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Richwood, Ohio 

The first notice of Paulicianism in the Greek writers under its 
proper name comes from the seventh century, when a certain Con- 
stantine from the region of Mananali, southeast of Erzroom, in the 
Armenian province of Daron, reorganized the sect and conducted 
active missionary operations in Pontus and Cappadocia. The 
names which Constantine gave his disciples and churches — e. g., 
Timothy, Titus, Ephesus, Corinth — were borrowed from the writ- 
ings of the apostle Paul; and the apparent partiality of Constantine 
and his followers for the Apostle to the Gentiles, of which this usage 
was cited as an instance, was made by modern scholars, beginning 
with Gibbon, to account for the origin of the name "Paulician." 
The origin of this name, however, as Professor Conybeare has lately 
pointed out, must antedate the seventh century, as it should be 
referred, not to Paul the apostle, but to Paul of Samosata. 1 

For a period of one hundred and fifty years from the time of 
Constantine the history of the Paulicians is one of persecution at the 
hands of the orthodox emperors of Byzantium. Justinian II in the 
seventh century, and Michael I and Leo V, the Armenian, in the 
ninth, when not incited by bigotry, persecuted these heretics with 
the hope of redeeming their own reputation for orthodoxy. But the 
Empress Theodora, the restorer of the images of the orthodox 
church, surpassed them all in bigoted zeal, and the pious devotion 
of the Greek historian has recorded with pride that under her short 
reign no less than 100,000 Paulicians were destroyed by fire and 

Persecuted in the mountains and valleys of Asia Minor, Pauli- 

1 See pp. 105, 106, and 129 of the "Introduction" to The Key of Truth: A Manual 
of the Paulician Church of Armenia, by Fred. C. Conybeare (Oxford, 1898). Professor 
Conybeare has called attention to the location of Mananali, which was not near Samo- 
sata, as usually supposed, but in Armenia. See "Introduction," p. 69. 



danism took refuge on the banks of the Euphrates and within the 
borders of Armenia. There, beyond the reach of Greek bigotry, and 
under the tolerant protection of the Arab caliphs, it flourished, and 
once, at least, it brought fierce retribution upon its persecutors, 
when, in the ninth century, emerging from their fortified town of 
Tephrike, the modern Divrik, east of Sivas, the Paulician military 
chiefs and their Mohammedan allies overthrew the armies of the 
empire, penetrated Asia Minor as far as Nicomedia and Ephesus, 
everywhere destroyed the images and relics of the Greek saints, and 
turned the cathedral of the last-named city into a stable. 

That, however, was only a temporary blaze of Paulician power 
and exasperation. With the fall of their great leader Chrysocheir 
the military glory of the Paulicians passed away, and as before, so 
after that event, they remained a sect sorely oppressed and persecuted. 

Emperors who sympathized with their cause sometimes pursued 
a middle course. A race of hardy mountaineers, the Armenian 
Paulicians, so dangerous to the empire when in alliance with the 
Arab caliphs of the East, could be employed as its guardians on its 
western borders. So the Iconoclast, Constantine Copronymus, in 
the eighth century, and the Armenian, John Zimisces, in the tenth, 
transplanted these heretics by the thousands from the regions of 
Erzroom and Melitine in Armenia Minor to the borderlands of 
Thrace. There, while the Paulician soldier guarded the line of the 
Danube against the barbarians, the Paulician missionary laid the 
foundations of the Bogomile church of the Bulgarians, and scattered 
in Europe the seeds of a reformation which should bear its full 
fruitage in a future age. 2 

In Armenia proper the Paulicians were by no means exempt from 
persecution. The Armenian Synod of Tevin (719) enjoined upon the 
faithful to shun and to hate these " children of the devil and kindlers 
of the eternal fire." The Paulicians, known in Armenia from the 
ninth century onward by the name of Tonrakians, from the town of 
Tonrak near the modern Bayezid, where their leader, Smpad of 
Zarehavan, made his headquarters, were often hunted like wild 
beasts by the Armenian authorities; they were scourged and 

2 A degenerate, Romanized remnant of the Paulicians of Thrace has survived 
to our own day. See Hamlin's Among the Turks, pp. 265 ff. 


imprisoned; they were deprived of their eyesight; they were burned 
at the stake; they were driven wholesale out of their homes, and 
their villages were turned into ruins. The chief authorities of the 
Armenian church regarded them as "the little foxes that spoil the 
vineyards," and a favorite penalty in their hands was that of brand- 
ing the heretic's forehead with the image of a fox. It was no mean- 
ingless vow, therefore, that the Paulician "elect one" took, to endure 
"scourgings, imprisonments, tortures, reproaches, crosses, blows, 
sufferings, and all the tribulations of the world." 

The last persecution of the Paulicians in Armenia of which history 
has preserved a record was conducted in the middle of the eleventh 
century by Gregory Magistros, duke of Vasbouragan and Daron 
(the modern provinces of Van and Moush, respectively), who des- 
troyed Tonrak and renamed it after St. George, and punished over 
a thousand of the heretics with baptism and confirmation. 

Until the last century it was the general impression that since 
the time of Nerses the Graceful, of the twelfth century, who is 
the last Armenian writer to make mention of it, Armenian Pauli- 
cianism had become a thing of the past. But the heresy which 
was exiled to the western borders of the Byzantine Empire, only 
to live on to scatter the seeds of religious revolt in the western 
world, had also lingered on through the centuries to our own 
day in Armenia itself. Like Constantine of Mananali in the 
seventh century, Smpad of Zarehavan in the ninth, and 
Jacob of Hark in the eleventh, John Choushdak Vartabedian 3 
rekindled the flames of Armenian Paulicianism in the eighteenth. 
Persecuted at Moush, he fled about 1775 to Constantinople, and 
thence to the Mekhitarist Convent of Venice. His heretical notions 
were soon discovered at Venice, and he was not allowed to stay there 
more than a few days. He returned to the Imperial City, where he 
was sent to the galleys for eight months, then found in a profession 
of Islam a temporary refuge. He afterward went to the district of 
Khnus, northeast of Moush, in Armenia, and with the backing of 
the Turkish governor extorted ordination from a bishop then residing 
in the vicinity of Manazkert, and commenced an active propaganda 

3 I am indebted for this name to an article in the Puragn of Constantinople for 
August 13, 1892. 


of his heresy in the villages of the district. For this crime he was 
loaded with chains and sent to Etchmiadzin. But he escaped from 
prison and went back again to Khnus "to spread his poison." In 
1801 his patron, the governor of Khnus, having been executed, he 
was forced by the Turks to return to Islam. His subsequent history 
is not known; but it is clear that his work had already taken deep 
root in the region of Khnus. 4 

The attention of the Holy Synod of Etchmiadzin was called to 
Vartabedian's followers in 1837 by Garabed, former bishop of 
Erzroom. Garabed was at that date bishop of the Armenians of 
Georgia, but he still had considerable knowledge of the affairs of his 
former people, who, at the close of the Russo-Turkish War of 1828- 
29, had emigrated in great numbers under his leadership from Turk- 
ish Armenia into the Tzar's newly acquired territories lying between 
Akhaltzik and Erivan. 

In February, 1837, Garabed wrote to the synod that in the village 
of Arkhveli, in the province of Shirak, there were twenty-five house- 
holds of Armenian immigrants from the village of Tchevirm6, of the 
district of Khnus, in the bishopric of Erzroom, who professed the 
heresy of the Tonrakians. Upon this, the Holy Synod dispatched to 
Arkhveli two priests to investigate the case. These called the people 
of the village together, and, after reading to them the bull of the 
synod, made an effort to discover the heretics in their midst. But 
all the confession they were able to elicit was: "We are children of 
the Illuminator." The inquisitors, not satisfied with this orthodox 
reply, confronted the people with some from neighboring villages 
with whom they had had intercourse, and the people then reluctantly 
confessed that they had known a priest in Khnus who had taught the 
heresy in question, but that they had not only refused to receive him, 
but had "anathematized him with anathemas," that the priest had 
"died like a dog," and that, while it was true that some of them had 
spoken of that heresy in conversation, it had been only ignorant 
foolishness on their part. Finally they gave a written promise "for- 
ever to repudiate the evil heresy and to remain steadfast in the con- 
fession and the laws of the orthodox Armenian church." One of 

* See A Study of the Sect of the Manichean-PatUician Tonrakians, and the Epistle 
of Gregory of Narek, by Father Sarkisian (Venice, 1893), pp. 102-4. 


the priests was afterward commissioned to reside at Arkhveli for the 
purpose of completely rooting out the heresy. 

The Holy Synod, while concluding to resign to the tribunal of God 
the judgment of the deceased Khnus priest who had taught this heresy, 
resolved to counteract as much as possible the evil consequences of 
his work by informing the bishop of Erzroom, and asking him to 
root out the remnants of heresy that might still be lingering in the 
region of Khnus. At the same time a request was made of Baron 
Rosen, military governor of the Caucasus, "to direct the local civil 
authorities to watch the conduct and operations of the Armenian 
inhabitants of Arkhveli, with an eye to the heresy which has appeared 
in their midst." Baron Rosen made inquiries as to the nature of the 
heresy in question, to which the Holy Synod answered: "The heresy 
of the Tonrakians consists in this, that they reject the mediation of 
saints, contemn their images, deny the use of fasts, repudiate the 
value of prayers, reject the immaculateness of the Holy Virgin Mother 
of God and the Sacrament of baptism, etc." 

This correspondence between the synod and Governor Rosen was 
still in progress when, in December, 1837, an advice came to the 
synod from the spiritual authorities of Gumri (Alexandrapol), 
through the consistory of Erivan, that a certain Garabed Megrdit- 
chian of that village, who had only in the preceding July adopted the 
heresy of the Tonrakians, had made an important confession on his 
bed of sickness, and had divulged the names of seven others in Gumri, 
who, some alone and some with their entire families, had received the 
heresy of the Tonrakians from George and Souvar of Arkhveli, and 
who had now also made confession and indicated their repentance. 
These eight men, four of whom could read and write, made written 
recantations, from which we gather the following points of doctrine of 
modern Paulicianism : 

1. Christ is not God, but the Son of God, born a man of the 
Virgin Mary, subjected to suffering and to death on the cross, risen 
again from the dead, and now sitting on the right hand of the Father, 
making intercession for us. 

2. The moral law, as given to Moses in the Decalogue, should be 
obeyed, but no trust should be reposed in external rites and observ- 
ances. Making the sign of the cross and genuflexions are superfluous. 


Pilgrimages to Etchmiadzin and Jerusalem and the keeping of fasts 
are of human invention and unnecessary. The worship of crosses 
and pictures of saints is idolatry. The sacrifice of the mass is a he, 
and the elements of the communion are not the body and blood of 
Christ, but ordinary bread and wine. The baptism and muron or 
holy ointment of the orthodox churches are false and only the mark 
of the Beast on the forehead, and a handful of water is all that is 
necessary for the administration of Christian baptism. 

3. A priest should not be called "Lord, Lord," but only a clergy- 
man (literally "a man of orders"); for God alone is Lord. Con- 
fession to a priest is of no profit for the forgiveness of sins — the 
penitent should confess his sins to God alone. Neither can saints 
intercede for us. 

4. Armenians, Russians, Georgians, and all others except the 
Nemetzni (the German evangelical millennialists from Wurtemberg 
who settled in seven colonies in the Caucasus in 181 7) 5 are false 
Christians and idolaters whose baptism is not valid. The traditions 
of the church fathers have no binding authority, and the canons of 
the councils were inspired by the devil. For the time being, how- 
ever, an outward conformity to the orthodox church's requirements 
should be maintained by the faithful, so that, if possible, all the 
people may in time be converted to their faith. 

The confessions of Gumri caused renewed activity on the part of 
the Synod, and appeal was again made to the governor of the Cau- 
casus. A civil inquest was then instituted by the military governor 
of Tiflis, General Praigon, into the heresy of Arkhveli, and in the 
spring of 1838 it was discovered that the heretics of Arkhveli and 
Gumri were as active as ever. The Tonrakians of the former village 
then numbered thirty-three households, and, to ward off suspicion, 
had built themselves an orthodox church. Three years later it was 
discovered that in 1837 the heretics of Arkhveli had "baptized each 
other" by night in a stable and in a private room. Their baptism 
had been observed in connection with the Lord's Supper, wherein 
the elements used had been a loaf of plain unleavened bread baked 
in an oven, and wine in an ordinary vessel placed on a common 
wooden table. Upon the bread they had pronounced the words: 

s See Researches of Smith and Dwight in Armenia, Vol. I, pp. 264 ff. 


"Take, eat; this is the body of our Lord Jesus Christ"; upon the 
wine the words : "This is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ." The 
candidate for baptism had approached the table with bared head, 
when the ministering officer had poured upon his head a first handful 
of water, saying: "In the name of the Father;" then a second hand- 
ful, saying: "And of the Son;" then a third, saying: "And of the 
Holy Spirit, Amen;" whereupon the candidate had helped himself to 
a morsel of the bread and a drink of the wine. 

General Praigon referred the case of the heretics to the provincial 
court of Gumri. Before the end of April (1841), however, there was 
issued a general imperial amnesty, and in the following September 
the court of Gumri advised the Holy Synod that the heretics of 
Arkhveli and Gumri had been included in the amnesty, and thus 
declared free from trial and punishment. 

The Holy Synod, not satisfied with this decision of the court, 
appealed to the governor. It was in reply informed, in March, 1843, 
that the governor considered the decision of the court invalid, inas- 
much as heretics did not come under the general head of criminals 
amnestied by the edict, and that he had accordingly ordered the 
further prosecution of the trial. In June, 1845, tne upshot of the 
whole matter was thus communicated to the Holy Synod: The civil 
and criminal court of Tiflis, having examined the whole case, had 
declared that the four leaders of heresy at Arkhveli, among them 
George Sarkisian, who called himself a deacon, and Souvar Hohan- 
nessian, and the four at Gumri, were, under the criminal laws of 
1842, subject to be drafted into the army; but inasmuch as they had 
organized their sect before the promulgation of the amnesty of 1841, 
the court, pursuant to the first article of that amnesty, had decided 
only to require of each individual the cost of the government investi- 
gations in his case — 49 roubles and 50 kopeks (about $35) — and to 
send these eight and their followers to the spiritual authorities of the 
Armenian church to be dealt with by them according to their own 
laws, at the same time forbidding George Sarkisian of Arkhveli to 
call himself a deacon, since he had failed to produce his credentials, 
and the authorities of the Armenian church refused to recognize him. 

The Holy Synod replied that such penalty was altogether incom- 
mensurate with the heinousness of the heresy in question, and peti- 


tioned the governor "that the guilty ones might be punished to the 
full measure of their grave transgressions against God, according to 
the proper sense of the law, just like other criminals." 

With this protest the episode seems to have closed. Two years 
before, Nerses of Ashdarak had been elected catholicos of all the 
Armenians, and in May, 1846, he arrived at Etchmiadzin and assumed 
the duties of his position. During his eleven years' active pontificate 
all classes of heretics enjoyed peace, and we may presume that the 
Holy Synod was restrained by|him in its orthodox zeal against the 

These heretics, however, must have endured much petty persecu- 
tion at the hands of their neighbors during those years. For some of 
them returned to their old homes in Khnus. About 1847 two families 
of them removed to the village of Khnus, "where," says the American 
missionary at Erzroom, writing in 1852, "they have been exerting 
their influence in a quiet way, till the number of families persuaded 
of the correctness of their faith amounts to eight, embracing about 
sixty souls." 6 Such was their activity in Khnus that as early as 1853 
it was recommended that the village might be made a regular out- 
station of the Erzroom mission. In 1854 the village of Tchevirm£, 
in the same district, was reported as having among its forty house- 
holds four, with about forty souls, that were openly Protestant, and 
by the year i860 the number of Protestants in the village had doubled. 
From another source we know that these were originally Paulicians, 
and that Souvar Hohannessian of Arkhveli was the spiritual leader of 
this flock. 

And who can tell how much Protestant missions in Armenia have 
been feeding on Paulician soil? Khnus and Tchevirme - , those 
ancient strongholds of Armenian Paulicianism, were not the only 
places where Paulicianism became a feeder to modern Protestantism. 
Eritzian, writing in 1880, states that of the one hundred and thirty 
seven Protestant households of Valarshabad or Neapolis (in whose 
vicinity Etchmiadzin is situated) nearly three-quarters were originally 
Tonrakian. The same writer further states that Tonrakians were 
numerous in his day in the provinces of Shirak, Galzwan, Pambak, 
New Bayezid, Erivan, and Etchmiadzin, associating in some places 

6 See Missionary Herald for December, 1852, pp. 359, 360. 


with Russian heretics like the Molokans, and in others with Protes- 
tants. A careful investigation on the ground will, doubtless, reveal a 
very close connection between this ancient heresy and modern Pro- 
testantism in Armenia. 7 

But we must go back to what was the most important discovery of 
the inquisition of 1837. Sergius Haroutiounian of Gumri confessed 
in that year that he had learned the teachings above detailed in 1835 
of George of Arkhveli, and that the latter had in his possession a 
heretical manuscript entitled "The Key of Truth," which contained 
all those teachings. This disclosure led to the seizure of "The Key 
of Truth," which, in February, 1838, the consistory of Erivan trans- 
mitted to the Holy Synod. It is a manuscript copy, octavo, written 
on paper in minuscule, of an ancient original the older portions of 
which perhaps go as far back as the ninth century. 8 It contains the 
baptismal service and the ordinal of the Armenian Paulician church, 
together with a catechism, and some controversial matter aimed at 
the abuses of the orthodox churches, like infant baptism, image- 
worship, mariolatry, and adoration of saints. Three whole chapters, 
all but the title and the first words of another, and important portions 
of five others — thirty-six pages out of the one hundred and forty-nine 
composing the body of the manuscript — were destroyed before the 

7 In the Researches oj Smith and Dwight in Armenia (Vol. I, p. 272) is mentioned 
a sect of Oodis living in the provinces of Sheky and Lesgy, who were outwardly "united" 
to the Georgian church, and had Georgian and Russian priests when the German 
missionaries from Basel found them. These were doubtless Paulicians. The Pauli- 
cians are called Oodik, or "Eaters" (Bak Oodogh) by the orthodox Armenians because 
of their disregard of the fasts of the church. 

8 The attention of scholars was first called to this document and its contents by 
Alexander Eritzian in the Portz of Tiflis for October, 1880, and the text of it was pub- 
lished by Professor Conybeare in 1898. If one who has not himself seen this manu- 
script may venture an opinion with regard to it, I should say that this is probably a 
copy made early in the last century from one which was made "in the province of 
Daron" in the year 1782. The error in the dating at the beginning of the manuscript — 
namely, 1882 instead of 1782 — seems to betray one who lived in the nineteenth century. 
According to testimony given by Paulicians of Arkhveli in 1838, the copy of 1782 was 
written by John Choushdak Vartabedian. This John's name, however, it should be 
noted, nowhere appears in our mutilated copy of "The Key of Truth." The name at 
the beginning of the fragmentary colophon, John Vahakouni, is not to be identified 
with it. The latter is not the name of a copyist, but of one of a number of persons who 
according to what follows, had requested the making of a copy in 1782. For a dis- 
cussion of the age of " The Key," see Conybeare's " Introduction," pp. 29 ff . 


surrender of the book, and numerous heretical words were carefully 
erased. Perhaps the bulk of the missing portions was not the most 
important to our purpose; and much of it was doubtless only a fuller 
exposition of teachings which are preserved, not adding materially to 
our understanding of those teachings; but one wishes that the fif- 
teenth chapter, which treats of "The Baptism of our Lord Jesus 
Christ and of His Elect Holy Apostles" (pp. 56-59 of manuscript), 
the missing pages of the nineteenth chapter (pp. 74-77), which treats 
of the conditions for baptism, and of that portion of the first of the 
supplementary chapters which treats of the creation of Adam and of 
Jesus Christ (pp. 126, 127), could be recovered. We are still, how- 
ever, able to learn much that is of importance of Paulician doctrine, 
and something of Paulician polity, from " The Key of Truth " as it is 
preserved in the archives of the synod of Etchmiadzin. 

In "The Key of Truth" we have one of the few monuments of 
primitive Christian thought which have been preserved. No char- 
acteristic of it is more striking than its simple scripturalness. One 
looks in it in vain for the speculative type of doctrine which was pre- 
eminently the product of Greek thought, and gave rise to the councils 
and the controversies of the orthodox church. Its simple biblical 
character reminds one of apostolic days. The "Key's" idea of a 
Christian is characteristic — not a man who has the "orthodox" 
doctrine, but simply one who knows the Lord Jesus and keeps his 
commandments (p. 56).° While it contains next to nothing which is 
peculiarly Armenian, "The Key of Truth" represents that type of 
thought which would best have flourished on Armenian soil. With 
not a grain of speculation in its make-up, the Armenian mind was 
best adapted to develop a "Key of Truth" type of Christianity 
which in modern times only the advanced Protestantism of our day 
has been able to achieve. A system of doctrine, and a very con- 
sistent one, may indeed be easily derived from the "Key." But in 
what follows it should be remembered that the christological and 
trinitarian problems which so appealed to the Greek mind find no 
place in it. The writer of the "Key" never seems to have thought 
of them. 

The Christology of the "Key" is Unitarian of the Adoptionist 

9 This and all subsequent references are to Conybeare's text. 


type. Having this ancient relic of Armenian Paulicianism in our 
hands today, we can see that Gregory Magistros spoke with a knowl- 
edge of the facts in the case when he referred the origin of the Pauli- 
cians to the bishop of Antioch and third-century Adoptionist Uni- 
tarian leader, saying: "Here, then, you see the Paulicians who got 
their poison from Paul of Samosata." 

While orthodox writers find in the infant Jesus God incarnate, 
and declare Mary to be mother of God and David to be father of 
God, the " Key " steers clear of all such mysteries. Nothing in it is 
more strongly emphasized than the undisguised humanity of our 
Lord. Without also a trace of Docetism, it contains no hint that 
the body of our Lord is a different kind of body from ours, or that his 
birth was unreal. Christ — so the "Key" teaches — was born a man. 
Inasmuch, however, as he was conceived by the Holy Ghost, his 
birth was miraculous. He was born the new Adam, and he was 
without either original or actual sin. As a man he lived for thirty 
years. At the beginning of his public ministry he was led by the 
Spirit to seek baptism at the hand of John; and when he was bap- 
tized he saw the Spirit descend upon himself and heard the voice: 
"This is my beloved Son." To him that was the hour of his adop- 
tion. Born a man, he was then adopted to be the Son of God. For 
then it was that he received his authority, and the offices of high- 
priest, king, and chief shepherd. Then was he chosen, and glorified, 
and strengthened. Then he became the light of the world, the way, 
the truth, the life. Then he became the gate of heaven, the founda- 
tion of our faith, and the savior of sinners. Then he was filled with 
the Godhead; then be became the loved one and the lamb without 
blemish. " Then he also put on the former robe of light which Adam 
lost in Paradise. Then he was called upon by the Spirit of God to 
commune with the Heavenly Father. And then he was appointed 
King over all things in heaven and on earth and under the earth" 
(PP- 5, 6). 

Regarding Christ as the adopted and glorified Son of God, "The 
Key of Truth " lays little stress on the atonement. Christ's sufferings 
and death are indeed not ignored in it, and the communion of the 
body and blood of Christ is laid down as one of the essentials of sal- 
vation (p. 59). But the "Key" lays emphasis on the life of Christ, 


rather than on his death, as the ground of human salvation. It is 
the living Man Jesus who fulfils all righteousness for us; it is the 
living and glorified Son that intercedes for us at his Father's right 

The Adoptionist Christology is in the "Key" the basis for exclu- 
sive adult baptism. As Christ received adoption only when he was 
able to be led by the Spirit of God, so the believer can receive the seal 
of his discipleship only when he has attained to an age of responsible 
maturity. Nothing, therefore, is more emphatically denounced in 
the " Key " than infant baptism. On the eighth day after the birth of 
a child, when a Christian name is given to it (Luke 2 121), the "elect 
one" should visit the parents and give them spiritual advice that they 
may bring up the child "in godliness, in faith, in hope, in love, and 
in all other good works" (p. 20). But the infant, conscious neither 
of original nor of actual sin (pp. 57, 58), is capable of no repentance, 
and baptism can be bestowed only upon one who seeks it with repent- 
ance and tears. No baptism, the "Key" also teaches, is valid with- 
out the exercise of personal faith. In support of this contention such 
passages are appealed to as the following: "He that believeth and is 
baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be con- 
demned" (Mark 16:16). "But when they believed Philip preach- 
ing good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of 
Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). 

The "Key" has no such verbal distinctions to make as "baptism 
unto repentance" and "baptism unto faith" — "Johannine baptism 
by water" and "Christian baptism by the Spirit." But Professor 
Conybeare's statement that in the "Key" Christian baptism is 
"expressly identified with the baptism of John, which was not by 
the Spirit and fire, but by water only," rather misplaces the emphasis 
in the case. Rather is John's baptism identified with Christ's and 
his apostles'. John's baptism itself is "the baptism of our Lord 
Jesus Christ" (p. 2). In fact, there seems to have been but one true 
baptism in the mind of the writer of the "Key" (pp. 21, 25), and 
that the baptism of a new life in Christ — of "regeneration" — which 
as such is the second of the Christian sacraments (p. 20). In the 
"Key" John's baptism itself, no less than Christ's own, has for its 
final object the Lord Jesus Christ; it is, in fact, only the prelude of 


that message: "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin 
of the world" (pp. 3, 5). John himself preaches and teaches, calls to 
repentance and faith, then washes away the filth of the body — all 
preliminary to the Lord's bestowing "spiritual salvation" as the 
Lamb of God and our Intercessor (p. 3). If Johannine baptism 
receives any emphasis in the "Key" at all, it does so only as Christ 
himself, the believer's exemplar, stands in it as its central figure. 
As a call to repentance it is something more than merely a call to 
a renunciation of sins — it is a call to faith, to a knowledge of Christ, 
and to a baptism of the Spirit of the Heavenly Father (pp. 3, 4). The 
baptism by water, in that case, if it is to mean anything at all, must 
immediately be followed by the believer's adoption as a disciple of 
Christ. In itself a mere washing of the body, it should become the 
occasion of a surrender of one's self to Christ and an anointing by 
the Holy Spirit. This conception — not of two baptisms essentially 
different, but of one baptism, the baptism of adoption, of which 
John's ceremonial baptism is only a prelude and type — is imaged in 
the baptismal service of the "Key" in an interesting ritual (p. 33), 
which Professor Conybeare's translation fails to bring out. As the 
catechumen kneels in the water, the elect one pours some water on 
his head, "reserving the thought, the form, and the intention" of 
baptism — that is, without yet actually administering the sacrament 
either in thought and intention, or in the threefold pouring of water — 
and declares him baptized, in the name of Father, Son, and Holy 
Spirit. Then the Christian rite follows: the elect one baptizes the 
catechumen " in thought, in word, and in act " — in his own intention, 
in the use of the trinitarian formula, and in the corresponding three- 
fold pouring of water — when the catechumen is loosed from the bonds 
of Satan by the Father, is inspired with the hope of salvation by the 
Son, and is endued with love by the indwelling Spirit. As after the 
ceremony of water-baptism the elect one reads passages on Jesus' 
coming to the Jordan to be baptized of John (Matt. 3:13; Mark 1:9; 
Luke 3:21; John 1:29), so after the Christian rite of adoption he 
reads the accounts of Christ's adoption (in Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 
1 : 9-1 1, etc.) and of the gift of the Spirit to the apostles in Acts 2 : 1-4, 
and offers up a prayer of thanksgiving to the Father who has made 
his servant worthy to be baptized "in the name of his only-begotten 


Son," and a petition to the Son to receive the catechumen among his 
disciples, and to bestow upon him the spirit of his Father. This 
Paulician baptismal service, in thus making water-baptism a prelude 
to a baptism and adoption in Christ, prefigures that passage from 
Paul which is later so appropriately read by the elect one : " So that 
the law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might 
be justified by faith. But now that faith is come, we are no longer 
under a tutor. For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ 
Jesus" (Gal. 3:24-29). 

If the Paulicians regarded their baptism to be, as a Christian rite, 
essentially a baptism by the Spirit, then we should expect them not 
to have been over-scrupulous about the symbolic form of it. And 
such we find to have been actually the case. Their regular mode of 
baptism, as we find it in the "Key," is that combination of immersion 
and pouring which is known to be of very ancient origin in the Chris- 
tian church. The candidate kneels in the water (p. 32), and the 
elect one pours three handfuls of water on his head, severally in the 
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This 
mode was observed by two Paulician converts from Gumri who were 
baptized in a stream in the neighborhood of Arkhveli in 1837. But 
we have seen that the Paulicians of Gumri affirmed that according to 
Paulician teaching a handful of water was enough for baptism, and 
in Arkhveli some were baptized in the same year from a bowl of water 
in a stable and in a private room. 

When we come to the question of the polity of the Paulician 
church we find ourselves somewhat on debatable ground. For "The 
Key of Truth," being, as it is, merely a manual for the use of the 
clergy of the church, furnishes only incidental information on this 
point. The question turns on this one problem: Were the "rulers" 
spoken of in the " Key " lay elders or ordained presbyters ? Professor 
Conybeare, judging from the derivation of words (the word for 
"ruler" — ishkhan — having the same derivation as the term which 
designates the office of the "elect one" — ishkhanoutioun), thinks it 
probable that the ruler was an ordained presbyter or elect one. His 
argument from orthodox analogy, however, is not conclusive; for 
in the modern orthodox Armenian church itself, while the priest's 
office may be designated as ishkhanoutioun, the ishkhank are lay 


elders or trustees. For the following reasons it seems more probable 
to the present writer that the ruler was a layman: (1) The two 
offices of "elect one" and "ruler" are clearly distinguished in the 
nomenclature of the "Key." The elect one is the "elect one of 
Christ," a sort of vicar of Christ in the church, endued with his 
Spirit and vested with his mission on earth. The rulers represent 
the universal and apostolic church, and stand in the place of the 
apostles of Christ. The rulers and arch-rulers are also "elders." 
The elect one is also "teacher," " doctor," "primate," "bishop," 
"priest," "apostle," all of which terms are used interchangeably in 
the "Key." But none of the names designating the pastoral office 
is used interchangeably with "ruler," "arch-ruler," or "elder." 
(2) In the ceremony of ordination the rulers seem to identify them- 
selves with the congregation and to be so identified by the elect one 
(pp. 43, 44). The rulers bring the candidate before the elect one 
and request him to ordain him in these words: "Holy father, falling 
down on our faces, we beseech, pray, and entreat thee with fervent 
love, to ordain this man for the government oj our souls." Then the 
elect one addresses the rulers in these words: "Now you who desire 
to have this man as your shepherd, have you tested him well, as I have 
tested him with much loving scrutiny ?" To which question of "the 
apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ" the rulers reply: "Yes, our excel- 
lent father; for all that thy lordship saith we have fulfilled by God's 
help." Then the elect one says to the rulers and to all the hearers: "I 
am free from responsibility in this matter, and yourselves are respon- 
sible." (3) There is a noteworthy divergence of usage between the 
baptismal service and the ordinal of the "Key" which must be 
explained on the assumption of a corresponding distinction in the 
offices of the church. While the candidate for baptism is examined 
as to his faith "before the elect one and all the rulers" (p. 29), much 
as he is examined before the church session of a Presbyterian church, 
it is expressly provided that none but an elect one shall perform the 
ceremony of baptism (p. 30). It is otherwise with the ceremony of 
ordination. Not only do the rulers as well as the elect one examine 
the candidate for ordination with respect to his qualifications, but 
they also take an active part in the laying on of hands. Baptism 
was a sacrament, and could be administered only by an elect one. 


Ordination was not a sacrament, and could therefore be very properly 
participated in by the representatives of the people. (4) The sove- 
reignty of the people in the appointment of their clergy was a recog- 
nized fact in the Paulician church. The final responsibility of the 
ordination of a candidate, we have seen, rested with the rulers and 
the people. Such expressions also of the orthodox Armenian writers, 
otherwise obscure, as "their self-conferred contemptible priesthood" 
(Gregory of Narek), and "their outlandish election by consent" 
(Gregory Magistros), are best explained on the supposition that the 
right of ordination in the Paulician church was vested in the lay 
membership of the church. If this was the case, a lay presbyterate 
exercising authority in the people's name becomes a strong probability 
in the government of the Paulician church. 

Taking these considerations in conjunction, we may affirm, with 
a degree of certainty, that the Paulician ruler was a lay elder, and 
that the polity of the Paulician church was a sort of Presbyterianism. 
Beyond that general statement, however, we cannot venture; and 
what the difference was between rulers and arch-rulers we have no 
means of determining. 

The Paulician clergy were not a priesthood. The Paulicians did 
not draw that hard and fast line between the clergy and the laity 
which the orthodox churches drew. A characteristic clerical quali- 
fication laid down in the "Key" is that the elect one should be neither 
taller nor shorter in stature than ordinary men. The believer was 
supposed to receive the Spirit at his baptism; the elect one received 
the Spirit for his special calling at his ordination. Both were said to 
be received into the number of Christ's disciples. And such a prayer 
as this in the ordinal, "Establish thou this thine elect one in those 
works which thou hast committed to all thine elect and to all those 
who believe on thee" (p. 50), would seem to indicate that the Pauli- 
cians, after all, believed in the apostleship of all believers. 

As the Paulicians had no priesthood exalted above the common 
laity, so they had no hierarchy, and believed strictly in the parity of 
the clergy. To them there was no high or low in the ministry, no 
great or small, and no apostolic succession except such as was con- 
ferred directly by Christ by the laying on of hands of the candidate's 
own fellow-believers. 


To come to the Paulician ordinal. It was the elect one's special 
duty to examine the candidate, 

to see if he has perfect wisdom, love which is greater than all things, discretion, 
meekness, humility, righteousness, manliness, purity, and the gift of speech. 
Also whether he has continence, patience, the ability to govern, fitness for the 
pastoral office, love of the poor, pity and tact, and all other good qualities, and 
repentance along with a keen conscience. (P. 39.) 

In connection with the candidate's ordination the ceremony of 
"changing the name" was observed. The rulers came forward at 
the motion of the elect one and laid their hands on the candidate's 
head. Then the elect one handed him the New Testament and 
asked: "What is thy name, my beloved son?" To which the can- 
didate answered: "The name of thy servant is Simon." (The 
manuscript has it, "Peter," which must be a copyist's error. For 
the words immediately follow: "Then the apostle shall change his 
name according to the gospel" [see John 1 :42, and Matt. 16:17, 18].) 
His name was thereupon changed to Peter, after which he was given 
his "authority" in these terms: "Receive thou authority to bind and 
to loose the sons of men in heaven and on earth" (p. 45). This 
authority, however, placed no priestly powers of absolution in the 
hands of the candidate. For to the writer of the "Key" auricular 
confession, priestly absolution, purgatory, the pretenses of popes and 
patriarchs and prelates, are all an abomination. 

The second half of the ordaining prayer is worth reproducing 
here. It was offered in concert by the elect one and the rulers, as 
they held their hands on high, and was addressed to Christ : 

O thou life and refuge, mediator and intercessor, now head of things in 
heaven and on earth and under the earth, thou gate of heaven, the way of truth, 
and life unto those who rightly believe on thee, who hast promised in thy word 
of truth, "Whosoever cometh unto me shall not remain in the darkness," and 
"Him who cometh unto me I shall not cast out," do thou, we beseech thee, 
entreat thee, and pray thee, now falling down upon our faces at thy feet with 
fervent love and bitter tears, send the Grace of thy Father unto this man who 
hath been baptized in thy holy name and hath been elected in the Holy Spirit 
of thy Father, and now waits for thy promise of truth, "Tarry ye in the city of 
Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high," that it may set in order 
his spirit and mind and body, and cleanse him of all evil thoughts; and do thou 
give unto him thy Spirit which thou didst receive of the Father at the River 
Jordan; strengthen thou him and open, Lord, his mind to know the Scriptures 


and to take up the cross willingly and to come after thee now and ever and unto 
the eternities of eternities. Amen. (P. 46.) 

At the close of the ordaining prayer the elect one breathed on the can- 
didate thrice, saying : " May the breath of our Lord Jesus Christ open 
thy mind, my beloved son, and establish thee in thy works." The 
actual gift of the Holy Spirit was supposed to be experienced by a forty 
days' study of the New Testament under the elect one's direction, in 
imitation of the forty days which Christ spent in the wilderness. 

Of sacraments "The Key of Truth" recognizes only three, namely, 
repentance, baptism or regeneration, and the communion of the body 
and blood of the Lord. When Christ said, "This is my body," the 
Spirit of the Father had actually changed the bread into his body; and 
the "Key" would appear to teach some sort of transubstantiation 
effected by the elect one. For when Christ said explicitly, "This is 
my body," he had in mind the fact "that there were to come false 
popes who should change [the elements] according to their own good 
pleasure — who should deceive men with plain bread, or change it 
into their own body and blood and not into those 0} Christ" (p. 64). 
Such a statement, however, should be taken with caution. It can- 
not be a deliberate statement of fact, much less can it imply what 
Professor Conybeare holds to be true, namely, that the Paulicians 
believed that their elect one changed the bread into his own spiritual 
body and thereby into the body of Christ. 

The calumny or ignorance of orthodox writers had led students of 
Paulicianism to believe that the Paulicians rejected the Old Testa- 
ment and the writings of the apostle Peter. But we have seen that 
the Paulicians of Gumri spoke approvingly of the Decalogue. The 
story in Genesis of man's creation and fall is quoted in the "Key" as 
from the God-inspired Book; and we know from John of Otzin (eighth 
century) that the Paulicians quoted the prophets. As to Peter, he is 
never spoken of disparagingly in the " Key." On the contrary, his 
words are quoted as the words of a member of the Universal and 
Apostolic Church. Only, it is affirmed that "the Twelve," including 
Paul, are the " Universal Church," and not Peter alone. 

The Paulicians did not call themselves Paulicians or Tonrakians, 
but the Universal and Apostolic Church. To them the orthodox 
churches, by turning baptism into a magic art, had apostatized from 


the faith, lost their orders, and forfeited their sacraments. As to 
their mariolatry and adoration of saints and pictures and crosses, it 
was all nothing but idolatry. Says "The Key of Truth": 

Some have denied the precious mediation and intercession of the beloved 
Son of God, by going after the dead, and especially after pictures, stones, stocks, 
streams, trees, fountains and other vain things, which they accept and worship 
offering to them incense and candles and sacrifices, all which is contrary to the 
Godhead — all which our Lord trampled under his holy feet when he said, "I am 
the door: by me if any man go in and out, he shall enter and shall find 
pasture" (p. 53). 

A faith, sturdy and puritanic, on the eastern borders of the Roman 
Empire, Paulicianism, as we have already seen, once and again, 
sometimes by the daring and devotion of its votaries, sometimes by 
the impact of alien forces, was hurled upon the Christianized idolatry 
of the Greek world. But it bore more fruit in the western church 
than it did in the eastern. For the tenets of Paulicianism, planted 
in Europe in the eighth and tenth centuries, spread into Poland and 
Bohemia, into Italy and France, into the countries of the Rhine, and 
even into far-off England, everywhere preparing the way for the 
great Reformation which was to come. 

Nor were the Armenians to be left without a share in that great 
awakening. The bread which they cast upon the waters after many 
days returned to them again. 

In the nineteenth century Protestantism took the place of Pauli- 
cianism in the Orient. As in olden times Paulicianism was pre-emi- 
nently an Armenian heresy, so now Protestantism drew its adherents 
in the oriental churches almost exclusively from those of Arme- 
nian race. But Armenian Protestantism was destined to have a better 
lot than fell to the share of Armenian Paulicianism. Political condi- 
tions were much the same in the nineteenth as in preceding cen- 
turies; if the sultans of Turkey had succeeded the caliphs of Bagdad 
as the friends of iconoclasm, the Russian power would have succeeded 
the Byzantine as the champion of Greek Orthodoxy. But in one 
respect conditions were new; the Protestant powers of the world in 
the nineteenth century were a factor which was absent in olden times, 
and Armenian Protestantism found in them the strong support for 
which Armenian Paulicianism had vainly sighed.