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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Euphemitae, Praying People

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Euphemitae , also known as Messalians , "praying people," and therefore reckoned by Epiphanius (Haer. 80) as predecessors of the Christian sect so called. Epiphanius, our sole informant, tells us that they were neither Christians, Jews, nor Samaritans, but heathen, believing in a plurality of gods, but offering worship only to one whom they called the Almighty. They built oratories, some of which exactly resembled Christian churches; in these they met at evening and early morn, with many lights, to join in hymns and prayer. We learn from Epiphanius with some surprise that some of the magistrates put several of these people to death for perversion of the truth and unwarranted imitation of church customs, and that in particular Lupicianus, having thus punished some of them, gave occasion to a new error, for they buried the bodies, held services at the spot, and called themselves martyriani . Epiphanius also charges a section of the Euphemites with calling themselves Sataniani and worshipping Satan, thinking that by such service they might disarm his hostility. It does not appear that Epiphanius means to assert that the Christian Euchites were historically derived from these heathen Euphemites, but merely that there was a general resemblance of practices between them. Tillemont conjectured (viii. 529) that the Euphemites of Epiphanius might be identical with the Hypsistarii of Greg. Naz., or less probably with the Coelicolae of Africa. [See Euchites.]

[G.S.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Euphemitae, Praying People'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/e/euphemitae-praying-people.html. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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