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Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
File:Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem logo.gif
Coat of arms
Founder The Apostles
Independence Apostolic Era
Recognition Orthodox
Primate Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion Theophilos III.
Headquarters Jerusalem, Israel
Territory Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, The Gulf States (except Kuwait).
Possessions United States,
South America
Language Arabic, Greek, English
Adherents Estimated 130,000 People[1]

Patriarch of Jerusalem
Theophilos III

Style: His Most Godly Beatitude
Formation: 43 AD

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is the head bishop of the Greek Orthodox Church of Jerusalem, ranking fourth of nine Patriarchs in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since 2005, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem has been Theophilos III. The Patriarch is styled "Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee, and Holy Zion." The Patriarch is the head of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre, and the religious leader of about 100,000 Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land, most of them Palestinians.

The Patriarchate traces its line of succession to the Jewish Christians—from James the Just of the 1st century AD.

On the importance of Jerusalem, the Catholic Encyclopedia reads:

"During the first Christian centuries the church at this place was the centre of Christianity in Jerusalem, 'Holy and glorious Sion, mother of all churches.' Certainly no spot in Christendom can be more venerable than the place of the Last Supper, which became the first Christian church."[2]


In the Apostolic Age the Christian Church was organized as an indefinite number of local Churches that in the initial years looked to that at Jerusalem as its main centre and point of reference, see also Jerusalem in Christianity.

James the Just, who was martyred ca 62, is described as the first Bishop of Jerusalem. The First Council of Nicaea (325), attributed special honor, but not Metropolitan status, (the then highest rank in the Church) to the bishop of Jerusalem.[3] Jerusalem continued to be a bishopric until 451, when it was raised to the status of patriarchate by the Council of Chalcedon. (See also Pentarchy)

After the Arab conquest in the 7th century, Muslims recognized Jerusalem as the seat of Christianity and the Patriarch as its leader. When the Great Schism took place in 1054 the Patriarch of Jerusalem and the other three Eastern Patriarchs formed the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Patriarch of Rome (i.e. the Pope) formed the Roman Catholic Church. The Greek Patriarch lived in Constantinople until 1187.

In 1099 the Crusaders appointed a Latin Patriarch.

Current position

A diagram of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre based on a German documentary, claimed to be the site of Calvary and the Tomb of Jesus.

Today, the headquarters of the patriarchate is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

The number of Orthodox Christians in the Holy Land is estimated to be about 100,000 people. A majority of Church members are Palestinian Arabs, and there are also many Russians, Romanians, and Georgians.

The patriarchate was recently involved in a significant controversy. Patriarch Irenaios, elected in 2001, was deposed, on decisions of the Holy Synod of Jerusalem, in the aftermath of a scandal involving the sale of church land in East Jerusalem to Israeli investors. The move enraged many Orthodox Palestinian members, since the land was in an area that most Palestinians hoped would someday become part of a Palestinian state. On May 24, 2005 a special Pan-Orthodox Synod was convened in Constantinople (İstanbul) to review the decisions of the Holy Synod of Jerusalem. The Pan-Orthodox Synod under the presidency of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, voted overwhelmingly to confirm the decision of the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre and to strike Irenaios' name from the diptychs, and on May 30, Jerusalem's Holy Synod chose Metropolitan Cornelius of Petra to serve as locum tenens pending the election of a replacement for Irenaios. On August 22, 2005, the Holy Synod of the Church of Jerusalem unanimously elected Theophilos, the former Archbishop of Tabor, as the 141st Patriarch of Jerusalem.

Jewish Bishops of Jerusalem

James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19-29, "...we should write to them [Gentiles] to abstain only from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from whatever has been strangled and from blood..." (NRSV)

Eusebius of Caesarea provides the names of an unbroken succession of thirty-six Bishops of Jerusalem up to the year 324.[4] The first sixteen of these bishops were Jewish Christians—from James the Just through Judas († 135)—the remainder were Gentiles:

"But since the bishops of the circumcision ceased at this time [after Bar Kokhba's revolt], it is proper to give here a list of their names from the beginning. 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."[5]
  1. James the Just (until 62)
  2. Simeon I (62-107)
  3. Justus I (107-113)
  4. Zaccheus (113-???)
  5. Tobias (???-???)
  6. Benjamin I (???-117)
  7. John I (117-???)
  8. Matthias I (???-120)
  9. Philip (???-124)
  10. Senecas (???-???)
  11. Justus II (???-???)
  12. Levis (???-???)
  13. Ephram (???-???)
  14. Joseph I (???-???)
  15. Judas (???-135)

Bishops of Aelia Capitolina

As a result of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135, Hadrian was determined to erase Judaism from the province of Judea. The province was renamed Syria Palaestina. Jerusalem was left in total ruin, and a new city built nearby called Aelia Capitolina. These gentile bishops (Jews were excluded from the city except for the day of Tisha B'Av), were appointed under the authority of the Metropolitans of Caesarea. Until the setting up of the Patriarchates in 325, Metropolitan was the highest episcopal rank in the Christian church.

  1. Marcus (135-???)
  2. Cassianus (???-???)
  3. Poplius (???-???)
  4. Maximus I (???-???)
  5. Julian I (???-???)
  6. Gaius I (???-???)
  7. Symmachus (???)
  8. Gaius II (???-162)
  9. Julian II (162-???)
  10. Capion (???-???)
  11. Maximus II (???-???)
  12. Antoninus (???-???)
  13. Valens (???-???)
  14. Dolichianus (???-185)
  15. Narcissus (185-???)
  16. Dius (???-???)
  17. Germanion (???-???)
  18. Gordius (???-211)
Narcissus (restored) (???-231)
  1. Alexander (231-249)
  2. Mazabanis (249-260)
  3. Imeneus (260-276)
  4. Zamudas (276-283)
  5. Ermon (283-314)
  6. Macarius I (314-333), since 325 Bishop of Jerusalem

Bishops of Jerusalem

Jerusalem received special recognition in Canon VII of First Council of Nicaea in 325, without yet becoming a metropolitan see.[6] Also, the Council for the first time established the Patriarchates. The Bishops of Jerusalem were appointed by the Patriarchs of Antioch.

  • Macarius I (325-333)
  • Maximus III (333-348)
  • Cyril I (350-386)
  • John II (386-417)
  • Praulius (417-422)
  • Juvenal (422-458), since 451 Patriarch

Patriarchs of Jerusalem

The Council of Chalcedon in 451 raised the bishop of Jerusalem to the rank of patriarch. (See Pentarchy) However, Byzantine politics meant that Jerusalem passed from the jurisdiction of Patriarch of Antioch to the Greek authorities in Constantinople. For centuries, Greek clergy dominated the Jerusalem church. At the same time, the Roman church claimed primacy. (See Papal supremacy)

  • Juvenal (451-458)
  • Anastasius I (458-478)
  • Martyrius (478-486)
  • Sallustius (486-494)
  • Elias I (494-516)
  • John III (516-524)
  • Peter (524-552)
  • Macarics II (552, 564-575)
  • Eustochius (552-564)
  • John IV (575-594)
  • Amos (594-601)
  • Isaac (601-609)
  • Zacharias (609-632)
  • Modestus (632-634)
  • Sophronius I (634-638)
    • vacant (638-???)
  • Anastasius II (???-706)
  • John V (706-735)
  • Theodore (745-770)
  • Elias II (770-797)
  • George (797-807)
  • Thomas I (807-820)
  • Basileus (820-838)
  • John VI (838-842)
  • Sergius I (842-844)
    • vacant (844-855)
  • Solomon (855-860)
    • vacant (860-862)
  • Theodosius (862-878)
  • Elias III (878-907)
  • Sergius II (908-911)
  • Leontius I (912-929)
  • Athanasius I (929-937)
  • Christodolus (937-950)
  • Agathon (950-964)
  • John VII (964-966)
  • Christodolus II (966-969)
  • Thomas II (969-978)
    • vacant (978-980)
  • Joseph II (980-983)
  • Orestes (983-1005)
    • vacant (1005-1012)
  • Theophilus I (1012-1020)
  • Nicephorus I (1020-???)
  • Joannichius (???-???)
  • Sophronius II (???-1084)
  • Theodosius (1084)
  • Simon II (1084-1106)

Patriarchs of Jerusalem in exile

As a result of the First Crusade in 1099, a Latin Patriarchate was created, with residence in Jerusalem from 1099 to 1187. Greek Patriarchs continued to be appointed, but resided in Constantinople.

  • Savvas (1106-1156)
  • John VIII (1106-1156)
  • John IX (1156-1166)
  • Nicephorus II (1166-1170)
  • Leontius II (1170-1190)

Return of Patriarchs of Jerusalem

In 1187, the Latin Patriarch was forced to flee the region, and the Greek Patriarch returned to Jerusalem. The office of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem remained and appointments continued to be made by the Catholic Church, with the Latin Patriarch residing in Rome.

  • Dositheus I (1190-1191)
  • Marcus II (1191-???)
    • vacant (???-1223)
  • Euthemius II (1223)
  • Athanasius II (1224-1236)
  • Sophronius III (1236-???)
  • Gregory I (???-1298)
  • Thaddaeus (1298)
    • vacant (1298-1313)
  • Athanasius III (1313-1314)
    • vacant (1314-1322)
  • Gregory II (1322)
    • vacant (1322-1334)
  • Lazarus (1334-1368)
    • vacant (1368-1376)
  • Dorotheus I (1376-1417)
  • Theophilus II (1417-1424)
  • Theophanes I (1424-1431)
  • Joachim (1431-???)
    • vacant (???-1450)
  • Theophanes II (1450)
    • vacant (1450-1452)
  • Athanasius IV (1452-???)
    • vacant (???-1460)
  • Jacob II (1460)
    • vacant (1460-1468)
  • Abraham I (1468)
  • Gregory III (1468-1493)
    • vacant (1493-1503)
  • Marcus III (1503)
    • vacant (1503-1505)
  • Dorotheus II (1505-1537)
  • Germanus (1537-1579)
  • Sophronius IV (1579-1608)
  • Theophanes III (1608-1644)
  • Paiseus (1645-1660)
  • Nectarius I (1660-1669)
  • Dositheus II (1669-1707)
  • Chrysanthus (1707-1731)
  • Meletius (1731-1737)
  • Parthenius (1737-1766)
  • Ephram II (1766-1771)
  • Sophronius V (1771-1775)
  • Abraham II (1775-1787)
  • Procopius I (1787-1788)
  • Anthemus (1788-1808)
  • Polycarpus (1808-1827)
  • Athanasius V (1827-1845)
  • Cyril II (1845-1872)
  • Procopius II (1872-1875)
  • Jerotheus (1875-1882)
  • Nicodemus I (1883-1890)
  • Gerasimus I (1891-1897)
  • Damianus I (1897-1931)
  • Timotheus I (1935-1955)
    • vacant (1955-1957)
  • Benedict I (1957-1980)
  • Diodoros I (1981-2000)
  • Irenaios I (2001-2005)
  • Theophilos III (2005-Present)

See also

  • Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem
  • Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem


  1. CNEWA - Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
  2. Catholic Encyclopedia article
  3. "Since there prevails a custom and ancient tradition to the effect that the bishop of Aelia is to be honored, let him be granted everything consequent upon this honor, saving the dignity proper to the metropolitan" (Canon 7)
  4. Eusebius, The History of the Church (Tr. A. G. Williamson, Penguin Books, 1965. ISBN 0-14-044535-8), see summary in Appendix A.
  5. History of the Church Book IV, chapter V, verses 3-4
  6. Schaff's Seven Ecumenical Councils: First Nicaea: Canon VII: "Since custom and ancient tradition have prevailed that the Bishop of Aelia [i.e., Jerusalem] should be honoured, let him, saving its due dignity to the Metropolis, have the next place of honour."; "It is very hard to determine just what was the "precedence" granted to the Bishop of Aelia, nor is it clear which is the metropolis referred to in the last clause. Most writers, including Hefele, Balsamon, Aristenus and Beveridge consider it to be Cæsarea; while Zonaras thinks Jerusalem to be intended, a view recently adopted and defended by Fuchs; others again suppose it is Antioch that is referred to."

External links

The Pentarchy
Rome (42-present) | Constantinople (330-1453) | Alexandria (43-692) |
Antioch (37-546) | Jerusalem (33-70)

ka:იერუსალიმის პატრიარქები ja:エルサレム総主教庁 no:Patriarken av Jerusalem og hele Palestina ru:Список Иерусалимских Патриархов sr:Списак јерусалимских патријарха sv:Lista över ortodoxa patriarker av Jerusalem zh:耶路撒冷牧首