§ 131. The Paulicians.


I. Petrus Siculus (imperial commissioner in Armenia, about 870): Historia Manichaeorum, qui Pauliciani dicuntur ( JIstoriva peri; th'" kenh'" kai; mataiva" aiJrevsew" tw'n Maniccaivwn tw'n kai; Paulikianw'n legomevnwn). Gr. Lat. ed. Matth. Raderus. Ingolst., 1604. Newly ed. by J. C. L. Gieseler. Göttingen, 1846, with an appendix, 1849. Photius (d. 891): Adv. recentiors Manichaeos, lib. IV. Ed. by J. Chr. Wolf. Hamburg, 1722; in Gallandii "Bibl. PP." XIII. 603 sq., and in Photii Opera ed. Migne, Tom. II., col. 9–264 (reprint of Wolf). For the history of the sect after a.d. 870 we must depend on the Byzantine historians, Constantine Porphyrogenitus and Cedrenus.

II. Mosheim: Century IX., ch. V. Schroeckh: vols. XX. 365 sqq., and XXIII. 318 sqq. Gibbon: Ch. LIV. (vol. V. 534–554). F. Schmidt: Historia Paulicianorum Orientalium. Kopenhagen, 1826. Gieseler: Untersuchungen über die Gesch. der Paulicianer, in the "Studien und Kritiken," 1829, No. I., 79 sqq.; and his Church History, II. 21 sqq., and 231 sqq. (Germ. ed. II. 1, 13 and 400). Neander, III. 244–270, and 586–592. Baur: Christl. K. im Mittelalter, p. 22–25. Hergenröther, I. 524–527. Hardwick, Middle Age, p. 78–84. Robertson, II. 164–173 (revised ed. IV. 117–127). C. Schmidt, in Herzog2 XI. 343–348. A. Lombard: Pauliciens, Bulgares et Bons-hommes en Orient et Occident. Genève, 1879.


The Monothelites, the Adoptionists, the Predestinarians, and the Berengarians moved within the limits of the Catholic church, dissented from it only in one doctrine, and are interwoven with the development of’ catholic orthodoxy which has been described in the preceding chapter. But there were also radical heretical sects which mixed Christianity with heathen notions, disowned all connection with the historic church, and set themselves up against it as rival communities. They were essentially dualistic, like the ancient Gnostics and Manichaeans, and hence their Catholic opponents called them by the convenient and hated name of New Manichaeans; though the system of the Paulicians has more affinity with that of Marcion. They appeared first in the East, and spread afterwards by unknown tracks in the West. They reached their height in the thirteenth century, when they were crushed, but not annihilated, by a crusade under Pope Innocent III.

These sects have often been falsely represented753 as forerunners of Protestantism; they are so only in a purely negative sense, while in their positive opinions they differ as widely from the evangelical as from the Greek and Roman creed. The Reformation came out of the bosom of Mediaeval Catholicism, retained its oecumenical doctrines, and kept up the historic continuity.

The Paulicians754 are the most important sect in our period. They were confined to the territory of the Eastern church. They flourished in Armenia, where Christianity came in conflict with Parsism and was mixed with dualistic ideas. They probably inherited some traditions of the Manichaeans and Marcionites.

I. Their name is derived by their Greek opponents755 from two brothers, Paul and John sons of a Manichaean a woman Kallinike, in Samosata; but, more probably, by modern historians756 from their preference for St. Paul whom they placed highest among the Apostles. They borrowed the names of their leading teachers from his disciples (Sylvanus, Titus, Timothy, Tychicus, Epaphroditus), and called their congregations after his (Corinth, Philippi, Achaia, etc.). They themselves preferred simply the name "Christians" (Cristianoiv, Cristopoli'tai), in opposition to the professors of the Roman state-religion ( JRwmaivou").

II. The founder of the sect is Constantine a Syrian from a Gnostic (Marcionite) congregation in Mananalis near Samosata. Inspired by the epistles of St. Paul and pretending to be his genuine disciple, he propagated under the name of Sylvanus dualistic doctrines in Kibossa in Armenia and in the regions of Pontus and Cappadocia, with great success for twenty-seven years, until the Emperor Constantine Pogonatus (668–685) sent an officer, Symeon, for his arrest and execution. He was stoned to death in 684, and his congregation scattered. But Symeon was struck and converted by the serene courage of Constantine-Sylvanus, revived the congregation, and ruled it under the name of Titus. When Justinian II. heard of it, he condemned him and the other leaders to death by fire (690), according to the laws against the Manichaeans.

But in spite of repeated persecution and inner dissensions, the sect spread throughout Asia Minor. When it decayed, a zealous reformer rose in the person of Sergius, called Tychieus, the second founder of the sect (801–835). He had been converted by a woman, visited the old congregations and founded new ones, preached and wrote epistles, opposed the antinomian practices of Baanes, called "the Filthy" (oJ rJuparov"), and introduced strict discipline. His followers were called Sergiotes in distinction from the Baanites.

The fate of the sect varied with the policy of the Greek emperors. The iconoclastic Leo the Isaurian did not disturb them, and gave the leader of the sect, Gegnaesius, after a satisfactory examination by the patriarch, a letter of protection against persecution; but the wily heretic had answered the questions in a way that deceived the patriarch. Leo the Armenian (813–820) organized an expedition for their conversion, pardoning the apostates and executing the constant. Theodora, who restored the worship of images, cruelly persecuted them, and under her short reign one hundred thousand Paulicians were put to death by the sword, the gibbet, or the flames (844). Perhaps this large number included many iconoclasts.

Provoked by these cruelties, the Paulicians raised the standard of revolt under the lead of Karbeas. He fled with five thousand to the Saracens, built a strong fort, Tephrica,757 on the Arab frontier, and in alliance with the Moslems made successful military invasions into the Byzantine territory. His son-in-law, Chrysocheres, proceeded as far as Ephesus, and turned the cathedral into a stable (867), but was killed by the Greeks in 871, and the sect had to submit to the Emperor Basil the Macedonian. He sent among them the monk Petrus Siculus, who thus became acquainted with their doctrines and collected the materials for his work.

After this the sect lost its political significance, and gradually disappeared from history. Many were transferred to Philippopolis in Thrace about 970, as guards of the frontier, and enjoyed toleration. Alexius Comnenus (1081–1118) disputed with their leaders, rewarded the converts, and punished the obstinate. The Crusaders found some remains in 1204, when they captured Constantinople.

III. The doctrines and practices of the Paulicians are known to us only from the reports of the orthodox opponents and a few fragments of the epistles of Sergius. They were a strange mixture of dualism, demiurgism, docetism, mysticism and pseudo-Paulinism, and resemble in many respects the Gnostic system of Marcion.

(1) Dualism was their fundamental principle.758  The good God created the spiritual world; the bad God or demiurge created the sensual world. The former is worshipped by the Paulicians, i.e. the true Christians, the latter by the "Romans" or Catholics.

(2) Contempt of matter. The body is the seat of evil desire, and is itself impure. It holds the divine soul as in a prison.

(3) Docetism. Christ descended from heaven in an ethereal body, passed through the womb of Mary as through a channel, suffered in appearance, but not in reality, and began the process of redemption of the spirit from the chains of matter.

(4) The Virgin Mary was not "the mother of God," and has a purely external connection with Jesus. Peter the Sicilian says, that they did not even allow her a place among the good and virtuous women. The true theotokos is the heavenly Jerusalem, from which Christ came out and to which he returned.

(5) They rejected the Old Testament as the work of the Demiurge, and the Epistles of Peter. They regarded Peter as a false apostle, because he denied his master, preached Judaism rather than Christianity, was the enemy of Paul (Gal. 2:11) and the pillar of the Catholic hierarchy. They accepted the four Gospels, the Acts, fourteen Epistles of Paul, and the Epistles of James, John and Jude. At a later period, however, they seem to have confined themselves, like Marcion, to the writings of Paul and Luke, adding to them probably the Gospel of John. They claimed also to possess an Epistle to the Laodiceans; but this was probably identical with the Epistle to the Ephesians. Their method of exposition was allegorical.

(6) They rejected the priesthood, the sacraments, the worship of saints and relics, the sign of the cross (except in cases of serious illness), and all externals in religion. Baptism means only the baptism of the Spirit; the communion with the body and blood of Christ is only a communion with his word and doctrine.

In the place of priests (iJerei'"  and presbuvteroi) the Paulicians had teachers and pastors (didavskaloi and poimevne"), companions or itinerant missionaries (sunevkdhmoi), and scribes (nwtavrioi). In the place of churches they had meeting-houses called "oratories" (proseucaiv); but the founders and leaders were esteemed as "apostles" and "prophets."  There is no trace of the Manichaean distinction between two classes of the electi and credentes.

(7) Their morals were ascetic. They aimed to emancipate the spirit from the power of the material body, without, however, condemning marriage and the eating of flesh; but the Baanites ran into the opposite extreme of an antinomian abuse of the flesh, and reveled in licentiousness, even incest. In both extremes they resembled the Gnostic sects. According to Photius, the Paulicians were also utterly deficient in veracity, and denied their faith without scruple on the principle that falsehood is justifiable for a good end.


 § 132. The Euchites and other Sects in the East.


I. Michael Psellus (a learned Constantinopolitan, 11th cent.): Diavlogo" peri; ejnergeiva" daimovnwn, ed. Gaulmin. Par. 1615; also by J. F. Boissonade. Norimbergae, 1838. Cedrenus (in the 11th cent.): Histor. Compend. (ed. Bonn. I. 514).—On the older Euchites and Messalians see Epiphanius (Haer. 80), Theodoret (Hist. Eccl. IV. 10), John of Damascus (De Haer., c. 80), Photius (Bibl. cod. 52), and Walch: Ketzer-Historie, III. 481 sqq. and 536 sqq.

II. Schnitzer: Die Euchiten im elften Jahrh., in Stirm’s "Studien der evang. Geistlichkeit Würtemberg’s," vol. XI., H. I. 169. Gieseler, II. 232 sq. Neander, III. 590 sqq., comp. II. 277 sqq.


The Euchites were mystic monks with dualistic principles derived from Parsism. They held that a demon dwells in every man from his birth, and can be expelled only by unceasing silent prayer, which they exalted above every spiritual exercise. Hence their name.759  They were also called Enthusiasts by the people on account of their boasted ecstasies, in which they fancied that they received special revelations. Psellus calls them "devil-worshippers."  They despised all outward forms of worship. Rumor charged them with lewdness and infanticide in their secret assemblies; but the same stories were told of the early Christians, and deserve no credit.

They appear in the eleventh century in Mesopotamia and Armenia, in some connection with the Paulicians. They were probably the successors of the older Syrian Euchites or Messalians of the fourth and fifth centuries, who in their conceit had reached the height of ascetic perfection, despised manual labor and all common occupations, and lived on alms—the first specimens of mendicant friars.

From the Euchites sprang towards the close of the eleventh century the Bogomiles (the Slavonic name for Euchites),760 and Catharists (i.e. the Purists, Puritans), and spread from Bulgaria into the West. They will occupy our attention in the next period.

Another Eastern sect, called Thondracians (from the village Thondrac), was organized by Sembat, a Paulician, in the province of Ararat, between 833 and 854. They sprang from the Paulicians, and in spite of persecution made numerous converts in Armenia, among them a bishop, Jacob, in 1002, who preached against the corruptions in the Armenian church, but was branded, exposed to public scorn, imprisoned, and at last killed by his enemies.761

Little is known of the sect of the Athingians who appeared in Upper Phrygia.762  They seem to have been strongly Judaistic. They observed all the rites of the law except circumcision, for which they substituted baptism. Neander conjectures, that they were the successors of the Colossian errorists opposed by St. Paul.


 § 133. The New Manichaeans in the West.


I. The chief sources for the sects of the Middle Age belong to the next period, namely, the letters of Pope Innocent III., Honorius III., Bernhard of Clairvaux, Peter the Venerable; the acts of Councils; the chronicles; and the special writings against them, chiefly those of the Dominican monk Reinerius Sacchoni of Lombardy (d. 1259), who was himself a heretic for seventeen years. The sources are collected in the "Maxima Biblioth. Patr." (Lugd., 1677, Tom. XXII., XXIV.); in Martene and Durand’s "Thesaurus novus anecdotorum" (Par., 1682); in Muratori’s "Rerum Italic. Scriptores" (Mediol., 1723 sqq.); in Bouquet’s "Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France" (Par., 1738 sqq.), etc. See the Lit. in Hahn I. 23 sqq.

II. J. Conr. Fuesslin: Neue unparth. Kirchen-und Ketzerhistorie der mittleren Zeit. Frankf, 1770. 2 Parts.

Chr. U. Hahn: Geschichte der Ketzer im Mittelalter, besonders im 11., 12. und 13. Jahrh., nach den Quellen bearbeitet.  Stuttgart, 1845–’50, 3 vols. The first vol. contains the History of the New Manichaeans.

C. Schmidt: Histoire et doctrine de la secte des Cathares. Paris, 1849, 2 vols.

Razki: Bogomili i Catareni. Agram, 1869.

Neander, III. 592–606. Gieseler, II. 234–239. Hardwick, p. 187–190. Robertson, II. 417–424.


The heretical sects in the West are chiefly of three distinct classes: 1) the dualistic or Manichaean; 2) the pantheistic and mystic; 3) the biblical (the Waldenses). Widely differing among themselves, they were united in hatred of the papal church and the sacerdotal system. They arose from various causes: the remains of heathen notions and older heresies; opposition to the corruptions of the church and the clergy; the revolt of reason against tyrannical authority; and popular thirst for the word of God. They spread with astonishing rapidity during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries from Bulgaria to Spain, especially through Italy and Southern France, and called forth all the energies of the papacy at the zenith of its power (under Innocent III.) for their forcible suppression. One only survived the crusade, the Waldenses, owing to their faithful adherence to the positive truths of the Scriptures.

In the West the heretical tendency in organized form made its first appearance during the eleventh century, when the corruption of the church and the papacy had reached its height. It appeared to that age as a continuation or revival of the Manichaean heresy.763  The connecting link is the dualistic principle. The old Manichaeans were never quite extirpated with fire and sword, but continued secretly in Italy and France, waiting for a favorable opportunity to emerge from obscurity. Nor must we overlook the influence from the East. Paulicians were often transported under Byzantine standards from Thrace and Bulgaria to the Greek provinces of Italy and Sicily, and spread the seed of their dualism and docetism and hatred of the ruling church.764

New Manichaeans were first discovered in Aquitania and Orleans, in 1022, in Arras, 1025, in Monteforte near Turin, 1030, in Goslar, 1025. They taught a dualistic antagonism between God and matter, a docetic view of the humanity of Christ, opposed the worship of saints and images, and rejected the whole Catholic church with all the material means of grace, for which they substituted a spiritual baptism, a spiritual eucharist, and a symbol of initiation by the imposition of hands. Some resolved the life of Christ into a myth or symbol of the divine life in every man. They generally observed an austere code of morals, abstained from marriage, animal food, and intoxicating drinks. A pallid, emaciated face was regarded by the people as a sign of heresy. The adherents of the sect were common people, but among their leaders were priests, sometimes in disguise. One of them, Dieudonné, precentor of the church in Orleans, died a Catholic; but when three years after his death his connection with the heretics was discovered, his bones were dug up and removed from consecrated ground.

The Oriental fashion of persecuting dissenters by the faggot and the sword was imitated in the West. The fanatical fury of the people supported the priests in their intolerance. Thirteen New Manichaeans were condemned to the stake at Orleans in 1022. Similar executions occurred in other places. At Milan the heretics were left the choice either to bow before the cross, or to die; but the majority plunged into the flames.

A few men rose above the persecuting spirit of the age, following the example of St. Martin of Tours, who had vigorously protested against the execution of the Priscillianists at Treves. Wazo, bishop of Liège, about 1047, raised his voice for toleration when he was asked for his opinion concerning the treatment of the heretics in the diocese of Châlons-sur-Marne. Such doctrines, he said, must be condemned as unchristian; but we are bound to bear with the teachers after the example of our Saviour, who was meek and humble and came not to strive, but rather to endure shame and the death of the cross. The parable of the wheat and the tares teaches us to wait patiently for the repentance of erring neighbors. "We bishops," he tells his fellow-bishops, "should remember that we did not receive, at our ordination, the sword of secular power, the vocation to slay, but only the vocation to make alive."  All they had to do was to exclude obstinate heretics from the communion of the church and to guard others against their dangerous doctrines.765



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

753  Antipathetically by Roman Catholic, sympathetically by Protestant historians.

754  Paulikoiv, Paulikianoiv, Pauliani'toi.

755  Peter the Sicilian and Photius, followed by Mosheim and Schroeckh.

756  Gibbon, Gieseler, Neander, Baur, Hardwick.

757  Now Divrigni in the mountains between Sirvas and Trebizond, still occupied by a fierce people.

758  Petrus Siculus puts this first (p. 16): Prw'ton me;n gavr ejsti to; katj aujtou;" gnwvrisma to; duvo ajrca;" oJmologei'n, ponhro;n qeo;n kai; ajgaqovn.. He says the Paulicians reject the impious writings of the Manichaeans, but propagate their contents by tradition from generation to generation.

759  Eujchvtai or Euci'tai, from Eujchv, prayer. The Syriac name Messalians (]@ylx;m]), praying people, from  al;x]  oravit (Dan. 6:11; Ezra 6:10).

760  From Hospodi pomilui, the Slavonic Kyrie eleison, Lord, have mercy upon us. It is the response in the Russian litany, and is usually chanted by a choir with touching effect. Schaffarik derives the name from a Bulgarian bishop named Bogomil, who represented that heresy in the middle of the tenth century.

761  See Tschamtschean’s "History of Armenia," used by Neander (from Petermann’s communications), III. 587-589.

762 v j!Aqgganoi, from qiggavnw, to touch, to handle; probably with reference to Col. 2:21, mh; qivgh/", touch not (things that defile). The translator of Neander calls them Athinganians (III. 592).

763  Other names, however, were invented to distinguish the different branches which were compared to foxes with tails tied together. In the time of Innocent III., more than forty heretical names were used, about twelve of them for the Manichaean branch, chiefly "Manichaeans," "Catharists," and "Patareni." See Hahn, I. 49 sqq.

764  On the different derivations see the notes of Gieseler, II. 234 sq., and Hahn, I. 30 sqq.

765  Neander, III. 605 sq.; Gieseler, II. 239, note.