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A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Elias i, Bishop of Jerusalem

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Elias (1) I. , bp. of Jerusalem, A.D. 494-513; an Arab by birth who was educated with Martyrius, in one of the Nitrian monasteries. Driven from Egypt by Timothy Aelurus, the two friends took refuge, a.d. 457, in the laura of St. Euthymius, who received them with great favour, and predicted that they would both be bishops of Jerusalem. After a time they quitted the laura, and Elias constructed a cell at Jericho. In 478 Martyrius succeeded Anastasius as bp. of Jerusalem, and was followed by Sallustius in 486, and in 494 by Elias. Moschus records that Elias practised total abstinence from wine both as monk and bishop (Prat. Spiritual. c. 25). His residence became the nucleus of a collection of cells of ascetics, which developed into a monastery adjacent to the church of the Anastasis (Cyril. Scythop. Vit. S. Sabae , c. 31). When Elias succeeded to the patriarchate, the Christian world exhibited a melancholy spectacle of discord. There were at least four great parties anathematizing one another. When the Monophysites (Acephali) in Syria, under the leadership of Xenaias of Hierapolis, broke into open insurrection, treating as heretics all who acknowledged the two natures, Elias was one of the chief objects of their attack. In 509 they demanded a confession of his faith, and Anastasius required him to convene a council to repudiate the decrees of Chalcedon. Elias declined, but drew up a letter to the emperor, containing a statement of his belief, accompanied by anathemas of Nestorius, Eutyches, Diodorus, and Theodore of Mopsuestia. This was entrusted to members of the Acephali to convey to Constantinople. When opened, it was found to contain an anathema against the two natures. Elias reproached the bearers with having falsified the document and thus laid him open to the charge, which he found it very hard to refute, of having condemned the council of Chalcedon (Evagr. H. E. iii. 31; Theod. Lect. p. 561; Theophan. Chronogr. pp. 129, 130). Macedonius having been deposed a.d. 511, and Timotheus, an unscrupulous Monophysite monk, appointed to the see of Constantinople, Elias, whose principle appears to have been to accept the inevitable and to go the utmost possible length in obedience to the ruling powers, seized on the fact that he had abstained at first from anathematizing the council of Chalcedon, as a warrant for joining communion with him and receiving his synodical letter. Elias could not contend against his many unscrupulous enemies, and in 513 was driven from his see, dying in 518 in banishment Aila on the Red Sea shore, aet. 88. Tillem. Mém. Eccl. xvi.; Cyril. Scythop. Vita S. Euthymii ; and other authorities cited above.

[E.V.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Elias i, Bishop of Jerusalem'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/e/elias-i-bishop-of-jerusalem.html. 1911.

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Friday, September 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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