Paulicians pôlĭshˈənz [key], Christian heretical sect. The sect developed in Armenia from obscure origins and is first mentioned in the middle of the 6th cent., where it is associated with Nestorianism. The teachings of the Paulicians seem to show some gnostic influence, possibly that of Marcion or Paul of Samosata, and many of the adherents leaned toward adoptionism. The sect especially valued the Gospel of Luke and the Pauline Epistles. They rejected the sacraments but nevertheless considered baptism of the greatest importance. They were iconoclasts and rejected extreme asceticism. By the 7th cent. the sect spread to the eastern provinces of the Byzantine Empire, where it met with strong persecution. The Council of Dvin (719) brought on new persecutions of the Paulicians in Armenia, but the permissive Isaurian emperors allowed them to flourish and even settled them as allies in Thrace. Renewed persecution caused them to side with the Muslims against Byzantium. By 844, at the height of its power, the sect established a Paulician state at Tephrike (present-day Divriğu̇, Turkey) under the leadership of Karbeas, or Corbeas. In 871 the Byzantine emperor Basil I ended the power of this state and the survivors fled to Syria and Armenia. In 970 the Paulicians in Syria were deported to the Balkans, where they combined with the Bogomils. Those in Armenia became identified with a minor sect, the Tondrakeci. They ceased to be a threat after the 11th cent. and did not survive to modern times.

See N. G. Garsoïan, The Paulician Heresy (1968).

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