Dositheus a Samaritan, in the first century, who claimed to be Messiah, or the prophet promised in De 18:18. The Church fathers ascribe to him peculiarly many doctrines which had always been held by the Samaritans. He was chiefly distinguished by an ascetic life, and an over-scrupulous observance of the Sabbath (Origen, De princ. 4, c. 17: Quo quisque corporis situ in principio sabbathi inventus fuerit, in eo ad vesperum usque ipsi permanendum esse), which originated evidently in a verbal interpretation of Ex 16:29. As late as the year 588 the followers of Dositheus were engaged in a controversy with the other Samaritans concerning the passage, De 18:18 (Eulogius ap. Phot. bibl.

cod. page 230; Gieseler, Ch. History, 1, § 18). Instead of being included in the class of heretics, he ought to be classed among those lunatics who have fancied themselves divine messengers. His impious claims caused an order from the Samaritan high-priest for his apprehension; and Dositheus took refuge in a cave, where he is said to have starved to death (Epiphanius, Hares. 13, cited by Mosheim, Hist. Comment. N.Y. 1851, 1:240 note).

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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