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HYPSISTARIANS:

Semi-Jewish sect found on the Bosporus in the first Christian century and in Asia Minor down to the fourth century. They worshiped God under the name of Θεὸς Υψισος Παντοκράτωρ (the Most High and Almighty One), observed the Sabbath and some of the dietary laws, but not circumcision, and cherished a certain pagan veneration for fire and light, earth and sun, without observing, however, any idolatrous rite (see Gregory Nazienzen, "Oratio," xviii. 5; Gregory of Nyssa, "Contra Eunomium," p. 2). They are probably related to, if not identical with, the Massalians ("Meẓallin"), or the Euchomenoi, or Euphemitai, "the God-worshipers, who also worshiped the Almighty God at the blaze of many lights" (Epiphanius, "Panarion, Hæresis," lxxx. 1-3), and the so-called Cœlicolæ ("worshipers of heaven": "yire'e shamayim") mentioned in "Codex Theodosianus," xvi. 5, 43; 8, 19. They were undoubtedly a remnant of Jewish proselytes who retained a few pagan notions, but were regarded as hostile to Christian doctrines.

Bibliography:
  • Bernays, Gesammelte, Schriften, i.;
  • Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., iii. 18, 124;
  • idem, Die Juden im Bosporanischen Reiche und die Genossenschaften der Σεβόμενοι Θεου ϓψιστου, in Sitzungsberichte der Berliner Akademie, 1897, pp. 200-225;
  • Cumont, Hypsistos, Brussels, 1897;
  • and the literature in Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. s.v. Hypsistarier, Himmelanbeter, and Messalianer.
K.
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