syria is just as in Egypt (pp. 275-276). The Greek form of St. 

1 The bishop at ordination receives a masnaftha (Denzinger : Ritus 
Orient, ii. 93, 157). 

2 wpdpiov. It has the form of the Byzantine epitrachelion. 

3 Now shaped, as among the Copts, like our cope (p. 273). 

4 Bibl. Or. ii. (Diss, de Mon.) § viii. (=vii.). 

5 Denzinger : op. cit. ii. 93. His " crown " appears to be the masnaftha, 
richly embroidered. 

6 Etheridge (op. cit. 147) says the Jacobites have no mitre. 

7 The Jacobite services are in the West-Syriac dialect, and their books are 
written in Serta characters. Both are slightly (only slightly) different 
from those of the Nestorians. 


James' liturgy is older ; x it was soon translated into Syriac, 
certainly before the Monophysite schism. At first it was used 
in Greek or Syriac indifferently. Then the Orthodox kept 
the Greek form, 2 the Jacobites used only Syriac. The Greek 
form was gradually Byzantinized in various details ; in the 13th 
century the Orthodox abandoned it altogether and adopted the 
Byzantine rite. 3 So the rite of Antioch, once so mighty in the 
East, became the speciality of one little sect only. 4 Bar Salibi 
gives a curious account of its origin. It is the oldest, the most 
apostolic of all. On Whitsunday the apostles received the Holy 
Ghost ; the next day they consecrated the chrism, on Tuesday 
they consecrated an altar, on Wednesday St. James, the brother 
of the Lord, celebrated this liturgy, and, when he was asked 
whence he had taken it, he said : "As the Lord lives, I have 
neither added nor taken away anything from what I heard from 
our Lord." 5 

Some Greek forms remain in the Syriac liturgy : " s turner) - 
kalus," 6 " kurye elaisun," " sufiya," " prushumen " ; but it is 
not riddled with Greek formulas as is that of the Copts. The 
essential Jacobite liturgy consists of the Ordo communis, that is, 
all up to the anaphora and the prayers after communion, and 
the anaphora — all of St. James, corresponding to the Greek St. 
James. Then they have a bewildering number of alternative 
anaphoras, which they may substitute for that of St. James. 
There seems to be some strange tendency which causes just the 
smallest Churches to compose a multitude of anaphoras. The 
enormous Roman patriarchate is content with one canon all the 

1 Printed in Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, pp. 31-68. 

2 Though they used Syriac very considerably, too, down to the 18th 
century. Even after they had adopted the Byzantine rite, they said it 
in many places in Syriac. See Charon : Le rite Byzantin, in XpvaoffrofxiKa 
(Rome, 1908), pp. 499-501. 

3 Probably under the influence of the same Theodore Balsamon who 
abolished the Greek St. Mark rite (p. 276 above ; see Charon : op. cit. 
pp. 492-493). Greek St. James is used now again twice a year in two 
Orthodox churches (above, p. 344, n. 1). 

4 More about the Antiochene rite will be found in Baumstark : Die 
Messe im Morgenland, pp. 28-47, and in my book : The Mass, pp. 80-93. 

5 Ed. cit. p. 36. 

6 Bar Salibi, by the way, always quotes this formula in Syriac : " nkum 


year round ; the widespread Byzantine rite has two. 1 But 
when we come to these small sects we find numbers. The Jacob- 
ites take the first rank easily in this respect. Brightman gives 
the titles of sixty-four, besides that of St. James ; 2 there are 
probably many more in manuscript. They are ascribed to all 
sorts of people : St. John the Evangelist, St. Mark, St. Peter, 
" the Roman Church " (excerpts from our Mass), Dioscor, Igna- 
tius of Antioch, Severus, Barhebraeus, and so on. A theory, 
once popular, is that originally these were meant to be used on 
the feasts of certain saints, then by mistake were supposed to 
have been written by them. This is now abandoned. There is 
nothing in honour of the saint in the liturgy ascribed to him, 
and no evidence that it was used on his feast. Many are attri- 
buted to people who have no feast. We must put down these 
wild attributions 3 to the same Syrian genius for apocrypha which 
produced the Clementine romances and so many other false docu- 
ments. Most of these alternative anaphoras are based upon a 
quite foreign tradition, have no connection with the anaphora 
of St. James. The oldest and most valuable, containing echoes 
of very ancient Antiochene forms, exists in two recensions as- 
cribed to St. Ignatius 4 and (probably for Syrians in Egypt) St. 
Athanasius. 5 Some of them do not contain the words of institu- 
tion at all, 6 others have them in a composite and deficient form. 7 
Some (especially the late ones) are very long, inflated and full 
of bad rhetoric. It should be noted that the alternative liturgies 
involve not only a special anaphora, but, in many cases, special 
forms for the prayers of the faithful too. 8 

An interesting question is how far the Jacobites use their multi- 
tude of anaphoras. I think that very few occur in actual practice. 

1 Not counting the Presanctified liturgy, which is really a quite different 
service. 2 Op. cit. pp. lviii-lxii. 

3 Some of them (to later Jacobite leaders) may be true. 

4 Renaudot : Lit. Orient. Coll. ii. 214-226. 

5 Cf. Baumstark : Die Messe im Morgenland, p. 44. 

6 E.g. St. Sixtus : Renaudot, op. cit. ii. 134-142. 

7 Thomas of Heraclea, ib. p. 384. This anaphora also has the peculiarity 
that its prayers are alphabetical. The first begins with Alaf, the second 
with B6th, and so on. 

8 Renaudot (op. cit. ii. 126-560) prints thirty-seven of these alternative 
anaphoras with a note on each. 


The celebrant says that of St. James, or its shorter variant form ; x 
possibly, on rare occasions, one or two of the others may be said. 
But most apparently slumber unused in manuscripts. Since 
the 15th century, as Syriac more and more became a dead lan- 
guage to most Jacobites, there has been a great invasion of 
Arabic in their liturgy. Now the lessons, the Lord's Prayer, 
many pro-anaphoral prayers and hymns are in Arabic, written 
sometimes in Karshuni. 2 

The order of St. James's liturgy (in its Jacobite form) is this : 
The celebrant and deacon say preparatory prayers, vest, prepare 
the altar and lay the bread 3 and wine on it. Then comes the 
offertory of the gifts ; they are veiled. The Liturgy of the Cate- 
chumens begins with a sedra (" order "). This is a very common 
form of prayer in this rite. It consists (in theory) of a fixed 
framework (normally verses of a psalm) interspersed with short 
changeable prayers, much as our Invitatorium at Matins. It 
always has an introduction (prumyun, Trpootfjaov) . But often 
the framework is left out. The sedra is always said at the altar 
by the celebrant, while the deacon swings the thurible. Then 
comes a general incensing, with prayers. The lessons follow. 
There are four, from the Old Testament, Acts (or a Catholic 
Epistle), St. Paul, the Gospel. Between each is a Prokeimenon 
or Gradual, while the celebrant in a low voice says a prayer. 
Before the second lesson comes the Trisagion with the Mono- 
physite clause (p. 190) ; before the Gospel Haleluya thrice with a 
verse, while they make the Little Entrance. 4 There is now no 
dismissal of Catechumens. 5 The Liturgy of the Faithful begins 
with a sedra (prayers of the faithful) 6 and incensing ; the creed 

1 Renaudot, ii. 126-132. 

2 There is no mystery about Karshuni. It is simply Arabic written in 
Syriac letters, as Jews write Yiddish in Hebrew letters. It began by 
Syrians hearing and talking Arabic, but not being able to write it. Now 
it has become a tradition among Jacobites, Uniate Syrians and Maronites. 

3 The bread is leavened, mixed with salt and oil, and with a portion of 
old " holy leaven," as among the Nestorians (p. 150). 

4 Bar Salibi (Latin version of Labourt, ed. cit.), 46. 

5 Bar Salibi knows an elaborate dismissal of catechumens, energumens, 
penitents (ib. 47-48). This still exists in Renaudot's version : ii. 10. 

6 Bar Salibi (p. 50) here describes a procession round the church with 
the offerings (which have lain on the altar since the beginning). It seems 


follows. The celebrant washes his hands and prays for whom he 
will. Then come the kiss of peace and " prayer of the veil " 
(as he unveils the oblata). The Anaphora begins by the deacon 
crying out : " Stand we fairly." 1 The people answer : " Mercies, 
peace, a sacrifice of praise." The celebrant gives a blessing (in the 
words of 2 Cor. xiii. 14). R. : " And with thy spirit." Celebrant : 
" The minds and hearts of all of us be on high." R. : " They are 
with the Lord our God." Celebrant : " Let us give thanks to the 
Lord with fear and worship with trembling." R. : " It is meet 
and right." Celebrant (in a low voice) : 2 "It is very meet, right, 
fitting, and our bounden duty to praise thee, to bless thee, to 
celebrate thee, to worship thee, to give thanks to thee, the creator 
of every creature, visible and invisible " (aloud) 3 " whom the 
heavens and the heavens of heavens praise and all the hosts of 
them, the sun and the moon and all the choir of the stars, the 
earth and the sea and all that is in them, the heavenly Jerusalem, 
the Church of the first-born who are written in heaven ..." 
So he comes to the angels ; the people take up the Sanctus, to 
which they add " Benedictus," etc., as in our Mass. Now, 
almost at once, follow the words of institution, said aloud (to 
which the people answer Amen), the Anamnesis and Epiklesis 
(also aloud, answered by Amen). A long Intercession follows, 
in the characteristic Antiochene place. The deacon prays in 
litany form for the Church, patriarch, metropolitan, for the clergy 
and people, kings and princes, he remembers " her who is to be 
called blessed and glorified of all generations of the earth, holy 
and blessed and ever virgin, Mother of God, Mary," and other 
saints ; he prays for the dead. To each clause the people say, 
" Kurye elaisun " ; meanwhile the celebrant prays to the same 
effect, ending each division of his prayer aloud. There is a 
blessing, then the Fraction, during which the deacon sums up 

a rather meaningless imitation of the Byzantine Great Entrance. The 
Greek St. James has a real Great Entrance, with the chant ^.iynadru (a 
Byzantine infiltration). Brightman, p. 41. 

1 In Syriac here. 

2 Syr. : ghanta (lit. " inclination "), is the rubric for prayers said in a 
low voice by the celebrant as he bows down ( = fivariK&s) . 

3 Syr. : tlitha (lit. " erect "), means a prayer said aloud by the celebrant, 
standing erect ( = e/c^&jj/Tjcm). 


the Intercession in a long prayer, called Kathuliki, for all sorts 
and conditions of men. This is closed by the Lord's Prayer said 
by all (in Arabic), 1 the celebrant saying a rather longer intro- 
duction than usual and a short embolism (in Syriac). The 
Inclination follows (Deacon : " Let us bow our heads to the 
Lord." R. : " Before thee, O Lord our God "), 2 and the Eleva- 
tion (Celebrant : " The holies to the holy." 3 R. : " The one Father 
is holy, the one Son is holy, the one Spirit is holy/' Meanwhile 
he elevates first the paten then the chalice). Here the celebrant 
marks the holy bread with the consecrated wine and then dips 
it into the chalice. The particle received in Communion is called 
the " coal " (gmurtha), in allusion to Isa. vi. 6, or the " pearl " 
(marganitha, cf. Matt. vii. 6). The celebrant himself receives 
such a fragment (intincted), then drinks of the chalice. Lay 
people receive a fragment intincted only (with a spoon). There 
seems some uncertainty (or variety of practice) as to the way 
the deacon or assisting clergy make their Communion. 4 I believe 
they now usually receive an intincted particle only, and do not 
drink directly of the chalice. The Communion formula is : 
" The propitiatory coal of the body and blood of Christ our God 
is given to N.N. for the pardon of his offences and the remission 
of his sins. His prayers be with us. Amen." After Communion 
follow a thanksgiving prayer, a blessing, and the dismissal. 5 After 
the liturgy the celebrant consumes what is left of the Blessed 
Sacrament (they do not reserve), and there is a distribution of 
blessed bread (burktha). This liturgy is one of the most beauti- 
ful in Christendom. Strange that an insignificant little sect 
should possess so splendid a liturgical tradition. But the modern 
Jacobites are not worthy of their inheritance. Their once bril- 
liant school of liturgical scholars came to an end long ago. Now 

1 I believe the Jacobites always say the Our Father in Arabic (I have 
always heard it so). The Uniate Syrians certainly do. It is in Arabic in : 
Ktdbd dteshmeshtd dkurdbd (Mosul, 1881, p. 32). 

2 In noticing the many resemblances and identical forms in this rite and 
that of Byzantium, we must always remember that this is the parent from 
which the Byzantine rite is derived. 

3 Kudshe lkaddishe. 4 Renaudot : op. cit. ii. 120-123. 

5 Brightman : Eastern Liturgies, 69-100. Cf. Renaudot : Lit. Orient. Coll. 
ii. 1-44 (there are differences between the forms). 


their priests hurry through a service, in a language they hardly 
understand, 1 with gross carelessness. 

The Jacobite Divine Office is also very ancient in form and 
very interesting. Since Dr. Anthony Baumstark's publications 
about it, 2 it may easily be studied. They have the usual hours : 
Vespers (ramsha) ; Nocturn (lelya) ; Morning office (safra, opOpos, 
more or less our Lauds) ; and day hours for the third, sixth, and 
ninth hours (not for the first). Their Compline (suttara, "pro- 
tection ") is a later addition. The essence of this office is natur- 
ally the psalter, sung in the old Antiochene order. It contains 
also lessons (Biblical and legends of saints), hymns (sedre, p. 348 
and 'enyane), 3 prayers, and so on. 4 The Jacobite Calendar also 
represents the old order of Antioch. They follow the Julian 
reckoning. The year begins on the first of October. From 
December 1 they have a fast (Advent) in preparation for Christ- 
mas. Five Sundays before Christmas they begin to prepare for 
it in their prayers. Christmas (Beth yalda, December 25) and 
Epiphany (Beth denha, January 6) follows, as with us. The 
" praise of the Mother of God " is December 26, Holy 
Innocents December 27, St. Stephen January 8. Candlemas 
comes on February 2. The last two Sundays before Lent 
are for the dead, the first for the clergy, the second for the 
laity. The last week before Lent is the " fast of Ninive " 
(p. 287). The seventh Sunday before Easter is " of the ap- 
proach of the fast " ; the great fast (Lent) begins forty days 
before Palm Sunday. Holy Week, Easter, Ascension day and 
Whitsunday follow as usual. Before the death (Shunnaya) of 
the Mother of God (August 15), and the Princes of the Apostles 
(June 29) they fast, like the Copts (p. 287) . Scattered throughout 

1 For the training of the Jacobite clergy often means merely the power 
to read and pronounce Syriac words, without any real study of the 
language. The Uniates are, naturally, much better equipped. Their 
Patriarch is a great scholar. 

2 Das Syrisch-Antiochenische Ferialbrevier in the Katholik (Mainz) 1902, 
ii. 401-427, 538-550; 1903, i. 43-54; and: Festbrevier u. Kirchenjahr 
der Syrischen Jakobiten (Paderborn, 1910). 

3 The 'enyana ("response," from 'na, "to hear,") corresponds to the 
Byzantine Kavwi/ ; Baumstark : Festbrevier, 69-77. 

4 Further details in Baumstark : op. cit. 


the year are saints' days, naturally many of their own. 1 We 
noticed that the Jacobite rite is almost the only thing of impor- 
tance about them. That and the memory of their former scholars 
still give a certain dignity to this little sect. 


James Baradai, ordained by stealth in Constantinople in the 
6th century, built up a Monophysite Church in Syria, called 
(after him) Jacobite. Under the empire the Jacobites were per- 
secuted ; since Islam rules in their country (since the 7th century) 
they share the usual conditions of a tolerated subject Christian 
" nation." In the Middle Ages they had scholars of distinction, 
notably the famous Mafrian Barhebraeus ; they had an excellent 
school of liturgical science, and, on the whole, they got on fairly 
well with other Christian bodies. They have one Patriarch (of 
Antioch) ; under him the Mafrian ruled their communities in 
Persia and East Syria, where they became formidable rivals of 
the Nestorians. They were never a very large body ; since the 
14th century they have dwindled, and are now quite a small, 
poor, backward, scattered sect. They dwell chiefly in Mesopo- 
tamia, round about Diyarbakr. The Mafrian is now a kind of 
auxiliary bishop and vicar-general to the Patriarch. In faith 
the Jacobites agree with the Copts, though in earlier times their 
Monophysism was less pronounced. They have always been less 
opposed to the Orthodox. Their rite is quite different. It is 
a Syriac form of the ancient Antiochene rite, with the liturgy 
attributed to St. James the Less, first Bishop of Jerusalem. To 
this they have added a vast and heterogeneous collection of other 
anaphoras, not, however, much used now. Their office and 
calendar also represent the old rite of Antioch. These are the 
chief points of interest in their Church. 

1 For the Calendar see Baumstark : Festbrevier, pp. 159-288, and 
Nilles : Kalend. Man. 459-483. Parry gives accounts of a modern Jacobite 
wedding (Six Months, 246-248), and funeral (ib. 343-345). 



This outlying body of Christians does not demand a lengthy 
treatment here, for two reasons. In the first place, it is not 
really a special Church at all. The Christians of Malabar were 
originally simply one of the many missions throughout Asia 
founded by the East Syrians or Persians, dependent on the 
Katholikos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. They followed their mother- 
Church into Nestorianism, used the same rite as she did, and 
were merely a distant portion of the Nestorian Church. Later 
came relations with the Jacobites. But again the Malabar 
Christians who submitted to the Jacobite Patriarch became 
simply Jacobites in India. In no case has Malabar itself any- 
thing to justify our reckoning it as a special Church, except its 
geographical position. Secondly, in its history the only important 
event is its reunion with Rome under the Portuguese in the 
16th century. The majority of these people are still Uniates. 
The story of that union and account of the Uniates belong to 
our next volume. Here it will be enough to give an outline of 
the origin of Christianity in Malabar and some account of the 
schismatical Christians there. 

i. The Foundation of the Church 

When the Portuguese fleet under Vasco da Gama sailed into 
East Indian waters in 1498, the sailors found flourishing Christian 
communities established along the south-western coast of India, 



from Calicut down to Cape Comorin. These people had a 
hierarchy under a Metropolitan, churches and shrines. Their 
services were in Syriac. They said that they descended from 
Christians converted by the Apostle Thomas ; they called them- 
selves with pride the " Christians of St. Thomas." 

This is the local tradition, still firmly held by all the Malabar 
Christians, whether Catholic or schismatical. They hold, as a 
point of honour, that they are an apostolic Church ; they show 
still the tomb of St. Thomas, and are exceedingly offended by 
the other account of their origin, namely, that their Christianity 
comes from Nestorian missionaries. This brings us to a much- 
discussed legend, that of the alleged Indian mission of St. Thomas. 
There is a considerable literature, Syriac in source, which tells 
(with variants) a detailed story of the journeys of St. Thomas 
the Apostle throughout Asia. Some versions make him go as 
far as Pekin and found a Church in China. In all, he appears as 
an Eastern parallel to St. Paul in Europe. 1 As his companion, 
in many versions, St. Bartholomew appears. The constant root 
of the story is that St. Thomas came to Parthia, converted a 
Parthian king named Gondophares, or Gundaphor, who reigned 
over part of India, that he established a flourishing Church in 
this king's domain. There are many additions ; the story is full 
of fantastic details. As far as we are now concerned, the points 
to mention are that the Apostle is said to have preached the 
gospel in the island of Socotra, to have then passed over to 
Cranganore on the western coast of India, where there were many 
Jews, to have converted Jews and heathen, built churches, and 
left a hierarchy ordained by himself. Then he went across India 
to Mailapur (now a suburb of Madras), preached there, was 
attacked by the Brahmins, martyred by being stoned and pierced 
by a javelin on a hill still called St. Thomas's Mount, and was 

1 Among the many sources of this legend of St. Thomas the chief is a 
Gnostic document (originally in Syriac) known as the Acta Thomcs. It 
was apparently composed in the middle of the 3rd century. Eusebius 
quotes it (Hist. Eccl. hi., 25), also Epiphanius (Hcer. xlvii. 1 ; P.G. xli. 
852), and many others, down to Gregory of Tours (Miracul. liber, i. 32 ; 
P.L. lxxi. 733). See Bonnet: Acta Thomcs (Leipzig, 1883), Germann : 
Die Kirche der Thomaschristen (Gutersloh, 1877), pp. 11-47, an d Harnack : 
Gesch. der altchristl. Liter atur ,\\. i. (Leipzig, 1897), 545-549, for an account 
of the legend. 


buried there. Later, his relics were taken to Edessa. 1 One's 
first inclination is perhaps to reject the whole story without more 
ado. We know the anxiety of local Churches all over the world 
to claim a direct apostolic foundation ; we know, too, how little 
credit can be given to apocryphal acts of apostles, such as abound 
in Gnostic literature. On the other hand, a rather better case 
than one might think can be made for an Indian mission of St. 
Thomas. Not only from these Acta Thornce, but from a great 
number of apparently independent sources, we have a constant 
tradition that he preached in India. 2 It is true that " India " 
is a very vague term in early Christian literature. It may mean 
Arabia or even Ethiopia. Yet, at least in many of these, it is 
clear that what we know as India is meant. 3 The authenticity 
of this tradition has been again defended by Father Joseph 
Dahlmann, S.J., who points out that the name of the Parthian 
king Gundaphor is now established, that since Alexander the 
Great the road to India was easy from Syria, that there was 
continual intercourse between Parthia, India and the West in 
the 1st century, and that there are many reasons which show 
that at least the kernel of the tradition is not improbable. 4 
But even if we admit in general a mission of St. Thomas to Parthia 
and to a state in Northern India, this still leaves his alleged 
foundation of a Church in Malabar very doubtful. It is a far 
cry from a Parthian kingdom in North India to the south-western 
coast. To deduce that St. Thomas was in Malabar, because he 
was at the court of Gundaphor, is like saying that St. Paul came 
to Britain because he was in Spain. On the other hand, the 
tradition of Thomas in India would naturally be appropriated 

1 There is a constant tradition that the Apostle's relics were brought to 
Edessa, so that at Mailapur is only an empty grave, before which, however, 
miracles were worked (Rufinus : Hist. Eccl. ii. 5 ; P.L. xxi. 513 ; Socrates : 
Hist. Eccl. iv. 18 ; P.G. lxvii. 504 ; Sozomenos : Hist. Eccl. vi. 18 ; P.G. 
lxvii. 1336) ; Gregory of Tours, loc. cit. 

2 Germann (loc. cit.), etc. 

3 So St. Jerome, who says that Pantaenus preached in India where St. 
Bartholomew had been (De vir. illustr. 36), in another place says that in 
India he preached to " the Brahmins and philosophers of that people " 
(Ep. lxx. ad Magn. Orat. ; P.L. xxii. 667). 

4 Die Thomas-Legende (Herder, 1912). See Fr. H. Thurston, S.J., in the 
Month for August, 1912 ("Christianity in the Far East," pp. 153-163). 


by any Christian communities in that vast land. We must leave 
the apostolic origin of Malabar Christianity as a very doubtful 

But the " Christians of St. Thomas " are right when they protest 
against being described as a Nestorian mission. It is, I think, 
certain that their Church was founded by East Syrian mission- 
aries ; but there is every reason to suppose that this was 
before the East Syrian Christians had turned Nestorian. Indian 
Christianity was always dependent on the people who became the 
Nestorian Church, so India followed its mother Church into 
heresy. But there was Christianity in India (and along the 
Malabar coast) before Nestorius. We have a number of allusions 
to this. Even allowing for the inevitable ambiguity of the name 
" India," we can trace at least some of them with certainty to 
Hindustan. The first of these is the story of Pantaenus (f c. 200), 
the celebrated founder of the Alexandrine school of theology. 
Eusebius 1 and St. Jerome 2 tell us that he travelled to India, 
there found Christians who had St. Matthew's gospel in Hebrew, 
and that St. Bartholomew 3 had preached there. There is already 
some doubt as to where this " India " may be. Many people 
think it is Southern Arabia ; but Jerome, at any rate, means 
Hindustan. 4 We may note at once that two races of Jews, 
white and black, have for a very long time been established 
along this coast. 5 If they were there first, we may suppose that 
the faith was preached in the first instance to them, and this 
would account for the " Hebrew " St. Matthew, meaning a 
Syriac version. 6 The " John of all Persia and great India," in 
the list of Fathers of Nicaea (325), is possibly a mistake (seep. 43 
above). But soon after the council there was a Theophilus of 
Diu, of whom Philostorgius tells. 7 He was an Indian from the 
island Dibus (Ai/3oi5s) who had come to Constantinople under 

1 Hist. Eccl. v. 10. 2 j) e v j r ^ M us ty % 36. 

3 St. Bartholomew also constantly appears as the other apostle of India. 

4 See above, p. 355, n. 3. 

5 Asiatic Journal, N.S. vol. vi. (Sept.-Dec. 1831), pp. 6-14. 

6 " Hebrew " is always Syriac (Aramaic) in such cases, as in Acts xxi. 
40, etc. 

7 In the fragments of his history preserved by Photius, iii. 4-6 (P.G. 
lxv. 481-489). 


Constantine, and had adopted Roman manners. He was, or 
became, an Arian. The Emperor Constantius (337-340) sent 
him to Arabia to reform the Church of the Christian Sabaeans, 
or " Homeritae." He accomplished this mission with success. 
The point which interests us here is his origin. Where is Dibus ? 
It seems now generally agreed that it is Diu, the island off Guzerat. 1 
Eventually he went back home to India and made some attempt 
to propagate Arianism there. 2 The next incident of which we 
hear comes from a Malabar tradition. The story is that, in the 
middle of the 4th century, a Metropolitan of Edessa had a vision 
(not further described, but presumably about the needy state of 
a distant Church). He tells his vision to the " Katholikos of the 
East," who summons a synod to discuss the matter. At the 
synod a merchant, Thomas of Jerusalem, rises up and says that 
he knows what this Church is : he has heard of Christians " of 
Malabar and India." So the Katholikos sends him to Malabar 
to investigate. He comes back with a full report. Then the 
Katholikos sends him out again with the Bishop of Edessa, who 
had seen the vision, with many priests, deacons, men, women, 
boys and girls, who come to Malabar in the year 345 . 3 It seems 
that this Thomas the merchant of Jerusalem is the Thomas 
Cannaneo of whom many European authors write. 4 " Cannaneo " 
would be the Portuguese form of the name they heard, which 
means really " Canaanite," that is/' Palestinian." Others make 
him an Armenian, 5 apparently again a corruption for Aramaean. 6 
" Thomas Cannaneo " plays a great part in many accounts of 
the origin of the Malabar Church. He appears as a bishop and 
a reformer. Some think that he is the founder of the Church, 
the real Thomas, later confused with the apostle. 7 He is said 

1 Germann (op. cit. p. 75) quotes Tillemont, Fleury and many others 
for this. 

2 Meanwhile he had been to Ethiopia. For all this, see Philostorgius, 
loc. cit. 

3 The text of the whole story is in Land : Anecdota syriaca (Leiden, 1862), 
i. pp. 123-127. 

4 E.g. Howard : The Christians of St. Thomas, pp. 15-16 ; see Germann : 
op. cit. 92-93. 

5 Swanston : "A memoir of the primitive Church of Malayala " (Journal 
of the Royal Asiatic Soc. 1834, pp. 171-172). 

6 Germann : loc. cit. 93. 7 See Howard, loc. cit. 


to have introduced the East Syrian rite, to have arrived with a 
great colony of Syrians and to have introduced Syrian customs 
at Malabar. I gather that the legend told above (in which he is 
not a bishop, but arrives with a Bishop of Edessa) is the older 
one. We need not give much importance to the details. There 
does not appear to be any independent tradition of a Bishop of 
Edessa who left his see to go to India ; all about Thomas the 
merchant of Jerusalem, or Thomas Cannaneo, comes only from 
Malabar. Yet the story may well contain an important kernel 
of truth. 1 In the 4th century the Persian Christians were being 
cruelly persecuted (pp. 45-47) . At that time may not a number 
of them, with bishops and clergy, have fled to the more tolerant 
Hindu princes on the western coast of India ? There is con- 
siderable evidence of some such migration as this ; 2 it forms an 
interesting parallel to the Parsi migration to India after the 
Moslem conquest of their land, and it accounts for the Syrian 
(and later the Nestorian) character of Malabar Christianity. 

The sum, then, of what we know about the introduction of 
Christianity in South-Western India would seem to be this. At 
some unknown period, but early, probably in the 2nd century, 
there were Christians in India. They had come either overland 
from East Syria or by sea from Arabia. In the 4th century a 
body of Christians from Persia arrived on the Malabar coast. 
These were subjects of the Persian Metropolitan ; they brought 
their language and rites, and had bishops ordained in the East 
Syrian mother-Church. So Malabar is a very early, perhaps the 
earliest case of those wonderful missions throughout Asia which 
are the chief glory of the East Syrian Church. Jews and Hindus 
were converted ; so a missionary Church, dependent on the 
Katholikos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, was formed. 

2. Before the Portuguese Conquest 

From the 4th century we have a number of more or less inci- 
dental allusions which show us a Church in Malabar, East Syrian 

1 Assemani (Bibl. Orient. :n. part ii. 443-444) puts the story much later, 
in the 9th century, and tells it with several variants. Germann criticizes 
his version, I think, successfully : op. cit. 90-96. 

2 Germann : loc. cit. 82-83. 


in character, using the normal East Syrian rite and dependent on 
the Katholikos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon. It would seem that its 
nucleus consisted of Syrian refugees from Persia. The bishops, 
in the earlier period, appear to be all Syrians ordained and sent 
out by the Katholikos. There is, then, a certain similarity 
between Malabar and Abyssinia (dependent on the Patriarch of 
Alexandria). But at Malabar there was no attempt to adapt 
the liturgy to the language of the country. To the native 
converts in India Syriac was as foreign a language as Latin to 
converts in England. But they kept the liturgical language of 
the mother Church. Another parallel to Abyssinia is that there 
was only one bishop in Malabar. The Metropolitan of India, 
like Abuna in Abyssinia, had no suffragans. It may be that for 
a time the Manichees obtained a footing in this land. Some 
writers, notably Theodoret of Cyrus, 1 say that Mani sent a 
disciple to India. We shall not be surprised that this disciple 
is said to have borne the invariable name of all supposed early 
Indian missionaries. He, too, was called Thomas. Some see in 
this an explanation of the whole legend of the Apostle Thomas ; 
it would be a Manichaean forgery ; 2 there is a long story (com- 
plicated with Buddha 3 ) to account for early Christianity in 
India. Certainly, the Manichaean idea suggests among other 
influences that of Hinduism ; and there is evidence of Mani- 
chaeism in Ceylon at an early date. 4 On the other hand, what we 
know of Malabar Christianity shows us no trace of Manichaeism. 
All allusions show us a normal Christian Church of East Syrian 
type, and then Nestorianism. We have no indication when 
Malabar turned Nestorian. But that must have happened in- 
evitably as soon as East Syria adopted the heresy. The mission- 
ary daughter Church simply followed her mother. Since the 
bishop was a Syrian sent out from the home of Nestorianism, he 
would bring the theology of his sect with him ; the converts 

1 Hceret. Fab. Comp. i. 26 (P.G. lxxxiii. 381). 

2 So Tillemont, quoted by Assemani (Bibl. Or. III. ii. 28) ; Germann (op. cit. 
p. 100) and most writers now reject this idea. 

3 His name, Gautama, is supposed in some way to contain the name 

4 So G. Flugel : Mani, seine Lehre u. seine Schriften (Leipzig, 1862), pp. 
8 5, 174- 


would know nothing else. Now, we are reduced to one or two 
chance allusions to Malabar. Kosmas Indikopleustes, in the 6th 
century, found " Persian Christians " in India ruled by a Persian 
bishop (p. 104). About the same time another traveller, a 
Jacobite Syrian monk, Bud Periodeutes, 1 also found Christians 
in India established for a long time. 2 Their dependence on the 
Nestorians is undoubted. We have seen the letter in which 
Yeshu'yab, the Nestorian Katholikos, complains that Simon of 
Yakut neglects the missions under his care (7th century, p. 104). 
Among these is that of India. 3 The Katholikos Timothy I 
(728-823, see pp. 94-96) refers on several occasions to the flourish- 
ing Church of India, subject to himself. 4 Barhebraeus tells us 
that in the time of this Timothy the Metropolitan of Persia would 
not obey him as Katholikos, and said : " We are the disciples 
of Thomas the Apostle, and have nothing to do with the See of 
Mari." So Timothy, to humble his pride and weaken his power, 
took away India from his jurisdiction, and made it a Metropolitan 
see independent of anyone but himself. 5 Assemani thinks that 
the Thomas whom Timothy ordained with others and sent out 
as missionaries was for India. 6 But already the Malabar people 
had begun that strange practice, in later years characteristic of 
them, of sending to the hereditary enemies of their Church, the 
Monophysites, for bishops. We shall see this astonishing pro- 
ceeding on a much larger scale later (p. 365). Meanwhile 
already, in the 6th century, they made approaches to the Mono- 
physites, which, however, at first produced no result. 7 In the 
7th century the same thing happened again. An Indian priest 
came to the Coptic Patriarch Isaac (686-689) asking him to 

1 Bud is Ba'uth ; Periodeutes is an office of the Nestorians and Jacobites ; 
a "visitor" (sa'aura, p. 134). 

2 Assemani : Bibl. Orient, ill. part i. 219. 

3 lb. p. 438. 4 Labourt : De Timotheo, i. pp. 41-42. 
5 Chronic. Eccl. ii. 172. 

8 Bibl. Orient, in. part ii. 444-445. The inevitable name Thomas could, in 
this case, easily be explained. Nestorian bishops took new names at their 
ordination (pp. 130, 132). A bishop for India would naturally choose 
Thomas. This Thomas is mentioned among those ordained at that time in 
Thomas of Marga : Book of Governors (see p. 112), iv. 20 (ed. Wallis Budge, 
vol. ii. p. 447). 

7 Germann : op. cit. 148-149. 


ordain a bishop for India. Simon did not dare do so for fear of 
the Moslem governor. But Theodore, Patriarch of the Gainite 
party (p. 220), ordained a man from Maryut bishop, and two 
priests, and sent them on their way to India. But the Khalif s 
soldiers caught them and sent them back to Egypt. Here the 
governor cut off their hands and feet and made a great trouble 
with both Simon and Theodore. 1 We notice already that these 
negotiations with Monophysites show that the Nestorian theology 
was not considered a very vital issue in Malabar, if indeed the 
native Church understood the particular doctrine of its Katholikos 
at all. 

The next incident is interesting to us. Our King Alfred, of 
all people, had relations with Malabar. When the Danes were 
besieging London, Alfred (871-901) made a vow, if they were 
driven back, to send gifts to Rome, and also to India in honour of 
St. Thomas and St. Bartholomew. In 883 he sent Sighelm 
or Suithelm, Bishop of Shireburn, with the gifts. Sighelm came 
to Rome and then went on to the Malabar coast. He made his 
offerings here, and brought back from his long journey jewels 
and spices. 2 Strange to see an English bishop in India in 883. 
Marco Polo (c. 1254-1324) describes the " pepper-coast of Mala- 
bar," 3 tells stories about its trade and customs, but says nothing 
about Christians there. 4 However, he knows that there are 
Christians in India ; he describes St. Thomas' tomb at Mailapur 
and tells the story of his mission and death. 5 

Two relics of the time before the Portuguese conquest throw 
further light on the early history of this Church. The first is the 
Mailapur Cross. In 1547, as the Portuguese were digging the 
foundations for a church at Mailapur, they found a stone carved 
with a cross. Various miracles are told of this cross. It bled, and 

1 Simon I was Isaac's successor. Hist. Patriarch. Alex. ed. Evetts, pp. 

2 The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ed. by B. Thorpe), vol. ii. 1861, p. 66. 
William of Malmesbury : de Gestis regum Anglorum, ii. § 122 (ed. W. Stubbs), 
London, 1887, vol. i. 130. 

3 Everyone notices pepper as the chief export of the Malabar coast ; so 
Kosmas Indikopleustes : " the so-called Male where pepper grows," loc. 
cit. (see p. 104, n. 2). 

4 Chap, xxviii. ed. Wright {cit.), pp. 362-363. 

5 Chap. xx. ; ib. 348-349. 


at other times gave out water. It was supposed to mark the place 
where St. Thomas was buried. It still exists in the Church of our 
Lady on the Hill of St. Thomas at Mailapur, and has been photo- 
graphed. 1 On the stone is carved a cross which has a remarkable 
likeness to that of the Nestorian monument at Si-ngan-fu (p. 107) ; 
above it is a dove. Around are letters which for a long time no one 
could read. It is now established that they are Pehlevi (the 
language of Persia under the Sassanids) ; but there still seems to 
be some uncertainty as to their meaning. Mr. Burnell interpreted 
them : "In punishment by the cross was the suffering of this 
one, he who is the true Christ and God above and guide ever pure." 2 
Dr. Haug of Munich thinks that he has translated wrongly, and 
reads : " Who believes in Christ and in God on high and in the 
Holy Ghost, he is in the grace of him who bore the suffering of 
the cross." 3 He dates the cross and inscription as 5th century. 
The existence of this monument (in Persian) is a valuable witness 
of Persian missions in India, and confirms our view of Indian 
Christianity as a mission from the Persian Church. 

The other document is the famous charter of privileges. In 
1549 a dying Malabar bishop gave the Portuguese Governor, as 
a most precious relic, certain copper plates, which he said con- 
tained the authentic grant of privileges made to Christians by 
the King of Cranganore, and were given by him to Thomas 
" Cannaneo " (p. 357). After a time these were lost, but they 
were found again by Colonel Macaulay, British Resident in 
Travancore, and were deposited by him in the Anglican College 
at Kottayam in 1806. They have been photographed and pub- 
lished. 4 There are six copper plates, written in an ancient Indian 
language (Karnataka), with signatures in Arabic and Syriac. 
They confer on Christians the highest caste, and exempt them 
from the jurisdiction of Hindu magistrates, except for criminal 
cases. In all civil and ecclesiastical matters they are to be ruled 
by their own Metropolitan. Among the signatures are names of 
Moslems ; so the tradition which dates these plates at the time of 

1 By A. C. Burnell in : On some Pahlavi inscriptions in South India 
(Mangalore, 1873). This is the cross on the cover of this book. 

2 In Germann : op. cit. p. 297. 3 lb. 299. 

4 In the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vij. (1843), PP- 343~344- 


Thomas of Jerusalem (4th century) is plainly wrong. Germann 
thinks they are of the 8th century. 1 The Jews of Malabar have 
similar charters ; both are interesting proofs of the characteristic 
tolerance of Hindu kings. 

There is little more to say of the first period before the Portu- 
guese came. Under the mild rule of the native Hindu kings the 
Nestorian missionary Church flourished and was at peace. It 
was ruled by the one bishop, " Metropolitan of India." He had 
established his see at Angamale (inland from Cranganore). The 
arrangement had begun that each Metropolitan was assisted by 
an archdeacon of the family of Palakomatta ; 2 but he himself 
was still a foreigner, ordained and sent out by the Nestorian 
Katholikos. When the Metropolitan died the archdeacon sent 
a petition for a successor to the Katholikos ; meanwhile he 
administered the see himself. For a short time the Christians 
had even succeeded in obtaining complete political independence. 
They had set up a line of Christian kings of their own , which line 
came to an end not long before the Portuguese arrived. They 
were then under the Rajah of Cochin. 

3. Since the Portuguese Conquest 

Vasco da Gama came to India first in 1498. He completed 
the conquest of the coast by 1502. The Portuguese report is that 
they found about two hundred thousand Christians, having fifteen 
hundred churches. The Metropolitan at the time was Mar Joseph, 
at Angamale. With the Portuguese conquest begins the story of 
the reunion of the Malabar Church with Rome. That will be told 
at length in our next volume. Here it is enough to mention that at 
the Synod of Diamper in 1599 the Malabar Church was made to 
renounce Nestorianism and all connection with the Katholikos in 
Mesopotamia, to accept the Catholic faith and the Pope's auth- 
ority. There begins a line of Uniate Metropolitans, dependent 
to some extent on the Portuguese Latin hierarchy. As long as 
the Portuguese were masters, that state of things continued. 

1 Die Kirche der Thomaschristen, 248-250. 

2 They had a legend that St. Thomas had chosen an archdeacon of this 


Officially and theoretically, all Malabar Christians were Uniates. 
The Inquisition was set up ; prison, and in some cases death, 
were the penalties of relapse into schism. But the Inquisition 
rarely succeeded in securing hearty affection from its victims. 
There follows a complicated story of relapsed and deposed 
bishops ; undoubtedly many of the clergy and people only 
accepted the union externally, while waiting for a chance of 
restoring a Nestorian, or at least non-Papal Church. The 
Uniate Metropolitan (now called Archbishop) moved his see to 
Cranganore on the coast. In 1653 a number of the clergy and 
leading men met in the Church of Alanghat and swore to renounce 
the jurisdiction of the Archbishop, to set up a non-Uniate Metro- 
politan as before. It was, of course, a secret conspiracy, for 
fear of the Portuguese. They chose Thomas Palakomatta, of 
the appointed family, to be archdeacon, and set about to obtain 
a bishop. They tried to get one from the Nestorians. But the 
Government was on the watch in that direction, and would let 
no one through towards Mesopotamia. One sees that the one 
point which mattered to the schismatical party was to be inde- 
pendent of Rome, represented to them by the hated conqueror. 
Evidently they cared little about the Council of Ephesus. So, 
as they could not get to Mesopotamia, they sent by sea to 
the Copts in Egypt. The Coptic Patriarch ordained and sent 
them a (Monophysite) Syrian 1 named Aithallaha, otherwise 
Ignatius. But he was caught and put to death. 2 This first 
attempt shows both the persistent determination of a party in 
Malabar not to be Uniates and their indifference as to whether 
they were to be in union with Nestorians or Monophysites. 
Both are characteristic. Thomas Palakomatta continued to 
rule his hiding faction as archdeacon while waiting for a bishop. 
There is a curious story that twelve of his priests went through 
an alleged form of ordination by laying a letter from the im- 

1 I take it he must have been a Monophysite. The Malabar people waver 
in the strangest way ; but I cannot conceive a Coptic Patriarch ordaining 
a Nestorian. 

2 Germann : op. cit. 447-449. He tells the story differently (pp. 452— 
453), and says that Aithallaha was sent by the Uniate Chaldee Patriarch 
at Mosul ; which makes his capture and death unaccountable. I follow 
the usual version as given by Howard : The Christians of St. Thomas, 45-46. 


prisoned Aithallaha on his head. 1 Many of his adherents returned 
to the obedience of the Uniate Archbishop, and he had only a 
small remnant when the Hollandish conquest changed the whole 
situation. The Hollanders took Quill on from the Portuguese 
in 1661 ; in 1662 they captured Cranganore ; in 1663 Cochin and 
the whole coast. The new Protestant masters reversed the 
situation. They had no interest in maintaining the Pope's 
authority ; on the contrary, they encouraged schism and, if 
anything, rather persecuted the Catholics. So the Archdeacon 
Thomas and his friends now easily got what they wanted. But, 
strangely, they did not apply to their old patrons the Nestorians. 
They seemed to have got used to looking to the other faction for 
help ; in any case, they must have been completely indifferent 
about their original heresy. It was Gregory, Jacobite Metro- 
politan of Jerusalem, who came to India in 1665 and ordained 
Thomas Metropolitan. Here, then, occurs one of the most 
astonishing transformations in Church history. The Uniate 
majority were not, of course, affected. But the schismatical 
Christians of Malabar, who had been Nestorian, now became 
Jacobite. Thomas accepted the Jacobite rite and was in com- 
munion with the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch. That is still 
the state of a great part of the schismatical body. 

Its further history is a bewildering confusion of rival claimants, 
schisms among themselves and complicated quarrels. The 
Nestorians made various unsuccessful attempts to recapture 
their ancient daughter Church. Early in the 18th century they 
sent a bishop, Mar Gabriel, who formed for a time a schism from 
the Jacobite Metropolitan ; but his party seems to have died out 
with him. 2 In 1750 the Mafrian Basil came to Malabar in order 
to ordain a certain Thomas. But he changed his mind, and 
ordained one Cyril instead. Thomas then made a schism, which 

1 There is a similar story that in 1810, when a bishop died without 
ordaining a successor, the clergy took a priest, brought him to the dead body, 
said the prayers for ordaining a bishop, and laid the dead hand on his head 
(Germann, p. 621). I have heard of several such cases of ordination by a 
dead hand (compare the Armenian practice, p. 416) ; but I do not think 
that, even in times of extreme necessity, they were ever acknowledged. 
This man, so ordained, was never recognized as a real bishop. 

2 Germann : p. 549 ; Silbernagl : Verfassung, u.s.w. 318. 


was carried on after his death, and was only appeased by the 
Rajah of Travancore. 1 This is one example of what has happened 
almost incessantly. Malabar Church history, except for the 
Uniates, is one long story of rival Metropolitans, the interference 
of various foreign prelates, schismatical ordinations, 2 endless 
quarrels and appeals to the pagan secular power. At the end 
of the 18th century the power of Holland begins to give way 
before that of England. The second Mysore war (1790-1792) 
gave us undisputed supremacy in Southern India ; the Rajahs 
of Cochin and Travancore (who divide the Malabar coast) became 
dependent on England in 1795. So begin relations between 
Anglicans and the schismatical Malabar Christians. In 1806 
Dr. Claudius Buchanan visited their Metropolitan Dionysius and 
proposed a union between the two Churches. But the Indians 
seem to have known something about the Church of England, 
for they said that they could not acknowledge Anglican orders. 3 
It really is hard on Anglicans that no one, not even this poor little 
sect in India, will accept their orders. However, in spite of this, 
relations were not at first unfriendly. Anglicans were, of course, 
delighted to find an ancient Church which is not in union with 
Rome ; the Malabar clergy had every reason to be on good terms 
with these rich and powerful foreigners who were now masters 
of the country. As usual, the Anglicans professed the greatest 
possible respect for the ancient Syrian Church in India, and 
loudly declared their intention not to proselytize. They only 
wanted to educate and help. So they printed and dis- 
tributed Syriac Bibles ; they built a college for the Christian 
natives at Kottayam near Cochin. But soon dissension began. 
It was the Church Missionary Society which undertook this work, 
and its missionaries were, even for that Society, very Low Church 
indeed. They taught justification by faith alone and an un- 
sacramental theology ; they never ceased pouring scorn on the 
Malabar holy liturgy, which they would call a Mass — apparently 
as a term of abuse. 4 One of their ministers, when invited to 

1 Howard : op. cit. 55. 

2 Schismatical among themselves. 3 Howard : op. cit. 57. 

4 Howard : op. cit. p. 94. " Mass " is, of course, a totally wrong name 
for any liturgy but those of the Latin rites. 


preach in a native Church, after his sermon, with his own hands 
tore down a picture of St. George and " committed an act of 
violence to an individual there " in so doing ; x they taught their 
pupils out of a Presbyterian catechism. 2 So there came a formal 
breach. The Metropolitan excommunicated those who follow the 
Anglican missionaries; they have set up rival, frankly Protestant, 
conventicles, with a service of their own. 3 Meanwhile, about the 
year 1825, there was another schism among the natives them- 
selves. 4 Of late years, High Church clergymen have travelled 
in Malabar and have shown these people that there are 
different kinds of Anglicanism. 

4. The Land and People 

We come to the present state of the schismatical Church. 
The situation is different from that of all the other Churches 
described in this volume, for in this case the schismatics are a 
minority, and are clearly a later breach away from the old body. 
From what has been said in the last paragraph it is clear that, 
as a matter of historic continuity, the Uniates are the original 
Church which accepted 5 union with Rome at the synod of Diamper. 
The Uniate Vicars Apostolic ritus syro-malabarici now represent the 
old line of Metropolitans of India. The Jacobite Metropolitan 
rules a new schism, tracing his line only to Thomas Palakomatta, 
ordained in 1665 ; and the breach of continuity with the past is 
the more manifest in that they then joined another religious 
body — the Jacobites. If the Jacobite bishops in India wish to 
trace their line to the Apostles, they must go back to 1665, then 
leave India, join on to the Jacobite Church of Syria, and go back 
to James Baradai, Severus of Antioch, and so, in a way, to the 
old Patriarchate of Antioch. 

Along the south-western coast of India, between latitudes 
9 and 13, lies an undulating country between the sea and the 
high Anamullay mountains. It stretches for about two hundred 
miles from Mangalore on the north to Cape Comorin, and is from 

1 Howard, op. cit. 97. See p. 106 for another disgraceful scene. 

2 lb. 3 lb. 107-108. See below, pp. 369-371. 4 lb. 67-71. 
5 Whether willingly or by force does not affect the point. 


thirty to fifty miles wide. This is the famous pepper-coast of 
Malabar. Inside of the coast-line is a long expanse of water, a 
back-water or series of lagoons connected by channels and sepa- 
rated from the open sea by a narrow strip of land with occasional 
openings. You may travel almost the whole length of the 
Malabar coast by water along these lagoons. The land is fertile, 
but very unhealthy ; cholera and smallpox carry off great numbers 
of people every year and leprosy abounds. The land is divided 
politically between the Rajahs of Cochin to the north and Travan- 
core to the south, under British supremacy. A British Resident 
in their States controls their Government. 1 The majority of 
inhabitants are Hindus. There is a small but very ancient and 
interesting community of native Jews (p. 354), and about 
nine hundred thousand Christians. Of these, nearly four 
hundred thousand are Jacobites. There is no difference of 
race or language between the Christians and the others. All 
talk Malayalam. 2 Their Syriac services are like those in Latin 
to us. But Christians seem to have special quarters in the 

5. The Schisms at Malabar 

The Jacobites of Malabar should have, in theory, one bishop 
only, the "Bishop and Gate of all India." 3 But there are many 
rivals and schisms among them. The people are very quarrel- 
some, always going to law against each other. A discontented 
party sends to the Jacobite Patriarch of Antioch, or to someone 
else, complaining of their bishop. In return he is generally 
deposed, and a rival appointed. But he will not retire ; there 
are mutual excommunications, and a schism is formed. 

1 I am indebted to Mr. G. T. Mackenzie, Resident from 1899 to 1904, 
for much valuable information about the Malabar Christians. Mr. Macken- 
zie, who is a Catholic, compiled the chapter on Christianity in the Travancore 
State Manual (Trivandrum, 1906), ii. 135-223, and wrote an able article 
in the Dublin Review, vol. 139 (July-Oct. 1906) : "The Syrian Christians 
in India" (pp. 105-122). 

? Malayalam, nearly akin to Tamil, is one of the " Dravidic " (not 
Aryan) dialects spoken in Southern India. 

3 As a matter of fact, there are quite a number of bishops in Malabar, 
mostly in schism with one another ; the Jacobite now has suffragans (p. 374). 


To understand the present extremely complicated state of 
non-Uniate Christianity along this coast we must go back to the 
Anglican missions. 

In 1816, missionaries of the Church Missionary Society began 
operations among the Malabar Jacobites. We have noted that 
they were exceedingly Low Church. 1 As usual among Protestant 
missionaries, they began with the idea, not of converting natives 
away from their Church, but of reforming and purifying it by 
spreading the pure gospel. They seem to have cared very little 
about Monophysism, if indeed they even knew enough to under- 
stand what it is. 2 But they were strong against what they thought 
Popish abuses, such as images, praying to saints or for the dead, 
the liturgy as a sacrifice, and so on. They did not know that 
both Nestorians and Jacobites inherit these things from the 
early Church just as much as Rome does. The panacea for all 
these abuses was, of course, to be vernacular (Malayalam) versions 
of the Bible. They preached the pure gospel with such effect 
that, out of the one Jacobite body, there are now seven quarrelling 

At first the Malabar Jacobites believed the assurances of their 
Anglican guests that they did not mean to proselytize, nor to 
disturb a venerable sister Church. To the C.M.S. clergymen, 
Monophysites were a branch of the Church, just as much as 
the Orthodox, Lutherans and Moravians. Only (like most 
branches out of England) they wanted a little reforming. But 
the reforming efforts were not very successful. Dr. Richards 
tells us : " Apparently the only effort that was quite successful 
was that for the reintroduction of marriage among the clergy, 

1 They are so still. Dr. W. J. Richards, for thirty-five years C.M.S. 
missionary at Malabar, author of a little book : The Indian Christians of 
St. Thomas (London: G. Allen, 1908), talks about a deacon being ordained 
" full priest" (p. 37). He also thinks that the Council of Nicaea made five 
patriarchates, Constantinople being the second (p. 13). He thinks Menezes 
of Goa, who held the synod of Diamper, was a Jesuit (p. 14) ; he seems to 
think all Romish priests to be more or less Jesuits. He constantly talks 
about a Jacobite "Patriarch of Jerusalem" (pp. 17, 18, etc.). He thinks 
that "Catholicos" means Patriarch (p. 10), and he does not understand 
what Nestorianism means (p. 13). From his book I gather that the zeal 
of the C.M.S. missionaries exceeds their theological equipment. 

2 See the instructions of the C.M.S. quoted in Richards : op. cit. 21, 22. 



and this was brought about by the offer on the part of the British 
Resident of special dowries to the first women who would accept 
priests as husbands." 1 This is interesting. One does not often 
find so unblushing a confession of bribery. So with their married 
native clergy and their Protestant ideas the Anglicans formed 
a Reforming party within the Jacobite Church. It soon became 
a sect. In 1835 th e Jacobite Metran 2 held a synod at a town 
Mavelikara. He was now quite disillusioned about the C.M.S., 
and made all his clergy take an oath to have nothing to do with 
them. The Reformers then became a new body, and began a 
long process of lawsuits with the Jacobites about the property. 

A Malpan (teacher) in the Kottayam College, Abraham, who 
was a priest (Katanar), 3 took up the Protestant ideas warmly. 
Dr. Richards says of him with just pride that he was " the Wyclif 
of the Syrian Church in Malabar." 4 The Kottayam College, 
in the hands of the C.M.S., became a centre in which boys were 
trained in these ideas. " Colporteurs and catechists spread the 
printed Word all over the country." 5 Malpan Abraham had a 
nephew, Matthew, and a pupil, George Matthan. Both were 
excommunicated by the Jacobite Metran. George became 
an Anglican, and died in 1870. Matthew used cribs at Madras, 
and was expelled from the college there. 6 Then he went to 
Syria and got ordained bishop by the Jacobite Patriarch (who 
must, I think, have been misinformed as to his intentions). In 
1843 he came back, calling himself Metran of the Reformed 
Church. Naturally, he was again excommunicated by the 
Jacobite Metran. Then he embarked on the favourite Malabar 
practice of going to law with the Jacobites over the property, 
and turned out so full of what Dr. Richards calls " ungodliness," 7 
that his uncle Abraham refused to receive Communion from him 
when dying. He now called himself Mar Athanasius Matthew, 
got recognized by the Government in 1857, was apparently 
converted to a more moral life by the Anglican bishop Dr. Milman 
in 1870 (though he was still "too astute"), 8 and died in 1877. 

1 Richards : op. cit. 26. 

2 Syriac : metran, mitran ; Arabic : mutran, " metropolitan." 

3 Malayalam for " Lord." The usual name for Malabar priests. 

4 Op. cit. p. 30. 5 lb. 32. 6 lb. 37. 7 lb. 38. 8 lb. p. 39. 


He had already begun to celebrate the holy liturgy in Malayalam. 
He was succeeded by his cousin, Mar Thomas Athanasius, whom 
he had already ordained as his auxiliary. The head of the un- 
reformed Jacobites, his rival, was Mar Dionysius V. Dionysius 
invited the Jacobite Patriarch to come to India himself and to 
crush the Reformed sect. In 1875 the Patriarch (Ignatius 
'Abdu-lMasih) 1 came. He did all he could to help Dionysius. 
He excommunicated Thomas Athanasius and his followers, and 
ordained six new bishops as suffragans of Dionysius. But he 
could not crush the Reformed sect. There were now two non- 
Uniate Churches : the Jacobites (known as the Patriarch's party) 
and the Reformed (the Metran's party). In 1889 and 1901 the 
quarrel between these two over the churches and church property 
again came before the Hindu courts. 2 The case went both times 
against the Reformers. Quite rightly, the judges decided that 
the Jacobites are the old Church (since 1665), and have a right 
to all the property they have acquired since then. The Reformers 
are a new sect, and must acquire property for themselves. 

At the time of the Vatican Council it was proposed to submit 
the Malabar Uniates to the jurisdiction of the (Chaldaean) Patri- 
arch of Babylon. 3 It seems that Propaganda was considering 
the matter- — maybe they had already discussed it with the Patri- 
arch, when he, without further authority, 4 sent a certain Elias 
Melius (formerly Chaldaean Bishop of Akra in Kurdistan) to 
India, pretending to give him jurisdiction over all Malabar 
Uniates. 5 From this a great quarrel arose, which will be described 
in our next volume. The end of it was that Melius would not 

1 This is the Patriarch who was deposed in 1906 when Ignatius 'Abdullah 
Sattiif was made his successor. I am glad to say that the other day (May 
3, 19 1 3) Ignatius 'Abdu-lMasih abjured his heresy and was reconciled to the 
Catholic Church by Ignatius Ephrem Rahmani, the Uniate Syrian Patriarch 
of Antioch. Two other Jacobite bishops had already done so in January. 

2 The lawsuits fill four large volumes. 

3 Hitherto the Malabar Uniates had an irregular position under Latin 
bishops. Some such arrangement as this would seem most natural. 

* The Patriarch said he had received authority from the Pope to do so. 
This was denied at Rome. 

5 This was only one of several such more or less schismatical ordinations 
made by the late Chaldaean Patriarch Joseph VI (Audu, 1848-1878). He 
repented of these, and did not incur the excommunication with which he was 
threatened in 1876. I will tell the whole story in the volume on the Uniates. 


retire, was excommunicated, and went into schism with a small 
party in 1876. He died, apparently without having ordained a 
successor. Meanwhile this party, in schism with both the Uniates 
and the Jacobites, for want of anyone else, turned to the Nes- 
torians and joined in communion with them. In 1907 the 
Nestorian Katholikos ordained one of his archdeacons, Mar 
Abimlek (AbimelechJ, with the usual title Mar Timotheus, and 
sent him to rule this revived Nestorian Church. 1 Mar Timotheus 
now rules a small body of about eight thousand people at Trichur 
in the Cochin State. They conform in all things (except, appar- 
ently, in vestments) to the Nestorians of Kudshanis. In this 
way there is again a small body of Nestorians here. But they 
have no continuity from the old Nestorians of India. They 
are the modern schism of Melius from the Uniates. 

About the same time appeared an ambiguous person, Julius 
Alvarez. He is a Portuguese priest from Goa, originally a Latin. 
After the Vatican Council he apostatized and got himself ordained 
bishop by the Reformed party in 1888. For a time he was one 
of them. He has a small following in Ceylon (with a cathedral at 
Colombo). He calls himself Mar Julius I. His party is chiefly 
famous for the begging letters they write and the doubt they cause 
to people who receive these letters as to who, exactly, they may 
be. Lately, Alvarez and his following appear to have gone 
over to the Jacobites of the new " Metran's party " (p. 373). 2 

Lately there has occurred a fresh schism among the Jacobites. 
In 1909 the Patriarch (Ignatius 'Abdullah Sattiif) came to 
India, quarrelled with Mar Dionysius V, and excommunicated 
him. In his place he ordained a certain Mar Cyril (Kirllus). 
About half the Jacobites accept this, and are in communion with 
the Patriarch of Antioch. They have four bishops, Mar Cyril, 
two suffragans, and a delegate of the Patriarch. 3 

1 The portrait of this Mar Timotheus, in Latin vestments, with an 
enormous Roman mitre and a portentous crozier, may be seen in Heazell 
and Margoliouth : Kurds and Christians (London, 1913), p. 196. 

2 In Dr. Richard's Indian Christians, Alvarez appears in a photograph 
with the bishops of the Metran's party (p. 63). It was this man who 
ordained the notorious Vilatte bishop. Vilatte (calling himself Mar 
Timotheus) ordained Mr. Lyne (" Father Ignatius ") priest at Llanthony. 

3 This Jacobite delegate in India appears sometimes to be called by their 
old title "Mafrian." 


No one who knows the Malabar people will be surprised to learn 
that Mar Dionysius did not accept the deposition of his Patriarch. 
He promptly retorted that his Church is an autocephalous 
branch of the Church of Christ, that the Patriarch had no right 
to excommunicate him, that, in any case, he was not going to be 
deposed. Half the Jacobites followed him. So now again there 
are a "Patriarch's party" and a " Metran's party" (Dionysius' 
followers), 1 not in communion with one another. Then Dionysius, 
to strengthen his position, invited the ex-Patriarch, Ignatius 
'Abdu-lMasIh, to India. 2 'Abdu-lMasih came, backed Dionysius 
against his hated rival Sattiif, agreed that Dionysius' deposition 
was invalid, and excommunicated Mar Cyril and the " Patriarch's 
party." He then made a bishop of Dionysius' party (not Diony- 
sius himself) 3 its chief, with the title (new in India) Katholikos. 
This Katholikos is to be independent of Antioch and the Syrian 
Jacobites. He may ordain bishops by his own authority ; 
when he dies they are to choose his successor. So 'Abdu-lMasih, 
apparently more anxious to annoy Sattiif than to maintain the 
rights of Antioch over India, set up an autocephalous Jacobite 
Church at Malabar. 'Abdu-lMasih, during his visit, ordained 
three new bishops to be suffragans of the Katholikos. His 
Katholikos died recently. Mar Dionysius, Alvarez, and these 
three are now about to elect a Katholikos. 

Now we turn to the Reformed Church. Their Mar Athanasius 
Matthew (p. 370) ordained a bishop, Joseph Cyril, for a small 
group at Anjur (in British Malabar, north of Trichur), which 
accepts the Reformer's ideas and is in communion with them. 

1 Notice that these names now have a new sense. In the old days 
the " Patriarch's party " were the Jacobites, the " Metran's party " the 
Reformers (p. 371). 

2 There was considerable dispute among the Syrian Jacobites as to the 
lawfulness of 'Abdu-lMasih's deposition and Sattiif 's accession to the 
Patriarchate in 1906 (p. 339). I gather that Dionysius' idea was to 
maintain that it was unlawful, that Suttuf is no true Patriarch ; so his 
action in India does not count. And 'Abdu-lMasih, still lawful Patriarch, 
acknowledged Dionysius, and by his supreme authority made the Malabar 
Jacobites autocephalous. Needless to say, 'Abdu-lMasih, now that he is a 
Catholic, repents of all these things. By his conversion he has rather 
left Dionysius and his friends in the lurch. 

3 This is strange. I do not know the reason of it, 


These two then ordained Mar Thomas Athanasius (p. 371). When 
Athanasius Matthew died, Thomas Athanasius and Joseph Cyril 
ordained Joseph Athanasius, also for Anjur. Thomas and Joseph 
ordained George x Cyril, who is now Metran of Anjur. Joseph and 
George ordained Titus Mar Thomas I to be Metran of the Re- 
formed Church in Travancore. He and George ordained Titus 
Mar Thoma II as auxiliary of Titus Mar Thomas I. Titus Mar 
Thoma II is now the only Reformed bishop in Travancore. A 
candidate, who will be ordained in time, is being educated at the 
Wyclif College at Toronto. 

The Reformers call themselves the " Mar Thomas Christians." 2 
They are considerably Protestantized. They have no images, 
denounce the idea of the Eucharistic sacrifice, pray neither to 
saints nor for the dead, and use the vernacular (Malayalam) for 
their services. Mr. Daniel 3 says they "hold views similar to 
those of the Church of England in matters of faith." If only we 
knew what the views of the Church of England in matters of 
faith are, it would be easier to estimate those of the Mar 
Thomas Christians. However, he probably means that kind 
of Anglicanism which is taught by the C.M.S. They use St. 
James's Liturgy " with a few alterations in the prayers." The 
Jacobites deny the validity of the Reformers' orders, without 
reason, it seems. 

The Christian Churches in Malabar then are these : 

1. The Uniates (very considerably the majority ; over 
400,000 ; with five bishops, 371 churches besides chapels, 
418 secular and 72 regular priests, seven monasteries, 13 
convents) . 4 

2. Jacobites of the Patriarch's party (about 200,000 ; four 
bishops, including the Patriarch's delegate). 

3. Jacobites of the Metran's party (about 200,000 ; five bishops, 
including Alvarez). 

1 Syriac : Gewargls. 

2 Namely, they affect one of the old names of all Malabar Christians, 
" Christians of St. Thomas." 

3 Editor of the Malankara Sabha Tharaka (Star of the Malankara Church), 
organ of this body, to whom I am indebted for much information about 
the present state of Malabar. 

4 From the last edition of the Malabar State Manual, pp. 872-873. 


4. Mar Thomas Christians (the Reformed body; about 
100,000 ; 1 168 churches, one bishop now alive). 

5. The Church of Anjur in British Malabar (a small body with 
one bishop, in communion with the Mar Thomas Church) . 

6. The Nestorians at Trichur (about 8000, one bishop). 

7. " Church of England Syrians " (those who have joined the 
Church of England under the C.M.S. ; under the Anglican clergy). 

8. The Yoyomayans, a small Christian Chiliast sect, founded in 
1874 by a Brahmin convert, Justus Joseph, called " Vidvan 
Kutti " (the learned person). 2 

Lastly, there is a racial difference between the " Northist 
(Nordhist) " and " Southist (Suddhist) " Christians of Malabar. 
This crosses all the religious bodies and leads to much further 
quarrelling. Northists and Southists do not intermarry ; each 
despise the others. Even the Uniate Northists and Southists 
quarrel. The Southists have lately secured a special Vicar 
Apostolic of their own race. But this belongs to the history of 
the Uniate Churches. 

With regard to their Canon Law, it may be taken that the 
Jacobites follow that of the Jacobite Patriarch, the small Nes- 
torian body at Trichur that of Mar Shim'un. The priests are 
" Katanars," the deacons " Shamashe." The non-Uniates have 
no monks, nor nuns, nor minor orders. Silbernagl says that priests 
may marry after ordination ! 3 But so gross a violation of Canon 
Law seems impossible in any old Church. I think he must mean 
the Reformed sect, or confuse with them. They, naturally, 
hold the usual Protestant principles. 

6. Faith and Rites 

Little need be said about these, because both are simply 
Jacobite. 4 

The editor of the Madras Church Missionary Record for 

November, 1835, draws up a list of the " principal errors of 

1 Mr. Daniel says " about a lac." 

2 Travancore State Manual (1901), ii. 130-134. 

3 Verfassung, u.s.w. p. 320. 

4 Nestorian, of course, among the Trichur people. 


the Syrian Church" which redound to its credit. They are 
eleven : " (i) Transubstantiation ; (2) The sacrifice of the 


Mass ; (3) Prayers for the dead ; (4) Purgatory ; (5) Wor- 
ship of the Virgin Mary, supplicating her intercessions and 
observing a fast in her honour ; (6) Worship of saints ; 
(7) Prayers in an unknown tongue ; (8) Extreme Unction ; 

(9) Attributing to the clergy the power to curse and destroy 
men's bodies and souls ; (10) The having in their churches 
pictures representing God the Father ; (n) Prayers to the altar 
and chancel." 1 Allowing for the typical Protestant confusion 
contained in (9) and (n) (he means, of course, relative honour 
paid to the holy places), admitting (7) as no advantage, and 

(10) as undesirable, we should consider these errors a very 
creditable witness of sound Christianity. We notice that this 
ardent Protestant says nothing about Monophysism ; so maybe 

1 Howard : op. cit. 175-176. Mr. Howard excuses many of these. 


that heresy hardly exists in Malabar consciousness, unless (as 
is still more likely) the editor does not know what it means. 1 
But he would certainly have denounced confession had he met it. 
I conclude that its use has fallen into abeyance here, as in many 
Eastern Churches. 

The churches of the Malabar Jacobites appear to be all much 
alike — halls, not very large, without aisles, with a choir at the 
east separated by a low rail, and a sanctuary beyond an 
arch. The building has a simple gabled roof, that of the choir 
often higher than the rest. At both ends is a cross. The west 
front is ornamented with pilasters, carving, and sometimes 
painted decoration, often odd and barbarous looking to us. 2 
Inside, from the chancel-arch hangs a curtain which is closed 
in the liturgy during the preparatory prayers and preparation 
of the offerings, open during the catechumens' liturgy till the 
prayer before the gospel, open again during the gospel and till 
the deacon begins the Kathuliki (see p. 350), closed during that, 
open after it, closed during the Communion of the clergy, open 
during the people's Communion and till the end. The chancel 
is slightly raised ; it contains the altar, around which (except in 
front) stands a screen, carved and painted with angels blowing 
trumpets, crosses, flowers, elephants, and so on. On either side 
are side-altars or credence-tables. 3 

The clergy in private life used to dress in white cassocks, but 
put on a black one before vesting. 4 Mr. Howard found one of the 
rival Metropolitans (the successful one) dressed in " a handsome 

1 Howard notes that Protestant missionaries are often ignorant of the 
very existence of the questions discussed atEphesus and Chalcedon {op. cit. 
p. 112, n.). 

2 Their tradition says that once their churches were built like Hindu 
temples, that Thomas " Cannaneo " (p. 357) changed the shape to the 
usual one in Christendom (see Howard: op. cit. 16). All the pictures I 
have seen show churches which, in spite of the normal plan, have a strange, 
rather Hindu look, with a profusion of bad surface ornament. As an 
example, see the picture of the church at Karingachery (said to be 16th 
century), fig. 13. 

3 It does not seem clear which they are (Howard : op. cit. p. 123). The 
Jacobites allow side-altars (see p. 344). 

4 Howard, p. 133. But it seems that a white cassock is now the mark of 
the Reformed body. The Jacobite priests wear dark blue (since 1875), 
the Uniates black (Richards : op. cit. p. 7). 



purple silk robe " ; 1 his poorer rival had " a long white garment " 
and a turban. 2 Buchanan, in 1806, found the bishop in dark 
red silk. 3 It does not appear that there is any strict rule about 
his dress. Their vestments are simply those of the Jacobites 
(see pp. 344-345),* but with Latin additions (bishops wear a mitre, 
etc.). And all their rite is Jacobite too. Mr. Howard describes 
their holy liturgy, 5 and prints the whole text with six anaphoras ; 6 
they are the Jacobite ones of St. James, St. Peter, the Twelve 
Apostles, St. Dionysius, St. Xystus and John 
of Haran. Their pronunciation of Syriac 
appears to be curious, as one would expect 
in people who talk Malayalam. Mr. Howard 
gives two specimens of their singing, the 
Trisagion 7 and a cadence he heard on Palm 
Sunday. 8 Both are diatonic, so I suspect 
that his European ear has rather misled 
him. They accompany their chant with 
clashing cymbals and ringing bells. For the 
rest of the practices of the Jacobites of 
Malabar, for their calendar, fasts, and so on, 
we may refer to those of all Jacobites. 9 

Mr. Howard 10 ends his account with words 
which I gladly transcribe here. " From the 
day when it was first planted in Malabar the 
gospel has ever done its work in pious souls. 
In many a village, such as Chattanoor, Kayencolum, and others, 
remote from the scenes of strife, men and women have lived quiet 
and peaceable lives in all godliness and honesty, and in faithful 
dependence on their Redeemer. In the Church of Travancore, 



1 Howard, 155. 2 lb. 162. 3 P. 56. 

4 Howard describes them on pp. 132-134. The frontispiece of his book 
is a beautiful picture of a Katanar vested. The vestments are absolutely 
Jacobite, and he wears a cap like the Copts (see p. 272). Germann's 
frontispiece shows the Metropolitan in ordinary dress. 

5 Pp. 130-147. 6 Pp. igi-337- 

7 Op. cit. p. 157. 8 lb. 166. 9 Above, chap. ix. §§ 3-5. 

10 He is a most sympathetic Anglican clergyman, and his book (The 
Christians of St. Thomas and their Liturgies, Oxford, 1864) is very good 
reading. He is not very High Church ; but he cannot stand the ways of 
the C.M.S. He does not like Rome either. 


as elsewhere, beneath the troubled surface there has ever been, 
and still is, a deep underflow of piety, which, from its gentle and 
unobtrusive character, is not chronicled in human records, but 
whose fruit will be found at the great day to the praise and glory 
of God." 1 


The Church of Malabar claims to have been founded by the 
Apostle St. Thomas. Without committing ourselves to that, we 
may at any rate grant that at a very early date, perhaps in the 
2nd century, there were Christians in India. Apparently, in the 
4th century, a number of Persian Christians, fleeing from perse- 
cution, came to the south-western coast. They depended on the 
Katholikos of Seleucia-Ctesiphon,used his rite and spoke Syriac. 
At least from that time Malabar had a line of Metropolitans or- 
dained and sent out by the Katholikos. This is, then, one of the 
earliest of the famous missions of the East Syrian Church. Natur- 
ally, they followed their mother Church into the Nestorian 
heresy. In the 16th century the Portuguese came, and at the 
synod of Diamper in 1599 made this Church Uniate. But there 
was a reluctant party which returned to schism as soon as the 
Portuguese were driven out in 1663. However, the schismatics 
got their new line of bishops, not from the Nestorians, but from 
the Jacobites. They became Jacobite, probably understanding 
little of the issue involved, and adopted the Jacobite rite. Since 
then they have quarrelled incessantly among themselves, and 
have had continual mutual schisms and rival Metropolitans. 
The majority are Uniates. Among the others, most are Jacobites, 
now divided into two parties. The Church Missionary Society 
has formed a Reformed sect, called Mar Thomas Christians. 
There are a small Nestorian body and several other sects. 

1 Op. cit. 167. I am also tempted to copy his conversation with a 
Malabar deacon at Kottayam. It seems to me most beautiful, in its bad 
Syriac and pigeon English : " H. : You know Yeshua ? the great God, 
Yeshua Christ, God and Man : What you call him ? Deacon : Yeshua 
Meshiha, Aloha dilan. H. : What is that ?— Aloha dilan ? Tell English. 
D. : Yeshua Meshiha, our God. H. : Yes. He plenty love man. He die for 
us. It is great business to serve him ; and to tell his love " (pp. 156-157) . 



Of the Churches now Monophysite the last to accept the heresy 
was that of the Armenians. Historically, or at any rate archaeo- 
logically, they are not the most important of these lesser Eastern 
Churches. Their ecclesiastical arrangements date from about the 
4th century, and are mainly only a local variety of those of 
Caesarea in Cappadocia, also the direct parent of the Byzantine 
rite ; so that Armenian usages are mostly a mere variant of those 
of the Orthodox. The general impression of their Church is that 
it is not very ancient (at least in its laws, customs and rites), 
though it has one or two archaic features, that it does not repre- 
sent an independent tradition from the earliest age. For this 
reason the Armenians seem less interesting than the Nestorians 
or Copts. On the other hand, they form considerably the largest 
Church discussed in this book. The Armenian nation and Church 
have played a great part in the East in later times. From the 
point of view of practical importance, of size and influence, 
even (in spite of the massacres) of prosperity, the Armenian 
Church is undoubtedly the second most important (after the 
Orthodox) in the East. The Armenians, too, have a glorious 
list of saints and martyrs ; especially during the last century 
they have borne ghastly treatment, so that their very name 
suggests horrors and blood. 



This chapter contains a summary outline of political Armenian 
history, with some account of the people, the story of their con- 
version to Christianity, the organization of their Church in the 
past, their schism from the rest of Christendom, their acceptance 
of Monophysism, and so an outline of the history of their Church 
down to our own time. 

i. Political History 

Although we now know the Armenians as scattered through 
Turkey, Persia, Russia, having outlying colonies in India, America, 
almost all over the world, there is, or was, a country Armenia, the 
original home, still the nucleus of their nation. Armenia lies 
west of the Caspian Sea towards (but south of) the Black Sea. 
In its widest extent it stretches from the Caucasus mountains on 
the north to the mountains of Kurdistan on the south. West of 
Armenia come Pontus and Cappadocia. The Euphrates runs 
through the land, dividing it into a much larger portion east and 
a small part west of the river. Following the later Roman 
geographers, we thus divide it into Greater Armenia, east of the 
Euphrates, and Lesser Armenia, 1 west. It is a high mountain- 
land, divided into two main river-courses, of which one slopes 
down to the Caspian Sea, the other southwards, with the Euphra- 
tes, towards Mesopotamia, and eventually to the Persian Gulf. 

1 Divided into two provinces, Armenia prima north, and secunda south. 



There are high valleys and tablelands, thickly wooded. It is a fer- 
tile land and (we may note this at once as profoundly affecting its 
history) it was destined to be a frontier land between the Roman 
Empire and Persia, and then between Turkey and Persia. Here, 
at the dawn of history, dwelt a people who called themselves 
Chaldini ; the Assyrians called them Urartu. In the 8th century 
B.C. this people formed a powerful state, against which the 
Assyrians fought. Then the Assyrians overcame them, destroyed 
their capital, and made them a province of Assyria. The Chaldini 
were Turanians, 1 speaking a language akin to that of the Sum- 
merians and the later Ural-altaic nations. They have nothing 
to do with the Armenians. About the 6th century B.C., as part 
of the great Aryan migration, an Aryan people poured into this 
land. These are the Armenians. Their language is Aryan, form- 
ing a class of its own, together with (apparently) the hardly-known 
Phrygian. 2 Attempts to connect the Armenian language more 
closely with Persian are a failure. It is a special branch of the 
Aryan family, standing in appearance strangely apart from all the 
others. It has the most amazing combinations of consonants ; 
except for its inflections, the build of its grammar and one or 
two words, it would hardly seem Aryan at all. " Armenian " is 
the name given to this people by the Greeks (Apfievios, 'Ap/Wa) ; 
also used by the Persians (Armina), and in all European languages. 
They call themselves Haikh (plural of Hai) and their country 
Hayastan. They have wonderful legends concerning their descent 
— from an eponymous hero Haik, grandson of Japhet, from whom 
they say they descend. 3 After him in their legends follow various 
supposed ancestors, taken from the Bible. Noah plays a great 
part in their traditions. The heart of Armenia is Mount Ararat, 

1 The name Turanian is becoming old-fashioned. At any rate, they 
were neither Semites nor Aryans, which is rather a negative but not alto- 
gether a useless point of classification. Chaldini is, of course, a Hellenized 
or Latinized form of their name. It has nothing whatever to do with 
" Chaldaean." Naturally people have discussed the relation between the 
Chaldini and the mysterious Hittites. 

2 One theory of the Hittite inscriptions is that they are old Armenian. 

3 N. Ter Gregor : History of Armenia (London : John Heywood, n.d., but 
1897) tells us that the Garden of Eden was in Armenia (p. 15), and that 
his people are three centuries older than the Jews, inasmuch as Haik was 
born B.C. 2277, whereas Abraham was born only in b.c. 1996. 


where they say the ark rested after the flood. Around this are 
all manner of stories. They show the places where he got out of 
the ark, where he first planted the vine, and they have a piece of 
the ark as a relic in their monastery at Etshmiadzin. 1 

Returning to history, we find the Armenians first under the 
Medes, then under Persian authority. They rose with other 
vassal nations against Darius I (b.c. 521-486), but were subdued. 
Alexander (b.c. 336-323) included Armenia in his vast empire ; 
when this broke up Armenia fell to the lot of the Seleucid kings. 
When Antiochus III (b.c. 223-187) was defeated by the Romans 
(b.c. 190) Armenia for the first time became an independent state. 
But it was not ruled by a native king. Two Greek generals of 
Antiochus, Artaxias and Zariadris, proclaimed themselves inde- 
pendent kings. Artaxias ruled most of Armenia proper, Zariadris 
made a smaller kingdom (Sophene) in the south-east. The rule 
of Artaxias 's successors spread in the country round. Armenia 
became a great power. But the Parthian kings of the second 
Persian Empire (see pp. 21, 23) conquered the country, and made 
it a feudal state ruled by their satraps. Dikran (Tigranes) I 
(c. 90-55 b.c), a descendant of Artaxias, rose against the Persians 
and made himself independent. His reign is the most glorious 
episode in Armenian history ; but he was not a native Armenian. 
However, by this time, no doubt, his family had become so 
practically ; he rules as Armenian king ; Armenians have a right 
to be proud of his memory. He incorporated the other Armenian 
state (Sophene), and made a number of neighbouring princes pay 
him tribute. In B.C. 86 he conquered what was left of the 
Seleucid kingdom in Syria, and so made Armenia a very great 
power. A national poetic literature has grown up around this 
" King of Kings," 2 and still the persecuted Armenian looks back 
to the age when subj ect princes obeyed Dikran . 3 But this glorious 
period did not last long. The Roman power advanced in Asia, 

1 All the story of Noah's ark on Mount Ararat is a foreign tradition 
adopted by the Armenians. Moses of Khoren (see p. 396) knows nothing 
of it. Cf. Gen. viii. 4. 

2 He copied the usual Persian title. 

3 An illustration in N. Ter Gregor (op. cit. p. 70), showing Dikran on a 
horse with four captive kings in so many crowns at his bridle, shows the 
Armenian imagination of their hero. 



and reduced Armenia to its own boundaries in B.C. 66. It then 
became a helpless vassal state dominated alternately by Rome 
and Persia. These powers set up subject kings in turn. Trajan 
(a.d. 98-117) made the land a Roman province. But it came 
again under Persian influence. In 227 the Sassanid kings usurped 
power in Persia (p. 23) . The Armenian princes took the side of 
the deposed line (the Arsacides), and so their land was persecuted 
by the usurpers. A king of Armenia (Khosrov) was murdered 
in 238 (?) by order of the Persian Government, and a determined 
attempt was made to force the Persian state religion (Mazdaeism) 
on the unwilling people. Then in 261 King Trdat (Tiridates) 
II, who had fled to Roman territory, came back, drove out the 
Persians, and again made the country independent, though with 
considerable real dependence on Rome. During this time Armenia 
became Christian. Julian's unsuccessful Persian war (363) and 
the peace his successor Jovian (363-364) was forced to make after 
it, again handed over Armenia to the Persians. King Arshak 
(Arsaces) was deposed, carried off to Persia, and there died in 
captivity. The Emperor Valens (364-378) was able to restore 
what was a valuable bulwark-state to the empire, and made 
Arshak's son Pap king (367-374). Theodosius (379~395) made 
the deplorable mistake of dividing Armenia between Rome and 
Persia ; whereas he should, at any cost, have maintained a strong 
kingdom between the empire and its enemy. Manuel of Mamikon 
(378-385) was the last real king. In the division Persia got four- 
fifths of Armenia, Rome only a small corner in the West. Tribu- 
tary kings, hardly more than titular, ruled now under Persian 
supremacy till 428 ; then the Persians deposed them and sent 
governors to hold the country. Armenia was now all Christian, 
hated the persecuting Persians ; its sympathies were all for the 
Christian Empire. It rebelled many times without success, till 
the Emperor Maurice (582-602) obtained it from the Persian King, 
and again made it a Roman province. So far we have seen 
Armenia bandied about between Rome and Persia. Then came 
the Arabs. About the year 639 they invaded the country from 
Mesopotamia and ravaged it horribly. In 642 they took the city 
of Duin, or Tovin, massacred a great number of its inhabitants, 
and carried off the rest into slavery. Now the unhappy Arme- 


nians had to submit to new masters. Constantine IV (668-685) 
and Justinian II (685-695) managed for a time to reconquer parts 
of the land, but each time the Arabs came back. 

Armenia is handed about between the empire and the Khalif. 
The people were already Monophysites ; the Romans persecuted 
them almost as much as the Moslems. On the whole, the Arabs 
held the country most of the time and ravaged it without mercy. 
Then a native prince, Ashot I, in 856 succeeded in founding a 
dynasty (the Bagratids) under the supremacy of the Khalif. He 
ruled at Ani on the river Arpachai, south-east of Kars, over a 
considerable territory, including Iberia. This line of semi- 
independent Kings of Armenia lasted two centuries (856-1071) ; 
it was not altogether an unhappy time for the country, though 
there were continual wars with neighbouring Moslem Amirs, who 
acknowledged the suzerainty of the same Khalif. 1 Then the 
Selguk Turks under Alp Arslan (p. 27) devastate Armenia. 
Gagik II (1042-1045), the last king of this line, is taken to Con- 
stantinople. In 1064 Alp Arslan took Ani ; in 1071 its cathedral 
is turned into a mosque. After that the Byzantines, Turks and 
Tatars seize parts of the country and fight over it ; but some 
small native princes manage to maintain their independence. 2 
The systematic devastation of the country by the Turks put an 
end to Armenia itself as a state. The original home of the race 
(Greater Armenia) was never again a political unit. During this 
period of devastation by the Turks, and then again by the Mongols 
in the 13th century (p. 97), began the great exodus of Armenians. 
Fleeing from the horrors of their fatherland, great numbers 
wandered out to seek peace abroad. They came to Asia Minor, 
Persia, 3 Thrace, Macedonia, as far as the Danube, to South Russia, 

1 F. Tournebize : Histoire politique et religieuse de I'Armenie (Paris, s.a. 
but 1910), chap. ii. pp. 104-134, gives a good and readable account of the 
reigns of the nine kings of the Bagratid line ; see also Lynch : Armenia, 
Travels and Sketches (2 vols., Longmans, 1901), i. 334-392 ; " Ani and the 
Armenian Kingdom of the Middle Ages." 

2 Ani was again made Christian by David II, King of Georgia. In 1239 
Jenghiz Khan ravaged the city; in 1319 an earthquake ruined what was 
left. It is now only a heap of picturesque ruins (see Lynch : op. cit. i. 

3 In 1614 Shah Abbas carried off a colony of Armenians to New Julfa, 
near Ispahan, and built them a " new Etshmiadzin " there. 


Poland and Hungary. In all these places they founded colonies, 
keeping their language, religion and national feeling. This wan- 
dering became a special note of the Armenians ; it is one of the 
striking likenesses between them and the Jews. Like the Jews, 
they formed foreign colonies in many countries ; they had special 
quarters in cities. Obeying the law of the land in which they 
found themselves, they yet always remained a foreign element, 
in no way amalgamating with the native population. Such is 
still their condition in many parts of the world. 

A great number fled westward into Cappadocia, Cilicia and 
towards the Taurus mountains in the south of Asia Minor. Here 
they founded a new Armenia (Cilician Armenia), and established 
a kingdom (their last independence) which plays an important part 
in both ecclesiastical and political history. Rupen, a relation of 
the last Bagratid King, Gagik II, came to Cilicia with the remains 
of the nobility. In 1080 he made himself master of a fortress on 
the Taurus. Here he founded a principality, which after a century 
became an independent kingdom. The Crusaders were already 
in Syria. At first Rupen and his successors acknowledged the 
suzerainty alternately of the Latin Prince of Antioch and of the 
Roman Empire at Constantinople. They were content with the 
title baron. But they obtained a large territory in Cilicia. Their 
capital was Sis, north-east of Adana, on an affluent of the river 
Pyramus. 1 A new factor now enters, Latin influence on Arme- 
nians, of which many traces still remain (p. 416). The Barons 
of Sis, remembering the long persecution of the Byzantines, hating 
Moslems as their deadly enemies, eagerly welcomed the Crusaders. 
When these passed through Cilicia they supplied them with food, 
horses and weapons. They joined them in their war and inter- 
married with the families of Frankish princes. So Cilician Armenia 
was very considerably Latinized. The Church became Uniate 
(p. 415) ; the state adopted Western titles, customs, law ; it 
even used French and Latin for its official documents. There 
were one or two quarrels with the Franks, but they did not prevent 
the general good understanding. Leo (Ghevont) I, Baron of Sis 
(1129-1139), fought Byzantines and Turks successfully; then he 
fought Raymond of Poitiers, Prince of Antioch (1136). But he 

1 They had a Patriarch of Sis, whose successor still bears the title (pp. 41 7, 430)* 


made peace again, and an alliance against the Emperor. Theo- 
dore (Thoros, 1141-1168) spread his barony at the expense of his 
neighbours. It was time to make it a kingdom. This was done 
by Leo II, the Great (1185-1219). When Frederick Red-beard 
(1152-1190) came a-crusading (1189), Baron Leo got him to 
promise that he, as Emperor, would make Leo a king. Frederick 
was drowned in Cilicia (1190), but his son Henry VI (1190-1197) 
kept his father's promise, acknowledged Leo as King of Armenia, 
and promised his protection. The Armenians of Cilicia were 
already Uniate, so Pope Celestine III (1191-1198) sent the 
new king a crown, and Cardinal Conrad of Wittelsbach, Arch- 
bishop of Mainz, crowned him with it in the Church of the Holy 
Wisdom at Tarsus, on the Epiphany, n 99. The (Uniate) Arme- 
nian Katholikos of Sis (p. 416), Gregory Abirad, anointed the 
king. When the Roman Emperor at Constantinople (Alexios III, 
1195-1203) heard of these relations between Armenia and the 
Crusaders, he was naturally alarmed, and he sent another crown 
with an invitation that Leo II should rather join the Orthodox. 
Leo appears to have kept this crown too. As king he waged 
wars with varying success, died in 1219, and was buried at Sis. 
He is, after Dikran I, the great political hero of Armenia. 1 The 
line of kings of the house of Rupen lasted till 1342. Meanwhile, 
the old native land, Greater Armenia, was ravaged by Jenghiz 
Khan and his Mongols (1220). Sultan Baibars of Egypt (p. 245) 
came on the scenes in Syria and Asia Minor and defeated the 
Armenians in 1266. Since the fall of the last Latin possessions in 
Syria ('Akka in 1291), the kingdom of Cilician Armenia, their ally 
and dependent, decayed, oppressed by enemies on every side. In 
1342 the crown came legitimately to Guy de Lusignan, 2 first 

1 We have noted the Latinization of his kingdom. He appears like a 
Frank king. He made himself a coat of arms. Hitherto Armenians had 
borne on their standards an eagle, a dove, or a dragon. He made a lion 
couchant his royal arms (presumably or in a field gules ; see Tournebize : 
op. cit. 186), which is at any rate one of the coats which has most claim to 
be the national arms of Armenia. The question of the Armenian arms 
is naturally now in abeyance. The Armenians have no time for heraldry, 
and the Turk does not encourage national arms among his subject races, 
certainly not among Armenians. 

2 Guy was son of Amaury de Lusignan and Zabel (Isabelle), aunt of 
Leo IV. 


cousin of the last Armenian king, Leo IV 1 (1320-1342). Guy 
(1342-1344) fought valiantly against Turks and Egyptians ; he 
lost nothing of the land he had inherited. He was murdered by 
traitors in 1344. A usurper (Constantine II, 1344-1363) followed ; 
but the princes of the house of Lusignan came back. Leo V, 2 
the last king who ever reigned over Armenians, succeeded in 1374. 
But the Amir of Halib (Aleppo) attacked him, and after a year 
of war finally conquered the whole country. The king was taken 
prisoner ; for some time he was in danger of death for the faith 
which he refused heroically to deny. Eventually the Amir ac- 
cepted a ransom. Leo came to France, died in 1393, and was 
buried in the church of the Celestine monks at Paris. 3 That was 
the last ray of the old glory of the Armenian kingdom. 4 The 
Ottoman Turks under Bayazet II (1481-1512) easily added 
all the Armenian lands to their vast empire. These were now 
the frontier-land between Turkey and Persia. The Armenians, 
always a weak folk on the border of two great powers, suffered 
equally from Turks and Persians. It was policy to keep one's 
frontier-land a desert, so that the enemy should find no provisions 
there if he invaded. The Turks systematically ravaged the land 
with this idea. In 1575 a Persian invasion brought fresh horrors. 
In the 17th century Shah Abbas (1 586-1628) fought with the 
Turks over what had once been Armenia. In the 18th century 
an Armenian hero David (f 1728) for a short time maintained a 
successful rebellion. Then Russia appears on the scene. The 
Armenians had already appealed to Peter the Great (1689-1725) 
and Catherine II (1762-1796) for protection, without result. In 
1829, after the Russian-Turkish war, Russia annexed the east of 

1 Otherwise Leo V. 2 Or Leo VI. 

3 On his tomb they wrote : " Cy gist tres noble et excellent prince Lyon 
de Lysingne, quint, roy latin du royaume d'Armenie, qui rendit 1'ame a 
Dieu, a Paris, l'an 1393. Priez pour lui " (Tournebize : op. cit. p. 751). 
His title " King of Armenia," went to his cousin James I (de Lusignan), 
King of Cyprus (1382-1398). From then to Catherine Cornaro (1474-1489) 
the Kings of Cyprus (and Jerusalem) added Armenia to their title. She 
sold her rights to the Republic of Venice, which advanced a claim on the 
shadowy kingdom of Armenia. But the house of Savoy inherits (through 
Charlotte de Lusignan, f 1487, who married Louis of Savoy) the empty 
titles of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Armenia. 

4 Most of the above account is condensed from Tournebize : Hist, polit. I'Armenie. 


Transcaucasia as far as the river Aras, and thus joined a great 
part of Armenia, and their holy place Etshmiadzin, to a Christian 
Empire. But, on the whole, Orthodox Russia has treated the 
heretical Armenians almost as badly as the Turks did (pp. 420-421). 
Meanwhile Armenians had wandered all over Eastern Europe 
and into Persia and India. They no longer had a fatherland. 
But wherever they are, they keep their nationality in the most 
wonderful way. Other nations under such circumstances have 
disappeared from the face of the earth. The Armenian, wherever 
he may be, whatever Government he may be forced to obey, is 
always an Armenian. They keep together by their language and 
their religion. Undoubtedly, the national Church (which in the 
truest sense is their " nation ") has been the main factor in their 
preservation. At least, the case of Armenia justifies the Turkish 
idea that religious communion makes a millah. They are not now 
at all a warlike people ; they have the reputation of being cowards. 
They were never an artistic people, nor have they ever produced 
anything original in literature. They are bankers, money-changers, 
money-lenders, merchants. There is an Armenian colony, in an 
Armenian quarter, in every town in the Levant. In spite of 
massacres and persecutions, they have an extraordinary way of 
becoming prosperous. In all this their likeness to the Jews is 
remarkable. Like the Jews, they are a separate nation without a 
country, held together by their religion. The difference is that 
the Armenians have still the shadow, the relic of a country left. 
In a sense there still is an Armenia. Besides the scattered colonies 
of merchants and bankers in old Armenia, there is there a native 
population of peasants, though mixed with Kurds, Turks, Greeks, 
Syrians. 1 They are not a popular race. The Orthodox Triodion 
till lately contained a strange rubric : "It should be known that ) 
in this week (before Lent) the thrice-abominable Armenians ( y 
(ot rpio-Karaparot ap/xeViot) keep their accursed fast, which they call -> 
Artziburion ; but we eat cheese and eggs every day, refuting 
their dogma of this heresy." 2 Now there may be some question 
as to whether it be a good plan to call other people thrice- 
abominable in liturgical books, but I fear few Christians in the 

1 See Sir Charles Eliot : Turkey in Europe (E. Arnold, 1908), p. 383. 

2 Nilles : Kalendarium manuale (Innsbruck, ed. 2, 1897), ii. p. 8. 


East would dispute the justice of this amiable epithet. It is one 
of the misfortunes of this unhappy race that nobody likes them. 
Long ago St. Gregory of Nanzianos said : " I do not find the 
Armenians a noble race ; they are very sly and vicious " ; x most 
of his countrymen would still endorse that statement. Armenians 
are not an attractive race. It is true that the ghastly persecution 
they have suffered should make people sympathize with them ; 
but they seem to cringe and weep under it only, they never show 
fight ; 2 so even the persecution has rather increased their 
neighbours' scorn. They share the unpopularity of the Jew for 
much the same reason. The people of the near East conceive the 
Armenian as a sharp man of business, a money-lender at usury, 
too clever for the simple peasant he despoils. Certainly the 
hatred of them and the readiness Kurds and Turks show to mas- 
sacre them comes from economic rather than religious reasons. 
For why should Monophysites be more hateful to Moslems than 
the Orthodox ? And their fellow-Monophysites the Jacobites are 
not massacred. It is the financial prosperity of Armenians and the 
idea that they have sucked their money from guileless peasants 
which makes them so hated. Many people, even Christians, will 
tell you that the savage Kurd who massacres has at least the 
virtues of a savage ; he is brave, hospitable, honourable in his 
way. So they say they prefer him to the Armenian who can 
.only weep when he is attacked, 3 but who, in spite of everything, 
comes up again by clever business dealings. 

The particular Armenian massacres which aroused the horror 
of the world did not begin till the latter half of the 19th century. 
Till then the Armenians were not worse treated than other Rayahs 
in Turkey. But, more obviously than in the case of any other 
millah, they have a claim to separate national existence and 
national aspirations. During the Russian war (1829), tneri by 

1 Oratio xliii. 17 (P.G. xxxvi. 517). 

2 I have heard stories of one Kurd climbing up into a hay-loft where 
about ten Armenians were hiding, quietly killing them all, and then coming 
down again. The Armenians wept, and prayed him to spare them. 

3 I think certainly the most astonishing part of the story of the massacres 
is the ease with which whole districts of Armenians were calmly killed by 
quite small numbers of Kurds at their convenience. There does not ever 
seem to have been even a show of resistance. 


the spread of Western ideas, of education, and so on, the memory 
of their lost independence began to foment in them. The Turks 
were forced to give them certain charters of comparative freedom x 
which only whetted their appetite for more. So began plots and 
secret societies. One celebrated secret society, the Hintshak, was 
founded in Paris in 1887. Treasonable newspapers were printed 
abroad and smuggled into the country. The Turk has a wild 
terror of secret societies, plots and conspiracies. He knew, too, 
that Europe sympathized with the Armenians ; he saw them be- 
coming more and more rich and powerful. Then came the 
massacres. I do not propose to tell again the details of a story 
which is still fresh in everyone's memory. The point to remember 
is that it is not a case of a lawless mob attacking Armenians on 
their own initiative. No doubt the Kurds were quite ready to 
kill their neighbours ; but in every case they were deliberately 
appointed to do so by the Government. The soldiers not only 
gave no protection, they helped to massacre. The signal for the 
beginning and end of the slaying, looting, burning was given 
from the barracks or the Koniah. The massacres were done in 
obedience to secret (not even very secret) orders from the Yildiz 
Kioshk. Why 'Abd-ulHamid II organized these massacres is not 
easy to say. Perhaps it was merely to terrify and repress a 
people whose national consciousness was growing ; perhaps in 
some characteristically tortuous way he hoped to provoke inter- 
ference from Europe, and to gain something from it. 2 In any 
case, the blood of the Armenians remains the reddest stain on the 
hands of that bloody tyrant. In 1890 the massacres began at 
Erzerum. In 1893 there was another massacre and ghastly 
torturing. In 1894 there was a great massacre in the Sasun 
district. The chief massacre of all was from October to Novem- 
ber 1895. This began in Trebizond, and spread throughout the 
Armenian lands. Between fifty thousand and one hundred 

1 The so-called " Armenian Constitution " of i860, the Convention of 
1878, etc. (Eliot : op. cit. 395-398). 

2 Sir Charles Eliot thinks that " the massacres seemed to aim at such a 
reduction of the Armenian population that it should be impossible to 
contend they were the predominating element in any district " (Turkey 
in Europe, p. 408). Deliberate massacres as a move in politics seem in- 
conceivable to us ; but then we are not Turks. 


thousand were killed, forty thousand children were left orphans, 
enormous numbers perished from starvation as the land was 
ravaged. In 1896 were fresh massacres in Zaitun and Van. 
In the same year (following the attempt of some Armenians on 
the Ottoman bank at Galata) the Government let loose a horde 
of Kurds and Lazes armed with clubs, who killed about six 
thousand Armenians in the streets of Constantinople, under 
the eye of the Diplomatic Corps. The Embassies brought 
evidence and openly accused the Government of having 
organized this massacre. The Government merely said they 
were mistaken. 1 Nor has the change of Government produced 
any better effect. The Turkish Committee of Union and 
Progress treads faithfully in the steps of the tryant it deposed. 
In 1909, twenty-five thousand Armenians were again massacred 
in Cilicia. It seems that under the Turk there is no hope for 
this ill-fated race. 

Armenians have a considerable literature. The language has 
gone through the inevitable development, and has formed several 
new dialects. There are a classical, a mediaeval literary, and 
various modern spoken forms of Armenian. The liturgical 
language is classical, now only partially understood by those who 
have not specially studied it. 2 Their literature begins with a 
translation of the Bible made by St. Mesrob (p. 409), and others 
in the 4th century. They have translations of Greek, Latin and 
Syriac Fathers, commentaries on the Bible, versions of philoso- 
phical works (Plato, Aristotle, etc.), some poetry (chiefly hymns 
in their services), and especially history (Eusebius translated, etc.) 
Armenian literature consists to a great extent of translations, 3 

1 A most temperate account of the massacres down to 1907 will be 
found in Eliot : op. cit. 402-413. 

2 I take it the relation of liturgical Armenian to the modern colloquial 
language is something like that of classical to modern Arabic, or Old 
Slavonic to Russian. The Armenian alphabet was formed by St. Mesrob 
(pp. 408-409) from Greek letters, although it looks very unlike Greek to 
us. This has a cursive form for modern use. 

3 Of which some are of great value, since the originals are lost. The 
first part of Eusebius' Chronicle exists only in Armenian. In other cases 
their version preserves an important independent tradition of the text (so 
the Apology of Aristides). The Armenian Bible (from the Septuagint) has 
considerable critical value. 


and is almost entirely ecclesiastical. But they have a native 
school of historians too. 

For the early history of Christianity in Armenia there are 
two authentic sources of first importance — Faustus and the 
life of St. Gregory in Agathangelos. Faustus Byzantinus is 
a native Armenian of the family Saharunikh. He lived in the 
4th century and was in Holy Orders. 1 He wrote in Greek a 
Historical Library, of which Books iii-vi contain the story of 
the conversion of Armenia and the history of the Armenian 
Church down to the division of the country between Rome and 
Persia in 385 (p. 386) . 2 It is not known why he is called " By- 
zantine " ; either because he whites in Greek, or because of a so- 
journ he made at Constantinople. 3 He writes in Greek because 
there was no possibility of a native literature till Mesrob invented 
an Armenian alphabet (pp. 408-9) . Agathangelos is the pseudonym 
of an unknown Armenian writer of the 5th century. 4 He ficti- 
tiously calls himself Agathangelos, 5 secretary of King Trdat II 
(261-314 ?). His work, History of the reign of King Trdat and of 
the preaching of St. Gregory, 6 exists in two recensions, Armenian 
and Greek, of which the Armenian appears to be the original. 7 
The author culls from many sources. Alfred v. Gutschmid in a 
careful examination of the text concludes that there is here a 
coherent nucleus of primary value, which he separates from the 
rest as the (original) Life of St. Gregory. 8 Into and around this 
the compiler has woven many later legends. Lazarus of Pharbi, 
at the end of the 5th century, wrote a History of Armenia 9 from 
various sources, chiefly from Faustus. The Vartapet 10 Elisatus 
about the same time composed a history of the war against the 

1 He must not be confused with the schismatically ordained Bishop 
Faustus of his time (see p. 407). 

2 In V. Langlois : Collection des Historiens anciens et modernes de 
I'Armenie (2 vols., Paris, 1880), i. 209-310. 

3 H. Gelzer : " Die Anfange der armen. Kirche " (Verhdl. der K. Sachs. 
Ges. der Wissensch. zu Leipzig, Phil. -hist, classe, i. ii. 1895), 114-116. 

4 He uses Mesrob's version of the Bible (412) ; but Moses of Khoren and 
Lazar of Pharbi quote him. 

5 " Bearer of good tidings," an obviously assumed name. 

6 In Langlois : op. cit. i. 105-200. 

7 Gutschmid : Kleine Schriften (Leipzig, 1889), iii. 339. 

8 Gutschmid : Agathangelos (in his Kleine Schriften, iii. 339-420). 

9 Langlois : op. cit. ii. 259-367. 10 For this title see below, p. 431. 


King of Persia, Yazdagird II (439-451). * The most famous, 
though the least reliable Armenian historian is Moses of Khoren, 2 
called the Herodotus or the Eusebius of his country. He claims 
to be a disciple of Sahak and Mesrob, writing his History of 
Armenia 3 soon after 458. His account, especially his chrono- 
logy, dominated all later Armenian writers and all who wrote 
about the country. 4 Gutschmid has now shown that his chrono- 
logy is impossible, and the historical value of his work almost 
nothing. 5 He draws from all manner of doubtful sources, em- 
bellishes his story with impossible legends, and (especially as to 
dates) is not innocent of deliberate fraud. 6 Since Moses' dates 
are thoroughly unsound, and no one else gives any, the chronology 
of early Armenian Church history is very uncertain. 7 

The total number of Armenians in the world is estimated at 
between three and a half and four millions, of whom about 
1,300,000 are in Turkey, 1,200,000 in Russia, 50,000 in Persia, 
and the rest dispersed in India, Egypt, Europe and America. 8 
The great majority of these are members of the Monophysite 
national (so-called Gregorian) Church (p. 432). 

2. The Conversion of Armenia 

The Apostle of Armenia is St. Gregory the Illuminator, in the 
3rd and 4th centuries. But there were Armenian Christians 
before his time. 9 We shall not be surprised that this Church, 

1 Langlois, ii. 183-251. 2 Khor'ni in Taron. 

3 Langlois, ii. 53-175 (French) ; Armenian edition, Venice, 1843. 
Gutschmid thinks he wrote really between 634 and 642. 

4 Gibbon knew it in George Whiston's edition (Armenian and Latin, 
London, 1736), and uses Moses' wrong chronology for Armenia throughout. 

5 Ueber die Glaubwurdigkeit der armen. Gesch. des Moses v. Khoren 
(Kleine Schriften, hi. 282-331) ; Moses von Chorene (ib. iii. 332-338). 

6 Thus, to evade the seven years of the reign of Manuel of Mamikon 
(37 8 -3 8 5) he deliberately advances all former dates by as many years 
(Gutschmid : op. cit. 292). 

7 A sketch of Armenian literature (by N. Finck) will be found in C. 
Brockelmann : Gesch. der Christl. Litter aturen des Orients (Leipzig, 1907), 
PP- 75~ 1 3° ; also in A. Baumstark : Die Christl. Liter aturen des Orients 
(Sammlung Goschen), 191 1, ii. 61-99. 

8 Tournebize : op. cit. 7-8. 

9 Tournebize (pp. 765-769) examines the original paganism of the Arme- 
nians. It was a local polytheism, strongly affected by Persian mythology. 


too, claims to be apostolic. In the national legend St. Bartholo- 
mew and St. Thaddaeus come and preach the gospel in Armenia 
soon after Whitsunday. Armenians have further appropriated 
the story of King Abgar the Black and the portrait of our Lord 
(pp. 29-31). Armenia to the south touches the old kingdom of 
Osroene. They have made Abgar an Armenian king. In this 
form the legend is doubly untrue. For not only is the whole 
story apocryphal (p. 31), but in any case, Abgar would have 
nothing to do with Armenia. 1 Moreover, the Armenians have to 
suppose a general apostasy later, to account for the persecution of 
St. Gregory. We may then leave the account of a directly apos- 
tolic foundation as merely one more case of the invariable desire 
of each Eastern Church to be apostolic. Nor is it compatible with 
the legend of a directly Divine foundation later (p. 409, n. 3). 
Yet we have evidence of Christians, even of a bishop, in Armenia 
before the Illuminator. When Dionysius of Alexandria (248-265) 
wrote to the Armenians " about penitence," they had a bishop 
named Meruzanes. 2 It seems that the faith penetrated into 
Armenia from Edessa during the 2nd or 3rd century. 3 This 
earliest Church was destroyed by the Persians when they over- 
ran Armenia in the 3rd century (p. 386). Consistently with the 
policy of the Sassanids they tried to force Mazdaeism on all their 
subjects (p. 25). The mission of St. Gregory is part of the 
general revolt of Armenia against the Persian tyrant. When 
King Trdat II came back in 261 and drove out the Persians (p. 386), 
at the same time a young Armenian of noble family, 4 who had 

1 The legend is told in the Armenian version of Lerubna of Edessa (in 
Langlois : op. cit. i. 326-331), and by Moses of Khoren (ib. ii. 93-100). 
Addai here appears as St. Thaddaeus, and their lists of Katholikoi count 
him the first. See A. Carriere : La legende d' Abgar dans I'hist. d'Artn. de 
Mo'ise de Khoren (Paris, 1895). Tournebize discusses the story at length 
{op. cit. 402-413). 

2 Eusebius : Hist. Eccl. vi. 46. Gelzer (" Die Anfange der armen. 
Kirche ") places Meruzanes in the isolated south-eastern corner of 
Armenia, in Vaspurakan (p. 172). 3 Tournebize : op. cit. 413-418. 

4 He is said to have been of Parthian blood, son of the very Anak who 
murdered the last king, Khosrov, in 238 (?). Gutschmid doubts this. He 
notices that in Agathangelos' account Trdat says to Gregory : " You are 
a stranger and unknown among us " (Langlois, i. 126), and concludes that 
he was a foreigner {Kl. Schr. iii. 409) . Gelzer thinks he was of an Armenian 
pagan sacerdotal family {op. cit. 146-148). 


been taken as an infant to Caesarea in Cappadocia, 1 was there 
learning the faith and the customs of Greek-speaking Christians. 
He was born between 233 and 255, 2 and was baptized at Caesarea 
as Gregory. When Trdat (Tiridates) had restored Armenian 
independence, Gregory came back to his own country and obtained 
a place at court. Full of zeal for Christianity, he began to preach 
it. Trdat was still a pagan ; he persecuted Gregory, tortured 
him, and threw him into a well or deep pit, where, the Armenians 
say, he languished for fifteen years, fed by a pious widow named 
Anna. Meanwhile, the Christians, of whom there seem to be 
many, 3 are fiercely persecuted. We hear of virgins, St. Gaiane and 
St. Hripsime, who were martyred with thirty-five companions. 4 
But the king is struck down by some terrible disease ; he is said 
to have been possessed by a devil and changed into the likeness 
of a wild boar. A dream reveals that only Gregory can heal him. 
They send for Gregory, release him from his pit ; he comes, heals 
and baptizes the king. Here occurs the legend of Etshmiadzin. 
At the old royal capital Valarshapat, 5 Gregory had a vision. He 
was meditating at night when he saw the heavens open, a blaze 
of glory cover the earth, and our Lord descend bearing a golden 
hammer, with which he struck the earth. Then a mighty golden 
column arose, surmounted by a cross. Around it arose three 
smaller red columns. Above these Gregory saw a great temple 
rise, with a throne of gold bearing a cross ; from the temple 
flowed a stream which became a great lake. Vast numbers of 
black goats passed through the water and became white lambs. 
The smaller red columns mark the places of the martyrdom of 
St. Gaiane, St. Hripsime and their companions. The larger 
golden column means the Primacy of Armenia, to be fixed here ; 

1 Great numbers of Armenians fled to Roman territory to escape the 

2 Tournebize : op. cit. 49. 

3 Presumably either Christians who had remained from earlier times, 
in spite of the Persians, or converts already made by Gregory. 

4 They keep their feast on October 5. 

5 The letter transcribed I in this word became a guttural in the later 
language. So it is often spelt " Vagharshapat " (hence also Ghevont for 
Aeco*/, p. 388, etc.). The West Armenians make surds (k, t, p) of the letters 
pronounced sonants (g, d, b) by East Armenians ; hence variant trans- 
literation of many words (vartapet, vardabed, etc.). 


it is greater and more splendid even than the martyrs' glory. So 
Gregory built a church where he had seen the vision, on the model 
of the mystic temple he had seen, and the name Valarshapat was 
changed to Etshmiadzin, meaning " the Only-begotten has de- 
scended." 1 The whole of this story in particular can be proved 
to be apocryphal. It is a late invention, after the schism with 
Caesarea (p. 409), to glorify the office of Katholikos, to represent 
the national Church as founded by an independent commission 
of our Lord, and to exalt the later centre Etshmiadzin. 2 We 
shall see that in the first period the centre of Armenian Christen- 
dom was not there but at Ashtishat (p. 403) . 

After this Gregory went back to Caesarea with a splendid retinue, 
and Leontius, the Metropolitan of Caesarea, ordained him 
bishop for Armenia (302 ?). He was married and had two sons, 
Vrthanes (Bardanes) and Aris takes or Rhes takes. 3 When he 
came back as bishop the Armenian writers of his life tell us 
more wonders. He travels about the country with the king and 
his army, putting down heathenry. The false gods fight against 
this army in person, but are defeated by Trdat's valour and 
Gregory's prayers. He is said to have baptized four million 
persons in seven days ; to have ordained twelve bishops, all sons 
of heathen priests, whom he sent to preach the gospel throughout 
Armenia ; to have at last ruled a Church of four hundred 
bishops and priests too numerous to count. He died, perhaps 
between 315 and 326/ and was buried at Thortan on the 
Euphrates, where later a monastery and church were built. 
The Armenian lives of the saint abound in these and greater 
marvels. When he came out of the pit he fasted, eating no 
food for seventy days. When he comes before the king a long 
speech is put into his mouth, which takes up half his life in 
Agathangelos. 5 It is simply a compendium of what the 

1 Agathangelos, 102 (Langlois, i. 156-160). 

2 See Gelzer : op. cit. 126-131 ; Gutschmid : Kl. Schr. hi. 382, 395. 
The vision of St. Gregory is not part of the original Life in Agathangelos. 

3 There is no difficulty about a married bishop in the 3rd and 4th cen- 
turies. The father of St. Gregory of Nazianzos (330-390) was a bishop 
and married. Nearly all the early Armenian bishops were married (p. 402). 

4 Tournebize : op. cit. 59. 

5 Omitted in Langlois (i. 153). 


Armenians believed in the 5th century, when evidently it was 
composed. It gives an account of Bible history, refutes 
Arianism, Nestorianism and all other heresies down to that 
time. This supposed " Confession of St. Gregory " became a 
kind of creed to Armenians. In spite of all the wonders, 1 St. 
Gregory's education and ordination at Caesarea in Cappadocia, 
the conversion of the king and evangelization of Armenia by 
him in the early 4th century are undoubtedly historical. 
Armenians remember him with good reason as their apostle 
and great national saint. They call him rightly St. Gregory the 
Illuminator (Srbotz Grigor Lusavoritsh). 2 

3. Catholic Armenia 

Putting aside the later traditions (Moses of Khoren), which 
project into the first period of Armenian Church history the 
customs of their own time, we have a curious picture of the first 
Christian century. The dates of the conversion usually given 
are : King Trdat II, 259 or 276 to 314. St. Gregory and he are 
said to be born in the same year, 237. Trdat's conversion is put 
at about 290-295, Gregory's ordination at 302 and his death at 
325. But this depends on Moses of Khoren's unreliable chron- 
ology. 3 

With the conversion of King Trdat, 4 Christianity became the 

1 In the article : " Gregory the Illuminator " in the Catholic Encyclopedia, 
I have tried to distinguish the historical and the legendary elements of his 
life. See also further bibliography there. 

2 They keep feasts of his birth (August 5), sufferings (February 4), going 
into the pit (February 28), coming out of the pit (October 19), and 
translation of his relics (September 30). The Byzantine Church keeps his 
feast (Tpr\y6pios 6 <pooar^p) on September 30, as do the Jacobites. He occurs 
in the Roman martyrology on September 30 as : " Episcopus magna? 
Armenia?." Pope Gregory XVI put a feast among those " pro aliquibus 
locis " on October 1 for : " S. Gregorius, patriarcha Armenia?, martyr, 
vulgo Illuminator." He was neither a patriarch nor a martyr. But it 
may be wished that the feast of the apostle of a great Christian nation be 
kept by the whole Roman rite. 

3 See the discussion in Tournebize : op. cit. 424-444. We shall see that 
all these dates (down to Shahak I) are unreliable (p. 402, n. 1). They are 
often not even consistent with one another. 

4 The fact of Trdat II's conversion is undoubtedly historical. 


religion of the state, the court, and aristocracy. Armenians have 
a right to their boast that their nation was the first to embrace 
Christianity officially ; it did so a score of years or so before the 
Roman Empire. But paganism lingered for some time among 
the people, especially in the remote parts of the country. As late 
as the time of Vrthanes, the third primate, even at Ashtishat, the 
Christian centre of Armenia, there was an insurrection of pagan 
priests and their followers, who tried to kill the bishop. 1 We 
hear of pagan funeral rites in 378.2 The pagan priesthood formed 
a rich and powerful military class ; naturally, they opposed the 
new religion in every way. It was, no doubt, in order to break 
down this opposition that St. Gregory constantly chose pagan 
priests, or their sons, to be Christian priests or bishops. We do 
not know how many suffragans Gregory ordained. The later 
legendary tradition makes him erect an impossible number of sees, 
as many as four hundred. But it seems clear that he had 
suffragans, and left a large, well-organized Church at his death, 
though it was not yet the religion of all Armenians. Towards 
the end of his life he ordained his second son, Aristakes, to 
succeed him, and then retired to a hermitage. 3 There is some 
mystery as to wlty the elder son did not succeed first. 4 Aristakes 
was present at the Council of Nicaea in 325. 5 Against the 
custom of that time in the Armenian Church, he did not marry 
and had no son. They had already evolved the idea of a 
hereditary succession in the Illuminator's family. So they fell 
back on the elder brother, Vrthanes, and made him Katholikos. 
Vrthanes was succeeded by his son Yusik. 6 Yusik's son is said to 
have refused ordination, so he was succeeded by a cousin, Pharen 
or Pharnerseh ; 7 then came Shahak ; the primacy came back to 

1 Faustus, iii. 3 (Langlois, i. p. 211). 2 Faustus, v. 36 (ib. 298). 

3 St. Gregory died and was buried at Thortan. 

4 Gelzer thinks it is because the elder son " had at first no inclination 
for the priesthood " (" Anfange der arm. Kirche," 144). 

5 Agathangelos, 127 (Langlois, i. 190) ; in the Latin list in Mansi (ii. 699) 
occurs : " Armenise maioris Aristaces." 

6 For Vrthanes' marriage and two sons see Faustus, iii. v. (ed. cit. 212). 

7 Yusik's sons "trampled under foot the spiritual honour"; so the 
people determined " to find someone of the house of Gregory who could 
fill the throne of the Patriarchs " (Faustus, iii. 15 ; ed. cit. i. p. 227). The 
hereditary idea was clearly accepted. 



the direct line in Nerses, Yusik's grandson, who died before 
374. 1 Nerses marks an epoch. 

In this early Armenian Church we notice first a strong Jewish 
tendency. As the Kings of Abyssinia claimed descent from 
Solomon, so did those of Armenia (the Arsacids) from Abraham. 
In their history occur deliberate reproductions of Old Testament 
scenes. 2 There are traces of royal polygamy after Christianity. 3 
The chief eunuch of the king's harem was a great nobleman. 4 
Gelzer says that the hereditary Primates with their sacerdotal 
family were more like the old Jewish High Priests than Christian 
bishops. 5 Not only the Primates, other bishops, too, were 
married and had families, in which priestly rank was hereditary 6 
(though, of course, all were ordained). The sons of bishops 
often led disedifying lives, hunting and fighting like young 
noblemen, though they were ordained deacons. There was a 
great rival family to that of St. Gregory, namely, the house of 
Albianos. Albianos was the son of a pagan priest, converted and 
ordained bishop by the Illuminator. 7 His descendants appear 
constantly as rivals who, for a time, obtain the primacy. Shahak, 
who succeeded Pharen, was the first Katholikos of Albianos' 
house. 8 

The Katholikos was a very great lord. He was very rich, had 
vast possessions consisting of fifteen districts, 9 rode in a royal 
chariot, was attended by twelve bishops, and went up to Csesarea 
in royal state, accompanied by princes, to be ordained. 10 

The early Primates of Armenia did not take their title from any 

1 Malachy Ormanian (L'£glise armenienne, Paris, 1910) gives these 
dates : St. Gregory 1325, Aristakes 325-333, Vrthanes 333-341, Yusik 
341-347, Pharen 348-352, Shahak 352, Nerses 353~375 (PP- M~*5 '> c f- J 7 2 )- 
Tchamitch (in Langlois, ii. 387) makes them all succeed earlier. Faustus 
and Moses of Khoren disagree (see the lists compared in Gelzer : op. cit. 
121). There is no certainty in these early dates. Nerses died before 374, 
because King Pap murdered him, and Pap himself died in 374. 

2 Faustus, iii. 11 (Langlois, i. p. 221) ; v. 4 (ib. p. 282). 

3 Arshak III (341-370 ?) had two wives, Pharandzem and Olympia 
(Faustus, iv. 15 ; ed. cit. i. p. 253). 

4 Faustus, iv. 14 (i. 249-250). 5 Gelzer : op. cit. 140. 

6 Faustus, iv. 12 (i. 248) ; vii. 8 (i. 308). 

7 Agathangelos, 120 (Langlois, i. 181) ; Faustus, iii. 4 {ib. p. 212). 

8 Faustus, iii. 17 (i. 228). 9 Faustus, iv. 14 (i. 250). 
10 Faustus, iii. 16 (i. 227). 


city. As often happens in the case of missionary Churches, they 
were called simply Archbishop or Katholikos of the Armenians. 
The title " Patriarch " does not occur till after the breach with 
Caesarea (p. 408), though later writers sometimes project it back 
to the earlier period. 1 Nor have they ever used a special local 
title. This fact explains to a great extent the frequent later 
disputed successions. If the primacy were attached to a parti- 
cular see, the man who (whether de iure or de facto) held that see 
would have an obvious claim to it. But so vague a title as 
Katholikos of Armenia would be, and was, claimed by various 
bishops at the same time, each ruling over a political fraction 
which was called Armenia. So, with the breaking up of the old 
kingdom, each rival king or prince who called himself sovereign 
of Armenia had at his court a Katholikos, whose claim was as 
good as that of the temporal sovereign. 

However, till the 5th century, whereas the king resided at 
Valarshapat, the Primate was not there, but far away, a\ Ashtishat 
in Tar on, on the Euphrates, in the south of Armenia. Ashtishat, 
not Etshmiadzin, was the first metropolis of the Armenian Church. 
All early accounts show this. Valarshapat (the later Etshmiadzin) , 
the place of martyrdom of the Saints Gaiane, Hripsime and their 
companions, has at first no ecclesiastical importance at all. 
Agathangelos tells us that at Ashtishat, on the site of temples of 
pagan gods, St. Gregory erected an altar to Christ. " It is here 
that churches and altars in the name of the Holy Trinity and 
baptismal fonts were first set up." 2 Faustus calls Ashtishat 
" the mother, the first and greatest of all the churches of Armenia, 
the chief and most honoured see. For here for the first time a 
holy church was built and an altar set up in the name of the Lord." 3 
The sons of Yusik lead a disorderly life " in the episcopal palace " 
at Ashtishat, 4 the first synods are held there, 5 when Hair, the 
chief eunuch, wants to receive the blessing of Nerses, he goes 
to find him at Ashtishat. 6 In short, a multitude of evidences 
leaves no doubt that Ashtishat was the original metropolis. 

1 Gutschmid : Kl. Schr. iii. 353. 

2 Agathangelos, 114-115 (Langlois, i. 173-176). 

3 Faustus, iii. 14 (Langlois, i. p. 224) ; cf. iii. 3 (ib. i. 211). 

4 Faustus, iii. 19 (ed. cit. i. p. 229). 

5 Faustus, iv. 4 (ib. i. 239). 6 Faustus, iv. 14 (ib. i. 250). 


We come to the question of the place of the Armenian Church 
in the body of Christendom. This is perfectly simple, and per- 
fectly regular. It was a missionary Church dependent on Caesarea, 
subject to the jurisdiction of Caesarea, just as the Persian Church 
was on Edessa, and Ethiopia on Alexandria. Modern Armenian 
writers, supposing the legend of Etshmiadzin, claim that their 
Church was autocephalous, independent of any foreign authority 
from the beginning. 1 It was for just such a purpose that this 
legend was invented, after the Armenians had broken with their 
mother-Church. There is no possibility of such a position, and 
none for so monstrous a person (at that time) asa" Patriarch " 
of Armenia. Moreover, we have the clearest direct evidence 
of Armenian dependence on Caesarea. 

Till the Council of Ephesus (431) made Cyprus extra-patriarchal, 
on the strength of its alleged apostolic foundation, 2 there was no 
such thing as an autocephalous national Church. There were 
three, and only three, Patriarchs in Christendom — the Bishops of 
Rome, Alexandria, Antioch ; all Christians were ultimately sub- 
ject to one of these, and of them the Roman Patriarch was chief 
of his brothers. 3 Missionary Churches obeyed the bishop of the 
mother-Church. We have seen this in the case of Persia (pp. 42, 
49) and Abyssinia (pp. 296, 299). It is no less clear in the case 
of Armenia. Here the mother-Church was Caesarea in Cappadocia. 
St. Gregory the Illuminator came from Caesarea ; he went back 
there to be ordained. He ordained his son Aristakes himself 
(p. 401) ; we do not know who ordained Vrthanes. But then till 
Nerses all the Armenian Primates went up to Caesarea, with a 
great retinue, to be ordained. Agathangelos makes Leontius 
claim this as a right for all time. 4 We have seen that in the East 
the right of ordination always implies ecclesiastical jurisdiction 
(PP- 37 > 3 00 > e tc) ; the sign of an autocephalous Metropolitan is 
that he is ordained by his own suffragans, as was the Archbishop 
of Cyprus after Ephesus. 5 So, consistently, after their schism 
with Caesarea the Armenian Primates began to be ordained by 

1 E.g. Ormanian : L'ltglise armenienne, 11-14. 

2 Orth. Eastern Church, 47-50. 3 lb. 8-9. 

4 Gutschmid, op. cit. iii. 392 ; Gelzer, op. cit. 160 ; Tournebize, op. cit. 
56 (not in Langlois) . 

5 Orth. Eastern Church, 48. 


their suffragans. All the more significant are their former 
journeys to Caesarea. Gelasius of Cyzicus in his history of the 
Council of Nicaea counts Armenia " both great and little " as a 
province of Caesarea. 1 

The title of the Armenian Primate proves his dependence. He 
was not a Patriarch before the schism. Leontius sometimes uses 
this name loosely, as do many writers. 2 But the regular, almost 
invariable title is " Katholikos." 3 It appears that this name 
was first used for the Armenian Primate ; from him it was 
borrowed later by the Primate of Persia (p. 49) and others. In 
civil language the Katholikos was the emperor's minister of 
finance. 4 In Christian ecclesiastical use it had a definite mean- 
ing. Taken because of its obvious suggestion (Catholic), it meant 
always the Primate of a great Church, more than a Metropolitan, 
but one who is subject to a greater bishop. " Exarch " is rather 
a lesser kind of Patriarch, independent of anyone, save, of course 
always, of the central authority of Rome over the whole Church. 5 
Katholikos implies dependence ; a Katholikos (like the Syrian 
Mafrian) is the vicar of a greater bishop. So Faustus calls the 
Primates of Iberia and Albania " Katholikoi," because they are 
under Armenia ; 6 he calls the Metropolitan of Caesarea Katho- 
likos, because he is subject to the Patriarch of Antioch. 7 The 
modern Armenians have so forgotten the meaning of the word 
that, having now many " Patriarchs," they use " Katholikos " 
as meaning " Chief Patriarch " (p. 430). Lastly, the story of 
their schism from Caesarea, and St. Basil's protest against it, 
show that then their claim to independence was new (p. 407). 

In this first period, then, the Armenian Church was part of the 
Catholic Church. It took a normal place, as an outlying mission 

1 Mansi, ii. 881. In spite of this explicit statement, Ormanian says that 
writers who count Armenia under Caesarea mean only Armenia Minor 
{op. cit. 13). Then he talks about : " l'histoire consciencieusement etudiee " 

2 Orth. Eastern Church, 8, n. 2. 

3 " Kathoghikos " in the later Western pronunciation. 

4 So Eusebius : Hist. Eccl. vii. 105. 5 Orth. Eastern Church, 8, 21. 

6 Faustus, hi. 6 (Langlois, i. 214). 

7 Eusebius of Caesarea is the " Katholikos of Katholikoi," having under 
him^those of Armenia, Iberia, etc., himself under Antioch. Faustus, iv. 4 
(ed/cit. i. p. 238). 


of Caesarea, in the great united body of which the chiefs were 
the three Patriarchs, and the Roman Patriarch head of the chiefs. 
The Armenians were Catholic in faith too, in spite of their here- 
ditary episcopates and other abnormal customs. They accepted, 
and still accept, the first three General Councils. 1 In spite of her 
remote, almost isolated position, she was conscious of the Primacy 
of St. Peter. Even after her schism, the Katholikos Hovhannes 
(John) I (478-490) refers " those who have made shipwreck of 
the faith " to " the door-keeper and key-bearer of heaven, Peter." 2 
Like all Eastern Churches the Armenians still consider the Pope 
to be the chief bishop of Christendom (p. 427) . 

4. The Breach with Caesarea 

Before the rise of the heresy which was to engulf her, the 
Armenian Church endangered her position by breaking the bond 
which held her in a canonical position, joined in the orderly 
scheme of the great united Church. 3 The Armenian breach with 
Caesarea is a disgraceful example of injustice and of the inter- 
ference of a civil tyrant in Church matters. It begins by a schism 
in Armenia against the lawful Katholikos. 

Although after Trdat II the Armenian kings were Christians, 
it was not long before quarrels began between the Church and the 
state. Yusik, the fourth Katholikos, reproached King Tiran II 
(325-341 ?) for various immoralities, and was martyred by his 
order. 4 Yusik's grandson Nerses was a great reformer. He 
had been educated at Caesarea, and began the abolition of Ar- 
menian irregularities and the principle of conforming to the 

1 Ormanian, op. cit. 21. For acceptance of Ephesus see Tournebize, 
op. cit. 86-87, 506. The Armenians, later Monophysites, were always 
strongly anti-Nestorian. They held a synod against Theodore of Mop- 
suestia in 435. 

2 Tournebize : Hist, politique et religieuse de I'Armenie (Paris, 1900), 
87-88. There are many texts about the Papacy by early Armenian writers. 
These will be considered in the next volume. 

3 The parallel between all this story and that of the Persian Church is 
obvious. Persia went into schism before she became heretical. In Persia, 
too, the originally dependent Katholikos made himself an independent 
Patriarch (p. 51). 

4 Faustus, iii. 12 (ed. cit. i. 222-223). 


rules of the Catholic Church (more immediately to Byzantine 
rules), which reform was later carried out completely by Sahak 
I (p. 408). He held a great reforming synod at Ashtishat (in 
365 P). 1 The king, Arshak III (341-367 ?), murdered one of his 
wives, Olympia, and led a life of gross immorality. So Nerses 
reproached him and refused to attend his court. 2 Arshak then 
set up the first schismatical anti-Katholikos, a certain Tshunak. 3 
But Arshak's defeat and death in the Persian war (367) soon 
made an end of this schism. Tshunak disappears with his 
master. Tiran's son Pap, who succeeded him, was a worse 
monster than his father. His whole life is a series of abomin- 
able crimes and unspeakable immorality. Faustus says he was 
possessed by Devs. 4 It was this atrocious person who made 
the Armenian Church independent. He soon fell foul of the 
holy Katholikos, Nerses, and poisoned him. 5 Then Pap began 
undoing Nerses' reform ; and the dying embers of paganism re- 
vived. The king himself appointed a new Katholikos, Yusik II. 
Caring nothing for church law, he had him ordained at home 
without regard for the rights of Csesarea. Yusik was of the rival 
house of Albianos. St. Basil (f 379)* tnen Metropolitan of 
Caesarea, was exceedingly indignant at this act, held a synod 
which denounced it, and wrote to this effect to the Armenian 
Church and to Pap. 6 But the breach was never healed. From 
this time the Armenian Katholikos never again went to Caesarea 
to be ordained. Pap tried to compromise with Caesarea, and 
sent a certain Faustus 7 there to be ordained. But Basil, finding 
that this man held with Pap and the schismatical party, 8 
would neither ordain him nor give him letters for any Cappa- 
docian bishop. Faustus then went off to Anthimos of Tyana, 
Basil's personal enemy, and was ordained by him. Basil ex- 

1 Faustus, iv. 4 (ed. cit. i. 239). 

2 Faustus, iv. 15 (i. p. 252). 

3 No Armenian bishops would ordain the intruder. He was ordained 
by two fugitive bishops without dioceses (Gelzer : op. cit. 155). This is 
the first attempt to set up a Katholikos independently of Caesarea. 

4 iv. 44 (i. p. 265). 5 Faustus, v. 25 (i. 290-291). 

6 lb. v. 29 (i. p. 293). 

7 Not to be confused with the historian Faustus Byzantinus. 

8 It appears that there was already a rightful bishop in the see to which 
the king wanted to intrude Faustus, 


presses himself strongly on the subject. 1 There follow three 
Primates of the house of Albianos, which held with the Court 
party. Meanwhile at least a portion of the people, more Catholic 
n mind, remain loyal to the rights of Caesarea and to the house 
of St. Gregory. As these would have no communion with Pap's 
primates, they sent their bishops for ordination to Caesarea. 2 So 
there was internal schism in the land. Nerses' son, St. Sahak 
(Isaac) I (387-442 ?) made an end of this ; although, unhappily, 
he confirmed the breach with Caesarea. The line of Arsacid 
kings came to an end with Manuel of Mamikon (378-385), when 
Theodosius divided the kingdom with Persia (p. 386). The 
Primacy came back to St. Gregory's house in Sahak. He was 
a great reformer, established strict discipline throughout the 
Armenian Church, put an end to episcopal marriages, set up 
monasteries, hospitals, etc., and founded a national literature. 
But he accepted and confirmed the practice of ordaining the 
Katholikos in Armenia, and so finally sealed the breach with the 
mother-Church. From now on Faustus and other writers con- 
sistently use the title Patriarch for the national Primate. 3 Other- 
wise, Sahak's reform meant the acceptance of strict canon law 
on Byzantine lines. Monks now begin to abound, and curious 
attempts are made to explain away the marriage of earlier bishops. 4 
Especially important is the work of Sahak's friend and ally, the 
bishop St. Mesrob. 5 Hitherto there had been no letters in which 
to write Armenian, so no Armenian literature. All their culture 
had been Greek from the West, or Syrian from the South. Both 
influences had been strong, that of Greece stronger, as the Ar- 
menian liturgy and later literature shows. Mesrob on the basis 

1 Ep. 120 (P.G. xxxii. 540) ; Ep. 121 (ib. 541) ; Ep. 122 (ib. 541). The 
ira-nas with whom Faustus held, who has puzzled St. Basil's editors (see 
Migne, loc. cit. note), is King Pap of Armenia. 

2 This seems to me to be the meaning of the difficult passage in Faustus, v. , 
end of chap. 29 (Langlois, i. 293-294). 

3 Gelzer: op. cit. 161. 

4 Ib. 142. For an early example of apparent scandal at bishops' mar- 
riages see Faustus, hi. 5 (ed. cit. i. 213). 

5 He is called Mesrob Mashtotz. There seems to be some doubt as to 
whether " Mashtotz " be a name or a title. See Kevork Arslan : Etudes 
historiques sur le peuple armenien (Paris, 1909), p. 212, n. 1. It looks 
rather like an attempt at a Syriac participle. 


of the Greek alphabet composed Armenian letters. 1 Sahak and 
Mesrob, aided by a school of interpreters, then translated the 
Bible into Armenian and founded a literature which was to have 
a great future. The Armenian liturgy was formed (from the 
Byzantine rite, see p. 441) about this time. 2 So, just when 
Persia overran nearly all the country, Sahak and Mesrob sup- 
plied Armenians with a basis of national existence, a literary 
language and national rites. Mesrob's alphabet may stand as 
a symbol of the civilization and literature it expressed. It is 
not original. It is mostly Greek with a less prevailing Syriac 
influence. Just so is all Armenian culture. 

After Nerses, in the 5th century, when Armenia was divided 
between the Roman Empire and Persia (p. 386), for a time there 
were rival Patriarchs, one in each part. Such a situation has 
been repeated constantly. Armenian Church history is full of 
rival Patriarchs, domestic schisms and disputed successions — 
faithful echo of the distracted state of the nation. Under the 
Persians were a number of martyrs, whose memory is kept by 
their Church. 

Before we end this paragraph we may notice the further 
vicissitudes of the seat of the Katholikos-Patriarch. We have 
seen that in the first period he sat at Ashtishat in Taron (p. 403). 
After the breach with Caesarea for a time they seem to have 
lived at the king's court at Valarshapat under Mount Ararat. 
It was then that the legend of this place arose. Valarshapat 
became Etshmiadzin, the scene of our Lord's direct commission 
to St. Gregory. So two purposes were served, the exaltation of 
that place and the idea of an independent Church founded, not 
from Caesarea, but directly by Christ in Armenia (p. 399) . 3 But 

1 There are thirty-eight letters. Rutin, a Greek calligraphist, helped 
Mesrob to form them. Armenians praise them as singularly fit to express 
the sounds of their language. A foreigner may perhaps venture to say 
that many of them are too much like others to make Armenian easy to 
read. They are considerably changed from the Greek originals. Except 
O, P, <t>, there is hardly one a Greek would recognize. L has become our 
Latin L. 

2 Hitherto Armenians had used the Byzantine rite in Greek, and (in the 
south) that of Jerusalem or Antioch in Syriac. 

3 This is really the same idea as that of the other legend of foundation 
by the Apostles St. Thaddaeus and St. Bartholomew. They did not appre- 


the Patriarchs did not remain at Etshmiadzin. From the 5th 
to the 7th centuries they are with the kings 1 at Duin or Tovin, 
not far off (south-east of Erivan). A number of synods were 
held here. In the 8th century Ani (south of Kars) became the 
civil and ecclesiastical centre of Armenia. But the Patriarch 
still wandered about, generally with the king or prince, accord- 
ing to the fortune of war. In the nth century Cilician Armenia 
appears with its king and Patriarch at Sis (pp. 389, 415). From 
the 15th century till now Etshmiadzin has again been the usual 
residence of the Katholikos (pp. 417, 427). 

At what moment shall we say that the Armenian Church went 
into schism ? Her breach with Caesarea was a violation of Church 
law, in itself a schismatical act. But it did not necessarily lead 
at once to schism. Schism is a breach of communion with the 
one Church of Christ. If, then, Caesarea, in spite of the injury 
done to her, remained in communion with the Armenians, these 
must not yet be counted a schismatical sect. 2 It seems that till 
Armenia turned Monophysite this is what happened. The Metro- 
politan of Caesarea had the right to excommunicate his rebellious 
children, but I do not find that he did so. He seems to have 
tolerated what he could not prevent, to have suffered the Arme- 
nians to ordain their own Primate without further protest, after 
that of St. Basil (p. 407). So we have at first autonomy 3 with- 
out schism. Caesarea by an act of undeserved grace allowed her 
communion to Armenia, and the rest of Christendom did not 
interfere between the mother and the disobedient daughter. 

ciate that the story of an earlier apostolic foundation makes the legend of 
our Lord's commission to St. Gregory superfluous. Nor had they ever 
quite the courage to urge St. Gregory's story to its natural conclusion. One 
would expect him to be ordained by Christ himself at Etshmiadzin ; but 
in all accounts he goes afterwards to Caesarea to be ordained by Leontius. 

1 The Bagratuni line of kings under the Khalif . 

2 Since Caesarea was, of course, in communion with Rome and the 
Catholic Church throughout the world. 

3 Autonomy in the only possible Catholic sense, namely, independence 
of Patriarchal authority. A Catholic autonomous local Church remains, 
of course, always subject to the supreme authority of the Church of Christ 
herself, and to his Vicar at Rome. It can no more be independent of that 
than it can be independent of Christ. A parallel case of autonomy without 
schism is that of Cyprus after the Council of Ephesus {Orth. Eastern Church, 


Yet, by the wrongful act of a wicked king, the link which bound 
Armenian Christendom most clearly to the Church from which 
it had received the gospel, the bond which gave Armenia her 
right place in the orderly scheme of the universal hierarchy, was 
broken. Like the Persians when they broke with Edessa, the 
Armenians lost their moorings and sailed out unprotected into 
the storm of heresy and schism which was to wreck their Church. 

5. Monophysite Armenia 

The Church of Armenia in the 6th century turned Monophysite. 
There is not the slightest doubt on this subject ; the " Gregorian " 
Church is still Monophysite (p. 425). That she did not accept 
all Eutyches' theories, that she even anathematizes that heretic 
(p. 424), does not matter at all. As we have seen (p. 312), 
Monophysite Churches reject Eutyches. The test is the Council 
of Chalcedon ; Armenia formally rejected and still rejects 
that council. But of all Monophysite bodies the Armenian 
Church can best be excused for her acceptance of the heresy. 
She took no part in the great Monophysite controversy ; she did 
not at first make Monophysism her national cause, as did the 
Copts. She stood aloof from the whole quarrel, knew nothing 
of it till long after, and then took the wrong side by an unhappy 
mistake. The real tragedy is not so much her half-hearted ac- 
ceptance of a subtle heresy, but, as usual, the formal schism into 
which she thereby fell. 

When the Council of Chalcedon met in 451, ten Armenian 
bishops were present and signed its acts. 1 When they went 
home they must have told their colleagues what had happened. 
There was at first no remonstrance ; we may take it that at first, 
at least implicitly, Armenia accepted the council. But the 
people were prejudiced against it. In the first place, the country 
was then in the direst straits. It was being overrun by the 
Persians, who cruelly persecuted native Christians. The Ar- 
menians had little leisure to consider the question of our Lord's 
natures and person. Then the Romans had deserted them heart- 

1 Tournebize, p. 87. 


lessly. The Emperor (Marcian, 450-457) had not brought them 
the help they hoped. They were embittered against him ; Chal- 
cedon was his work. Gradually their feeling against Chalcedon 
grew. From the Syrian Monophysites they heard of this new 
synod as having undone the work of Ephesus. 1 Armenia had 
taken her part with Ephesus ; she approved warmly of that 
council. Was it not enough to stand by Ephesus ? What was 
this new synod, which confused the issue, seemed to abandon 
Ephesus, to set up a fresh standard ? Further, their language 
helped to strengthen their dislike of Chalcedon. For the two 
terms, nature (<£vW) and hypostasis, on which the whole ques- 
tion turns, they had only one word, ftnuthiun. 2 A Greek might 
confess two natures in one hypostasis ; but how could an Ar- 
menian speak of two pnuthiuns 3 in Christ, without seeming to 
fall into Nestorianism ? And then, as so often happens, this 
abstract question was crossed by a practical one of politics. 
Once more national feeling, loyalty to the cause of Armenia, 
their determination to be independent of a dangerous foreign 
power, did more than philosophical considerations to make Ar- 
menia Monophysite. They did not want to become Greeks. 
They meant to keep their nation independent of the empire. 
Chalcedon was the council of the Emperor ; its decrees were the 
faith of the Greeks. Like the Copts and Jacobites, the Arme- 
nians would not become Melkites — Emperor's men. Oddly 
enough, the Persian persecutor who then dominated Armenia saw 
the political advantage to himself of such a schism, encouraged 
it, and the Armenians listened for once to their greatest enemy. 

So the Armenian Church formally rejected the faith of Chal- 
cedon and excommunicated all who held it. She adopted as her 
religion the faith of Dioscor, Severus and the Monophysites ; 
she even introduced the famous Monophysite addition to the 
Trisagion (p. 190) so that her position should be clear. First 
the Katholikos Babken (490-515) in a Synod of Valarshapat (491) 
approved Zeno's Henotikon ; then Nerses II (548-557) in a 

1 A Monophysite synod at Edessa in 482 condemned Chalcedon as con- 
tradicting Ephesus. 

2 Later they found a word for (pvais — euthiun or koiuthiun (Tournebize, 
P- 555, n. 5). 

3 Pnuthiunkh is the plural form. 


Synod of Tovin (Duin), apparently in 554, 1 clinched the matter. 
This is what a collection of Armenian canons says of it : " The 
Patriarch Nerses summoned at Tovin a synod against the Council 
of Chalcedon, because the error of two natures in Jesus Christ 
was making terrible progress. He decreed that we must believe 
in the unity of the nature of Jesus Christ ; he united in one feast 
Christmas and the Baptism of Jesus Christ 2 as a sign of the unit- 
ing of the two natures in one only, without distinction ; and he 
added to the Trisagion these words : ' who wast crucified for us/ 
in order to protest against the distinction of two natures." 3 So 
the Armenian national Church took her side definitely against 
Chalcedon. She has wavered several times. In order to gain 
protection from the Byzantines, and still more when she was 
closely allied with the Latin Crusaders (namely, the Cilician 
kingdom of Armenia, pp. 389, 415), she has at intervals retracted 
her heresy. But she always came back to it. It was the 
national faith ; she still stands by the Synod of Tovin and rejects 
Chalcedon. One immediate result shows again plainly her posi- 
tion. Hitherto Armenia had herself two daughter-Churches 
■ — Iberia and Caspian Albania. 4 They say that St. Gregory the 
Illuminator had sent bishops to convert these parts. At any 
rate, till the fifth century the Churches of Iberia (Georgia) and 
Albania depended on the Armenian Katholikos, as he had de- 
pended on the Metropolitan of Caesarea. The Iberian Primate 
was also a Katholikos, for the same reason as his Armenian 
brother and chief (p. 405) . The Armenians dragged Albania into 
heresy with them. But the Georgian Katholikos, Kyrion, ac- 
cepted Chalcedon. So Abraham I, the Armenian Primate (607- 
615), summoned a synod, as usual at his residence Tovin, and 

1 There is a difficulty about the dates. Tournebize gives three synods : 
Valarshapat under Babken in 491, Tovin I under Nerses " about 527 (?)," 
Tovin II under Moses II in 551 ; and he explains that the Armenian tra- 
dition has confused Tovin I and Tovin II (op. cit. 90-91). Ormanian 
(28-29) gives Tovin I under Babken in 506, Tovin II under Nerses II in 554. 

2 This is an error. The Armenian Church never had a special Christ- 
mas (p. 437). 

3 Quoted by Tournebize : op. it. 90-91. 

4 This is Albania in the Caucasus, a little land between Georgia and the 
Caspian Sea, not, of course, the better known Albania in the west of the 
Balkan Peninsula. 


excommunicated him (609). 1 That broke all connection between 
Armenia and Georgia. The Georgian Church remained Ortho- 
dox. 2 Under Heraclius (610-641) occurred the first of the tem- 
porary reunions of the Armenians. He drove the Persians from 
their land, was their benefactor and protector, and invited them 
to come back to the great Church, Catholic and Orthodox. In 
a synod at Erzerum (c. 629) 3 their Katholikos with his clergy 
did so. But there was already a firm Monophysite party in Ar- 
menia. After the Saracen conquest (p. 386) the Church relapsed 
into what had become her national faith. A synod at Tovin in 645 , 
after the Romans had left the land, again denounced Chalcedon. 
The Church, now in schism, naturally had no longer any de- 
pendence on Caesarea or on any other Chalcedonian see. She 
became autocephalous in the strictest sense, out of communion 
with every other religious body. The Armenians did not even 
establish formal intercommunion with their fellow-Monophysites 4 
in Egypt and Syria. 5 

6. The Five Armenian Patriarchs 

The later history of the Armenian Church is mainly one long 
story of simony, quarrels, schisms and rival Patriarchs. It is a 
dull and dispiriting history into which we need not go in detail. 6 
There would be little of general interest to a Western reader in 
these quarrels. In general we may say that, besides the endless 
rivalries of usurping Patriarchs, there are continually tentative 
efforts at reunion, made by both Orthodox and Catholics, 7 never 

1 Ormanian, p. 32. Tournebize gives the date 596 (p. 92). 

2 Orth. Eastern Church, 304-305. 3 Tournebize : op. cit. p. 95. 

4 There is some theological difference between the Monophysism of 
Armenia and that of the Copts and Jacobites (see p. 425). 

5 This is a difficult and rather subtle question ; see p. 432. 

6 Accounts of the succession of quarrels will be found in Ormanian (who 
naturally always makes the best of them), and Tournebize, op. cit. Simony 
is a special offence during all this time. The Patriarchate for long intervals 
was regularly bought for money ; Ormanian, p. 56. 

7 As a result of such temporary partial reconciliations some Armenian 
bishops were present at the fifth, sixth, and seventh General Councils 
(Constantinople II in 553, Constantinople III in 680, Nicaea II in 787). 
Some of their writers claim that these synods are acknowledged by the 


with a permanent result, till we come to the first Uniates (roughly 
since the 13th century) . 1 We must remember above all that the 
Armenian people kept the Christian faith, although in a schis- 
matical Church, during all the centuries of their oppression by 

But a word must be said about the schisms among themselves 
which have left a result till now. The Katholikos-Patriarch still 
had no fixed residence (p. 403). He wandered about with the 
court as the capital changed. We saw him at Ani (p. 410). 
The Moslems ruined that city in the 10th century. There were 
then various Armenian princes who kept by force of arms their 
independence (p. 387). One of these was the prince (or king) of 
Van, who had made himself a small kingdom around Lake Van. 
The Katholikos Hovhannes (John) V (899-931) came to his court 
and established himself on an island in the lake called Aghthamar. 
Here were a church and monastery where Hovhannes and three 
successors resided. Then came the usual schism. Ananias (943- 
967) left Aghthamar and went and placed himself under the 
protection of another small king of Ani. He lived near Ani at 
Arkina. His successor, Vahan I (967-969), was supposed to have 
Chalcedonian tendencies ; so the bishops of Van deposed him and 
set up Stephen III (969-971) at Aghthamar. Each king (of Van 
and Ani) supported his own candidate. Eventually union was 
restored under Katshik I (971-992). When the kingdom of 
Cilician Armenia was founded (p. 388) the Katholikos went to 
reside at its capital Sis. Fifteen Patriarchs lived here, from 1294 
to 1441. During this time reunion with Rome was brought 
about. We have seen that the kings of Cilician Armenia were 
exceedingly friendly with the Crusaders and submitted to strong 
Latin influence (p. 389). They, the Patriarchs and clergy, after 
some negotiations, came back to the communion of the Catholic 
Church. 2 For a time the Armenian Church officially was Uniate. 
The fact is symbolized by the crowning of King Leo II by the 

Gregorian Church (Armenian Liturgy, by two priests, Cope and Fenwick, 
1908, p. ix). But the constant teaching of their Church and of their chief 
theologians is that only the first three general councils are really authentic 
(e.g. Ormanian : op. cit. 78). 

1 Of whom in our next volume. 

2 This will be described in detail in our next volume. 


Armenian Katholikos and a Latin Cardinal together (p. 389). 
From this time dates the considerable Latinization of the national 
Church. Even after the union was broken, many traces of Latin 
influence, notably in rites, remain in the Gregorian Church. 1 
Meanwhile, among the Armenians of the old country, who were 
not subject to the kings of Cilician Armenia, there was still 
strong feeling against abandoning their traditional Monophysism. 
So some of them renew the old claim of Aghthamar and set up 
a rival Patriarch there. In 1439 Gregory IX was elected, ap- 
parently quite regularly, at Sis. But he was a Uniate ; so again 
the schismatics of Old Armenia set up a rival, not this time at 

We have already mentioned Etshmiadzin (p. 398). Although 
the legend that St. Gregory the Illuminator lived there is not 
true, it is one of the oldest and most venerable Armenian sanctu- 
aries. It is situated near Ani, where the Katholikos had once 
reigned, and near Mount Ararat where Armenian devotion sees 
the place of Noah's Ark and the second cradle of our race. 2 So 
here, at Etshmiadzin, the schismatical bishops elected and con- 
secrated Kirakos (Kyriakos) I (of Virap, 1441-1443) as Katho- 
likos-Patriarch. There were now three sees claiming the Patri- 
archate — Sis, Aghthamar, and Etshmiadzin. It seems clear that 
Sis had the legitimate succession. The old line, hitherto 
acknowledged by all, comes straight down to Gregory IX at Sis. 
Both the other claimants were schismatical pretenders. But Sis 
was Uniate. Had the union lasted, the line of Sis would appar- 
ently have maintained itself, and those of Aghthamar and Etsh- 
miadzin would have come to the usual speedy end of Armenian 
schisms. The union did not last ; the schismatics rallied round 
Etshmiadzin and eventually that line won. Now occurs a new 
factor. The Katholikos kept a real or supposed relic of the 
Illuminator, his right arm, called the holy Atsh. 3 This was and 
still is used at his ordination. It is laid on his head as a kind of 
supplementary imposition of hands. In the complicated rivalries 

1 See p. 441. 

2 Or even the first cradle. For one of the places where the Garden of 
Eden is supposed to have been is by Ararat ; Armenians believe this firmly 
(Ter. Gregor : History of Armenia, 14-15). 

3 Atsh means " right arm." 


of alleged Patriarchs, the possession of this relic (and its use in 
ordination) was supposed to be the sign of legitimate succession. 
There was one alleged holy Atsh at Sis. At Etshmiadzin they 
had what they claimed to be the true holy Atsh. When Kirakos 
of Etshmiadzin, despairing of the state of his Church, resigned 
in 1443, his party elected and ordained Gregory X to succeed 
him (1443-1466). But Zachary of Aghthamar was ordained 
Patriarch by his friends ; he took possession of Etshmiadzin 
itself in 1461. Then, when he was turned out by Gregory X in 
1462, he went off to Aghthamar, taking the holy Atsh with him 
and maintaining his claim. The relic was not brought back to 
Etshmiadzin, till it was stolen in 1477 by partisans of the line of 
Gregory X. Then the kingdom of Cilician Armenia fell to pieces 
(p. 389) , the influence of the Crusaders was over, and all Armenians 
returned to schism. The Patriarch at Etshmiadzin, partly 
through the sanctity of his monastery, 1 partly through that of 
his recovered and now universally admitted holy Atsh, secured 
the allegiance of all the Church. His line still resides there ; by 
dint of ignoring schisms and making a straight-looking succession 
they trace their line from St. Gregory, nay from St. Thaddaeus 
and St. Bartholomew the apostles. 2 Etshmiadzin, the national 
sanctuary, has been enriched with many legends, tending to show 
not only that it was the home of St. Gregory, but that it had 
always been, at least in principle, the seat of the Katholikos. 
The lines of Sis and Aghthamar acknowledged the supremacy of 
Etshmiadzin, but, as a bribe to make them do so, they too were 
allowed to keep the title Patriarch. Sis became an inferior 
Patriarchate, 3 under Etshmiadzin, but having considerable 
metropolitical jurisdiction ; Aghthamar remained a merely titular 
Patriarchate (p. 430). 

The Armenians then became used to the idea of other Patri- 
archs under the supreme Katholikos-Patriarch. Once that is 
admitted it does not much matter how many there are. As a 
matter of fact two more were formed. Since 1307 they had a 

1 For the legends about St. Gregory at Etshmiadzin were, naturally, 

2 This line of Patriarchs is given in Ormanian (op. cit. 171-180) with dates. 

3 It was not finally reconciled till 1651. 



bishop at Constantinople for their colony there. When Mo- 
hammed the Conqueror took the city (1459), according to the 
rather stupid Turkish idea of uniformity he wanted to organize 
the subject Armenian " nation " on the same lines as the " Roman 
nation " (the Orthodox). These had as supreme civil head 1 in 
Turkey a Patriarch of Constantinople ; so the Conqueror organ- 
ized the Armenians on just the same lines. He meant them to 
have a responsible chief at the capital, so he ignored the Katho- 
likos in a distant monastery, and made the Armenian Bishop of 
Constantinople, Hovakim (Joachim, formerly of Brusa), Patriarch 
in 1461, gave him civil authority over all Armenians in the 
Turkish Empire and the sole right of representing them before 
the Government. 2 The Church acquiesced in this. Since then 
there has been an Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople, second 
to the Katholikos in rank, acknowledging a theoretic supremacy 
in him, but practically the most powerful member of the Armenian 
hierarchy. The origin of their Patriarchate of Jerusalem is even 
more unwarranted. They had a bishop there, as have most 
Eastern Churches. In the middle of the 18th century the Katho- 
likos seems to have allowed this bishop to bless the holy chrism. 
Encouraged by this, seeing himself in a Patriarchal city, knowing 
too that his brother at Constantinople had obtained the title and 
that it was becoming very cheap, the Armenian Bishop of Jeru- 
salem declared himself a Patriarch too, and began to ordain 
bishops. The Katholikos stopped this ; but he kept the title. 
So it came about that the Armenian Church has five Patriarchs — 
the Katholikos at Etshmiadzin and the Patriarchs of Constanti- 
nople, Sis, Aghthamar, 3 and Jerusalem. 

We may note here that as the Armenians wandered throughout 
Europe and Asia (p. 387) the Katholikos began to ordain bishops 

1 Orth. Eastern Church, 238-240. 

2 Till the 19th century the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople had 
these same civil rights over all Monophysites in the empire. Copts and 
Jacobites could approach the Porte only through him. Now the Jacobite 
Patriarch of Antioch is the acknowledged civil head of his " nation," and 
the Copts have nothing more to do with the Porte. Indeed, the latest 
developments (the constitution of 1908) are abolishing the whole principle 
of separate " nations " with civil heads. 

3 Those of Sis and Aghthamar are now also called " Katholikos." 


for their colonies in all parts. Katshik I (971-992, p. 415) is 
said to be the first who did so. 1 

7. The Nineteenth Century 

The last century brought great changes to the Armenian 
Church. Hitherto she had languished obscurely under the Turk. 
Now came two events which affected her profoundly — intercourse 
with the West involving the spread of European ideas and the 
arrival of Protestant missionaries, and, even more, the Russian 
conquest of Transcaucasus in 1829. 

The general interest in the ancient Eastern Churches aroused 
in Europe in the 19th century turned to the Armenians too. 
Already the Uniates, notably the Mekhitarist monks at Venice, 2 
had a printing press and had began to disseminate Armenian 
books. Now the Protestants took up the cause. Armenians 
began to come to European schools, Europeans began to visit 
and write about Armenia. Then, inevitably, came Protestant 
missionaries, with their crude attempts to improve a Church 
which had kept immeasurably more of historic Christianity than 
their own sects. First the British and Foreign Bible Society 
distributed Bibles in the vulgar tongue. Then both Anglicans 
and American Presbyterians formed Armenian Protestant sects. 
The Americans have done much the most work. Their mission 
began in 1831. At first, as usual, they disclaimed any idea of 
proselytizing. They only wanted to teach, exhort and spiri- 
tualize the Armenians, victims of too superstitious a doctrine. 
All Protestant missions in the Levant begin like that. Of course 
their teaching was hopelessly opposed to that of the clergy. Al- 
ready in 1839 they came into conflict with the hierarchy. In 
1844 the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople very properly 
excommunicated all who attend their services. Since then the 
Presbyterians have broken all pretence of regarding the Ar- 
menian Church. They make converts frankly wherever they can. 
They have built up a considerable Protestant Armenian sect, with 
stations and chapels all over the Levant. This sect forms a fairly 

1 Ormanian : op. cit. 39. 

2 This, too, belongs to the next volume. 


large minority ; they are said to number nearly forty-six 
thousand in the Turkish Empire. 1 The Anglicans have formed a 
small sect around Aintab. It had a schismatical bishop named 
Meguerditsh, who was admitted to inter-communion by the 
Anglican-Lutheran bishop in Jerusalem, Samuel Gobat, in 1865. 
They have a mutilated version of the Book of Common Prayer 
in Armeno-Turkish (Turkish in Armenian letters). Meguerditsh 
died in 1904 and left only a priest and a deacon to carry on his 
sect. 2 There is also a small group of Armenians at Egin on the 
upper Euphrates who are Orthodox. 3 

A greater event to Armenians was the Russian-Turkish War 
of 1828. In this story the Russian Government behaved as it 
always does. Until the Armenians were in its power it made all 
kinds of fair promises ; when it got them it persecuted them. 
Russia was anxious to get them to help her against Turkey. So 
she promised everything. If only she could conquer Trans- 
caucasus, the Armenians would be under a Christian Emperor, 
under the great protector of all Eastern Christians. It is the old 
myth of the Czar-liberator, believed with childlike confidence, 
till he does liberate. The Czar Nicholas I (1825-1855) in the 
" Polojenye " law of 1836 4 made the most definite promises of 
toleration, non-interference in their Church, which he shame- 
lessly broke later. The Armenians, loathing the Turkish tyrant, 
guilelessly believed him. They thought a Christian Czar, even if 
a Chalcedonian, would treat them at least better then the Moslem. 
So they rose for Russia in 1828-1829 and rejoiced when the Peace 
of 1829 gave their new friends the greater part of Transcaucasia 
(p. 390). They were mistaken. By this conquest Russia ob- 
tained not only a large Armenian population but the holy place 
Etshmiadzin, the seat of the Katholikos. It is true the Russian 

1 So Petermann-Gelzer in the Prot. Realencyklopddie (1897), ii. 90. 
Many Armenians study at the American Protestant (Congregationalist) 
Robert College, founded in 1863, on the Bosphorus, at Rumili Hisar. 

2 An account of these " Anglican Armenians " by the Anglican chaplain 
at Beirut (the Rev. J. T. Parfit), will be found in Archdeacon Dowling : 
The Armenian Church (S.P.C.K., 1910), pp. 144-148. 

3 Dowling : op. cit. p. 18. 

4 See H. F. B. Lynch : Armenia, Travels and Studies (2 vols., Longmans, 
1901), i. 229, seq. 


does not massacre ; but as far as the state of the Armenian 
Church goes he is worse than the Turk. For the Turk, even 
when he massacres, lets the internal ecclesiastical affairs of 
Christians alone. The Russian interferes with these. Even in 
the law of 1836 the Czar showed his usual Erastianism over a 
Church with which he is not in communion. His consent is 
necessary before the Katholikos is appointed, and he makes the 
Armenians wait regularly one year between the appointment and 
ordination. 1 The Orthodox Government interferes in all Ar- 
menian ecclesiastical affairs. It controls their property and 
annoys them in every kind of way. No one may be converted 
to the Armenian Church. 2 On the whole the Katholikos would 
prefer the Turk. Two results follow from this. First, it has 
finally put off reunion between the Armenians and the Orthodox. 
Otherwise this would be the most probable reunion in Christen- 
dom. Armenians and Orthodox are very near in faith and were 
quite friendly. They might easily have amalgamated. But now 
there is nothing the Armenians in Russia (nearly half their Church) 
dread so much. If they turned Orthodox they know well that 
their fate would be that of Georgia. Russian bishops would be 
sent to govern them ; there would be no Armenian Church and 
no Armenia. The stupid bullying of Russia makes Armenians 
cling to their Monophysism as the one principle which preserves 
their nation. 3 The other result is the practical extinction of the 
authority of the Katholikos over a great part of his Church. He 

1 This is apparently to give the Russian Government an opportunity of 
worrying them while the see is vacant. Meanwhile the Russian Pro- 
curator rules the Armenian Church. 

2 For the details of this persecution of Armenians by the Russian Govern- 
ment see articles in the £chos d'Orient, vii. (1904) 5, 129, 176 ; xiii. (1910) 
35, 94. The most preposterous point is that the Russian Orthodox Holy 
Synod has the right of supervising all Armenian publications, in order to 
prevent anything being printed against the faith of the Armenian Church ! 
For Russian interference in the election of the Katholikos see p. 428, 

3 The idea that their Monophysism preserves their independence is a 
favourite one with Armenians : " Had the Armenian Church recognized 
the Council of Chalcedon, her free Apostolic Patriarchal See would have 
been lost and her independence would have been subjected to the authority 
of the Greek Church." Authorised Catechism quoted by Dowling : The 
Armenian Church, p. 105. 


rules Armenians in Russia. But to those in Turkey he is too 
much the creature of the Russian Government to count. Their 
Patriarch of Constantinople is their chief, really independent, in 
spite of his theoretic subordination to the Katholikos. 


The Armenian Church, in spite of the fact that there were 
Christians in the country earlier, in spite of her alleged founda- 
tion by St. Thaddaeus and St. Bartholomew, was founded really 
by St. Gregory the Illuminator in the 3rd and 4th centuries. He 
was ordained at Caesarea in Cappadocia, as were his early suc- 
cessors. Armenia was a missionary Church dependent on Cae- 
sarea, in the Patriarchate of Antioch. After the Council of 
Chalcedon (451) the national Church, mainly through unfortunate 
misunderstandings, rejected that Council and adopted Mono- 
physism as her creed. This occurred under the Katholikos 
Nerses II at a Synod of Tovin about 554. Since then the na- 
tional Armenian Church has been in schism with all the rest of 
Christendom. Her Katholikos became independent and called 
himself a Patriarch. The Church, like the nation, has been torn 
between different powers, riddled with quarrels and schisms. 
The Persians and Romans fought over Armenia ; Persia especi- 
ally was long a cruel tyrant. There are many Armenian martyrs. 
Then the Moslems took and held the land. From the nth to 
the 14th centuries an Armenian colony in Cilicia maintained a 
separate kingdom, with Sis as its capital. This kingdom was on 
good terms with the Crusaders, it was considerably Latinized 
(which influence is still seen in the Armenian Church) , and was 
Uniate. The union came to an end with the kingdom. After 
that the Katholikos-Patriarch established himself at Etshmiadzin. 
But in reconciling schisms he had to admit two other sees, Sis 
and Aghthamar, as secondary Patriarchs. The Turks set up an 
Armenian Patriarch at Constantinople ; the Bishop of Jerusalem 
made himself one. In the 19th century Protestant missionaries 
formed Protestant Armenian sects, and Russia by conquering 
Transcaucasus got Etshmiadzin in her power. She has treated 
the Armenians very badly, and the Katholikos, too much under 


Russian authority, now has little real power outside Russia. In 
Turkey their Patriarch of Constantinople governs the Church. 
Lastly, the Armenian massacres of 1890, 1893, 1895-1896, and 
1909, have made the very name of this unhappy people suggest 



The Gregorian (Monophysite) Church of Armenia is as near an 
approach to a national Church as exists (except perhaps that 
of Abyssinia). A perfect national Church would include all and 
only the people of one nation. The Armenian Church is only for 
Armenians. It would not, I think, be possible for a foreigner to 
join it. It includes at any rate the greater part of the nation. 
Not all, because the Uniates and Protestants form important 
minorities. But if you meet an Armenian, whether in Calcutta 
or Manchester, he is most likely to belong to the Gregorian Church 
and to abhor the Council of Chalcedon ; not that he understands 
anything about what that Council defined, but because he is an 
Armenian. Undoubtedly the national Church is the main factor 
which preserves and holds together this people. What they 
really care about is not a metaphysical concept of our Lord's 
person, but the Armenian rite in the Armenian language by an 
Armenian priest, which to them in foreign lands is a precious 
inheritance from the wooded mountains where the sons of Haik 
were once free and happy under the shadow of Noah's Ararat. 

i. The Armenian Faith 

Armenians resent being called Eutychians, and with reason. 
They deny the special heresies of Eutyches (pp. 167-169) ; 
every Armenian bishop at his ordination denounces him by name. 1 
But they are heretics, namely Monophysites. They deny what 

1 Ormanian, p. 83. 


was defined at Chalcedon, and insist on the first three Councils 
only. 1 They have adopted as their official dogma the classical 
Monophysite phrase that our Lord has one nature out of two. 
He is " one hypostasis, one person, one united nature (after the 
union)." 2 But there is, or was, some difference between their 
Monophysism and that of the Copts and Jacobites. The Copts 
and Jacobites are Severians, accepting the view of Severus of 
Antioch that our Lord's body is corruptible (<j>0apr6v). The 
Armenians adopted the extremer view of Julian of Halicarnassus 
that it is incorruptible (a<f>9apr6v, see p. 207). It is then usual 
to call them Julianist Monophysites. May be that this difference 
had something to do with the fact that they could never unite 
with the others. But there seems very little trace of Julianism 
in their formulas now. On the contrary, except for the expression 
" one nature " and their rejection of Chalcedon, there is nothing, 
on this point, to which we could object. 3 Their creeds insist on 
the fact that Christ is really man, born truly of his mother, 
having a real body and soul. 4 Their fault (or misfortune) is at 
bottom only their denial of Chalcedon and the schism thereby 
produced. As creeds they use that of Nicsea-Constantinople in 
a slightly variant form, but correct ; 5 another attributed to Saint 

1 Lord Malachy Ormanian is very proud of this. He thinks that in 
these days of little faith the less you ask people to believe the better. Now 
the Orthodox insist on seven Councils, Catholics on twenty, but Armenians 
on only three. This is a heavy score for them. And he thinks that their 
three are admitted universally (op. cit. 78-80). He is mistaken. A child 
could tell him that Nestorians reject Ephesus just as firmly as Monophysites 
reject Chalcedon. On his principle Nestorians are still better off, since 
they insist on two Councils only ; a Pneumatomachian is still happier, for 
he has only one. And an Arian is most to be envied of all, for he admits 
none. To claim an advantage in easi