views updated Jun 11 2018


Part I: Historical Developments

A patriarchate (Gr. πατριαρχεíα, Lat. Patriarchatus ) is a patriarch's office, see, reign, or, most often, the territory he governs. The number of patriarchates was in the course of time enlarged from the original three to five, and subsequent historical factors caused a multiplication of patriarchates.

The Three Patriarchs. The oldest Canon Law admitted only three bishops as having what later ages called patriarchal rightsthe bishops of Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch. The successor of St. Peter held the patriarchate of Rome, or patriarchate of the West. Before the Council of Nicaea I (325) two bishops in the East had the same patriarchal authority over large territories, those of Alexandria and Antioch. It is difficult to say exactly how they obtained this position. The organization of provinces under metropolitans followed, as a matter of obvious convenience, the reorganization of the Empire made by Diocletian. In the new system the most important cities in the East were Alexandria in Egypt and Antioch in Syria. Consequently the bishop of Alexandria became the chief of all Egyptian bishops and metropolitans; the bishop of Antioch held the same place over Syria and at the same time extended his sway over Asia Minor, Greece, and the rest of the East. Diocletian had divided the Empire into four great prefectures. Three of these (Italy, Gaul, and Illyricum) made up the Roman patriarchate; the other, the East (Praefectura Orientis ), had five (civil) "dioceses"Thrace, Asia, Pontus, the Diocese of the East, and Egypt. Egypt was the Alexandrine patriarchate. The Antiochene patriarchate embraced the civil Diocese of the East. The other three civil divisions of Thrace, Asia, and Pontus would probably have developed into separate patriarchates but for the rise of Constantinople.

Later it became popular to connect all three patriarchates with the Prince of the Apostles. St. Peter had also reigned at Antioch, and he had founded the Church of Alexandria through his disciple St. Mark. At any rate the Council of Nicaea in 325 recognized the supreme place of the bishops of these three cities as related to an "ancient custom" (c.6). Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch are the three old patriarchates, whose unique position and order were disturbed by later developments.

The Pentarchy: Five Patriarchates. When pilgrims began to flock to the Holy City, the bishop of Jerusalem, the guardian of the sacred shrines, began to be considered the head of more than a mere suffragan of Caesarea. The Council of Nicaea (325) gave him an honorary primacy, saving, however, the metropolitical rights of Caesarea (c.7). Juvenal of Jerusalem (420458) succeeded finally, after much dispute, in changing this honorary position into official rule over a patriarchate. The Council of Chalcedon (451) severed Palestine and Arabia (Sinai) from Antioch and formed the Patriarchate of Jerusalem (sess. 7 and 8). Since that time Jerusalem has always been counted among the patriarchal sees.

The greatest change, the one that met most opposition, was the rise of Constantinople to patriarchal rank. Because Constantine had made Byzantium the "New Rome," its bishop, once the humble suffragan bishop of Heraclea, thought that he should become second only, if not almost equal, to the bishop of old Rome. For many centuries the popes opposed this ambition, not because any of them thought of disputing their first place, but because they were unwilling to change the old order of the hierarchy. In 381 the Council of Constantinople declared that "the Bishop of Constantinople shall have the primacy of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because it is New Rome" (c.3). The popes (Damasus, Gregory the Great) refused to confirm this canon. Nevertheless Constantinople grew by favor of the emperor, whose centralizing policy found a ready help in the authority of his court bishop. The Council of Chalcedon (451) established Constantinople as a patriarchate with jurisdiction over Asia Minor and Thrace and gave it the second place after Rome (c.28). Pope Leo I (440461) refused to admit this canon, which was made in the absence of his legates; for centuries Rome still refused to give the second place to Constantinople. It was not until the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) that the Latin patriarch of Constantinople would be allowed this place; in 1439 the Council of Florence was to give it to the Greek patriarch. Meanwhile, however, in the East the emperor's wish was powerful enough to obtain recognition for his patriarch; from the time of the Council of Chalcedon Constantinople was practically, if not legally, the second patriarchate. The new order of five patriarchsRome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalemknown as the pentarchy, became in Orthodox ecclesiology an essential element of the constitution of the Church. (see rome, patriarchate of; constantinople, patriarchate of; alexandria, patriarchate of; antioch, patriarchate of; jerusalem, patriarchate of.)

Multiplication of Patriarchates. At the time of the Great Schism (1054) the great Church of the Empire knew practically these five patriarchs only, though "minor" patriarchates had already begun in the West. The Council of Constantinople IV (869) had solemnly affirmed their position (c.11). The schism, and further distinctions that would not have existed but for it, considerably augmented the number of bishops who claimed the title of patriarch. But even before the great schism, the earlier Oriental Orthodox Churches that separated from Constantinople on their non-reception of Chalcedon had resulted in the appearance of patriarchs as leaders of these churches.

Developments in the five traditional patriarchates occasioned by nationalist tendencies and schism have resulted in new patriarchates emerging. To be under a patriarch had come to be the normal, and apparently necessary, condition for any Church. Instead of being merely an honorable title for the occupants of the five ancient sees of Christendom (pentarchy), the name patriarch was looked upon as denoting the leader of a national church.

Bibliography: t. a. kane, The Jurisdiction of the Patriarchs of the Major Sees in Antiquity and in the Middle Age (Catholic University of America, CLS 276; Washington 1949). d. geanakoplos, A Short History of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (3301990) (Brookline, MA 1990). k. ware, The Orthodox Church, rev. ed. (New York 1997).

[j. j. mcgrath/eds.]

Part II: Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople

This entry deals with the origins, historical developments and nature of the office of Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, the territory of the patriarchate, the synodos endēmousa, the subordinate officials and their duties.

Ecumenical Patriarch. Patriarch was a title of honor given at first to any bishop of advanced years or special dignity. In Justinian's legislation, patriarch takes on its technical sense, connoting a definite rank in the hierarchy, that of a chief bishop ruling over an extensive territory and subject only to the Patriarch of Rome. The designation "ecumenical" was employed in isolated cases in addressing Dioscurus of Alexandria, Pope St. Leo, and Acacius of Constantinople, but became the customary designation of the patriarchs of Constantinople after the Acacian schism. Scholars have reached no agreement on its meaning or original importance. It can be said only that as applied to the patriarch of Constantinople, it met with no objection until Popes Pelagius II (579590) and Gregory the Great (590604), who opposed it strongly and persistently; and it remained a bone of contention between Rome and Byzantium for centuries afterward. It was not made strict etiquette in communicating with a patriarch until the reign of the Patriarch photius (858867; 877886). The title was never used by the patriarch of himself, but only by others speaking to him or of him, until Michael I Cerularius (104358) placed it on his seal; and it finally became part of the official title under Manuel I (121722).

Synodos Endēmousa. The patriarch's rights were always intimately associated with the synodos endēmousa, and rested not on legislation either ecclesiastical or civil but on custom, to which according to Roman theory law was but the servant and supplement. During semi-Arian times the emperor would refer ecclesiastical matters to a synod of the many bishops in his retinue gathered under the presidency of the local ordinary. That this procedure would continue seems to have been taken for granted as something perfectly natural, e.g., by St. Gregory of Nazianzus and St. Ambrose, even after 381 when Theodosius the Great restored orthodoxy in the East and Constantinople became the permanent residence. Hence, from the very beginning we see St. John Chrysostom convoking the synodos endēmousa (literally, "stopping-over synod"). The bishops who were stopping over on business at Constantinople were called together into a synod by and under the patriarch to decide appeals either made directly to it or referred to it by the emperor from any part of the East regardless of patriarchal boundaries. About the 9th century membership in the synod was restricted to the metropolitans and autocephalous (i.e., exempt from the metropolitan) archbishops of the patriarchate, to whom were added the synod's five highest administrative officials.

Canonical Requirements and Other Formalities.

Since the time of Theodosius the Great, patriarchs were appointed by the emperor, but canonical traditions required certain formalities. In the earlier period, the patriarch was elected like any other bishop, but from about the end of the 9th century only the synod had the right of election; it nominated three candidates from whom the emperor chose one, or, if none pleased him, he selected another for the (automatic) approval of the synod. The successful candidate then received the same investiture as lay dignitaries from the emperor and was consecrated the following Sunday, always by the metropolitan of Heraclea. He held office for life and could be canonically deposed only by the synod; treason automatically terminated his tenure.

Once enthroned, the patriarch became the head of the Orthodox Church of Byzantium. In time, his powers developed in connection with his presidency of the synod, and it is impossible to distinguish his personal rights from those exercised conjointly with it. Furthermore, the emperor had greater authority in all matters not requiring orders, though he always consulted the patriarch before publishing any ordinance affecting religion and always addressed it to him. Actually, the patriarch could at times wield tremendous influence, e.g., one of strong character, particularly a monk, confronting a weak ruler, especially if the Church was in a position to throw its weight to either of two evenly balanced political parties. In general, the emperor kept nearly complete control of ecclesiastical geography and the rank of sees (which determined the precedence of bishops), usually by suggestion to the synod and with the consent of the patriarch. After the quarrel over the tetragamy, marriage legislation was more and more reserved to the Church. The spiritual head enjoyed most independence in the liturgy and in the maintaining of ecclesiastical discipline. He also had the final say in the choice of metropolitans, picking from three candidates presented by the synod. From the 9th century he possessed the very important privilege of stauropegia (planting of the cross), i.e., the canonical establishment of a religious house; this also entitled him to approve of a proposed abbot and to collect the kanonikon, a sort of tribute. At about the same time he acquired the exclusive right to consecrate the chrism.

Officials. The officials of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople were the officials of the patriarchate. In the middle and late periods, they were five: (1) megas oikonomos (grand manager), who controlled the entire property of the patriarchate, both cash and real estate; (2) megas sakkelarius and (3) ho sakkeliou, of whom the one had charge of all monastic establishments and the other, of all parish churches throughout the patriarchate, but their functions were frequently interchanged; (4) megas skeuophylax (grand sacristan), who took care of all precious possessions of the Church and acted as sacristan of Holy Wisdom with general supervision of the lands that furnished materials used in the liturgy (wheat, wine, oil, wax, etc.); (5) megas chartophylax (grand archivist), who, though he ranked fourth and was always only a deacon, had by far the greatest power, since he was the vice-patriarch and the real ecclesiastical governor of Constantinople; he controlled all access personal or by mail to the patriarch, determined the worthiness of all candidates for priesthood or episcopacy, tried all clergy (not bishops) guilty of any offense, determined freedom to marry, and, as archivist, also acted as chief canonist, issuing interpretations, in the name of the synod, that had force of law. These five highest dignitaries were known as the Exokatakoiloi and were comparable to the Roman Cardinals; they were members of the synod outranking the metropolitans. Originally they were all deacons, but subsequently many were priests. Another important functionary often mentioned in the sources was the apocrisiarius (Nuncio), a permanent representative that the patriarch kept at each of the other patriarchates. Metropolitans had permanent or temporary apocrisiarii in Constantinople, and each bishop with his metropolitan. From the earlier Byzantine period two offices ought to be mentioned: that of the archdeacon, head of the administration when all officials were deacons, later reduced to his purely liturgical duties, and the synkellos (cell-mate), second in rank to the patriarch and successor designate; later on, the term became a purely honorary title of bishops. All of these dignitaries had many minor officials under them and office help at their disposal.

Bibliography: l. brÉhier, Les Institutions de l'Empire byzantin (Le Monde byzantin 2; Paris 1949). f. dvornik, Byzance et la primauté romaine (Paris 1964); Idea of Apostolicity in Byzantium and the Legend of the Apostle Andrew (Cambridge, MA 1958). j. hajjar, Le Synode permanent dans l'Église byzantine des origines au XI e siècle (Orientalia Christiana Analecta 164; 1962). d. geanakoplos, A Short History of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople (3301990) (Brookline, MA 1990). k. ware, The Orthodox Church, rev. ed. (New York 1997).

[m. j. higgins/eds.]

Part III: Patriarchate in the Eastern Catholic Churches

Of the twenty-one Eastern Catholic Churches sui juris in communion with the See of Rome, six are patriarchal churches, i.e., they possess the ancient patriarchal form of ecclesial government with the highest and most comprehensive expression of self-government. These six Eastern Catholic Patriarch churches are, in order of precedence, dignity and honor:

  1. the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Maronite Church,
  2. the Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria,
  3. the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Alexandria and Jerusalem for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church,
  4. the Patriarch of Antioch and all the East for the Syrian Catholic Church
  5. the Patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean Catholic Church,
  6. the Patriarch of Cilicia for the Armenian Catholic Church.

Appointment and Request for Communion with Rome. The appointment, jurisdiction, power and prerogatives of Eastern Catholic Patriarchs are determined by the code of canons of the eastern churches, title IV, "The Patriarchal Churches," canons 51150. The synod of bishops of a patriarchal church elects the new patriarch (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c.63), who, if he has been previously ordained a bishop, is enthroned upon the synod's acceptance of the election results (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 75). The enthronement confers the office of patriarch on the successful candidate (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 77 §1). He then sends a formal notification of his election to the Pope of Rome and the other five patriarchs of his election, and formally requesting ecclesiastical communion with their churches. As the highest form of self-government within the Eastern Catholic Churches, the appointment of a new patriarch does not require the confirmation of the Holy See, merely the notification of the election and a request for communion. However, until he receives the testimonial of ecclesial communion from the Pope of Rome, the newly enthroned patriarch can neither convene a synod nor ordain a bishop (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 77 §2).

Governance of a Patriarchal Church. Following ancient canonical practice of the Christian East, all patriarchal churches, whether in communion with Rome or Constantinople, are not monarchical in leadership structure. Rather, in the spirit of ecclesial collegiality, leadership in all patriarchal churches is synodal, viz., a patriarch governing a patriarchal church together with a holy synod. Thus, the Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium stipulates that the patriarch presides over his church together with the patriarchal synod, which holds the highest legislative, judicial and electoral power within a patriarchal church (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 110). In addition to the patriarchal synod, there is also a permanent synod comprising the patriarch and four bishops that functions as an executive committee of the larger patriarchal synod (see Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 115121). The Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium also provides for a patriarchal convocation of all bishops and representatives from the clergy, all religious communities of men and women, institutions of learning and laity that is convoked every five years (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium cc. 140145).

Territorial Jurisdiction. Every patriarch exercises supra-metropolitan authority (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 56), but only within the territorial boundaries of the patriarchal church (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 78 §2). Chapter 7 of title IV (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium cc. 146150) regulates the jurisdiction of the patriarch and his patriarchal synod outside the traditional territorial limits of the patriarchal church. To illustrate: within the territorial boundaries of the patriarchal church, a patriarch has the power to ordain bishops without having to obtain the approval of the Pope of Rome. However, with respect to the appointment of bishops outside of patriarchal territory, the patriarch forwards a slate of three names to the Pope of Rome, who reserves to himself the power to appoint the bishop (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 149).

As a rule, all legislation promulgated by a patriarchal synod has force of law only within the territorial limits of the patriarchal church (Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 150). There are three exceptions to this rule: (1) Liturgical legislation binds all members of a patriarchal church wherever they may be; (2) All legislation endowed with the force of law by the eparchial bishop becomes eparchial law, and (3) the Pope of Rome approves the legislation and grants it force of law throughout the world (see Codex Canonum Ecclesiarium Orientalium c. 150 pp. 23).

See Also: council of catholic patriarchs of the orient; code of canons of the eastern churches.

Bibliography: Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Latin-English ed. (Washington, DC 2001). j. chiramel, The Patriarchal Churches in the Oriental Code (Alwaye, India 1992). j. hajjar, "Patriarchal Synods in the New Eastern Code of Canon Law," Concilium 26 (1990) 8897. j. d. faris, The Eastern Catholic Churches: Constitution and Governance According to the "Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches" (Brooklyn, NY 1992). j. abbas, "Canonical Dispositions for the Care of Eastern Catholics Outside Their Territory," Periodica de re Canonica 86 (1997) 321362.

[g. salem/eds.]

Part IV: Patriarchates in the Latin Church

Within the Latin Church, there is only one true patriarch who is vested with powers of governance and jurisdictionthe Roman Pontiff as Patriarch of the West. Indeed, the Patriarchate of Rome was one of the five historical patriarchates of the pentarchy.

Apart from the Roman Pontiff, all other patriarchates within the Latin Church are purely honorific, without any prerogative of power or jurisdiction (Codex iuris canonici c. 438). At present, the following Latin prelates hold the honorific title of patriarch with respect to their Sees:

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Patriarch of Venice
Patriarch of Lisbon
Patriarch of the East Indies
Patriarch of the West Indies

Canon 438 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law does make provision for the possibility of the Roman Pontiff granting special powers to a patriarch as "apostolic privilege," or that a patriarch may acquire such power by "approved custom."

[g. salem/eds.]


views updated May 29 2018


PATRIARCHATE , or Nesiʾut, was the leading Jewish communal office in the Late Roman and Byzantine Empires, emerging soon after the destruction of the city and Temple of Jerusalem in 70 ce and disappearing in the first part of the fifth century. At its peak, the Patriarchate, a hereditary office passing from father to son, wielded authority throughout Roman-Byzantine Palestine as well as the Roman diaspora.

Our knowledge of the Patriarchate is relatively extensive. Rabbinic sources are especially rich in this regard, as the patriarch was an integral part of rabbinic circles from the late first century until the mid-third century. A number of archaeological sites from the third through the fifth centuries relate to this office: the Bet Sheʿarim necropolis; the Hammat Tiberias synagogue; and diaspora inscriptions from Stobi (Macedonia), Venosa, Sicily, and Argos. A number of Church Fathers take note of the Patriarchate as well, though usually in a negative vein; several, however, are quite informative. Finally, Roman sourcesJulian, Libanius, and especially the Theodosian Codeare of cardinal importance for understanding the office during the fourth and early fifth centuries, and perhaps even earlier.

Although there is some dispute as to when this office first crystallized, with the minimalists claiming that it emerged as late as Rabbi Judah I at the turn of the third century and the maximalists as early as Hillel several centuries earlier, the general consensus dates its origin to the late first century and the figure of Rabban Gamaliel II. He appears to have maintained ongoing relations with Roman officials, as there are records of a number of trips he took to Rome and Antioch, and rabbinic sources refer on occasion to his relations with imperial authorities. However, Gamaliel's son, Rabbi Simeon, functioned after the Bar Kokhba revolt (132135) and seems to have operated in a void. There is no evidence of any contact with Rome, and his authority and influence in Jewish society of his time appear severely limited.

The Patriarchate undoubtedly achieved new heights of prestige and authority in the days of Rabbi Judah I (often referred to as "the Prince," or simply "Rabbi"). Under the sympathetic Severan dynasty (193235), he garnered a great deal of economic wealth and political influence that, when combined with his intellectual and religious stature, all but guaranteed him an undisputed position of leadership. His close relations with one Antoninus, possibly the emperor Caracalla (r. 211217) himself, contributed to his accrued influence and means, and this in turn propelled the Patriarchate to an entirely new plane of power and responsibility. The testimony of Origen, who lived in Caesarea only a few years later, is rather dramatic; according to him, the Jewish ethnarch (another term for patriarch) functioned almost like a king, enjoying, inter alia, the power of capital punishment. Additional powers attributed to the third-century patriarchs in rabbinic literature include judicial appointments, some sort of control over educational institutions, and collecting taxes.

Given this enhanced status, and in line with the policy adopted by the Romans themselves throughout the East, the patriarch began to forge new alliances, the most important of which was with the wealthy Jewish urban aristocracies of Tiberias and Sepphoris. The need and desire of patriarchs to cultivate ties with those who were in a position to help them implement their policies were natural. These ties, however, often came at the expense of the sages. Time and again, the latter complained that the wealthy received judicial appointments in their stead and that the patriarchal taxation system affected them adversely.

The rabbis, for the most part, kept their distance from the patriarch as well, critiquing his policies, judgments, and decisions. The number of references to the patriarch drops precipitously in rabbinic sources after the early third century. Whereas Rabbi Judah I is mentioned some twelve hundred times, his grandson Judah II (c. 250 ce) is noted only fifty times, and the latter's grandson, Judah III (c. 300 ce), but twenty times. Fourth-century patriarchs are rarely mentioned in rabbinic sources.

The patriarch cultivated his own "rabbinic" circles, whose counsel he sought and on whom he relied to formulate and implement his policies. Those close to the patriarch were often buried in Bet Sheʿarim, a central necropolis famous for its association with this office, but practically no sages mentioned in rabbinic literature were interred there. As a result of this growing dichotomy, both the Patriarchate and sages became more and more peripheral to each other's agenda.

Fourth-century non-Jewish sources clearly indicate that the Patriarchate enjoyed extensive prestige and recognition. The Theodosian Code is particularly revealing in this regard. One decree, issued by the emperors Arcadius and Honorius in 397, stipulates that:

those who are subject to the rule of the Illustrious Patriarchs, that is the archisynagogues, the patriarchs (sic! ), the presbyters and the others who are occupied in the rite of that religion, shall persevere in keeping the same privileges that are reverently bestowed on the first clerics of the venerable Christian Law. For this was decreed in divine order also by the divine Emperors Constantine and Constantius, Valentinian and Valens. Let them therefore be exempt even from the curial liturgies, and obey their laws. (Theodosian Code 16, 8, 13, in Linder, The Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation, no. 27)

This decree clearly spells out the dominance of the patriarch in a wide range of synagogue affairs: he stood at the head of a network of officials, including archisynagogues, patriarchs, presbyters, and others who were in charge of the religious dimension of the synagogue, all of whom had privileges on a par with the Christian clergy. Moreover, this arrangement is said to date from the time of Constantine, over sixty years earlier. When added to other areas of authority noted in earlier rabbinic literature, such as calendrical decisions (determining the time of a new month and when to add an additional month to the year), declaring public fast days, and issuing bans, then the prominence of this office in Jewish communal and religious life becomes quite evident.

With the Patriarchate's demise around 425 ce (for reasons unknown), the last vestige of a unifying public office for Jews living under Roman domination disappeared. Local autonomy, which had always been an important factor in Jewish society, now reigned supreme for a number of centuries.

See Also

Rabbinic Judaism in Late Antiquity; Sanhedrin; Talmud.


Cohen, Shaye J. D. "Pagan and Christian Evidence on the Ancient Synagogue." In The Synagogue in Late Antiquity, edited by Lee I. Levine, pp. 159181. Philadelphia, 1987. On the basis of Roman and Christian fourth-century sources, Cohen asserts the growing patriarchal control of diaspora affairs, especially in the latter half of the century.

Goodman, Martin. "The Roman State and the Jewish Patriarch in the Third Century." In The Galilee in Late Antiquity, edited by Lee I. Levine, pp. 127139. New York, 1992. This study argues that the Nasiʾ was a religious leader in third-century Galilee who wielded certain secular powers as well. He was recognized as such by Rome and for the most part fit Roman provincial patterns of rule.

Jacobs, Martin. Die Institution des jüdischen Patriarchen. Tübingen, Germany, 1995. Jacobs presents all primary sources relating to the Patriarchate, together with an extensive commentary and a suggested reconstruction of the history of this institution.

Levine, Lee I. "The Jewish Patriarch (Nasi) in Third Century Palestine." In Aufstieg und niedergang der römischen Welt (ANRW) II, 19.2, edited by Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase. pp. 649688. Berlin and New York, 1979. The article focuses on the areas of authority, religious and secular, of the third-century patriarchs.

Levine, Lee I. The Rabbinic Class of Roman Palestine in Late Antiquity. Jerusalem and New York, 1989. The volume includes a detailed treatment of the relationships between the third-century patriarchs and contemporary sages.

Levine, Lee I. "The Status of the Patriarch in the Third and Fourth Centuries: Sources and Methodology." Journal of Jewish Studies 47 (1996): 132. Levine provides a methodological study of the various sources regarding the patriarchs and a suggested reconstruction of their status in the third to fifth centuries.

Linder, Amnon. The Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation. Detroit, 1987. This is a collection of Roman-Byzantine laws relating to the Jews. Each law is accompanied by an introduction, text, translation, and commentary.

Schwartz, Seth. "The Patriarchs and the Diaspora" Journal of Jewish Studies 50 (1999): 208222. Focusing on the fourth century, Schwartz claims that the patriarch was primarily a diaspora-related institution with regard to whom it served and where it found support.

Stern, Sacha. "Rabbi and the Origins of the Patriarchate," Journal of Jewish Studies 54 (2003): 193215. The article presents a somewhat radical proposal that the Patriarchate was created under Rabbi Judah I, who hailed from the Galilean aristocracy. Rabbi Judah, Stern maintains, was unrelated to any previous rabbinic personality (e.g., Rabban Gamaliel).

Lee I. Levine (2005)


views updated May 21 2018


In 1589 the metropolitan of Moscow, head of the Orthodox Church in Russia, received the new and higher title of patriarch. This title made him equal in rank to the four other patriarchs of the Eastern Church: those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople. Patriarch Jeremias II of Constantinople bestowed the new title on Metropolitan Job, who had been metropolitan since 1586.

The establishment of the Moscow patriarchate was the result of a complex arrangement between Boris Godunov, de facto regent of Russia in the time of Tsar Fyodor (r. 15841598), and the Greeks. The new title implied the acceptance by the Greek church of the autocephaly (autonomy) of the Russian church and considerably reinforced the prestige of the Russian church and state. In return the Greeks found a protector for the Orthodox peoples of the Ottoman Empire and a strong source of financial support for their church. Building on the powers and position of the earlier metropolitans, the patriarchs of Moscow were the leading figures in the church in Russia until the abolition of the office after the death of the last patriarch in 1700. The power of the patriarch came not only from his authority over the church, but also from his great wealth in land and serfs in central Russia. As the Russian church, like the other Orthodox churches, was a conciliar church, the power of the patriarchs was limited by the power of the tsar as well as by the requirement that, when making important decisions, a patriarch call a council of the bishops and most influential abbots.

Job, the first patriarch, supported Boris Godunov as regent and later as tsar. The defeat of Boris by the first False Dmitry at the beginning of the Time of Troubles led to the ouster of Job in 1605. The Greek bishop Ignaty replaced him that year, only to be expelled in turn after the Moscow populace turned against the False Dmitry. The new patriarch Germogen (16061612) was one of the leaders of Russian resistance to Polish occupation during the later years of the Troubles. Only after the final end of the Troubles and the election of Mikhail Romanov as tsar was the situation calm enough to permit the choosing of a new patriarch. This was tsar Mikhail's father, Patriarch Filaret (16191633). An important boyar during the 1590s, he had been exiled by Boris Godunov and forced to enter a monastery. Imprisoned in Poland during the Troubles, in 1619 he was allowed to return home, where the Greek patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophanes; the Russian clergy; and tsar Mikhail chose him to lead the church. Filaret quickly settled several disputed points of liturgy and began to rebuild the Russian church after the desolation of the Time of Troubles. Much of the time during his patriarchate was occupied with matters having to do with relations with the Orthodox of the Ukraine and Belorussia under Polish Catholic rule. Filaret also played a major role in Russian politics.

Under patriarchs Joseph I (16341640) and Joseph (16401652) the church was quiet. Only in the last years of Joseph's patriarchate did new currents arise, the Zealots of Piety under the leadership of Stefan Vonifatev, spiritual father to Tsar Alexei (r. 16451676). The Zealots wanted reform of the liturgy and more preaching, with the aim of bringing the Christian message closer to the laity. Iosif was skeptical of their efforts, and their triumph came only after his death under the new patriarch Nikon (16521666, d. 1681). Nikon accepted the Zealots' program, but his liturgical reforms led to a schism in the church and the formation of groups known as Old Ritualists or Old Believers. Conflict with tsar Alexei led Nikon to abdicate in 1658, and he was formally deposed at a church council in 1666, which also condemned the Old Ritualists. The short patriarchates of Joseph II (16671672) and Pitirim (16721673) were largely devoted to efforts to defeat the Old Ritualists and restore order after the eight-year gap in church authority. Their successor Patriarch Joakim (16741690) was a powerful figure reminiscent in some ways of Nikon. He attempted to reorganize the diocesan system of the church, found schools, and suppress the Old Ritualists, an increasingly fruitless effort. Russia's first European-type school, the Slavo-Greco-Latin Academy, was set up with his patronage in 1685. He supported the young Peter the Great in overthrowing his half-sister, the regent Sophia, in 1689. The last patriarch, Adrian (16901700), usually considered a cultural conservative, was actually a complex figure who supported some of the new currents in Russian culture coming from Poland and the Ukraine. His relations with Peter the Great were never warm, and, when he died, Peter did not permit the church to replace him, and placed the Ukrainian Metropolitan of Ryazan, Stefan Yavorsky, as administrator of the church without the patriarchal title. Ultimately, Peter abolished the position and organized the Holy Synod in 1719, a committee of clergy and laymen and under a layman, to take the place of the patriarch. The Synod headed the Orthodox church in Russia until 1917.

Beginning at the end of the nineteenth century, voices within the Orthodox Church called for the reestablishment of the patriarchate. Such a move would mean the lessening of state control over the church and the beginning of separation of church and state, so both the government and many conservative churchmen opposed it. The collapse of the tsarist regime in March 1917 made such a radical change not only possible but necessary. Consequently, the Synod organized a council of the Russian church, which opened in August 1917. Its work continued after the Bolshevik seizure of power, and elected Tikhon, the metropolitan of Moscow, to the dignity of patriarch on November 21, 1917. Patriarch Tikhon's fate was to head the church during the Russian Civil War and the early years of Soviet power. Tikhon was sympathetic to the White anti-Bolshevik cause and was faced with a radically anti-clerical and explicitly atheist revolutionary regime. He suffered imprisonment and harassment from the state, as well as internal dissent in the church. Upon his death in 1925, the church was in no position to replace him. The ensuing decades saw fierce antireligious propaganda by the Soviet authorities and massive persecution. Most churches in the USSR were closed, and thousands of priests and monks were imprisoned and executed.

In 1943 Josef Stalin suddenly decided to once again legalize the existence of the Orthodox church. He met with the few remaining members of the hierarchy to explain the new policy and permitted a council of the church to choose a new patriarch. The choice was Sergei, metropolitan of Moscow, senior living bishop and erstwhile prerevolutionary rector of the St. Petersburg Spiritual Academy. The elderly Patriarch Sergei died early in 1944, and in 1945 Alexei, metropolitan of Leningrad, replaced him, continuing to lead the church until his death in 1970. In these years the Soviet state permitted a modest revival of worship and religious life, but also placed the church under the watchful eye of the state Council on the Russian Orthodox Church, headed in 19431957 by Major General Georgy Karpov of the KGB. Patriarch Alexei endured the last major attack on the church under Nikita Khrushchev as well as the modus vivendi of the later Soviet years. His successors were patriarchs Pimen (19701990) and Alexei II (beginning in 1990).

See also: alexei i, patriarch; alexei ii, patriarch; ilaret romanov, patriarch; holy synod; joakim, patriarch; job, patriarch; metropolitan; nikon, patriarch; pimen, patriarch; russian orthodox church; sergei, patriarch; tikhon, patriarch


Bushkovitch, Paul. (1992). Religion and Society in Russia: the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pospielovsky, Dmitry. (1984). The Russian Church under the Soviet Regime, 19171982. 2 vols. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press.

Paul A. Bushkovitch


views updated Jun 27 2018

pa·tri·arch·ate / ˈpātrēˌärkit/ • n. the office, see, or residence of an ecclesiastical patriarch.