Muravyev Alexey

Mṣalyanuṯā 6. Notes on the dossier of “Messalian heresy”: the riddle of Lampetius

Muravyev Alexey (2020) "Mṣalyanuṯā 6. Notes on the dossier of “Messalian heresy”: the riddle of Lampetius ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia III : Filologiia, 2020, vol. 62, pp. 31-57 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturIII202062.31-57


The “Library” of Patriarch Photius, Codex 52, contains evidence of the Acts of the Council of Side, which is often regarded as one of the main elements of the “anti-Messalian dossier” in the Byzantine church tradition. Whether this Council really took place and in what form is not known. However, the available data show a great deal of confusion and a possible falsifi cation of its entire story. The main characters Lampetius, Sabba, Dadoes, etc., look quite problematic, especially in the light of the recent research conducted by K. Fitschen, A. Guilliaumont, C. Stewart and others. In the Syriac documents, quite a diff erent situation exists. From the comparison of the names with Philoxenus’ Ad Patricium can be seen that the chief heretic, “Lampetius / Malpatius”, is a fictitious fi gure. The short version of the Letter mixes the two names. Behind Malpat(ius) hides Adelphius of Edessa, a disciple of St. Julian Sabba, one of the founding fathers of Syriac asceticism. The list of the bishops who took part in the Side synod contains an Armenian of a very strange origin. There are other inconsistencies in this text which pose a problem of Photius’s sources. The history of “Messalianism” in the light of this critical approach as well as recent research on the Late Antique heresiology appears as a great misunderstanding, caused by the confl ict of ascetic models. The Syriac model was based on the idea of disconnection (Àποταγή / msarrqūtā ) from the world, which three hundred years later was fully adopted in the Greek asceticism. But in the mid-4th c. it caused a major dispute and a condemnation of the followers of the “praying beggars” from Syria. The dossier of the “Messalian heresy” (connected with Ps.-Macarius writings condemned under the name of “Asceticon”) was further used against the new religious movements of the Middle Ages (Paulicianism, Bogomilism). Thus it has become a sobriquet of a luxurious heretic. Historical inconsistencies in the Middle-Age anti-heretic literature ceased to confuse readers, because the whole history of “Messalianism” turned into a myth. Photius certainly heard about the controversy but he had a rather vague idea about the confusion underlying its emergence and reproduced a xenophobic mythology in his story.


Photius, Late Antiquity, Byzantine literature, Syriac literature, Messalianism, Philoxenus of Mabbug, Adelphius, Ps.-Macarius


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Information about the author

Muravyev Alexey

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in History;
Place of work: National Research University Higher School of Economics, 21/4 Staraya Basmannaya, Moscow, 105066, Russian Federation; Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Sciences; 32A Leninsky prospekt, Мoscow, 119334, Russian Federation;
ORCID: 0000-0002-2359-5567;
Email: amuraviev2@hse.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.