The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Patriarchs

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PATRIARCHS, the three fathers of the Hebrew race, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The patriarchal government prevails in a state of society in which the people are not yet organized into a nation, but consist of independent tribes, clans or families under the government of the head of the family. Later the title patriarch was assumed by the presidents of the sanhedrim, which exercised authority over the Jews of Syria and Persia after the fall of Jerusalem. The patriarchate of Tiberias for the Western Jews lasted till 415, that of Babylon for the Eastern Jews till 1038. From them the term was borrowed by the Christians, who applied it to the bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem. These patriarchs consecrated and supervised the archbishops and bishops within their jurisdictions. While with the patriarchate of Rome was united the primacy of the Roman see throughout the world (see Papacy), the four heads of the Eastern Church preserved the title of patriarch. The Armenian, Abyssinian, Jacobite and Maronite churches have patriarchs of their own. The Patriarch of Constantinople is the primate of the Greek Church in the Turkish Empire, and bears the title of œcumenical. (See Russian Religion). The authority of the Patriarch of Moscow which extended over the Russian Church was superseded, during the reign of Peter the Great, by the holy synod. Consult Bingham, ‘Origines’ II; Morin, ‘De Patriacharum origine’ ; Neale, ‘History of the Eastern Church’; Riddle, ‘Christian Antiquities.’