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PAULICIANS, a dualistic sect of the Orient, whose name was derived from their respect for the apostle Paul, rather than from their third leader, the Armenian Paul, as Photius and Petrus Siculus affirm.

History. - The founder of the sect was a certain Constantine, who hailed from Mananalis, a dualistic community near Samosata. He studied the Gospels and Epistles, combined dualistic and Christian doctrines, and, upon the basis of the former, vigorously opposed the formalism of the church. Regarding himself as called to restore the pure Christianity of Paul, he adopted the name Silvanus, one of Paul’s disciples, and about the year 660 founded his first congregation at Kibossa in Armenia. Twenty-seven years afterwards he was stoned to death by order of the emperor. Simeon, the court official who executed the order, was himself converted, and, adopting the name Titus, became Constantine’s successor, but was burned to death in 690 (the punishment pronounced upon the Manichaeans). The adherents of the sect fled, with the Armenian Paul at their head, to Episparis. He died in 715, leaving two sons, Gegnaesius (whom he had appointed his successor) and Theodore. The latter, giving out that he had received the Holy Ghost, rose up against Gegnaesius, but was unsuccessful. Gegnaesius was taken to Constantinople, appeared before Leo the Isaurian, was declared innocent of heresy, returned to Episparis, but, fearing danger, went with his adherents to Mananalis. His death (in 745) was the occasion of a division in the sect; Zacharias and Joseph being the leaders of the two parties. The latter had the larger following and was succeeded by Baanies, 775. The sect grew in spite of persecution, receiving additions from the opponents of image-worship. Baanes, an immoral man, was supplanted by Sergius, 801, who was very active for thirty-four years, and received into the number of the saints. His activity was the occasion of renewed persecutions on the part of Leo the Armenian. Obliged to flee, Sergius and his followers settled at Argaum, in that part of Armenia which was under the control of the Saracens. At the death of Sergius, the control of the sect was divided between several leaders. The empress, Theodora, instituted a new persecution, in which a hundred thousand Paulicians in Grecian Armenia are said to have lost their lives. Under Karbeas, who fled with the residue of the sect, two cities, Amara and Tephrica, were built. His successor, Chrysocheres, devastated many cities; in 867 advanced as far as Ephesus, and took many priests prisoners. In 868 the emperor, Basil, despatched Petrus Siculus to arrange for their exchange. his sojourn of nine months among the Paulicians gave him an opportunity to collect many facts, which he preserved in his ..." History of the empty and vain heresy of the Manichæans, otherwise called Paulicians"). The propositions of peace were not accepted, the war was renewed, and Chrysocheres killed. The power of the Paulicians was broken. In 970 the emperor, John Tzimisces, transferred some of them to Philippopolis in Thrace, and, as a reward for their promise to keep back the Scythians, granted them religious freedom. This was the beginning of a revival of the sect; but it was true to the empire. Several thousand went in the army of Alexius Comnenus against the Norman, Robert Guiscard; but, deserting the emperor, many of them (1085) were thrown into prison. Efforts were again put forth for their conversion; and for the converts the new city of Alexiopolis was built, opposite Philippopolis. When the Crusaders took Constantinople (1204), they found some Paulicians, whom the historian Gottfried of Villehardouin calls Popelicans. According to a Greek writer, Constantine... adherents of the ancient sect were living in Philippopolis in the early part of this century.

Doctrines.- Little is known of the tenets of the Paulicians, as we are confined for information to the reports of opponents and a few fragments of Sergius' letters which they have preserved. Their system was dualistic. There are two principles, two kingdoms. The Evil Spirit is the author of, and lord of, the present, visible world; the Good Spirit, of the future worid. Of their views about the creation of man, little is known but what is contained in the ambiguous words of Sergius... This passage seems to teach that Adam's sin of disobedience was a blessing in disguise, and that a greater sin than his is the sin against the church... The Paulicians accepted the four Gospels, fourteen Epistles of Paul, the three Epistles of John, James, Jude, and an Epistle to the Laodiceans, which they professed to have. The Old Testament they rejected. They rejected the title of ... (mother of God), and refused all worship to Mary. Christ came down from heaven to emancipate men from the body and from the world, which are evil. The reverence for the cross, they looked upon as heathenish. The outward administration of the sacraments of the Lord's Supper and baptism, they rejected. Christ himself is our baptism. Their places of worship the called "places of prayer"... Although they were ascetics, they made no distinction in foods, and practised marriage.

The Paulicians were not a branch of the Manichæans, as Photius, Petrus Siculus, and many modern authors have held. Both were dualists. but the former ascribed the creation of the world to the evil God; Manes, to the good God; and the former held the Scriptures in higher honor. They even condemned Manes, comparing him to Buddha. Gieseler and Neander, with more probability, derive the sect from the Gnostic Marcionites, Muratori, Mosheim, Gibbon, and others regard the Paulicians as the forerunners of the Cathari; but the differences between them in organization, ascetic practices, etc., forbid this opinion. [The Seventh Council of Twin (719) forbade all intercourse with them.]

Herzog, "Paulicians," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 2. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.1776-1777.

Secondary Sources

On-line Resource John T. Christian, "The Paulician Churches," Review & Expositor 7.3 (July 1910): 414-433.View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain]
On-line Resource John T. Christian, A History of the BaptistsJohn T. Christian, A History of the Baptists. Together with Some Account of Their Principles and Practices. Nashville, TN: Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1922. Hbk. pp.408. View in PDF format pdf [This material is in the Public Domain]
Book or monograph Nina G. Garsoian, The Paulician Heresy. A Study in the Origin and Development of Paulicianism in Armenia and the Eastern Provinces of the Byzantine Empire. Publications in Near and Middle East Studies. Columbia University, Series A 6. The Hague: Mouton, 1967. pp.296.
Article in Journal or Book Hoffmann, R Joseph, "The Paulician heresy: a reappraisal," Patristic and Byzantine Review 2.2-3 (1983): 251-263.

Related Subjects

Heresies | Alogi | Apollinarianism | Arianism | Docetism | Donatism | Gnosticism | Manicheaism | Marcion | Monarchianism | Montanism | Nestorianism | Pelagianism

Apostolic Brethren | Arnoldists | Beguins | Flagellants | Bogomils | Cathari | Henricians | Humiliati | Hussites | Lollards | Manichees | Passagians | Paulicians | Petrobrusians | Speronists | Spiritual Franciscans | Waldensians

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