Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Constantin Panchenko on the Dioceses of Antioch in the 17th-18th Centuries

From Arab Orthodox Christians Under the Ottomans 1516-1831, pp. 105-106.

Administrative Structures of the Church of Antioch

The diocesan centers of the Antiochian See were grouped into two chains of cities stretched out along a meridional direction: one was along the coast, and the other was parallel to it in the depths of the country, between the eastern slopes of the mountains and the Syrian Desert. The most significant were the sees of Damascus (the residence of the patriarch) and Aleppo. In Damascus, along with the patriarch, there existed for a while the post of "bishop (metropolitan) of the patriarch's cell," that is, a deputy to the patriarch in the capital diocese. The diocesan bishops in the sixteenth century were ordained as metropolitans or bishops and towards the first third of the seventeenth century, tentatively under Patriarch Euthymius III, the heads of the episcopal sees could also be called "metropolitan."

Throughout the Ottoman period, the episcopal sees were kept in major cities-- between Damascus and Aleppo were Hama (Epiphania) and Homs (Emesa), and on the coast were Beirut, Tripoli, 'Akkar, Lattakia (Laodicea), and Bayas. To the south of Beirut, lay the Diocese of Tyre and Sidon, sometimes divided into two, according to its major cities. Even father south, the See of Acre (Ptolemais), traditionally counted in the Antiochian Patriarchate, was transferred to the Jerusalem Patriarchate around 1620. To the south, west, and north of Damascus there was an entire row of metropolitan sees in the smaller, semiagrarian cities: Saydnaya, Qara, Yabrud (Pamphilia) Maaloula (Syria Seleucia), al-Zabadani (Abida), and Bosra (the Diocese of Hawran). Fluctuations in the number of Christians in these places determined the fate of the sees: they were abolished or combined. In the 1640s, he Diocese of Qara ceased to exist, and the Diocese of al-Zabadani stopped being mentioned at the turn of the seventeenth to the eighteenth century. Yabrud was added to the diocese of Maaloula in the seventeenth century; in the 1720s, Maaloula was joined to the diocese of Saydnaya; and the episcopal sees of Saydnaya and Hawran existed with interruptions in he second half of the eighteenth century. Between these major cities, in the Bekaa Valley, was the metropolitan of Baalbek (Heliopolis). In the eighteenth century to the south of Baalbek, the new Christian center of Zahle began to grow. The diocesan seat subsequently was moved to one city and then to another of these cities. At the end of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century, the episcopal sees disappeared in Jabal 'Alawi and northern Lebanon, as well as in Marmarita (al-Husn), Batroun, and Safita, as did the episcopal dioceses of Apamea and Euchaita in central Syria. To the north of Aleppo, after the dissolution of the sees of Upper Mesopotamia (Edessa, Nisibin, and Mayyafariqin), Amida (Diyarbakir), and Theodosiopolis (Erzerum) remained and were periodically combined with one another. Georgian parishes that fell within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire (the Pashalik of Akhaltsikhe) were formally counted as part of the Antiochian Patriarchate; however, it is unlikely that the patriarch governed these lands in actuality. Sometimes, titular sess-- Palmyra and others--appear in the sources.

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