Pawlos of Beth Ukome (d. 581) [Syr. Orth.]

Patr. Pawlos’s name (‘of the house of the black ones’) was rendered in Greek as ‘of the black (ones)’ (Melanos, sing., or Melanōn, plur.). He was elected patr. of Antioch in a period when the Miaphysites of Syria and Egypt were working closely together in their resistance to the Chalcedonian doctrine of the Imperial Church. After the death of Severus of Antioch (d. 538), Theodosius of Alexandria assumed the leadership of the Miaphysites, even while living as an exile in Constantinople. It was only in the late 550s that the Syr. Miaphysites proceeded with the election of their own leader, first Sergius, who had a short tenure (ca. 557–60), and then, a few years later, Pawlos (who was elected in 564, at the instigation of Patr. Theodosius). Pawlos, who had worked with Theodosius, was a native of Alexandria; prior to his election he may have spent some time in Syria as a monk (Honigmann, 196). Once elected he may have had the ambition of exerting leadership over both the Syrian and Egyptian Churches, as the follower of Theodosius (d. 566), but he found little support. In 571, in a time when the Miaphysites were oppressed by the Chalcedonians, Pawlos is said to have temporarily accepted communion with the Chalcedonians, an act which he later regretted and for which he had to accept a three-year penitence in order to be fully rehabilitated. In 575 he played a role in the election and formal recognition of a Syrian monk, Theodorus (who had lived for several years in Scetis) as patr. of Alexandria. The Alexandrians, however, rejected Theodorus, and a different candidate was elected to the see of Alexandria, Peter (IV, 575–77). For what he saw as Pawlos’s unlawful intervention in the election process, Peter issued the deposal of Pawlos, and a schism between the two patriarchates broke out. That this did not have nationalist undertones is clear from the fact that Peter had a Syrian secretary in Damian (who was from Edessa, the city he visited in the fall of 579), who only two years later became Peter’s successor in Alexandria. Within the Syrian Miaphysite community, the schism created bitter opposition between Pawlos’s staunch supporters and those who, for a variety of reasons, withdrew their support from Pawlos. Among the latter was Yaʿqub Burdʿoyo. The Syrian Miaphysite community thus became divided between ‘Paulists’ (or Paulianists, Greek Paulianistai, Syriac Beth Pawlo) and ‘Jacobites’. Pawlos himself withdrew to Constantinople, where he spent the last years of his life in relative isolation. When following the death of Pawlos (581), Peter of Kallinikos was elected the new patr. of Antioch, the peace between the two patriarchates lasted for only a few years. For, starting in the mid-580s, Peter of Kallinikos and Damian became involved in a new conflict, in which this time the theological problem of ‘Tritheism’ was central and led to another schism. This would only be healed under Athanasios Gamolo in 616.

Among Pawlos’s writings, some letters and official statements have been preserved: his synodical letter to Theodosius (Syr. in CSCO 17, 98–114; LT in CSCO 103, 68–79); a letter to Yaʿqub Burdʿoyo and to Theodorus (Syr. in CSCO 17, 177–9; LT in CSCO 103, 123–5); Pawlos’s synodical letter to Patr. Theodorus (Syr. in CSCO 17, 308–34; LT in CSCO 103, 215–33); as well as some additional fragments (see CPG and Suppl.). A short document refuting the positions of the Paulists and defending the judgments and actions of Yaʿqub Burdʿoyo has recently been published by Lontie. Information on Pawlos and on the situation of the Syr. Orth. in the 2nd half of the 6th cent. is found in the main W.-Syr. historiographical works (among which the Ecclesiastical History of the contemporary witness Yuḥanon of Ephesus stands out). Many official and semi-official documents of the Syr. Orth Church in the 6th cent. are preserved in a collection (ms. Brit. Libr. Add. 14,602, late 6th or early 7th cent.) that its editor, J.-B. Chabot named ‘Documenta ad origines Monophysitarum illustrandas’.


  • CPG 7203–7214.
  • Ph.  Blaudeau, ‘Le voyage de Damien d’Alexandrie vers Antioche puis Constantinople (579–580) — Motivations et objectifs’, OCP 63 (1997), 333–61.
  • I.-B.  Chabot, Documenta ad origines Monophysitarum illustrandas (CSCO 17 and 103; 1908 and 1933).
  • Honigmann, Évêques et évêchés monophysites, 195–205.
  • L.  Lontie, ‘Un traité syriaque jacobite contre les partisans de Paul de Bēth Ukkāmē (564–581) (ms. British Library Add. 14.533, f. 172rob–176vob)’, OCP 63 (1997), 5–51. (with further references)
  • A.  Van Roey and P. Allen, Monophysite texts of the sixth century (OLA 56; 1994), 265–303. (overview and analysis of the Documenta).

How to Cite This Entry

Lucas Van Rompay , “Pawlos of Beth Ukome,” in Pawlos of Beth Ukome, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay,

Footnote Style Citation with Date:

Lucas Van Rompay , “Pawlos of Beth Ukome,” in Pawlos of Beth Ukome, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018),

Bibliography Entry Citation:

Van Rompay, Lucas. “Pawlos of Beth Ukome.” In Pawlos of Beth Ukome. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018.

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