Peter the Iberian
Peter the Iberian (Georgian: პეტრე იბერი, romanized: p'et're iberi) (c. 417-491) was a Georgian royal prince, theologian and philosopher who was a prominent figure in early Christianity and one of the founders of Christian Neoplatonism. Some have claimed that he is the author known conventionally as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.
Peter the Iberian
|Bishop of Majuma|
Kingdom of Iberia
|Died||2 December, 491|
|Venerated in||Oriental Orthodox Churches|
|Feast||27 November & 1 December (Syriac Christianity)|
He was born into the royal Chosroid dynasty of the Kings of Iberia (Eastern Georgia) and was initially named Murvan (alternatively, Nabarnugios), Prince of Iberia (Kartli). His father, King Bosmarios of Iberia, invited noted philosopher Mithradates from Lazica to take part in Murvan's education. For a time, the child was kept hidden so as not to be delivered as a hostage to the Persians.
In 429, at the age of about twelve, the prince was sent as a political hostage to Constantinople to ensure the loyalty of Iberia to the Byzantines rather than to the Persians. Here he received a brilliant education under a personal patronage of the Roman empress Aelia Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II.
According to his biographer, John Rufus, Peter refused to write to or receive letters from home lest it undermine his ascetic discipline. When he was about twenty, the young prince, together with his mentor Mithradates, left the palace and escaped to make a pilgrimage to Palestine, where he became a monk at Jerusalem under the name of Peter. In 430, he founded his own monastery at Bethlehem (later known as the Georgian Monastery of Bethlehem). In 445, he was ordained as a priest. Accompanied by Mithradates (now called John), he traveled across several countries of the Near East and finally settled in Majuma near Gaza.
In 452, he was consecrated bishop of Majuma by Patriarch Theodosius. He only served for six months before some Christians were banished by the decree of the local ruler. Peter escaped to Egypt, where he found refuge in the Enaton, but returned to Palestine a decade later. He gained numerous followers and disciples. According to the medieval sources, he was an author of several famous religious works. However, none of them survived to be written under the name of Peter.
Position vs. Chalcedonian creedEdit
Various eastern Churches believe that he deviated from the Chalcedonian doctrine. These Churches affirm that Peter the Iberian was a Miaphysite and an anti-Chaldeonian, whereas this view is not shared by some individuals in the Georgian Orthodox Church. Although his biographies do not discuss this issue, some of the scholars who side with the Armenian sources accept the idea that he was an anti-Chaldeonian, while others do not. For example, David Marshall Lang believes in the possibility that he was a Monophysite, while Shalva Nutsubidze  and Ernest Honingmann  believe that he was a Neoplatonic philosopher. 
Status in the Orthodox ChurchEdit
Some Georgian Orthodox clerics have spoken of Peter as an Orthodox saint, despite him being commonly associated with Monophysite viewpoints. Following a push for his canonization, the issue was brought before the Holy Synod of the Georgian Orthodox Church in 2010, but ultimately the Synod did not canonize him, putting the issue on hold. Around the same time, prolific Georgian Orthodox author Edisher Chelidze wrote a book titled On Peter the Iberian, denouncing the attempts to canonize Peter by pointing out the gravity of his anti-Chalcedonian leanings given the Orthodox position, and saying that such a move would be tantamount to canonizing Arius or Nestorius.
Chelidze's views, as well as the lack of an affirmative decision by the synod, were in line with the synodal letter which Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem addressed to the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, in which he declared Peter anathema, calling him "the defilement from Iberia of barbarian mind, who introduced another headless heresy among the Headless Ones." This synodal letter was approved by the Third Council of Constantinople in 681, considered ecumenical by the Orthodox Church, and thus the official status of Peter of Iberia in Orthodoxy has been, and remains, that of a heretic.
Peter's Vita was written by his disciple, John Rufus (John of Beth Rufina), later his successor as bishop of Maiuma.
- Bishop Anania Saint Petre Iberi 2015, Tbilisi
- Peter the Iberian The Syriac Biographical Dictionary
- Sh. Nutsubidze. "Mystery of Pseudo-Dionys Areopagit (a monograph), Tbilisi, 1942; E. Honigmann, Pierre l'Iberian et les ecrits du Pseudo-Denys l'Areopagita. Bruxelles, 1952.
- Horn, Cornelia B. and Phenix, Robert R., The Lives of Peter the Iberian, Theodosius of Jerusalem, and the Monk Romanus, Society of Biblical Lit, 2008 ISBN 9781589832008
- Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints, (David Marshall Lang, trans.)
- ""Peter the Iberian", Kofsky, Aryeh" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-06. Retrieved 2013-01-17.
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- Horn, Cornelia B. (2006), Asceticism And Christological Controversy in Fifth-century Palestine: The Career of Peter The Iberian. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-927753-2.
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- David Marshall Lang, "Peter the Iberian and His Biographers". Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 2 (1951), pp 156–168
- Jan-Eric Steppa, John Rufus and the World Vision of Anti-Chalcedonian Culture, (Gorgias Press, 2002), xxvii + 199 pp. ISBN 1-931956-09-X
- Ernest Honigmann, Pierre l'iberian et les ecrits du Pseudo-Denys l'Aréopagite, Bruxelles, 1952 (French)
- Petre Iberi. Works, Tbilisi, 1961 (Georgian)
- Shalva Nutsubidze. Mystery of Pseudo-Dionys Areopagit, Tbilisi, 1942 (Georgian, English summary)
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