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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

John the Cappadocian,

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patriarch of Constantinople (he was the second patriarch of the name of John, Chrysostom being John I) from A.D. 517 or 518, was, before his election to the patriarchate, a presbyter and syncellus of Constantinople. Originally he sided with the opponents of the Council of Chalcedon, but he had either too little firmness or too little principle to follow out steadily the inclination of his own mind, for he appears to have been in a great degree the tool of others. On the death of Anastasius, and the accession of the emperor Justin I, the orthodox party among the inhabitants of Constantinople raised a tumult, and compelled John to anathematize Severus of Antioch, and to insert in the diptychs the names of the fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, and restore to them those of the patriarchs Euphemius and Macedonius. These diptychs were two tables of ecclesiastical dignitaries, one containing those who were living, and the other those who had died in the peace and communion of the Church, so that insertion was a palpable declaration of orthodoxy, and erasure of heresy or schism. These measures, extorted in the first instance by popular violence, were afterwards sanctioned by a synod of forty bishops. In A.D. 519, John, at the expressed desire of Justin, sought a reconciliation with the Western Church, from which, under Anastasius, the Eastern Church had separated, and in this task John displayed considerable cunning. Not only was he successful in restoring a friendly and union like feeling between the Greek and Roman churches, but Hormisdas even left to him the task of bringing about also the reconciliation of the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria to the orthodox Church. (See HORMISDAS).

In this he failed. John died about the beginning or middle of the year 520, as appears by a letter of Hormisdas to his successor Epiphanius. John wrote several letters or other papers, a few of which are still extant. Two short letters (Ε᾿πιστολαί ), one to John, patriarch of Jerusalem, and one to Epiphanius, bishop of Tyre, are printed in Greek, with a Latin version, in the Concilia, among the documents relating to the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 536 (5, col. 185, ed. Labbe; 8, 1065-67, ed. Mansi). Four relationes, or Libelli, are extant only in a Latin version among the Epistolae of pope Hormisdas (in the Concilia, 4, 1472, 1486, 1491, 1521, edit. Labbe; 8, 436, 451, 457, 488, edit. Mansi). It is remarkable that in the two short Greek letters addressed to Eastern prelates John takes the title of οἰκουμενικὸς πατριάρχης, oecumenical, or universal patriarch, (See PATRIARCH), and is supposed to be the first that assumed this ambitious designation. It is remarkable, however, that in those pieces of his which were addressed to pope Hormisdas, and which are extant only in the Latin version, the title does not appear; and circumstances are not wanting to lead to the suspicion that its presence in the Greek epistles is owing to the mistake of some transcriber, who has confounded this John the Cappadocian with John the Faster. It is certainly remarkable that the title, if assumed, should have incurred no rebuke from the jealousy of the popes, not to speak of the other patriarchs equal in dignity to John; or that, if once assumed, it should have been dropped again, which it must have been, since the employment of it by John the Faster (q.v.), many years after, was violently opposed by pope Gregory I as an unauthorized assumption. We may conjecture, perhaps, that it was assumed by the patriarchs of Constantinople without opposition from their fellow prelates in the East during the schism of the Eastern and Western churches, and quietly dropped on the termination of the schism, that it might not prevent the reestablishment of friendly relations. See Theophanes, Chronog. p. 140- 142, ed. Paris (p. 112, 113, ed. Ven.; p. 253-256, ed. Bonn); Cave, Hist. Litt. 1, 503; Fabricius, Bibl. Gr. 11, 99; Smith, Dict. Gr. and Rom. Biog.2, 592.


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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'John the Cappadocian,'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/tce/j/john-the-cappadocian.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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