Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem

This article is about the Patriarch of Jerusalem in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. For other uses, see Patriarch of Jerusalem (disambiguation).
Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Coat of arms
Founder The Apostles
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Eastern Orthodox
Primate Patriarch Theophilos III of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Holy Land, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion
Headquarters Jerusalem
Territory Israel, Palestine, Jordan
Possessions United States,
South America
Language Arabic, Greek, English
Members Estimated 130,000 People[1]
Patriarch of Jerusalem
Style His Most Godly Beatitude
Formation 33 AD[2]
First holder James the Just

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem or Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is the head bishop of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, ranking fourth of nine Patriarchs in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since 2005, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem has been Theophilos III. The Patriarch is styled "Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion." The Patriarch is the head of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, and the religious leader of about 130,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land,[1] most of them Palestinians.

The Patriarchate traces its line of succession to the first Christian bishops of Jerusalem, the first being James the Just in the 1st century AD. Jerusalem was granted autocephaly in 451 by the Council of Chalcedon and in 531 became one of the initial five patriarchates.

On the importance of Jerusalem, the Catholic Encyclopedia reads:

During the first Christian centuries the church at this place was the centre of Christianity in Jerusalem, "Holy and glorious Sion, mother of all churches." Certainly no spot in Christendom can be more venerable than the place of the Last Supper, which became the first Christian church.[3]


In the Apostolic Age the Christian Church was organized as an indefinite number of local Churches that in the initial years looked to that at Jerusalem as its main centre and point of reference, see also Jerusalem in Christianity. James the Just, who was martyred around 62, is described as the first Bishop of Jerusalem. Roman persecutions following the Jewish revolts against Rome in the later 1st and 2nd centuries also affected the city's Christian community, and led to Jerusalem gradually being eclipsed in prominence by other sees, particularly those of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome. However, increased pilgrimage during and after the reign of Constantine the Great increased the fortunes of the see of Jerusalem, and in 325 the First Council of Nicaea attributed special honor, but not metropolitan status (then the highest rank in the Church), to the bishop of Jerusalem.[4] Jerusalem continued to be a bishopric until 451, when the Council of Chalcedon granted Jerusalem independence from the metropolitan of Antioch and from any other higher-ranking bishop, granted what is now known as autocephaly, in the council's seventh session whose "Decree on the Jurisdiction of Jerusalem and Antioch" contains: "the bishop of Jerusalem, or rather the most holy Church which is under him, shall have under his own power the three Palestines".[5] This led to Jerusalem becoming a patriarchate, one of the five patriarchates known as the pentarchy, when the title of "patriarch" was created in 531 by Justinian.[6][7]

After the Saracen conquest in the 7th century, Muslims recognized Jerusalem as the seat of Christianity and the Patriarch as its leader. When the Great Schism took place in 1054 the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the other three Eastern Patriarchs formed the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Patriarch of Rome (i.e. the Pope) formed the Roman Catholic Church.

In 1099 the Crusaders appointed a Latin Patriarch. As a result, the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs lived in exile in Constantinople until 1187.

Current position

A diagram of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre based on a German documentary, claimed to be the site of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus

Today, the headquarters of the patriarchate is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The number of Eastern Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land is estimated to be about 200,000. A majority of Church members are Palestinian Arabs, and there are also a small number of Russians, Romanians, Greeks and Georgians.

The patriarchate was recently involved in a significant controversy. Patriarch Irenaios, elected in 2001, was deposed, on decisions of the Holy Synod of Jerusalem, in the aftermath of a scandal involving the sale of church land in East Jerusalem to Israeli investors. The move enraged many Eastern Orthodox Palestinian members, since the land was in an area that most Palestinians hoped would someday become part of a Palestinian state. On May 24, 2005 a special Pan-Orthodox Synod was convened in Constantinople (İstanbul) to review the decisions of the Holy Synod of Jerusalem. The Pan-Orthodox Synod under the presidency of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, voted overwhelmingly to confirm the decision of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre and to strike Irenaios' name from the diptychs, and on May 30, Jerusalem's Holy Synod chose Metropolitan Cornelius of Petra to serve as locum tenens pending the election of a replacement for Irenaios. On August 22, 2005, the Holy Synod of the Church of Jerusalem unanimously elected Theophilos, the former Archbishop of Tabor, as the 141st Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Israelite Bishops of Jerusalem

The early Christian community of Jerusalem was led by a Council of Elders, and considered itself part of the wider Israelite community. This collegiate system of government in Jerusalem is seen in Acts 11:30 and 15:22.

Eusebius of Caesarea provides the names of an unbroken succession of thirty-six Bishops of Jerusalem up to the year 324.[8] The first sixteen of these bishops were of Israelite origin—from James the Just through Judas († 135)—the remainder were Gentiles:

"But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time [after Bar Kokhba's revolt], it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchaeus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision."[9]
James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19–29, "...we should write to them [Gentiles] to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood..." (NRSV)
  1. James the Just (until 62)
  2. Simeon I (62–107)
  3. Justus I (107–113)
  4. Zaccheus (113–???)
  5. Tobias (???–???)
  6. Benjamin I (???–117)
  7. John I (117–???)
  8. Matthias I (???–120)
  9. Philip (???–124)
  10. Senecas (???–???)
  11. Justus II (???–???)
  12. Levis (???–???)
  13. Ephram (???–???)
  14. Joseph I (???–???)
  15. Judas (???–135)

Bishops of Aelia Capitolina

As a result of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135, Hadrian was determined to erase Judaism from Iudaea Province. The province was renamed Syria Palaestina. Jerusalem was left in total ruin, and a new city built nearby called Aelia Capitolina. These gentile bishops (Jews were excluded from the city except for the day of Tisha B'Av), were appointed under the authority of the Metropolitans of Caesarea. Until the setting up of the Patriarchates in 325, Metropolitan was the highest episcopal rank in the Christian church.

  1. Marcus (135–???)
  2. Cassianus (???–???)
  3. Poplius (???–???)
  4. Maximus I (???–???)
  5. Julian I (???–???)
  6. Gaius I (???–???)
  7. Symmachus (???)
  8. Gaius II (???–162)
  9. Julian II (162–???)
  10. Capion (???–???)
  11. Maximus II (???–???)
  12. Antoninus (???–???)
  13. Valens (???–???)
  14. Dolichianus (???–185)
  15. Narcissus (185–???)
  16. Dius (???–???)
  17. Germanion (???–???)
  18. Gordius (???–211)
Narcissus (restored) (???–231)
  1. Alexander (231–249)
  2. Mazabanis (249–260)
  3. Imeneus (260–276)
  4. Zamudas (276–283)
  5. Ermon (283–314)
  6. Macarius I (314–333), since 325 Bishop of Jerusalem

Bishops of Jerusalem

Jerusalem received special recognition in Canon VII of First Council of Nicaea in 325, without yet becoming a metropolitan see.[10] Also, the Council for the first time established the Patriarchates. The Bishops of Jerusalem were appointed by the Patriarchs of Antioch.

Patriarchs of Jerusalem

The Council of Chalcedon in 451 raised the bishop of Jerusalem to the rank of patriarch. (See Pentarchy) However, Byzantine politics meant that Jerusalem passed from the jurisdiction of Patriarch of Antioch to the Greek authorities in Constantinople. For centuries, Eastern Orthodox clergy, such as the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher, dominated the Jerusalem church.

  • Juvenal (451–458)
  • Anastasius I (458–478)
  • Martyrius (478–486)
  • Sallustius (486–494)
  • Elias I (494–516)
  • John III (516–524)
  • Peter (524–552)
  • Macarius II (552, 564–575)
  • Eustochius (552–564)
  • John IV (575–594)
  • Amos (594–601)
  • Isaac (601–609)
  • Zacharias (609–632)
  • Modestus (632–634)
  • Sophronius I (634–638)
    • vacant (638–681?/692)
      • Patriarchal Vicar John of Philadelphia (after 649-?)
  • Anastasius II (681?/692–706)
  • John V (706–735)
  • Theodore (745–770)
  • Elias II (770–797)
  • George (797–807)
  • Thomas I (807–820)
  • Basileus (820–838)
  • John VI (838–842)
  • Sergius I (842–844)
    • vacant (844–855)
  • Solomon (855–860)
    • vacant (860–862)
  • Theodosius (862–878)
  • Elias III (878–907)
  • Sergius II (908–911)
  • Leontius I (912–929)
  • Athanasius I (929–937)
  • Christodolus (937–950)
  • Agathon (950–964)
  • John VII (964–966)
  • Christodolus II (966–969)
  • Thomas II (969–978)
    • vacant (978–980)
  • Joseph II (980–983)
  • Orestes (983–1005)
    • vacant (1005–1012)
  • Theophilus I (1012–1020)
  • Nicephorus I (1020–???)
  • Joannichius (???–???)
  • Sophronius II (???–1084)
  • Euthemius I (1084)
  • Simon II (1084–1106)

Patriarchs of Jerusalem in exile

As a result of the First Crusade in 1099, a Latin Patriarchate was created, with residence in Jerusalem from 1099 to 1187. Eastern Orthodox Patriarchs continued to be appointed, but resided in Constantinople.

Return of Patriarchs of Jerusalem

In 1187, the Latin Patriarch was forced to flee the region. The office of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem remained and appointments continued to be made by the Catholic Church, with the Latin Patriarch residing in Rome until modern times. The Eastern Orthodox Patriarch returned to Jerusalem.

  • Dositheos I (1187–1189)
  • Marcus II (1191–???)
    • vacant (???–1223)
  • Euthemius II (1223)
  • Athanasius II (ca. 1231–1244)
  • Sophronius III (1236–???)
  • Gregory I (???–1298)
  • Thaddaeus (1298)
    • vacant (1298–1313)
  • Athanasius III (1313–1314)
    • vacant (1314–1322)
  • Gregory II (1322)
    • vacant (1322–1334)
  • Lazarus (1334–1368)
    • vacant (1368–1376)
  • Dorotheus I (1376–1417)
  • Theophilus II (1417–1424)
  • Theophanes I (1424–1431)
  • Joachim (1431–???)
    • vacant (???–1450)
  • Theophanes II (1450)
    • vacant (1450–1452)
  • Athanasius IV (1452–???)
    • vacant (???–1460)
  • Jacob II (1460)
    • vacant (1460–1468)
  • Abraham I (1468)
  • Gregory III (1468–1493)
    • vacant (1493–1503)
  • Marcus III (1503)
    • vacant (1503–1505)
  • Dorotheus II (1505–1537)
  • Germanus (1537–1579)
  • Sophronius IV (1579–1608)
  • Theophanes III (1608–1644)
  • Paiseus (1645–1660)
  • Nectarius I (1660–1669)
  • Dositheos II (1669–1707)
  • Chrysanthus (1707–1731)
  • Meletius (1731–1737)
  • Parthenius (1737–1766)
  • Ephram II (1766–1771)
  • Sophronius V (1771–1775)
  • Abraham II (1775–1787)
  • Procopius I (1787–1788)
  • Anthemus (1788–1808)
  • Polycarpus (1808–1827)
  • Athanasius V (1827–1845)
  • Cyril II (1845–1872)
  • Procopius II (1872–1875)
  • Hierotheus (1875–1882)
  • Nicodemus I (1883–1890)
  • Gerasimus I (1891–1897)
  • Damian I (1897–1931)
  • Timotheus I (1935–1955)
    • vacant (1955–1957)
  • Benedict I (1957–1980)
  • Diodoros I (1980–2000)
  • Irenaios I (2000–2005)
  • Theophilos III (2005–present)

Hierarchy of the throne

See also


  1. 1 2 "Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem". CNEWA. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  3. "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Jerusalem (A.D. 71–1099)". 1910-10-01. Retrieved 2011-07-10.
  4. "Since there prevails a custom and ancient tradition to the effect that the bishop of Aelia is to be honored, let him be granted everything consequent upon this honor, saving the dignity proper to the metropolitan" (Canon 7)
  5. L'idea di pentarchia nella cristianità
  6. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. patriarch (ecclesiastical), also calls it "a title dating from the 6th century, for the bishops of the five great sees of Christendom". And Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions says: "Five patriarchates, collectively called the pentarchy, were the first to be recognized by the legislation of the emperor Justinian (reigned 527–565)".
  7. Eusebius, The History of the Church (Tr. A. G. Williamson, Penguin Books, 1965. ISBN 0-14-044535-8), see summary in Appendix A.
  8. History of the Church Book IV, chapter V, verses 3–4
  9. Schaff's Seven Ecumenical Councils: First Nicaea: Canon VII: "Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Aelia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honoured, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honour."; "It is very hard to determine just what was the "precedence" granted to the Bishop of Aelia, nor is it clear which is the metropolis referred to in the last clause. Most writers, including Hefele, Balsamon, Aristenus and Beveridge consider it to be Cæsarea; while Zonaras thinks Jerusalem to be intended, a view recently adopted and defended by Fuchs; others again suppose it is Antioch that is referred to."

External links

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