An Armenian dualist sect that apparently arose in the 7th century in reaction against hierarchical church organization. The name is first mentioned in the works of the Armenian Catholicos john of otzun and at the Synod of Dwin (719), but its origin is obscure. It comes from Paul; but it is not clear whether this is Paul, the son of the legendary Manichaean woman Kallinike—who sent her sons John and Paul to Armenia to spread the heresy and who is falsely identified with the followers of the 3rd-century heretic paul of samosata—or St. paul, whom they held in high honor.
The Paulicians distinguished between the good God, the creator of souls and ruler of heaven, and the evil God, the ruler of the material universe. They rejected the Old Testament and parts of the New Testament, Baptism, the Eucharist, marriage, hierarchy, and cult, especially of the cross and pictures. They denied the reality of Christ's body and His Redemption and considered His teaching His most important work. The organization consisted of "apostles" and "prophets" who established the sect diversely, taking the names of disciples of St. Paul.
The first Paulician community was founded at Kibossa, near Colonia in Armenia, by Constantine of Mananali during the reign of the Emperor Constans II (641–668). Apostles who followed were Symeon or Titus, the Armenian Paul, his son Gegnesius or Timothy, Joseph or Epaphroditus, Zachary, Baanes, and Sergius or Tychicus. They founded congregations in Armenia and Pontus and gave them names of Pauline churches. A reformation within the sect itself resulted in division of the party into Sergites (the reformed sect) and Baanites (the old sect). Through his new schism Sergius strengthened the Paulicians, spreading the sect and concurrently fighting the Baanites.
Persecutions during the first half of the 9th century drove the Paulicians into alliance with the Saracen emir of Melitene, who joined them in their fight against the Byzantine emperor. Under the former Byzantine officer Karbeas (d. 863), and Chrysocheir (d. 872), they oppressed the whole of Anatolia until 872, when Tephrik, their headquarters, and other fortifications were destroyed.
The heretics continued to live throughout the empire, and groups that had been deported to Thrace founded a new military headquarters at Philippopolis from whence they terrorized their neighbors throughout the 9th and 10th centuries. The Emperor alexius i comnenus put an end to the heresy when in residence at Philippopolis. Yet traces of it were left: in Bulgaria the bogomil sect, which spread to the West in the form of Manichaean heresies, lasted through the Middle Ages; and in Armenia there were derivative sects.
Bibliography: r. janin, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al. (Paris 1903–50) 12.1:56–62. h. g. j. beck, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 1957–65) 8:205–206. f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 1035.
[e. d. carter]
Paulicians (pôlĬsh´ənz), Christian heretical sect. The sect developed in Armenia from obscure origins and is first mentioned in the middle of the 6th cent., where it is associated with Nestorianism. The teachings of the Paulicians seem to show some gnostic influence, possibly that of Marcion or Paul of Samosata, and many of the adherents leaned toward adoptionism. The sect especially valued the Gospel of Luke and the Pauline Epistles. They rejected the sacraments but nevertheless considered baptism of the greatest importance. They were iconoclasts and rejected extreme asceticism. By the 7th cent. the sect spread to the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire, where it met with strong persecution. The Council of Dvin (719) brought on new persecutions of the Paulicians in Armenia, but the permissive Isaurian emperors allowed them to flourish and even settled them as allies in Thrace. Renewed persecution caused them to side with the Muslims against Byzantium. By 844, at the height of its power, the sect established a Paulician state at Tephrike (present-day Divriğ̣, Turkey) under the leadership of Karbeas, or Corbeas. In 871 the Byzantine emperor Basil I ended the power of this state and the survivors fled to Syria and Armenia. In 970 the Paulicians in Syria were deported to the Balkans, where they combined with the Bogomils. Those in Armenia became identified with a minor sect, the Tondrakeci. They ceased to be a threat after the 11th cent. and did not survive to modern times.
See N. G. Garsoïan, The Paulician Heresy (1968).