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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Joannes Iii, Bishop of Jerusalem


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Joannes (217) III., bp. of Jerusalem, 513–524. On the banishment of Elias, bp. of Jerusalem, by the emperor Anastasius, John, deacon of the Anastasis, was forcibly thrust into his episcopal seat by Olympius, prefect of Palestine, on his engaging to receive Severus of Antioch into communion and to anathematize the decrees of Chalcedon (Cyrill. Scythop. Vit. S. Sab. cc. 37, 56). Such an engagement awoke the orthodox zeal of St. Sabas and the other fathers of the desert, who successfully used their influence with the new-made bishop to prevent the fulfilment of the compact, which Olympius lacked sufficient firmness to enforce. Anastasius, recalling Olympius, dispatched in his room a name-sake of his own, who had offered to forfeit 300 pounds of gold if he failed to induce John to fulfil his agreement, A.D. 517. The prefect Anastasius surprised the unsuspicious bishop and threw him into prison until he should fulfil his promise. This step delighted the populace, who regarded John as having obtained Elias's seat by fraud. Zacharias, one of the leading men of Caesarea, gaining a secret interview with the imprisoned bishop, persuaded him to feign assent to Anastasius's requirements and promise, if he would release him from prison, to publicly signify, on the following Sunday, his agreement to the original conditions. Anastasius, believing John's professions, liberated him. On the Sunday a vast concourse assembled, including 10,000 monks. Anastasius was present with his officials to receive the expected submission. John, having ascended the ambo, supported by Theodosius and Sabas, the leaders of the monastic party, was received with vociferous shouts, "Anathematize the heretics!" "Confirm the synod!" When silence was secured, John and his two companions pronounced a joint anathema on Nestorius, Eutyches, Soterichus of the Cappadocian Caesarea, and all who rejected the decrees of Chalcedon. Anastasius, utterly unprepared for this open violation of the compact, was too much terrified by the turbulent multitude, evidently prepared for violence, and hastily escaped to Caesarea. The emperor, though furious, had too much on his hands to attend to ecclesiastical disputes at Jerusalem, and John was allowed to go unpunished. The death of Anastasius in 518, and the succession of Justin, changed the whole situation. Orthodoxy was now in the ascendant. The whole East followed the example of the capital, and John could, without fear of consequences, summon his synod to make the same profession of faith with his brother-patriarch in the imperial city, and was received into communion by pope Hormisdas, at the request of Justin ( ib. c. 60). John died A.D. 524, after an episcopate of 11 years. Theophan. Chronogr. p. 136; Tillem. Mém. eccl. xvi. 721; Fleury, H. E. livre xxi. cc. 27, 28; Le Quien, Or. Christ. iii. 185.

[E.V.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Joannes Iii, Bishop of Jerusalem'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/j/joannes-iii-bishop-of-jerusalem.html. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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