I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Jewish "Bishops" of Jerusalem and St Judas Cyriacus: A Hebrew Catholic Insight

Icon of  St James the Just of Jerusalem looking more like a Gentile than a Jewish Tzaddik

Eusebius writing in the 4th century gives a list of 15 Jewish Christian or Hebrew Catholic Bishops of Jerusalem. It is claimed that the last of this list of Bishops is Judas a great grandson of St Jude and that the list ended in 135 with the defeat of Bar Kokhba. However some have commented that this list seems very long for such a short period. In fact this list that Eusebius uses may be the list of the Jewish Bishops or Abbots (Nasiim) (and Abbesses (Nessiyot)) of Jerusalem up until the time of Pope Sylvester I and Constantine when the Jewish Bishops broke with Rome. Eusebius has been given a list of the leaders of the Order of Sion in Jerusalem and of the Greek Gentile Bishops of Jerusalem. He doesn't realise they don't follow one another but that from 135 until his time they are two lineages of leaders- one Greek and the other Jewish.

"...The first, then, was James, the so-called brother of the Lord; the second, Symeon; the third, Justus; the fourth, Zacchaeus; the fifth, Tobias; the sixth, Benjamin; the seventh, John; the eighth, Matthias; the ninth, Philip; the tenth, Seneca; the eleventh, Justus; the twelfth, Levi; the thirteenth, Ephres; the fourteenth, Joseph; and finally, the fifteenth, Judas. These are the bishops of Jerusalem that lived between the age of the apostles and the time referred to, all of them belonging to the circumcision..."
The term Abbot developed from the title for the Jewish Christian Nasi of Abba Abbot (the father of fathers) and the Nessiya as Abbess as Imma Abbot (the mother of fathers). The Cenacle in Jerusalem was to become the mother house or Messianic Synagogue of the early Jewish Church of the circumcision. This was the place called Zion from which the mystery of the Eucharist would radiate out to the four corners of the earth. At the time of Constantine the Jewish Church broke with the Pope and Rome after the visit of eight Jewish Christian Bishops (all belonging to the descendants of the Holy Family) to Pope Sylvester I around 318 AD. For a number of years the mother Church on Mt Zion was not in unity with the Gentile Church in Jerusalem and St Cyril of Jerusalem was unable to preach from there in 348 (see Bargil Pixner "Church of the Apostles Found on Mt Zion"). 

 The eight Jewish Christian Desposyni Bishops or Exilarchs or Abbots that met with Constantine and Pope Sylvester represented the eight leading Jewish Christian Sees ruled by the descendants of Jesus relatives of the Royal House of David. The names of the eight Desposyni Bishops are not their actual names but the name of the founder of their Abbot or Bishop's See or Seat. In a sense these eight are the eight Jewish Christian Patriarchs of the Jewish Church of the Circumcision. 

The Jewish Christians were often ruled by a Davidic Abbot or Abbess who may or may not also be a Bishop (Hegmon Parnas or governing overseer) or Priest (Chazan Parnas or the congregational liturgical overseer) or Rabbi (Teacher/ Catechist/Scribe) or Monk (Abba /Abouna) or Nun/ Deaconess (Imma/ Amah) or Deacon (Shamash). The Hebrew word parnas was Presbyteros (priest) in Greek and Hegmon means Governor or Bishop which is Episcopus in Greek. The Jewish Church modeled itself on the Synagogue or Rabbinic structure which in turn was modeled on the Temple structure. The Hegmon Parnas paralleled the Kohen ha Gadol (High Priest) of the Temple, the parnasim the priests (kohenim) and the  shamashim the Levites. In the beginning neither the traditional Jewish Synagogue nor the Messianic Kehilla saw themselves as competing with the Temple but as complementing it. In fact the early Jewish Christians attended the Temple and participated in its rituals as well as the traditional synagogue and also their own Messianic Eucharistic (Bereikah) gatherings.


In the far West there were the three Sees of Tara, Avalon and Camelon. Tara was the Irish See and House of Nathan. Nathan was a grandson of St Joseph of Arimathea who took the Gospel from Britian to Ireland and was the Rosh Galuta Erani. Avalon was the Southern British See and House of Joseph. This Joseph was St Joseph of Arimathea a paternal relative of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosh Galuta or Golus of Britain (Britti). Camelon (Camelot) was the See and House of Phares. This Phares was a son of Nathan and greatgrandson of St Joseph of Arimathea who took the Gospel to Scotland and was the Rosh Galuta Scotti. 

Scholars speak about the three British Bishops that attended the Council of Arles in 314 AD Eborius, Restitutus and Adelphius. Many think that Eborius of Eboracensi (Hibernia)was the Bishop of  York (Eboracum) however it is more likely that this was the Bishop representing Hibernia where the Heber Lords reigned in the South of Ireland (known as Heber or Eber's Portion) representing the See of Tara (moved to Munster (Kenmare) in the South due to the revival of paganism in the North and the persecution of Christians). Bishop Restitutus of London represents the See of Glastonbury and its Episcopal province was called Londonium after its principal city Londinium (Lud/ London). Bishop Adelphius of Colonia (Camelon/ Camelot) in Scotland is the third Bishop from the British Isles. This Episcopal region or province of Scotland in olden times was known as Leudonia (Lothian).

However it would seem that the Jewish Bishops of Tara (Hibernia) and Camelon (Scotia) along with Restitutus the Bishop of London attended the Council of Nicea in 325. Restitutus may have represented the Abbot or Abba Abbot of Avalon (Glastonbury) at Nicea or it is possible that Restitutus represented the Gentile Church in Britain that remained loyal to Rome and that Glastonbury (Glas Isle) in solidarity with his five eastern Davidic Patriarchs remained out of communion with Rome.

There were five Desposyni Jewish Christian Sees in the East. Jerusalem was the Jewish See and House of Jacob/ James. This Jacob was St James the Just the cousin of Jesus. Antioch was Jewish See and House of Zachary. This Zachary was also the 4th Jewish Christian (Nazarenean or Notzrim) Nasi (Abbot) of Jerusalem. Alexandria was the Jewish See and House of Matthias. This Matthias was also the 8th Nazarean Nasi of Jerusalem. Kinyani in Iraq was the See and House of Yochanan/ John. This John was also the 7th Jewish Christian Nasi (Abbot) of Jerusalem. Takhte Sulieman (Soleyman) or Sarras in Persia was the See and House of Simeon. This Simeon was also the 2nd Nazarene Nasi of Jerusalem and a younger brother of St James the Just.  This James and Simeon should not be confused with the Apostles St James the Less and St Simon Zelotes as has been done in the Western Church. While there were other Jewish Christian Bishops these eight Davidic sees were of special honour as having been founded and manned by the Desposyni Davidic Abbots or Bishops descended from the Holy Family of Jesus' blood relatives.

The Indian stories tell us that the famous Davidic Jewish Christian Thomas of Kanah was born in Edessa. It is possible that there was a Kinyani Yeshivah in southern Iraq and another one in Syria at Emesa. Emesa is named for the School of Emmaus there. Thomas of Kanah (Cana) was said to have been accompanied to India by Mar Joseph a Bishop of Edessa. Here we see that St Thomas of Kanah or Kinyani is the lay Abbot or Nasi of the community with Bishop Joseph under him in the model of the early Church among the Jews. 

From the fourth century the monarchical Greek Bishops supplanted the original Jewish Christian Bishops or Abbots. The story of Thomas and Joseph as leaders of the Jewish Christian Church may reflect this exile of the Jewish Christians firstly to southern Iraq (Babylonia) and then India. Gradually many of the Jewish Christians assimilated back into the Jewish synagogue and communities while others came under the control of the Gentile Bishops and assimilated into a Gentile ruled Church. 

Thus Jacob (James) who visited Pope Sylvester was most likely Judas of the list of Eusebius as the Successor of St James or Jacob the Just. This Judas is also known as St Judas Cyriacus and was a descendant of the Judas who was a great grandson of St Jude. He had been a Bishop to the Jewish Christian community in Ancona in Italy before being called to Jerusalem to succeed the Jewish Christian Abbot Joseph of Jerusalem. 

This Joseph may be the same person as Count Joseph of Tiberias who was the Davidic Abbot or Nasi of the Order of Sion centred in Jerusalem. It is not clear if Joseph who was not a Bishop or Priest remained as the Abbot or Davidic Nasi of the Jewish Church until his death in 356 or whether he resigned in 315 after bringing Bishop Judas Cyriacus from Ancona and Joseph then moved to Tiberias to lead the Church there. It may have been that St Judas Cyriacus was the chief Bishop of the Community and Count Joseph the Davidic Nasi or Abbot. St Judas Cyriacus may have succeeded to the position of Abbot on the death of Count Joseph in 356. 

Or it is also possible that when the Jewish Church split from Rome in 318 Count Joseph joined the Gentile Church while Judas Cyriacus led the Jewish Church. Joseph had formerly been a Rabbinic scholar, a member of the Sanedrin and a close associate and possibly a member of the Jewish Nasi of the House of Hillel's family. Joseph may have been descended from the House of Hillel on his mother's side and through her claimed Davidic status. 

Joseph was born around 280 and he became a shaliach of the Jewish Nasi Gamaliel IV and was present at his death bed in 298, with Gamaliel's son Judah III and grandson Hillel II, when the Nasi asked for Christian baptism. Joseph after this started to explore the Gospel and was baptised and became the Jewish Christian Nasi or Abbot (Abuna/ Abba) around 299 on the death of the Jewish Christian Nessiya or Abbess Ephres (Efrat). Joseph met the Emperor Constantine around 330 and for his loyalty to Rome (after the break with the Jewish Church) he was made a Count (Komes). He at this stage of Church history was considered to be an orthodox Catholic eventhough he practiced Jewish observances as did the Jewish Church that had broken from Rome in 318 but reconciled in 394 but then subservient to the Gentile Church. The regime of assimilation to Gentile rule and customs in regards to Jews in the Church increased in intensity.

St Judas Cyriacus was associated with St Helena the mother of the Emperor Constantine in her search for the true Cross. He has been the substance of many legends. He was killed in a riot in Jerusalem during the reign of Julian the Apostate around 363. His body was preserved and given by the Empress Galla Placidia to Ancona and is still in the Cathedral of Ancona named for him until today. St Kyriacus the Anchorite was a descendant of St Judas Cyriacus. St Judas Cyriacus' grandson Alexander became the Bishop of Corinth and his son John who also became a priest was the father of St Kyriacus the Anchorite. 

Relics of the Body of St Judas Cyriacus of Jerusalem in the Ancona Cathedral

It would seem that the last Jewish Christian Bishop of Jerusalem St Porphyry stepped down in 394 and recognised the Gentile Bishop of Jerusalem John II. St Porphyry was from a Jewish Christian family of Thessalonica who came to Jerusalem to be the Jewish Bishop or Patriarch (Rosh) of the Order of Sion. He was afterwards appointed as Bishop of Gaza. It would seem that from the 5th century the distinct Jewish Church assimilated in the West with the Gentile Church and only some pockets maintained in secret their Jewish traditions especially among those families of Davidic lineage.

The Gentile Church has modeled its structures on that of Roman government. Maybe it is time for a radical change to a structure more in harmony with the original Jewish one of the Church of the Circumcision and its later developments in the Gaelic or Celtic Churches of Ireland and Britain before the advent of St Augustine. The Irish Church preserved the Jewish model of the Church  much later than other regions and due to the strong Jewish Christian roots they were often accused of being Judaisers by other Catholics because of their adherence to many of the laws of the Old Testament.

The Bishops and Priests should be the true servants of the people of God rather than their Gentile- style Lords. The Gentile Church has a real problem with clericalism which Pope Francis and others have pointed out many times. Vatican II was meant to rid us of clericalism and give the laity a full place in the life and mission of the Church. Unfortunately clericalism never went away and we have had a form of liberal and modernist clericalism in recent years, that is now being replaced by a rampant and virulent traditionalist or "orthodox" clericalism. We love and need our deacons, priests and bishops but we need them for the full sacramental life and as prayer intercessors and servants, not as administrative rulers and careerists who lord it over the flock rather than shepherding them.

Jewish Christian Abbots (and/or Bishops) of Jerusalem of the Order of Sion. (An Abbot must be of Davidic status (paternal or maternal) but a Bishop did not.)
  1. James I the Greater (32-44) First Nazarene Nasi of Jerusalem and one of the 12 Apostles.
  2. James II the Just (44- 62) Nazarene Nasi of Jerusalem the "Brother of the Lord" (meaning cousin) and an Apostle and Bishop.
  3. Simeon I the Just (62–107) The brother of St James the Just and one of the "Brothers of the Lord". While his brother was the Nasi of Jerusalem he was the founder of the Jewish Christian Davidic See of Sarras in Persia, and on the death of James he was called to lead the Jerusalem Church. He was the leader that led the remove and return from Pella during the Wars with Rome.
  4. Justus I Judas (107–113) A son of St Jude and ancestor of St Judas Cyriacus.
  5. Zaccheus (Zoker/ Zachary) (113–121) One of the two grandsons of St Jude who was brought before the Emperor Domitian. He was sent by Justus I to be the first Davidic Abbot of the Jewish Christians of Antioch. He afterwards moved to Jerusalem as Abbot on the matyrdom of Justus. His brother James or Jacob was the Jewish Christian Nasi of the Galilee.
  6. Tobias (121–135) May have been the head of the Jewish Christian Yeshivah at Edessa and a disciple of the teachings of St Thaddeus before coming to be the Davidic Abbot of Jerusalem. A great grandson of Joseph (Joses) one of the "Brothers of the Lord". He was killed at the time of the Bar Kokhba wars with Rome.
  7. Benjamin I bar Yafet (135–152) He was a Jewish Christian Rabbi and Torah scholar who was respected by both the Jews and Jewish Christians (Nazarenes). A grandson of Simeon Breac (Rav Berechiah). In his time the first Greek Bishop of Jerusalem was instituted with Bishop Marcus (r.135-156) appointed by the Gentile Metropolitan of Ceasarea to serve the Gentile Catholics as the Jewish Catholics were keeping hidden and low key after the Kokhba revolt.
  8. John I (152–176) A grandson of Rav Berechiah. John was sent by his cousin Benjamin I as the first Nazarene Nasi of the Jewish Christians of Kinyani in Iraq (Babylonia) and he later returned to Jerusalem as the Nasi or Abbot.
  9. Matthias I (176–198) A son of Rabbi Eleazar ben Mattai. Matthias was sent as the first Jewish Christian Nasi of Alexandria in Egypt by John I. He later left Egypt to become the Jewish Christian Nasi or Abbot of Jerusalem on the death of John I.
  10. Philip (198–226) He was also the Nasi or Abbot of Alexandria before he came to Jerusalem and the son of Matthias I of Jerusalem. His daughter Eugenia was also the Jewish Christian Abbess of Alexandria after her father went to Jerusalem. She later moved to Rome to be the Abbess of the Jewish Christian community in Rome. The legend of her so-called cross dressing originated in her habit of donning the Tallit and Tefillin as the Abbess.
  11. Senecas (226-241) She was the Jewish Christian Abbess of Jerusalem and the daughter of the Abbess Eugenia of Alexandria and Rome.
  12. Justus II (241–270) He was the son of Senecas the Abbess of Jerusalem.
  13. Levi (270–281) He was the son of Justus II.
  14. Ephres (Efrat) (281–299) She was the Nesiya or Abbess of Jerusalem and the daughter of Levi and the mother of Judas Cyriacus.
  15. Count Joseph I (299–315) He was the Nasi or Abbot but not a Bishop of the Jewish Church. The Jewish Christian Nasi of Tiberias.
  16. St Judas Cyriacus (315–363) Bishop and Abbot of Jerusalem
  17.  Alexander (Aharon) (363-385)
  18. Porphyry (Peretz) (385-394)  

    Order of Sion, Calabria and the Jewish Christian Church

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