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Cosmas III  

Ness Creighton

Coptic pope (patriarch) of Alexandria, was the fifty-eighth patriarch of the See of Saint Mark (920/21–932/33). His twelve-year reign was long when compared to other patriarchs of his era. The   History of the Patriarchs  affords him only a brief treatment, despite the length of his reign, and secondary sources citing Abu al-Makarim’s History of Churches and Monasteries indicate he receives equally little commentary within this text as well.

Cosmas III came to power after Gabriel I (910–921), with no noted complications existing in the record surrounding the succession. It is not recorded from which monastery he came prior to being named patriarch. Little is said about Cosmas III’s person or character, and only two linked events are commented upon in his rule between the two previously mentioned sources.

While the century before had been marked with wars and tensions that had further divided the churches of Egypt and Abyssinia ...



James J. O'Donnell

Carthaginian churchman, was a man (or perhaps two men) whose life and work were so contested and his successors so vanquished that the man and his life have disappeared behind an image of schism and intransigence. But this could not have happened if the man himself were not a figure of power, persuasion, and authority among a large and determined group of followers.

Donatus came to fame in the aftermath of persecution. The Roman government of c. 305 made its last (and only really determined) attempt to persecute and suppress Christianity, failing miserably. In Roman Africa, however, the events of the persecution left deep rifts among Christians. Who had behaved badly among the clergy in kowtowing to Roman power? Who had handed over the sacred books to be burned? And if such traitors sought after persecution to recover church office, what was to be done?

The bishop of Carthage at ...


Jea, John  

Richard J. Bell

Methodist preacher and seaman, was born in the port town of Old Calabar, in Nigeria, West Africa, to Margaret and Hambleton Robert Jea. At age two Jea and his family were captured in Old Calabar and transported to America on a slave ship. With his parents and several siblings he was immediately sold to the family of Oliver and Angelika Tiehuen, members of the Dutch Reformed Church who owned land outside New York City. This knowledge comes from Jea's narrative, The Life, History, and Sufferings of John Jea, the African Preacher, written and published in 1815; it is the only source of information about most of Jea's life and travels.

The newly enslaved family was set to work as field hands and quickly felt the hardship of poor conditions and physical abuse Jea found little comfort in the message of obedience and humility preached to ...


Lee, Jarena  

Jualynne E. Dodson

preacher and evangelist, was born in Cape May, New Jersey. She was not born a slave, but little is known about her family. They were obviously poor enough that at the age of seven Lee was hired out as a live-in maid to a family that lived some sixty miles from her home. She had a religious awakening in 1804, and several years later she recounts achieving rebirth to a life free of sin and focused on spiritual perfection. Each of these spiritual transformations occurred after Lee had experienced physical hardships. Her autobiography describes a long and laborious struggle that led her to the conviction that she should preach. In 1836 she published an autobiographical narrative, The Life and Religious Experiences of Jarena Lee. The narrative was reprinted in 1839, and in 1849 she produced an expanded version under the title Religious Experiences and Journal of ...


Primus, Holdridge  

Chaitali Korgaonkar and Robert Smieja

porter, clerk, and civic leader in Hartford, Connecticut, was born in Guilford, Connecticut, the son of Ham Primus, a sailor, and Temperance Asher. His grandfather, named simply Primus, is recognized in one local history as a servant and apprentice to a Dr. Wolcott in East Windsor, Connecticut, in the mid-eighteenth century. Later on, inspired by Dr. Wolcott's work, this Primus became a doctor himself, setting up his own office. We know little about Holdridge Primus's early life, but we do know he was earning a living by age twelve. In his early teenage years, he made his way to Hartford, Connecticut, where he worked and apprenticed for William Ellsworth, (later governor of Connecticut from 1838 to 1842). When Ellsworth served in Congress around 1840 he chose to take Primus with him based on his merit intelligence and dedicated service Primus was employed in a ...