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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity


from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world


Greek inscription with a pastoral letter from bishop Hypatios of Ephesos to his community, dealing with the provision of a free burial service by the church of Ephesos, and regulating the behavior of the members of two charitable groups attached to the church of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033). Found in Ephesos (western Asia Minor), 530-539.

Evidence ID

E00780

Type of Evidence

Inscriptions - Formal inscriptions (stone, mosaic, etc.)

Canonical and legal texts

  +
+ τοῖς κατὰ τὴν Ἐφεσίων πιστοῖς Ὑπάτιος
ὁ ἐλάχιστος ἐν Κυρίῳ χαίρειν. πᾶσαν
ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν ἑκουσίως ὑπομείνας ἀτρέπτως
κένωσιν Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν "ἐτα-
πείνωσεν ἑ[α]υτόν," ὥς φησιν ὁ θεῖος ἀπόσ-
τολος, "ἄχρι θανάτου, [θ]ανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ,"
καὶ μετὰ τὸν ζωοποιὸν αὐτοῦ σταυρὸν καὶ
θάνατον, ὡς ἡ τῶν εὐαγγελίων ὑφηγεῖ-
ται παράδοσις, ὑπὲρ ἀφάτου φιλανθρω-
πείας γυμνὸς καὶ ἄταφος ἀποριπτεῖται
καὶ πρὸς τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ κηδεύεται καὶ ἐν τῷ μνη-
μείῳ τῷ ἐκείνου τίθεται μέχρι τούτου κατὰ
πάντα ἡμῖν τοῖς ταπεινοῖς ὁμοιωθεὶς "χωρὶς
ἁμαρτίας." εἴ τις οὖν ἐπιμελησείη τὴν ὁσίαν
ταύτην θεραπείαν τε καὶ τιμὴν ἐπὶ τοῖς
προαναπαυσαμένοις ἡμῶν ἀδελφοῖς, γι-
νωσκέτω ταῦτα περὶ τὸν Κύριον ποιῶν· καὶ
γὰρ καὶ ἡ ἁγιωτάτη ἡμῶν ἐκκλησία τῆς πα-
ναγίας ἐνδόξου θεοτόκου καὶ ἀειπαρ-
θένου +Μαρίας καὶ τῆς τιμίας αὐτῶν ἐκφορᾶς
προενόησεν καὶ τοὺς εἰς τοῦτο διακονου-
μένους εὐαγεῖς δεκανοὺς καὶ τὰς εὐλα-
βεστάτας κανονικὰς παραμυθείαν ἔχειν
ἐκ τῶν ἑαυτῆς διετύπωσεν πραγμάτων,
ὡς μηδενὶ περιληφθῆναι φιλαργυρίας Ἰου-
δαϊκῆς πρόφασιν· καὶ εἴ τις ἀπὸ τοῦ νῦν
ὑπὲρ ἐκκομιδῆς τι λάβοι παρά τινος {λαβοι}
{πα} ἢ δῷ τινι τῶν ἐκκομιζόντων {περι}
ἢ περιφρονήσοι τῆς αὐτῶν τιμίας ἐκκο-
μιδῆς ἢ τοιοῦτό τι γεγονὸς μαθὼν μὴ
προσαγγείλῃ, πρῶτον μὲν ἴστω τὴν τοιαύ-
την ἀσέβειαν εἰς αὐτὸ τὸ τοῦ κυρίου σῶμα
τολμήσας, ἔπειτα καὶ ἡμῶν καὶ πασῶν
τῶν ἁγιωτάτων ἡμῶν ἐκκλησιῶν
ἀλλότριος ἔσται +

6. [ὥ]ς Guarducci || 12. κηδε[ύ]εται Guarducci || 15. ἐπιμελησεί[ε] Guarducci

'+ Hypatios, the humblest in the Lord, to the faithful in the (city) of the Ephesians, greetings. Jesus Christ, our God, having undergone willingly and without change the whole incarnation for us, “humbled himself” as the divine Apostle says “to death, even the death of the cross”; and, after his life-giving cross and death, as the tradition of the Gospels instructs us, out of his ineffable love for mankind, he is abandoned naked and unburied, and is prepared for burial by Joseph and he is placed in that man’s tomb – even in this becoming equal to our humble selves in everything “except sin”. So, if someone undertakes to administer this pious service and respect to our deceased brethren, let this man know that he is performing it for the Lord. Because our most holy church of the all-holy and glorious Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary has provided for their decent burial, and has arranged that the charitable brotherhood members (
dekanoi) performing this service, and the most pious religious women (kanonikai) should receive compensation from its own revenue, so that there may be left no pretext for Jewish greed to anyone. And, if someone, from now onwards, receives anything from anyone for funerary services, or pays one of those serving at funerals, or neglects decent burial, or, having knowledge about such an event, does not report it, first let him know that he has dared such an impiety against the body of the Lord itself, and then he will be alien to both us and all our most holy churches +.'

Text:
I. Ephesos, no. 4135. Translation: E. Rizos, P. Nowakowski.

Cult Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Non Liturgical Activity

Awarding privileges to cult centres
Cultic confraternities

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops
Women
Other lay individuals/ people

Source

A blue marble plaque, broken into 14 small fragments. Found in the narthex of the church of Mary in Ephesos. H. 2.19 m; W. 0.94 m; Th. 0.045 m.

Discussion

The inscription offers us a completely preserved monumental publication of a pastoral letter by bishop Hypatios of Ephesus (see PCBE 3, Hypatios 4). It is one of our primary sources for the study of legal procedures concerning Christian burials in provincial towns in the Justinianic period. The bishop says that members of two bodies of lay people served in burials, one male (dekanoi: a certain charitable brotherhood) and one female (kanonikai: probably religious/non monastic virgins or so-called "widows"), and were institutionally attached to the Ephesian church of *Mary receiving a regular salary from it. Therefore, it is forbidden for people to pay them for their services. The question here is the provision of a free burial service by the church of Ephesos, and the irregularities resulting from the greedy behaviour of the members of the two confraternities. Scholars agree that these regulations echo two of Justinian's novels issued in 537 (Nov. 43 and 59) which concerned funding burials in Constantinople (see Dagron 1991, 168-169; Feissel 2010, 47; PCBE 3, 466). It is, however, striking that confraternities responsible for burials in the capital were eligible to receive financial support from the state and various guilds, while those in Ephesos had to relay on limited ecclesiastical resources. In order to justify this regulation Hypatios recalls several passages from the New Testament (Philippians 2,7-8; Hebrews 4,15). These citations refer to the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea.

Interestingly, in the discussed letter we find elaborate titulature of mentioned saints which is unusual in inscriptions. *Paul is called the
divine Apostle (ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος) and *Mary is addressed as the all-holy, glorious Theotokos and ever-virgin Mary (παναγία, ἔνδοξος θεοτόκος καὶ ἀειπαρθένος Μαρία) which may be the official name of the church dedicated to her in Ephesos.

Bibliography

Edition:
Felle, A.E., Biblia epigraphica. La sacra scrittura nella documentazione epigrafica dell'«Orbis christianus antiquus» (III-VIII secolo) (Bari: Edipuglia, 2006), no. 453.

Die Inschriften von Ephesos
, no. 4135.

Guarducci, M. (ed.),
Epigrafia greca, vol. 4: Epigrafi sacre pagane e cristiane (Rome: Istituto Poligrafico dello Stato - Libreria dello Stato, 1978), 401-404.

Noll, R. (ed.),
Griechische und lateinische Inschriften der Wiener Antikensammlung (Vienna: Verlag Notring der wissenschaftlichen Verbände Österreichs, 1962), no. 60.

Grégoire, H. (ed.), Recueil des inscriptions grecques chrétiennes d'Asie Mineure, vol. 1 (Paris: Leroux, 1922), no. 108.

Keil, J., Reisch, E., Knoll, F. (eds.),
Forschungen in Ephesos, vol. 4/1: Die Marienkirche in Ephesos (Vienna: Selbstverlag des ÖAI Wien, 1932), no. 35.

Further Reading:
Dagron, G., " 'Ainsi rien n'échappera à la réglementation.' État, Église, corporations, confréries: à propos des inhumations à
Constantinople, IVe-Xe siècle", in: V. Kravari, J. Lefort, C. Morrisson (eds.),
Hommes et richesses dans l'Empire Byzantin, vol. 2: VIIIe-XVe siècles (Paris, 1991), 168-169.

Destephen, S.,
Prosopographie du Diocese d'Asie (325-641) (Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire 3, Paris: Association des amis du centre d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2008), 466.

Feissel, D., "Épigrahie administrative et topographie urbaine: l'emplacement des actes inscrits dans l'Éphèse protobyzantine (IVe – VIe s.)", in: R. Pillinger, O. Kersten, F. Krinzinger, O. Russo (eds.),
Efeso paleocristiana e bizantina (Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1999), 121-132.

Feissel, D.,
Documents, droit, diplomatique de l'Empire romain tardif (Bilans de recherche 7, Paris, 2010), 47.

For the career of the bishop Hypatios see:
Alexander, P.J., "Hypatius of Ephesus: A note on image worship in the sixth century", The Harvard Theological Review 45 (1952), 177-184.

Destephen, S.,
Prosopographie du Diocese d'Asie (325-641) (Prosopographie chrétienne du Bas-Empire 3, Paris: Association des amis du centre d'histoire et civilisation de Byzance, 2008), Hypatios 4.

Images



From: FiE 4/1, 102.
























Record Created By

Pawel Nowakowski, Efthymios Rizos

Date Last Modified

06/01/2018

Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristΜαρίαCertain


Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
Pawel Nowakowski, Efthymios Rizos, Cult of Saints, E00780 - http://csla.history.ox.ac.uk/record.php?recid=E00780