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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Paulicians

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A branch of the ancient Manichees; so called from their founder, one Paulus, an Armenian, in the seventh century, who, with his brother John, both of Samosata, formed this sect; though others are of opinion that they were thus called from another Paul, an Armenian by birth, who lived under the reign of Justinian II. In the seventh century, a zealot, called Constantine, revived this drooping sect, which had suffered much from the violence of its adversaries, and was ready to expire under the severity of the imperial edicts, and that zeal with which they were carried into execution. The Paulicians, however, by their number, and the countenance of the emperor Nicephorus, became formidable to all the East. But the cruel rage of persecution, which had for some years been suspended, broke forth with redoubled violence under the reigns of Michael Curopalates, and Leo the Armenian, who inflicted capital punishment on such of the Paulicians as refused to return into the bosom of the church. The empress Theodora, tutoress of the emperor Michael, in 845, would oblige them either to be converted, or to quit the empire; upon which several of them were put to death, and more retired among the Saracens; but they were neither all exterminated nor banished. Upon this they entered into a league with the Saracens, and, choosing for their chief an officer of the greatest resolution and valour, whose name was Carbeus, they declared against the Greeks a war, which was carried on for fifty years with the greatest vehemence and fury.

During these commotions, some Paulicians, towards the conclusion of this century, spread abroad their doctrines among the Bulgarians: many of them, either of a principle of zeal for the propagation of their opinions, or from a natural desire of flying from the persecution which they suffered under the Grecian yoke, retired about the close of the eleventh century from Bulgaria and Thrace, and formed settlements in other countries. Their first migration was into Italy; whence, in process of time, they sent colonies into almost all the other provinces of Europe, and formed gradually a considerable number of religious assemblies, who adhered to their doctrine, and who were afterwards persecuted with the utmost vehemence by the Roman pontiffs. In Italy they were called Patarmi, from a certain place called Pataria, being a part of the city of Milan where they held their assemblies: and Gathari, or Gazari, from Gazaria, or the Lesser Tartary.

In France they were called Albigenses, though their faith differed widely from that of Albigenses, whom Protestant writers generally vindicate (see Albigenses.) The first religious assembly the Paulicians had formed in Europe, is said to have been discovered at Orleans in 1017, under the reign of Robert, when many of them were condemned to be burnt alive. The ancient Paulicians, according to Photius, expressed the utmost abhorrence of Manes and his doctrine. The Greek writers comprise their errors under the six following particulars:

1. They denied that this inferior and visible world is the production of the Supreme Being; and they distinguish the Creator of the world and of human bodies from the Most High God who dwells in the heavens; and hence some have been led to conceive that they were a branch of the Gnostics rather than of the Manicheans.

2. They treated contemptuously the Virgin Mary, or, according to the usual manner of speaking among the Greeks, they refused to adore and worship her.

3. They refused to celebrate the institution of the Lord's supper.

4. They loaded the cross of Christ with contempt and reproach, by which we are only to understand that they refused to follow the absurd and superstitious practice of the Greeks, who paid to the pretended wood of the cross a certain sort of religious homage.

5. They rejected, after the example of the greatest part of the Gnostics, the books of the Old Testament; and looked upon the writers of that sacred history as inspired by the Creator of this world, and not by the Supreme God.

6. They excluded presbyters and elders from all part in the administration of the church.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Paulicians'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/p/paulicians.html. 1802.

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