I do enjoy a good heresy and an eloquent denunciation thereof (see, for instance, here or here), so you can imagine my pleasure when I came upon this passage from The Catholic Doctrine of the Church of England: An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles by Thomas Rogers (Cambridge, 1854; p. 202):

Hence detest we both all the old heretics, and their fancies, with the new prophets of Basilides, the manifestation of Marcion, the mysteries of the Manichees, the Jobelæa of the Scythians, the Symbonia of the Archontics, the Cabala of the Jews, the Alcoran of the Turks, and also all new heretics and schismatics, with all their cursed opinions; as first, the Anabaptists, and namely the Libertines, the Davi-Georgians, and Family of Love, and all the co-deified elders thereof; as Henry Nicholas, Eliad, Fidelitas, Christopher Vitel, Theophilus the Exile, and the rest.

I am particularly intrigued by the Jobelæa and the Symbonia; I would guess that the first might have something to do with Jubilee, but if anyone has any knowledge (or an entertaining guess) about either, I will be happy to hear it.


  1. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that the books of the Archontics were called the Greater and the Lesser Symphoniae. Maybe “Symbonia” is just an error?

  2. The verb-second grammar (“Hence detest we”) is very impressive for 1854.

  3. Oops, never mind; that’s just the publication date of this edition. The original publication date, according to the “Introductory Notice”, is 1586. Verb-second is fine.

  4. Sir JCass says

    The Archontics et al. get namechecked in Canto XVIII of Joseph’s Beaumont’s Psyche (1648), which contains my favourite poetical list of heretics and heresies (maybe it’s my favourite because I can’t think of any others). This is what I could fit into a single post:
    Then proud Montanus; with Quintilians,
    Ascites, Pepuzians, and Artotyrites,
    Priscillians, pharisaik Tatians,
    Abstemious yet profane Severianites;
    Archonticks, Adamites, Quartadecimans.
    Vain Alogists, and Melchisidekians.
    Tertullianists, Arabicks, Symmachists,
    Homousiasts, Elxites, Origenians,
    Valesians, Agrippinians, Catharists,
    Hydroparastates, Patripassians.
    Apostoticks, Angelicks, Chiliasts.
    Samosatenian Paulianists.
    Mad Maniches, outrageous Donatists,
    Curs’d Arians, Colluthians, Audianites,
    Marcellians, and Macedonianists,
    Aerians, Acacians, Eustathites,
    Eunomians, Messalians, Luciferians.
    Agnoites, Hypsistarists, Apollinarians.
    Timotheans, Selcucians, Collyridians
    Rhetorians, Venustians, Proclianites,
    Foul-mouth’d Jovinianists, and black Helvidians,
    Bonosians, Campensians, Agapites;
    Pelagius, Nestorius, Eutyches.
    Accompany’d with all their Progenies.

  5. J.W. Brewer says

    In between 1586 and 1854 several cantos-full of new heresies arose which Rogers alas did not have opportunity to vituperate against. Wikipedia indicates that the 19th century edition was done by the Parker Society, who helpfully republished quite a lot of 16th-century Anglican religious figures whose original-edition works would otherwise typically be difficult to find even in quite a good research library.

  6. As Kevin has already said, the Archontics’ apocryphal cosmogonies were called Symphonia Maior and Minor. “Symbonia” is perhaps a mere misspelling. Jobelaeus is a frequent spelling variant of Iubilaeus (presumably erudite, cf. Greek ἰωβηλαῖος).

  7. Thanks to all—to some for clearing up the “symbonia,” to others for a great poetic heresy catalog! And yeah, I should have made it clear the book was much earlier than the publication date suggested.

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    If you like a good vigorious denunciation of heretics, let me recommend this ninth-century classic composed to celebrate the downfall of the Iconoclasts: (as the translator notes, some of the personalities attacked are not otherwise known, but the Orthodox party was not yet ready to be magnanimous or rhetorically irenic in victory). “Who would speak out the foul doctrines and lawless teachings of the insane John, expounding Delphic ways? / Anathema to Lizix and John, with Antony, Theodore the godless blasphemer, together with insane Theodotos!” etc etc etc

  9. I didn’t read far in the catalogue of heretics quoted by Sir JCass, but ‘Artotyrites’ in the second line caught my eye. ‘Bread-and-Cheesers’? Do they substitute cheese for the usual wine in their communion services? Yes, yes they do, assuming their (?) website ( isn’t some kind of joke. Why the proviso? The About Us page says that they do not proselytize or divulge the names of their members, “nor conduct public services”, and says of their leader only that he or she “holds the diploma of Master of Law from the Sorbonne University of Paris”. They offer web readers prophecies randomly selected with the help of the I Ching. The top thing on the What’s New column is way out of date and not particularly religious: “To support George Walker Bush is to endanger one’s immortal soul and reject the society of Jesus Christ.” Sp: church or joke? It’s really hard to tell – not that I plan to spend any more time trying to figure it out.

  10. Adelfons says

    Fear I that the Bread ‘n’ Cheesers got Cheneyed.

  11. dearieme says

    I suspect that “symbonia” refers to a sect that used trombones in their services.

  12. The last sentence of my previous comment should begin “So:”, not “Sp:”.
    And I forgot to make a “Blessed are the Cheesemakers” joke.

  13. The verb-second grammar (“Hence detest we”)
    Like German, nowadays at any rate: Daher verabscheuen wir … I don’t remember it being otherwise in, say, Morgenröte and Von der Geburt und der Bezeichnung aller Wesen (I read only as much of Böhme as I could tolerate). But then I don’t necessarily pay attention to such things.

  14. marie-lucie says

    The Artotyrite website is quite interesting in its oddness. I don’t think it is a joke, rather it looks like a group of Christian women has been looking for historical evidence of the role of women in the early Church, finding it in the Artotyrites, and trying to revive that particular sect, with emphasis on the role of women and a commitment to peace work. Linking early Christian women prophets (or perhaps just one: Perpetua) to the I Ching is rather odd though! Perhaps the semi-secrecy is because the group is afraid of its members being ridiculed and stigmatized as crazy. The I Ching probably has some intellectual (and non-European) respectability which would not exist in the case of tarot cards and similar traditional divinatory aids.

  15. All varieties of Germanic, plus Old French and Kashmiri, are or were V2 languages — that is, verbs appear as the second constituent in main clauses. English dropped the V2 constraint en passant from Middle English to contemporary Modern English, with Early Modern English in an intermediate state.
    The question of V2 in subordinate clauses is a complex one: see this paper for a discussion of possible historical developments in syntax. The contemporary result is that the continental Germanic languages — Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, and German — have V2 only in restricted types of subordinate clauses if at all, whereas Icelandic and Yiddish on the periphery generalize V2 to all types of subordinate clauses, and English, also on the periphery, is not V2 at all.

  16. Bill Walderman says

    “I suspect that “symbonia” refers to a sect that used trombones in their services.”
    Actually, the trombone was strongly associated with church music until Beethoven used trombones into his 5th Symphony.

  17. Curses – if only I were religious, I’d join the ploughman’s lunch church in an eyeblink. I wonder if they fight over whether the true Artotyrite must reject all frippery, such as slice of tomato, piece of lettuce, pickled onion, and stick solely to bread and cheese, and whether the real fanatics eschew even butter?

  18. The tomato and the lettuce mayst thou eat, but of the onion thou shalt not eat, no, be it how pickled so ever. For a butter dispensation, see the deacon after the service.

  19. In the alternative, see the service after the deacon.
    Our organist will be performing “Air Upon a #-Set Stomach.” Don’t miss it if you can.
    Every weekend i used to visit this web page, because i wish for enjoyment, for the reason that this this web page conations truly pleasant funny data too.
    My natural tendency, impulse, striving, and directed effort is to exterminate all spammers everywhere. Truly pleasant and funny, it isn’t.

  20. In any event, this wine vs. cheese issue has made it into Punch thus:
    “Botticelli isn’t a WINE, you JUGGINS!!!! Botticelli’s a CHEESE!!!!!1!111!”

  21. Air upon a hash-set stomach? Air upon a pound-set stomach? Oh, I get it.

  22. I’ve never heard of conation. I suspect that someone steeped in astrology and/or the tarot would say that the three-way division cognition/affection/conation that
    cognition = air
    affection = water
    and that conation should be further subdivided into two faculties corresponding to earth and fire.

  23. ∅, not everyone has ♯ in their fonts.

  24. empty: I’ve never heard of conation.
    I suspect what you mean here is equivalent to the statement: “I’ve never heard of the word ‘conation'”. Doubtless you are familiar with what people have used the word to refer to, vague as are both the word and its referent. The WiPe article on conation linked by John explains them more or less.
    I would put it this way, more or less: conation is that constituent of “human nature” that is neither thought nor passion/emotion. You can variously call it volition, will, urge, get-up-and-go.
    It is what is being imagined as “at work” when you go out for a beer. It is also “at work” in the ensuing micturition and retention.
    Conation is what is deliberately left out of the “brain-in-a-vat” notion that some philosophers like to use as a model of something-or-other. It makes analysis of that something-or-other easier, since brains have no access to Bud, nor do they pee. Even if they could conate, it wouldn’t do them a damn bit of good.
    Brains-in-vats probably could only imagine that they’re conating. That itself would not be conation, though, but thinking. There is an important difference between needing to pee, and thinking that you need to pee. This is true whether or not there is a vat to hand.

  25. mollymooly says

    Don’t delete the comment from Patricia at May 10, 2013 08:09 PM. My response was, “Hurrah, that’s what I was seeking for, what a data!”
    PS according to the URL, this is Hat’s 5000th post. {Kudos|Well done|Keep it up}!

  26. Don’t delete the comment from Patricia at May 10, 2013 08:09 PM.
    Too late. I don’t read the spam comments before deleting them; I wake up, stumble to the computer, go to my Movable Type menu, and start clicking on the boxes next to the names of obvious spammers. I don’t bother clicking through to read the comments. If there’s a “Patricia” in a series of comments by “wow gold” and “cheap prada” and what have you, I know it’s spam so it gets checked. Then I hit “delete” and all the checked comments disappear; then I hit “rebuild” and the thread is presentable. We all have to endure this until my stepson/administrator has the free time to move the site to a less archaic platform (which will doubtless involve captcha or an equivalent hurdle commenters will have to pass, for which I apologize in advance but eliminating spam after the fact is driving me cra-a-a-azy); in the meantime, I will say again that if you like a particular bit of spam you should preserve it in your own comment, because by the time I see a “don’t delete it!” comment it will be gone.

  27. Hat, your anti-spam warfare is nothing short of heroic. Maybe the new software will allow you to exclude trolls, too.

  28. vague as are both the word and its referent
    Grumbly, could the word be vague without the referent being vague, or vice versa?

  29. mollymooly:
    I saved a copy of that comment. If you want it, just email me: my address turned backwards is gro.oilucruc@oilucruc.
    Anyone who’s wondering why a spam comment would be worth keeping:
    It was a script with built-in variants, beginning “{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.” and going on like that for thousands more words. It looks like a spammer program was supposed to randomly select one of the choices within each set of curly brackets so the spam would be (relatively) coherent but different every time, but someone stupidly sent out the actual unprocessed generic script. An interesting glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ of the spamming industry?

  30. Or, instead of e-mailing me, you could just copy the comment from ‘Rhoda’ that appeared while I was writing mine, if Hat doesn’t delete it first.

  31. Bill Walderman: the trombone was strongly associated with church music until Beethoven used trombones into his 5th Symphony.
    That’s interesting. Did the 5th Symphony somehow trigger the disappearance of the trombone from church music?

  32. Actually, here it says “Trombones were the mainstay of church-music ensembles, and would remain so in Germany for most of the 19th century”, so perhaps I’ve misunderstood your remark.

  33. I think the idea is that although trombones continued to be used in church music, the stereotype “trombone = church music” was broken among non-church-musicians when Beethoven successfully used them in 1808. (He was not, Wikipedia notes, the first symphony-writer to do so: that credit belongs to Eggert in 1807.)

  34. empty: could the word be vague without the referent being vague, or vice versa?
    Yes. Someone who (wittingly or not) subscribes to “philosophical realism” would be unlikely to claim that reality is vague. Vague as compared to what: some different, more clear-cut reality ? Philosophical realists get to have only one reality, although the more thoughtful ones among them might not hesitate to concede that the word “reality” may be vague.
    Another example: to talk of the “position” of an electron is a vague way to describe something which can be described more precisely as a probability distribution. Electrons are probability distributions, right ? But maybe that’s too vague a way to put it.

  35. It is from such considerations that I don’t use the word “reality” at all, but at most mention it. Nor do I talk about reality, no more than I talk about God. One can know that there are less vague concepts in circulation, more useful ways to think about stuff – and different stuff to think about, although related to the older stuff in terms of the history of ideas.
    I bet you don’t trouble yourself with the historical notion of infinitesimals. Differentiation is better understood in terms of limits. Even non-standard analysis discards “vanishing quantity”, and defines infinitesimal in a way Leibniz would not have understood.

  36. Trond Engen says

    Off line for a few days and then all this happening. The comment threads here, at the Log, and at GeoCurrents, are of a kind that gives me new belief in mankind. I fear that’s an artifact of the audience, though. So maybe what makes me feel uplifted is that it seems that more and more linguists are willing to engage directly in civilized and informative discussions with eachother and for the general public.

  37. Trond Engen says

    Wrong thread again! I may have a new belief in mankind, but it’s the same old me.

  38. “To support George Walker Bush is to endanger one’s immortal soul and reject the society of Jesus Christ.”

    Now updated to say “Donald J. Trump”.

  39. Thanks, it’s good to get an Artotyrite update!

  40. John Cowan says

    The Collyridians, likewise mentioned in the catalogue above, and assuming they ever actually existed, believed in the divinity of Mary. While no kind of mainstream Christianity has ever accepted this, it’s clear that the special emphasis of Alexandria (and the Oriental Orthodox generally) on Mary as the Mother of God (and not merely the mother of Jesus or even Christ) owes something to the underlying belief in Isis and Osiris.

  41. David Marjanović says

    Now updated to say “Donald J. Trump”.

    And yet, the “Random I-Ching Quote” I got for prophecy was: “Possessions in great measure. Supreme success.”

  42. “For She Desires Questioning More than Sacrifices” (2012) by Raspberryhunter is a delightful triptych of texts showing how Christianity came to be Collyridian as well as Artotyrite (the latter suggested by me and accepted by the author). I quote the first part in extenso, being the Binding of Isaac (Gen. 22:9-25):

    9 …And Abraham made an altar, and dressed the wood, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood : and the daughter of Abraham hid and watched.
    10 Then the angel of the Lord called unto her from heaven, saying to the daughter of Abraham, Girl, what is your name? And Abraham’s daughter answered and said, I have none.
    12 And the angel said, How can this be? And she said, For my father never gave me one.
    14 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to kill his son.
    15 And Abraham’s daughter raised her bow.
    16 And Abraham spake unto her and said, Child, darest thou to defy thy father?
    17 And Abraham’s daughter said, Let young Isaac go. Lay not thy hands upon the lad, neither do thou any thing at all unto him.
    18 And when Abraham knew what he had almost done, then was he greatly ashamed, and he fled from his daughter and his son.
    18 And the angel called unto the daughter of Abraham out of heaven a second time, and said, Blessed art thou among women and men, daughter of Abraham, for that you have done this thing and defied the command to sacrifice thy brother, whom thou lovest.
    21 And the Lord sayeth, I will bless and multiply thy children, and they shall possess the gates of their enemies.
    20 And the daughter of Abraham said unto the angel, Promise me not children as the stars of the sky or as the sand of the seaside, nor victory in battle, for I care not for such things. Promise me rather that no other life shall die in a sacrifice to any god.
    21 And the angel said, The God of thy father Abraham will require no longer any sacrifice, neither of animal nor of man. As for the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, thou mayest deal with them as thou wilt.
    22 Nevertheless, in thy children shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou hast tested the Lord and found him wanting.
    23 And now shalt thou follow and serve the Lady, for she desires questioning more than sacrifices, and reasoning more than the fat of rams.
    24 And Isaac said to the daughter of Abraham, Let me, I pray, go with you whithersoever thou goest. For my father would have slain me, but my sister hath saved me.
    25 And Isaac abode with the daughter of Abraham all his days, and deferred to her wisdom in all things.

    This is a (somewhat modernized) version of Tyndale’s translation. It is followed by part of Tyndale’s prologue to The Five Books of Miriam, which explains that “[…] the Unnamed is as it were a type or image of our Lady and Savior, Mary the Defiant, the Daughter of God, who lived for us and taught us well to question both woman and God.” The third part is a passage from Foxe’s Book of Heroes, which tells us why Tyndale made the translation: how could the common people defy and question, as both the Unnamed and Lady Mary our Saviour had taught, if they could not read the Scriptures in their own language? Tyndale died in her bed at age 74, her last words being “God be thanked for opening the President’s eyes.”

    Well, I jibbed at that: a Republic in England in 1530? So I wrote to the author suggesting that England became a constitutional and elective monarchy more than a century later, after Queen Charlotte’s death, as her heir was manifestly unfit. The Election was on the Polish model, was by a majority of both Houses, and was open to both women and men. Eventually it became traditional for each monarch to dissolve Parliament after seven years and resign immediately after the new Parliament had heard the Opening And Closing Speech. The Elector of Hannover became the first foreign-born King in 1714, and 2018 saw the first American (and person of color) elected Queen.

    I also suggest that the Romans probably persecuted both Jews and Christians not only for monotheism but for feminism, it being quite unclear which frightened them worse (Gibbon had a bit to say about that). On a more positive note, the Arabian flavor of Judaizing Christianity started from its base in the Meccan trading community (many traders were women) and spread not only across North Africa and East and Central Asia but the whole of India. Much later, numerous American nations, especially the Haudenosaunee and the Navajo (who were already matrilineal and -local), became staunch Christians at once and remain so today.

    The author is a Christian by her own statement and has a wide-spanning imagination, but I know no more of her than that.

  43. David Marjanović says

    Now I wonder if symbonia is symphonia in Ancient Macedonian.

    “Who would speak out the foul doctrines and lawless teachings of the insane John, expounding Delphic ways? / Anathema to Lizix and John, with Antony, Theodore the godless blasphemer, together with insane Theodotos!” etc etc etc

    Theodore the Godless.

  44. I looked casually at “symphony” on wiktionary, as one does, and noted something odd:

    Doublet of zampogna.

    Wait, what?

    zampogna: kind of Italian double-chantered bagpipe.

    Etymology: From Latin symphōnia (possibly influenced, through folk etymology, by zampa (“paw, leg of an animal”) in Italian, as bagpipes are traditionally made of leather with the hair still on), from Ancient Greek συμφωνία (sumphōnía). Cf. also Romanian cimpoi, cimpoaie. Doublet of sinfonia.

    And I also note that symphonia (rather than symphony) has an obsolete meaning of “bagpipe” as well.

    “Argh! What’s that noise?!”

    “Oh, you’re new, aren’t you? Well, every principal lunar phase, as part of their services, the Archontics march around their temple playing their Symphonias. Music of the spheres, they call it. Don’t worry, it will stop soon. They go for much longer on the equinoxes and solstices.”

  45. Wow, and Ha!

  46. The Wiki page for “Archontics” links to “Chambers, Ephraim, 1680 (ca.)-1740 / Cyclopædia, or, An universal dictionary of arts and sciences”. The entry is brief, but it does say that the Archonticks were a branch of the Valentinians, which branching does not appear in Wikipedia itself.

    Valentinians do not appear in the list of heresies above, but they appear to have had an amusingly complex family tree(?) of Aeons (rather than Archons).

  47. An impressively thorough article! I do love a good heresy.

  48. the Jobelæa of the Scythians

    The more I look into this, the more confused the OP looks.

    The book of Jubilees, originally written in Hebrew, while known to Jews and Christians for a few centuries, fell out of favor for some reason, and was rejected as being canonical by most branches of the monotheistic religions, with the notable exception of the Beta Israel of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, who use the Ge’ez translation. Ethiopia is not Scythia; it is in the opposite direction from Scythia.

    The Roman Catholic Church has jubilee celebrations, but I cannot fathom why he would call the Church “Scythians”.

    As best I can tell, Scythians were not known for being Christian at all. Later descendants of the Scythians had different group names.

    WikiP describes many confused ideas about the later Scythians:

    A number of groups have claimed possible descent from the Scythians, including the Ossetians. Some legends of the Poles, the Picts, the Gaels, the Hungarians (in particular, the Jassics), among others, also include mention of Scythian origins. Some writers claim that Scythians figured in the formation of the empire of the Medes and likewise of Caucasian Albania.

    The Scythians also feature in some national origin-legends of the Celts. In the second paragraph of the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, the élite of Scotland claim Scythia as a former homeland of the Scots. According to the 11th-century Lebor Gabála Érenn (The Book of the Taking of Ireland), the 14th-century Auraicept na n-Éces and other Irish folklore, the Irish originated in Scythia and were descendants of Fénius Farsaid, a Scythian prince who created the Ogham alphabet.

    The Carolingian kings of the Franks traced Merovingian ancestry to the Germanic tribe of the Sicambri. Gregory of Tours documents in his History of the Franks that when Clovis was baptised, he was referred to as a Sicamber with the words “Mitis depone colla, Sicamber, adora quod incendisti, incendi quod adorasti.” The Chronicle of Fredegar in turn reveals that the Franks believed the Sicambri to be a tribe of Scythian or Cimmerian descent, who had changed their name to Franks in honour of their chieftain Franco in 11 BC.

    In the 17th and 18th centuries, foreigners regarded the Russians as descendants of Scythians. It became conventional to refer to Russians as Scythians in 18th-century poetry, and Alexander Blok drew on this tradition sarcastically in his last major poem, The Scythians (1920). In the 19th century, romantic revisionists in the West transformed the “barbarian” Scyths of literature into the wild and free, hardy and democratic ancestors of all blond Indo-Europeans.

    Based on such accounts of Scythian founders of certain Germanic as well as Celtic tribes, British historiography in the British Empire period such as Sharon Turner in his History of the Anglo-Saxons, made them the ancestors of the Anglo-Saxons.

    The idea was taken up in the British Israelism of John Wilson, who adopted and promoted the idea that the “European Race, in particular the Anglo-Saxons, were descended from certain Scythian tribes, and these Scythian tribes (as many had previously stated from the Middle Ages onward) were in turn descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” Tudor Parfitt, author of The Lost Tribes of Israel and Professor of Modern Jewish Studies, points out that the proof cited by adherents of British Israelism is “of a feeble composition even by the low standards of the genre.”

    Seriously, WTF?

    I have no idea who Rogers thought the “Scythians” were, or why he thought they specifically used the book of Jubilees, or had Jubilee celebrations.

  49. David Marjanović says

    the proof cited by adherents of British Israelism is “of a feeble composition even by the low standards of the genre.”

    I must say that’s an epic putdown.

  50. @David Marjanović: Agreed.

  51. David Eddyshaw says

    In ancient times, when I lived in London, on the way into Tube stations you would always see

    being handed out by devotees. If I’d known they were Scythians, I might have been more receptive. You can never have too many Scythians.

  52. @David Eddyshaw: When I was a preteen, I used to read The Plain Truth for laughs now and then. Subscriptions were always free, and my father couldn’t get them to stop sending him issues, in spite of the world not having ended in 1975. Moreover, living in Oregon, I could also get up at 5:30 on Sunday mornings to watch Garner Armstrong’s television show, The World Tomorrow. I only saw it three or four times, but I thought it was unintentionally hilarious. I remember him shilling his father’s book, Who or What is the Prophetic Beast?; fittingly, the Kindle edition is still available for free.

  53. Who or What is the Prophetic Beast?

    As far as I can tell, it is not yet a band name.

  54. Wow.

    I really had in mind that since this edition was published in 1854, Thomas Rogers was a 19th-century clergyman. No. This is some sort of reprint, of a book that was originally published in 1585. The author, Thomas Rogers, died in 1616.

    Maybe everyone else knew that, but I just figured in out. Oops. I see that John Cowan figured it out, and posted it above, and I just skimmed past that part.

    Here’s an edition in the Internet Archive published nearly a century after the original (‘Scythians’ was picked up by the OCR).

    So the question is, what did ‘Scythian’, and for that matter. ‘Jobelæa’, mean to a 16th-century clergyman? It’s at least plausible that he was actually relying on some reference which was mistaken, rather than being the 19th-century crank I originally thought he was. Although he could have still been a crank of his own time! People are complicated!

  55. Yes, they are, as are their heresies and publication histories!

  56. I see that there actually was a community of Scythian Monks.

    The Scythian monks were a community of monks from the region around the mouths of the Danube, who played an influential role in Christian theological disputes between the 4th and 6th centuries. The name Scythian comes from Scythia Minor, the classical name of the modern Dobruja region in Romania and Bulgaria, at the time a Roman province.

    The only problem is that rather than being condemned for heresy, the Scythian Monks were actually instrumental in constructing the orthodox Trinitarianism that Rogers presumably held. Nothing about Jubilees, that I can see.

    The Scythian monks made an important contribution to christology, by advocating what has come to be known as the Theopaschite formula as a solution to controversies about the nature of Christ arising after the Council of Chalcedon. First formulated in 513, it was initially rejected by both the Eastern and Western branches of the Imperial church. Over time it was gradually accepted and the formula was vindicated at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.
    [ . . .]
    Eventually, the emperor’s support of the “Theopaschite formula” finally paved the way for its vindication at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553, of which canon 10 reads: “If anyone does not confess that our Lord Jesus Christ who was crucified in flesh is true God and Lord of glory and one of the holy Trinity, let him be anathema”.


  57. David Marjanović says


    Ah, that explains a few things, like Hence deteſt we.

    Interestingly, the Internet Archive version speaks of arrhotic Achonticks.

  58. There’s also a Scythianus, who was considered “as a predecessor of Mani”. Given that the condemnation of the “Scythians” is right after the “Manichees”, maybe that’s what Rogers meant? But: “Scythianus wrote four books: Mysteries, Treasure, Summaries, and a Gospel”.

    No Jubilees.

    This source gives the list of books as:

    To the first of these books he gave the title of the Mysteries, to the second that of the Heads (Capitulorum), to the third that of the Gospel, and to the last of all that of the Treasury (Thesaurus).

    (“Summaries” makes more sense to me than “Heads”, but what do I know?)

  59. David Marjanović says

    “Chapters” or “headlines” or “capitally important things”? After all, it’s capitula and not the non-diminutive capita.

  60. Is that where Mani got the idea for his Kephalaia?

  61. I did not know the full etymology of Ashkenaz:

    Ashkenaz (Hebrew: אַשְׁכְּנָז‎) in the Hebrew Bible is one of the descendants of Noah. Ashkenaz is the first son of Gomer, and a Japhetic patriarch in the Table of Nations. In rabbinic literature, the kingdom of Ashkenaz was first associated with the Scythian region, then later with the Slavic territories, and, from the 11th century onwards, with Germany and northern Europe.

    His name is related to the Assyrian Aškūza (Aškuzai, Iškuzai), a people who expelled the Cimmerians from the Armenian highland of the Upper Euphrates area.

    Medieval Jews associated the term with the geographical area centered on the Rhineland of Western Germany. As a result, the Jewish culture that developed in that area came to be called Ashkenazi, the only form of the term in use today.

    Ashkenaz is/was Scythia?!?!

    (I knew of Ashkenaz as the German region, but no further detail than that)

  62. Stu Clayton says

    So I live smack dab in the middle of Scythia, in Köln on the Euphrates. I should have paid more attention in geography class.

  63. Another “Scythian” link that might be relevant, and has a link to heresy:

    Scythopolis is a titular see in Israel/Jordan and was the Metropolitan of the Roman province of Palestina II. It was centered on Modern Beth Shean (Bêsân).
    [ . . . ]
    It was part of what was called the Decapolis, […] a group of cities founded by retired veterans of Alexander the Great, in this case probably a Scythian unit.
    [ . . . ]
    In the fourth century the bishopric was strongly Arian.
    [ . . . ]
    Bishop Patrophilus of Scythopolis was an intimate friend of Arius, whom he welcomed when exiled to Palestine in 323. A supporter of Arianism, he took part in the First Council of Nicaea (325) and various councils of Arians until 360. Sozomen and Socrates Scholasticus say that in 354-5 he acted together with Acacius of Caesarea (Caesarea was then the metropolitan see for both Scythopolis and Jerusalem) to depose Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem, who supported the Nicene Creed, and to replace him with Cyril of Jerusalem, whom they wrongly thought to be an Arian.

    Could “Scythians” be some sort of coded name for Arian Christians?

    Speculation: Maybe “Scythians” refers to “Arians” because Arianism spread to the Gothic and other Germanic peoples, and those same people claimed to be the descendants of Scythians, instead of, or in addition to, the Scythopolis reference? And that also explains why part of Germany became Ashkenaz?

    Looking at the Wikipage for Arius:

    Arius’ Thalia (literally, “Festivity”, “banquet”), a popularized work combining prose and verse and summarizing his views on the Logos, survives in quoted fragmentary form.

    (bolding mine)

    Aha! Could “Thalia” be the link to “Jobelæa” ?

  64. Jobelea sounds like an old-fashioned Southern name: “Now, Aunt Jobelea, you know you never said any such thing.”

  65. Fun fact: the surname “Ashkenazi” is Sephardic.

  66. David Marjanović says

    Could “Scythians” be some sort of coded name for Arian Christians?

    That makes sense!

    And that also explains why part of Germany became Ashkenaz?

    Perhaps, but I’m not sure much of an explanation is necessary; medieval European countries were equated with places mentioned in the Bible for not much more than convenience.

    (Didn’t we have a whole thread on the last name Sarfatti? Google can’t find it.)

    Could “Thalia” be the link to “Jobelæa” ?

    Why not!

    Fun fact: the surname “Ashkenazi” is Sephardic.

    Yes, and it belongs to people whose ancestors were from Ashkenaz. 😐

  67. Thalia literally means “abundance,” “good cheer,” or “banquet”.

    But would “Jubilee” have meant “good cheer” to a 16th-c writer?

    OED jubilee says:

    [5a] Exultant joy, general or public rejoicing, jubilation.
    In this and next sense often written jubile and in some cases pronounced jubil, after Latin jūbilum.

    1526 W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfection iii. sig. ZZZiii Fedeth them with ioye & iubile vnspekable.

    [5b] Shouting; joyful shouting; sound of jubilation.

    a1530 W. Bonde Pylgrimage of Perfeccyon (1531) iii. f. CCxiv God great iubylee & glory [Vulg. Ps. xlvi. 6 ascendit Deus in jubilo].

    Seems legit!

  68. @Owlmirror: That’s probably not the full etymology, actually. Lots of the purported descendants of Noah were named after existing peoples or regions. Gomer, for example, is well known to have been invented as a fictional forefather of the Cimmerians.

  69. Incidentally, I wondered if the OED had something linking Scythians more explicitly to Arianism, but did not find it. However, I found something therein that Hat might be interested in:

    Scythism, also Scythianism:

    Russian Literature. A movement among Russian men of letters soon after the Revolution of 1917 which favoured the peasant values of Asiatic Russia as against Western European civilization.
    The term is a rendering of Russian skifstvo.


  70. Yeah, the Scythians were a big deal in Silver Age Russia — Blok wrote a very famous poem called “Тhe Scythians” (translations: 1, 2), and Elizaveta Kuzmina-Karavaeva’s first book of poetry, Скифские черепки [Scythian potsherds], came out in 1912 (see this post).

  71. Going back to the Wikipage for “Scythians”, and trying to find a connection to Goths/Germans/Arians:

    In Late Antiquity, the notion of a Scythian ethnicity grew more vague and outsiders might dub any people inhabiting the Pontic-Caspian steppe as “Scythians”, regardless of their language. Thus, Priscus, a Byzantine emissary to Attila, repeatedly referred to the latter’s followers as “Scythians”. But Eunapius, Zosimus, Claudius Cladianus and Olympiodorus usually mean Goths when they write “Scythians”.[citation needed]

    [ . . . ]

    Although the classical Scythians may have largely disappeared by the 1st century BC, Eastern Romans continued to speak conventionally of “Scythians” to designate Germanic tribes and confederations or mounted Eurasian nomadic barbarians in general. In AD 448 two mounted “Scythians” led the emissary Priscus to Attila’s encampment in Pannonia. The Byzantines in this case carefully distinguished the Scythians from the Goths and Huns who also followed Attila.


  72. Who or What is the Prophetic Beast?

    There was the German octopus that predicted game results in the 2010 World Cup

  73. And of course Punxsutawney Phil.

  74. Dear Editors of the Hattic Language Daily Speculum Observer,

    There was a time, in a more noble age than ours, that “Prophetic Beast” actually meant something.

    An albino ferret, fed a microscopic amount of Amanita muscara, clambering over the astragalae of sacrifices to the pantheon of Idumaea, each bone inscribed with the queer glyphs of one of the gods of that pantheon, tumbling them into new positions, and read by those dedicated to those old gods.

    A two-headed tortoise, its shell painted with Great Seal script characters, crawling ever forward over thickly scattered yarrow stalks, changing their configuration is ways that could be interpreted by sages learnéd in the ancient wisdom of the I Ching.

    A golden eagle of the harsh wilds of Central Asia, carefully trained to hunt the hardy wolves of that region, whose victims were the subject of informed haruspicy by a trio of shamanic crones.

    A great python, surrounded by braziers burning branches of oleander, whose slow writhings formed signs and warnings from the cthonic gods, interpreted by the silent masked sibyls and sages of those gods.

    A calico cat, belonging to a lineage of felines stretching back to the First Dynasty of Egypt, fed on catnip grown on the slopes of Parnassus, batting a collection of Platonic solids inscribed with various hieroglyphs, whose conformation was interpreted by priests and priestesses of Nyarlathotep.

    These Oracular Beasts, and others, have been used to prophesy the course of empires and the fates of vast and noble peoples.

    But in our degenerate age, we have naught but an overfed ground marmot with pretensions of meteorology, and undercooked calamari with pretensions of knowledge of the outcome of a game where the losers aren’t even sacrificed to the hungry gods. We have truly fallen.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Disgusted in Innsmouth

  75. Moving right along . . .

    Something that I should have thought of and emphasized: In Rogers’ condemnation, he lists the old heresies first, then “newer” heresies (to his own time), then the Roman Catholic Church/Papacy. Whatever or whoever it was he intended by “Scythians”, they almost certainly predated the Koran.

    A piece of negative evidence: Looking for the term “Scythians” on biblehub brought up a few hits in works by the early church fathers, similar to those already mentioned above, but nothing obviously about a group or person with a work specifically called “Jobaleae”/”Jubliees”, or anything like that. There’s nothing suggesting that Arius’ Thalia was called Jobaleae/Jubilees by anyone, nor that anyone was calling Arians by the term “Scythians”. So either Rogers was using confused terms on his own initiative, or there’s something I haven’t figured out yet.

  76. David Marjanović says

    You sacrifice the losers and not the winners?!? What blasphemy.

  77. @Owlmirror: Thread so thoroughly won that you shall be taken to the Great Temple where your heart shall be removed and your carcass lett open on the altar of the Sun God for two moons.

    Which rtakes me to the point: What evidence do we have that Meso-American cultures actually sacrificed the winners of the ballgames? The incentives for winning seem somewhat insufficient to me. Or did they do something even more cruel to the losers of the game?

  78. David Marjanović says

    The evidence is “I read it once”. I’ve read more often that the losers were sacrificed, but that never came with a citation either and runs into the theo-logical problem I mentioned.

    As long as the players actually believed in their religion, I can’t see what the problem is in assuming they really wanted to be sacrificed.

  79. I know. I’ve read it too. I just wonder if there’s any evidence that the actual players were sacrificed instead of, say, the ballgame being played during religious festivals that also featured human sacrifice.

    Sacrificing losers of the game could mirror the common practice of sacrificing beaten enemies.

  80. Sacrificing the winners would at least solve the problem of one team dominating the championship years on end.

  81. The NBA and NFL drafts — where the worst teams get the top picks from each year’s crop of college players — were introduced for the very purpose of avoiding wholesale slaughter, I believe.

    In fact, the drafts have become sporting spectacles in their own rights, just as mass sacrifice was a huge public event in times past.

  82. In the second book of John Christopher’s Fireball trilogy (Fireball, New Found Land, and Dragon Dance) the two protagonists travel to an alternate version North America that is largely controlled by the Aztecs. (In the first book, the titular “fireball” transports them from 1980s England to an alternate world where Europe is still controlled a stultified pagan Roman Empire, and there has been very limited European contact with the Americas.) The ball game is still culturally important, but it has developed from a handball game to using lacrosse-like pocket rackets. The heroes decide to field a team in an upcoming major tournament, and they spend weeks crafting modern-style tennis rackets that will let them hit the ball much harder. Their plan is to make a big splash (as foreigners playing a much faster version of the game), and make some money that way, since it is traditional for spectators to throw money to the winners of an impressive match. This plan works for a while, but they run into problems when they reach the semifinals. Most teams that are eliminated from the tournament just go home, but the losers of the finals are sacrificed. So the protagonists plan to the throw their semi, but they find themselves playing against another team that is also trying to lose, and things get complicated.

  83. late to the party, but bravo Owlmirror!
    (and has anyone else here been reading Ruthanna Emrys’ delightful (if you like that sort of thing) lovecraft midrash-novels? this story is the start of her lovecraft world; this one isn’t, but is more directly linguistics-y.)

    and i do love a scythian situation!

    here’s what i think of as the authoritative account of why the german lands are ashkenaz: dovid katz’s “farvos heysn mir ‘ashkenazim'”. in yiddish only, sadly, as far as i know. basically (if i remember right: it’s been a while and i’m not going to reread it tonight): an elaborate rabbinical riff (like a lot of the biblically-derived geographical labels) that comes down to redheads and texual details.

    which made me wonder whether, if “ashkenaz” was used for scythia earlier, that might have had to do with the “red jews” beyond the river sambatyon. but apparently they wandered into yiddish from christian germans’ lost tribes legends, and weren’t given their color until the late 1200s, which is a few centuries too late. ah well.

  84. You sacrifice the losers and not the winners?!?

    I was waffling over typing “winners”/”losers”, and my reasoning, such as it was, was that if they keep killing the best players, the games will become terrible festivals of awkwardness. Not only the best players, but the ones who are most likely to be deeply pious will be killed, leaving the field full of clumsy skeptics/atheists playing to lose. The crowd will hate it and the gods will become angered by the purity of the games becoming corrupted.

    I cheerfully admit that this was a glib and facile chain of thought, and no doubt counterarguments could be made.

    What blasphemy.

    Really, the only surprising thing is that it didn’t happen sooner (Oglaf-SAFE)

  85. David Eddyshaw says


    Thanks for the stories. Grad school as Lovecraftian creeping horror seems such a natural concept …

  86. and has anyone else here been reading Ruthanna Emrys’ delightful (if you like that sort of thing) lovecraft midrash-novels?

    I have indeed. Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! is just the start of a comforting childhood prayer….

    I would call them Lovecraft subversion, however.

  87. subversion? absolutely!
    not the “we loved where that was going” kind of midrash, for sure…

  88. I, above, quoted Wiktionary on “zampogna”:

    zampogna: kind of Italian double-chantered bagpipe.

    Etymology: From Latin symphōnia (possibly influenced, through folk etymology, by zampa (“paw, leg of an animal”) in Italian, as bagpipes are traditionally made of leather with the hair still on), from Ancient Greek συμφωνία (sumphōnía). Cf. also Romanian cimpoi, cimpoaie. Doublet of sinfonia.

    So I was looking at Nick Nicholas’ other blog, and noticed a post on Cretan bagpipes:

    A terminological clarification: Pericles discusses the tsambouna, which is the Aegean/Pontic bagpipes; the gaida, the bagpipes played in Thrace and Macedonia (and throughout the Balkans) are better known in Greece, but are not mentioned in the article. I have chosen to translate tsambouna as “bagpipes” throughout in this article, for the sake of familiarity, but properly speaking both the tsambouna and the gaida are bagpipes, and Pericles would have translated it as just tsambouna. The gaida has a chanter pipe and a separate drone pipe; the tsambouna (Italian zampogna) has two parallel pipes yoked together, the melodic pipe with more holes, the bass pipe with less. Pericles does not consider them to be the same instrument, and the tsambouna does not properly have a drone, the way the gaida does (which is why Pericles is less impressed with the parallel with the drone string of the lyraki).


    The askomandoura or askobandoura is the Cretan name of the tsambouna, a wind instrument proper to the tradition of many Aegean islands and other regions of Greece, which is also found in the same or related forms among other peoples. Greek tsambounas have some basic characteristics in common: two parallel pipes of the same length with single reeds, one always with five holes, and the other with one, three or five; a yoke (a railed foundation for the pipes) ending in a bell, and a bag made from a whole animal hide. The details of construction vary, generating a variety of versions of the instrument, so that almost each island has its own bagpipe.1 Some of these minor differences influence the sound of each variant of the bagpipe, while others only impact its appearance.

    Oddly, there is no mention of the Ancient Greek term symphonia, although the WikiP article on Zampogna that he links to does have that etymology.

  89. A piece of negative evidence: Looking for the term “Scythians” on biblehub brought up a few hits in works by the early church fathers, similar to those already mentioned above, but nothing obviously about a group or person with a work specifically called “Jobaleae”/”Jubliees”, or anything like that. [. . .] So either Rogers was using confused terms on his own initiative, or there’s something I haven’t figured out yet.

    I think I figured this out.

    So I wondered who first described the Archontics anyway, and it turns out that is a 4th-C patriarch named Epiphanius (of Salamis). He actually wrote the book on all of these ancient heresies. That book was the Panarion, which was also one of the books called Adversus Haereses (“one of the books”, because other church fathers wrote similar denunciations, which were also called Adversus Haereses).

    The Panarion is online in an English translation, and the original Greek. And while looking at those I think I figured out what Thomas Rogers was ranting about.

    See, the group of heretics who were railed against just before the Archontics were . . . the Sethians (Σηθιανῶν). Not Scythians (Σκυθισμός), Sethians. There is a section early on where he does talk about Scythians, but it isn’t actually about any heresy yet, and no particular book is ascribed to them.

    What about the “Jobelæa”? This is definitely another point where Rogers seems to have either misread the text, or was working from a garbled text, or from a bad memory of the text. In the section against Sethians, Epiphanius was ranting about how the Sethians were basically making up their own texts and ascribing them to Seth, and to Moses and to Abraham. And to refute the Sethians . . . Epiphanius cited the book of Jubilees (Ἰωβηλαίοις), aka the Lesser Genesis (λεπτῇ Γενέσει), proclaiming that this book had the real stuff, and the Sethians’ books were all fake, neener-neener. ¹

    So Rogers must have gotten confused about the name of the heretics being denounced, and additionally confused the book used to refute them with a book that they themselves used.

    How about the Archontics? As noted in the first comment above, there were actually two Symphonias (in the online Greek copy, both occurrences of the word have “φ”, not “β”), but Rogers was, as already noted, either careless, or confused, or both.

    1: This was pointed out to be problematic in the first article I read on the topic :Retelling Biblical Retellings: Epiphanius, the Pseudo-Clementines, and the Reception History of the Book of Jubilees. But I guess Epiphanius figured he knew better.

  90. Wow, that is brilliant detective work, and I can only hope that some scholar of ancient heresies takes note of it — it’s quite possible you’re the only person who’s ever figured that out. You get the Languagehat Miter award (to be worn while smiting heretics and/or prescriptivists).

  91. While reading up on phthartic, I encountered the pleasingly jaw-breaking name of the Aphthartodocetae (from ἄφθαρτος ‘incorruptible’), who believed that the body of Christ was always incorruptible. They opposed the Phthartolatrae (also known as Severians, for Severus of Antioch), who held that it was corruptible until the Resurrection.

  92. John Cowan says

    The Sethians, of course, are important in Patrick O’Brien’s theological novels.

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