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27. CAPPADOX, or the CAPPADOCIAN (1). John the Cappadocian was made patriarch of Constantinople (he was the second patriarch of the name of John, Chrysostom being John I,) A. D. 517 or 518, a short time before the death of the aged emperor Anastasius. Of his previous history and opinions we have little or no information, except that he was, before his election to the patriarchate, a presbyter and syncellus of Constantinople. Subsequent events rather indicate that his original leaning was to the opponents of the Council of Chalcedon : but he had either too little firmness or too little principle to follow out steadily the inclination of his own mind, but appears to have been in a great degree the tool of others. On the death of Anastasius and the accession of Justin I. the orthodox party among the inhabitants of Constantinople raised a tumult, and compelled John to anathematize Severus of Antioch, and to insert in the diptychs the names of the fathers of the Council of Chalcedon, and restore to them those of the patriarchs Euphemius and Macedonius. These diptyehs were two tables of ecclesiastical dignitaries, one containing those who were living, and the other those who had died, in the peace and communion of the church, so that insertion was a virtual declaration of orthodoxy; erasure, of heresy or schism. These measures, extorted in the first instance by popular violence, were afterwards sanctioned by a synod of forty bishops. In A. D. 519 John, at the desire and almost at the command of the emperor Justin, sought a reconciliation with the Western church, from which, during the reign of Anastasius, the Eastern churches had been disunited. John accepted the conditions of pope Hormisdas, and anathematized the opponents of the Council of Chalcedon, erasing from the diptychs the names of Acacius, Euphemius, and Macedonius, three of his predecessors, and inserting those of popes Leo I. and Hormisdas himself. Hormisdas, on this, wrote a congratulatory letter to John, exhorting him to seek to bring about the reconciliation of the patriarchs of Antioch and Alexandria to the orthodox church. John the Cappadocian died about the beginning or middle of the year 520, as appears by a letter of Hormisdas to his successor, Epiphanius.



John the Cappadocian wrote several letters or other papers, a few of which are still extant.


Two short letters (Ἐπιστολαί), one to Joannes or John, patriarch of Jerusalem, and one to Epiphanius, bishop of Tyre, are printed in Greek, with a Latin version, in the Concilia, among the documents relating to the Council of Constantinople in A. D. 536. (Vol. v. col. 185, ed. Labbe, vol. viii. col. 1065-1067, ed. Mansi.)

Four Relationes or Libelli are extant only in a Latin version among the Epistolae of pope Hormisdas in the Concilia. (Vol. iv. col. 1472, 1486, 1491, 1521, ed. Labbe; vol. viii. col. 436, 451, 457, 488, ed. Mansi.)

Possible Confusion with another John of Cappadocia

It is remarkable that in the two short Greek letters addressed to Eastern prelates, John takes the title of οἰκουμενικὸς πατριάρχης, oecumenical, or universal patriarch, and is supposed to be the first that assumed this ambitious designation. It is remarkable, however, that in those pieces of his, which were addressed to pope Hormisdas, and which are extant only in the Latin version, the title does not appear; and circumstances are not wanting to lead to the suspicion that its presence in the Greek epistles is owing to the mistake of some transcriber, who has confounded this John the Cappadocian with the subject of the next article. It is certainly remarkable that the title, if assumed, should have incurred no rebuke from the jealousy of the popes, not to speak of the other patriarchs equal in dignity to John; or that. if once assumed, it should have been dropped again, which it must have been, since the employment of it by the younger John of Cappadocia, many years after, was violently opposed by pope Gregory I. as an unauthorized assumption. [JOANNES CAPPADOX, 2.] We may conjecture, perhaps, that it was assumed by the patriarchs of Constantinople without opposition from their fellow-prelates in the East during the schism of the Eastern and Western churches, and quietly dropped on the termination of the schism, that it might not prevent the reestablishment of friendly relations.

Further Information

Theophanes, Chronog. pp. 140-142, ed. Paris, pp. 112, 113, ed. Venice, pp. 253-256, ed. Bonn; Cave, Hist. Litt. vol. i. p. 503; Fabric. Bibl. Gr. vol. xi. p. 99.

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