Bogomil: Bogomilism

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Bogomil designates a member of the Bogomil Church, a Christian neo-Gnostic or dualist sect teaching a doctrine called Bogomilism; also anyone in general who follows the doctrine of Bogomilism, identified as Bogomils.



The name derives from Bulgarian and Macedonian: (Cyrillic) Богомилство, romanized: Bogomilstvo; Serbo-Croatian: Bogumilstvo / Богумилство.

The term Bogomil in free translation means "dear to God", and is a compound of the Slavic words for "god" (Common Slavic: *bogъ) and "dear" (Common Slavic: *milъ). It may be also a translation of the Greek name Theophilos, literally "dear to God; loved by the gods," from theos "god" + philos "loved, beloved".

Founder: Bogomil

The Bogomils were so-called supposedly after the name of their founder, the priest Bogomil. But it is difficult to ascertain whether the name was taken from the reputed founder of that movement, a priest known by the name Bogomil (Bulgarian: Богомил, romanized: Bogomil), or whether he assumed that name after it had been given to the sect itself. The word itself is an Old Church Slavonic calque of Massaliani, the Syriac name of the sect corresponding to the Greek Euchites.[1]


In Church Slavonic documents the members of the Bogomil sect are referred to as Babuni, which originally meant "superstition; superstitious person" (Common Slavic: *babonъ, *babunъ *babona).


Toponyms[2] which retain the name include the river Babuna, the mountain Babuna, the Bogomila Waterfall and village Bogomila, all in the region of Azot today in central North Macedonia, suggesting that the movement was very active in the region.


The origin of the Bogomils is not clear. Information about them comes almost entirely from their opponents. The extant sources discussing the sect say variously that they derived their doctrines from the Messalians, the Paulicians, or the Manichaeans.

According to a multitude of historical sources[3] the Bogomil sect that flourished in the Balkans between the 10th and 15th centuries was founded in the 10th century by a priest named Bogomil in what is today the region of Macedonia in the First Bulgarian Empire during the reign of Tsar Peter I.

Doctrine: Bogomilism

Bogomilism most probably arose from a fusion of dualistic, neo-Manichaean doctrines imported especially from the Paulicians, a dualistic sect of Armenia and Asia Minor, and a local Slavonic movement aimed at reforming, in the name of an evangelical Christianity, the recently established Bulgarian Orthodox Church, as a response to the social stratification that occurred with the introduction of feudalism in Bulgaria toward the middle of the 10th century, and as a form of political movement and opposition to both the Bulgarian State and the doctrines and authority of the orthodox catholic Christian Church east and west, as defined by the Ante-Nicene Fathers and the Seven Ecumenical Councils.

The concepts of government and the rule of law are antithetical to the doctrine of Bogomilism and abhorrent to its followers, who regard all such ideas as pretexts for imposing the restrictive oppression of material darkness on the divine light of true spiritual freedom. On fundamental principle, they simply opposed Church and State, helping sow the seeds of Christian anarchism and the radical concept of Separation of church and state.[4]


Bogomilism has been called a Christian neo-Gnostic or dualist sect. Since the earliest days of Christianity, there has been a dualistic Christian tradition. All the dualist groups teach Dualism and Docetism in some form or other. This tradition includes the various forms of Gnosticism, including that of the Manichaeans, the Paulicians, the Bogomils and the Cathars.

The essence of Bogomilism is the doctrine of duality in the creation of the world by good and evil principles of causation, and the corollary doctrine that matter and the human body is the creation of Satan, the elder Son of God. This is why it is considered a heresy by the Catholic Church.


Research on the origin of Bogomilism has traditionally focused on the possible influence of Manichaean ideas among the sects of the Cathars, Albigensians, Waldensians, and Bogomils. Manichaeism is said to have been passed to the West via the Paulicians and the Bogomils to re-emerge in different forms among the European Cathars. Individual medieval historians, who were usually monks or clerics, interpreted this influence in terms of a universal conspiracy of Manichaeans, led by Satan.

More recent scholarship focusing on the possible influence of Manichaean ideas among these sects has questioned the doctrinal affinity between the Manichaeans, the Paulicians, the Bogomils, the moderate Cathars, and the radical Cathars. On the basis of the existing sources, the supposed relationship between the radical Cathars and the Manicheans is regarded as dubious. The most that can be claimed is that all display a form of dualism in absolute rejection and opposition to the orthodox catholic Christian dogma of monotheistic trinitarianism, which they utterly condemn as apostasy from the truth.

Different forms of doctrine

Since 1930, many authentic Manichaean sources have been found, mainly in Egypt. These have made it possible to study Manichaeism without relying on the interpretations of the Church Fathers. The results have raised questions among scholars about the supposedly universal radical character of all forms of Manichaean dualism[5]. Some researchers have even ventured to claim that Manichaean texts allow both a dualistic and a monotheistic interpretation[6]. As a result of this new evidence, the long-supposed influence of Manichaeism on the Cathars has been increasingly questioned, particularly as regards radical Catharism, because it was especially this variant of Catharism that was said to teach the same dualism as did the Manichaeans[7]. The only authentic Bogomil text available to us is the Interrogatio Iohanni. It is clear that they taught a moderate dualism, docetism, and strict asceticism, and that they rejected marriage[8][9].

Historical overview: Origins and development of doctrine and practice

100 - 2nd century

One of the earliest Christian dualist sects, Marcionism, originated in eastern Anatolia in the 2nd century. In fundamental opposition to orthodox catholic Christianity his followers promulgated the doctrine that the God of the Old Testament was an evil Demiurge that enslaved the spirits of human beings in mind-darkening prisons of physical matter (human bodies), in opposition to the Good God of the spiritual realm of light who sent Jesus to reveal the truth of divine gnosis "knowledge"[10].

200 - 3rd century

Manichaeism was an heretical dualist movement of Persian origin present throughout late antiquity, between approximately A.D. 240 and 800. The first Manichaean texts were found in 1905 in Turfan, Mongolia. These source texts consist mainly of fragments, and have the unique virtue of being accompanied by illustrations. Most of these texts are preserved in Berlin. Since 1930 an enormous number of almost entirely Manichaean texts has been found in Fayum, in Egypt. Written in Coptic, these texts include the Manichaean Homilies, the Psalm-book and the Kephalaia. New discoveries are still being made. The Cologne ManiCodex , discovered in 1970, contains autobiographical passages by Mani (A.D. 216-274). All these texts have now been made accessible in the CFM (Corpus Fontium Manichaeorum), initiated by the International Association of Manichaean Studies (IAMS). These have made it possible to study Manichaeism without relying on the interpretations of the Church Fathers.

Paul of Samosata, Bishop of Antioch from 260 to 268, was a believer in Monarchianism, a nontrinitarian doctrine; his teachings reflect adoptionism, arousing strong opposition in the Church, and accusations of corruption on a grand scale. Adoptionism in all its forms proclaims that Christ was only the "adopted" son of God the Father (see Nestorianism).

300 - 4th century

The doctrine of the Council of Nicaea 325 condemned Arianism and adoptionism, and declared the Son homoousios "consubstantial" with the Father.

The heresy of Macedonianism began in 360 with some Arian bishops, taking its name from one of them, Bishop Macedonius of Constantinople. They taught that the Second Person of the Trinity is inferior to the First Person, and the Holy Spirit inferior to the First and Second. The Council of Constantinople 381 condemned the Macedonians and their doctrine of Macedonianism, and declared the Holy Spirit "consubstantial" with Father and Son.

Up to 1930, our knowledge of Manichaeanism was based mainly on information from its opponents, such as the great Apostolic Father, Saint Augustine (354-430), who, according to his Confession had been a fervent Manichee before his conversion to orthodox catholic Christianity under the influence of the preaching of Saint Ambrose.

The Manichaeans taught ontological dualism: that there were two principles ab aeterno, the one good, the other bad. Only the good principle is called God: the bad principle is not called God anywhere in Manichaean sources [11]. It is only in Augustine’s polemical anti-Manichaean text Contra Faustum, a debate between Augustine and the Manichaean Bishop Faustus, that we find the existence of two gods being discussed, among other topics. Faustus denies the possibility forthrightly [12]: the bad principle is a pars Dei [13] which mixes itself with the creation, while the substance of God remains unaffected.

Manichaeism teaches a cosmic dualism: that the good and evil powers are equally present through all the eons of creation, including the physical creation. Moreover the world (heaven and earth) was created by a being from the kingdom of light, the living spirit. In each eon, light and darkness struggle with one another to extract and purify the light. On earth it is the Manichaean priests (the electi "Elect"), who have the task of distilling light by consuming ritual meals. The light in plants and flowers is distilled by digestion. This form of cosmic dualism can be called ‘horizontal dualism’ [14].

From the Manichaean texts it appears that the good God has foreseen the entire development of the world. He permits wickedness, so that at the end of time the light may shine out with a ‘higher’ quality in a New Jerusalem. This is an eschatological dualism. There is an evolutionary perspective in Manichaeanism: everything will be better.

The Messalians, or Euchites[15] ("Those who Pray"), are an heretical Christian sect that originated in Mesopotamia early in the fourth century, influenced by dualistic faiths like Zoroastrianism. The name 'Messalian' comes from the Syriac ܡܨܠܝܢܐ (mṣallyānā), meaning 'one who prays'. They teach that each person is born with an inner demon, and only intense prayer can drive it out. Messalians believe that God can be perceived by the carnal senses, and that this perception is necessary to reach perfection. Messalians teach that once a person has experienced the essence of God they are freed from moral obligations or ecclesiastical discipline (Antinomianism). They also believe that Lucifer (Latin: "light-bearer") is the elder son of God and a force for good, and that incest is sacred since it was practiced by the children of Adam and Eve. They have male and female teachers whom they honor more than the clergy, the perfecti. Messalian doctrine declared that the perfecti can commit incest, considering it sacred as it was practiced by the children of Adam and Eve. However, most historians agree that this was untrue in relevance to evidence from real history.

Messalianism was condemned as heretical in a synod of A.D. 383.

400 - 5th century

An early heretic of the 5th century, Eutyches of Constantinople, at various times taught that the human nature of Christ was overcome by the divine, or that Christ had a human nature but it was unlike the rest of humanity. His developed doctrine is called Eutychianism.

The church Marcion himself established in the 2nd century, appeared to die out around the 5th century, but currents of speculative gnostic and dualist thought continued in opposition to the doctrines of the Councils of Nicaea 325, Constantinople 381, Ephesus 431 and Chalcedon 451.

500 - 6th century

The Second Council of Constantinople of A.D. 553 was called to resolve certain questions that were raised by the Definition of Chalcedon against Nestorianism, the most important of which had to do with the unity of the two natures, God and man, in Jesus Christ. The Second Council of Constantinople confirmed the Definition of Chalcedon, while emphasizing that Jesus Christ does not just embody God the Son, He is God the Son.

600 - 7th century

Although the Marcionist church had died out, similarities between Marcionism and Paulicianism, a sect in the same geographical area, indicate that Marcionist elements may have survived.

Paulicianism arose in the Byzantine Empire and began in the mid-7th century between about A.D. 600 and 1000, when Constantine of Mananalis, who claimed to have preserved the true doctrine of the apostles of the Lord against the corruptions of paganism, and basing his message solely on the New Testament (sola scriptura), began to teach that there were two gods: a good god who had made men's souls, and an evil god who had created the entire physical universe including the human body. No one could dissuade him, because he claimed he had the scriptures as proof that he was right, in particular the apostle Paul. His followers, who like their founder were Gnostic dualist Christian heretics, became known as Paulicians, were not marked by extreme deviance in lifestyle compared to their contemporaries, despite their belief that the world was evil, and were renowned as good fighting men.

700 - 8th century

Manichaeism became the state religion of the Uighur kingdom of Turkestan in Central Asia in the year 762.

800 - 9th century

The origin of Manichaeism is related to Zoroastrianism. That is why Bogomilism is sometimes indirectly connected to Zoroastrianism by affinity in the sense of its duality.

The Church of Bulgaria was established by the Byzantine Catholic brothers Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius in the 9th century. The existence in the Bulgarian lands of older Christian heresies which were considered very dualistic (Manichaeism and Paulicianism) undoubtedly influenced the development of the Bogomil movement with initial stirrings of thought toward forming another dualistic heretical doctrine near the end of the ninth century, about 895. Missionaries from Bulgaria were key in the evangelization of the lands of Serbia, Romania, and Montenegro.

900 - 10th century

The gradual Christianization of the Bulgarian population, the fact that the service of Christian worship was initially practiced in Greek, which only the elite knew, resulted in a low level of understanding of the new religion among the peasantry. Moreover, the purported corruption of the Byzantine church as an institution, as seen by its opponents, led to grave disappointment among its recently converted flock. Due to the constant wars during the time of Tsar Simeon I, the lands near the Byzantine border (Thrace) were devastated, and the people living there were left without occupation. The constant change of authority over these lands, and the higher taxes during the time of Tsar Peter I, gave birth to a great social discontent at the beginning of the 10th century

The development of the Gnostic social-religious movement and doctrine of Bogomilism that originated in the time of Peter I of Bulgaria (927–969), is alleged in the modern day to be a reaction against state and clerical oppression by the Byzantine church. It was an outcome of many factors that had arisen in the beginning of the 10th century, most probably in the region of Macedonia.

In 970 the Byzantine emperor John I Tzimiskes transplanted 200,000 Armenian Paulicians to Europe and settled them in the neighborhood of Philippopolis (today's Plovdiv in Thrace). Bogomilism as an outcome of the many factors of unrest that had arisen in the beginning of the 10th century was also strongly influenced by the Paulicians who had been driven out of Armenia. The earliest description of the Bogomils is in a letter from Patriarch Theophylact of Bulgaria to Tsar Peter of Bulgaria.

The generally accepted historical view holds that the Bogomils first appeared as a movement in the tenth-eleventh century in the Balkans between about 1000 and 1400. They arose as a sect of Christian heretics who promulgated a neo-Gnostic dualist anarchic doctrine in Bulgaria, and spread throughout the Byzantine Empire. The Bogomils called for a return to what they considered to be early spiritual teaching, rejecting the ecclesiastical hierarchy; and their primary political tendencies were resistance to those state and church authorities seen by them as following the Council of Nicaea or the Nicene Creed.

Much of Bogomil literature has been lost or was destroyed by the contemporary Christian Churches. From the imperfect and conflicting data that is available, one undeniable result can be gathered that the Bogomils were gnostics, adoptionists and dualists. Their dualism was initially moderate (or "monarchian").

The main source of doctrinal information is the work of Euthymius Zigabenus, who says that they believe that God created man's soul but matter was the invention of Satan, God's older son, who in seducing Eve lost his creative power. For Bogomils "the Logos was not the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word incarnate, but merely the spoken word of God, shown in the oral teaching of Christ". Concerning the Bogomils themselves, something can be gathered from the polemic Against the Newly-Appeared Heresy of the Bogomils written in Slavonic by Cosmas the Priest, a 10th-century Bulgarian official. The Slavonic sources are unanimous on the point that the teaching of the priest Bogomil was Manichaean. The names of Bogomil's pupils or "apostles", were said to be Mihail, Todur, Dobri, Stefan, Vasilie and Peter. Zealous missionaries carried the doctrines of Bogomil far and wide.

The central teaching of the Bogomils, based on a dualistic cosmology, was that the visible, material world was created by the devil. Bogomils explained the earthly sinful corporeal life as a creation of Satan, an angel that was sent to Earth. Due to this duality, the church believes that their doctrine undervalues everything that is created with matter. Thus, they denied the doctrine of the incarnation and rejected the Christian conception of matter as a vehicle of grace. They rejected Baptism, the Eucharist, and the whole organization of the Orthodox Church, but their rejection of the sacraments and the entire organization of the Orthodox Church made them heretics, and they were therefore sought out for conversion and, in some cases, persecution. The moral teaching of the Bogomils was just as consistently dualistic. They condemned those functions of man that bring him into close contact with matter, especially marriage, the eating of meat, and the drinking of wine.[16] In fact, the moral austerity of the Bogomils invariably was acknowledged by their fiercest opponents.

In their original monarchian dualist story, Bogomils taught that God had two sons, the elder Satanail and the younger Michael. Satanail rebelled against the father and became an evil spirit. He created the lower heavens and the Earth and tried in vain to create man, though in the end he had to appeal to God for the Spirit. After creation, Adam was allowed to till the ground on condition that he sold himself and his posterity to the owner of the Earth, Satanail.

In order to free Adam and his offspring, Michael was sent in the form of a man, becoming identified with Jesus Christ, and was "elected" by God after the baptism in the Jordan. When the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of the dove, Jesus received power to break the covenant in the form of a clay tablet (hierographon) held by Satanail from Adam. He had now become the angel Michael in a human form, and as such he vanquished Satanail, and deprived him of the termination il (meaning God), in which his power resided. Satanail was thus transformed into Satan. However, through Satan's machinations the crucifixion took place, and Satan was the originator of the whole Orthodox community with its churches, vestments, ceremonies, sacraments and fasts, with its monks and priests. This world being the work of Satan, the perfect ("perfecti") must eschew any and every excess of its pleasure, though not so far as asceticism.

Each community had its own twelve "apostles", and women could be raised to the rank of "elect". The Bogomils wore garments like those of mendicant friars and were known as keen missionaries, travelling far and wide to propagate their doctrines. Healing the sick and exorcising the evil spirit, they traversed different countries and spread their apocryphal literature along with some of the books of the Old Testament.

The chief literature of all the heretical sects throughout the ages has been that of apocryphal Biblical narratives, and the Bogomil popes Jeremiah or Bogumil are directly mentioned as authors of such forbidden books "which no orthodox dare read". In its most simple and attractive form, as being supposedly invested with the authority of the reputed holy author, their account of the creation of the world and of man, the origin of sin and redemption, the history of the Cross, and the disputes between body and soul, right and wrong, heaven and hell, were embodied either in "Historiated Bibles" or in special dialogues held between Christ and his disciples, or between renowned Fathers of the Church who expounded these views in a simple manner adapted to the understanding of the people. Though these writings are mostly of the same origin as those from the older lists of apocryphal books, they underwent a modification at the hands of their Bogomil editors, so as to be useful for the propagation of their own specific doctrines.

Bogomils accepted the four Gospels, fourteen Epistles of Paul, the three Epistles of John, James, Jude, and an Epistle to the Laodiceans, which they professed to have. They held the "Lord's Prayer" in high respect as the most potent weapon against Satan, and had a number of conjurations against "evil spirits". Other possible source texts for Bogomil doctrine include:

  • "The Story of the Cross-tree" and "The Prayer against Fever", by the Bulgarian priest Jeremiah
  • The possible Bogomil use of pseudepigraphic texts (according to Euthymius Zigabenus):
Apocryphon of John; Book of the Secret Supper; Vision of Isaiah.

They sowed the seeds of a rich, popular religious literature which owe their dissemination to a large extent to the activity of the Bogomils of Bulgaria, and their successors in other lands in the East as well as the West.

  • The Historiated Bible, the Letter from Heaven, the Wanderings through Heaven and Hell, the numerous Adam and Cross legends, the religious poems of the "Kalēki perehozhie" and other similar productions.

According to their teachings, God created and rules the spiritual part of the world, and Satan the material, but Satan is ultimately inferior to God and his side by virtue of being God's elder son. However, Bogomils were not quite free from the absolute dualism of Manichaeism and Paulicianism, and over time they too adopted an absolute position, believing God and Satan are eternal opponents, similar to the one maintained by the posterior radical Cathars.

Their adoptionist teaching appears to have come from Paul of Samosata (though at a later period the name of Paul was believed to be that of the Apostle). They rejected the Christianity of the Orthodox churches, though they did not accept the docetic teaching of some of the other gnostic sects. They saw anarchism as a good: they opposed anarchism to all established forms of government and church as being alike (see Christian anarchism).

As there are no sources giving evidence of Bogomil persecution during the reign of Samuil of Bulgaria (976–1014) as he revolted against the authority of the Byzantine Empire, it is most probable that he relied on the popular support of the movement.

1000 - 11th century

The state religion of the Uighur kingdom of Turkestan in Central Asia remained Manichaeism and this territory itself became part of the Islamic world when Turkestan was conquered. Around the year 1000, Islamic writers such as Ebn al-Nadim were writing about Manichaeism [17]. The Bogomils were the connecting link between the so-called heretical sects of the East and those of the West. They were, moreover, the most active agents in disseminating such teachings in Kievan Rus' and among all the nations of Europe.

The Legend of Saint Gerard discloses that followers of Bulgarian Bogomilism were present during the early 11th century in Ahtum's realm, which comprised present day Banat, bounded by Transylvania and Walachia in the east, by the Tisza River in the west, by the Mures River in the north, and by the Danube River in the south.[18]

In 1004, scarcely 25 years after the introduction of Christianity into Kievan Rus (Ukraine), we hear of a priest Adrian teaching the same doctrines as the Bogomils. He was imprisoned by Leontius, Bishop of Kiev.

In both scholarly and popular accounts, the commonly held view has often been repeated that late classical Manichaeism experienced a revival in the eleventh century, a notion going back to the Middle Ages when ‘Manichaean’ was used by the orthodox catholic Christian Church as a generic label for heretics from about the year 1000 onwards, and that in the three and half centuries between 1000 and 1350 variant forms of the doctrines of ‘Manichaeism’ had spread in Europe, where followers of those doctrines were commonly known as Cathars, even if they did not properly belong explicitly to that particular sect.

Another trend in the academic debate about Manichaean influence on Catharism centers on developments in medieval Europe itself. By the year 1000, the church had become very corrupt. Ecclesiastical offices were sold, celibacy as a clerical requirement was often ignored, and the parish priests received hardly any theological training. The heretics’ chief objections concerned the seven sacraments and the unworthiness of the clergy. They wanted to return the church to the pristine era of the apostles [19]. However the sources before about 1150 provide no substantive information about their heretical teachings. This gave rise to a broad religious reaction: the lay people in particular sought to return to the origins of Christianity. This reaction is known as the Gregorian reform movement. Some researchers think that Catharism is a logical radicalization of this reformation.[20]

Their criticism of the church attracted the accusation of being ‘Manichaeans’, an epithet derived from the writings of Augustine. The existence of Manichaeans in Europe was first reported in 1020. Many similar reports were to follow.

Although Bogomils regarded themselves as "Trinitarian", anathemas against Bogomils (circa 1027) charge Bogomils with rejection of the Trinity as being a pagan apostasy.

The religious distribution at the time of the East–West Schism of 1054 shows the Bogomils concentrated in the Balkans.[21]

During the 11th and 12th centuries Bogomilism spread over many European and Asian provinces of the Byzantine Empire.

1100 - 12th century

The growth of Bogomilism in Constantinople resulted, about 1100, in the trial and imprisonment of prominent Bogomils in the city and in the public burning of their leader, Basil.

Much may also be learned from the doctrines of the numerous variations of Bogomilism which spread in Medieval Kievan Rus' after the 11th century. Bogomil and Cathar heretics developed a number of myths that circulated in both eastern and western Europe.

In 1125, the Church in the south of Rus had to combat another heresiarch named Dmitri. The Church in Bulgaria also tried to extirpate Bogomilism. Several thousand went in the army of Alexios I Komnenos against the Norman, Robert Guiscard. Efforts were again put forth for their conversion; and for the converts to Eastern Orthodoxy the new city of Alexiopolis was built, opposite Philippopolis.

Around the year 1150 the Bogomils were repeatedly condemned and persecuted by Emperor Manuel Komnenos without any apparent effect. The Bogomils spread west from the Balkans (Bosnia and Servia) into western Europe, where they became identified with the Cathars. The Bogomils were the connecting link between the “heretical” sects of the East and those of the West.

"Cathars" and "Albigensians" are synonyms, the original reference being to the Cathars of the city of Albi in Southern France[22]. The Albigenses or Cathars developed into an important neo-Gnostic and dualist Christian heresy in Europe between about 1150 and 1350, significant for its rejection of both state authority and orthodox catholic ecclesial authority.

Moderate Catharism and Radical Catharism.

Moderate Catharism

Moderate Catharism was influenced by the Bogomil movement [23]. The texts with moderate Cathar ideas are: the Interrogatio Iohanni, also called the Cène Secrete [24]; two versions of the rituals, one in Latin [25] and one in Provencal [26]; A Vindication of the Church of God [27], A Gloss on the Lord’s Prayer [28] and the Visio Isaia [29].

The Cène Secrete describes a “moderate dualism”: there is one good God and a fallen angel (Lucifer) who created the earth. This has also been called “Gnostic dualism” . It includes the dualism of the Bogomils and that of the moderate Cathars [30].

There are no problems with regard to the historical transmission of moderate dualism: Bogomil ideas were taken back to Europe by the returning crusaders. The Cène Secrete from about 1190 confirms this: the manuscript ends with a note: “this manuscript originates from Bulgaria” [31]. The origin of the various moderate Cathar churches in Southern Europe has been traced back to the “church of Philadelphia in Romania”.[32]

Radical Catharism

In contrast to Manichaeism’s ‘horizontal dualism’, the moderate Cathars and the radical Cathars both teach a ‘vertical dualism’: what is above is good, what is below is bad. The light has fallen into the darkness (the physical world) and must be liberated from it. The creation has been made by a creatormalus "evil creator". The Cathar perfecti ("Perfect Ones") in particular have a horror of the creation and the body [33].

This cosmic dualism also appears to be an important point of difference: the Manichaeans teach a ‘horizontal dualism’, the moderate and radical Cathars a ‘vertical dualism’.

Eschatological dualism is a point of agreement between Manichaeism and the radical Cathars: both proclaim the divine providence [34] The radical Cathar texts also say that the good God has foreseen the end, but they have different opinions regarding the end of time. In contrast to Manichaeism, radical Catharism teaches that the goal of creation in this case is to return the light to its origin. There is no evolutionary promise. The Manichaeans preach a New Jerusalem, while the radical Cathars preach a restoration.

The transmission of radical dualism to Europe is said to been brought by a certain ‘Pope Nicetas’ from Constantinople to Northern Italy and Southern France.[35] However the sources are unclear about the sectarian origins of Pope Nicetas; whether he was from the Bogomil Church [36], or from the Paulician sect [37]. (Pope Nicetas is said to have converted the moderate Cathar bishops to radical Catharism during the so-called Council of Saint Félix de Caraman in 1167 [38]. However there are strong indications that this source was a seventeenth century forgery [39].) The only certain fact is the transmission of Bogomil dualism to moderate Cathar dualism.

The supposed influence of Manichaeism on the Cathars has been increasingly questioned, particularly as regards radical Catharism, because it was especially this variant of Catharism that was said to teach the same dualism as did the Manichaeans [40].


The Cathars, like the Bogomils, claimed to be Christians. The Bogomils called for a return to what they considered to be early spiritual teaching, rejecting the authority of ecclesiastical hierarchy, and their primary political tendencies were resistance to the leadership of state and church authorities. They ignored the feudal social system, which was interpreted by their enemies as suggesting disorder if not the destruction of the state and church. This helped the movement spread quickly. Its followers refused to pay taxes, to work in serfdom, or to fight in conquering wars. The Bogomils spread westwards, gradually expanding throughout the Byzantine Empire and later in the Balkans, reaching Kievan Rus' (Ukraine), Bosnia (Bosnian Church), Dalmatia, Serbia, Italy, and France (Cathars), and settled in Serbia, where they were to be known as Babuns (Babuni).

Rejection of Orthodox Catholic Christianity

They differed from Catholic Christianity in teaching dualism and Docetism, both of which had been dogmatically condemned as heretical. The Bogomils were dualists or Gnostics in that they believed in a world within the body and a world outside the body, dual existences, and the spiritual freedom of deliverance from the "illusion" of dependence on the body and its material needs for salvation from misery and pain. They did not use the Christian cross, nor build churches, as they revered their gifted physical form and considered their body to be the temple. This gave rise to many forms of practice to cleanse oneself through "purging"[41], fasting, celebrating and dancing.

Matter and the physical body

Because the Cathars taught that the creation and the body were created by the wicked demiurge or Satan, they could not imagine that Christ could have been incarnated in the flesh. According to the Interrogatio Iohanni, he entered Mary through her ear and left her again in the same way [42].

Salvation through gnosis: Knowledge

According to Sacconi, the radical Cathar Giovanni di Lugio taught that Christ actually suffered, died and rose again, not in the physical world, but in a higher world [43]. This idea cannot be found so clearly in the Liber de duobus principiis, which claims that Christ was crucified by the bad God and creator, meaning the old Testament Iahweh [44]. The good God had nothing to do with this. Therefore the crucifixion does not represent salvation for men, but does show that the veri christiani "true Christians" (the Cathars) will have to suffer in his footsteps [45]. The true salvation is achieved through gnosis. For the Cathars, Christ is the wise teacher who teaches us that our true origin is from the spirit [46].

Heresy: measures taken

At the Council of Reims in 1157, measures were taken against the “impure sect of the Manichaeans” [47]. The first report from a layman about the Cathars dates from 1177. This report is not based on information from Augustine. In a letter to a Cistercian abbot, Count Raymond of Toulouse in Southern France asks how he should proceed against the heretics who “teach two principles”, that is, two Gods [48]. The heretics were then interrogated, and the report of the interrogations speaks of heretics who preach “two gods” [49]. From that point, events move rapidly.

Within a few decades, Southern France in particular develops into a Cathar bulwark. The Cathars have the sympathy of the population and the local nobility, while the Roman Catholic Church has little influence on them.

During the Council of Lombers in 1165, some of the "Good", the boni homines ("good man"), were interrogated, but the source does not tell us whether dualistic ideas were found [50]. Some researchers even suspect that the people concerned were not Cathars but Waldensians [51]. The Waldensians sought to reform the church and did not preach dualism. Not all researchers agree that the people who were interrogated by the Council of Lombers were actually Waldensians, regarding such a conclusion as dubious at best.

The church’s response to ‘Manichaean Catharism’ comes in three increasingly harsh phases:
1. Attempts at conversion.
2. The inquisition, established in 1184.
3. The crusade, in particular the ‘Crusade against the Albigensians’ in 1204.

St. Dominic: the Dominicans

The Cathar priests had been successful because they led pious and ascetic lives in imitation of the apostles, in apparent contrast to the general Catholic clergy, whom they accused of being hypocrites, although the Catholic clergy included many pious members who practiced visibly obvious personal poverty and disciplines of ascetic self-denial and prayer according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience, such as the communities of desert hermits (the beginnings of monasticism), the Augustinians founded 5th century, Benedictines founded about 530, the monastery at Cluny founded 909, Camaldolese founded 1012, Carthusians founded 1086, Hospitallers founded 1115, Carmelites founded in Palestine 1155, Dominicans beginning 1178. So beginning in 1178, Rome sent Dominican monks already practicing the same ascetic discipline, who tried with little success to convert the Cathars to Catholicism.

The populace for the most part listened to the preaching of the Dominicans with little enthusiasm. Many were undecided, and had not yet fully committed themselves to the doctrines of the Cathars. Some few who had been converted to Catharism were persuaded to come back to the Church and renounce the doctrines and practices of the Cathars by the reasoning arguments of the Dominican friars and priests with their ehetorical appeals to the scriptures and the visible example of the living witness of their own way of life and simple asceticism. Most of the Cathars had been persuaded against the Church and state by the specious reasoning and polemical arguments in favor of dualism and the evil of the material body as being created by the Demiurge Satan and of wealth and property ownership and governmental authority in any form as an absolute evil and of the Jews as worshipers of Satan.


The inquisition was a church court that was intended to protect those accused of heresy against the overly eager harsh methods of secular princes and governors who cared little about the truthfulness of the charge of heresy and more about readily seizing the property and wealth of the accused, who included political rivals and potential insurgents protesting against governmental corruption. The inquisitional courts interrogated those suspected of Cathar sympathies, and the Cathar faithful and priests, in a brutal fashion. When they were found innocent, they were released. When they were found guilty, repented and renounced their heretical beliefs, they were sentenced to do penance in a penitentiary of a monastery, sometimes for years, and afterward restored to the Church. When they were found to be guilty and unrepentant, they were remanded to the secular authority as incorrigible. Their property was declared forfeit, and they were forced under torture to betray others. The perfecti ("Perfect Ones") and other intransigent Cathars died at the stake.

At the end of the 12th century Serbian Grand Prince Stefan Nemanja called the Serbian Council against Bogomilism, organized by Stefan Nemanja. The council deemed Bogomilism a heresy, and expelled them from the country. Large numbers, majority of Vlach origin, took refuge in Bosnia and Dalmatia where they were known under the name of Patarenes (Patareni).

The late 12th century in Bosnia was a golden age for Bogomils, where it was the state religion. Despite the Bogomils suffering oppression elsewhere from the Catholic and Serbian Orthodox, Bosnia offered them safe haven. Kulin, the Great Ban (title of the local representatives of Hungarian Kings) played a very important role for Bogomils during his reign, so much that the Bogomils formed a "Bosnian Church" free from Catholic authority.

1200 - 13th century

In the 12th and 13th century, the Bogomils were already known in the West as "Cathars" or in other places as "Bulgari", i.e. Bulgarians (българи). By the early 13th century the dualistic communities of southern Europe—comprising the Paulicians and Bogomils in the east and the Cathari in the west—formed a network stretching from the Black Sea to the Atlantic.

“Providing refuge to heretics”, including bogomils, was a recurrent pretext for Hungarian rulers to declare crusades against Bosnia and extend their influence in the region. A first Hungarian complaint to the Pope was averted by the public abjuration of the Bosnian ruler Ban Kulin, close relative of Stefan Nemanja, in 1203.

In 1203, Pope Innocent III, with the aid of the King of Hungary, forced an agreement of Kulin to acknowledge Papal authority and religion: in practice this was ignored.

When the Crusaders took Constantinople (1204), they found some Paulicians.

Crusade against the Albigensians

Finally the church turned to its ultimate weapon, launching a crusade against the Cathars in Southern France from 1204, the same year as the beginning of the Franciscans founded 1207-08.

In 1207 the Bulgarorum heresis is mentioned.

Pope Innocent III officially in 1208 announced the ‘Crusade against the Albigensians’ (the synonym for Cathars). Thus there was a domestic crusade in Europe, between the fourth and fifth crusades against the Saracens.

A Synodikon[52] from the year 1210 adds the names of Bogomil's pupils or "apostles", Mihail, Todur, Dobri, Stefan, Vasilie and Peter, saying that zealous missionaries carried their doctrines of Bogomilism far and wide, deeply influencing the religious spirit of the nations and sowing the seeds of the Protestant Reformation.

On the death of Kulin in 1216 a mission was sent to convert Bosnia to Rome but failed.

The several texts with moderate Cathar ideas have already been mentioned, the Interrogatio Iohanni and others. There are fewer texts with radical Cathar ideas: the Liber contra Manicheos and the Liber the Duobis Principiis. The Liber contra Manicheos (circa 1218-1222) is by Durand the Huesca, an opponent of the Cathars, and contains a radical Cathar treatise. (The Liber the Duobis Principiis was written much later, in the last half of the 13th century.)

The radical Cathar texts, in contrast to Manichaeism, teach that there are two principles, each of them a God, at the ontological level. The bad God (malus deus) is identified with the creator from the Old Testament [53]. Thus ontological dualism appears to be an important point of difference between the ideas of the Manichaeans and of the radical Cathars: the Manichaeans preach one God, while the radical Cathars preach two gods.

In 1223 the Albigenses are declared to be the local Bougres ("boogers, buggers"[54]), and in the same period mention is made of the "Pope of the Albigenses who resided within the confines of Bulgaria".

A second Hungarian crusade against Bosnia on the pretext of Bogomil heresy was launched in 1225, but failed.

In 1234, the Catholic Bishop of Bosnia was removed by Pope Gregory IX for allowing heretical practices. In addition, Gregory called on the Hungarian king to crusade against the heretics. However, Bosnian nobles were able to expel the Hungarians.

The Cathars were often persecuted in horrifying ways by returned veteran Crusader princes and knights in defense of the Church against the poison of Catharism in their lands.[55] The situation reached its nadir with the conquest of the fortress of Montségur in 1244, when 205 Cathar priests (parfaits or perfecti) died at the stake. The Cathars retreated into the Pyrenees.

In Slavonic documents from the 13th century the Bogomils are identified with the Messalians.

In the second half of the 12th century, Bogomilism spread westward. The Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja was obliged to summon a general assembly of his land to check it.

Another text with radical Cathar ideas is the Liber the Duobis Principiis (circa 1250-1280), the only surviving extensive radical Manichaean text available to us. The contents of the two texts, the Liber contra Manicheos (circa 1218-1222), by Durand the Huesca, an opponent of the Cathars, containing a radical Cathar treatise, and the Liber the Duobis Principiis (circa 1250-1280), accord closely with the information that we have from the opponents of the Cathars, so we can use both texts.

In 1252, Pope Innocent IV decided to put Bosnia's bishop under the Hungarian Kalocsa jurisdiction. This decision provoked the resistance of the Bosnian Christians, who refused to submit to the Hungarians and broke off their relations with Rome.

In 1254, rebelling against the Papal order to accept a Hungarian bishop, the Bosnian Church chose schism (ecclesially autonomous but mainly following Orthodox doctrine). In that way, an autonomous Bosnian Church came into being. Some later saw in this the beginning of a Bogomil or Cathar Church. In reality no trace of bogomilism, Catharism or dualism can be found in the original documents of the Bosnian Christians. Some scholars, who sought certain ideological backgrounds and justifications for their political narratives, argue that both Catholics and Orthodox persecuted the Bogomils as heretics, and according to them, the pressures drew Bosnia to Bogomilism.

There are no problems with regard to the historical transmission of moderate dualism. The Inquisitor and former Cathar, Reinerius Sacconi (d. 1262) traces the origin of the various moderate Cathar churches in Southern Europe back to the “church of Philadelphia in Romania” [56]. The Inquisitor Anselmus Alessandria reports in 1266 that Bogomil ideas were taken back to Europe by the returning crusaders.[57]

The possibility that Manichean ideas reached the Bogomils in the Balkans through the Islamic expansion has been dismissed by some scholars. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam [58] this is highly improbable as conversions to Islam only started in the Balkans about 1260, and the main Ottoman colonization was between 1300-1400.

Under Byzantine and then later Ottoman rule, the Armenian Paulicians lived in relative safety in their ancient stronghold near Philippopolis, and further northward. Linguistically, they were assimilated into the Bulgarians, by whom they were called pavlikiani (the Byzantine Greek word for Paulician).

Due to the scarcity of documents after the Ottoman conquest, in the following centuries, the Bosnian Church and the heretical sect of the Bogomils came to be identified with each other. Roman Catholic authorities were greatly disturbed by reports of heresy in Dalmatia and Bosnia (though modern scholarship casts doubt on the theory that the Bosnian church ever adopted the dualist theology of the Bogomils).

From Bosnia, their influence extended into Italy (Piedmont). The Hungarians undertook many crusades against the heretics in Bosnia.

It was not until the Bull "Prae cunctis" of Pope Nicholas in 1291 that the inquisition led by the Franciscans was imposed on Bosnia.

Bogomilism was eradicated in Bulgaria, in Rascia (one of Serbian medieval states) and in Byzantium in the 13th century, but some smaller elements survived in Rascia's principality of Hum and Bosnia [59] by embracing the eastern tradition of the Bosnian church.

Considerable scholarly debate has arisen about the exact relationship between dualist heresies that arose in different places and centuries across medieval Europe, questioning whether it was indeed a single movement or belief system which was spread from one region to the next, or if multiple heretical movements arose independently in different parts of Europe.

The Cathars and Patarenes, the Waldenses, the Anabaptists, and in Russia the Strigolniki, and Spiritual Christians, have all at different times been either identified with the Bogomils or closely connected with them, even though several of these are unrelated and are not dualist.

Furthering the confusion is that the medieval sources themselves, such as the 13th century papal Inquisition in France, would often simply assume that dualistic heresies were directly connected to previous heretical movements in different regions. Inquistors often described 13th century Cathars as a direct outgrowth of surviving Manichean dualists from previous centuries—though by the same logic, Inquisitors who encountered pagan religions in the fringes of Europe (Celtic lands, or in the Baltic Crusades) would directly accuse non-Christians of worshiping "Apollo and Mercury", simply applying previous terms and rhetoric to new contexts in which they didn't accurately apply.

Thus medieval scholarship is divided over whether the "Cathars" actually were an offshoot of the "Bogomils", or if the 13th century Inquisition itself simply mistook "Cathars" for "Bogomils".

1300 - 14th century

In the 13th and 14th centuries, as already mentioned, Rome dispatched several legations and Franciscan missionaries to convert or expel Bosnian heretics, among whom there may have been some Bogomils.

Karp Strigolnik, who in the 14th century preached the doctrine in Novgorod, explained that St. Paul had taught that simpleminded men should instruct one another; therefore they elected their "teachers" from among themselves to be their spiritual guides, and had no special priests. There is a tradition that the Bogomils taught that prayers were to be said in private houses, not in separate buildings such as churches. Ordination was conferred by the congregation and not by any specially appointed minister. The congregation were the "elect", and each member could obtain the perfection of Christ and become a Christ or "Chlist". Marriage was not a sacrament. Bogomils refused to fast on Mondays and Fridays in accordance with established Orthodoxy, and they rejected monasticism. Like the followers of the adoptionist doctrine of the 4th century heresy of Nestorianism they declared Christ to be the Son of God only through grace like other prophets, and that the bread and wine of the eucharist were not physically transformed into flesh and blood; that the last judgement would be executed by God and not by Jesus; that the images and the cross were idols and the veneration of saints and relics is idolatry.

The last Cathars, a group in the caves of Lombrive, were not eliminated until 1330, when the only access to the caves was bricked over.

These doctrines have survived in the great Russian sects, and can be traced back to the teachings and practice of the Bogomils. But in addition to these doctrines of an adoptionist origin, they held the Manichaean dualistic conception of the origin of the world. This has been partly preserved in some of their literary remains, and has taken deep root in the beliefs and traditions of Balkan nations with substantial Bogomil followings.

In the country of its birth Bogomilism remained a powerful force until the late 14th century. The Bulgarian authorities convened several church councils to condemn its teachings.

In spite of all measures of repression, the Gnostic social-religious movement and doctrine of the Bogomils remained strong and popular until the fall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in the end of the 14th century. According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam [60] en masse conversions of the Bogomils and Cathars to Islam occurred with the main Ottoman colonization between 1300-1400.

1400 - 15th century

The Inquisition reported the existence of a dualist sect in Bosnia in the late 15th century and called them "Bosnian heretics", but scholarly research suggests that this sect was most likely not the same as the Bosnian Church.

Bosnia had offered the Bogomils safe haven. Bogomilism had been eradicated in Bulgaria, Rascia and Byzantium in the 13th century, but some smaller elements survived in Rascia's principality of Hum and Bosnia by embracing the eastern traditions of the Bosnian Church. The Hungarians undertook many crusades against the heretics in Bosnia. Bogomils were denounced as heretical due their doctrines; however, what they endured led them later to adopt Islam, when Ottoman rule arrived in the region. Because they were suffering oppression elsewhere from the Catholic and Serbian Orthodox, this led the Bogomils to see the Ottomans as liberators and help the Turks against the Hungarians in 1414. Building closer ties with Turks toward the close of the 15th century, Bogomils later welcomed Ottomans. The Bogomils were still being persecuted in Bosnia in 1462, but a year later, Bosnia was conquered by the Ottomans. Although the sect had been eradicated in Bulgaria, in Rascia, and Byzantium in the 13th century, some smaller elements of Bogomilism survived in Rascia's principality of Hum and Bosnia by outwardly embracing the eastern tradition of the Bosnian church, until the Ottoman Empire gained control of the region in 1463. When they conquered Bosnia the Bogomils welcomed them and apparently adopted Islam, as they did elsewhere following Islamic conquests [61]. Authy Phyllis in her book Yugoslavia said, "Bogomils preferred to be conquered by the Sultan than converted by the Pope."

End of persecution: obscurity

The conquest of that country by the Turks put an end to their persecution. With the Ottoman conquest of southeastern Europe in the 15th century, obscurity descended upon the sect. The ancient Patriarchate of the Bosnian Church was suppressed, and was made a part of the Church of Constantinople by the Ottoman Turks in the 15th Century.

1500 - 16th century

Few or no remnants of Bogomilism have survived in Bosnia. The surviving old Slavonic lists of forbidden books of the 15th and 16th century give us a clue to the discovery of Bogomil heretical literature and of the means the Bogomils had employed to carry on their teachings.

1600 - 17th century

In 1650, the Roman Catholic Church gathered the Armenian Paulicians into its fold. Fourteen villages near Nicopolis, in Moesia, embraced Catholicism, as well as the villages around Philippopolis, rejecting Orthodoxy. A colony of Paulicians in the Wallachian village of Cioplea near Bucharest also followed the example of their brethren across the Danube.

1700 - 18th century

In the 18th century, the Paulician people from around Nicopolis were persecuted by the Turks, and a large number of them fled across the Danube and settled in the Banat region that was part of the Kingdom of Hungary at the time.

1800 - 19th century

The Ritual in Slavonic written by the Bosnian Radoslav, and published in vol. xv. of the Starine of the South Slavonic Academy at Agram, shows great resemblance to the Cathar ritual published by Cunitz, 1853.

1900 - 20th century

Much research was published on the Bogomils in the 20th century.

Some researchers and scholars see Christianity not as faithful Christian researchers and scholars see it, as the unique revelation of God to man in the person of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling in his Church as in a living temple, the pillar and bulwark of the truth through which the manifold wisdom of God is made known even to the angels and principalities and power in the heavenly places[62], but rather as a collection of borrowings and syntheses and distortions of elements from movements and religions outside of the community of orthodox catholic Christian believers, guided by a syncretistic impulse and a propensity for intolerantly persecuting those who differ and who only sought to be true to what they sincerely believed and the intuitive insights they thought they had to offer to all mankind. (See Historical-critical method (Higher criticism).)

Up to 1930, our knowledge of Manichaeanism was based mainly on information from its opponents, such as the great Apostolic Father, Saint Augustine. The following works are a sampling of 20th century studies:

Visio Isaia, trans. R. H. Charles as The Ascension of Isaiah, Translated form the Ethiopic Version, Which Together with the New Greek Fragment, the Latin Versions and the Latin Translation of the Slavonic, Is Here Published in Full, London, 1900, pp. 98-139.

Sacrorum conciliorum collectio, ed. Mansi, XXI, Paris and Leipzig, 1903.

Acta concilii Lumbariensis, ed. M. Bouquet et al., in Recueil des historiens des Gaules et de la France, vol. XIV, Paris, 1738-1904.

Evervinus Steinfeldensis epistola ad S. Bernardum, ed. J. Fearns, Ketzer, pp. 24-26. Gervasii Monachi Cantuariensis Opera Historica, ed. W. Stubbs, Rolls Series, vol. I, London, 1868-1871; reprint, Oxford, 1913.

Augustinus, Contra Faustum, CSEL 25,1. Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houedene, ed. W. Stubbs, Rolls Serie, 2 vols., London 1868-1871; reprint, Oxford, 1913.

Dondaine, A., Un Traité néo-manichéen du XIIe siècle: Le Liber de duobus principiis, suivi d’un fragment de rituel cathare, Rome, 1939, pp. 151-65.

R. Dies, “Les Cathares sont-ils des Néomanichéens ou des Néognostiques,” RHR 120, 1939, pp. 175-93.

S. Runciman, The Medieval Manichee. A Study of Christian Dualist Heresy, Cambridge, 1947.

D. Obolensky, The Bogomils. A Study in Balkan Neo-Manichaeism, Cambridge, 1948.

H. Söderberg, La religion des Cathares. Études sur le gnosticisme de la basse Antiquité et du Moyen Age, Uppsala, 1949.

Anselmus Alessandria. Tractatus de hererticis, ed. A. Dondaine, “La hiérarchie chathare en Italie, II,” AFP XX, Rome, 1950, pp. 308-310.

A. Borst, Die Katharer, Stuttgart 1953.

Y. Dossat, “Remarques sur un prétendu évêque cathare du Val d’Ara en 1167,” Bulletin philologique du Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, 1955-1956, pp. 339-47.

H. Jonas, The Gnostic Religion. The Message of the Alien God and the Beginnings of Christianity, Boston, 1958.

Th. Venckeleer, “Un Recueil cathare: Le manuscrit A.6.10 de la Collection vaudoise de Dublin, I: Une Apologie; II: Une glose sur le Pater,” Revue belge de philologie et d’histoire 38, 1960, pp. 820-31; 39, 1961, pp. 762-85.

Liber contra Manicheos, ed. Chr. Thouzellier, in Un Traité cathare inédit du début XIIIe siècle d’après le Liber contra Manicheos de Durand du Huesca (BHRE 37), Louvain, 1961, pp. 87-113.

Idem, “Catharisme et valdéisme en Languedoc à la fin du XIIe et au début du XIIIe siècle: politique pontificale controverses,” Série Recherches 27, Paris, 1966, p. 14, n.7.

N. G. Garsoïan, The Paulician Heresy. A Study of the Origin and Development of Paulicianism in Armenia and the Eastern Provinces of the Byzantine Empire, The Hague and Paris, 1967.

F. Niel, Albigeios et cathares, Paris, 1967.

Das Katharische Konzil von Saint-Félix de Caraman, ed. J. Fearns, Ketzer und Ketzer-bekämpfung im Hochmittelalter, Göttingen 1968, pp. 28-29.

Le livre secret des Cathare: Interrogatio Iohannis, Apocryphe d’origine bogomile, ed. E. Bozóky, Textes Dossier Documents 2,1980; reprint, Paris 1990; tr. into English by W. L. Wakefield and A. P. Evans in Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Selected Sources, Translated and Annotated, London and New York, 1969, pp. 458-65.

Chr. Thouzellier, “Hérésie et hérétiques, Vaudois, Cathares, Patarins, Albigeois,” Storia e Letteratura 116, 1969, pp. 3-13.

W. L. Wakefield, and A. P. Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages: Selected Sources, Translated and Annotated, London and New York. 1969.

Abu’l-Faraj Moḥammad b. al-Nadim, Ketāb al-fehrest, tr. Bayard Dodge as The Fihrist of al-Nadīm, 2 vols., New York, 1970.

Liber de duobus principiis, ed. Chr. Thouzellier as Livre des deux principes. Texte critique, traduction, notes et index (SC 198), Paris, 1973.

Reinerius Sacconi Summa de Catharis, ed. F. Sanjek, AFP XLIV, Rome, 1974.

M. D. Lambert, Medieval Heresy: Popular Movements from Bogomil to Hus, London, 1977.

R. Morghen, Medioeve cristiano, 5th ed., Rome, 1978.

L. de Roy Ladurie, Montaillou village occitan de 1294 à 1324, Paris, 1975; tr. Barbara Bray as Montaillou:Cathars and Catholics in a French village, 1294-1324, London, 1978.

J. Duvernoy, Le catharisme, vol. II: L’histoire des cathares, Toulouse, 1979.

H. J. W. Drijvers, “Conflict and Alliance in Manichaeism,” in H. G. Kippenberg, ed., Struggels of Gods. Papers of the Groningen Work Group of the Study of History of Religion, Berlin, New York, and Amsterdam, 1984, pp. 99-124.

J. le Goff, La civilisation de l’Occident médiéval, Paris, 1984.

L. Koenen, ‘Wie dualistisch ist Manis Dualismus?’ in J. Taubes, ed., Religionstheorie und Politische Theologie, II: Gnosis und Politik, Munich and Paderborn et al., 1984, pp. 241-57.

G. G. Stroumsa, “König und Schwein. Zur Struktur des manichäischen Dualismus,” in J. Taubes, ed., Religionstheorie und politische Theologie, II: Gnosis und Politik, Munich and Paderborn et al., 1984, pp. 141-53.

D. Müller, Albi genser–Die wahre Kirche ? Eine Untersuchung zum Kirchenverständnis der ‘ecclesia Dei’, Würzburg, 1986.

G. Rottenwöhrer, Unde malum? Herkunf und Gestalt des Bösen nach heterodoxer Lehre von Markion bis zu den Katharern, Bad Honnef, 1986.

M. Tardieu, “La conception de Dieu dans le manichéisme,” in R. van den Broek, T. Baarda and J. Mansfeld, eds., Knowledge of God in the Graeco-Roman World, Leiden and New York 1988, pp. 262-71.

M. Tardieu, “La conception de Dieu dans le manichéisme,” in R. van den Broek, T. Baarda and J. Mansfeld, eds., Knowledge of God in the Graeco-Roman World, Leiden and New York 1988, pp. 262-71.

Secondary sources: U. Bianchi, “Sur le dualisme de Mani,” in A. van Tongerloo and S. Giversen, eds., Manichaica Selecta (MS I), Louvain, 1991, pp. 9-19.

Q. Quispel, “Christelijke Gnosis, joodse Gnosis, Hermetische Gnosis,” in G. Quispel, ed., De Hermetische Gnosis in de loop der eeuwen, Baarn, 1992, pp. 610-42.

A. Brenon, “Les hérésies de l’an mil. Nouvelles perspectives sur les origines du catharisme,” Heresies. Revue d’hérésiologie médiévale 24, 1995, pp. 21-36.

R. I. Moore, “Heresy, Repression and Social Change,” in S. L. Waugh and P. D. Diehl, eds., Christianity and its Discontents. Exclusion, Persecution and Rebellion, 1000-1500, Cambridge, 1996.

R. van den Broek, “The Cathars: Medieval Gnostics,” in R.van den Broek and W. J. Hanegraaff, Gnosis and Hermeticism. From Antiquity to Modern Times, New York, 1998, pp. 87-108.

J. Hamilton and B. Hamilton, Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine world, c. 650 – c. 1450. Selected sources translated and annotated, Manchester and New York, 1998.

2000 - 21st century

There are still over ten thousand Banat Bulgarians in Banat today in the villages of Dudeştii Vechi, Vinga, Breştea and also in the city of Timişoara, with a few in Arad; however, they no longer practice Bogomilism, having converted to Roman Catholicism. Traces of a dualistic tradition in the folklore of the South Slavs are all that remain today of the most powerful sectarian movement in the history of the Balkans. There are also a few villages of Paulicians in the Serbian part of Banat, especially the villages of Ivanovo and Belo Blato, near Pančevo.

See also


Yin and Yang


Chassidic Judaism

Mystery religion

Simon Magus




Religion and vegetarianism



Marcion of Sinope


Council of Nicaea

Great Apostasy






Bible: Heresies based on abusive use of vernacular translations

Michael Servetus

Baruch Spinoza

Theosophical Society

Cosmic Humanism

Joseph Smith

Christian mysteries

Orthodox Mysteries





Sola spiritu


  1. A "calque" is a loan translation of a word or phrase taken from another language but translated (either in part or in whole) to corresponding English words while still retaining the original meaning. A loanword is a term taken from another language and used without translation, word-for-word or root-for-root; it has a specific meaning that (typically) does not otherwise exist in a single English word. Compare Literal Translation and Dynamic equivalence.
  2. A Toponym is a place name, especially one derived from a topographical feature.
  3. Sources for this article are listed in the External links, below. The linked sources listed cite references to verifiable scholarly research for their assertions. The reader is referred to these sources for immediately accessible verification, in the stead of a posting of a multitude of detailed citations throughout this article.
    Reading of each of the linked sources listed here is strongly recommended, coupled with independent consulting of the referent sources of research cited by these sources as personal verification of their authenticity and accuracy.
  4. Compare Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17; 5:5-6; Proverbs 8:12-17; Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 10:12-13; John 19:10-11; Matthew 23:2-4; Acts 20:28-31; Titus 1:9; 1 Peter 2:13; Hebrews 13:17; 2 John 7-10; Matthew 18:15-18; Titus 2:15; 1 Timothy 4:11-12; Titus 1:13-16; 2 Peter 2:1; 3:14-18; 1 John 4:5-6; Acts 4:19; 1 John 2:18-19; Jude 8-9, Jude 16-19; John 9:39–10:5; 1 Timothy 6:3-5; Titus 3:9-11; Matthew 15:14; James 5:19-20; 1 Peter 3:15-17; Revelation 22:11; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4; Galatians 1:6-9—see Anathema.
  5. Stroumsa; Drijvers; Tardieu; Koenen
  6. e.g. Bianchi
  7. Söderberg
  8. Obolensky
  9. Compare John 1:1-14; 2 John 7-11; Romans 12:1; Colossians 2:8-23; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Hebrews 13:4
  10. In the New Testament there are suggestions of the beginning of a doctrine of false gnosis. For example, in 1 Timothy 6:20-21 "contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge", "avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" KJV. See parallel passages at
  11. van Schaik
  12. Contra Faustum XXXI.1
  13. "pars Dei"—Latin. a part, or portion, of God
  14. van Schaik
  15. "Euchites"—not to be confused with the early 5th century bishop Eutyches of Constantinople and the heresy of Eutychianism.
  16. Compare 1 Timothy 4:1-5
  17. See Ebn al-Nadim, al-FEHREST iii. The Representation of Manicheism in the Fehrest.
  18. "Ahtum's realm"—Achtum, Ahtum or Ajtony was an early-11th-century ruler in the territory now known as Banat in present Romania and Serbia. See Banat - Britannica (
  19. Van Schaik, p. 51
  20. Moore; Morghen
  21. See Pentarchy and Petrine Primacy, also Orthodox Church.
  22. Müller
  23. Van den Broek; Quispel.
  24. Bozóky
  25. Dondaine, Un Traité
  26. Clédat
  27. Venckeleer, Revue belge
  28. ibid., Venckeleer, Revue belge
  29. Charles
  30. Van Schaik, pp. 89-90.
  31. Bozóky, p. 87.
  32. Sanjek.
  33. van Schaik
  34. van Schaik, pp. 174-75
  35. The list of Popes or Patriarchs of the Catholic Church does not include a ‘Pope Nicetas’. The term "pope" ("papa") in the Christian Byzantine east was used to designate any high ranking patriarch, head shepherd of a church, or bishop. As then, so also today, some individuals have taken to themselves this title in schism or heresy, as a claim to religious authority from God. See Colossians 2:18-23.
  36. Runciman; Niel.
  37. Borst; Thouzellier.
  38. Fearns
  39. Dossat; Thouzellier.
  40. Söderberg; Dies.
  41. The forms of purging adopted specifically by the Bogomils are not clear. Some ascetical sects in history have used self-flagellation, or beating themselves with knotted whips or cords or thorns, or wearing "hairshirts" (which constantly pricked and itched) next to the skin and genitals, holding a stone in the mouth for hours and days at a time, placing small coarse pebbles in their shoes, to voluntarily go speechless and mute, saying nothing, asking for nothing, never protesting or praising for any reason, all in order to "beat down" and "punish" the passions of the body, i.e. sexual desires, anger, resentment, longing for wine and good food, desire to acquire possessions, to have property, to gain reputation, to exercise authority over others, to marry and have children.
  42. Bozóky
  43. Sanjek; Borst.
  44. Liber IV, p. 53, ed. Thouzellier.
  45. ibid., Liber VII, p. 66, ed. Thouzellier.
  46. Borst; Müller.
  47. Mansi, 1903
  48. Stubbs
  49. ibid., Stubbs.
  50. Acta concilii Lumbariensis.
  51. Duvernoy, Histoire.
  52. A Synodikon is an Eastern Orthodox compilation of the lives of saints and martyrs of the Orthodox faith intended for the edification and encouragement of the Orthodox faithful.
  53. From a later text, written 40 to 30 years later, circa 1250-1280, Liber the Duobis Principiis, mentioned below.
  54. booger (; bugger (
  55. The Bible itself includes passages that offer substantial pretext for burning at the stake as an act of righteousness according to the will of God sola scripturanot as a distorted misinterpretation and twisting of scripture (2 Peter 3:14-18), but as a clear and unmistakable decree of the Lord to be obeyed.
    In the Old Testament: Numbers 16; Deuteronomy chapter 7; 12:1-3; chapter 13; Joshua 7:25-26; 11:6-23; 1 Kings 18:40; Job 18:5-21; Psalm 106:16-18; Isaiah 1:27-31; 5:24; 14:20-21; Malachi 4:1-3 (3:19-24 in the Hebrew and in the Catholic Bible).
    In the New Testament: Matthew 13:24-30, 13:47-50; John 15:5-6; 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 "saved as by fire"; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:11-19; Revelation 14:9-11; 20:7-10, 14-15Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4; Titus 3:10-11; Romans 13:3-4; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Proverbs 28:9-14; Romans 1:18-22; 2:8-11; Sirach 10:12-20.
    On the basis of this precedent, those who burned unrepentant heretics at the stake held themselves blameless of any sin of wrongdoing in so doing, saying, "It's their own fault; they have only themselves to blame."
    See the article The Benefits of Burning Heretics at the Stake ( "as an act of compassion".
    Compare the following article on the 16th-18th century Protestant Inquisition: The English Reformation (; see also Conservapedia articles Capital punishment, Relativism and Tolerance.
  56. Sanjek.
  57. Tractatus the hereticis
  58. de Blois, p. 510a.
  59. Hum is present day Herzegovina
  60. de Blois, p. 510a.
  61. Bozoky
  62. 1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 3:8-12; 1&nbap;Peter 1:10-12

External links

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