Peter the Iberian
Peter the Iberian, or Peter of Iberia, (Georgian: პეტრე იბერი, Petre Iberi) (c. 411-491) is a Georgian Orthodox saint, who was a prominent figure in early Christianity. Some have claimed that he is the author of the works written under the pen name Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.
His accomplishments include founding the first Georgian monastery in Bethlehem and becoming the bishop of Gaza near Majuma. In addition to being canonized by the Georgian Orthodox Church as a saint, he is also recognized by various eastern Churches, some of which have deviated from the Chalcedonian doctrine.
He was born into the royal family of the Iberian Kings and was initially named Murvan (alternatively, Nabarnugios), prince of Iberia. His father, King Bosmarios of Iberia, invited noted philosopher Mithradates from Lazica to take part in Murvan’s education. In 423, the prince was sent as a political hostage to Constantinople, where he got a brilliant education under a personal patronage of the Roman empress Aelia Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II.
Eventually, the young prince, together with his mentor Mithradates, left the palace and escaped to make a pilgrimage to Palestine, where he became a monk at Jerusalem under the name of Peter. In 430, he founded his own monastery at Bethlehem (later known as the Georgian Monastery of Bethlehem). In 445, he was consecrated priest. Accompanied by Mithradates (now called John), he traveled across several countries of the Near East and finally settled in Majuma near Gaza.
In 452, he served as bishop of Majuma for six months before some Christians were banished by the decree of the local ruler. Peter escaped to Egypt but returned to Palestine a decade later. He gained numerous followers and disciples. According to the medieval sources, he was an author of several famous religious works. However, none of them survived to be written under the name of Peter.
- The so-called Syriac version originally written by Peter’s disciple John Rufus in Greek dates back to the 8th century
- The so-called Georgian version originally written by Peter’s contemporary, Zacharias Rhetor, bishop of Mytilene, in Greek has preserved as a manuscript of c. 13th century.
- Sh. Nutsubidze. "Mystery of Pseudo-Dionys Areopagit (a monograph), Tbilisi, 1942; E. Honigmann, Pierre l'Iberian et les ecrits du Pseudo-Denys l'Areopagita. Bruxelles, 1952.
- Various eastern Churches (Armenian, Coptic, etc) believe that Peter the Iberian was a Monophysite and an anti-chaldeonian, whereas this point of view is not shared by the Georgian Orthodox Church. Although his biographies do not discuss this issue, some of the scholars who side with the Armenian sources accept the idea that he was an anti-chaldeonian, while others do not. For example, David Marshall Lang believes in the possibility that he was a monophysite (see Lang, D M. "Peter the Iberian and his biographers." Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 1951: 158-168), while Shalva Nutsubidze (Georgia, 1942) and Ernest Honingmann (Belgium, 1952) believe that he was a neoplatonic philosopher. (Horn (2006), p. 167.)
- [Cornelia]; Phenix, Robert (1/9/2008). John Rufus: The Lives of Peter the Iberian, Theodosius of Jerusalem, and the Monk Romanus. Society of Biblical Literature. ISBN 1-58983-200-0.
- Horn, Cornelia B. (2006), Asceticism And Christological Controversy in Fifth-century Palestine: The Career of Peter The Iberian. Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-927753-2.
- The Life of Peter the Iberian from Lives and Legends of the Georgian Saints by David Marshall Lang
- A. Kofsky. Peter the Iberian. Pilgrimage, Monasticism and Ecclesiastical Politics in Byzantine Palestine
- A Repertoire of Byzantine "Beneficial Tales"
- The Byzantine Fathers by Georges Florovsky
- Zachariah of Mitylene, Syriac Chronicle (1899). Book 6
- David Marshall Lang, "Peter the Iberian and His Biographers". Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 2 (1951), pp 156–168
- Jan-Eric Steppa, John Rufus and the World Vision of Anti-Chalcedonian Culture, (Gorgias Press, 2002), xxvii + 199 pp. ISBN 1-931956-09-X
- Ernest Honigmann, Pierre l'iberian et les ecrits du Pseudo-Denys l'Aréopagite, Bruxelles, 1952 (French)
- Petre Iberi. Works, Tbilisi, 1961 (Georgian)
- Shalva Nutsubidze. Mystery of Pseudo-Dionys Areopagit, Tbilisi, 1942 (Georgian, English summary)
- Shalva Nutsubidze. Peter the Iberian and problems of Areopagitics. - Proceedings of the Tbilisi State University, vol. 65, Tbilisi, 1957 (Russian)
- A. Kofsky. "Peter the Iberian and the Question of the Holy Places," Cathedra 91 (1999), pp. 79–96 (Hebrew).