An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

John of Damascus

(c. 650-c. 749). Monk and theologian. There is little known of his life, and the available sources are in conflict. He was called John Damascene. John was the son of a Christian tax collector for the Islamic Caliph of Damascus. He succeeded his father as the chief representative of the Christians to the Caliph. In 716 he became a monk and later a priest at the abbey of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem. The most important of his theological writings is The Fount of Knowledge or The Fount of Wisdom. The most significant part of this work is “On the Orthodox Faith,” a summary and systematizing of previous eastern theology. During the iconoclastic controversy, which reached its climax in 787 at the Second Council of Nicaea, John was a leading defender of the use of icons. He was an opponent of the Monophysite heresy and of Manichaeism, both of which denied the completeness of the Incarnation. John was the last of the great eastern Fathers of the Church. Three of John's Easter hymns are in The Hymnal 1982 : “Thou hallowed chosen morn of praise” (Hymn 198); “Come, ye faithful, raise the strain” (Hymns 199-200); and “The day of resurrection” (Hymn 210). He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo III in 1890. John's life is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Dec. 4.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.