Definitions

patriarch

patriarch

[pey-tree-ahrk]
patriarch, in biblical tradition, one of the antediluvian progenitors of the race as given in Genesis (e.g., Seth) or one of the ancestors of the Jews (e.g., Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and, sometimes, the sons of Jacob). The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is the name of one of the Pseudepigrapha.
patriarch, in Christian churches, title of certain exalted bishops, implying authority over a number of other bishops. There were originally three patriarchates: the West, held by the bishop of Rome (the pope; see papacy; Benedict XVI dropped the title in 2006), Alexandria, and Antioch. To these were added Constantinople (381) and Jerusalem (451). To the West belonged everything W of the Balkans and Cyrene, and Constantinople ruled most of the Byzantine Empire. Syria and Mesopotamia were under Antioch, Palestine under Jerusalem, and Egypt under Alexandria. The triumph of Monophysitism in Egypt and Syria (5th-6th cent.) created new churches, and since then the three Orthodox patriarchs in Asia have had small, minority jurisdictions; they abandoned (12th cent.) their local rites in favor of the Byzantine.

Besides the five ancient patriarchates there are a number of others. In communion with the pope there are 11: the Latin-rite patriarch of Jerusalem, who is bishop of local Latin-rite Catholics (the purely titular Latin-rite patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch were abolished in 1964); six who are heads of Eastern rites, having generally full patriarchal powers and not usually resident in their official sees, namely, Alexandria (Coptic rite), Antioch (three: Syrian rite, Melchite, and Maronite), Babylon (Chaldaean rite; see Nestorian Church), and Cilicia (Armenian rite); finally, in the Western Church the title patriarch is conferred, purely as an honor, on four prelates, the archbishop of Goa (patriarch of the East Indies), the archbishop of Lisbon, the archbishop of Venice, and the patriarch of the West Indies (normally Spanish). In the Russian Orthodox Church the czar set up (1580) a patriarch of Moscow; the title was abolished (1721) by Peter the Great and revived in 1917 (see Orthodox Eastern Church). The Orthodox archbishops of Belgrade and of Bucharest are called patriarchs. Besides all these there are a Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, a Jacobite patriarch of Antioch, a Nestorian patriarch, and four Armenian patriarchs (of Echmiadzin, Sis, Jerusalem, and Constantinople).

Title applied to Old Testament leaders such as Methuselah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was once given also to some Roman Catholic bishops who wielded great authority. It is still used in Eastern Orthodoxy, which now has nine patriarchates: Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Moscow, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

Learn more about patriarch with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Originally a patriarch was a man who exercised autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. The system of such rule of families by senior males is called patriarchy. This is a Greek word, a composition of πατήρ (pater) meaning "father" and ἄρχων (archon) meaning "leader", "chief", "ruler", "king", etc.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are referred to as the three patriarchs of the people of Israel, and the period in which they lived is called the Patriarchal Age. It originally acquired its religious meaning in the Septuagint version of the Bible.

The word has mainly taken on specific ecclesiastical meanings. In particular, the highest-ranking bishops in Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman Catholic Church (above Major Archbishop and primate), and the Assyrian Church of the East are called patriarchs. The office and ecclesiastical conscription (comprising one or more provinces, though outside his own (arch)diocese he is often without enforceable jurisdiction) of such a patriarch is called a patriarchate. Historically, a Patriarch may often be the logical choice to act as Ethnarch, representing the community that is identified with his religious confession within a state or empire of a different creed (as Christians within the Ottoman Empire).

Patriarchs of the Eastern Orthodox Churches

Eastern Patriarchs out of the Orthodox Communion

Patriarchs in Oriental Orthodox Churches

see: Oriental Orthodoxy

Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East

Patriarch of the Ancient Church of the East

Patriarch of the Nasrani (Assyrian) Church of the East

Patriarchs of the Roman Catholic Church

see: Roman Catholic Church

As part of the Pentarchy, the Pope's Patriarchate of Rome was the only one in the Western Roman empire. It was roughly coterminous with present territory of the Latin Rite. In the past popes have used the title Patriarch of the West. However, this title was removed from a reference publication issued by the Vatican in 2006.

Latin Rite Patriarchs

Patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches

see: Patriarchs of the East

Historical Patriarchs in the Roman Catholic Church

Catholic Patriarchs not in communion with the Church in Rome

Mormonism

According to Mormonism, a patriarch is one who has been ordained to the office of Patriarch in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The term is considered synonymous with the term evangelist. One of the patriarch's primary responsibilities is to give Patriarchal blessings, as Jacob did to his twelve sons in the Old Testament. In the main branch of Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Patriarchs are typically assigned in each stake and hold the title for life.

See also

References

Search another word or see Patriarchon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature