The Melchisedechians, also known as Athingani (αθίγγανοι athinganoi "intangibles") were a 9th-century sect of Monarchians located in Phrygia, founded by Theodotus the banker.

Another quite distinct sect or party is refuted by Marcus Eremita, who seems to have been a disciple of St. John Chrysostom. His book Eis ton Melchisedek, or according to Photius "Against the Melchisedekites" [1], speaks of these new teachers as making Melchisedech an incarnation of the Logos (divine Word). They were anathematized by the bishops, but would not cease to preach. They seem to have been otherwise orthodox. St. Jerome (Ep. 73) refutes an anonymous work which identified Melchisedech with the Holy Ghost. About A.D. 600, Timotheus, Presbyter of Constantinople, in his book De receptione Haereticorum [2] adds at the end of his list of heretics who need rebaptism the Melchisedechians, "now called Athingani" (Intangibles). They live in Phrygia, and are neither Hebrews nor Gentiles. They keep the Sabbath, but are not circumcised. They will not touch any man. If food is offered to them, they ask for it to be placed on the ground; then they come and take it. They give to others with the same precautions. It is uncertain whether the sect survived beyond the 9th century. They were probably scattered across Anatolia and the Balkans following the destruction of Tephrike.

The name atsiganoi came to be associated with the Romani people who first appeared in the Byzantine empire at the time.[3][4][5]



  • Joshua Starr: An Eastern Christian Sect: The Athinganoi. In: Harvard Theological Review 29 (1936), 93-106.
  • Ilse Rochow: Die Häresie der Athinganer im 8. und 9. Jahrhundert und die Frage ihres Fortlebens. In: Helga Köpstein, Friedhelm Winkelmann (eds.), Studien zum 8. und 9. Jahrhundert in Byzanz, Berlin 1983 (= Berliner Byzantinistische Arbeiten, 51), 163-178.
  • Paul Speck: Die vermeintliche Häresie der Athinganoi. In: Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 47 (1997), 37-50.

See also

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