Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Patriarchate of Antioch according to Mikhail Burayk

Immediately after the passage about Saints Peter and Paul, Burayk gives the following information about the Patriarchate of Antioch:

At that time there were only three patriarchs: the patriarchs of Antioch, of Rome, and of Alexandria. The patriarch of Antioch had primacy over all of Asia Minor and Major, which is Anatolia, from Uskudar [that is, the Asian side of Constantinople] and the rest of the lands along the east of the Mediterranean to the furthest east, and from all the lands around the Black Sea in every direction to Jerusalem and its dependencies.
Later, at the first Great Council in Nicaea, the emperor Constantine the Great asked from the fathers that they grant Mitrophan, the bishop of Pontus, with the honor of being a patriarch, so he took from the lands of Asia part of the lands that were close to him. Then Constantine gave the Church of Antioch sixty-three thousand measures of grain each year and he gave Eustathius, patriarch of Antioch, [a document] with the imperial signature so that this donation to the patriarchs of Antioch from the Roman emperors would continue forever. Then that emperor decreed that a very great church be built in Antioch.
Then the second and third councils passed. At the fourth council in Chalcedon, Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople, took from Maximus, patriarch of Antioch, the rest of the lands of Asia Major, from the border of Uskudar to Malatya. However, Leo, pope of Rome, was vexed at this dishonor happening to the Apostolic See of Antioch. Also, when God wished at the fifth council for Jerusalem to become a patriarchate, Maximus, patriarch of Antioch, gave Juvenaly, bishop of Jerusalem, the two Palestines, over which he had had primacy from the time of the Apostle Peter, in the presence of all the fathers who were at that council.
After all this, at that time there were in the eparchy [abrashiyya] of Antioch one hundred fifty-three bishops [rais kahana], the number of fish which came from the apostolic net in Lake Tiberias. Besides this, there were the four great catholicosates over which the patriarch of Antioch had primacy. The first catholicos is of Seleucia in Babylon and all the lands of the east to India. In this eparchy there were more than one hundred bishops. The second is the catholicos of Greater Armenia and its dependencies, in which there were two hundred bishops. The third is the catholicos of the Georgians, who has primacy over countless tribes and peoples. The fourth is the catholicos of the Khata and the Khatiyya, who are in the furthest east and north. Additionally, [the patriarch of Antioch] had primacy over the island of Cyprus until the time of the fifth council, when they granted its archbishop [rais asaqifa] the honor of sole primacy [over the island]. Thus was the eparchy of Antioch.

Here perhaps the most interesting detail is the catholicosates. While in modern times the head of the Church of Georgia bears the title of catholicos-patriarch and the heads of the Armenian Church and the Assyrian Church of the East bear the title of catholicos, these are relics of their former status under the patriarch of Antioch. The catholicosate, in the sense used in the passage above, in some ways resembled the status of the autonomous churches of today. That is, geographically and culturally far outside what could reasonably be managed from Antioch, the catholicoses had personal authority over their own bishops while still being canonically dependent on the patriarch in Antioch. Of the four catholisates mentioned above, three remained probably until the arrival of the Mongols in the thirteenth century. Armenia, of course, went into schism in the fifth century in the aftermath of the council of Chalcedon. The history of Georgia’s autocephaly is a complicated affair, having been claimed from very early times, but was only confirmed once and for all by the patriarchate of Antioch in the eleventh century (I hope to return to this topic at some point). While the original catholicosate of Seleucia went into schism with the rest of the Church some time after the council of Ephesus, there was at least in the Islamic period an Orthodox catholicos in Baghdad for the Orthodox communities in Iraq and Persia, many of which were made up of Byzantine prisoners of war and whole communities from border regions who were resettled by the caliphs. The words ‘Khata and Khatiya’ are unidentifiable for both myself and the editor of Burayk’s text. It most likely refers to the Catholicosate of Romagyris, which is known to have been located in Central Asia and is usually identified with the site of modern Tashkent.

On the matter of Orthdox Christians in Central Asia, see L'église melchite en Iraq, en Perse et dans l'Asie centrale (Jerusalem, 1976) by the Greek Catholic scholar Joseph Nasrallah, as well as the New Cambridge Medieval History, vol. 4, p. 578.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Peter and Paul in Antioch

The following is from the history of the patriarchs of Antioch entitled "al-haqaiq al-wafiya fi tarikh batarikat al-kanisa al-antakiyya", written in the second half of the 18th century by a priest from Damascus by the name of Mikhail Burayk. (ed. Naila Taqi ed-Din Qaidbeyh, Beirut: Dar an-Nahar, 2006). Though, in fact, sources for the first half of this work all go back to notes taken by the illustrious patriarch Makarios ibn al-Za'im (d. 1648). It recounts certain local traditions about Saints Peter and Paul and their activity in Antioch. In the future, I hope to translate further passages from Burayk's history.

[After each of the apostles draws lots for various lands] The Apostle Peter drew his lot for our country. After that, he went out from Jerusalem and came to Caesaerea of Palestine and made disciples of its people and he ordained Zakka the tax-collector its first bishop. He went from there to Tyre and Sidon and did likewise. Then he came to Beirut and ordained Quartus, one of the seventy apostles, as its first bishop. He did likewise in Jbeil and ordained Mark, who is called John, as its bishop. He did likewise in Enfeh and Batroun and ordained Maraton, who is also called Mawrani, as the first of its bishops. He did likewise in all the rest of this country and he ordained Luke-- not the Evangelist Luke-- as bishop of Lattakieh of Syria. He went from there to Antioch and he stayed there for a long time, preaching Christ and baptizing many of them.
Finally, two years after Christ was crucified, Paul believed in Him and went to Antioch and met with the Apostle Peter. The Apostle Peter worked countless wonders since he healed all who had an illness from any kind of malady. At that time, the ruler of Antioch was an old man who had an elderly wife. They had a young son named Cassianus, who had died fifteen years earlier. They had buried him and built over his grave a large dome. They had no other son besides him. When they heard and they saw the wonders that the Apostle Peter was doing they pleaded to him to bring their son to life by the divine power of Christ. If he did this, they would all believe in Christ with all the people of Antioch and the rest of the surrounding country.
When the Apostle went to the grave of their son Cassianus and opened it, removing the stone which had been on top of it, there were only bare bones left. When the Apostle Peter prayed with Paul and they pleaded to the Lord, He brought him to life by His power and he rose from the grave. His parents were shocked, and he told them about how he had seen unbelievers in a dark place and how when the two apostles pleaded to the Lord for him, He brought him to life. At that moment they all believed in Christ. Paul scratched the ground with his foot and asked the Lord, and then a spring of water gushed forth there. The two apostles baptized all the people of Antioch and the rest of its region in it and they became Christians. The aforementioned spring remains until now and it is named after the Apostle Paul.
Peter lingered in Antioch and many churches were built there. Of all of them, the great patriarchal church is named after the aforementioned Cassianus whom the apostle had raised. The Apostle Peter made for himself a seat of palm-wood in this church. Later, the kings of the Romans covered it with silver. In this church was the holy staff which the Lord Christ handed to Peter after He rose from the dead, when He said to him, "pastor My sheep, pastor my flock." This staff worked many wonders in Antioch.
Peter lingered in antioch twelve years. He would ordain bishops and send them to evangelize all the world. Then, the angel of the Lord appeard to him and commanded him to go and circle the lands of the west and enlighten that region. The Apostle ordained Euodius, one of the seventy, as its first bishop. He went from there to Italy and Spain and the rest of those parts and made disciples of their people. He came to Alexandria and ordained the Evangelist Mark, who was his spiritual son, as its patriarch. He then went to Rome and continued evangelizing for thirty-four years after the ascension of the Lord Christ to heaven. Twelve of these years were in Antioch and twenty-two in evangelizing [elsewhere]. When he became determined to seek martyrdom in Rome, he ordained his disciple Clement as its patriarch. Then the emperor Nero crucified him upside down, as he himself demanded.