Bogomilian, adj.Bogomilism, n.
/bog"euh mil/, n.
a member of a dualistic sect, flourishing chiefly in Bulgaria in the Middle Ages, that rejected most of the Old Testament and was strongly anticlerical in polity.
Also, Bogomile /bog"euh muyl'/.
[1840-45; < MGk Bogómilos, from the name of a 10th cent. Bulgarian priest alleged to have founded the sect, in later South Slavic sources Bogomilu (a calque of Gk Theóphilos; see THEO-, -PHILE)]

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Any member of a religious sect that flourished in the Balkans during the 10th–15th centuries.

Founded by a 10th-century Bulgarian priest traditionally known as Bogomil, the sect's beliefs arose from the possible fusion of dualistic doctrines imported mainly from the Paulicians (a sect of Armenia and Asia Minor) and a local Slavonic movement aimed at reforming the new Bulgarian Orthodox church. Its central teaching was that the visible, material world was created by the Devil. The Bogomils taught a Docetist Christology instead of the traditional doctrine of the Incarnation, rejected the Christian conception of matter as a vehicle of grace, and repudiated the whole organization of the Orthodox church. They were active missionaries who lived rigorously ascetic lives. During the 11th–12th centuries Bogomilism spread over many European and Asian provinces of the Byzantine Empire; it also spread into western Europe, where it contributed to the formation of the Cathar heresy. In Bulgaria it remained a powerful force until the late 14th century. With the Ottoman conquest of southeastern Europe in the 15th century, its influence declined. See also dualism.

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▪ religious sect
      member of a dualist religious sect that flourished in the Balkans between the 10th and 15th centuries. It arose in Bulgaria toward the middle of the 10th century from a fusion of dualistic, neo-Manichaean doctrines imported especially from the Paulicians, a sect of Armenia and Asia Minor, and a local Slavonic movement aimed at reforming, in the name of an evangelical Christianity, the recently established Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Bogomils were so called after their founder, the priest Bogomil.

      The Bogomils' central teaching, based on a dualistic cosmology, was that the visible, material world was created by the devil. Thus, they denied the doctrine of the incarnation and rejected the Christian conception of matter as a vehicle of grace. They rejected Baptism, the Eucharist, and the whole organization of the Orthodox Church. The moral teaching of the Bogomils was as consistently dualistic. They condemned those functions of man that bring him into close contact with matter, especially marriage, the eating of meat, and the drinking of wine. In fact, the moral austerity of the Bogomils invariably was acknowledged by their fiercest opponents.

      During the 11th and 12th centuries Bogomilism spread over many European and Asian provinces of the Byzantine Empire. Its growth in Constantinople resulted, about 1100, in the trial and imprisonment of prominent Bogomils in the city and in the public burning of their leader, Basil. In the second half of the 12th century, it spread westward. The Serbian ruler Stefan Nemanja was obliged to summon a general assembly of his land to check it. Roman Catholic authorities were greatly disturbed by reports of heresy in Dalmatia and Bosnia (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (though modern scholarship casts doubt on the theory that the Bosnian church ever adopted the dualist theology of the Bogomils). By the early 13th century the dualistic communities of southern Europe—comprising the Paulicians and Bogomils in the east and the Cathari in the west—formed a network stretching from the Black Sea to the Atlantic.

      In the 13th and 14th centuries, Rome dispatched several legations and Franciscan missionaries to convert or expel Bosnian heretics, among whom there may have been some Bogomils. In the country of its birth Bogomilism remained a powerful force until the late 14th century. The Bulgarian (Bulgaria) authorities convened several church councils to condemn its teachings. With the Ottoman conquest of southeastern Europe in the 15th century, obscurity descended upon the sect. Traces of a dualistic tradition in the folklore of the South Slavs are all that remain today of the most powerful sectarian movement in the history of the Balkans.

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Universalium. 2010.

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