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§ 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.758758    Εὐχήταιor Ευχῖται, from Εὐχή, prayer. The Syriac name Messalians (ְןילצָמְ), praying people, from אלָצְ oravit(Dan. 6:11; Ezra 6:10). 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),759759    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. 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.760760    See Tschamtschean’s ”History of Armenia,” used by Neander (from Petermann’s communications), III. 587-589.

Little is known of the sect of the Athingians who appeared in Upper Phrygia.761761    ́ Ἀθγγανοι, from θιγγάνω, to touch, to handle; probably with reference to Col. 2:21, μὴ θίγῃς, touch not (things that defile). The translator of Neander calls them Athinganians (III. 592). 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.

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