Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1.: THE PAULICIAN HERESY — ( Ch. LIV. ) - The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 10
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1.: THE PAULICIAN HERESY — ( Ch. LIV. ) - Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vol. 10 
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ed. J.B. Bury with an Introduction by W.E.H. Lecky (New York: Fred de Fau and Co., 1906), in 12 vols. Vol. 10.
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THE PAULICIAN HERESY — (Ch. LIV.)
In Gibbon’s day the material for the origin, early history, and tenets of the Paulicians consisted of Bk. i. of the work of Photius on the Manichaeans, and the History of the Manichaeans by Petros Sikeliotes. The work of Photius was edited by J. C. Wolf in his Anecdota Graeca, i., ii. (1722);1 but Gibbon did not consult it (above, chap. liv. note 1). There was further the account of the Bogomils in the Panoplia of Euthymius Zigabenus, a monk who lived under Alexius Comnenus and is celebrated in the Alexiad of Anna. A Latin translation was published by P. F. Zinos in 1555; the Greek text edited by a Greek monk (Metrophanes) in 1710. It may be read in Migne, P.G. vol. 130. The section on the Bogomils was edited separately by Gieseler in 1841-2.
The documents which have come to light since are closely connected with the accounts of Photius and Peter; they bring few new facts or fictions, but they bring material for criticising the facts and fictions already known. (1) In 1849 Gieseler published a tract2 of a certain Abbot Peter, containing an account of the Paulicians similar to that of Photius and Peter Sikeliotes (with whom Gieseler identified the author). (2) The publication of the chronicle of George Monachus by Muralt in 1859 showed that this chronicler had incorporated a similar account in his work.
We have then four documents, which presume one original account whereon all depend, directly or indirectly, if indeed one of them is not itself the original source. The problem of determining their relations to one another and the common original is complicated by (1) the nature of Photius, Bk. i., and (2) the variations in the MSS. of George Monachus.
The “First Book” of Photius falls into two parts: I. chaps. 1-15, which contains (a) a history of the Paulicians, chaps. 1-10; and (b) an account of earlier Manichaean movements, chaps. 11-14; II. chaps. 15-27, a history of the Paulicians, going over the same ground, but differently, and adding a brief notice of the revolt of Chrysocheir. Part I. (a) corresponds closely to the accounts of Abbot Peter, Peter Sik.,3 and George Mon.; and its Photian authorship seems assured by the testimony of Euthymius Zigabenus. Part II. was a distinct composition originally, and was tacked on to the Photian work. Thus “Photius” resolves itself into two documents, one Photian, the other Pseudo-Photian.
The credit of having made this clear belongs to Karapet Ter-Mkrttschian, who published in 1893 a treatise entited “Die Paulikianer in byzantinischen Kaiserreiche und verwandte ketzerische Erscheinungen in Armenien.” This investigation, although it is ill arranged and leads to no satisfactory conclusion, has yet been of great use in opening up the whole question, as well as by publishing out-of-the-way evidence on various obscure Armenian sects. While Gieseler held that the treatise of the “Abbot Peter” was simply an extract from the work of Peter Sikeliotes, Ter-Mkrttschian tries to prove that the Abbot Peter is the oldest of our existing sources — the source of George Monachus, and Photius (Bk. 1 (a)). [The Armenian scholar further propounded (p. 122 sqq.) the impossible theory that Peter Sikeliotes wrote in the time of Alexius Comnenus — when the Paulician and Bogomil question was engaging the attention of the court and the public. It is impossible, because the date of the Vatican MS. of the treatise of Peter is earlier. As to the Pseudo-Photian account, Ter-Mkrttschian holds that its author utilised the work of Euthymius Zigabenus (p. 8-9).]
After Ter-Mkrttschian came J. Friedrich (Der ursprüngliche bei Georgios Monachos nur theilweise erhaltene Bericht über die Paulikianer, published in the Sitzungsberichte of the Bavarian Academy, 1896, p. 67 sqq.). Friedrich denied that the Abbot Peter’s tract was the source used by George Monachus; and he published (p. 70-81), as the original source of all the extant accounts, the passage of George Monachus as it appears in the Madrid MS. of the chronicle. In this MS. the passage is more than twice as long as in other MSS., the additional matter consisting chiefly of directions to Christians how they were to refute a Paulician heretic when they met one. According to Friedrich, the work of the Abbot Peter is an extract from this treatise, preserved in the Madrid MS.; and the accounts in the other MSS. of George Monachus are likewise extracts.
But the view of Friedrich has been upset conclusively by C. de Boor, the only scholar who is thoroughly master of the facts about the MSS. of George Monachus. In a short paper in the Byzantinische Zeitschrift, vii. p. 40 sqq. (1898), de Boor has shown that the additional matter in the Madrid MS. comes from an interpolator. George seems to have made a second version of his chronicle, and in revising it he consulted his sources, or some of them, again. This seems to be the only hypothesis on which the peculiarities of one MS., Coislin. 305, can be explained. In the case of the Paulician passage, de Boor points out that in the first form of his work (represented by Coislin. 305) he used an original source; from which he again drew at more length on a second revision (represented by the other MSS.). It is therefore the second revision which we must compare with the work of the Abbot Peter in order to determine whether the Abbot Peter is the original source. De Boor does not decide this; but calls attention to two passages which might seem to show that the Abbot used the second revision of George the Monk, and one passage which rather points to the independence of the Abbot. On the whole, the second alternative seems more probable.
The present state of the question may be summed up as follows: The (1) original sketch of the Paulician heresy, its origin and history — whereon all our extant accounts ultimately depend — is lost. This original work was used by (2) George the Monk (in the 9th century) for his chronicle; (a) in Coislin. 305 we have a shorter extract, (b) in the other MSS. (and Muralt’s text) we have a fuller extract. (3) The tract of the Abbot Peter was either taken from the second edition of George the Monk, or was independently extracted from the original work; but it was not the original work itself. (4) It is not quite certain whether the treatise of Photius was derived from the derivative work of the Abbot Peter (so Ter-Mkrttschian; and this is also the opinion of Ehrhard, ap. Krumbacher’s Byz. Litt. p. 76; but Friedrich argues against this view, op. cit. p. 85-6); perhaps it is more likely that Photius also used the original work. (5) The position of Peter Sikeliotes is quite uncertain (see below). (6) The interpolation in the Madrid MS. of George the Monk (see above) was added not later than the 10th century, in which period the MS. was written. Then come (7) Euthymius Zigabenus in the Panoplia, c. 1100 , and (8) Pseudo-Photius.
The unsolved problem touching Peter Sikeliotes would have no historical importance, except for his statements about his own mission to Tephrice, and the intention of the Paulicians of the east to send missionaries to Bulgaria, and the dedication of his work to an Archbishop of Bulgaria. He says that he himself was sent to Tephrice by Michael III. for the ransom of captives. But the title of the treatise is curious: Πέτρου Σικελιώτου ἱστορία . . . προσωποποιηθει̑σα ὡς πρὸς τὸν Ἀρχιεπίσκοπον Βουλγαρίας. The word προσωποποιηθει̑σα suggests that the historical setting of the treatise is fictitious. In denying the historical value of this evidence as to the propagation of Paulicianism in Bulgaria at such an early date, Ter-Mkrttschian (p. 13 sqq.) and Friedrich (p. 101-2) are agreed. According to the life of St. Clement of Bulgaria (ed. Miklorich, p. 34) the heresy did not enter the country till after Cement’s death in 916 (Friedrich, ib.).
Ter-Mkrttschian endeavours to prove that the Paulicians were simply Marcionites. Friedrich argues against this view, on the ground of some statements in the text which he published from the Madrid MS., where the creator of the visible world is identified with the devil. But these statements may have been interpolated in the tenth century from a Bogomil source.
On the Armenian Paulicians and cognate sects, see Döllinger’s Beiträge zur Sektengeschichte des Mittelalters; Ter-Mkrttschian’s work, already cited; and Conybeare’s Key of Truth (see below). The basis of Döllinger’s study was the treatise “Against the Paulicians” of the Armenian Patriarch John Ozniensis (published in his works, 1834, ed. Archer). Cp. Conybeare, op. cit. App. iv. Ter-Mkrttschian has rendered new evidence accessible.
In his History of the Bulgarians,4 Jireček gives the result of the investigations of Rački and other Slavonic scholars into the original doctrines of the Bogomils. (1) They rejected the Old Testament, the Fathers, and ecclesiastical tradition. They accepted the New Testament, and laid weight on a number of old apocryphal works. (2) They held two principles, equal in age and power: one good (a triune being = God); the other bad (= Satan); who created the visible world, caused the Fall, governed the world during the period of the Old Testament. (3) The body of Christ the Redeemer was only an apparent, not a real body (for everything corporeal is the work of Satan); Mary was an angel. The sacraments are corporeal, and therefore Satanic, symbols. (4) They rejected the use of crucifixes and icons, and regarded churches as the abodes of evil spirits. (5) Only adults were received into their church; the ceremony consisted of fasting and prayer — not baptism, for water is created by Satan. (6) They had no hierarchy; but an executive, consisting of a senior or bishop, and two grades of Apostles. (7) Besides the ordinary Christians there was a special order of the Perfect or the Good, who renounced all earthly possessions, marriage, and the use of animal food. These chosen few dressed in black, lived like hermits, and were not allowed to speak to an unbeliever except for the purpose of converting him. (8) No Bogomil was allowed to drink wine. (9) The Bulgarian Bogomils prayed four times every day and four times every night; the Greek seven times every day, five times every night. They prayed whenever they crossed a bridge or entered a village. They had no holy days. (10) They had a death-bed ceremony (called in the west la convenensa). Whoever died without the advantage of this ceremony went to hell, the ultimate a bode of all unbelievers. They did not believe in a purgatory.
We cannot, however, feel certain that this is a fair presentation of the Bogomil doctrines. It is unfortunate that none of their books of ritual, &c., are known to exist.
As early as the tenth century a schism arose in the Bogomil church. A view was promulgated that Satan was not coeval with God, but only a later creation, a fallen angel. This view prevailed in the Bulgarian church, but the Dragoviči clung to the old dualism. The modified doctrine was adopted for the most part by the Bogomils of the west (Albigenses, &c.) except at Toulouse and Albano on Lake Garda (Jireček, op. cit. p. 213).
The kinship of the Bogomil doctrines to the Paulician is obvious. But it has not been proved that they are historically derived from the Paulician; though there are historical reasons for supposing Paulician influence.
Since the above was written, Mr. Conybeare published (1898) the Armenian text and an English translation of the book of the Paulicians of Thonrak in Armenia. This book is entitled the Key of Truth and seems to have been drawn up by the beginning of the ninth century. This liturgy considerably modifies our views touching the nature of Paulicianism, which appears to have had nothing to do with Marcionism, but to have been a revival of the old doctrine of Adoptionism according to which Jesus was a man and nothing more until in his thirtieth year he was baptised by John and the Spirit of God came down and entered into him; then and thereby he became the Son of God. Of this Adoptionist view we have two ancient monuments, the Shepherd of Hermas and the Acts of Archelaus. The doctrine survived in Spain until the 8th and 9th centuries; and this fact suggests the conjecture that it also lingered on in southern France, so that the heresy of the Cathars and Albigenses would not have been a mere imported Bogomilism, but an ancient local survival. Mr. Conybeare thinks that it lived on from early times in the Balkan peninsula “where it was probably the basis of Bogomilism.”
There can be no doubt that Mr. Conybeare’s discovery brings us nearer to the true nature of Paulicianism. In this book the Paulicians speak for themselves, and free themselves from the charges of Manichaeism and dualism which have been always brought against them. Mr. Conybeare thinks that Paulician, the Armenian form of Paulian, is derived from Paul of Samosata, whose followers were known to the Greeks of the 4th century as Pauliani. Gregory Magistros5 (who in the 11th century was commissioned by the Emperor Constantine IX. to drive the Paulicians or Thonraki out of Imperial Armenia) states that the Paulicians “got their poison from Paul of Samosata,” the last great representative of the Adoptionist doctrine. Mr. Conybeare suggests that, the aim of the Imperial government having been to drive the Adoptionist Church outside the Empire, the Paulians “took refuge in Mesopotamia and later in the Mohammedan dominions generally, where they were tolerated and where their own type of belief, as we see from the Acts of Archalaus, had never ceased to be accounted orthodox. They were thus lost sight of almost for centuries by the Greek theologians of Constantinople and other great centres. When at last they again made themselves felt as the extreme left wing of the iconoclasts — the great party of revolt against the revived Greek paganism of the eighth century — it was the orthodox or Grecised Armenians that, as it were, introduced them afresh to the notice of the Greeks” (Introduction, p. cvi.).
[1 ]Reprinted in Migne, P.G. vol. 102.
[2 ]Title: Πέτρου ἐλαχίστου μοναχου̑ Ἡγουμένου περὶ Πανλικιανω̑ν τω̑ν καὶ Μανιχαίων.
[3 ]Peter Sik. reverses the order of (a) and (b).
[4 ]Geschichte der Bulgaren, p. 176 sqq.
[5 ]Mr. Conybeare publishes a translation of letters of Gregory which bear on Paulicianism, in Appendix iii.