Online Encyclopedia

JACOBITE CHURCH

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 119 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JACOBITE CHURCH. The name of " Jacobites " is first found in a synodal decree of Nicaea A.D. 787, and was invented by hostile Greeks for the Syrian Monophysite Church as founded, or rather restored, by Jacob or James Baradaeus, who was ordained its bishop A.D. 541 or 543. The Monophysites, who like the Greeks knew themselves simply as the Orthodox, were grievously persecuted by the emperor Justinian and the graecizing patriarchs of Antioch, because they rejected the decrees of the council of Chalcedon, in which they—not without good reason —saw nothing but a thinly veiled relapse into those opinions of Nestorius which the previous council of Ephesus had condemned. James was born a little before A.D. 500 at Tella or Tela, 55 M. east of Edessa, of a priestly family, and entered the convent of Phesilta on Mount Isla. About 528 he went with a fellow-monk Sergius to Constantinople to plead the cause of his co-religionists with the empress Theodora, and livid there fifteen years. Justinian during those years imprisoned, deprived or exiled most of the recalcitrant clergy of Syria, Mesopotamia, Cilicia, Cappadocia, and the adjacent regions. Once ordained bishop of Edessa, with the connivance of Theodora, James, disguised as a ragged beggar (whence his name Baradaeus, Syriac Burdeana, Arabic al-Baradia), traversed these regions preaching, teaching and ordaining new clergy to the number, it is said, of 8o,000. His later years were embittered by squabbles with his own clergy, and he died in 578. His work, however, endured, and in the middle ages the Jacobite hierarchy numbered 150 archbishops and bishops under a patriarch and his maphrian. About the year 728 six Jacobite bishops present at the council of Manazgert established communion with the Armenians, who equally rejected Chalcedon; they were sent by the patriarch of Antioch, and among them were the metropolitan of Urha (Edessa) and the bishops of Qarhan, Gardman, Nferkert and Amasia. How long ,this union lasted is not known. In 1842, when the Rev. G. P. Badger visited the chief Jacobite centres, their numbers in all Turkey had dwindled to about 1oo,000 souls, owing to vast secessions to Rome. At Aleppo at that date only ten families out of several hundred remained true to their old faith, and something like the same proportion at Damascus and Bagdad. Badger testifies that the Syrian proselytes to Rome were superior to their Jacobite brethren, having established schools, rebuilt their churches, increased their clergy, and, above all, having learned to live with each other on terms of peace and charity. As late as 1850 there were 15o villages of them in the Jebel Toor to the north-east of Mardin, 50 in the district of Urfah and Gawar, and a few in the neighbourhoods of Diarbekr, Mosul and Damascus. From about 186o, the seceders to Rome were able, thanks to French consular protection, to seize the majority of the Jacobite churches in Turkey; and this injustice has contributed much to the present degradation and impoverishment of the Jacobites. They used leavened bread in the Eucj}arist mixed with salt and oil, and like other Monophysites add to the Trisagion the words " Who wast crucified for our sake." They venerate pictures or images, and make the sign of the cross with one finger to show that Christ had but one nature. Deacons, as in Armenia, marry before taking priests' orders. Their patriarch is styled of Antioch, but seldom comes west of Mardin. His
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