Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Joannes, the Faster, bp. of Constantinople
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Joannes, the Faster, bp. of Constantinople
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Joannes (126) IV. (surnamed The Faster, Jejunator, sometimes also Cappadox, and thus liable to be confused with the patriarch John II.), 33rd bp. of Constantinople, from Apr. 11, 582 to Sept. 2, 595. He was born at Constantinople of artisan parents, and was a sculptor. In 587 or 588 he summoned the bishops of the East in the name of "the Oecumenical Patriarch" to decide the cause of Gregory, archbp. of Antioch, who was acquitted and returned to his see. Pelagius II., bp. of Rome, solemnly annulled the acts of this council. In 593 we find John severely blamed by pope Gregory for having allowed an Isaurian presbyter named Anastasius, accused of heresy, to be beaten with ropes in the church of Constantinople.
In 595 the controversy was again rife about the title of universal bishop. Gregory the Great wrote to his legate Sabinianus forbidding him to communicate with John. In the case of a presbyter named Athanasius, accused of being to some extent a Manichee, and condemned as such, Gregory shews that the accuser was himself a Pelagian, and that by the carelessness, ignorance, or fault of John the Faster the Nestorian council of Ephesus had actually been mistaken for the Catholic, so that heretics would be taken for orthodox, and orthodox condemned as heretics!
His Writings.—Isidore of Seville (de Script. Eccl. 26) attributes to him only a letter, not now extant, on baptism addressed to St. Leander. John, he says, "propounds nothing of his own, but only repeats the opinions of the ancient Fathers on trine immersion."
But there are extant four works attributed to John the Faster. (1) His Penitential, Libellus Poenitentialis, or, as it is described in bk. iii. of the work of Leo Allatius, de Consensu Utriusque Ecclesiae (Rome, 1655, 4to), Praxis Graecis Praescripta in Confessione Peragenda. The Greeks of the middle ages
always attributed this and (2) to John the Faster.
(2) Instructio, qua non modo confitens de confessione pie et integre edenda instituitur, sed etiam sacerdos, qua ratione confessiones excipiat, poenitentiam imponat et reconciliationem praestet informatur.
(3) Homily on Penitence, Continence, and Virginity. Often printed among Chrysostom's homilies, but now agreed not to be Chrysostom's. Montfaucon, Vossius, and Pearson held it to be by John the Faster; Morel and Savile printed it among Chrysostom's works.
(4) Homily on False Prophets and False Doctrine. Attributed occasionally to Chrysostom, by Peter Wastel to John of Jerusalem, but by Vossius, Petavius, and Cave to John the Faster.
(5) A set of Precepts to a Monk, in a MS. at the Paris library.
Migne reproduces the Penitential, the Instructions for Confession, and the Homily on Penitence in Patr. Gk. lxxxviii. 1089. See also Baronius, ad. ann. 588–593; AA. SS. Bolland. Aug. 1, p. 69; Fleury, ii. bk. xxxiv. c. 44, etc.; Ceillier, xi. 427, etc.; Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. xi. 108, xii. 239.