Tarsus (West Syrian Diocese)
The city of Tarsus was a Syrian Orthodox archdiocese, attested between the seventh and thirteenth centuries. Nearly twenty Syrian Orthodox metropolitans of Tarsus are mentioned either by Michael the Syrian or in other Syrian Orthodox narrative sources. The archdiocese is last mentioned towards the end of the thirteenth century, and seems to have lapsed during the fourteenth century.
The main primary source for the Syrian Orthodox metropolitans of Tarsus is the record of episcopal consecrations appended to Volume III of the Chronicle of the Syrian Orthodox patriarch Michael the Syrian (1166–99). In this Appendix Michael listed most of the bishops consecrated by the Syrian Orthodox patriarchs of Antioch between the ninth and twelfth centuries. Twenty-eight Syrian Orthodox patriarchs sat during this period, and in many cases Michael was able to list the names of the bishops consecrated during their reigns, their monasteries of origin, and the place where they were consecrated. For the thirteenth century, Michael's lists are supplemented by several references in other Syrian Orthodox narrative sources.
Tarsus, famed in Christian tradition as the birthplace of Saint Paul, was the metropolis of the Chalcedonian ecclesiastical province of Cilicia Prima. It was an obvious site for a Syrian Orthodox diocese, and may have been the seat of a Syrian Orthodox bishop or metropolitan as early as the sixth century.
Metropolitans of Tarsus
The earliest-known Syrian Orthodox metropolitan of Tarsus was Yohannan bar ʿEbrayta ('son of the Jew'), who consecrated the patriarch Severus bar Mashqe in 668.
Sixteen Syrian Orthodox metropolitans of Tarsus from the end of the eighth century to the end of the twelfth century are mentioned in the lists of Michael the Syrian.
|Name||From||Consecrated in the reign of||Place of consecration|
|Athanasius||not known||Quriaqos (793–817)||Harran|
|Gabriel||Monastery of Mar Shlemun||Quriaqos (793–817)||not known|
|Habib||not known||Quriaqos (793–817)||not known|
|Anastasius||Monastery of Saphylos||Yohannan III (847–74)||not known|
|Laʿzar||Monastery of the Easterners||Yohannan III (847–74)||not known|
|Laʿzar||'The great monastery of Samosata'||Theodosius Romanus (887–95)||not known|
|Cyril||Monastery of Bizona||Dionysius II (896–909)||not known|
|Athanasius||not known||Dionysius II (896–909)||not known|
|Athanasius||not known||Yohannan V (936–53)||not known|
|Jeremy||not known||Yohannan V (936–53)||not known|
|Paul||Monastery of Modiq||Athanasius IV Laʿzar (987–1003)||not known|
|Athanasius||Monastery of Mar Sargis and Mar Bacchus||Yohannan VII Bar ʿAbdon (1004–30)||not known|
|Abraham||Monastery of Nahra of Callinicus||Yohannan VII Bar ʿAbdon (1004–30)||not known|
|Basil||not known||Yohannan bar ʿAbdon (1042–57)||not known|
|Timothy||Monastery of Habib||Athanasius VI bar Khamara (1091–1129)||not known|
|Yohannan||Monastery of Dovair||Michael I (1166–99)||not known|
Further details for this period are provided in Michael’s narrative and in other Syrian Orthodox narrative sources. The metropolitan Habib of Tarsus (793/817) consecrated the patriarch Yohannan III in 847. The metropolitan Athanasius of Tarsus (896/909) consecrated the patriarch Yohannan V in 936. The metropolitan Athanasius of Tarsus, consecrated in the reign of the patriarch Dionysius IV Heheh (1032–42), is apparently mentioned by Michael the Syrian, though he does not feature in Michael’s lists. The metropolitan Basil of Tarsus (1042/57) was the secretary of the patriarch Yohannan bar ʿAbdon.
The archdiocese of Tarsus evidently continued to flourish into the thirteenth century, though there are only two brief references to its metropolitans. The metropolitan Athanasius of Tarsus was present at a synod held in 1264. The metropolitan Yohannan of Tarsus, 'from the monastery of Mar Hnanya', was among the fifteen bishops consecrated by the patriarch Philoxenus Nemrud (1283–92).
The archdiocese of Tarsus is not mentioned in any later source, and probably lapsed during the fourteenth century.
- Fiey, POCN, 271–2
- Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, iii. 449; Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, i. 282
- Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, iii. 451–82 and 503
- Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, iii. 456; Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, i. 388
- Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, iii. 463; Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum, i. 400
- Fiey, POCN, 271
- Michael the Syrian, Chronicle, iii. 472
- Fiey, POCN, 271
- MS Cambridge Dd.3.82, folio 5a
- Abbeloos, Jean Baptiste; Lamy, Thomas Joseph, eds. (1877). Bar Hebraeus, Chronicon Ecclesiasticum (3 vols). Paris.
- Fiey, J.M. (1993). Pour un Oriens Christianus novus; répertoire des diocèses Syriaques orientaux et occidentaux. Beirut. ISBN 3-515-05718-8.
- Jean-Baptiste Chabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Patriarche Jacobite d'Antiche (1166-1199). Éditée pour la première fois et traduite en francais I-IV (1899;1901;1905;1910; a supplement to volume I containing an introduction to Michael and his work, corrections, and an index, was published in 1924. Reprinted in four volumes 1963, 2010).
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