Peter the Iberian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Peter the Iberian
Peter the Iberian.jpg
Born c. 417[1]
Kingdom of Iberia
Died 491
Burial Gaza
Full name
Murvan Nabarnugios Peter
Dynasty Chosroid dynasty
Father King Bosmarios of Iberia
Religion Georgian Orthodox Church

Peter the Iberian (Georgian: პეტრე იბერი, translit.: p'et're iberi) (c. 417-491) was a Georgian royal prince, theologian and philosopher who was a prominent figure in early Christianity and one of the founders of the Christian neoplatonism. Some have claimed that he is the author of the works written under the pen name Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.[2]

His accomplishments include founding the first Georgian monastery in Bethlehem and becoming the bishop of Majuma near Gaza. The oldest Georgian Bir el Qutt inscriptions mention Peter with his father.


He was born into the royal Chosroid dynasty of the Kings of Iberia (Eastern Georgia)[3] and was initially named Murvan (alternatively, Nabarnugios), Prince of Iberia (Kartli). His father, King Bosmarios of Iberia, invited noted philosopher Mithradates from Lazica to take part in Murvan’s education. In 423, at the age of about five, the prince was sent as a political hostage to Constantinople to ensure the loyalty of Iberia to the Byzantines rather than to the Persians.[1] Here he received a brilliant education under a personal patronage of the Roman empress Aelia Eudocia, wife of Theodosius II.

According to his biographer, John Rufus, Peter refused to write to or receive letters from home lest it undermine his ascetic discipline.[3] When he was about twenty, 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 ordained as a 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.

He died at Yavneh-Yam, port of ancient Iamnia, in 491 and was buried in his monastery near Gaza.[3]

Various eastern Churches think that he may have deviated from the Chalcedonian doctrine.[4]

Peter’s Vita was written by his disciple, John Rufus (John of Beth Rufina), later his successor as bishop of Maiuma.[1]


  • 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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Peter the Iberian", Kofsky, Aryeh
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ a b c Horn, Cornelia B. and Phenix, Robert R., The Lives of Peter the Iberian, Theodosius of Jerusalem, and the Monk Romanus, Society of Biblical Lit, 2008 ISBN 9781589832008
  4. ^ These Churches (Armenian, Coptic, etc) believe that Peter the Iberian was a Monophysite and an anti-chaldeonian, whereas this 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.)


Further reading[edit]

  • 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).
  • ქართული ლიტერატურის ქრესტომათია. ტ. I შედგ. ს. ყუბანეიშვილის მიერ. ტ. I. თბ. 1944.
  • ძველი ქართული აგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურის ძეგლები, ი. აბულაძის რედაქციით, II ტ. თბ. 1967.
  • ძველი ქართული აგიოგრაფიული ლიტერატურის ძეგლები, IV, ე. გაბიძაშვილის და მ. ქავთარიას რედაქციით, ტ. თბ. 1968 .
  • ცხოვრება პერტე იბერისა, ასურული რედაქცია გერმანულიდან თარგმნა, გამოკვლევა, კომემტარები და განმარტებითი საძიებლები დაურთო ი. ლოლაშვილმა, თბილისი, 1988.
  • პეტრე იბერიელი (ფსევდო-დიონისე არეოპაგელი). შრომები. თარგმ. ეფრემ მცირისა. ს. ენუქაშვილის გამოც. თბ. 1961.
  • შ. ნუცუბიძე. პეტრე იბერი და ანტიკური ფილოსოფიური მემკვიდრეობა. შრომები. ტ. V. თბ. 1975.
  • ს. ყაუხჩიშვილი. ბერძნული ლიტერატურის ისტორია. ტ. III. თბ. 1973.
  • Н. Марр. Житие Петра Ивера, царевича—подвижника и епископа Мойюмского V века. Православный палестинский сборник. 1896 г. т. 16.
  • მ. თარხნიშვილი, ახლად აღმოჩენილი ქართული მონასტერი ბეთლემში, ბედი ქართლისა, 16, 1954.
  • გ. წერეთელი, უძველესი ქართული წარწერები პალესტინიდან, თბილისი, 1960.
  • გ. ფერაძე, უცხოელ პილიგრიმთა ცნობები პალესტინის ქართველი ბერებისა და ქართული მონასტრების შესახებ, გამოსაცემად მოამზადა, შესავალი წერილი და დამატებითი შენიშვნები დაურთო გ. ჯაფარიძემ, თბილისი,1995.