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(pā`trēärk), in biblical tradition, one of the antediluvian progenitors of the race as given in Genesis (e.g., SethSeth,
in the Bible, son of Adam and Eve, father of Enosh. In the chronology in the Gospel of St. Luke, Seth is an ancestor of Jesus. The Nag Hammadi codices preserve revelatory discourses ascribed to or allegedly emanating from Seth.
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) or one of the ancestors of the Jews (e.g., AbrahamAbraham
[according to the Book of Genesis, Heb.,=father of many nations] or Abram
[Heb.,=exalted father], in the Bible, progenitor of the Hebrews; in the Qur'an, ancestor of the Arabs.
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, IsaacIsaac
[Heb.,=laughter], according to the patriarchal narratives of the Book of Genesis, Isaac was the only son of Abraham and Sara. He married Rebecca, and their sons were Esau and Jacob. Ishmael was his half-brother.
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, JacobJacob
, in the Bible, ancestor of the Hebrews, the younger of Isaac and Rebecca's twin sons; the older was Esau. In exchange for a bowl of lentil soup, Jacob obtained Esau's birthright and, with his mother's help, received the blessing that the dying Isaac had intended for his
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, and, sometimes, the sons of Jacob). The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is the name of one of the PseudepigraphaPseudepigrapha
[Gr.,=things falsely ascribed], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
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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 papacypapacy
, office of the pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church. He is pope by reason of being bishop of Rome and thus, according to Roman Catholic belief, successor in the see of Rome (the Holy See) to its first bishop, St. Peter.
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; 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 MonophysitismMonophysitism
[Gr.,=belief in a single nature], a heresy of the 5th and 6th cent., which grew out of a reaction against Nestorianism. It was anticipated by Apollinarianism and was continuous with the principles of Eutyches, whose doctrine had been rejected in 451 at Chalcedon
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 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 ChurchNestorian Church,
officially the Assyrian Church of the East, Christian community of Iraq, Iran, and SW India. It represents the ancient church of Persia and is sometimes also called the East Syrian Church. It numbers about 175,000, including emigrants to the United States.
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), 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 ChurchOrthodox Eastern Church,
community of Christian churches whose chief strength is in the Middle East and E Europe. Their members number some 300 million worldwide. The Orthodox agree doctrinally in accepting as ecumenical the first seven councils (see council, ecumenical) and in
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). 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).





the highest title of the head of an autocephalous Orthodox Christian church in a number of countries.

The title of patriarch was established at the Council of Chalcedon in 451. After the Christian church separated into the Western Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches in 1054, the title was retained in the Eastern hierarchy. In the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Church was headed by the four patriarchs of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem. When independent Slavic states arose in Bulgaria and Serbia, patriarchs were also created to head those churches.

In Russia, the first patriarch was elected at a council of the Russian ecclesiastical hierarchy in 1589. In the late 16th century and throughout the 17th, the Russian patriarchs were major feudal landowners who took an active part in the political life of the state. The patriarch’s power reached its apex under Nikon. A gradual subordination of the patriarch to secular authority culminated under Peter I. After the death of Patriarch Adrian in 1700, Peter appointed not a patriarch but a locum tenens of the patriarchal see. In 1721 he eliminated the position altogether. Management of church affairs was turned over to the Synod.

The title of patriarch was restored at a council of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1917–18. In addition to the Russian patriarch, there are patriarchs in Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Georgia (catholicos-patriarch), Serbia, Bulgaria, and Rumania. The heads of certain eparchies in the Catholic Church are also called patriarchs.

The patriarchs in Russia have included Iov (1589–1605), Ignatii (1605–06), Germogen (1606–12), Filaret (1619–33), Ioasaf I (1634–40), Iosif (1642–52), Nikon (1652–67), Ioasaf II (1667–72), Pitirim (1672–73), Ioakim (1674–90), Adrian (1690–1700), Stefan Iavorskii (1700–21, locum tenens), Tikhon (1917–25), Sergii (1925–27, deputy patriarch; 1927–43, locum tenens; 1943–44, patriarch), Aleksii (1945–70), and Pimen (from 1971).



1. the male head of a tribe or family
2. Old Testament any of a number of persons regarded as the fathers of the human race, divided into the antediluvian patriarchs, from Adam to Noah, and the postdiluvian, from Noah to Abraham
3. Old Testament any of the three ancestors of the Hebrew people: Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob
4. Old Testament any of Jacob's twelve sons, regarded as the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel
5. Early Christian Church the bishop of one of several principal sees, esp those of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria
6. Eastern Orthodox Church the bishops of the four ancient principal sees of Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem, and also of Russia, Romania, and Serbia, the bishop of Constantinople (the ecumenical Patriarch) being highest in dignity among these
7. RC Church
a. a title given to the pope
b. a title given to a number of bishops, esp of the Uniat Churches, indicating their rank as immediately below that of the pope
8. Mormon Church another word for Evangelist
9. Eastern Christianity the head of the Coptic, Armenian, Syrian Jacobite, or Nestorian Churches, and of certain other non-Orthodox Churches in the East
References in classic literature ?
And now, after all, the last of the Patriarchs coolly walked into the parlour, saying in effect,
These old patriarchs and prophets have got ages the start of you; they know more in two minutes than you know in a year.
You would bore the patriarchs when you talked, and when they talked they would shoot over your head.
All the nobility, and all the patriarchs and prophets - every last one of them - and all the archangels, and all the princes and governors and viceroys, were there, - and NO small fry - not a single one.
In an official statement, the Greek Orthodox Church said it would ask Jordan and the Palestinian Authority for the approval of their new patriarch but did not mention Israel.
NNA - A Republic with 24 heads is not feasible, Maronite patriarch Bshara Rahi warned his flock assembled in the Valley of Qannoubin today.
Summary: The Chaldean patriarch arrived in Lebanon for a rare visit Thursday and urged Christians to not leave their homeland.
Neofit, the newly elected Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, vowed to pray for peace in the hearts of the Bulgarian people, minutes after he was officially enthroned.
Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim of Antioch and All the East for the Greek Orthodox, Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of Antioch an All the East for the Syriac Orthodox, and Patriarch of Antioch and All the East for Roman Catholics, Gregory III Laham, stressed on Thursday their rejection of all forms of foreign interference and violence, calling for lifting the sanctions imposed on Syria.
Russia's Patriarch Kirill arrives in Bulgaria on 2nd of March on a three-day visit.