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Headword: Παφνούτιος
Adler number: pi,828
Translated headword: Paphnoutios, Paphnutius
Vetting Status: high
Bishop of one of the cities of Upper Thebes,[1] a man loved by God and a worker of miracles. In the time of the persecution[2] one of his eyes was put out. The emperor[3] used to summon him and kiss his eye. The bishops in council[4] decided to introduce a novel rule for the church, that those in holy orders, that is bishops, presbyters, deacons, and subdeacons, should not sleep with the wives whom they had married while they were still laymen. When it was time to discuss this matter, Paphnutius stood up in the middle of the assembly of bishops and cried out in a loud voice that they should not lay a heavy yoke on men in holy orders, saying that marriage was honorable, lest they harm the church more by excessive strictness. For not everyone can bear ascesis of passionlessness, nor perhaps will the chastity of each man's wife be maintained. And he called the intercourse with one's lawful wife 'chastity'; it was sufficient for one who had attained the rank of the clergy no longer to enter into marriage, according to the ancient tradition of the church, but not to be separated from her with whom already earlier he had joined in a single[5] marriage while a layman. And he said this, having no experience of marriage or -- to speak plainly -- of any woman; for from childhood he had been raised among ascetics and was renowned for chastity more than any other. And the whole assembly of the clergy was persuaded by Paphnutius' words, and they silenced the inquiry concerning this matter, leaving it to the judgment of those who wished to abstain from intercourse with their wives.
Greek Original:
Παφνούτιος, μιᾶς πόλεως τῶν ἄνω Θηβῶν ἐπίσκοπος, ἀνὴρ θεοφιλὴς καὶ σημειοφόρος: ὃς ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τοῦ διωγμοῦ τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν ἐξεκόπη. τοῦτον ὁ βασιλεὺς μετεπέμπετο καὶ αὐτοῦ τὸν ὀφθαλμὸν κατεφίλει. ἐδόκει δὲ κατὰ σύνοδον τοῖς ἐπισκόποις νόμον νεαρὸν ἐς τὴν ἐκκλησίαν ἐσφέρειν, ὥστε τοὺς ἱερωμένους, λέγω δὴ ἐπισκόπους, πρεσβυτέρους, διακόνους, ὑποδιακόνους, μὴ συγκαθεύδειν ταῖς γαμεταῖς, ἃς ἔτι λαϊκοὶ ὄντες ἠγάγοντο. καὶ ἐπεὶ περὶ τούτου βουλεύεσθαι προὔκειτο, διαναστὰς ἐν μέσῳ τοῦ συλλόγου τῶν ἐπισκόπων ὁ Παφνούτιος ἐβόα μακρά, μὴ βαρὺν ζυγὸν ἐπιτιθέναι τοῖς ἱερωμένοις ἀνδράσι, τίμιον εἶναι τὸν γάμον λέγων, μὴ τῇ ὑπερβολῇ τῆς ἀκριβείας μᾶλλον τὴν ἐκκλησίαν προσβλάψωσιν. οὐ γὰρ πάντας δύνασθαι φέρειν τῆς ἀπαθείας ἄσκησιν, οὐδὲ ἴσως φυλαχθήσεσθαι τὴν σωφροσύνην τῆς ἑκάστου γαμετῆς: καὶ σωφροσύνην ἐκάλει τῆς νομίμου γυναικὸς τὴν συνέλευσιν: ἀρκεῖσθαί τε τὸν φθάσαντα κλήρου τυχεῖν μηκέτι ἐπὶ γάμον ἔρχεσθαι, κατὰ τὴν τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἀρχαίαν παράδοσιν: μὴ μὴν ἀποζεύγνυσθαι ταύτης, ἣν ἅπαξ ἤδη πρότερον λαϊκὸς ὢν ἠγάγετο. καὶ ταῦτ' ἔλεγεν, ἄπειρος ὢν γάμου καὶ ἁπλῶς εἰπεῖν γυναικός: ἐκ παιδὸς γὰρ ἐν ἀσκηταῖς ἀνετέθραπτο καὶ ἐπὶ σωφροσύνῃ εἰ καί τις ἄλλος περιβόητος ἦν. καὶ πείθεται σύμπας ὁ τῶν ἱερωμένων σύλλογος τοῖς Παφνουτίου λόγοις, καὶ τὴν περὶ τούτου ζήτησιν ἀπεσίγησαν, τῇ γνώμῃ τῶν βουλομένων ἀπέχεσθαι τῆς ὁμιλίας τῶν γυναικῶν καταλείψαντες.
From Socrates, Ecclesiastical History 1.11 (web address 1).
On Paphnutius, see Catholic Encyclopedia at web address 2.
[1] A strange vagueness, but it reproduces what the primary source says.
[2] This is taken to be the one under Maximinus (308-313), rather than the one under Diocletian (delta 1156) in 303.
[3] Constantine the Great (kappa 2284).
[4] At the First Council of Nicaea, in 325.
[5] The adverb ἅπαξ suggests that this permission would not apply if the clergyman had married more than once.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: biography; children; Christianity; chronology; definition; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; law; medicine; religion; women
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 12 May 2004@01:45:29.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; cosmetics) on 12 May 2004@03:41:23.
Catharine Roth (modified translation, added note) on 12 May 2004@11:38:21.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 3 October 2005@07:42:58.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 18 September 2013@06:11:50.
David Whitehead (added one note, expanded another) on 17 June 2016@03:04:51.


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