The belief that God possesses a bodily form like that of human beings. The belief derives from a literal reading of the many Old Testament references to the eyes, face, and hands of God.

This belief seems to have been widely held by the monks of in the late fourth and early fifth centuries. THEOPHILUS, patriarch of Alexandria (385-412), refuted this belief in his festal letter of 399 and aroused a great deal of resentment among the monks. It is not clear how widespread the anthropomorphite beliefs were. John Cassian’s account (Collationes 10.2ff.) indicates that the majority of the monks in SCETIS (Wadi al-Natrun) were anthropomorphites. Sozomen ( ecclesiastica 8.11) states that a delegation of angry, threatening monks visited Theophilus, who did not retract his criticism of but accommodated the monks by condemning Origenism and attacking suspected monks.

The Audians, a fourth-century anthropomorphite sect, were condemned and exiled to Scythia by Constantine. It is not clear whether there is any connection between the Audians of Syria and the anthropomorphite monks of Egypt. The Egyptian monks suffered no for their beliefs, perhaps because of their numerical strength.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Augustine. . In PL 42, cols. 21-50. Paris, 1841. See sec. 50.76.
  • Drioton, E. “La d’un moine anthropomorphite audien avec le patriarche Théophile d’Alexandrie en année 399.” de l’Orient chrétien 20 (1915/1917):92-100, 113-32.
  • Gennadius. Liber de scriptoribus ecclesiasticis. In PL 58, cols. 1059-1120. Paris, 1847. See sec. 34.
  • Orlandi, T. “Il dossiere copto di Agatonico di Tarso: Studio letterario e storico.” In Studies Presented to Hans Jacob Polotsky, ed. D. W. Young, pp. 269-99. East Gloucester, Mass., 1981.

JANET TIMBIE