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John III Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople


Patriarchate: Jan. 31, 565, to 577; pioneer canonist of the Byzantine Church; b. Sirimis, near Antioch, 503 or 525530; d. Aug. 31, 577. John, son of a cleric, entered the law profession, was ordained rather late in life, and served as apocrisiarius for the patriarch of Antioch at Constantinople. He was appointed patriarch of Constantinople by justinian i and was consecrated probably on Feb. 1, 565. He succeeded Eutychius, who was exiled for opposing the edict favoring aphthartodocetism. John seems to have accepted the honor on condition that he would not subscribe to the edict until it had been accepted by the other patriarchs, especially by Anastasius of Antioch.

He became a close friend of Justin II, who became emperor on Nov. 14, 565, and he took an active part in the new ruler's efforts to win over the monophysites during the first six years of his reign. To cure the schisms within the heretics' ranks first, the patriarch found himself in the curious position of acting for the emperor as arbiter for two groups of heretical bishops, the tritheists and other Monophysite sects. When Justin decided on persecution, John was commissioned to carry it out, showing no mercy. But when he consecrated a patriarch for Alexandria, he was reprimanded by the patriarch of Antioch (Theophan., Conf. 6062).

While still at Antioch, John had compiled the earliest systematic, Byzantine collection of canons (ecclesiastical legislation) that has been preserved. He used as the basis an anonymous collection of canons under 60 headings prepared in Antioch c. 545 with an appendix of 21 laws of emperors on Church matters. John's collection rear-ranged the work under 50 titles and added 68 canons from those of St. basil, as he himself says (Joannis Scholastici, Synagoga L titulorum 5.10). After coming to Constantinople, John composed his so-called Collection of 87 Chapters. It is a collection of excerpts, some word for word, others summarized, taken from Justinian's novels pertaining to ecclesiastical affairs. About 570 John gave both these works a final revision. He also published a Catechetical Treatise or Mystagogia, which john philoponus controverted. Many Byzantinists have attempted to identify John with the chronicler john malalas, but E. Stein and V. Beneěevič reject the identification.

Bibliography: h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 422423. a. fliche and v. martin, eds., Histoire de l'église depuis les origines jusgu'à nos jours (Paris 1935) v. 4. e. stein. Histoire du Bas-Empire, translated by j. r. palanaque, 2 v. in 3 (Paris 194959) 2:687689. f. dÖlger, in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d new ed. Freiburg 195765) 5:108081. l. petit, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 8.1:829831. herman, Dictionnaire de driot canonique, ed. r. naz, 7 v. (Paris 193565) 6:118120. j. scholasticus, Synagoga L titulorum, ed. v. beneŠeviČ (Munich 1937). e. schwartz, Die Kanonessammlung des Johannes Scholastikos (Munich 1933).

[m. j. higgins]

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