Paul II the Black of Alexandria

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Paul II
Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Church Syriac Orthodox Church
See Antioch
Installed 550
Term ended 575
Predecessor Sergius of Tella
Successor Peter III
Personal details
Born Alexandria, Byzantine Empire
Died 581
Constantinople, Byzantine Empire

Paul II the Black of Alexandria (Syriac: Pawlows d-Beth Oukhomé) was the Patriarch of Antioch and head of the Syriac Orthodox Church from 550 to 575, when he was deposed.


Paul was born in Alexandria into the family of Ukama.[1] He went on to become a monk at the Monastery of Gubba Baroya, near Mabbogh, where he was educated in Greek and Syriac literature. Paul later became a secretary to the Patriarch Theodosius I of Alexandria and abbot of a convent in Alexandria.

In 546, after the death of Sergius of Tella, Paul was sent by Theodosius to the East to restore unity to the monophysite community after the disruption caused by his predecessor, who had adhered to Tritheism before dying. In 550 Paul was consecrated as Patriarch of Antioch by Jacob Baradaeus, apparently against his will because he had wanted to succeed Theodosius as patriarch of Alexandria. After the death of Theodosius in 567, Paul even attempted to buy the patriarchal seat.

During his reign as patriarch, Paul participated in a debate between John III Scholasticus and the bishops Conan of Tarsus and Eugene of Seleucia on Tritheism in Constantinople, in 570. The following year, Paul and three other Syriac Orthodox bishops were summoned to Constantinople, allegedly to restore unity to the imperial church, but remaining stalwart in the adherence to their own creed, were thrown into prison and tortured until they accepted the communion of John Scholasticus.[2] In 572, Paul escaped the capital and took refuge with al-Mundhir in Arabia.

Upon hearing of his defection, Jacob Baradaeus immediately excommunicated him. However, in 575 Jacob presented Paul's penitence before the synod of the Syriac Orthodox Church and as a result Paul was duly and canonically restored to communion,[3] but this was not accepted in Alexandria and caused indignation. He then attempted to impose Theodore, a archimandrite, as Patriarch of Alexandria but was rejected and the Pope Peter IV of Alexandria excommunicated both Theodore and Paul.

Jacob initially denounced the excommunication but soon left for Alexandria to negotiate a compromise, which resulted in Paul's excommunication being lifted but was deposed as Patriarch of Antioch. This was met with strong resistance in Syria and led to a schism between the "Jacobites" and "Paulites", who had the support of al-Mundhir. In 577, Paul returned to Constantinople where he still had many supporters and would remain here until his death. The following year, Jacob died whilst travelling to Alexandria to meet with the successor of Peter IV, Damian of Alexandria.

In February 580, al-Mundhir held a synod in Constantinople to reconcile the Paulites and Jacobites but was rejected by Damian who instead in 581, consecrated Paul's son Peter III of Raqqa as Patriarch of Antioch and Paul is believed to have died soon after.[4]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Venables 1911 cites H. E. i. 41, ii. 1–9, iv. 15.
  3. ^ Venables 1911 cites H. E. iv. 15.
  4. ^ Barsoum, Ignatius A. The Scattered Pearls. 2nd ed. Piscataway: Georgias P, 2003.
Preceded by
Sergius of Tella
Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch
Succeeded by
Peter III