Gnostic Doctrine

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Paulicians Paulicianism

Paulicians Paulicianism

From wikipedia

Paulicians (Old Armenian: Պաւղիկեաններ, Pawłikeanner; Greek: Παυλικιανοί;[1] Arab sources: Baylakānī, al Bayāliqa البيالقة)[2] were a Christian adoptionist sect from Armenia which formed in the 7th century,[3] possibly influenced by Gnostic movement and religion of Marcionism and Manichaeism

from Eureka: An Exposition of the Apocalypse by Dr John Thomas Chapter 12 Section 28. Other Remnants of the Woman's Seed

The Novatian remnant was numerous in most parts of the Great Roman Eagle until towards the end of the sixth century. After this their name is not found in the history of the times. This arose from the fact of other leaders appearing to direct the witnessing of the woman's seed against traditions and superstitions more recently introduced by the Catholic Satan. Laxity of discipline, which was protested against by Novatianus, had caused the division of Anti-pagans into two distinct bodies, A.D. 251, or thereabouts. The majority styled themselves Catholics; the others, NOVATIANS, and Puritans. Some sixty or seventy years after, these received an accession of strength and numbers by the secession from the catholics of multitudes, who were opposed to professors being ordained bishops, who surrendered the Holy Scriptures to be burned as the condition of personal safety in the Diocletian persecution; and who were also opposed to the incorporation of the church with the Roman State. These at the end of the sixth century were no longer the leading questions of the day. All the Woman's witnessing seed, whether called Novatian or Donatists, were united in judgment concerning them; but there were other topics that now came to demand more especial attention, in the witnessing for which other names than Novatians and Donatus strongly attracted the notice of mankind.

The tyranny and arrogance of catholic bishops had become insufferable. Their oppressiveness created what might be styled the episcopal question; or the inquiry, Does the New Testament make any difference, in order or degree, between Presbyters and Bishops? The difference was generally admitted in the fourth century; but is without the least sanction in the apostolic writings. This was the earnest conviction of a presbyter named 'Erius, whom Mosheim depreciates by nicknaming him "a Semi-Arian." He says, that in the latter part of the fourth century, "He erected a new sect, and excited divisions throughout Armenia, Pontus, and Cappadocia, by propagating Opinions different from those that Were commonly received. One of his principal tenets was, that bishops were not distinguished from presbytersby any Divine right; and that according to the institution of the New Testament, their offices and authority were absolutely the same." Had this tenet been received and maintained by the catholic church, the world could never have been afflicted by the blasting presence of the Roman Pontiffs. "How far Aerius pursued this opinion, through its natural consequences, is not certainly known; but we know with the utmost certainty, that it was highly agreeable to many good christians, who were no longer able to bear the tyranny and arrogance of the bishops of this century."

"There were other things in which Aerius differed from the common notions of the time: he condemned prayers for the dead, stated fasts, the celebration of Easter, and other rites of that nature, in which the multitude erroneously imagine that the life and soul of religion consists. His great purpose seems to have been that of reducing Christianity to its primitive simplicity. This was a great and noble enterprise, and places the Aerians, as those who associated themselves with Aerius were styled, in the apocalyptic category of "the remnants of the woman's seed."

But the Novatian and Donatista remnants were not only reinforced by the Aerians; their strength and influence were augmented in the middle of the seventh century by the Paulicians. It was about A.D. 653, that a new sect arose in the Roman East, upon which this name was bestowed. There resided in the city of Mananalis, in Armema, a person of the class to whom the gospel is preached, the obscure, whose name was Constantine. One day a stranger called upon him, who had been a prisoner among the Saracens in Syria, and having obtained his release, was returning home through this city. He was kindly received by Constantine, and for some days entertained at his house. The stranger had been a deacon of a church. In return for the hospitality he had received, he presented Constantine with two manuscripts; one of the "four gospels;" the other, of Paul's epistles. Constantine studied them as they deserved to be; and when he came to understand them, he would touch no other books; and commenced to teach the doctrines of Christ and his apostle to the Gentiles. He threw away his Manichaean library, exploded and rejected many popular absurdities; and led his countrymen to abandon their former teachers whom they had most venerated; and opened an effective battery upon the superstitions of the catholic church and its hierarchy.

The history of the Paulictans is traceable only through the writings of their adversaries. The account given of their origin is derived from Peter the Sicilian, who was sent by Basil the Great to the Paulicians in Armenia, A.D. 870, to negotiate with them an exchange of prisoners. The following extract from Gibbon will show the special abominations against which they faithfully testified in their character of a remnant of the woman's seed. "Against the gradual innovations of discipline and doctrine," says he, "they were as strongly guarded by habit and aversion as by the silence of the Apostle Paul and the evangelists. The objects which had been transformed by the magic of superstition, appeared to the eyes of the Paulicians in their genuine and naked colors. They reasoned that an image made with hands was the common workmanship of a mortal artist, to whose skill alone the wood and canvas must be indebted for their merit and value; - that miraculous relics were a heap of bones and ashes, destitute of life or virtue, or of any relation, perhaps, with the person to whom they were ascribed; - that the true and vivifying cross was a piece of sound or rotten timber; - the body and blood of Christ, a loaf of bread and a cup of wine, the gifts of nature and the symbols of grace. The Mother of God, in the creed of the Paulicians, was degraded from her celestial honours and immaculate virginity; and the saints and angels were no longer solicited to exercise the laborious office of mediation in heaven and ministry upon earth."

"The Paulician teachers were distinguished only by their (assumed) Scriptural names, by the modest title of fellow-pilgrims, by the austerity of their lives, their zealous knowledge, and the credit of some extra-ordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit. But they were incapable of desiring, or at least obtaining, the wealth and honours of the catholic prelacy; such antichristian pride they bitterly censured; and even the rank of elders or presbyters was condemned as an institution of the Jewish Synagogue."

By the labors of Constantine, who added Sylvanus to his name, numerous disciples were made and collected into societies; and "the remnant," in a little time, was diffused over the provinces of Asia Minor and the region westward of the Euphrates. Ecclesias were constituted, as much upon the plan and model of the apostolic ecclesias as it was in their power to form them. Six of their principal congregations were designated by the names of those to which the Apostle Paul addressed his epistles; and their pastors adopted Scriptural names, as Titus, Timothy, Sylvanus, Tychicus, and so forth. "This innocent allegory," says Gibbon, "revived the memory and examples of the first ages." Their endeavor was to bring their contemporaries back to the original simplicity of Christian faith and practice. In this good and laudable enterprise Constantine Sylvanus spent twenty-seven years of his life with considerable success. The Catholic Dragon was greatly alarmed at the defections caused by his labors; and at the formidable proportions into which "the remnant" was being developed. After the ancient method of dealing with heretics, he proceeded to "cast out water like a flood" to sweep them away. He began to persecute the Paulicians with the most san-guinary severity; and the bloody scenes of the Great Fiery-Red Dragon ministered by Galerius and Maximin were repeated under catholic names and forms. "To their excellent deeds," says the bigoted Peter of Sicily, "the divine and orthodox emperors added this virtue, that they ordered the Montanists and Manichaeans (as he falsely styled the Paulicians) to be capitally punished, and their books, wherever found, to be committed to the flames; and further, that if any person was found to have secreted them, he was to be put to death, and his goods confiscated." "What more," asks Mr. Gibbon, "could bigotry and persecution desire?"

In the outpouring of the flood, a Greek official named Simeon, armed with legal and military powers, appeared at Colonia to strike the shepherd, and to reclaim, if possible, the lost sheep of Satan's flock. By a refinement of cruelty, this monster of vengeance planted Constantine Sylvanus before a line of his disciples, who were commanded, as the price of their pardon, and a proof of their repentance, to stone him to death. But they nobly refused to imbue their hands in his blood. Only one apostate named Justus, but styled by the wretched catholics, a new David, could be found boldly to overthrow the Goliath of heresy. This Judas again deceived and betrayed his unsuspecting brethren; and as many as were ascertained and could be collected, were massed together into an immense pile, and by order of Justinian the Second, whose native cruelty was stimulated by the piety of superstition, consumed to ashes.

But Simeon, the officer, who had breathed out threatenings and slaughters against them, struck with astonishment at their valor, in the face of such cruel torments, like another Paul, became a preacher of the faith he once destroyed. He renounced his honours and fortune, and three years afterwards became the successor of Constantine Sylvanus, and at last sealed his witnessing for the anointed Jesus against the apostasy with his blood.

But though they did not fear to die for the faith, "the Paulicians," says Gibbon, "were not ambitious of martyrdom; but in a calamitous period of one hundred and fifty years, their patience sustained whatever zeal could inflict. From the blood and ashes of the first victims, a succession of teachers and congregations arose." The great instrument of their multiplication was the New Testament, as illustrated in the following example related by Peter of Sicily. A young man named Sergius, conversing one day with an aged woman, of the Paulician Remnant, was thus addressed by her:  "I hear, Sir, that you excel in literature and erudition, and are besides, in every respect a good man: tell me, then, why do you not read the sacred gospels?" He answered, Nobis profanis ista legere non licet, sed sacerdotibus duntaxat  "it is not lawful for us the profane to read them, but for the priests only." "Not so," she replied; "there is no respect of persons with God; he wills that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; but your priests, because they adulterate the word of God, do not read all to you." She then repeated to him various portions of the holy Scriptures. After hearing them, he took the gospels, examined them for himself, and became a Paulician. Sergius was an important acquisition to the remnant. For thirty-four years he devoted himself to the ministry of the word; or to give it in his own words, "From the east to the west, and from the north to the south, have I been proclaiming the good news of salvation, and laboring on my knees." And this he did with such success that the catholic clergy of Rome and Constantinople considered him to be the forerunner of Antichrist; and declared that he was producing the great apostasy foretold by the Apostle Paul! Peter of Sicily pronounced him "the wolf in sheep's clothing, the Devil's chiefest champion, the crafty dissembler of virtue (that is, an accomplished hypocrite), the enemy of the cross of Christ, a blasphemer, the hater of Christ, the mother of harlots;" "all which epithets," says Turner, "have only one meaning, namely, that he taught with great effect."

The Paulician Remnant of the Woman's Seed were harassed by the ferocity of the Catholic Dragon for a long period. Michael the first, and Leo the Armenian, were foremost in the race of persecution; "but," says Gibbon, "the prize must doubtless be adjudged to the sanguinary devotion of Theodora, who restored the images to the oriental church. Her inquisitors explored the cities and mountains of the Lesser Asia, and the flatterers of the empress have affirmed that, in a short reign, one hundred thousand Paulicians were extirpated by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames!"

aeon byte by Miguel Conner

Paulicians: Alone with the Demiurge

By Alexander Maistrovoy

Thus happened the second birth of the Marcion church. The cornerstone of their teaching was John’s words: ‘We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one’ (John 5:19) Having absorbed Christianity, they became the antipodes of Christianity, the religion in which Jesus was doomed to forever withstand earthly forces of evil in the person of Jewish synagogue and Christian church worshipping the blind and soulless Creator.

Like Marcion’s Gnostics, they maintained that human nature consisted of two entities that were alien to one another: matter, which is in the grip of the demiurge, and pneuma, which connects humankind with an ideal divine world. However, unlike Gnostics, Paulicians were more optimistic. They did not divide humanity into the chosen ones on the one hand, and the material and spiritual on the other. According to them, all people carried within themselves a particle of the divine, and, however low they fell into the abyss of selfish desires and appetencies, they were capable of beholding a true God and rejecting a demiurge.

Paulicians adopted the Gnostics’ idea of seduction in Eden turned upside down. The snake of temptation in their interpretation gave Adam and Eve back free will: the ‘apple of knowledge’ woke them from the sleep of the pointless animal existence in which they found themselves at the will of the demiurge. Like Gnostics, they deprived Jesus of his theandric (divine-human) nature: Jesus did not take the form of a man or suffer on the cross, and his body was just an illusion, a phantom, a body shell without true flesh and blood. He was the spirit in its pure form, sent from above to bring people the knowledge of their fate and liberation from the manacles of the demiurge. Being the spirit, Jesus returned to the kingdom of heaven after passing onto people the mystery of being.

In their perception, the redeeming of the original sin was out of the question as there was no such sin. Man was the hostage of the Creator, the captive of the material kingdom; he did not fall from grace and only had to realize the cause of his suffering—the intrigues of the demiurge considering himself God. The very idea of Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection reminded the Paulicians of the cult of dying and regenerating pagan gods—Osiris, Atias, and others, and this caused in them an unveiled aversion. They felt the same about deification in the image and likeness of Isis, Ishtar, and the Idaean Mother Virgin Mary whom they positively refused to call the ‘Blessed Virgin’ and the ‘Mother of God’.

Like Marcion, they were against fasting, miracles, magic, conjurations, sacraments, including the Mystery of the Eucharist, which, according to them, was no more than reminiscence of pagan ritual cannibalism with the symbolic ‘consumption of flesh and blood’. They threw off the sacred legend all the superficial paraphernalia, and the legend itself they reduced, as Marcion had, exclusively to Paul’s sermons and messages and abridged gospels from John and Luke. And it goes without saying that, like Marcion, they positively rejected the Old Testament as the creation of the demiurge. Even the Apostle Peter provoked their rejection as, unlike Paul, he drew upon the Jewish tradition. There could be no mention of worshipping the cross, icons, or holy relics as, in their eyes, these bore similarity only to the primeval superstitions and not to the divine spirit.

Their way of life was moderate but not ascetic. They did not set about mortification of the flesh or reject normal life; neither did they induce their followers to reject any type of food. On the contrary, cultivating modesty, restraint, and contempt for luxury, Paulicians advocated marriage and procreation as a means of deliverance from the captivity of the demiurge. Their rites were simple and even scanty as, in their opinion, ceremonies only distracted the soul from its mission and were the instruments priests used to manage the people.

The monk Peter of Sicily, whose descriptions provide us this information about Paulicians, emphasised that they dissociated themselves from Mani’s ideas and called themselves true Christians.

With support of emperors-iconoclasts at first and later with the help of caliphs in the middle of the ninth century, Paulicians created their own state with the capital at fortress Tephrike (now Divriği, Turkey) at the centre of Asia Minor. With varying success, they waged wars against the Byzantine army, which significantly exceeded them in numbers. Chrysocheir, a talented and resourceful commander, held Byzantine rulers who disdainfully rejected the Gnostic schools of late antiquity in fear over a span of ten years, alas stooping to all of the demiurge’s villainies.

Ultimately, his army was beaten, and he was taken captive and beheaded. Around a hundred thousand Paulicians were killed. Many adopted Christianity or fled to the neglected corners of Armenia.

Those who remained at the end of the tenth century were resettled in Thrace (now south-eastern Bulgaria) by the emperor John Tzimiskes as a buffer on the boundary with militant Bulgarians. At that, their participation in history practically comes to an end, although Paulician communities that spread across the Balkan territory survived up until the modern time. The relay of Gnostic movements was passed onto the Bogomils.

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