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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Period IV. The Age Of The Consolidation Of The Church: 200 to 324 A. D.

A Source Book For Ancient Church History by Joseph Cullen Ayer Jr., Ph.D.

Period IV. The Age Of The Consolidation Of The Church: 200 to 324 A. D.

In the fourth period of the Church under the heathen Empire, or the period of the consolidation of the Church, the number of Christians increased so rapidly that the relation of the Roman State to the Church became a matter of the gravest importance (ch.1). During a period of comparative peace and prosperity the Church developed its doctrinal system and its constitution (ch.2). Although the school of Asia Minor became isolated and temporarily ceased to affect the bulk of the Church elsewhere, the school of the apologists was brilliantly continued at Alexandria under Clement and Origen, and later under Origen at Caesarea in Palestine. Meanwhile the foundations were laid in North Africa for a distinctive type of Western theology, inaugurated by Tertullian and developed by Cyprian. After years of alternating favor and local persecutions, the first general persecution (ch.3) broke upon the Church, rudely testing its organization and ultimately strengthening and furthering its tendencies toward a strictly hierarchical constitution. In the long period of peace that followed (ch.4), the discussions that had arisen within the Church as to the relation of the divine unity to the divinity of Christ reached a temporary conclusion, the cultus was elaborated and assumed the essentials of its permanent form, and the episcopate was made supreme over rival authorities within the Church, becoming at once the expression and organ of ecclesiastical unity. At the same time new problems arose; within the Church there was the appearance of an organized asceticism which appeared for a time to be a rival to the Church's system, and outside the Church the appearance of a hostile rival in the rapidly spreading Manichaean system, in which was revived, in a better organized and therefore more dangerous form, the expelled Gnosticism. The period ends with the last general persecution (ch.5).

Chapter I. The Political And Religious Conditions Of The Empire

The accession of Septimius Severus, A. D.193, marks a change in the condition of the Empire. It was becoming more harassed by frontier wars, not always waged successfully. Barbarians were gradually settling within the Empire. The emperors themselves were no longer Romans or Italians. Provincials, some not even of the Latin race, assumed the imperial dignity. But it was a period in which the Roman law was in its most flourishing and brilliant stage, under such men as Papinian, Ulpian, and others second only to these masters. Stoic cosmopolitanism made for wider conceptions of law and a deeper sense of human solidarity. The Christian Church, however, profited little by this (§ 34) until, in the religious syncretism which became fashionable in the highest circles, it was favored by even the imperial family along with other Oriental religions (§ 35). The varying fortunes of the emperors necessarily affected the Church (§ 36), though, on the whole, there was little suffering, and the Church spread rapidly, and in many parts of the Empire became a powerful organization (§ 37), with which the State would soon have to reckon.

§ 34. State and Church under Septimius Severus and Caracalla

Although Christians were at first favored by Septimius Severus, they were still liable to the severe laws against secret societies, and the policy of Septimius was later to enforce these laws. The Christians tried to escape the penalties prescribed against such societies by taking the form of friendly societies which were expressly tolerated by the law. Nevertheless, numerous cases are to be found in various parts of the Empire in which Christians were put to death under the law. Yet the number of martyrs before the general persecution of Decius in the middle of the century was relatively small. The position of Christians was not materially affected by the constitution of Caracalla conferring Roman citizenship on all free inhabitants of the Empire, and the constitution seems to have been merely a fiscal measure which laid additional burdens upon the provincials.

Additional source material: Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 1-12.

(a) Tertullian, Ad Scapulam, 4. (MSL, 1:781.)

The account of Tertullian is generally accepted as substantially correct. Scapula was chief magistrate of Carthage and, under the circumstances, the author would not have indulged his tendency to rhetorical embellishment. Furthermore, the book is written with what was for Tertullian great moderation.

How many rulers, men more resolute and more cruel than you, have contrived to get quit of such causes -- as Cincius Severus, who himself suggested the remedy at Thysdris, pointing out how Christians should answer that they might be acquitted; as Vespronius Candidus, who acquitted a Christian on the ground that to satisfy his fellow-citizens would create a riot; as Asper, who, in the case of a man who under slight torture had fallen, did not compel him to offer sacrifice, having owned among the advocates and assessors of the court that he was annoyed at having to meddle with such a case! Prudens, too, at once dismissed a Christian brought before him, perceiving from the indictment that it was a case of vexatious accusation; tearing the document in pieces, he refused, according to the imperial command, to hear him without the presence of his accuser. All this might be officially brought under your notice, and by the very advocates, who themselves are under obligations to Christians, although they cry out against us as it suits them. The clerk of one who was liable to be thrown down by an evil spirit was set free; as was also a relative of another, and the little boy of a third. How many men of rank (not to mention common people) have been cured of devils and of diseases! Even Severus himself, the father of Antonine, was mindful of the Christians; for he sought out the Christian Proclus, surnamed Torpacion, the steward of Euhodias, who once had cured him by means of oil, and whom he kept in his palace till his death. Antonine [Caracalla], too, was brought up on Christian milk,(55) was intimately acquainted with this man. But Severus, knowing both men and women of the highest rank to be of this sect, not only did not injure them, but distinguished them with his testimony and restored them to us openly from the raging populace.(56)

(b) Laws Relating to Forbidden Societies.

1. Justinian, Digest, XLVII.23:1.

The following is a passage taken from the Institutes of Marcian, Bk. III.

By princely commands it was prescribed to the governors of provinces that they should not permit social clubs and that soldiers should not have societies in the camp. But it is permitted to the poor to collect a monthly contribution, so long as they gather together only once in a month, lest under a pretext of this sort an unlawful society meet. And that this should be allowed not only in the city, but also in Italy and the provinces, the divine Severus ordered. But for the sake of religion they are not forbidden to come together so long as they do nothing contrary to the Senatus-consultum, by which unlawful societies are restrained. It is furthermore not lawful to belong to more than one lawful society, as this was determined by the divine brothers [Caracalla and Geta]; and if any one is in two, it is ordered that it be necessary for him to choose in which he prefers to be, and he shall receive from the society from which he resigns that which belongs to him proportionately of what there is of a common fund.

2. Justinian, Digest, I, 12:14.

From Ulpian's treatise, De officio Praefecti Urbi.

The divine Severus ordered that those who were accused of meeting in forbidden societies should be accused before the prefect of the city.

(c) Persecutions under Severus.

1. Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 1. (MSG, 20:522.)

The following extract is important not only as a witness to the fact of the execution of the laws against Christians in Alexandria, but also to the extension of Christianity in the more southern provinces of Egypt.

When Severus began to persecute the churches, glorious testimonies were given everywhere by the athletes of religion. Especially numerous were they in Alexandria, for thither, as to a more prominent theatre, athletes of God were sent from Egypt and all Thebais, according to their merit, and they won crowns from God through their great patience under many tortures and every mode of death. Among these was Leonidas, said to be the father of Origen, who was beheaded while his son was still young.

2. Spartianus, Vita Severi, XVII.1. (Scriptores Historiae Augustae. Ed. Peter, 1884; Preuschen, Analecta, I, 32.)

The date of the following is A. D.202.

He forbade, under heavy penalties, any to become Jews. He made the same regulation in regard to Christians.

(d) Tertullian. Apol., 39. (MSL, 1:534.)

In the following, Christian assemblies, or churches, are represented as being a sort of friendly society, similar but superior to those existing all over the Empire, common and tolerated among the poorer members of society. The date of the Apology is 197.

Though we have our treasure-chest, it is not made up of purchase money, as if our religion had its price. On the regular day in the month, or when one prefers, each one makes a small donation; but only if it be his pleasure, and only if he be able; for no one is compelled, but gives voluntarily. These gifts are, as it were, piety's deposit fund. For they are taken thence and spent, not on feasts and drinking-bouts, and thankless eating-houses, but to support and bury poor people, to supply the wants of boys and girls destitute of means and parents, and of old persons confined to the house, likewise the shipwrecked, and if there happen to be any in the mines, or banished to the islands, or shut up in the prisons for nothing but their fidelity to the cause of God's Church, they become the nurslings of their confession. But it is mainly for such work of love that many place a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one another!

(e) The Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas. (MSL, 3:51.) (Cf. Knopf, pp.44-57.)

The date of this martyrdom is A. D.203. The Passio SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis has been attributed to Tertullian. It betrays clear evidence of Montanist sympathies. It has even been thought by some that the martyrs themselves were Montanists. At that date probably not a few who sympathized with Montanism were still in good standing in certain parts of the Church. At any rate, the day of their commemoration has been from the middle of the fourth century at Rome March 7. See Kirch, p.323.

The day of their victory dawned, and they proceeded from the prison into the amphitheatre, as if to happiness, joyous and of brilliant countenances; if, perchance, shrinking, it was with joy and not with fear. Perpetua followed with placid look, and with step and gait as a matron of Christ, beloved of God, casting down the lustre of her eyes from the gaze of all. Likewise Felicitas came, rejoicing that she had safely brought forth, so that she might fight with the beasts.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And when they were brought to the gate, and were constrained to put on the clothing -- the men that of the priests of Saturn, and the women that of those who were consecrated to Ceres -- that noble-minded woman resisted even to the end with constancy. For she said: |We have come thus far of our own accord, that our liberty might not be restrained. For this reason we have yielded our minds, that we might not do any such thing as this; we have agreed on this with you.| Injustice acknowledged the justice; the tribune permitted that they be brought in simply as they were. Perpetua sang psalms, already treading under foot the head of the Egyptian [seen in a vision; see preceding chapters]; Revocatus and Saturninus and Saturus uttered threatenings against the gazing people about this martyrdom. When they came within sight of Hilarianus, by gesture and nod they began to say to Hilarianus: |Thou judgest us, but God will judge thee.| At this the exasperated people demanded that they should be tormented with scourges as they passed along the rank of the venatores. And they, indeed, rejoiced that they should have incurred any one of their Lord's passions.

But He who had said, |Ask and ye shall receive,| gave to them, when they asked, that death which each one had desired. For when they had been discoursing among themselves about their wish as to their martyrdom, Saturninus, indeed, had professed that he wished that he might be thrown to all the beasts; doubtless that he might wear a more glorious crown. Therefore, in the beginning of the exhibition he and Revocatus made trial of the leopard, and, moreover, upon the scaffold they were harassed by the bear. Saturus, however, held nothing in greater horror than a bear; but he thought he would be finished by one bite of a leopard. Therefore, when a wild boar was supplied, it was the huntsman who had supplied that boar, and not Saturus, who was gored by that same beast and who died the day after the shows. Saturus only was drawn out; and when he had been bound on the floor near to a bear, the bear would not come forth from his den. And so Saturus for the second time was recalled, unhurt.

Moreover, for the young women the devil, rivalling their sex also in that of the beasts, prepared a very fierce cow, provided especially for that purpose contrary to custom. And so, stripped and clothed with nets, they were led forth. The populace shuddered as they saw one young woman of delicate frame, and another with breasts still dropping from her recent childbirth. So, being recalled, they were unbound. Perpetua was first led in. She was tossed and fell on her loins; and when she saw her tunic torn from her side, she drew it over her as a veil for her thighs, mindful of her modesty rather than of her suffering. Then she was called for again, and bound up her dishevelled hair; for it was not becoming for a martyr to suffer with dishevelled hair, lest she should appear to be mourning in her glory. She rose up, and when she saw Felicitas crushed she approached and gave her her hand and lifted her up. And both of them stood together; and the brutality of the populace being appeased, they were recalled to the Sanavivarian gate. Then Perpetua was received by a certain one who was still a catechumen, Rusticus by name, who kept close to her; and she, as if roused from sleep, so deeply had she been in the Spirit and in an ecstasy, began to look around her and to say to the amazement of all: |I do not know when we are to be led out to that cow.| Thus she said, and when she had heard what had already happened, she did not believe it until she had perceived certain signs of injury in her own body and in her dress, and had recognized the catechumen. Afterward, causing that catechumen and the brother to approach, she addressed them, saying: |Stand fast in the faith, and love one another, all of you, and be not offended at our sufferings.|

The same Saturus at the other entrance exhorted the soldier Prudens, saying: |Assuredly here I am, as I have promised and foretold, for up to this moment I have felt no beast. And now believe with your whole heart. Lo, I am going forth to the leopard, and I shall be destroyed with one bite.| And immediately on the conclusion of the exhibition he was thrown to the leopard; and with one bite by it he was bathed with such a quantity of blood that the people shouted out to him, as he was returning, the testimony of his second baptism: |Saved and washed, saved and washed.| Manifestly he was assuredly saved who had been glorified in such a spectacle. Then to the soldier Prudens he said: |Farewell, and be mindful of my faith; and let not these things disturb, but confirm you.| And at the same time he asked for a little ring from his finger, and returned it to him bathed in his wound, leaving to him an inherited token and memory of his blood. And then lifeless he was cast down with the rest, to be slaughtered in the usual place. And when the populace called for them into the midst, that as the sword penetrated into their body they might make their eyes partners in the murder, they rose up of their own accord, and transferred themselves whither the people wished; but they first kissed one another, that they might consummate their martyrdom with the rites of peace. The rest, indeed, immovable and in silence, received the sword; and so did Saturus, who had also first ascended the ladder, and first gave up his spirit, for he was waiting for Perpetua. But Perpetua, that she might taste some pain, being pierced between the ribs, cried out loudly and she herself placed the wavering right hand of the youthful gladiator to her throat. Possibly such a woman could not have been slain unless she herself had willed it, because she was feared by the impure spirit.

O most brave and blessed martyrs! O truly called and chosen unto the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ! Whoever magnifies, and honors, and adores Him, assuredly ought to read these examples for the edification of the Church, not less than the ancient ones, so that new virtues also may testify that one and the same Holy Spirit is always operating even until now, and God the Father Omnipotent, and his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, whose is glory and infinite power forever and ever. Amen.

(f) Origen, Contra Celsum, III, 8. (MSG, 11:930.)

Origen is writing just before the first general persecution under Decius about the middle of the century. He points out the relatively small number of those suffering persecution.

With regard to Christians, because they were taught not to avenge themselves upon their enemies, and have thus observed laws of a mild and philanthropic character; and because, although they were able, yet they would not have made war even if they had received authority to do so; for this cause they have obtained this from God: that He has always warred on their behalf, and at times has restrained those who rose up against them and who wished to destroy them. For in order to remind others, that seeing a few engaged in a struggle in behalf of religion, they might also be better fitted to despise death, a few, at various times, and these easily numbered, have endured death for the sake of the Christian religion; God not permitting the whole nation [i.e., the Christians] to be exterminated, but desiring that it should continue, and that the whole world should be filled with this salvation and the doctrines of religion.

(g) Justinian, Digest, I, 5:17.

The edict of Caracalla (Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) conferring Roman citizenship upon all free inhabitants of the Empire has not been preserved. It is known only from a brief extract from the twenty-second book of Ulpian's work on the Praetorian Edict, contained in the Digest of Justinian.

Those who were in the Roman world were made Roman citizens by the constitution of the Emperor Antoninus.

§ 35. Religious Syncretism in the Third Century

In the third century religious syncretism took two leading forms -- the Mithraic worship, which spread rapidly throughout the Empire, and the fashionable interest in novel religions fostered by the imperial court. Mithraism was especially prevalent in the army, and at army posts have been found numerous remains of sanctuaries, inscriptions, etc. It was by far the purest of the religions that invaded the Roman Empire, and drew its leading ideas from Persian sources. The fashionable court interest in novel religions seems not to have amounted to much as a positive religious force, which Mithraism certainly was, though on account of it Christianity was protected and even patronized by the ladies of the imperial household. Among the works produced by this interest was the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, written by Philostratus at the command of the Empress Julia Domna. Apollonius was a preacher or teacher of ethics and the Neo-Pythagorean philosophy in the first century, ob. A. D.97.

Additional source material: Philostratus, Life of Apollonius (the latest English translation, by F. C. Conybeare, with Greek text in the Loeb Classical Library, 1912).

Mithraic Prayer, Albrecht Dietrich, Eine Mithrasliturgie, Leipsic, 1903.

The following prayer is the opening invocation of what appears to be a Mithraic liturgy, and may date from a period earlier than the fourth century. It gives, as is natural, no elaborated statement of Mithraic doctrine, but, as in all prayer, much is implied in the forms used and the spirit of the religion breathed through it. The combination has already begun as is shown by the doctrine of the four elements. It should be added that Professor Cumont does not regard it as a Mithraic liturgy at all, but accounts for the distinct mention of the name Mithras, which is to be found in some parts, to a common tendency of semi-magical incantations to employ as many deities as possible.

First Origin of my origin, first Beginning of my beginning, Spirit of Spirit, first of the spirit in me. Fire which to compose me has been given of God, first of the fire in me. Water of water, first of the water in me. Earthy Substance of earthy substance, first of the earthy substance, the entire body of me, N. N. son of N. N., completely formed by an honorable arm and an immortal right hand in the lightless and illuminated world, in the inanimated and the animated. If it seem good to you to restore me to an immortal generation, who am held by my underlying nature, that after this present need which presses sorely upon me I may behold the immortal Beginning with the immortal Spirit, the immortal Water, the Solid and the Air, that I may be born again, by the thought, that I may be consecrated and the holy Spirit may breathe in me, that I may gaze with astonishment at the holy Fire, that I may look upon abysmal and frightful Water of the sun-rising, and the generative Ether poured around may listen to me. For I will to-day look with immortal eyes, I who was begotten a mortal from a mortal womb, exalted by a mighty working power and incorruptible right hand, I may look with an immortal spirit upon the immortal Eon and the Lord of the fiery crowns, purified by holy consecrations, since a little under me stands the human power of mind, which I shall regain after the present bitter, oppressive, and debt-laden need, I, N. N. the son of N. N., according to God's unchangeable decree, for it is not within my power, born mortal, to mount up with the golden light flashes of the immortal illuminator. Stand still, corruptible human nature, and leave me free after the pitiless and crushing necessity.

§ 36. The Religious Policy of the Emperors from Heliogabalus to Philip the Arabian, 217-249

With the brief exception of the reign of Maximinus Thrax (235-238), Christians enjoyed peace from the death of Caracalla to the death of Philip the Arabian. This was not due to disregard of the laws against Christians nor to indifference to suspected dangers to the Empire arising from the new religion, but to the policy of religious syncretism which had come in with the family of Severus. The wife of Septimius Severus was the daughter of Julius Bassianus, priest of the Sun-god of Emesa, and of the rulers of the dynasty of Severus one, Heliogabalus, was himself a priest of the same syncretistic cult, and another, Alexander, was under the influence of the women of the same priestly family.

(a) Lampridius, Vita Heliogabali, 3, 6, 7. Preuschen, Analecta, I, § 12.

Lampridius is one of the Scriptores Historiae Augustae, by whom is a series of lives of the Roman emperors. The series dates from the fourth century, and is of importance as containing much information which is not otherwise accessible. The dates of the various lives are difficult to determine. Avitus Bassianus, known as Heliogabalus, a name he assumed, reigned 218-222.

Ch.3. But when he had once entered the city, he enrolled Heliogabalus among the gods and built a temple to him on the Palatine Hill next the imperial palace, desiring to transfer to that temple the image of Cybele, the fire of Vesta, the Palladium, the sacred shields, and all things venerated by the Romans; and he did this so that no other god than Heliogabalus should be worshipped at Rome. He said, besides, that the religions of the Jews and the Samaritans and the Christian worship should be brought thither, that the priesthood of Heliogabalus should possess the secrets of all religions.

Ch.6. Not only did he wish to extinguish the Roman religions, but he was eager for one thing throughout the entire world -- that Heliogabalus should everywhere be worshipped as god.

Ch.7. He asserted, in fact, that all the gods were servants of his god, since some he called his chamber-servants, others slaves, and others servants in various capacities.

(b) Lampridius, Vita Alexandri Severi, 29, 43, 49. Preuschen, Analecta, I, § 13.

Alexander Severus (222-235) succeeded his cousin Heliogabalus. The mother of Alexander, Julia Mammaea, sister of Julia Soaemias, mother of Heliogabalus, was a granddaughter of Julius Bassianus, whose daughter, Julia Domna, had married Septimius Severus. It was through marriages with the female descendants of Julius, who was priest of the Sun-god at Emesa, that the members of the dynasty of Severus were connected and their attitude toward religion determined. It was in the reign of Alexander that syncretism favorable to Christianity was at its height.

Ch.29. This was his manner of life: as soon as there was opportunity -- that is, if he had not spent the night with his wife -- he performed his devotions in the early morning hours in his lararium, in which he had statues of the divine princes and also a select number of the best men and the more holy spirits, among whom he had Apollonius of Tyana, and as a writer of his times says, Christ, Abraham, and Orpheus, and others similar, as well as statues of his ancestors.

Ch.43. He wished to erect a temple to Christ and to number Him among the gods. Hadrian, also, is said to have thought of doing this, and commanded temples without any images to be erected in all cities, and therefore these temples, because they have no image of the Divinity, are to-day called Hadriani, which he is said to have prepared for this end. But Alexander was prevented from doing this by those who, consulting the auspices, learned that if ever this were done all would be Christians, and the other temples would have to be deserted.

Ch.49. When the Christians took possession of a piece of land which belonged to the public domain and in opposition to them the guild of cooks claimed that it belonged to them, he decreed that it was better that in that place God should be worshipped in some fashion rather than that it be given to the cooks.

(c) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 21. (MSG, 20:574.)

The mother of the Emperor, whose name was Julia Mammaea, was a most pious woman, if ever one was. When the fame of Origen had extended everywhere and had come even to her ears, she desired greatly to see the man, and to make trial of his understanding of divine things, which was admired by all. When she was staying for a time in Antioch, she sent for him with a military escort. Having remained with her for a while and shown her many things which were for the glory of the Lord and of the excellency of divine teaching, he hastened back to his accustomed labors.

(d) Firmilianus, Ep. ad Cyprianum, in Cyprian, Ep.75. (MSL, 3:1211.) Preuschen, Analecta, I, § 14:2.

The following epistle is found among the Epistles of Cyprian, to whom it is addressed. It is of importance in connection with the persecution of Maximinus, throwing light on the occasion and extent of the persecution and relating instances of strange fanaticism and exorcism.

But I wish to tell you about an affair connected with this very matter [baptism by heretics, the main subject of the epistle, v. infra, § 52] which occurred among us. About twenty years ago, in the time after Emperor Alexander, there happened in these parts many struggles and difficulties, either in common to all men or privately to Christians. There were, furthermore, many and frequent earthquakes, so that many cities throughout Cappadocia and Pontus were thrown down; and some even were dragged down into the abyss and swallowed by the gaping earth. From this, also, there arose a severe persecution against the Christian name. This arose suddenly after the long peace of the previous age. Because of the unexpected and unaccustomed evil, it was rendered more terrible for the disturbance of our people.

Serenianus was at that time governor of our province, a bitter and cruel persecutor. But when the faithful had been thus disturbed and were fleeing hither and thither from fear of persecution and were leaving their native country and crossing over to other regions -- for there was opportunity of crossing over, because this persecution was not over the whole world, but was local -- there suddenly arose among us a certain woman who in a state of ecstasy announced herself as a prophetess and acted as if filled with the Holy Ghost. And she was so moved by the power of the chief demons that for a long time she disturbed the brethren and deceived them; for she accomplished certain wonderful and portentous things: thus, she promised that she would cause the earth to be shaken, not that the power of the demon was so great that he could shake the earth and disturb the elements, but that sometimes a wicked spirit, foreseeing and understanding that there will be an earthquake, pretends that he will do what he foresees will take place. By these lies and boastings he had so subdued the minds of several that they obeyed him and followed whithersoever he commanded and led. He would also make that woman walk in the bitter cold of winter with bare feet over the frozen snow, and not to be troubled or hurt in any respect by walking in this fashion. Moreover, she said she was hurrying to Judea and Jerusalem, pretending that she had come thence. Here, also, she deceived Rusticus, one of the presbyters, and another one who was a deacon, so that they had intercourse with the same woman. This was shortly after detected. For there suddenly appeared before her one of the exorcists, a man approved and always well versed in matters of religious discipline; he, moved by the exhortation of many of the brethren, also, who were themselves strong in the faith, and praiseworthy, raised himself up against that wicked spirit to overcome it; for the spirit a little while before, by its subtle deceitfulness, had predicted, furthermore, that a certain adverse and unbelieving tempter would come. Yet that exorcist, inspired by God's grace, bravely resisted and showed that he who before was regarded as holy was a most wicked spirit. But that woman, who previously, by the wiles and deceits of the demon, was attempting many things for the deception of the faithful, had among other things by which she deceived many also frequently dared this -- to pretend that with an invocation, not to be contemned, she sanctified bread and consecrated the eucharist and offered sacrifice to the Lord without the sacrament as customarily uttered; and to have baptized many, making use of the usual and lawful words of interrogation, that nothing might seem to be different from the ecclesiastical and lawful mode.

(e) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 34. (MSG, 20:595.) Preuschen, Analecta, I, § 15, and Kirch, n.397.

The following tradition that Philip the Arabian was a Christian is commonly regarded as doubtful. That he favored the Christians, and even protected them, may be the basis for such a report.

When Gordianus (238-244) had been Roman Emperor for six years, Philip (244-249) succeeded him. It is reported that he, being a Christian, desired on the day of the last paschal vigil to share with the multitude in the prayers of the Church, but was not permitted by him who then presided to enter until he had made confession and numbered himself among those who were reckoned as transgressors and who occupied the place of penitence. For if he had not done this, he would never have been received by him, on account of the many crimes he had committed, and it is said that he obeyed readily, manifesting in his conduct a genuine and pious fear of God.

§ 37. The Extension of the Church at the Middle of the Third Century

Some approximately correct idea of the extension of the Church by the middle of the third century may be gathered from a precise statement of the organization of the largest church, that at Rome, about the year 250 (a), from the size of provincial synods, of which we have detailed statements for North Africa (b), from references to organized and apparently numerous churches in various places not mentioned in earlier documents (c). That the Church, at least in Egypt and parts adjacent, had ceased to be confined chiefly to the cities and that it was composed of persons of all social ranks is attested by Origen (d).

(a) Cornelius, Ep. ad Fabium, in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 43. (MSG, 20:622.) Cf. Kirch, n.222 ff.

Cornelius was bishop of Rome 251-253.

This avenger of the Gospel [Novatus] did not then know that there should be one bishop in a Catholic church; yet he was not ignorant (for how could he be) that in it [i.e., the Roman church] there were forty-six presbyters, seven deacons, seven subdeacons, forty-two acolytes, fifty-two exorcists, readers, and janitors, and over fifteen hundred widows and persons in distress, all of whom the grace and kindness of the Master nourished. But not even this great multitude, so necessary in the Church, nor those who through God's providence were rich and full, together with very many, even innumerable, people, could turn him from such desperation and recall him to the Church.

(b) Cyprian, Epistulae 71 [=70] (MSL, 4:424) and 59:10 [=54] (MSL, 3:877)

The church in North Africa had grown very rapidly before Cyprian was elevated to the see of Carthage. An evidence of this is the number of councils held in North Africa. That held under Agrippinus, between 218 and 222, was the first known in that part of the Church. Under Cyprian a council was held at Carthage in 258 at which no less than seventy bishops, whose names and opinions have been preserved, are given. See ANF, V, 565 ff.

Ep.71 [=70]. Ad Quintum.

Which thing, indeed, Agrippinus [A. D.218-222], also a man of worthy memory, with his fellow-bishops, who at that time governed the Lord's Church in the province of Africa and Numidia, decreed, and by the well-weighed examination of the common council established.

Ep.59 [=54]:10. Ad Cornelium.

I have also intimated to you, my brother, by Felicianus, that there had come to Carthage Privatus, an old heretic in the colony of Lambesa, many years ago condemned for many and grave crimes by the judgment of ninety bishops, and severely remarked upon in the letters of Fabian and Donatus, also our predecessors, as is not hidden from your knowledge.

(c) Cyprian, Epistula 67 [=68]. (MSL, 3:1057, 1065.)

The following extracts from Cyprian's Epistle |To the Clergy and People abiding in Spain, concerning Basilides and Martial,| is of importance as bearing upon the development of the appellate jurisdiction of the Roman see, for which see the epistle in its entirety as given in Cyprian's works, ANF, vol. V, for the treatment of the vexed question of discipline in the case of those receiving certificates that they had sacrificed, (see below, §§ 45 f.), and as the first definite statements as to localities in Spain where there were Christians and bishops placed over the Church. The mass of martyrdoms that have been preserved refer to still others.

Cyprian {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} to Felix, the presbyter, and to the peoples abiding in Legio [Leon] and Asturica [Astorga], also to Laelius, the deacon, and the people abiding in Emerita [Merida], brethren in the Lord, greeting. When we had come together, dearly beloved brethren, we read your letters, which, according to the integrity of your faith and your fear of God, you wrote to us by Felix and Sabinus, our fellow-bishops, signifying that Basilides and Martial, who had been stained with the certificates of idolatry and bound with the consciousness of wicked crimes, ought not to exercise the episcopal office and administer the priesthood of God. Wherefore, since we have written, dearly beloved brethren, and as Felix and Sabinus, our colleagues, affirm, and as another Felix, of Caesar-Augusta [Saragossa], a maintainer of the faith and a defender of the truth, signifies in his letter, Basilides and Martial have been contaminated by the abominable certificate of idolatry.

(d) Origen, Contra Celsum, III, 9. (MSG, 11:951.)

With the following should be compared the statements of Pliny, more than a hundred years earlier, relative to Bithynia. See above, § 7.

Celsus says that |if all men wished to become Christians, the latter would not desire it.| That this is false, is evident from this, that Christians do not neglect, as far as they are able, to take care to spread their doctrines throughout the whole world. Some, accordingly, have made it their business to go round about not only through cities, but even villages and country houses, that they may persuade others to become pious worshippers of God.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} At present, indeed, when because of the multitude of those who have embraced the teaching, not only rich men, but also some persons of rank and delicate and high-born ladies, receive the teachers of the Word, there will be some who dare to say that it is for the sake of a little glory that certain assume the office of Christian teachers. In the beginning, when there was much danger, especially to its teachers, this suspicion could have had no place.

Chapter II. The Internal Development Of The Church In Doctrine, Custom, And Constitution

The characteristic Eastern and Western conceptions of Christianity began to be clearly differentiated in the early years of the third century. A juristic conception of the Church as a body at the head of which, and clothed with authority, appeared the bishop of Rome, had, indeed, become current at Rome in the last decade of the second century on the occasion of the Easter controversy, which had ended in an estrangement between the previously closely affiliated churches of Asia Minor and the West, especially Rome (§ 38). Western theology soon became centred in North Africa under the legally trained Tertullian, by whom its leading principles were laid down in harmony with the bent of the Latin genius (§ 39). In this period numerous attempts were made to solve the problem arising from the unity of God and the divinity of Christ, without recourse to a Logos christology. Some of the more unsuccessful of these attempts have since been grouped under the heads of Dynamistic and of Modalistic Monarchianism (§ 40). At the same time Montanism was excluded from the Church (§ 41), as subversive of the distinction between the clergy and laity and the established organs of the Church's government, which in the recent rise of a theory of the necessity of the episcopate (see above, § 27) had become important. In the administration of the penitential discipline (§ 42) the position of the clergy and the realization of a hierarchically organized Church was still further advanced, preparatory for the position of Cyprian. At the same time as these constitutional developments were taking place in the West, and especially in North Africa, there occurred in Egypt and Palestine a remarkable advance in doctrinal discussion, whereby the theology of the apologists was developed in the Catechetical School of Alexandria, especially under the leadership of Clement of Alexandria and Origen (§ 43). In this new speculation a vast mass of most fruitful theological ideas was built up, from which subsequent ages drew for the defence of the traditional faith, but some of which served as the basis of new and startling heresies. Corresponding to the intellectual development within the Church was the last phase of Hellenic philosophy, known as Neo-Platonism (§ 44), which subsequently came into bitter conflict with the Church.

§ 38. The Easter Controversy and the Separation of the Churches of Asia Minor from the Western Churches

The Church grew up with only a loose form of organization. Each local congregation was for a while autonomous, and it was the local constitution that first took a definite and fixed form. In the first centuries local customs naturally varied, and conflicts were sure to arise when various hitherto isolated churches came into closer contact and the sense of solidarity deepened. The first clash of opposing customs occurred over the date of Easter, as to which marked differences existed between the churches of Asia Minor, at that time the most flourishing part of the Church, and the churches of the West, especially with the church of Rome, the strongest local church of all. The course of the controversy is sufficiently stated in the following selection from Eusebius. The outcome was the practical isolation of the churches of Asia Minor for many years. The controversy was not settled, and the churches of Asia Minor did not again play a prominent part in the Church until the time of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea, 325 (see § 62, b), although a provisional adjustment of the difficulty, so far as the West was concerned, took place shortly before, at the Council of Arles (see § 62, a, 2).

Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 23, 24. (MSG, 20:489.) Mirbt, n.22, and in Kirch, n.78 ff.

A brief extract from the following may be found above in § 3 in a somewhat different connection.

Ch.23. At this time a question of no small importance arose. For the parishes [i.e., dioceses in the later sense of that word] of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, being the day on which the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's passover, and that it was necessary, therefore, to end their fast on that day, on whatever day of the week it might happen to fall. It was not, however, the custom of the churches elsewhere to end it at this time, but they observed the practice, which from apostolic tradition has prevailed to the present time, of ending the fast on no other day than that of the resurrection of the Saviour. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all with one consent, by means of letters addressed to all, drew up an ecclesiastical decree that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord from the dead should be celebrated on no other day than on the Lord's Day, and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on that day only. There is still extant a writing of those who were then assembled in Palestine, over whom Theophilus, bishop of the parish of Caesarea, and Narcissus, Bishop of Jerusalem, presided; also another of those who were likewise assembled at Rome, on account of the same question, which bears the name of Victor; also of the bishops in Pontus, over whom Palmas, as the oldest, presided; and of the parishes in Gaul, of which Irenaeus was bishop; and of those in Osrhoene and the cities there; and a personal letter of Bacchylus, bishop of the church in Corinth, and of a great many others who uttered one and the same opinion and judgment and cast the same vote. Of these, there was one determination of the question which has been stated.

Ch.24. But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold fast to the customs handed down to them. He himself, in a letter addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth the tradition which had come down to him as follows: |We observe the exact day, neither adding nor taking anything away. For in Asia, also, great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, when He shall come with glory from heaven and shall seek out all the saints. Of these were Philip, one of the twelve Apostles, who fell asleep at Hierapolis, and his two aged virgin daughters and his other daughter, who, having lived in the Holy Spirit, rest at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who reclined on the Lord's bosom, and being a priest wore the sacerdotal mitre, who was both a witness and a teacher; he fell asleep at Ephesus; and, further, Polycarp in Smyrna, both a bishop and a martyr.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover, according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I, Polycrates, do the same, the least of you all, according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops, and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven; I, therefore, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said, We ought to obey God rather than men.|{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Thereupon(57) Victor, who was over the church of Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as being heterodox. And he published letters declaring that all the brethren there were wholly excommunicated. But this did not please all the bishops, and they besought him to consider the things of peace, of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are still extant, rather sharply rebuking Victor. Among these were Irenaeus, who sent letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul, over whom he presided, and maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord's Day, yet he fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom, and after many other words he proceeds as follows: |For the controversy is not merely concerning the day, but also concerning the very manner of the fast. For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their days as consisting of forty hours day and night. And this variety of observance has not originated in our times, but long before, in the days of our ancestors. It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus was formed a custom for their posterity, according to their own simplicity and their peculiar method. Yet all these lived more or less in peace, and we also live in peace with one another; and the disagreement in regard to the fast confirms the agreement in the faith.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Among these were the elders [i.e., bishops of earlier date] before Soter, who presided over the church which thou [Victor] now rulest. We mean Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Sixtus. They neither observed it themselves nor did they permit others after them to do so. And yet, though they did not observe it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the parishes in which it was observed, although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it. But none were ever cast out on account of this form, but the elders before thee, who did not observe it, sent the eucharist to those of the other parishes observing it. And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this point. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John, the disciple of the Lord, and the other Apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it, as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the elders who had preceded him. But though matters were thus, they nevertheless communed together and Anicetus granted the eucharist in the church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect.(58) And they parted from each other in peace, maintaining the peace of the whole Church, both of those who observed and those who did not.| Thus Irenaeus, who was truly well named, became a peace-maker in this matter, exhorting and negotiating in this way for the peace of the churches. And he conferred by letter about this disputed question, not only with Victor, but also with most of the other rulers of the churches.

§ 39. The Religion of the West: Its Moral and Juristic Character

In the writings of Tertullian a conception of Christianity is quite fully developed according to which the Gospel was a new law of life, with its prescribed holy seasons and hours for prayer; its sacrifices, though as yet only sacrifices of prayer; its fasts and almsgiving, which had propitiatory effect, atoning for sins committed and winning merit with God; its sacred rites, solemnly administered by an established hierarchy; and all observed for the sake of a reward which God in justice owed those who kept His commandments. It is noticeable that already there is the same divided opinion as to marriage, whereby, on the one hand, it was regarded as a concession to weakness, a necessary evil, and, on the other, a high and holy relation, strictly monogamous, and of abiding worth. The propitiatory and meritorious character of fasts and almsgiving as laid down by Tertullian was developed even further by Cyprian and became a permanent element in the penitential system of the Church, ultimately affecting its conception of redemption.

(a) Tertullian, De Oratione, 23, 25, 28. (MSL, 1:1298.)

Ch.23. As to kneeling, also, prayer is subject to diversity of observance on account of a few who abstain from kneeling on the Sabbath. Since this dissension is particularly on its trial before the churches, the Lord will give His grace that the dissentients may either yield or else follow their own opinion without offence to the others. We, however, as we have received, only on the Sunday of the resurrection ought to guard not only against this kneeling, but every posture and office of anxiety; deferring even our businesses, lest we give any place to the devil. Similarly, too, the period of Pentecost, is a time which we distinguish by the same solemnity of exultation. But who would hesitate every day to prostrate himself before God, at least in the first prayer with which we enter on the daylight? At fasts, moreover, and stations, no prayer should be made without kneeling and the remaining customary marks of humility. For then we are not only praying, but making supplication, and making satisfaction to our Lord God.

Ch.25. Touching the time, however, the extrinsic observance of certain hours will not be unprofitable; those common hours, I mean, which mark the intervals of the day -- the third, the sixth, the ninth -- which we may find in Scripture to have been more solemn than the rest.

Ch.28. This is the spiritual victim which has abolished the pristine sacrifices.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} We are the true adorers and true priests, who, praying in the spirit, in the spirit sacrifice prayer, proper and acceptable to God, which, assuredly, He has required, which He has looked forward to for Himself. This victim, devoted from the whole heart, fed on faith, tended by truth, entire in innocence, pure in chastity, garlanded with love [agape], we ought to escort with the pomp of good works, amid psalms and hymns, unto God's altar, to obtain all things from God for us.

(b) Tertullian, De Jejun., 3. (MSL, 2:100.)

The following is a characteristic statement of the meritorious and propitiatory character of fasting. See below, h, Cyprian.

Since He himself both commands fasting and calls a soul wholly shattered -- properly, of course, by straits of diet -- a sacrifice (Psalm 51:18), who will any longer doubt that of all macerations as to food the rationale has been this: that by a renewed interdiction of food and observance of the precept the primordial sin might now be expiated, so that man may make God satisfaction through the same causative material by which he offended, that is, by interdiction of food; and so, by way of emulation, hunger might rekindle, just as satiety had extinguished, salvation, contemning for the sake of one thing unlawful many things that are lawful?

(c) Tertullian, De Baptismo, 17. (MSL, 1:1326.)

It remains to put you in mind, also, of the due observance of giving and receiving baptism. The chief priest (summus sacerdos), who is the bishop, has the right of giving it; in the second place, the presbyters and deacons, yet not without the bishop's authority, on account of the honor of the Church. When this has been preserved, peace is preserved. Besides these, even laymen have the right; for what is equally received can be equally given. If there are no bishops, priests, or deacons, other disciples are called. The word of the Lord ought not to be hidden away by any. In like manner, also, baptism, which is equally God's property, can be administered by all; but how much more is the rule of reverence and modesty incumbent on laymen, since these things belong to their superiors, lest they assume to themselves the specific functions of the episcopate! Emulation of the episcopal office is the mother of schism.

(d) Tertullian, De Poenitentia, 2. (MSL, 1:1340.)

How small is the gain if you do good to a grateful man, or the loss if to an ungrateful man! A good deed has God as its debtor, just as an evil deed has Him also; for the judge is a rewarder of every cause. Now, since God as judge presides over the exacting and maintaining of justice, which is most dear to Him, and since it is for the sake of justice that He appoints the whole sum of His discipline, ought one to doubt that, as in all our acts universally, so, also, in the case of repentance, justice must be rendered to God?

(e) Tertullian, Scorpiace, 6. (MSL, 2:157.)

If he had put forth faith to suffer martyrdoms, not for the contest's sake, but for its own benefit, ought it not to have had some store of hope, for which it might restrain its own desire and suspend its wish, that it might strive to mount up, seeing that they, also, who strive to discharge earthly functions are eager for promotion? Or how will there be many mansions in the Father's house, if not for a diversity of deserts? How, also, will one star differ from another star in glory, unless in virtue of a disparity of their rays?

(f) Tertullian, Ad Uxorem, I, 3; II, 8-10. (MSL, 1:1390, 1415.) Cf. Kirch, n.181.

I, 3. There is no place at all where we read that marriages are prohibited; of course as a |good thing.| What, however, is better than this |good,| we learn from the Apostle in that he permits marriage, indeed, but prefers abstinence; the former on account of the insidiousness of temptations, the latter on account of the straits of the times (I Cor.7:26). Now by examining the reason for each statement it is easily seen that the permission to marry is conceded us as a necessity; but whatever necessity grants, she herself deprecates. In fact, inasmuch as it is written, |It is better to marry than to burn| (I Cor.7:9), what sort of |good| is this which is only commended by comparison with |evil,| so that the reason why |marrying| is better is merely that |burning| is worse? Nay; but how much better is it neither to marry nor to burn?

II, 8. Whence are we to find adequate words to tell fully of the happiness of that marriage which the Church cements and the oblation(59) confirms, and the benediction seals; which the angels announce, and the Father holds for ratified? For even on earth children do not rightly and lawfully wed without their father's consent. What kind of yoke is that of two believers of one hope, one discipline, and the same service? The two are brethren, the two are fellow-servants; no difference of spirit or flesh; nay, truly, two in one flesh; where there is one flesh the spirit is one.

(g) Tertullian, De Monogamia, 9, 10. (MSL, 2:991 f.)

This work was written after Tertullian became a Montanist, and with other Montanists repudiated second marriage, to which reference is made in both passages. But the teaching of the Church regarding remarriage after divorce was as Tertullian here speaks. The reference to offering at the end of ch.10 does not refer to the eucharist, but to prayers. See above, Ad Uxorem, ch. II, 8.

Ch.9. So far is it true that divorce |was not from the beginning| [cf. Matt.19:8] that among the Romans it is not till after the six hundredth year after the foundation of the city that this kind of hardness of heart is recorded to have been committed. But they not only repudiate, but commit promiscuous adultery; to us, even if we do divorce, it will not be lawful to marry.

Ch.10. I ask the woman herself, |Tell me, sister, have you sent your husband before in peace?| What will she answer? In discord? In that case she is bound the more to him with whom she has a cause to plead at the bar of God. She is bound to another, she who has not departed from him. But if she say, |In peace,| then she must necessarily persevere in that peace with him whom she will be no longer able to divorce; not that she would marry, even if she had been able to divorce him. Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship in the first resurrection; and she offers on the anniversary of his falling asleep.

(h) Cyprian, De Opere et Eleemosynis, 1, 2, 5. (MSL, 4:625.)

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (249-258), was the most important theologian and ecclesiastic between Tertullian and Augustine. He developed the theology of the former especially in its ecclesiastical lines, and his idea of the Church was accepted by the latter as a matter beyond dispute. His most important contributions to the development of the Church were his hierarchical conceptions, which became generally accepted as the basis of the episcopal organization of the Church (see below, §§ 46, 50, 51). His writings, which are of great importance in the history of the Church, consist only of epistles and brief tracts. His influence did much to determine the lines of development of the Western Church, and especially the church of North Africa. With the following cf. supra, § 16.

Ch.1. Many and great, beloved brethren, are the divine benefits wherewith the large and abundant mercy of God the Father and of Christ both has labored and is always laboring for our salvation: because the Father sent the Son to preserve us and give us life, that He might restore us; and the Son was willing to be sent and to become the son of man, that He might make us the sons of God. He humbled Himself that He might raise up the people who before were prostrate; He was wounded that He might heal our wounds; He served that He might draw to liberty those who were in bondage; He underwent death, that He might set forth immortality to mortals. These are many and great boons of compassion. But, moreover, what a providence, and how great the clemency, that by a plan of salvation it is provided for us that more abundant care should be taken for preserving man who has been redeemed! For when the Lord, coming to us, had cured those wounds which Adam had borne, and had healed the old poisons of the serpent, He gave a law to the sound man, and bade him sin no more lest a worse thing should befall the sinner. We had been limited and shut up in a narrow space by the commandment of innocence. Nor should the infirmity and weakness of human frailty have anything it might do, unless the divine mercy, coming again in aid, should open some way of securing salvation by pointing out works of justice and mercy, so that by almsgiving we may wash away whatever foulness we subsequently contract.

Ch.2. The Holy Spirit speaks in the sacred Scriptures saying, |By almsgiving and faith sins are purged| [Prov.16:6]. Not, of course, those sins which had been previously contracted, for these are purged by the blood and sanctification of Christ. Moreover, He says again, |As water extinguishes fire, so almsgiving quencheth sin| [Eccles.3:30]. Here, also, is shown and proved that as by the laver of the saving water the fire of Gehenna is extinguished, so, also, by almsgiving and works of righteousness the flame of sin is subdued. And because in baptism remission of sins is granted once and for all, constant and ceaseless labor, following the likeness of baptism, once again bestows the mercy of God.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} The Lord also teaches this in the Gospel.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} The Merciful One teaches and warns that works of mercy be performed; because He seeks to save those who at great cost He has redeemed, it is proper that those who after the grace of baptism have become foul can once more be cleansed.

Ch.5. The remedies for propitiating God are given in the words of God himself. The divine instructions have taught sinners what they ought to do; that by works of righteousness God is satisfied, and with the merits of mercy sins are cleansed.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} He [the angel Raphael, cf. Tobit.12:8, 9] shows that our prayers and fastings are of little avail unless they are aided by almsgiving; that entreaties alone are of little force to obtain what they seek, unless they be made sufficient by the addition of deeds and good works. The angel reveals and manifests and certifies that our petitions become efficacious by almsgiving, that life is redeemed from dangers by almsgiving, that souls are delivered from death by almsgiving.

§ 40. The Monarchian Controversies

Monarchianism is a general term used to include all the unsuccessful attempts of teachers within the Church to explain the divine element in Christ without doing violence to the doctrine of the unity of God, and yet without employing the Logos christology. These attempts were made chiefly between the latter part of the second century and the end of the third. They fall into classes accordingly as they regard the divine element in Christ as personal or impersonal. One class makes the divine element to be an impersonal power (Greek, dynamis) sent from God into the man Jesus; hence the term |Dynamistic Monarchians.| The other class makes the divine element a person, without, however, making any personal distinction between Father and Son, only a difference in the mode in which the one divine person manifests Himself; hence the term |Modalistic Monarchians.| By some the Dynamistic Monarchians have been called Adoptionists, because they generally taught that the man Jesus ultimately became the Son of God, not being such by nature but by |adoption.| The name Adoptionist has been so long applied to a heresy of the eighth century, chiefly in Spain, that it leads to confusion to use the term in connection with Monarchianism. Furthermore, to speak of them as Dynamistic Monarchians groups them with other Monarchians, which is desirable. The most important school of Modalistic Monarchians was that of Sabellius, in which the Modalistic principle was developed so as to include the three persons of the Trinity.

The sources may be found collected and annotated in Hilgenfeld, Ketsergeschichte.

(A) Dynamistic Monarchianism

(a) Hippolytus, Refut., VII, 35, 36. (MSG, 16:3342.)

Ch.35. A certain Theodotus, a native of Byzantium, introduced a novel heresy, saying some things concerning the origin of the universe partly in keeping with the doctrines of the true Church, in so far as he admits that all things were created by God. Forcibly appropriating, however, his idea of Christ from the Gnostics and from Cerinthus and Ebion, he alleges that He appeared somewhat as follows: that Jesus was a man, born of a virgin, according to the counsel of the Father, and that after He had lived in a way common to all men, and had become pre-eminently religious, He afterward at His baptism in Jordan received Christ, who came from above and descended upon Him. Therefore miraculous powers did not operate within Him prior to the manifestation of that Spirit which descended and proclaimed Him as the Christ. But some [i.e., among the followers of Theodotus] are disposed to think that this man never was God, even at the descent of the Spirit; whereas others maintain that He was made God after the resurrection from the dead.

Ch.36. While, however, different questions have arisen among them, a certain one named Theodotus, by trade a money-changer [to be distinguished from the other Theodotus, who is commonly spoken of as Theodotus, the leather-worker], attempted to establish the doctrine that a certain Melchizedek is the greatest power, and that this one is greater than Christ. And they allege that Christ happens to be according to the likeness of this one. And they themselves, similarly with those who have been previously spoken of as adherents of Theodotus, assert that Jesus is a mere man, and that in conformity with the same account, Christ descended upon Him.

(b) The Little Labyrinth, in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., V, 28. (MSG, 20:511.)

The author of The Little Labyrinth, a work from which Eusebius quotes at considerable length, is uncertain. It has been attributed to Hippolytus.

The Artemonites say that all early teachers and the Apostles themselves received and taught what they now declare, and that the truth of the preaching [i.e., the Gospel] was preserved until the time of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop in Rome after Peter, and that since his successor, Zephyrinus, the truth has been corrupted. What they say might be credible if first of all the divine Scriptures did not contradict them. And there are writings of certain brethren which are older than the times of Victor, and which they wrote in behalf of the truth against the heathen and against heresies of their time. I refer to Justin, Miltiades, Tatian, Clement, and others. In all of their works Christ is spoken of as God. For who does not know the works of Irenaeus and of Melito and of others, which teach that Christ is God and man? And how many psalms and hymns, written by the faithful brethren from the beginning, celebrate Christ as the Word of God, speaking of Him as divine? How, then, since the Church's present opinion has been preached for so many years, can its preaching have been delayed, as they affirm, until the times of Victor? And how is it that they are not ashamed to speak thus falsely of Victor, knowing well that he cut off from communion Theodotus, the leather-worker, the leader and father of this God-denying apostasy, and the first to declare that Christ is mere man.

There was a certain confessor, Natalius, not long ago, but in our day. This man was deceived at one time by Asclepiodotus and another Theodotus, a certain money-changer. Both of them were disciples of Theodotus, the leather-worker, who, as I said, was the first person excommunicated by Victor, bishop at that time, on account of this senseless sentiment or, rather, senselessness. Natalius was persuaded by them to allow himself to be chosen bishop of this heresy with a salary, so that he was to receive from them one hundred and fifty denarii a month.

They have treated the divine Scriptures recklessly and without fear; they have set aside the rule of ancient faith; and Christ they have not known, not endeavoring to learn what the divine Scriptures declare, but striving laboriously after any form of syllogism which may be found to suit their impiety. And if any one brings before them a passage of divine Scripture, they see whether a conjunctive or a disjunctive form of syllogism can be made from it. And as being of the earth and speaking of the earth and as ignorant of Him that cometh from above, they devote themselves to geometry and forsake the holy writings of God. Euclid is at least laboriously measured by some of them; Aristotle and Theophrastus admired; and Galen, perhaps, by some is even worshipped. But that those who use the arts of unbelievers for their heretical opinion and adulterate the simple faith of the divine Scriptures by the craft of the godless are not near the faith, what need is there to say? Therefore, they have laid their hands boldly upon the divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them. That I am not speaking falsely of them in this matter, whoever wishes can learn. For if any one will collect their respective copies and compare them with one another, he will find that they differ greatly.

(B) Modalistic Monarchianism

Additional source material: Hippolytus, Adversus Noetum, Refutatio, IX, 7 ff., X, 27; Tertullian, Adversus Praxean; Basil, Ep. 207, 210. (PNF, ser. II, vol. VIII.)

(a) Hippolytus, Refut., X, 27. (MSG, 16:3440.)

The following passages from the great work of Hippolytus give the earlier form of Modalistic Monarchianism. They are also of importance as being a part of the foundation for the statement of Harnack and others, that this heresy was the official Roman doctrine for some years. See also IX, 12, of which the text may be found in Kirch, nn.201-206. The whole question as to the position of Callistus, or Calixtus, as bishop of Rome and his relations to the Church as a whole is difficult and full of obscurity, due to a large extent to the fact that the principal source for his history is the work of Hippolytus, who, as may easily be seen, was bitterly opposed to him.

Noetus, a Smyrnaean by birth, a reckless babbler and trickster, introduced this heresy, which originated with Epigonus, and was adopted by Cleomenes, and has thus continued to this day among his successors. Noetus asserts that there is one Father and God of the universe, and that He who had made all things was, when He wished, invisible to those who existed, and when He wished He became visible; that He is invisible when He is not seen and visible when He is seen; that the Father is unbegotten when He is not generated, but begotten when He is born of a virgin; that He is not subject to suffering and is immortal when He does not suffer and die, but when His passion came upon Him Noetus admits that the Father suffers and dies. The Noetians think that the Father is called the Son according to events at different times.

Callistus supported the heresy of these Noetians, but we have carefully described his life [see above, § 19, c]. And Callistus himself likewise produced a heresy, taking his starting-point from these Noetians. And he acknowledges that there is one Father and God, and that He is the Creator of the universe, and that He is called and regarded as Son by name, yet that in substance He is one.(60) For the Spirit as Deity is not, he says, any being different from the Logos, or the Logos from Deity; therefore, this one person is divided by name, but not according to substance. He supposes this one Logos to be God and he says that He became flesh. He is disposed to maintain that He who was seen in the flesh and crucified is Son, but it is the Father who dwells in Him.

(b) Hippolytus, Refut., IX, 7, 11 f. (MSG, 16:3369.)

Ch.7. There has appeared a certain one, Noetus by name, by birth a Smyrnaean. This person introduced from the tenets of Heraclitus a heresy. Now a certain Epigonus became his minister and pupil, and this person during his sojourn in Rome spread his godless opinion.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} But Zephyrinus himself was in course of time enticed away and hurried headlong into the same opinion; and he had Callistus as his adviser and fellow-champion of these wicked tenets.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} The school of these heretics continued in a succession of teachers to acquire strength and to grow because Zephyrinus and Callistus helped them to prevail.

Ch.11. Now that Noetus affirms that the Son and the Father are the same, no one is ignorant. But he makes a statement as follows: |When, indeed, at the time the Father was not yet born, He was justly styled the Father; and when it pleased Him to undergo generation and to be begotten, He himself became His own Son, not another's.| For in this manner he thinks he establishes the Monarchy, alleging that the Father and the Son, so called, are not from one another, but are one and the same, Himself from Himself, and that He is styled by the names Father and Son, according to the changes of times.

Ch.12. Now Callistus brought forward Zephyrinus himself and induced him to avow publicly the following opinions: |I know that there is one God, Jesus Christ; and that excepting Him I do not know another begotten and capable of suffering.| When he said, |The Father did not die but the Son,| he would in this way continue to keep up ceaseless disturbance among the people. And we [i.e., Hippolytus], becoming aware of his opinions, did not give place to him, but reproved him and withstood him for the truth's sake. He rushed into folly because all consented to his hypocrisy; we, however, did not do so, and he called us worshippers of two gods, disgorging freely the venom lurking within him.

(c) Hippolytus, Adversus Noetum. (MSG, 10:804.)

The following is from a fragment which seems to be the conclusion of an extended work against various heresies.

Some others are secretly introducing another doctrine who have become the disciples of a certain Noetus, who was a native of Smyrna, and lived not very long ago. This man was greatly puffed up with pride, being inspired by the conceit of a strange spirit. He alleged that Christ was the Father himself, and that the Father himself was born and suffered and died.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} When the blessed presbyters heard these things they summoned him before the Church and examined him. But he denied at first that he held such opinions. Afterward, taking shelter among some and gathering round him some others who had been deceived in the same way, he wished to maintain his doctrine openly. And the blessed presbyters summoned him and examined him. But he resisted, saying, |What evil, then, do I commit when I glorify Christ?| And the presbyters replied to him, |We, too, know in truth one God; we know Christ; we know that the Son suffered even as He suffered, and died even as He died, and rose again on the third day, and is at the right hand of the Father, and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And these things which we have learned we assert.| Then, after refuting him, they expelled him from the Church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride that he established a school.

Now they seek to exhibit the foundation of their dogma, alleging that it is said in the Law, |I am the God of your fathers; ye shall have no other gods beside me| [i.e., of Moses, cf. Ex.3:6, 13; 20:3]; and again in another passage, |I am the first and the last and besides me there is none other| [cf. Is.44:6]. Thus they assert that God is one. And then they answer in this manner: |If therefore I acknowledge Christ to be God, He is the Father himself, if He is indeed God; and Christ suffered, being Himself God, and consequently the Father suffered, for He was the Father himself.|

(d) Tertullian, Adv. Praxean, 1, 2, 27, 29. (MSL, 2:177 f., 214.)

Tertullian is especially bitter against Praxeas, because he prevented the recognition of the Montanists at Rome when it seemed likely that they would be treated favorably. The work Adversus Praxean is the most important work of Western theology on the Trinity before the time of Augustine. It was corrected in some important points by Novatian, but its clear formulae remained in Western theology permanently. The work belongs to the late Montanistic period of Tertullian.

Ch.1. In various ways has the devil rivalled the truth. Sometimes his aim has been to destroy it by defending it. He maintains that there is one only Lord, the Almighty Creator of the world, that of this doctrine of the unity he may fabricate a heresy. He says that the Father himself came down into the Virgin, was Himself born of her, Himself suffered, indeed, was Himself Jesus Christ.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} He [Praxeas] was the first to import into Rome this sort of perversity, a man of restless disposition in other respects, and above all inflated with the pride of martyrdom [confessorship] simply and solely because of a short annoyance in prison; when, even if he had given his body to be burned, it would have profited him nothing, not having the love of God, whose very gifts he resisted and destroyed. For after the Bishop of Rome had acknowledged the prophetic gifts of Montanus, Priscilla, and Maximilla, and in consequence of the acknowledgment had bestowed his peace on the churches of Asia and Phrygia, Praxeas, by importunately urging false accusations against the prophets themselves and their churches, and insisting on the authority of the bishop's predecessors in the see, compelled him to recall the letter of peace which he had issued, as well as to desist from his purpose of acknowledging the said gifts. Thus Praxeas did two pieces of the devil's work in Rome: he drove out prophecy and he brought in heresy; he put to flight the Paraclete and he crucified the Father.

Ch.2. After a time, then, the Father was born, and the Father suffered -- God himself, the Almighty, is preached as Jesus Christ.

Ch.27. For, confuted on all sides by the distinction between the Father and the Son, which we make while their inseparable union remains as [by the examples] of the sun and the ray, and the fountain and the river -- yet by help of their conceit of an indivisible number [with issues] of two and three, they endeavor to interpret this distinction in a way which shall nevertheless agree with their own opinions; so that, all in one person, they distinguish two -- Father and Son -- understanding the Son to be the flesh, that is the man, that is Jesus; and the Father to be the Spirit, that is God, that is Christ.

Ch.29. Since we(61) teach in precisely the same terms that the Father died as you say the Son died, we are not guilty of blasphemy against the Lord God, for we do not say that He died after the divine nature, but only after the human.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} They [the heretics], indeed, fearing to incur blasphemy against the Father, hope to diminish it in this way, admitting that the Father and the Son are two; but if the Son, indeed, suffers, the Father is His fellow-sufferer.

(e) Formula Macrostichos, in Socrates. Hist. Ec., II, 19. (MSG, 67:229.)

In the Arian controversy several councils were held at Antioch in the endeavor to bring about a reconciliation of the parties. At the third council of Antioch, A. D.345, the elaborate Formula Macrostichos was put forth, in which the council attempted to steer a middle course between the Sabellians, who identified the Father and the Son, and the extreme Arians, who made the Son a creature. Text may also be found in Hahn, op. cit., § 159.

Those who say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are the same person, impiously understanding the three names to refer to one and the same person, we expel with good reason from the Church, because by the incarnation they subject the Father, who is infinite and incapable of suffering, to finitude and suffering in the incarnation. Such are those called Patripassianists by the Romans and Sabellians by us.

(f) Athanasius, Orationes contra Arianos, IV, 9, 25. (MSG, 26:480, 505.)

For Athanasius, v. infra, § 65, c. Of the four Orations against the Arians, attributed to Athanasius and placed between the years 356 and 362, doubts have been raised against the genuineness of the fourth. The following quotations are, in any case, valuable as setting forth the Sabellian position. But the case against the fourth oration has not been conclusively proved. In the passage from ch.25 the statement is that of the Sabellians, not of Athanasius.

Ch.9. If, again, the One have two names, this is the expedient of Sabellius, who said that Son and Father were the same and did away with both, the Father when there is a Son, and the Son when there is a Father.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Ch.25. |As there are diversities of gifts but the same Spirit, so also the Father is the same, but is dilated into Son and Spirit.|

(g) Athanasius, Expositio fidei. (MSG, 25:204.)

For the critical questions regarding this little work of uncertain date see PNF, ser. II, vol. VI, p.83.

For neither do we hold a Son-father, as do the Sabellians, calling Him of one but not of the same essence, and thus destroying the existence of the Son.

(h) Basil the Great, Epistula, 210:3. (MSG, 32:772, 776.)

Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, was one of the more important ecclesiastics of the fourth century, and the leader of the New-Nicene party in the Arian controversy. V. infra, § 66, c.

Sabellianism is Judaism imported into the preaching of the Gospel under the guise of Christianity. For if a man calls Father, Son, and Holy Spirit one, but manifold as to person [prosopon], and makes one hypostasis of the three, what else does he do than deny the everlasting pre-existence of the Only begotten?{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Now Sabellius did not even deprecate the formation of the persons without the hypostasis, saying, as he did, that the same God, being one in substance,(62) was metamorphosed as the need of the moment required and spoken of now as Father, now as the Son, and now as Holy Spirit.

§ 41. Later Montanism and the Consequences of its Exclusion from the Church

In the West Montanism rapidly discarded the extravagant chiliasm of Montanus and his immediate followers; it laid nearly all the stress upon the continued work of the Holy Spirit in the Church and the need of a stricter moral discipline among Christians. This rigoristic discipline or morality was not acceptable to the bulk of Christians, and along with the Montanists was driven out of the Church, except in the case of the clergy, to whom a stricter morality was regarded as applicable. In this way a distinctive morality and mode of life came to be assigned to the clergy, and the separation between clergy and laity, or ordo and plebs, which was becoming established about the time of Tertullian, at least in the West, was permanently fixed. (See § 42, d.)

Tertullian, De Exhortatione Castitatis, 7. (MSL, 2:971.)

As a Montanist, Tertullian rejected second marriage, and in this treatise, addressed to a friend who had recently lost his wife, he treated it as the foulest adultery. This work belongs to the later years of Tertullian's life and incidentally reveals that a sharp distinction between clergy and laity was becoming fixed in the main body of the Church.

We should be foolish if we thought that what is unlawful for priests(63) is lawful for laics. Are not even we laics priests? It is written: |He has made us kings also, and priests to God and his Father.| The authority of the Church has made the difference between order [ordinem] and the laity [plebem], and the honor has been sanctified by the bestowal of the order. Therefore, where there has been no bestowal of ecclesiastical order, you both offer and baptize and are a priest to yourself alone. But where there are three, there is the Church, though they are laics.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Therefore, if, when there is necessity, you have the right of a priest in yourself, you ought also to have the discipline of a priest where there is necessity that you have the right of a priest. As a digamist,(64) do you baptize? As a digamist, do you offer? How much more capital a crime it is for a digamist laic to act as a priest, when the priest, if he turn digamist, is deprived of the power of acting as a priest?{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} God wills that at all times we be so conditioned as to be fitted at all times and in all places to undertake His sacraments. There is one God, one faith, one discipline as well. So truly is this the case that unless the laics well observe the rules which are to guide the choice of presbyters, how will there be presbyters at all who are chosen from among the laics?

§ 42. The Penitential Discipline

In baptism the convert received remission of all former sins, and, what was equivalent, admission to the Church. If he sinned gravely after baptism, could he again obtain remission? In the first age of the Church the practice as to this question inclined toward rigorism, and the man who sinned after baptism was in many places permanently excluded from the Church (cf. Heb.10:26, 27), or the community of those whose sins had been forgiven and were certain of heaven. By the middle of the second century the practice at Rome tended toward permitting one readmission after suitable penance (a). After this the penitential discipline developed rapidly and became an important part of the business of the local congregation (b). The sinner, by a long course of self-mortification and prayer, obtained the desired readmission (c). The Montanists, however, in accord with their general rigorism, would make it extremely hard, if not impossible, to obtain readmission or forgiveness. The body of the Church, and certainly the Roman church under the lead of its bishop, who relied upon Matt.16:18, adopted a more liberal policy and granted forgiveness on relatively easy terms to even the worst offenders (d). The discipline grew less severe, because martyrs or confessors, according to Matt.10:20, were regarded as having the Spirit, and therefore competent to speak for God and announce the divine forgiveness. These were accustomed to give |letters of peace,| which were commonly regarded as sufficient to procure the immediate readmission of the offender (e), a practice which led to great abuse. One of the effects of the development of the penitential discipline was the establishment of a distinction between mortal and venial sins (f), the former of which were, in general, acts involving unchastity, shedding of blood, and apostasy, according to the current interpretation of Acts 15:29.

(a) Hermas, Pastor, Man. IV, 3:1.

For Hermas and the Pastor, v. supra, § 15.

I heard some teachers maintain, sir, that there is no other repentance than that which takes place when we descend into the waters and receive remission of our former sins. He said to me, That was sound doctrine which you heard; for that is really the case. For he who has received remission of his sins ought not to sin any more, but to live in purity.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} The Lord, therefore, being merciful, has had mercy on the work of His hands, and has set repentance for them; and He has intrusted to me the power over this repentance. And therefore I say unto you that if any one is tempted by the devil, and sins after that great and holy calling in which the Lord has called His people to everlasting life, he has opportunity to repent but once. But if he should sin frequently after this, and then repent, to such a man his repentance will be of no avail, for with difficulty will he live.

(b) Tertullian. Apology, 39. (MSL, 1:532.)

We meet together as an assembly and congregation that, offering up prayer to God, with united force we may wrestle with Him in our prayers.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} In the same place, also, exhortations are made, rebukes and sacred censures are administered. For with a great gravity is the work of judging carried on among us, as befits those who feel assured that they are in the sight of God; and you have the most notable example of judgment to come when any one has so sinned as to be severed from common union with us in prayer, in the congregation, and in all sacred intercourse.

(c) Tertullian, De Poenitentia, 4, 9. (MSL, 2:1343, 1354.)

According to Bardenhewer, § 50:5, this work belongs to the Catholic period of Tertullian's literary activity. Text in part in Kirch, nn.175 ff.

Ch.4. As I live, saith the Lord, I prefer penance rather than death [cf. Ezek.33:11]. Repentance, then, is life, since it is preferred to death. That repentance, O sinner like myself (nay, rather, less a sinner than myself, for I acknowledge my pre-eminence in sins), do you hasten to embrace as a shipwrecked man embraces the protection of some plank. This will draw you forth when sunk in the waves of sin, and it will bear you forward into the port of divine clemency.

Ch.9. The narrower the sphere of action of this, the second and only remaining repentance, the more laborious is its probation; that it may not be exhibited in the conscience alone, but may likewise be performed in some act. This act, which is more usually expressed and commonly spoken of under the Greek name, exomologesis, whereby we confess our sins to the Lord, not indeed to Him as ignorant of them, but inasmuch as by confession a satisfaction is made; of confession repentance is born; by repentance God is appeased. And thus exomologesis is a discipline for man's prostration and humiliation, enjoining a demeanor calculated to move mercy. With regard, also, to the very dress and food, it commands one to lie in sackcloth and ashes, to cover the body as in mourning, to lay the spirit low in sorrow, to exchange for severe treatment the sins which he has committed; furthermore, to permit as food and drink only what is plain -- not for the stomach's sake, but for the soul's; for the most part, however, to feed prayers on fastings, to groan, to weep, and make outcries unto the Lord our God; to fall prostrate before the presbyters and to kneel to God's dear ones; to enjoin on all the brethren to be ambassadors to bear his deprecatory supplication before God. All this exomologesis does, that it may enhance repentance, that it may honor the Lord by fear of danger, may, by itself, in pronouncing against the sinner stand in place of God's indignation, and by temporal mortification (I will not say frustrate, but rather) expunge eternal punishments.

(d) Tertullian, De Pudicitia, 1, 21, 22. (MSL, 2:1032, 1078.)

Callistus, to whom reference is made in the first chapter, was bishop of Rome 217 to 222. The work, therefore, belongs to the latest period of Tertullian's life.

Ch.1. I hear that there has been an edict set forth, and, indeed, a peremptory one; namely, that the Pontifex Maximus, the bishop of bishops, issues an edict: |I remit to such as have performed penance, the sins both of adultery and fornication.|

Ch.21. |But,| you say, |the Church has the power of forgiving sins.| This I acknowledge and adjudge more, I, who have the Paraclete himself in the person of the new prophets, saying: |The Church has the power to forgive sins, but I will not do it, lest they commit still others.|{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} I now inquire into your opinion, to discover from what source you usurp this power to the Church.

If, because the Lord said to Peter, |Upon this rock I will build My Church [Matt.16:18].{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} To Thee I have given the keys of the kingdom of heaven,| or |Whatsoever thou shalt bind or loose on earth, shall be bound or loosed in heaven,| you therefore presume that the power of binding and loosing has descended to you, that is, to every church akin to Peter; what sort of man, then, are you, subverting and wholly changing the manifest intention of the Lord, who conferred the gift personally upon Peter? |On Thee,| He says, |I will build my Church,| and |I will give thee the keys,| not to the Church; and |whatsoever thou shalt have loosed or bound,| not what they shall have loosed or bound. For so the result actually teaches. In him (Peter) the Church was reared, that is, through him (Peter) himself; he himself tried the key; you see what key: |Men of Israel, let what I say sink into your ears; Jesus, the Nazarene, a man appointed of God for you,|(65) and so forth. Peter himself, therefore, was the first to unbar, in Christ's baptism, the entrance to the kingdom of heaven, in which are loosed the sins that aforetime were bound.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

What, now, has this to do with the Church and your Church, indeed, O Psychic? For in accordance with the person of Peter, it is to spiritual men that this power will correspondingly belong, either to an Apostle or else to a prophet.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And accordingly the |Church,| it is true, will forgive sins; but it will be the Church of the Spirit, by a spiritual man; not the Church which consists of a number of bishops.

Ch.22. But you go so far as to lavish this power upon martyrs indeed; so that no sooner has any one, acting on a preconceived arrangement, put on soft bonds in the nominal custody now in vogue, than adulterers beset him, fornicators gain access to him; instantly prayers resound about him; instantly pools of tears of the polluted surround him; nor are there any who are more diligent in purchasing entrance to the prison than they who have lost the fellowship of the Church.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Whatever authority, whatever reason, restores ecclesiastical peace to the adulterer and the fornicator, the same will be bound to come to the aid of the murderer and the idolater in their repentance.

(e) Tertullian, Ad Martyres, 1. (MSL, 1:693.)

The following extract from Tertullian's little work addressed to martyrs in prison, written about 197, shows that in his earlier life as a Catholic Christian he did not disapprove of the practice of giving libelli pacis by the confessors, a custom which in his more rigoristic period under the influence of Montanism he denounced most vehemently; see preceding extract from De Pudicitia, ch.22. The reference to some discord among the martyrs is not elsewhere explained. For libelli pacis, see Cyprian, Ep.10 (=Ep.15), 22 (=21).

O blessed ones, grieve not the Holy Spirit, who has entered with you into the prison; for if He had not gone with you there, you would not be there to-day. Therefore endeavor to cause Him to remain with you there; so that He may lead you thence to the Lord. The prison, truly, is the devil's house as well, wherein he keeps his family.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Let him not be successful in his own kingdom by setting you at variance with one another, but let him find you armed and fortified with concord; for your peace is war with him. Some, not able to find peace in the Church, have been accustomed to seek it from the imprisoned martyrs. Therefore you ought to have it dwelling with you, and to cherish it and guard it, that you may be able, perchance, to bestow it upon others.

(f) Tertullian, De Pudicitia, 19. (MSL, 2:1073.)

The distinction between mortal and venial sins became of great importance in the administration of penance and remained as a feature of ecclesiastical discipline from the time of Tertullian. The origin of the distinction was still earlier. See above, an extract from the same work.

We ourselves do not forget the distinction between sins, which was the starting-point of our discussion. And this, too, for John has sanctioned it [cf. I John 5:16], because there are some sins of daily committal to which we are all liable; for who is free from the accident of being angry unjustly and after sunset; or even of using bodily violence; or easily speaking evil; or rashly swearing; or forfeiting his plighted word; or lying from bashfulness or necessity? In business, in official duties, in trade, in food, in sight, in hearing, by how great temptations are we assailed! So that if there were no pardon for such simple sins as these, salvation would be unattainable by any. Of these, then, there will be pardon through the successful Intercessor with the Father, Christ. But there are other sins wholly different from these, graver and more destructive, such as are incapable of pardon -- murder, idolatry, fraud, apostasy, blasphemy, and, of course, adultery and fornication and whatever other violation of the temple of God there may be. For these Christ will no more be the successful Intercessor; these will not at all be committed by any one who has been born of God, for he will cease to be the son of God if he commit them.

§ 43. The Catechetical School of Alexandria: Clement and Origen

Three types of theology developed in the ante-Nicene Church: the Asia Minor school, best represented by Irenaeus (v. § 33); the North African, represented by Tertullian and Cyprian (v. § 39); and the Alexandrian, in the Catechetical School of which Clement and Origen were the most distinguished members. In the Alexandrian theology the tradition of the apologists (v. § 32) that Christianity was a revealed philosophy was continued, especially by Clement. Origen, following the bent of his genius, developed other sides of Christian thought as well, bringing it all into a more systematic form than had ever before been attempted. The Catechetical School of Alexandria was the most celebrated of all the educational institutions of Christian antiquity. It aimed to give a general secular and religious training. It appears to have been in existence well before the end of the second century, having been founded, it is thought, by Pantaenus. Clement assisted in the instruction from 190, and from about 200 was head of the school for a few years. In 202 or 203 he was forced by persecution under Septimius Severus to flee from the city. He died before 215. Of his works, the most important is his three-part treatise composed of his Protrepticus, an apologetic work addressed to the Greeks; his Paedegogus, a treatise on Christian morality; and his Stromata, or miscellanies. Origen became head of the Catechetical School in 203, when but eighteen years old, and remained in that position until 232, when, having been irregularly ordained priest outside his own diocese and being suspected of heresy, he was deposed. But he removed to Caesarea in Palestine, where he continued his work with the greatest success and was held in the highest honor by the Church in Palestine and parts other than Egypt. He died 254 or 255 at Tyre, having previously suffered severely in the Decian persecution. His works are of the highest importance in various fields of theology. De Principiis is the first attempt to present in connected form the whole range of Christian theology. His commentaries cover nearly the entire Bible. His Contra Celsum is the greatest of all early apologies. The Hexapla was the most elaborate piece of text-criticism of antiquity.

Additional source material: Eusebius. Hist. Ec., VI, deals at length with Origen; Gregory Thaumaturgus, Panegyric on Origen, in ANF. VI.

(a) Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, I, 5. (MSG, 8:717.)

Clement's view of the relation of Greek philosophy to Christian revelation is almost identical with that of the apologists, as are also many of his fundamental concepts.

Before the advent of the Lord philosophy was necessary to the Greeks for righteousness. And now it becomes useful to piety, being a kind of preparatory training to those who attain to faith through demonstration. |For thy foot,| it is said, |will not stumble| if thou refer what is good, whether belonging to the Greeks or to us, to Providence. For God is the cause of all good things; but of some primarily, as of the Old and the New Testament, and of others by consequence, as philosophy. Perchance, too, philosophy was given to the Greeks directly till the Lord should call the Greeks also. For this was a schoolmaster to bring the Hellenic mind to Christ, as was the law to bring the Hebrews. Philosophy, therefore, was a preparation, paving the way for him who is perfected in Christ.

|Now,| says Solomon, |defend wisdom, and it will exalt thee, and it will shield thee with a crown of pleasure.|(66) For when thou hast strengthened wisdom with a breastwork by philosophy, and with expenditure, thou wilt preserve her unassailable by sophists. The way of truth is therefore one. But into it, as into a perennial river, streams flow from every side.

(b) Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, VII, 10. (MSG, 9:47.)

See Clement of Alexandria, VIIth Book of the Stromateis, ed. by Hort and Mayor, London, 1902. In making faith suffice for salvation, Clement clearly distinguishes his position from that of the Gnostics, though he uses the term |gnostic| as applicable to Christians. See next passage.

Knowledge [gnosis], so to speak, is a perfecting of man as man, which is brought about by acquaintance with divine things; in character, life, and word harmonious and consistent with itself and the divine Word. For by it faith is made perfect, inasmuch as it is solely by it that the man of faith becomes perfect. Faith is an internal good, and without searching for God confesses His existence and glorifies Him as existent. Hence by starting with this faith, and being developed by it, through the grace of God, the knowledge respecting Him is to be acquired as far as possible.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

But it is not doubting, in reference to God, but believing, that is the foundation of knowledge. But Christ is both the foundation and the superstructure, by whom are both the beginning and the end. And the extreme points, the beginning and the end, I mean faith and love, are not taught. But knowledge, which is conveyed from communication through the grace of God as a deposit, is intrusted to those who show themselves worthy of it; and from it the worth of love beams forth from light to light. For it is said, |To him that hath shall be given| [cf. Matt.13:12] -- to faith, knowledge; and to knowledge, love; and to love, the inheritance.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Faith then is, so to speak, a compendious knowledge of the essentials; but knowledge is the sure and firm demonstration of what is received by faith, built upon faith by the Lord's teaching, conveying us on to unshaken conviction and certainty. And, as it seems to me, the first saving change is that from heathenism to faith, as I said before; and the second, that from faith to knowledge. And this latter passing on to love, thereafter gives a mutual friendship between that which knows and that which is known. And perhaps he who has already arrived at this stage has attained equality with the angels. At any rate, after he has reached the final ascent in the flesh, he still continues to advance, as is fit, and presses on through the holy Hebdomad into the Father's house, to that which is indeed the Lord's abode.

(c) Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, V, 11. (MSG, 9:102, 106.)

The piety of the Christian Gnostic.

The sacrifice acceptable with God is unchanging alienation from the body and its passions. This is the really true piety. And is not philosophy, therefore, rightly called by Socrates the meditation on death? For he who neither employs his eyes in the exercise of thought nor draws from his other senses, but with pure mind applies himself to objects, practises the true philosophy.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

It is not without reason, therefore, that in the mysteries which are to be found among the Greeks lustrations hold the first place; as also the laver among the barbarians. After these are the minor mysteries, which have some foundation for instruction and preparation for what is to follow. In the great mysteries concerning the universe nothing remains to be learned, but only to contemplate and comprehend with the mind nature and things. We shall understand the more of purification by confession, and of contemplation by analysis, advancing by analysis to the first notion, beginning with the properties underlying it; abstracting from the body its physical properties, taking away the dimension of depth, then of breadth, and then of length. For the point which remains is a unit, so to speak, having position; from which, if we abstract position, there is the conception of unity.

If, then, we abstract all that belongs to bodies and things called incorporeal, we cast ourselves into the greatness of Christ, and thence advancing into immensity by holiness, we may reach somehow to the conception of the Almighty, knowing not what He is, but knowing what He is not. And form and motion, or standing, or a throne or place, or right hand or left, are not at all to be conceived as belonging to the Father of the universe, although it is so written. For what each of these signifies will be shown in the proper place. The First Cause is not then in space, but above time and space and name and conception.

(d) Origen, De Principiis, I, 2:2. (MSG, 11:130.)

Origen's doctrine of the |eternal generation of the Son| was of primary importance in all subsequent discussions on the Trinity.

Let no one imagine that we mean anything unsubstantial when we call Him the Wisdom of God; or suppose, for example, that we understand Him to be, not a living being endowed with wisdom, but something which makes men wise, giving itself to, and implanting itself in, the minds of those who are made capable of receiving its virtues and intelligence. If, then, it is once rightly understood that the only begotten Son of God is His Wisdom hypostatically [substantialiter] existing, I know not whether our mind ought to advance beyond this or entertain any suspicion that the hypostasis or substantia contains anything of a bodily nature, since everything corporeal is distinguished either by form, or color, or magnitude. And who in his sound senses ever sought for form, or color, or size, in wisdom, in respect of its being wisdom? And who that is capable of entertaining reverential thoughts or feelings regarding God can suppose or believe that God the Father ever existed, even for a moment of time, without having generated this Wisdom? For in that case he must say either that God was unable to generate Wisdom before He produced her, so that He afterward called into being that which formerly did not exist, or that He could, but -- what is impious to say of God -- was unwilling to generate; both of which suppositions, it is patent to all, are alike absurd and impious: for they amount to this, either that God advanced from a condition of inability to one of ability, or that, although possessed of the power, He concealed it, and delayed the generation of Wisdom. Therefore we have always held that God is the Father of His only begotten Son, who was born indeed of Him, and derives from Him, what He is, but without any beginning, not only such as may be measured by any divisions of time, but even that which the mind alone contemplates within itself, or beholds, so to speak, with the naked soul and understanding. And therefore we must believe that Wisdom was generated before any beginning that can be either comprehended or expressed.

(e) Origen, De Principiis, I, 2:10. (MSG, 11:138.)

Origen's doctrine of |eternal creation| was based upon reasoning similar to that employed to show the eternal generation of the Son, but it was rejected by the Church, and figures among the heresies known as Origenism. See below, §§ 87, 93.

As no one can be a father without having a son, nor a master without possessing a servant, so even God cannot be called omnipotent(67) unless there exists those over whom He may exercise His power; and therefore, that God may be shown to be almighty it is necessary that all things should exist. For if any one assumes that some ages or portions of time, or whatever else he likes to call them, have passed away, while those things which have been made did not yet exist, he would undoubtedly show that during those ages or periods God was not omnipotent but became omnipotent afterward: viz., from the time that He began to have those over whom He exercised power; and in this way He will appear to have received a certain increase, and to have risen from a lower to a higher condition; since there can be no doubt that it is better for Him to be omnipotent than not to be so. And, now, how can it appear otherwise than absurd, that when God possessed none of those things which it was befitting for Him to possess, He should afterward, by a kind of progress, come to have them? But if there never was a time when He was not omnipotent,(68) of necessity those things by which He receives that title must also exist; and He must always have had those over whom He exercised power, and which were governed by Him either as king or prince, of which we shall speak more fully when we come to discuss the subject of creatures.

(f) Origen, De Principiis, II, 9:6. (MSG, 11:230.)

The theory of pre-existence and the pretemporal fall of each soul was the basis of Origen's theodicy. It caused great offence in after years when theology became more stereotyped, and it has retained no place in the Church's thought, for the idea ran too clearly counter to the biblical account of the Fall of Adam.

We have frequently shown by those statements which we are able to adduce from the divine Scriptures that God, the Creator of all things, is good, and just, and all-powerful. When in the beginning He created all those beings whom He desired to create, i.e., rational natures, He had no other reason for creating them than on account of Himself, i.e., His goodness. As He himself, then, was the cause of the existence of those things which were to be created, in whom there was neither any variation nor change nor want of power, He created all whom He made equal and alike, because there was no reason for Him to produce variety and diversity. But since those rational creatures themselves, as we have frequently shown and will yet show in the proper place, were endowed with the power of free choice, this freedom of his will incited each one either to progress by imitation of God or induced him to failure through negligence. And this, as we have already stated, is the cause of the diversity among rational creatures, deriving its origin not from the will or judgment of the Creator, but from the freedom of the individual will. God, however, who deemed it just to arrange His creatures according to merit, brought down these differences of understanding into the harmony of one world, that He might adorn, as it were, one dwelling, in which there ought to be not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay and some, indeed, to honor and others to dishonor, with those different vessels, or souls, or understandings. And these are the causes, in my opinion, why that world presents the aspect of diversity, while Divine Providence continues to regulate each individual according to the variety of his movements or of his feelings and purpose. On which account the Creator will neither appear to be unjust in distributing (for the causes already mentioned) to every one according to his merits; nor will the happiness or unhappiness of each one's birth, or whatever be the condition that falls to his lot, be deemed accidental; nor will different creators, or souls of different natures, be believed to exist.

(g) Origen, Homil. in Exod., VI, 9. (MSG, 12:338.)

In the following passage from Origen's Commentary on Exodus and the four following passages are stated the essential points of Origen's theory of redemption. In this theory there are two elements which have been famous in the history of Christian thought: the relation of the death of Christ to the devil, and the ultimate salvation of every soul. The theory that Christ's death was a ransom paid to the devil was developed by Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory the Great, and reappeared constantly in theology down to the scholastic period, when it was overthrown by Anselm and the greater scholastics. Universal redemption or salvation, especially when it included Satan himself, was never taken up by Church theologians to any extent, and was one of the positions condemned as Origenism. See § 93.

It is certain, they say, that one does not buy that which is his own. But the Apostle says: |Ye are bought with a price.| But hear what the prophet says: |You have been sold as slaves to your sins, and for your iniquities I have put away your mother.| Thou seest, therefore, that we are the creatures of God, but each one has been sold to his sins, and has fallen from his Creator. Therefore we belong to God, inasmuch as we have been created by Him, but we have become the servants of the devil, inasmuch as we have been sold to our sins. But Christ came to redeem us when we were servants to that master to whom we had sold ourselves by sinning.

(h) Origen, Contra Celsum, VII, 17. (MSG, 11:1445.)

If we consider Jesus in relation to the divinity that was in Him, the things which He did in this capacity are holy and do not offend our idea of God; and if we consider Him as a man, distinguished beyond all others by an intimate communion with the very Word, with Absolute Wisdom, He suffered as one who was wise and perfect whatever it behooved Him to suffer, who did all for the good of the human race, yea, even for the good of all intelligent beings. And there is nothing absurd in the fact that a man died, and that his death was not only an example of death endured for the sake of piety, but also the first blow in the conflict which is to overthrow the power of the evil spirit of the devil, who had obtained dominion over the whole world. For there are signs of the destruction of his empire; namely, those who through the coming of Christ are everywhere escaping from the power of demons, and who after their deliverance from this bondage in which they were held consecrate themselves to God, and according to their ability devote themselves day by day to advancement in a life of piety.

(i) Origen, Homil. in Matt., XVI, 8. (MSG, 13:1398.)

He did this in service of our salvation so far that He gave His soul a ransom for many who believed on Him. If all had believed on Him, He would have given His soul as a ransom for all. To whom did He give His soul as a ransom for many? Certainly not to God. Then was it not to the Evil One? For that one reigned over us until the soul of Jesus was given as a ransom for us. This he had especially demanded, deceived by the imagination that he could rule over it, and he was not mindful of the fact that he could not endure the torment connected with holding it fast. Therefore death, which appeared to reign over Him, did not reign over Him, since He was |free among the dead| and stronger than the power of death. He is, indeed, so far superior to it that all who from among those overcome by death will follow Him can follow Him, as death is unable to do anything against them.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} We are therefore redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus. As a ransom for us the soul of the Son of God has been given (not His spirit, for this, according to Luke [cf. Luke 23:46] He had previously given to His Father, saying: |Father, into Thy hands I commit my spirit|); also, not His body, for concerning this we find nothing mentioned. And when He had given His soul as a ransom for many, He did not remain in the power of him to whom the ransom was given for many, because it says in the sixteenth psalm [Psalm 16:10]: |Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.|

(j) Origen, De Principiis, I, 6:3. (MSG, 11:168.)

The following states in brief the theory of universal salvation.

It is to be borne in mind, however, that certain beings who fell away from that one beginning of which we have spoken, have given themselves to such wickedness and malice as to be deemed altogether undeserving of that training and instruction by which the human race while in the flesh are trained and instructed with the assistance of the heavenly powers: they continue, on the contrary, in a state of enmity and opposition to those who are receiving this instruction and teaching. And hence it is that the whole life of mortals is full of certain struggles and trials, caused by the opposition and enmity against us of those who fell from a better condition without at all looking back, and who are called the devil and his angels, and other orders of evil, which the Apostle classed among the opposing powers. But whether any of these orders, who act under the government of the devil and obey his wicked commands, will be able in a future world to be converted to righteousness because of their possessing the faculty of freedom of will, or whether persistent and inveterate wickedness may be changed by habit into a kind of nature, you, reader, may decide; yet so that neither in those things which are seen and temporal nor in those which are unseen and eternal one portion is to differ wholly from the final unity and fitness of things. But in the meantime, both in those temporal worlds which are seen, and in those eternal worlds which are invisible, all those beings are arranged according to a regular plan, in the order and degree of merit; so that some of them in the first, others in the second, some even in the last times, after having undergone heavier and severer punishments, endured for a lengthened period and for many ages, so to speak, improved by this stern method of training, and restored at first by the instruction of angels and subsequently advanced by powers of a higher grade, and thus advancing through each stage to a better condition, reach even to that which is invisible and eternal, having travelled by a kind of training through every single office of the heavenly powers. From which, I think, this will follow as an inference -- that every rational nature can, in passing from one order to another, go through each to all, and advance from all to each, while made the subject of various degrees of proficiency and failure, according to its own actions and endeavors, put forth in the enjoyment of its power of freedom of will.

(k) Origen, De Principiis, IV, 9-15. (MSG, 11:360, 363, 373.)

Allegorism.

The method of exegesis known as allegorism, whereby the speculations of the Christian theologians were provided with an apparently scriptural basis, was taken over from the Jewish and Greek philosophers and theologians who employed it in the study of their sacred books. Origen, it should be added, contributed not a little to a sound grammatical interpretation as well. For Porphyry's criticism of Origen's methods of exegesis see Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 19.

Ch.9. Now the cause, in all the points previously enumerated, of the false opinions and of the impious statements or ignorant assertions about God appears to be nothing else than that the Scriptures are not understood according to their spiritual meaning, but are interpreted according to the mere letter. And therefore to those who believe that the sacred books are not the compositions of men, but were composed by the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, according to the will of the Father of all things through Jesus Christ, and that they have come down to us, we must point out the modes of interpretation which appear correct to us, who cling to the standard of the heavenly Church according to the succession of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Now that there are certain mystical economies made known in the Holy Scriptures, all, even the most simple of those who adhere to the word, have believed; but what these are, the candid and modest confess they know not. If, then, one were to be perplexed about the incest of Lot with his daughters, and about the two wives of Abraham, and the two sisters married to Jacob, and the two handmaids who bore him children, they can return no other answer than this -- that these are mysteries not understood by us.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Ch.11. The way, then, as it seems to me, in which we ought to deal with the Scriptures and extract from them their meaning is the following, which has been ascertained from the sayings [of the Scriptures] themselves. By Solomon in the Proverbs we find some rule as this enjoined respecting the teaching of the divine writings, |And do thou portray them in a threefold manner, in counsel and knowledge, to answer words of truth to them who propose them to thee| [cf. Prov.22:20 f., LXX]. One ought, then, to portray the ideas of Holy Scripture in a threefold manner upon his soul, in order that the simple man may be edified by the |flesh,| as it were, of Scripture, for so we name the obvious sense; while he who has ascended a certain way may be edified by the |soul,| as it were. The perfect man, and he who resembles those spoken of by the Apostle, when he says, |We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, but not the wisdom of the world, nor of the rulers of this world, who come to nought; but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God hath ordained before the ages unto our glory| [I Cor.2:6, 7], may receive edification from the spiritual law, which was a shadow of things to come. For as man consists of body and soul and spirit, so in the same way does the Scripture consist, which has been arranged by God for the salvation of men.

Ch.12. But as there are certain passages which do not contain at all the |corporeal| sense, as we shall show in the following, there are also places where we must seek only for the |soul,| as it were, and |spirit| of Scripture.

Ch.15. But since, if the usefulness of the legislation and the sequence and beauty of the history were universally evident, we should not believe that any other thing could be understood in the Scriptures save what was obvious, the Word of God has arranged that certain stumbling-blocks, and offences, and impossibilities, should be introduced into the midst of the law and the history, in order that we may not, through being drawn away in all directions by the merely attractive nature of the language, either altogether fall away from the true doctrines, as learning nothing worthy of God, or, by not departing from the letter, come to the knowledge of nothing more divine. And this, also, we must know: that, since the principal aim is to announce the |spiritual| connection in those things that are done and that ought to be done where the Word found that things done according to the history could be adapted to these mystic senses, He made use of them, concealing from the multitude the deeper meaning; but where in the narrative of the development of super-sensual things there did not follow the performance of those certain events which was already indicated by the mystical meaning the Scripture interwove in the history the account of some event that did not take place, sometimes what could not have happened; sometimes what could, but did not happen.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And at other times impossibilities are recorded for the sake of the more skilful and inquisitive, in order that they may give themselves to the toil of investigation of what is written, and thus attain to a becoming conviction of the manner in which a meaning worthy of God must be sought out in such subjects.

§ 44. Neo-Platonism

The last phase of Hellenic philosophy was religious. It aimed to combine the principles of many schools of the earlier period and to present a metaphysical system that would at once give a theory of being and also furnish a philosophical basis for the new religious life. This final philosophy of the antique world was Neo-Platonism. It was thoroughly eclectic in its treatment of earlier systems, but under Plotinus attained no small degree of consistency. The emphasis was laid especially upon the religious problems, and in the system it may be fairly said that the religious aspirations of heathenism found their highest and purest expression. Because it was in close touch with current culture and in its metaphysical principles was closely akin to the philosophy of the Church teachers, we find Neo-Platonism sometimes a bitter rival of Christianity, at other times a preparation for the Christian faith, as in the case of Augustine and Victorinus.

Additional source material: Select Works of Plotinus, translated by Thomas Taylor, ed. G. R. S. Mead, London, 1909 (contains bibliography of other translations of Plotinus, including those in French and German together with a select list of works bearing on Neo-Platonism); Select Works of Porphyry, trans. by Thomas Taylor, London, 1823; Taylor translated much from all the Neo-Platonists, but his other books are very scarce. Porphyry's Epistula ad Marcellam, trans. by Alice Zimmern, London, 1896.

Porphyry, Ep. ad Marcellam, 16-19. Porphyrii philosophi Platonici opuscula tria, rec. A. Nauck, Leipsic, 1860.

The letter is addressed to Marcella by her husband, the philosopher Porphyry. It gives a good idea of the religious and ethical character of Neo-Platonism. For the metaphysical aspects see Plotinus, translated by T. Taylor. Porphyry was, after Plotinus, the greatest of the Neo-Platonists, and brought out most clearly those religious elements which were rivals to Christianity. His attack upon Christianity was keen and bitter, and he was consequently especially hated by the Christians. He died at Rome 304.

Ch.16. You will honor God best when you form your soul to resemble him. This likeness is only by virtue; for only virtue draws the soul upward toward its own kind. There is nothing greater with God than virtue; but God is greater than virtue. But God strengthens him who does what is good; but of evil deeds a wicked demon is the instigator. Therefore the wicked soul flees from God and wishes that the foreknowledge of God did not exist; and from the divine law which punishes all wickedness it shrinks away completely. But a wise man's soul is in harmony with God, ever sees Him, ever is with Him. But if that which rules takes pleasure in that which is ruled, then God cares for the wise and provides for him; and therefore is the wise man blessed, because he is under the protection of God. It is not the discourses of the wise man which are honorable before God, but his works; for the wise man, even when he keeps silence, honors God, but the ignorant man, even in praying and sacrificing, dishonors the Divinity. So the wise man alone is a priest, alone is dear to God, alone knows how to pray.

Ch.17. He who practises wisdom practises the knowledge of God; though not always in prayer and sacrifice, practising piety toward God by his works. For a man is not rendered agreeable to God by ruling himself according to the prejudices of men and the vain declamations of the sophists. It is the man himself who, by his own works, renders himself agreeable to God, and is deified by the conforming of his own soul to the incorruptible blessed One. And it is he himself who makes himself impious and displeasing to God, not suffering evil from God, for the Divinity does only what is good. It is the man himself who causes his evils by his false beliefs in regard to God. The impious is not so much he who does not honor the statues of the gods as he who mixes up with the idea of God the superstitions of the vulgar. As for thyself, do not hold any unworthy idea of God, of his blessedness or of his incorruptibility.

Ch.18. The greatest fruit of piety is this -- to honor the Deity according to our fatherland; not that He has need of anything, but His holy and happy Majesty invites us to offer Him our homage. Altars consecrated to God do no harm, and when neglected they render no help. But he who honors God as needing anything declares, without knowing it, that he is superior to God. Therefore it is not angering God that harms us, but not knowing God, for wrath is alien to God, because it is the product of the involuntary, and there is nothing involuntary in God. Do not then dishonor the Divinity by human false opinions, for thou wilt not thereby injure the Being enjoying eternal blessedness, from whose incorruptible nature every injury is repelled.

Ch.19. But thou shouldest not think that I say these things when I exhort to the worship of God; for he who exhorts to this would be ridiculous; as if it were possible to doubt concerning this; and we do not worship Him aright doing this thing or thinking that about God.(69) Neither tears nor supplications turn God from His purpose; nor do sacrifices honor God, nor the multitude of offerings glorify God, but the godlike mind well governed enters into union with God. For like is of necessity joined to like. But the victims of the senseless crowd are food for the flames, and their offerings are the supplies for a licentious life to the plunderers of temples. But, as I have said to thee, let the mind within thee be the temple of God. This must be tended and adorned to become a fit dwelling for God.

Chapter III. The First General Persecution And Its Consequences

On account of various principles of the Roman law, Christians were always liable to severe penalties, and parts of the Church occasionally suffered fearfully. But it was only in exceptional cases and sporadically that the laws were enforced. There was, accordingly, no prolonged and systematic effort made to put down Christianity everywhere until the reign of Decius (249-251). The renewed interest in heathen religions and the revived patriotism in some circles occasioned in 248 by the celebration of the thousandth anniversary of the founding of Rome may have contributed to a renewal of hostilities against the Church. Decius undertook the military defence of the frontier. His colleague, Valerian, had charge of the internal affairs of the Empire and was the author of the measures against the Christians. Because the Church included many who had embraced the faith in the long period when the Church rarely felt the severity of the laws, many were unable to endure the persecution, and so apostatized or |fell.| The persecution continued only for a short time in full intensity, but it was not abandoned for a number of years. It became violent once more when Valerian became Emperor (253-260). One result of the persecutions was the rise of serious disputes, and even schisms, from differences regarding the administration of discipline by the bishops. In the case of the Novatians at Rome, a dissenting Church which spread rapidly over the Empire came into existence and lasted for more than two centuries.

§ 45. The Decian-Valerian Persecution

The first persecution which may fairly be said to have been general in purpose and effect was that falling in the reigns of Decius (249-251) and Valerian (253-260). Of the course of the persecution we have information bearing directly upon Carthage, Alexandria, and Asia Minor. But it probably was felt very generally throughout the Church.

Additional source material: Cyprian, De Lapsis, Epp.14, 22, 43; Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 39-45, VII, 11, 15, 30: for original texts see Preuschen, Analecta, I, §§ 16, 17; also R. Knopf, Ausgewaehlte Maertyreracten (of these the most reliable are the martyrdom of Pionius and of Cyprian).

(a) Origen, Contra Celsum, III, 15. (MSG, 11:937.)

Origen, writing about 248, observes the probable approach of a period of persecution for the Church.

That it is not the fear of external enemies which strengthens our union is plain from the fact that this cause, by God's will, has already ceased for a considerable time. And it is probable that the secure existence, so far as this life is concerned, which is enjoyed by believers at present will come to an end, since those who in every way calumniate the Word [i.e., Christianity] are again attributing the frequency of rebellion to the multitude of believers and to their not being persecuted by the authorities, as in former times.

(b) Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum, 3, 4. (MSL, 7:200.)

Lucius Caelius Firminianus Lactantius was of African birth. Having obtained some local fame as a teacher of rhetoric, he was appointed by Diocletian professor of that subject in his new capital of Nicomedia. This position Lactantius lost during the Diocletian persecution. He was afterward tutor of Crispus, the son of Constantine. His work On the Death of the Persecutors is written in a bitter spirit, but excellent style. Although in some circles it has been customary to impeach the veracity of Lactantius, no intentional departure from historical truthfulness, apart from rhetorical coloring, which was inevitable, has been proved against him. Of late there has been some doubt as to the authorship of De Mortibus Persecutorum.

Ch.3. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} This long peace, however, was afterward interrupted.

Ch.4. For after many years there appeared in the world an accursed wild beast, Decius by name, who should afflict the Church. And who but a bad man would persecute righteousness? As if for this end he had been raised up to sovereign eminence, he began at once to rage against God, and at once to fall. For having undertaken an expedition against the Carpi, who had then occupied Dacia and Moesia, he was suddenly surrounded by the barbarians, and slain, together with a great part of his army; nor could he be honored with the rights of sepulture, but, stripped and naked, he lay as food for wild beasts and birds, as became the enemy of God.

(c) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 39. (MSG, 20:660.)

The Decian persecution and the sufferings of Origen.

Decius succeeded Philip, who had reigned seven years. On account of his hatred of Philip, Decius commenced a persecution of the churches, in which Fabianus suffered martyrdom at Rome, and Cornelius succeeded him in the episcopate. In Palestine, Alexander, bishop of the church of Jerusalem, was brought again on Christ's account before the governor's judgment seat in Caesarea, and having acquitted himself nobly in a second confession, was cast into prison, crowned with the hoary locks of venerable age. And after his honorable and illustrious confession at the tribunal of the governor, he fell asleep in prison, and Mazabanes became his successor in the bishopric of Jerusalem. Babylas in Antioch having, like Alexander, passed away in prison after his confession, Fabius presided over that church.

But how many and how great things came upon Origen in the persecution, and what was their final result -- as the evil demon marshalled all his forces and fought against the man with his utmost craft and power, assaulting him beyond all others against whom he contended at that time; and what and how many things the man endured for the word of Christ -- bonds and bodily tortures and torments under the iron collar and in the dungeon; and how for many days with his feet stretched four spaces of the stocks he bore patiently the threats of fire and whatever other things were inflicted by his enemies; and how his sufferings terminated, as his judge strove eagerly with all his might not to end his life; and what words he left after these things full of comfort to those needing aid, a great many of his epistles show with truth and accuracy.

(d) Cyprian, De Lapsis, 8-10. (MSL, 4:486.)

The many cases of apostasy in the Decian persecution shocked the Church inexpressibly. In peace discipline had been relaxed and Christian zeal had grown weak. The same phenomena appeared in the next great persecution, under Diocletian, after a long period of peace. De Lapsis was written in the spring of 251, just after the end of the severity of the Decian persecution and Cyprian's return to Carthage. Text in part in Kirch, nn.227 ff.

Ch.8. From some, alas, all these things have fallen away, and have passed from memory. They indeed did not even wait, that, having been apprehended, they should go up, or, having been interrogated, they might deny. Many were conquered before the battle, prostrated without an attack. Nor did they even leave it to be said for them that they seemed to sacrifice to idols unwillingly. They ran to the forum of their own accord; freely they hastened to death, as if they had formerly wished it, as if they would embrace an opportunity now given which they had always desired. How many were put off by the magistrates at that time, when evening was coming on! How many even asked that their destruction might not be delayed! What violence can such a one plead, how can he purge his crime, when it was he himself who rather used force that he might perish? When they came voluntarily to the capitol -- when they freely approached to the obedience of the terrible wickedness -- did not their tread falter, did not their sight darken, their hearts tremble, their arms fall helplessly down, their senses become dull, their tongues cleave to their mouths, their speech fail? Could the servant of God stand there, he who had already renounced the devil and the world, and speak and renounce Christ? Was not that altar, whither he drew near to die, to him a funeral pile? Ought he not to shudder at, and flee from, the altar of the devil, which he had seen to smoke and to be redolent of a foul stench, as it were, a funeral and sepulchre of his life? Why bring with you, O wretched man, a sacrifice? Why immolate a victim? You yourself have come to the altar an offering, yourself a victim; there you have immolated your salvation, your hope; there you have burned up your faith in those deadly fires.

Ch.9. But to many their own destruction was not sufficient. With mutual exhortations the people were urged to their ruin; death was pledged by turns in the deadly cup. And that nothing might be wanting to aggravate the crime, infants, also, in the arms of their parents, being either carried or conducted, lost, while yet little ones, what in the very beginning of their nativity they had gained. Will not they, when the day of judgment comes, say: |We have done nothing; nor have we forsaken the Lord's bread and cup to hasten freely to a profane contract.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}|

Ch.10. Nor is there, alas, any just and weighty reason which excuses such a crime. One's country was to be left, and loss of one's estate was to be suffered. Yet to whom that is born and dies is there not a necessity at some time to leave his country and to suffer loss of his estate? But let not Christ be forsaken, so that the loss of salvation and of an eternal home should be feared.

(e) Cyprian, De Lapsis, 28. (MSL, 4:501.)

Those who did not actually sacrifice in the tests that were applied to Christians, but by bribery had procured certificates that they had sacrificed, were known as libellatici. It was to the credit of the Christian moral feeling that this subterfuge was not admitted.

Nor let those persons flatter themselves that they need repent the less who, although they have not polluted their hands with abominable sacrifices, yet have defiled their consciences with certificates. That profession of one who denies is the testimony of a Christian disowning what he has been. He says he has done what another has actually committed, and although it is written, |Ye cannot serve two masters| [Matt.6:24], he has served an earthly master in that he has obeyed his edict; he has been more obedient to human authority than to God.

(f) A Libellus. From a papyrus found at Fayum.

The text may be found in Kirch, n.207. This is the actual certificate which a man suspected of being a Christian obtained from the commission appointed to carry out the edict of persecution. It has been preserved these many centuries in the dry Egyptian climate, and is with some others, which are less perfect, among the most interesting relics of the ancient Church.

Presented to the Commission for the Sacrifices in the village of Alexander Island, by Aurelius Diogenes, the son of Satabus, of the village of Alexander Island, about seventy-two years of age, with a scar on the right eyebrow.

I have at other times always offered to the gods as well as also now in your presence, and according to the regulations have offered, sacrificed, and partaken of the sacrificial meal; and I pray you to attest this. Farewell. I, Aurelius Diogenes, have presented this.

[In a second hand.]

I, Aurelius Syrus, testify as being present that Diogenes sacrificed with us.

[First hand.]

First year of the Emperor Caesar Gaius Messius Quintus Trajanus Decius, pious, happy, Augustus, 2d day of Epiphus. [June 25, 250.]

(g) Cyprian, Epistula 80 (=82). (MSL, 4:442.)

The date of this epistle is 257-258, at the outbreak of the Valerian persecution, a revival of the Decian. It was therefore shortly before Cyprian's death.

Cyprian to his brother Successus, greeting. The reason why I write to you at once, dearest brother, is that all the clergy are placed in the heat of the contest and are unable in any way to depart hence, for all of them are prepared, in accordance with the devotion of their mind, for divine and heavenly glory. But you should know that those have come back whom I sent to Rome to find out and bring us the truth concerning what had in any manner been decreed respecting us. For many, various, and uncertain things are currently reported. But the truth concerning them is as follows: Valerian has sent a rescript to the Senate, to the effect that bishops, presbyters, and deacons should be immediately punished; but that senators, men of rank, and Roman knights should lose their dignity and be deprived of their property; and if, when their property has been taken away, they should persist in being Christians, that they should then also lose their heads; but that matrons should be deprived of their property and banished. Moreover, people of Caesar's household, who had either confessed before or should now confess, should have their property confiscated, and be sent in chains and assigned to Caesar's estates. The Emperor Valerian also added to his address a copy of the letters he prepared for the presidents of the provinces coercing us. These letters we are daily hoping will come, and we are waiting, according to the strength of our faith, for the endurance of suffering and expecting from the help and mercy of the Lord the crown of eternal life. But know that Sixtus was punished [i.e., martyred] in the cemetery on the eighth day of the ides of August, and with him four deacons. The prefects of the city, furthermore, are daily urging on this persecution; so that if any are presented to them they are punished and their property confiscated.

I beg that these things be made known by you to the rest of our colleagues, that everywhere by their exhortations the brotherhood may be strengthened and prepared for the spiritual conflict, that every one may think less of death than of immortality, and dedicated to the Lord with full faith and courage, they may rejoice rather than fear in this confession, wherein they know that the soldiers of God and Christ are not slain, but crowned. I bid you, dearest brother, ever farewell in the Lord.

§ 46. Effects of the Persecution upon the Inner Life of the Church

The persecution developed the popular opinion of the superior sanctity of martyrdom. This was itself no new idea, having grown up in the Church from the time of Ignatius of Antioch, but it now received new applications and developments (a, b). See also § 42, d, and below for problems arising from the place the martyrs attempted to take in the organization of the Church and the administration of discipline. This claim of the martyrs was successfully overcome by the bishops, especially under Cyprian's leadership and example. But in the administration of discipline there were sure to arise difficulties and questions, e.g., Was there a distinction to be made in favor of those who had escaped without actually sacrificing? (c). No matter what policy was followed by the bishop, there was the liability of the rise of a party in opposition to him. If he was strict, a party advocating laxity appeared, as in the case of Felicissimus at Carthage; if he was milder in policy, a party would call for greater rigor, as in the case of Novatian at Rome (e).

Additional source material: Cyprian, Ep. 39-45, 51 (ANF, V); Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 43, 45.

(a) Origen, Exhortatio ad Martyrium, 30, 50. (MSG, 11:601, 636.)

An estimate of the importance and value of martyrdom.

The Exhortation to Martyrdom was addressed by Origen to his friend and patron Ambrosius, and to Protoctetus, a presbyter of Caesarea, who were in great danger during the persecution undertaken by Maximinus Thrax (235-238). It was probably written in the reign of that Emperor.

Ch.30. We must remember that we have sinned and that it is impossible to obtain forgiveness of sins without baptism, and that according to the evangelical laws it is impossible to be baptized a second time with water and the Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, and therefore the baptism of martyrdom is given us. For thus it has been called, as may be clearly gathered from the passage: |Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?| [Mark 10:38]. And in another place it is said: |But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straightened until it be accomplished!| [Luke 12:50]. For be sure that just as the expiation of the cross was for the whole world, it (the baptism of martyrdom) is for the cure of many who are thereby cleansed. For as according to the law of Moses those placed near the altar are seen to minister forgiveness of sins to others through the blood of bulls and goats, so the souls of those who have suffered on account of the testimony of Jesus are not in vain near that altar in heaven [cf. Rev.6:9 ff.], but minister forgiveness of sins to those who pray. And at the same time we know that just as the high priest, Jesus Christ, offered himself as a sacrifice, so the priests, of whom He is the high priest, offer themselves as sacrifices, and on account of this sacrifice they are at the altar as in their proper place.

Ch.50. Just as we have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, who received the name that is above every name, so by the precious blood of the martyrs will others be redeemed.

(b) Origen, Homil. ad Num., X, 2. (MSG, 12:658.)

Of Origen's homilies on the Pentateuch only a few fragments of the Greek text remain. We have them, however, in a Latin translation or paraphrase made by Rufinus. The twenty-eight homilies on Numbers were written after A. D.244.

Concerning the martyrs, the Apostle John writes in the Apocalypse that the souls of those who have been slain for the name of the Lord Jesus are present at the altar; but he who is present at the altar is shown to perform the duties of priest. But the duty of a priest is to make intercession for the sins of the people. Wherefore I fear, lest, perchance, inasmuch as there are made no martyrs, and sacrifices of saints are not offered for our sins, we will not receive remission of our sins. And therefore I fear, lest our sins remaining in us, it may happen to us what the Jews said of themselves, that not having an altar, nor a temple, nor priesthood, and therefore not offering sacrifices, our sins remain in us, and so no forgiveness is obtained.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And therefore the devil, knowing that remission of sins is obtained by the passion of martyrdom, is not willing to raise public persecutions against us by the heathen.

(c) Cyprian, Epistula 55, 14 (=51). (MSL, 3:805.)

The opinion of the Church as to the libellatici. The date is 251 or 252.

Since there is much difference between those who have sacrificed, what a want of mercy it is, and how bitter is the hardship, to associate those who have received certificates with those who have sacrificed, when he who has received the certificate may say, |I had previously read and had been informed by the discourse of the bishop that we ought not to sacrifice to idols, that the servant of God ought not to worship images; and therefore that I might not do this which is not lawful, when the opportunity of receiving a certificate was offered (and I would not have received it, if the opportunity had not been offered) I either went or charged some one other person going to the magistrate to say that I am a Christian, that I am not allowed to sacrifice, that I cannot come to the devil's altars, and that I will pay a price for this purpose, that I may not do what is not lawful for me to do|! Now, however, even he who is stained by a certificate, after he has learned from our admonitions that he ought not to have done even this, and though his hand is pure, and no contact of deadly food has polluted his lips, yet his conscience is nevertheless polluted, weeps when he hears us, and laments, and is now admonished for the things wherein he has sinned, and having been deceived, not so much by guilt as by error, bears witness that for another time he is instructed and prepared.

(d) Epistula pacis, Cyprian, Epistula 16. (MSL, 4:268.) Cf. Kirch, n.241.

This brief Letter of Peace is a specimen of the forms that were being issued by the confessors, and which a party in the Church regarded as mandatory upon the bishops. These Cyprian strenuously and successfully resisted. See also Cyprian, Ep.21, in ANF, V, 299.

All the confessors to Cyprian, pope,(70) greeting. Know that we all have given peace to those concerning whom an account has been rendered you as to what they have done since they committed their sin; and we wish to make this rescript known through you to the other bishops. We desire you to have peace with the holy martyrs. Lucianus has written this, there being present of the clergy an exorcist and a lector.

(e) Cyprian, Epistula 43, 2, 3. (MSL, 4:342.)

The schism of Felicissimus was occasioned by the position taken by Cyprian in regard to the admission of the lapsi in the Decian persecution. But it was at the same time the outcome of an opposition to Cyprian of longer standing, on account of jealousy, as he had only recently become a Christian when he was made bishop of Carthage.

Ch.2. It has appeared whence came the faction of Felicissimus, on what root and by what strength it stood. These men supplied in a former time encouragements and exhortations to confessors, not to agree with their bishop, not to maintain the ecclesiastical discipline faithfully and quietly, according to the Lord's precepts, not to keep the glory of their confession with an uncorrupt and unspotted mode of life. And lest it should have been too little to have corrupted the minds of certain confessors and to have wished to arm a portion of our broken fraternity against God's priesthood, they have now applied themselves with their envenomed deceitfulness to the ruin of the lapsed, to turn away from the healing of their wound the sick and the wounded, and those who, by the misfortune of their fall, are less fit and less able to take stronger counsels; and having left off prayers and supplications, whereby with long and continued satisfaction the Lord is to be appeased, they invite them by the deceit of a fallacious peace to a fatal rashness.

Ch.3. But I pray you, brethren, watch against the snares of the devil, and being careful for your own salvation, guard diligently against this deadly deceit. This is another persecution and another temptation. Those five presbyters are none other than the five leaders who were lately associated with the magistrates in an edict that they might overthrow our faith, that they might turn away the feeble hearts of the brethren to their deadly nets by the perversion of the truth. Now the same scheme, the same overturning, is again brought about by the five presbyters, linked with Felicissimus, to the destruction of salvation, that God should not be besought, and that he who has denied Christ should not appeal for mercy to the same Christ whom he has denied; that after the fault of the crime repentance also should be taken away; and that satisfaction should not be made through bishops and priests, but, the Lord's priests being forsaken, a new tradition of sacrilegious appointment should arise contrary to the evangelical discipline. And although it was once arranged as well by us as by the confessors and the clergy of the city,(71) likewise by all the bishops located either in our province or beyond the sea [i.e., Italy], that there should be no innovations regarding the case of the lapsed unless we all assembled in one place, and when our counsels had been compared we should then decide upon some moderate sentence, tempered alike with discipline and with mercy; against this, our counsel, they have rebelled and all priestly authority has been destroyed by factious conspiracies.

(f) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VI, 43. (MSG, 20:616.)

The schism of Novatian at Rome was occasioned by the question of discipline of the lapsed. While the schism of Felicissimus was in favor of more lenient treatment of those who had fallen, the schism of Novatian was in favor of greater strictness. The sect of Novatians, named after the founder, Novatus or Novatianus, lasted for more than two centuries.

Novatus [Novatianus], a presbyter at Rome, being lifted up with arrogance against these persons, as if there was no longer for them a hope of salvation, not even if they should do all things pertaining to a pure and genuine conversion, became the leader of the heresy of those who in the pride of their imagination style themselves Cathari.(72) Thereupon a very large synod assembled at Rome, of bishops in number sixty, and a great many more presbyters and deacons; and likewise the pastors of the remaining provinces deliberated in their places by themselves concerning what ought to be done. A decree, accordingly, was confirmed by all that Novatus and those who joined with him, and those who adopted his brother-hating and inhuman opinion, should be considered by the Church as strangers; but that they should heal such of the brethren as had fallen into misfortune, and should minister to them with the medicines of repentance. There have come down to us epistles of Cornelius, bishop of Rome, to Fabius, of the church at Antioch, which show what was done at the synod at Rome, and what seemed best to all those in Italy and Africa and the regions thereabout. Also other epistles, written in the Latin language, of Cyprian and those with him in Africa, by which it is shown that they agreed as to the necessity of succoring those who had been tempted, and of cutting off from the Catholic Church the leader of the heresy and all that joined him.

Chapter IV. The Period Of Peace For The Church: A. D.260 To A. D.303

After the Decian-Valerian persecution (250-260) the Church enjoyed a long peace, rarely interrupted anywhere by hostile measures, until the outbreak of the second great general persecution, under Diocletian (303-313), a space of over forty years. In this period the Church cast off the chiliasm which had lingered as a part of a primitive Jewish conception of Christianity (§ 47), and adapted itself to the actual condition of this present world. Under the influence of scientific theology, especially that of the Alexandrian school, the earlier forms of Monarchianism disappeared from the Church, and the discussion began to narrow down to the position which it eventually assumed in the Arian controversy (§ 48). Corresponding to the development of the theology went that of the cultus of the Church, and already in the West abiding characteristics appeared (§ 49). The cultus and the disciplinary work of the bishops advanced in turn the hierarchical organization of the Church and the place of the bishops (§ 50), but the theory of local episcopal autonomy and the universalistic tendencies of the see of Rome soon came into sharp conflict (§ 51), especially over the validity of baptism administered by heretics (§ 52). In this discussion the North African Church assumed a position which subsequently became the occasion of the most serious schism of the ancient Church, or Donatism. In this period, also, is to be set the rise of Christian Monasticism as distinguished from ordinary Christian asceticism (§ 53). At the same time, a dangerous rival of Christianity appeared in the East, in the form of Manichaeanism, in which were absorbed nearly all the remnants of earlier Gnosticism (§ 54).

§ 47. The Chiliastic Controversy

During the third century the belief in chiliasm as a part of the Church's faith died out in nearly all parts of the Church. It did not seem called for by the condition of the Church, which was rapidly adjusting itself to the world in which it found itself. The scientific theology, especially that of Alexandria, found no place in its system for such an article as chiliasm. The belief lingered, however, in country places, and with it went no little opposition to the |scientific| exegesis which by means of allegory explained away the promises of a millennial kingdom. The only account we have of this so-called |Chiliastic Controversy| is found in connection with the history of the schism of Nepos in Egypt given by Eusebius, But it may be safely assumed that the condition of things here described was not peculiar to any one part of the Church, though an open schism resulting from the conflict of the old and new ideas is not found elsewhere.

Additional source material: Origen, De Principiis, II, 11 (ANF, IV); Lactantius, Divini Institutiones, VII, 14-26 (ANF, VII); Methodius, Symposium, IX, 5 (ANF, VI); v. infra, § 48.

Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VII, 24. (MSG, 20:693.)

Dionysius was bishop of Alexandria 248-265, after serving as the head of the Catechetical School, a position which he does not seem to have resigned on being advanced to the episcopate. His work On the Promises has, with the exception of fragments preserved by Eusebius, perished, as has also the work of Nepos, Against the Allegorists. The date of the work of Nepos is not known. That of the work of Dionysius is placed conjecturally at 255. The |Allegorists,| against whom Nepos wrote, were probably Origen and his school, who developed more consistently and scientifically the allegorical method of exegesis; see above, § 43, k.

Besides all these, the two books On the Promises were prepared by him [Dionysius]. The occasion of these was Nepos, a bishop in Egypt, who taught that the promises made to the holy men in the divine Scriptures should be understood in a more Jewish manner, and that there would be a certain millennium of bodily luxury upon this earth. As he thought that he could establish his private opinion by the Revelation of John, he wrote a book on this subject, entitled Refutation of Allegorists. Dionysius opposes this in his books On the Promises. In the first he gives his own opinion of the dogma; and in the second he treats of the Revelation of John,(73) and, mentioning Nepos at the beginning, writes of him as follows:

|But since they bring forward a certain work of Nepos, on which they rely confidently, as if it proved beyond dispute that there will be a reign of Christ upon earth, I confess that in many other respects I approve and love Nepos for his faith and industry and his diligence in the Scriptures, and for his extensive psalmody with which many of the brethren are still delighted; and I hold the man in the more reverence because he has gone before us to rest.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} But as some think his work very plausible, and as certain teachers regard the law and the prophets as of no consequence, and do not follow the Gospels, and treat lightly the apostolic epistles, while they make promises as to the teaching of this work as if it were some great hidden mystery, and do not permit our simpler brethren to have any sublime and lofty thoughts concerning the glorious and truly divine appearing of our Lord and our resurrection from the dead, and our being gathered together unto Him, and made like Him, but, on the contrary, lead them to a hope for small things and mortal things in the kingdom of God, and for things such as exist now -- since this is the case, it is necessary that we should dispute with our brother Nepos as if he were present.| Farther on he says:

|When I was in the district of Arsinoe, where, as you know, this doctrine has prevailed for a long time, so that schisms and apostasies of entire churches have resulted, I called together the presbyters and teachers of the brethren in the villages -- such brethren as wished being present -- and I exhorted them to make a public examination of this question. Accordingly when they brought me this book, as if it were a weapon and fortress impregnable, sitting with them from morning till evening for three successive days, I endeavored to correct what was written in it.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And finally the author and mover of this teaching, who was called Coracion, in the hearing of all the brethren present acknowledged and testified to us that he would no longer hold this opinion, nor discuss it, nor mention it, nor teach it, as he was fully convinced by the arguments against it.|

§ 48. Theology of the Second Half of the Third Century under the Influence of Origen

By the second half of the third century theology had become a speculative and highly technical science (a), and under the influence of Origen, the Logos theology, as opposed to various forms of Monarchianism (b), had become universal. Under this influence, Paul of Samosata, reviving Dynamistic Monarchianism, modified it by combining with it elements of the Logos theology (c-e). At the same time there was in various parts of the Church a continuation of the Asia Minor theological tradition, such as had found expression in Irenaeus. A representative of this theology was Methodius of Olympus (f).

Additional source material: Athanasius, De Sent. Dionysii (PNF, ser. II, vol. IV).

(a) Gregory Thaumaturgus, Confession of Faith. (MSG, 46:912)

Gregory Thaumaturgus, or the Wonder-worker, was born about 213 in Neo-Caesarea in Pontus. He studied under Origen at Caesarea in Palestine from 233 to 235, and became one of the leading representatives of the Origenistic theology, representing the orthodox development of that school, as distinguished from Paul of Samosata and Lucian.

The following Confession of Faith is found only in the Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, by Gregory of Nyssa. (MSG, 46: 909 f.) Its genuineness is now generally admitted; see Hahn, op. cit., § 185. According to a legend, it was communicated to Gregory in a vision by St. John on the request of the Blessed Virgin. It represents the speculative tendency of Origenism and current theology after the rise of the Alexandrian school. It should be noted that it differs markedly from other confessions of faith in not employing biblical language.

There is one God, the Father of the living Word, His substantive Wisdom, Power, and Eternal Image, the perfect Begetter of the perfect One, the Father of the Only begotten Son.

There is one Lord, only One from only One, God from God, the image and likeness of the Godhead, the active Word, The Wisdom which comprehends the constitution of all things, and the Power which produced all creation; the true Son of the true Father, Invisible of Invisible, and Incorruptible of Incorruptible, and Immortal of Immortal, and Everlasting of Everlasting.

And there is one Holy Spirit having His existence from God, and manifested by the Son [namely, to men],(74) the perfect likeness of the perfect Son, Life and Cause of the living [the sacred Fount], Sanctity, Leader of sanctification, in whom is revealed God the Father, who is over all and in all, and God the Son, who is through all; a perfect Trinity(75) not divided nor differing in glory and eternity and sovereignty.

There is, therefore, nothing created or subservient in the Trinity, nor introduced as if not there before, but coming afterward; for there never was a time when the Son was lacking to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son, but the same Trinity is ever unvarying and unchangeable.

(b) Athanasius, De Sent. Dionysii, 4, 5, 6, 13-15. (MSG, 25:484 f., 497 f.)

What has been called the |Controversy of the two Dionysii| was in reality no controversy. Dionysius of Alexandria [v. supra, § 48] wrote a letter to the Sabellians near Cyrene, pointing out the distinction of the Father and the Son. In it he used language which was, to say the least, indiscreet. Complaint was made to Dionysius, bishop of Rome, that the bishop of Alexandria did not hold the right view of the relation of the Son to the Father and of the divinity of the Son. Thereupon, Dionysius of Rome wrote to Dionysius of Alexandria. In reply, Dionysius of Alexandria pointed out at length, in a Refutation and Defence, his actual opinion on the matter as a whole, rather than as merely opposed to Modalistic Monarchianism or Sabellianism. The course of the discussion is sufficiently clear from the extracts. Athanasius is writing in answer to the Arians, who had appealed to the letter of Dionysius in support of their opinion that the Son was a creature, and that there was when He was not [v. infra, § 63]. His work, from which the following extracts are taken, was written between 350 and 354.

Ch.4. They (the Arians) say, then, that in a letter the blessed Dionysius has said: |The Son of God is a creature and made, and not His own by nature, but in essence alien from the Father, just as the husbandman is from the vine, or the shipbuilder is from the boat; for that, being a creature, He was not before He came to be.| Yes. He wrote it, and we, too, admit that such was his letter. But as he wrote this, so also he wrote very many other epistles, which ought to be read by them, so that from all and not from one merely the faith of the man might be discovered.

Ch.5. At that time [i.e., when Dionysius wrote against the Sabellians] certain of the bishops of Pentapolis in Upper Libya were of the opinion of Sabellius. And they were so successful with their opinion that the Son of God was scarcely preached any longer in the churches. Dionysius heard of this, as he had charge of those churches (cf. Canon 6, Nicaea, 325; see below, § 72), and sent men to counsel the guilty ones to cease from their false doctrine. As they did not cease but waxed more shameless in their impiety, he was compelled to meet their shameless conduct by writing the said letter and to define from the Gospels the human nature of the Saviour, in order that, since those men waxed bolder in denying the Son and in ascribing His human actions to the Father, he accordingly, by demonstrating that it was not the Father but the Son that was made man for us, might persuade the ignorant persons that the Father is not the Son, and so by degrees lead them to the true godhead of the Son and the knowledge of the Father.

Ch.6. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} If in his writings he is inconsistent, let them [i.e., the Arians] not draw him to their side, for on this assumption he is not worthy of credit. But if, when he had written his letter to Ammonius, and fallen under suspicion, he made his defence, bettering what he had said previously, defending himself, but not changing, it must be evident that he wrote what fell under suspicion by way of |accommodation.|

Ch.13. The following is the occasion of his writing the other letters. When Bishop Dionysius had heard of the affairs in Pentapolis and had written in zeal for religion, as I have said, his letter to Euphranor and Ammonius against the heresy of Sabellius, some of the brethren belonging to the Church, who held a right opinion, but did not ask him so as to learn from himself what he had written, went up to Rome and spake against him in the presence of his namesake, Dionysius, bishop of Rome. And the latter, upon hearing it, wrote simultaneously against the adherents of Sabellius and against those who held the same opinions for uttering which Arius was cast out of the Church; and he called it an equal and opposite impiety to hold with Sabellius or with those who say that the Word of God is a creature, framed and originated. And he wrote also to Dionysius [i.e., of Alexandria] to inform him of what they had said about him. And the latter straightway wrote back and inscribed a book entitled A Refutation and a Defence.

Ch.14. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} In answer to these charges he writes, after certain prefatory matter in the first book of the work entitled A Refutation and a Defence, in the following terms:

Ch.15. |For never was there a time when God was not a Father.| And this he acknowledges in what follows, |that Christ is forever, being Word and Wisdom and Power. For it is not to be supposed that God, having at first no issue, afterward begat a Son. But the Son has his being not of Himself, but of the Father.|

(c) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VII, 27, 29, 30. (MSG, 25:705.)

The deposition of Paul of Samosata.

The controversy concerning Paul's doctrinal views is sufficiently set forth in the extract from Eusebius given below. Paul was bishop of Antioch from about 260 to 268. His works have perished, with the exception of a few fragments. The importance of Paul is that in his teaching is to be found an attempt to combine the Logos theology of Origen with Dynamistic Monarchianism, with results that appeared later in Arianism, on the one hand, and Nestorianism, it is thought, on the other.

Ch.27. After Sixtus had presided over the church of Rome eleven years, Dionysius, namesake of him of Alexandria, succeeded him. About that time Demetrianus died in Antioch, and Paul of Samosata received that episcopate. As he held low and degraded views of Christ, contrary to the teaching of the Church, namely, that in his nature He was a common man, Dionysius of Alexandria was entreated to come to the synod. But being unable to come on account of age and physical weakness, he gave his opinion on the subject under consideration by a letter. But the other pastors of the churches assembled from all directions, as against a despoiler of the flock of Christ, all making haste to reach Antioch.

Ch.29. During his [Aurelian's, 270-275] reign a final synod composed of a great many bishops was held, and the leader of heresy in Antioch was detected and his false doctrine clearly shown before all, and he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church under heaven. Malchion especially drew him out from his hiding-place and refuted him. He was a man learned also in other matters, and principal of the sophist school of Grecian learning in Antioch; yet on account of the superior nobility of his faith in Christ he had been made a presbyter of that parish [i.e., diocese]. This man, having conducted a discussion with him, which was taken down by stenographers, and which we know is still extant, was alone able to detect the man who dissembled and deceived others.

Ch.30. The pastors who had assembled about this matter prepared by common consent an epistle addressed to Dionysius, bishop of Rome, and Maximus of Alexandria, and sent it to all the provinces.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

After other things they describe as follows the manner of life which he led: |Whereas he has departed from the rule [i.e., of faith], and has turned aside after base and spurious teachings, it is not necessary -- since he is without -- that we should pass judgment upon his practices: as for instance {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} in that he is haughty and is puffed up, and assumes worldly dignities, preferring to be called ducenarius rather than bishop; and struts in the market-places, reading letters and reciting them as he walks in public, attended by a bodyguard, with a multitude preceding and following him, so that the faith is envied and hated on account of his pride and haughtiness of heart, {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} or that he violently and coarsely assails in public the expounders of the Word that have departed this life, and magnifies himself, not as bishop, but as a sophist and juggler, and stops the psalms to our Lord Jesus Christ as being novelties and the productions of modern men, and trains women to sing psalms to himself in the midst of the church on the great day of the passover.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} He is unwilling to acknowledge that the Son of God came down from heaven. (And this is no mere assertion, but is abundantly proved from the records which we have sent you; and not least where he says, 'Jesus Christ is from below.'){HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} And there are the women, the 'subintroductae,' as the people of Antioch call them, belonging to him and to the presbyters and deacons with him. Although he knows and has convicted these men, yet he connives at this and their incurable sins, in order that they may be bound to him, and through fear for themselves may not dare to accuse him for his wicked words and deeds.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}|

As Paul had fallen from the episcopate, as well as from the orthodox faith, Domnus, as has been said, succeeded to the service of the church at Antioch [i.e., became bishop]. But as Paul refused to surrender the church building, the Emperor Aurelian was petitioned; and he decided the matter most equitably, ordering the building to be given to those to whom the bishops of Italy and of the city of Rome should adjudge it. Thus this man was driven out of the Church, with extreme disgrace, by the worldly power.

Such was Aurelian's attitude toward us at that time; but in the course of time he changed his mind in regard to us, and was moved by certain advisers to institute a persecution against us. And there was great talk about it everywhere. But as he was about to do it, and was, so to speak, in the very act of signing the decrees against us, the divine judgment came upon him and restrained him at the very verge of his undertaking.

(d) Malchion of Antioch, Disputation with Paul. (MSG, 10:247-260.)

The doctrine of Paul of Samosata.

The following fragments are from the disputation of Malchion with Paul at the Council of Antioch, 268 [see extract from Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VII, 27, 29, 30; see above (c)], which Malchion is said to have revised and published. The passages may be found also in Routh, Reliquiae Sacrae, second ed., III, 300 ff. Fragments I-III are from the work of the Emperor Justinian, Contra Monophysitas; fragment IV is from the work of Leontius of Byzantium, Adversus Nestorianos et Eutychianos.

I. The Logos became united with Him who was born of David, who is Jesus, who was begotten of the Holy Ghost. And Him the Virgin bore by the Holy Spirit; but God generated that Logos without the Virgin or any one else than God, and thus the Logos exists.

II. The Logos was greater than Christ. Christ became greater through Wisdom, that we might not overthrow the dignity of Wisdom.

III. In order that the Anointed, who was from David, might not be a stranger to Wisdom, and that Wisdom might not dwell so largely in another. For it was in the prophets, and more in Moses, and in many the Lord was, but more also in Christ as in a temple. For Jesus Christ was one and the Logos was another.

IV. He who appeared was not Wisdom, for He could not be found in an outward form, neither in the appearance of a man; for He is greater than all things visible.

(e) Paul of Samosata, Orationes ad Sabinum, Routh, op. cit., III, 329.

The doctrine of Paul.

Paul's work addressed to Sabinus has perished with the exception of a few fragments. See Routh, op. cit.

I. Thou shouldest not wonder that the Saviour had one will with God; for just as nature shows us a substance becoming one and the same out of many things, so the nature of love makes one and the same will out of many through a manifest preference.

II. He who was born holy and righteous, having by His struggle and sufferings overcome the sin of our progenitors, and having succeeded in all things, was united in character to God, since He had preserved one and the same effort and aim as He for the promotion of things that are good; and since He has preserved this inviolate, His name is called that above every name, the prize of love having been freely bestowed upon Him.

(f) Epiphanius, Panarion, Haer. LXV. (MSG, 42:12.)

The doctrine of Paul of Samosata.

Epiphanius was bishop of Salamis, 367-403. His works are chiefly polemical and devoted to the refutation of all heresies, of which he gives accounts at some length. He is a valuable, though not always reliable, source for many otherwise unknown heresies. In the present case we have passages from Paul's own writings that confirm and supplement the statements of the hereseologist.

He [Paul of Samosata] says that God the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, that in God is always His Word and His Spirit, as in a man's heart is his own reason; that the Son of God does not exist in a hypostasis, but in God himself.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} That the Logos came and dwelt in Jesus, who was a man. And thus he says God is one, neither is the Father the Father, nor the Son the Son, nor the Holy Spirit the Holy Spirit, but rather the one God is Father and in Him is his Son, as the reason is in a man.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} But he did not say with Noetus that the Father suffered, but only, said he, the Logos came and energized and went back to the Father.

(g) Methodius of Olympus, Symposium, III, 4, 8. (MSG, 18:65, 73.)

The theology of Origen was not suffered to go without being challenged by those who could not accept some of his extreme statements. Among those opposed to him were Peter, bishop of Alexandria, and Methodius, bishop of Olympus. Both were strongly influenced by Origen, but the denial of a bodily resurrection and the eternity of the creation were too offensive. The more important of the two is Methodius, who combined a strong anti-Origenistic position on these two points with that |recapitulation| theory of redemption which has been called the Asia Minor type of theology and is represented also by Irenaeus; see above, § 27. He has been called the author of the |theology of the future,| with reference to his relation to Athanasius, in that he laid the foundation for a doctrine of redemption which superseded that of the old Alexandrian school, and became established in the East under the lead of Athanasius and the Nicene divines generally.

Methodius was bishop of Olympus, in Lycia. The statements that he also held other sees are unreliable. He died in 311 as a martyr. Nothing else is known with certainty as to his life. Of his numerous and well-written works, only one, The Banquet, or Symposium, has been preserved entire. His work On the Resurrection is most strongly opposed to Origen and his denial of the bodily resurrection.

Ch.4. For let us consider how rightly he [Paul] compared Adam to Christ, not only considering him to be the type and image, but also that Christ Himself became the very same thing, because the Eternal Word fell upon Him. For it was fitting that the first-born of God, the first shoot, the Only begotten, even the Wisdom [of God], should be joined to the first-formed man, and first and first-born of men, and should become incarnate. And this was Christ, a man filled with the pure and perfect Godhead, and God received into man. For it was most suitable that the oldest of the AEons and the first of the archangels, when about to hold communion with men, should dwell in the oldest and first of men, even Adam. And thus, renovating those things which were from the beginning, and forming them again of the Virgin by the Spirit, He frames the same just as at the beginning.

Ch.8. The Church could not conceive believers and give them new birth by the laver of regeneration unless Christ, emptying Himself for their sakes, that He might be contained by them, as I said, through the recapitulation of His passion, should die again, coming down from heaven, and, being |joined to His wife,| the Church, should provide that a certain power be taken from His side, so that all who are built up in Him should grow up, even those who are born again by the laver, receiving of His bones and of His flesh; that is, of His holiness and of His glory. For he who says that the bones and flesh of Wisdom are understanding and virtue, says most rightly; and that the side [rib] is the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete, of whom the illuminated [i.e., baptized], receiving, are fitly born again to incorruption.

(h) Methodius of Olympus, De Resurrect., I, 13. (MSG, 18:284.)

De Resur., I, 13.(76) If any one were to think that the earthly image is the flesh itself, but the heavenly image is some other spiritual body besides the flesh, let him first consider that Christ, the heavenly man, when He appeared, bore the same form of limbs and the same image of flesh as ours, through which, also, He, who was not man, became man, that, |as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.| For if it was not that he might set the flesh free and raise it up that He bore flesh, why did He bear flesh superfluously, as He purposed neither to save it nor to raise it up? But the Son of God does nothing superfluous. He did not take, then, the form of a servant uselessly, but to raise it up and save it. For He was truly made man, and died, and not in appearance, but that He might truly be shown to be the first begotten from the dead, changing the earthly into the heavenly, and the mortal into the immortal.

§ 49. The Development of the Cultus

The Church's cultus and sacramental system developed rapidly in the third century. The beginnings of the administration of the sacraments according to prescribed forms are to be traced to the Didache and Justin Martyr (see above, §§ 13, 14). At the beginning of the third century baptism was already accompanied by a series of subsidiary rites, and the eucharist was regarded as a sacrifice, the benefit of which might be directed toward specific ends. The further development was chiefly in connection with the eucharist, which effected in turn the conception of the hierarchy (see below, § 50). Baptism was regarded as conferring complete remission of previous sins; subsequent sins were atoned for in the penitential discipline (see above, § 42). As for the eucharist, the conception of the sacrifice which appears in the Didache, an offering of praise and thanksgiving, gradually gives place to a sacrifice which in some way partakes of the nature of Christ's sacrificial death upon the cross. At the same time, the elements are more and more completely identified with the body and blood of Christ, and the nature of the presence of Christ is conceived under quasi-physical categories. As representatives of the lines of development, Tertullian, at the beginning of the century, and Cyprian, at the middle, may be taken. That a similar development took place in the East is evident, not only from the references to the same in the writings of Origen and others, but also from the appearance in the next century of elaborate services, or liturgies, as well as the doctrinal statements of writers generally.

(a) Tertullian, De Corona, 3. (MSL, 2:98.)

The ceremonies connected with baptism.

And how long shall we draw the saw to and fro through this line when we have an ancient practice which by anticipation has settled the state of the question? If no passage of Scripture has prescribed it, assuredly custom, which without doubt flowed from tradition, has confirmed it. For how can anything come into use if it has not first been handed down? Even in pleading tradition written authority, you say, must be demanded. Let us inquire, therefore, whether tradition, unless it be written, should not be admitted. Certainly we shall say that it ought not to be admitted if no cases of other practices which, without any written instrument, we maintain on the ground of tradition alone, and the countenance thereafter of custom, affords us any precedent. To deal with this matter briefly, I shall begin with baptism. When we are going to enter the water, but a little before, in the church and under the hand of the president, we solemnly profess that we renounce the devil, and his pomp, and his angels. Hereupon we are thrice immersed, making a somewhat ampler pledge than the Lord has appointed in the Gospel. Then, when we are taken up (as new-born children), we taste first of all a mixture of milk and honey; and from that day we refrain from the daily bath for a whole week. We take also in congregations, before daybreak, and from the hands of none but the presidents, the sacrament of the eucharist, which the Lord both commanded to be eaten at meal-times, and by all. On the anniversary day we make offerings for the dead as birthday honors. We consider fasting on the Lord's Day to be unlawful, as also to worship kneeling. We rejoice in the same privilege from Easter to Pentecost. We feel pained should any wine or bread, even though our own, be cast upon the ground. At every forward step and movement, at every going in and going out, when we put on our shoes, at the bath, at table, on lighting the lamps, on couch, on seat, in all the ordinary actions of daily life, we trace upon the forehead the sign [i.e., of the cross].

(b) Tertullian, De Baptismo, 5-8. (MSL, 1:1314.)

The whole passage should be read as showing clearly that Tertullian recognized the similarity between Christian baptism and heathen purifying washings, but referred the effects of the heathen rites to evil powers, quite in harmony with the Christian admission of the reality of heathen divinities as evil powers and heathen exorcisms as wrought by the aid of evil spirits.

Ch.5. {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Thus man will be restored by God to His likeness, for he formerly had been after the image of God; the image is counted being in His form [in effigie], the likeness in His eternity [in aeternitate]. For he receives that Spirit of God which he had then received from His afflatus, but afterward lost through sin.

Ch.6. Not that in the waters we obtain the Holy Spirit, but in the water, under (the witness of angels) we are cleansed and prepared for the Holy Spirit.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS}

Ch.7. After this, when we have issued from the font, we are thoroughly anointed with a blessed unction according to the ancient discipline, wherein on entering the priesthood men were accustomed to be anointed with oil from a horn, wherefore Aaron was anointed by Moses.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Thus, too, in our case the unction runs carnally, but profits spiritually; in the same way as the act of baptism itself is carnal, in that we are plunged in the water, but the effect spiritual, in that we are freed from sins.

Ch.8. In the next place, the hand is laid upon us, invoking and inviting the Holy Spirit through benediction.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} But this, as well as the former, is derived from the old sacramental rite in which Jacob blessed his grandsons born of Joseph, Ephraim, and Manasses; with his hands laid on them and interchanged, and indeed so transversely slanted the one over the other that, by delineating Christ, they even portended the future benediction in Christ. [Cf. Gen.48:13 f.]

(c) Cyprian, Ep. ad Caecilium, Ep.63, 13-17. (MSL, 4:395.)

The eucharist.

Thascius Caecilius Cyprianus, bishop of Carthage, was born about 200, and became bishop in 248 or 249. His doctrinal position is a development of that of Tertullian, beside whom he may be placed as one of the founders of the characteristic theology of North Africa. His discussion of the place and authority of the bishop in the ecclesiastical system was of fundamental importance in the development of the theory of the hierarchy, though it may be questioned whether his particular theory of the relation of the bishops to each other ever was realized in the Church. For his course during the Decian persecution see §§ 45, 46. He died about 258, in the persecution under Valerian.

In the epistle from which the following extract is taken Cyprian writes to Caecilius to point out that it is wrong to use merely water in the eucharist, and that wine mixed with water should be used, for in all respects we do exactly what Christ did at the Last Supper when he instituted the eucharist. In the course of the letter, which is of some length, Cyprian takes occasion to set forth his conception of the eucharistic sacrifice, which is a distinct advance upon Tertullian. The date of the letter is about 253.

Ch.13. Because Christ bore us all, in that He also bore our sins, we see that in the water is understood the people, but in the wine is showed the blood of Christ. But when in the cup the water is mingled with the wine the people is made one with Christ, and the assembly of believers is associated and conjoined with Him on whom it believes; which association and conjunction of water and wine is so mingled in the Lord's cup that that mixture cannot be separated any more. Whence, moreover, nothing can separate the Church -- that is, the people established in the Church, faithfully and firmly continuing in that in which they have believed -- from Christ in such a way as to prevent their undivided love from always abiding and adhering. Thus, therefore, in consecrating the cup water alone should not be offered to the Lord, even as wine alone should not be offered. For if wine only is offered, the blood of Christ begins to be without us.(77) But if the water alone be offered, the people begin to be without Christ, but when both are mingled and are joined to each other by an intermixed union, then the spiritual and heavenly sacrament is completed. Thus the cup of the Lord is not, indeed, water alone, nor wine alone, nor unless each be mingled with the other; just as, on the other hand, the body of the Lord cannot be flour alone or water alone, nor unless both should be united and joined together and compacted into the mass of one bread: in which sacrament our people are shown to be one; so that in like manner as many grains are collected and ground and mixed together into one mass and made one bread, so in Christ, who is the heavenly bread, we may know that there is one body with which our number is joined and united.

Ch.14. There is, then, no reason, dearest brother, for any one to think that the custom of certain persons is to be followed, who in times past have thought that water alone should be offered in the cup of the Lord. For we must inquire whom they themselves have followed. For if in the sacrifice which Christ offered none is to be followed but Christ, we ought certainly to obey and do what Christ did, and what He commanded to be done, since He himself says in the Gospel: |If ye do whatsoever I command you, henceforth I call you not servants, but friends| [John 15:14 f.].{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} If Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, is Himself the chief priest of God the Father, and has first offered Himself a sacrifice to the Father, and has commanded this to be done in commemoration of Himself, certainly that priest truly acts in the place of Christ who imitates what Christ did; and he then offers a true and full sacrifice in the Church of God to God the Father when he proceeds to offer it according to what he sees Christ himself to have offered.

Ch.15. But the discipline of all religion and truth is overturned unless what is spiritually prescribed be faithfully observed; unless, indeed, any one should fear in the morning sacrifices lest the taste of wine should be redolent of the blood of Christ.(78) Therefore, thus the brotherhood is beginning to be kept back from the passion of Christ in persecutions by learning in the offerings to be disturbed concerning His blood and His blood-shedding.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} But how can we shed our blood for Christ who blush to drink the blood of Christ?

Ch.16. Does any one perchance flatter himself with this reflection -- that, although in the morning water alone is seen to be offered, yet when we come to supper we offer the mingled cup? But when we sup, we cannot call the people together for our banquet that we may celebrate the truth of the sacrament in the presence of the entire brotherhood. But still it was not in the morning, but after supper that the Lord offered the mingled cup. Ought we, then, to celebrate the Lord's cup after supper, that so by continual repetition of the Lord's Supper we may offer the mingled cup? It was necessary that Christ should offer about the evening of the day, that the very hour of sacrifice might show the setting and the evening of the world as it is written in Exodus: |And all the people of the synagogue of the children of Israel shall kill it in the evening.|(79) And again in the Psalms: |Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice.|(80) But we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord in the morning.

Ch.17. And because we make mention of His passion in all sacrifices (for the Lord's passion is the sacrifice which we offer), we ought to do nothing else than what He did. For the Scripture says: |For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's death till He come.|(81) As often, therefore, as we offer the cup in commemoration of the Lord and His passion, let us do what it is known the Lord did.

§ 50. The Episcopate in the Church

The greatest name connected with the development of the hierarchical conception of the Church in the third century is without question Cyprian (see § 49). He developed the conception of the episcopate beyond the point it had reached in the hands of Tertullian, to whom the institution was important primarily as a guardian of the deposit of faith and a pledge of the continuity of the Church. In the hands of Cyprian the episcopate became the essential foundation of the Church. According to his theory of the office, every bishop was the peer of every other bishop and had the same duties to his diocese and to the Church as a whole as every other bishop. No bishop had any more than a moral authority over any other. Only the whole body of bishops, or the council, could bring anything more than moral authority to bear upon an offending prelate. The constitution of the council was not as yet defined. In several points the ecclesiastical theories of Cyprian were not followed by the Church as a whole, notably his opinion regarding heretical baptism (see § 47), but his main contention as to the importance of the episcopate for the very existence (esse), and not the mere welfare (bene esse), of the Church was universally accepted. His theory of the equality of all bishops was a survival of an earlier period, and represented little more than his personal ideal. The following sections should also be consulted in this connection.

Additional source material: Cyprian deals with the hierarchical constitution in almost every epistle; see, however, especially the following: 26:1 [33:1], 51:24 [55:24], 54:5 [59:5], 64:3 [3:3], 72:21 [73:21], 74:16 [75:16] (important for the testimony of Firmilian as to the hierarchical ideas in the East). Serapion's Prayer Book, trans. by J. Wordsworth, 1899.

(a) Cyprian, Epistula 68, 8 [=66]. (MSL, 4:418.)

Although a rebellious and arrogant multitude of those who will not obey depart, yet the Church does not depart from Christ; and they are the Church who are a people united to the priest, and the flock which adheres to its pastor. Whence you ought to know that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop; and that if any one be not with the bishop, he is not in the Church, and that those flatter themselves in vain who creep in, not having peace with God's priests, and think that they communicate secretly with some; while the Church, which is Catholic and one, is not cut nor divided, but is indeed connected and bound together by the cement of the priests who cohere with one another.

(b) Council of Carthage, A. D.256. (MSL, 3:1092.)

The council of Carthage, in 256, was held, under the presidency of Cyprian, to act on the question of baptism by heretics. See § 52. Eighty-seven bishops were present. The full report of proceedings is to be found in the works of Cyprian. See ANF, V, 565, and Hefele, § 6. The theory of Cyprian which is here expressed is that all bishops are equal and independent, as opposed to the Roman position taken by Stephen, and that the individual bishop is responsible only to God.

Cyprian said: {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} It remains that upon this matter each of us should bring forward what he thinks, judging no man, nor rejecting from the right of communion, if he should think differently. For neither does any one of us set himself up as a bishop of bishops, nor by tyrannical terrors does any one compel his colleagues to the necessity of obedience; since every bishop, according to the allowance of his liberty and power, has his own proper right of judgment, and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. But let us all wait for the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone has the power of advancing us in the government of His Church, and of judging us in our conduct here.

(c) Cyprian, Epistula 67:5. (MSL, 3:1064.)

The following epistle was written to clergy and people in Spain, i.e., at Leon, Astorga, and Merida, in regard to the ordination of two bishops, Sabinus and Felix, in place of Basilides and Martial, who had lapsed in the persecution and had been deprived of their sees. The passage illustrates the methods of election and ordination of bishops, and the failure of Cyprian, with his theory of the episcopate, to recognize in the see of Rome any jurisdiction over other bishops. Its date appears to be about 257.

You must diligently observe and keep the practice delivered from divine tradition and apostolic observance, which is also maintained among us, and throughout almost all the provinces: that for the proper celebration of ordinations all the neighboring bishops of the same province should assemble with that people for which a prelate is ordained. And the bishops should be chosen in the presence of the people, who have most fully known the life of each one, and have looked into the doings of each one as respects his manner of life. And this also, we see, was done by you in the ordination of our colleague Sabinus; so that, by the suffrage of the whole brotherhood, and by the sentence of the bishops who had assembled in their presence, and who had written letters to you concerning him, the episcopate was conferred upon him, and hands were imposed on him in the place of Basilides. Neither can an ordination properly completed be annulled, so that Basilides, after his crimes had been discovered and his conscience made bare, even by his own confession, might go to Rome and deceive Stephen, our colleague, who was placed at a distance and was ignorant of what had been done, so as to bring it about that he might be replaced unjustly in the episcopate from which he had been justly deposed.

§ 51. The Unity of the Church and the See of Rome

In the middle of the third century there were in sharp conflict two distinct and opposed theories of Church unity: the theory that the unity was based upon adherence to and conformity with the see of Peter; and the theory that the episcopate was itself one, and that each bishop shared equally in it. The unity was either in one see or in the less tangible unity of an order of the hierarchy. The former was the theory of the Roman bishops; the latter, the theory of Cyprian of Carthage, and possibly of a number of other ecclesiastics in North Africa and Asia Minor. Formerly polemical theology made the study of this point difficult, at least with anything like impartiality. In the passage given below from Cyprian's treatise On the Unity of the Catholic Church the text of the Jesuit Father Kirch is followed in the most difficult and interpolated chapter 4. As Father Kirch gives the text it is perfectly consistent with the theory of Cyprian as he has elsewhere stated it, and that the interpolated text is not. See, however, P. Battifol, Primitive Catholicism, Lond., 1911, Excursus E.

Additional source material: V. supra, § 27; also Mirbt, §§ 56-69. The little treatise De Aleatoribus (MSL, 4: 827), from which Mirbt gives an extract (n.71), might be cited in this connection, but its force depends upon its origin. It is wholly uncertain that it was written either by a bishop of Rome or in Italy. Cf. Bardenhewer. Kirch also gives the text in part, n.276; for other references, see Kirch.

(a) Cyprian, De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, 4, 5. (MSL, 4:513.)

The tract entitled On the Unity of the Catholic Church is the most famous of Cyprian's works. As the theory there developed is opposed to that which became dominant, and as Cyprian was regarded as the great upholder of the Church's constitution, interpolations were early made in the text which seriously distort the sense. These interpolations are to-day abandoned by all scholars. The best critical edition of the works of Cyprian is by W. von Hartel in the CSEL, but critical texts of the following passage with references to literature and indication of interpolations may be found in Mirbt (Prot.), n.52, and in Kirch (R. C.), n.234 (chapter 4 only).

Ch.4. The Lord speaks to Peter, saying: |I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give thee the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven| (Matt.16:18, 19). [To the same He says after His resurrection: |Feed my sheep| (John 21:15). Upon him He builds His Church, and to him He commits His sheep to be fed, and although. Interpolation.] Upon one he builds the Church, although also to all the Apostles after His resurrection He gives an equal power and says, |As the Father has sent me, I also send you: receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye retain, they shall be retained| (John 20:21); yet, that He might show the unity, [He founded one see. Interpolation.] He arranged by His authority the origin of that unity as beginning from one. Assuredly the rest of the Apostles were also what Peter was, with a like partnership both of honor and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity [and the primacy is given to Peter. Interpolation.], that there might be shown to be one Church of Christ [and one see. And they are all shepherds, but the flock is shown to be one which is fed by the Apostles with unanimous consent. Interpolation.]. Which one Church the Holy Spirit also in the Song of Songs designates in the person of the Lord and says: |My dove, my spotless one, is but one. She is the only one of her mother, chosen of her that bare her| (Cant.6:9). Does he who does not hold this unity of the Church [unity of Peter. Corrupt reading.] think that he holds the faith? Does he who strives against and resists the Church [who deserts the chair of Peter. Interpolation.] trust that he is in the Church, when, moreover, the blessed Apostle Paul teaches the same things and sets forth the sacrament of unity, saying, |There is one body and one spirit, one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God|? (Eph.4:4.)

Ch.5. And this unity we ought to hold firmly and assert, especially we bishops who preside in the Church, that we may prove the episcopate itself to be one and undivided. Let no one deceive the brotherhood by a falsehood; let no one corrupt the truth by a perfidious prevarication. The episcopate is one, each part of which is held by each one in its entirety. The Church, also, is one which is spread abroad far and wide into a multitude by an increase of fruitfulness. As there are many rays of the sun, but one light, and many branches of a tree, but one strength based upon its tenacious root, and since from one spring flow many streams, although the multiplicity seems diffused in the liberality of an overflowing abundance, yet the unity is still preserved in its source.

(b) Firmilian of Caeesarea, Ep. ad Cyprianum, in Cyprian, Ep.74 [=75]. (MSL, 3:1024.)

The matter in dispute was the rebaptism of those heretics who had received baptism before they conformed to the Church. See § 52. It was the burning question after the rise of the Novatian sect. Stephen, bishop of Rome (254-257), had excommunicated a number of churches and bishops, among them probably Cyprian himself. See the epistle of Dionysius to Sixtus of Rome, the successor of Stephen, in Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VII, 5. |He| (Stephen) therefore had written previously concerning Helenus and Firmilianus and all those in Cilicia, Cappadocia, Galatia, and the neighboring countries, saying that he would not communicate with them for this same cause: namely, that they rebaptized heretics. This attitude of Stephen roused no little resentment in the East, as is shown by the indignant tone of Firmilian, who recognizes no authority in Rome. The text may be found in Mirbt, n.74, and in part in Kirch, n.274. The epistle of Firmilian is to be found among the epistles of Cyprian, to whom it was written.

Ch.2. We may in this matter give thanks to Stephen that it has now happened through his unkindness [inhumanity] that we receive proof of your faith and wisdom.

Ch.3. But let these things which were done by Stephen be passed by for the present, lest, while we remember his audacity and pride, we bring a more lasting sadness on ourselves from the things he has wickedly done.

Ch.6. That they who are at Rome do not observe those things in all cases which have been handed down from the beginning, and vainly pretend the authority of the Apostles, any one may know; also, from the fact that concerning the celebration of the day of Easter, and concerning many other sacraments of divine matters, one may see that there are some diversities among them, and that all things are not observed there alike which are observed at Jerusalem; just as in very many other provinces also many things are varied because of the difference of places and names, yet on this account there is no departure at all from the peace and unity of the Catholic Church. And this departure Stephen has now dared to make; breaking the peace against you, which his predecessors have always kept with you in mutual love and honor, even herein defaming Peter and Paul, the blessed Apostles, as if the very men delivered this who in their epistles execrated heretics and warned us to avoid them. Whence it appears that this tradition is human which maintains heretics, and asserts that they have baptism, which belongs to the Church alone.

Ch.17. And in this respect I am justly indignant at this so open and manifest folly of Stephen, that he who so boasts of the place of his episcopate and contends that he holds the succession of Peter, on whom the foundation of the Church was laid, should introduce many other rocks and establish new buildings of many churches, maintaining that there is a baptism in them by his authority; for those who are baptized, without doubt, make up the number of the Church.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Stephen, who announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter, is stirred with no zeal against heretics, when he concedes to them, not a moderate, but the very greatest power of grace.

Ch.19. This, indeed, you Africans are able to say against Stephen, that when you knew the truth you forsook the error of custom. But we join custom to truth, and to the Romans' custom we oppose custom, but the custom of truth, holding from the beginning that which was delivered by Christ and the Apostles. Nor do we remember that this at any time began among us, since it has always been observed here, that we have known none but one Church of God, and have accounted no baptism holy except that of the holy Church.

Ch.24. Consider with what want of judgment you dare to blame those who strive for the truth against falsehood.(82) {HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} For how many strifes and dissensions have you stirred up throughout the churches of the whole world! Moreover, how great sin have you heaped up for yourself, when you cut yourself off from so many flocks! For it is yourself that you have cut off. Do not deceive yourself, since he is really the schismatic who has made himself an apostate from the communion of ecclesiastical unity. For while you think that all may be excommunicated by you, you have alone excommunicated yourself from all; and not even the precepts of an Apostle have been able to mould you to the rule of truth and peace.(83)

Ch.25. How carefully has Stephen fulfilled these salutary commands and warnings of the Apostle, keeping in the first place lowliness of mind and meekness! For what is more lowly or meek than to have disagreed with so many bishops throughout the whole world, breaking peace with each one of them in various kinds of discord: at one time with the Easterns, as we are sure is not unknown to you; at another time with you who are in the south, from whom he received bishops as messengers sufficiently patiently and meekly as not to receive them even to the speech of common conference; and, even more, so unmindful of love and charity as to command the whole brotherhood that no one should receive them into his house, so that not only peace and communion, but also a shelter and entertainment were denied to them when they came. This is to have kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, to cut himself off from the unity of love, and to make himself a stranger in all things to his brethren, and to rebel against the sacrament and the faith with the madness of contumacious discord.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Stephen is not ashamed to afford patronage to such a position in the Church, and for the sake of maintaining heretics to divide the brotherhood; and, in addition, to call Cyprian a false Christ, and a false Apostle, and a deceitful worker, and he, conscious that all these characters are for himself, has been in advance of you by falsely objecting to another those things which he himself ought to bear.

§ 52. Controversy over Baptism by Heretics

In the great persecutions schisms arose in connection with the administration of discipline (cf. § 46). The schismatics held in general the same faith as the main body of Christians. Were the sacraments they administered to be regarded, then, as valid in such a sense that when they conformed to the Catholic Church, which they frequently did, they need not be baptized, having once been validly baptized; or should their schismatic baptism be regarded as invalid and they be required to receive baptism on conforming if they had not previously been baptized within the Church? Was baptism outside the unity of the Church valid? Rome answered in the affirmative, admitting conforming schismatics without distinguishing as to where they had been baptized; North Africa answered in the negative and required not, indeed, a second baptism, but claimed that the Church's baptism was alone valid, and that if the person conforming had been baptized in schism he had not been baptized at all. This view was shared by at least some churches in Asia Minor (cf. § 51, b), and possibly elsewhere. It became the basis of the Donatist position (cf. § 62), which schism shared with the Novatian schism the opinion, generally rejected by the Church, that the validity of a sacrament depended upon the spiritual condition of the minister of the sacrament, e.g., whether he was in schism or not.

Additional source material: Seventh Council of Carthage (ANF, vol. V); Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VII, 7:4-6; Augustine, De Baptismo contra Donatistas, Bk. III (PNF, ser. I, vol. IV).

(a) Cyprian, Ep. ad Jubianum, Ep. 73, 7 [=72]. (MSL, 3:1159, 168.)

A portion of this epistle may be found in Mirbt, n.70.

Ch.7. It is manifest where and by whom the remission of sins can be given, i.e., that remission which is given by baptism. For first of all the Lord gave the power to Peter, upon whom He built the Church, and whence he appointed and showed the source of unity, the power, namely, that that should be loosed in heaven which he loosed on earth [John 20:21 quoted]. When we perceive that only they who are set over the Church and established in the Gospel law and in the ordinance of the Lord are allowed to baptize and to give remission of sins, we see that outside of the Church nothing can be bound or loosed, for there there is no one who can either bind or loose anything.

Ch.21. Can the power of baptism be greater or of more avail than confession, than suffering when one confesses Christ before men, and is baptized in his own blood? And yet, even this baptism does not benefit a heretic, although he has confessed Christ and been put to death outside the Church, unless the patrons and advocates of heretics [i.e., those whom Cyprian is opposing] declare that the heretics who are slain in a false confession of Christ are martyrs, and assign to them the glory and the crown of martyrdom contrary to the testimony of the Apostle, who says that it will profit them nothing although they are burned and slain. But if not even the baptism of a public confession and blood can profit a heretic to salvation, because there is no salvation outside of the Church, how much less shall it benefit him if, in a hiding-place and a cave of robbers stained with the contagion of adulterous waters, he has not only not put off his old sins, but rather heaped up still newer and greater ones! Wherefore baptism cannot be common to us and to heretics, to whom neither God the Father nor Christ the Son, nor the Holy Ghost, nor the faith, nor the Church itself is common. And wherefore they ought to be baptized who come from heresy to the Church, so that they who are prepared and receive the lawful and true and only baptism of the holy Church, by divine regeneration for the kingdom of God may be born of both sacraments, because it is written: |Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God| [John 3:5].

Ch.26. These things, dearest brother, we have briefly written to you according to our modest abilities, prescribing to none and prejudging none, so as to prevent any one of the bishops doing what he thinks well, and having the free exercise of his judgment.

(b) Cyprian, Ep. ad Magnum, Ep. 75 [=69]. (MSL, 3:1183.) Cf. Mirbt, n.67.

With your usual diligence you have consulted my poor intelligence, dearest son, as to whether, among other heretics, they also who come from Novatian ought, after his profane washing, to be baptized and sanctified in the Catholic Church, with the lawful, true, and only baptism of the Church. In answer to this question, as much as the capacity of my faith and the sanctity and truth of the divine Scriptures suggest, I say that no heretics and schismatics at all have any right to power. For which reason Novatian, since he is without the Church and is acting in opposition to the peace and love of Christ, neither ought to be, nor can be, omitted from being counted among the adversaries and antichrists. For our Lord Jesus Christ, when He declared in His Gospel that those who were not with Him were His adversaries, did not point out any species of heresy, but showed that all who were not with Him, and who were not gathering with Him, were scattering His flock, and were His adversaries, saying: |He that is not with me is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth| [Luke 11:23]. Moreover, the blessed Apostle John distinguished no heresy or schism, neither did he set down any specially separated, but he called all who had gone out from the Church, and who acted in opposition to the Church, antichrists, saying, |Ye have heard that Antichrist cometh, and even now are come many antichrists; wherefore we know that this is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us| [I John 2:18 f.]. Whence it appears that all are adversaries of the Lord and are antichrists who are known to have departed from the charity and from the unity of the Catholic Church.

§ 53. The Beginnings of Monasticism

Asceticism in some form is common to almost all religions. It was practised extensively in early Christianity and ascetics of both sexes were numerous. This asceticism, in addition to a life largely devoted to prayer and fasting, was marked by refraining from marriage. But these ascetics lived in close relations with those who were non-ascetics. Monasticism is an advance upon this earlier asceticism in that it attempts to create, apart from non-ascetics, a social order composed only of ascetics in which the ascetic ideals may be more successfully realized. The transition was made by the hermit life in which the ascetic lived alone in deserts and other solitudes. This became monasticism by the union of ascetics for mutual spiritual aid. This advance is associated with St. Anthony. See also Pachomius, in § 77.

Additional source material: Pseudo-Clement. De Virginitate (ANF, VIII, 53); Methodius, Symposium (ANF, VI, 309); the Lausiac History of Palladius, E. C. Butler, Texts and Studies, Cambridge, 1898; Paradise, or Garden of the Holy Fathers, trans. by E. A. W. Budge, London, 1907.

Athanasius, Vita S. Antonii, 2-4, 44. (MSG, 26:844, 908.)

Anthony, although not the first hermit, gave such an impetus to the ascetic life and did so much to bring about some union of ascetics that he has been popularly regarded as the founder of monasticism. He died 356, at the age of one hundred and five. His Life, by St. Athanasius, although formerly attacked, is a genuine, and, on the whole, trustworthy account of this remarkable man. It was written either 357 or 365, and was translated into Latin by Evagrius of Antioch (died 393). Everywhere it roused the greatest enthusiasm for monasticism. The Life of St. Paul of Thebes, by St. Jerome, is of very different character, and of no historical value.

Ch.2. After the death of his parents, Anthony was left alone with one little sister. He was about eighteen or twenty years old, and on him rested the care of both the home and his sister. Now it happened not six months after the death of his parents, and when he was going, according to custom, into the Lord's house, and was communing with himself, that he reflected as he walked how the Apostles left all and followed the Saviour, and how, in the Acts, men sold their possessions and brought and laid them at the Apostles' feet for distribution to the needy, and what and how great a hope was laid up for them in heaven. While he was reflecting on these things he entered the church, and it happened that at that time the Gospel was being read, and he heard the Lord say to the rich man: |If thou wouldest be perfect, go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor; and come and follow me and thou shalt have treasure in heaven.| Anthony, as though God had put him in mind of the saints and the passage had been read on his account, went out straightway from the Lord's house, and gave the possessions which he had from his forefathers to the villagers -- they were three hundred acres, productive and very fair -- that they should be no more a clog upon himself and his sister. And all the rest that was movable he sold, and, having got together much money, he gave it to the poor, reserving a little, however, for his sister's sake.

Ch.3. And again as he went into the Lord's house, and hearing the Lord say in the Gospel, |Be not anxious for the morrow,| he could stay no longer, but went and gave also those things to the poor. He then committed his sister to known and faithful virgins, putting her in a convent [parthenon], to be brought up, and henceforth he devoted himself outside his house to ascetic discipline, taking heed to himself and training himself patiently. For there were not yet many monasteries in Egypt, and no monk at all knew of the distant desert; but every one of those who wished to give heed to themselves practised the ascetic discipline in solitude near his own village. Now there was in the next village an old man who had lived from his youth the life of a hermit. Anthony, after he had seen this man, imitated him in piety. And at first he began to abide in places outside the village. Then, if he heard of any good man anywhere, like the prudent bee, he went forth and sought him, nor did he turn back to his own place until he had seen him; and he returned, having got from the good man supplies, as it were, for his journey in the way of virtue. So dwelling there at first, he steadfastly held to his purpose not to return to the abode of his parents or to the remembrance of his kinsfolk; but to keep all his desire and energy for the perfecting of his discipline. He worked, however, with his hands, having heard that |he who is idle, let him not eat,| and part he spent on bread and part he gave to the needy. And he prayed constantly, because he had learned that a man ought to pray in secret unceasingly. For he had given such heed to what was read that none of those things that were written fell from him to the ground; for he remembered all, and afterward his memory served him for books.

Ch.4. Thus conducting himself, Anthony was beloved by all. He subjected himself in sincerity to the good men he visited, and learned thoroughly wherein each surpassed him in zeal and discipline. He observed the graciousness of one, the unceasing prayer of another; he took knowledge of one's freedom from anger, and another's kindliness; he gave heed to one as he watched, to another as he studied; one he admired for his endurance, another for his fasting and sleeping on the ground; he watched the meekness of one, and the long-suffering of another; and at the same time he noted the piety toward Christ and the mutual love which animated all.

Athanasius describes Anthony's removal to the desert and the coming of disciples to him, and weaves into his narrative, in the form of a speech, a long account of the discipline laid down, probably by Anthony himself, chs.16-43. It is to this long speech that the opening words of the following section refers.

Ch.44. While Anthony was thus speaking all rejoiced; in some the love of virtue increased, in others carelessness was thrown aside, the self-conceit of others was stopped; and all were persuaded to despise the assaults of the Evil One, and marvelled at the grace given Anthony from the Lord for the discerning of spirits. So their cells were in the mountains, like tabernacles filled with holy bands of men who sang psalms, loved reading, fasted, prayed, rejoiced in the hope of things to come, labored in almsgiving, and maintained love and harmony with one another. And truly it was possible to behold a land, as it were, set by itself, filled with piety and justice. For then there was neither the evil-doer nor the injured, nor the reproaches of the tax-gatherer; but instead a multitude of ascetics, and the one purpose of all was to aim at virtue. So that one beholding the cells again and seeing such good order among the monks would lift up his voice and say: |How goodly are thy dwellings, O Jacob, and thy tents, O Israel; as shady glens and as a garden by a river; as tents which the Lord has pitched, and like cedars near the waters| [Num.24:5, 6].

Ch.45. Anthony, however, returned, according to his custom, alone to his cell, increased his discipline, and sighed daily as he thought of the mansions of heaven, having his desire fixed on them and pondering over the shortness of man's life.

§ 54. Manichaeanism

The last great rival religion to Christianity was Manichaeanism, the last of the important syncretistic religions which drew from Persian and allied sources. Its connection with Christianity was at first slight and its affinities were with Eastern Gnosticism. After 280 it began to spread within the Empire, and was soon opposed by the Roman authorities. Yet it flourished, and, like other Gnostic religions, with which it is to be classed, it assimilated more and more of Christianity, until in the time of Augustine it seemed to many as merely a form of Christianity. On account of its general character, it absorbed for the most part what remained of the earlier Gnostic systems and schools.

Additional source material: The most important accessible works are the so-called Acta Archelai (ANF, V, 175-235), the anti-Manichaean writings of Augustine (PNF, ser. I, vol. IV), and Alexander of Lycopolis, On the Manichaeans (ANF, VI, 239). On Alexander of Lycopolis, see DCB. In the opinion of Bardenhewer, Alexander was probably neither a bishop nor a Christian at all, but a heathen and a Platonist. Roman edict against Manichaeanism in Kirch, n.294.

An Nadim, Fihrist. (Translation after Kessler, Mani, 1889.)

The Fihrist, i.e., Catalogue, is a sort of history of literature made in the eleventh century by the Moslem historian An Nadim. In spite of its late date, it is the most important authority for the original doctrines of Mani and the facts of his life, as it is largely made up from citations from ancient authors and writings of Mani and his original disciples.

(a) The Life of Mani.

Mohammed ibn Isak says: Mani was the son of Fatak,(84) of the family of the Chaskanier. Ecbatana is said to have been the original home of his father, from which he emigrated to the province of Babylon. He took up his residence in Al Madain, in a portion of the city known as Ctesiphon. In that place was an idol's temple, and Fatak was accustomed to go into it, as did also the other people of the place. It happened one day that a voice sounded forth from the sacred interior of the temple, saying to him: |Fatak, eat no flesh, drink no wine and refrain from carnal intercourse.| This was repeated to him several times on three days. When Fatak perceived this, he joined a society of people in the neighborhood of Dastumaisan which were known under the name of Al-Mogtasilah, i.e., those who wash themselves, baptists, and of whom remnants are to be found in these parts and in the marshy districts at the present time. These belonged to that mode of life which Fatak had been commanded to follow. His wife was at that time pregnant with Mani, and when she had given him birth she had, as they say, glorious visions regarding him, and even when she was awake she saw him taken by some one unseen, who bore him aloft into the air, and then brought him down again; sometimes he remained even a day or two before he came down again. Thereupon his father sent for him and had him brought to the place where he was, and so he was brought up with him in his religion. Mani, in spite of his youthful age, spake words of wisdom. After he had completed his twelfth year there came to him, according to his statement, a revelation from the King of the Paradise of Light, who is God the Exalted, as he said. The angel which brought him the revelation was called Eltawan; this name means |the Companion.| He spoke to Mani, and said: |Separate thyself from this sort of faith, for thou belongest not among its adherents, and it is obligatory upon you to practise continence and to forsake the fleshly desires, yet on account of thy youth the time has not come for thee to take up thy public work.| But when he was twenty-four years old, Eltawan appeared to him and said: |Hail, Mani, from me and from the Lord who has sent me to thee and has chosen thee to be his prophet. He commands thee now to proclaim thy truth and on my announcement to proclaim the truth which is from him and to throw thyself into this calling with all thy zeal.|

The Manichaeans say: He first openly entered upon his work on the day when Sapor, the son of Ardaschir, entered upon his reign, and placed the crown upon his head; and this was Sunday, the first day of Nisan (March 20, 241), when the sun stood in the sign Aries. He was accompanied by two men, who had already attached themselves to his religion; one was called Simeon, the other Zakwa; besides these, his father accompanied him, to see how his affairs would turn out.

Mani said he was the Paraclete, whom Jesus, of blessed memory,(85) had previously announced. Mani took the elements of his doctrine from the religion of the Magi and Christianity.{HORIZONTAL ELLIPSIS} Before he met Sapor Mani had spent about forty years in foreign lands.(86) Afterward he converted Peroz, the brother of Sapor, and Peroz procured him an audience with his brother Sapor. The Manichaeans relate: He thereupon entered where he was and on his shoulders were shining, as it were, two candles. When Sapor perceived him, he was filled with reverence for him, and he appeared great in his eyes; although he previously had determined to seize him and put him to death. After he had met him, therefore, the fear of him filled him, he rejoiced over him and asked him why he had come and promised to become his disciple. Mani requested of him a number of things, among them that his followers might be unmolested in the capital and in the other territories of the Persian Empire, and that they might extend themselves whither they wished in the provinces. Sapor granted him all he asked.

Mani had already preached in India, China, and among the inhabitants of Turkestan, and in every land he left behind him disciples.(87)

(b) The Teaching of Mani.

The following extract from the same work gives but the beginning of an extended statement of Mani's teaching. But it is hoped that enough is given to show the mythological character of his speculation. The bulk of his doctrine was Persian and late Babylonian, and the Christian element was very slight. It is clear from the writings of St. Augustine that the doctrine changed much in later years in the West.

The doctrine of Mani, especially his dogmas of the Eternal, to whom be praise and glory, of the creation of the world and the contest between Light and Darkness: Mani put at the beginning of the world two eternal principles. Of these one is Light, the other Darkness. They are separated from each other. As to the Light, this is the First, the Mighty One, and the Infinite. He is the Deity, the King of the Paradise of Light. He has five members or attributes, namely, gentleness, wisdom, understanding, discretion, and insight; and further five members or attributes, namely, love, faith, truth, bravery, and wisdom. He asserts that God was from all eternity with these attributes. Together with the Light-God there are two other things from eternity, the air and the earth.

Mani teaches further: The members of the air, or the Light-Ether, are five: gentleness, wisdom, understanding, discretion, and insight. The members of the Light-Earth are the soft gentle breath, the wind, the light, the water, and the fire. As to the other Original Being, the Darkness, its members are also five: the vapor, the burning heat, the fiery wind, the poison, and the darkness.

This bright shining Primal Being was in immediate proximity with the dark Primal Being, so that no wall of partition was between them and the Light touched the Darkness on its broad side. The Light is unlimited in its height, and also to the right hand and to the left; the Darkness, however, is unlimited in its depth, and also to the right hand and to the left.

From this Dark-Earth rose Satan, not so that he himself was without beginning, although his parts were in their elements without beginning. These parts joined themselves together from the elements and formed themselves into Satan. His head was like that of a lion, his trunk like that of a dragon, his wings as those of a bird, his tail like that of a great fish, and his four feet like the feet of creeping things. When this Satan had been formed from the Darkness -- his name is the First Devil -- then he began to devour and to swallow up and to ruin, to move about to the right and to the left, and to get down into the deep, so that he continually brought ruin and destruction to every one who attempted to overmaster him. Next he hastened up on high and perceived the rays of light, but felt an aversion to them. Then when he saw how these rays by reciprocal influence and contact were increased in brilliancy, he became afraid and crept together into himself, member by member, and withdrew for union and strengthening back to his original constituent parts. Now once more he hastened back into the height, and the Light-Earth noticed the action of Satan and his purpose to seize and to attack and to destroy. But when she perceived this thereupon the world aeon of Insight perceived it, then the aeon of Wisdom, the aeon of Discretion, the aeon of the Understanding, and then the aeon of Gentleness. Thereupon the King of the Paradise of Light perceived it and reflected on means to gain the mastery over him. His armies were indeed mighty enough to overcome him; he had the wish, however, to accomplish this himself. Therefore he begat with the spirit of his right hand, with the five aeons, and with his twelve elements a creature, and that was the Primal Man, and him he sent to the conquest of Darkness.(88)

Chapter V. The Last Great Persecution

The last of the persecutions was closely connected with the increased efficiency of the imperial administration after a period of anarchy, and was more effective because of the greater centralization of the government which Diocletian had introduced (§ 55). It was preceded by a number of minor persecuting regulations, but broke forth in its full fury in 303, raging for nearly ten years (§ 56). It was by far the most severe of all persecutions, in extent and duration and severity surpassing that of Decius and Valerian. As in that persecution, very many suffered severely, still more lapsed, unprepared for suffering, as many were in the previous persecution, and the Church was again rent with dissensions and schisms arising over the question of the administration of discipline.

§ 55. The Reorganization of the Empire by Diocletian

After a period of anarchy Diocletian (284-305) undertook a reorganization of the Empire for the sake of greater efficiency. Following a precedent of earlier successful emperors, he shared (285) the imperial authority with a colleague, Maximianus, who in 286 became Augustus of the West. As the greatest danger seemed to lie in the East, Diocletian retained the Eastern part of the Empire, and having already abandoned Rome as the imperial residence (284), he settled in Nicomedia in Bithynia. To provide for a succession to the throne more efficient than the chance succession of natural heirs, two Caesars were appointed in 293, Constantius Chlorus for the West, and Galerius, the son-in-law of Diocletian, for the East. Constantius at once became the son-in-law of Maximianus. These Caesars were to ascend the throne when the Augusti resigned after twenty years' reign. The scheme worked temporarily for greater efficiency, but ended in civil war as the claims of natural heirs were set aside in favor of an artificial dynasty. At the same time the system bore heavily upon the people and the prosperity of the Empire rapidly declined.

Bibliography in Cambridge Medieval History, London and New York, 1911, vol. I.

Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum, 7. (MSL, 7:204.)

When Diocletian, the author of crimes and deviser of evils, was ruining all things, not even from against God could he withhold his hand. This man, partly by avarice and partly by timidity, overturned the world. For he made three persons sharers with him in the government. The Empire was divided into four parts, and armies were multiplied, since each of the four princes strove to have a much larger military force than any emperor had had when one emperor alone carried on the government. There began to be a greater number of those who received taxes than of those who paid them; so that the means of the husbandmen were exhausted by enormous impositions, the fields were abandoned, and cultivated grounds became woodlands, and universal dismay prevailed. Besides, the provinces were divided into minute portions and many presidents and prefects lay heavy on each territory, and almost on every city. There were many stewards and masters and deputy presidents, before whom very few civil causes came, but only condemnations and frequent forfeitures, and exactions of numberless commodities, and I will not say often repeated, but perpetual and intolerable, wrongs in the exacting of them.

§ 56. The Diocletian Persecution

The last great persecution was preceded by a number of laws aimed to annoy the Christians. On March 12, 295, all soldiers in the army were ordered to offer sacrifice. In 296 sacred books of the Christians were sought for and burnt at Alexandria. In 297 or 298 Christian persecutions began in the army, but the great persecution itself broke out in 303, as described below. Among other reasons for energetic measures in which Galerius took the lead, appears to have been that prince's desire to establish the unity of the Empire upon a religious basis, which is borne out by his attempts to reorganize the heathen worship immediately after the cessation of the persecution. In April, 311, the edict of Galerius, known as the Edict of the Three Emperors, put an official end to the persecution. In parts of the Empire, however, small persecutions took place and the authorities attempted to attack Christianity without actually carrying on persecutions, as in the wide-spread dissemination of the infamous |Acts of Pilate,| which were posted on walls and spread through the schools. In the territories of Constantius Chlorus the persecution had been very light, and there was none under Constantine who favored Christians from the first.

Additional source material: Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VIII, and IX, 9; his little work On the Martyrs of Palestine will be found after the eighth book. Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum. The principal texts will be found in Preuschen's Analecta, I, §§ 20, 21; see also R. Knopf, Ausgewaehlte Maertyreracten.

(a) Lactantius. De Mortibus Persecutorum, 12 ff. (MSL.7:213.)

The outbreak of the persecution.

A fit and auspicious day was sought for the accomplishment of this undertaking [i.e., the persecution of the Christians]; and the festival of the great god Terminus, celebrated on the seventh calends of March [Feb.23], was chosen, to put an end, as it were, to this religion,

|That day the first of death, was first of evil's cause| (Vergil),

and cause of evils which befell not only the Christians but the whole world. When that day dawned, in the eighth consulship of Diocletian and seventh of Maximianus, suddenly, while it was hardly light, the prefect, together with the chief commanders, tribunes, and officers of the treasury, came to the church [in Nicomedia], and when the gates had been forced open they sought for an image of God. The books of the Holy Scriptures were found and burnt; the spoil was given to all. Rapine, confusion, and tumult reigned. Since the church was situated on rising ground, and was visible from the palace, Diocletian and Galerius stood there as if on a watch-tower and disputed long together whether it ought to be set on fire. The opinion of Diocletian prevailed, for he feared lest, when so great a fire should once be started, the city might be burnt; for many and large buildings surrounded the church on all sides. Then the praetorian guard, in battle array, came with axes and other iron instruments, and having been let loose everywhere, in a few hours they levelled that very lofty building to the ground.

Ch.13. Next day the edict was published ordaining that men of the Christian religion should be deprived of all honors and dignities; and also that they should be subjected to torture, of whatsoever rank or position they might be; and that every suit of law should be entertained against them; but they, on the other hand, could not bring any suit for any wrong, adultery, or theft; and finally, that they should have neither freedom nor the right of suffrage. A certain person, although not properly, yet with a brave soul, tore down this edict and cut it up, saying in derision: |These are the triumphs of Goths and Samaritans.| Having been brought to judgment, he was not only tortured, but was burnt in the legal manner, and with admirable patience he was consumed to ashes.

Ch.14. But Galerius was not satisfied with the terms of the edict, and sought another way to gain over the Emperor. That he might urge him to excess of cruelty in persecution, he employed private agents to set the palace on fire; and when some part of it had been burnt the Christians were accused as public enemies, and the very appellation of Christian grew odious on account of its connection with the fire in the palace. It was said that the Christians, in concert with the eunuchs, had plotted to destroy the princes, and that both the emperors had well-nigh been burnt alive in their own palace. Diocletian, who always wanted to appear shrewd and intelligent, suspecting nothing of the deception, but inflamed with anger, began immediately to torture all his domestics.

(b) Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VIII, 2; 6: 8. (MSG, 20:753.)

The edicts of Diocletian.

The first passage occurs, with slight variations, in the introduction to the work On the Martyrs of Palestine.

Ch.2. It was in the nineteenth year of the reign of Diocletian, in the month Dystus, called March by the Romans, when the feast of the Saviour's passion was near at hand, that royal edicts were published everywhere commanding that the churches be levelled to the ground, the Scriptures be destroyed by fire, and all holding places of honor be branded with infamy, and that the household servants, if they persisted in the profession of Christianity, be deprived of their freedom.

Such was the original edict against us. But not long after other decrees were issued, commanding that all the rulers of the churches everywhere should be first thrown into prison, and afterward compelled by every means to sacrifice.

Ch.6:8. Such things occurred in Nicomedia at the beginning of the persecution. But not long after, as persons in the country called Melitina and others throughout Syria attempted to usurp the government, a royal edict commanded that the rulers of the churches everywhere be thrown into prison and bonds. What was to be seen after this exceeds all description. A vast multitude were imprisoned in every place; and the prisons everywhere, which had long before been prepared for murderers and grave-robbers, were filled with bishops, presbyters and deacons, readers and exorcists, so that room was no longer left in them for those condemned for crimes. And as other decrees followed the first, directing that those in prison, if they sacrificed, should be permitted to depart from the prison in freedom, but that those who refused should be harassed with many tortures, how could any one again number the multitude of martyrs in every province, and especially those in Africa and Mauretania, and Thebais and Egypt?

(c) Edict of Galerius, A.D.311. Eusebius, Hist. Ec., VIII.17. (MSG, 20:792.) Cf. Preuschen, Analecta, I, § 21:5.

This may also be found in Lactantius. De Mortibus Persecutorum, ch.34. It is known as the |Edict of Three Emperors,| as it was issued from Nicomedia in the name of Galerius, Constantine, and Licinius. The date is April 30, 311. By it the persecution was not wholly ended. Galerius died in the next month, but Maximinus Daza resumed the persecution. There was for six months, however, some mitigation of the persecutions in the East, granted at the request of Constantine.

Amongst our other measures, which we are always making for the use and profit of the commonwealth, we have hitherto endeavored to bring all things into conformity with the ancient laws and public order of the Romans, and to bring it about also that the Christians, who have abandoned the religion of their ancestors, should return to sound reason. For in some way such wilfulness has seized the Christians and such folly possessed them that they do not follow those constitutions of the ancients, which peradventure their own ancestors first established, but entirely according to their own judgment and as it pleased them they were making such laws for themselves as they would observe, and in different places were assembling various sorts of people. In short, when our command was issued that they were to betake themselves to the institutions of the ancients, many of them were subdued by danger, many also were ruined. Yet when great numbers of them held to their determination, and we saw that they neither gave worship and due reverence to the gods nor yet regarded the God of the Christians, we therefore, mindful of our most mild clemency and of the unbroken custom whereby we are accustomed to grant pardon to all men, have thought that in this case also speediest indulgence ought to be granted to them, that the Christians might exist again and might establish their gatherings, yet so that they do nothing contrary to good order. By another letter we shall signify to magistrates how they are to proceed. Wherefore, in accordance with this our indulgence, they ought to pray their God for our good estate, for that of the commonwealth, and for their own, that the commonwealth may endure on every side unharmed and that they may be able to live securely in their own homes.

(d) Constantine, Edict of Milan, A. D.313, in Lactantius, De Mortibus Persecutorum, 48. (MSL, 7:267.) See also Eusebius. Hist. Ec., X, 5:2. (MSG, 20:880.)

The so-called Edict of Milan, granting toleration to the Christians, is not the actual edict, but a letter addressed to a prefect and referring to the edict, which probably was much briefer. The following passage is translated from the emended text of Lactantius, as given in Preuschen, op. cit., I, § 22:4.

When I, Constantine Augustus, and I, Licinius Augustus, had happily met together at Milan, and were having under consideration all things which concern the advantage and security of the State, we thought that, among other things which seemed likely to profit men generally, we ought, in the very first place, to set in order the conditions of the reverence paid to the Divinity by giving to the Christians and all others full permission to follow whatever worship any man had chosen; whereby whatever divinity there is in heaven may be benevolent and propitious to us, and to all placed under our authority. Therefore we thought we ought, with sound counsel and very right reason, to lay down this law, that we should in no way refuse to any man any legal right who has given up his mind either to the observance of Christianity or to that worship which he personally feels best suited to himself; to the end that the Supreme Divinity, whose worship we freely follow, may continue in all things to grant us his accustomed favor and good-will. Wherefore your devotion should know that it is our pleasure that all provisions whatsoever which have appeared in documents hitherto directed to your office regarding Christians and which appeared utterly improper and opposed to our clemency should be abolished, and that every one of those men who have the same wish to observe Christian worship may now freely and unconditionally endeavor to observe the same without any annoyance or molestation. These things we thought it well to signify in the fullest manner to your carefulness, that you might know that we have given free and absolute permission to the said Christians to practise their worship. And when you perceive that we have granted this to the said Christians, your devotion understands that to others also a similarly full and free permission for their own worship and observance is granted, for the quiet of our times, so that every man may have freedom in the practice of whatever worship he has chosen. And these things were done by us that nothing be taken away from any honor or form of worship. Moreover, in regard to the Christians, we have thought fit to ordain this also, that if any appear to have bought, either from our exchequer or from others, the places in which they were accustomed formerly to assemble, and concerning which definite orders have been given before now, and that by letters sent to your office, the same be restored to the Christians, setting aside all delay and dispute, without payment or demand of price. Those also who have obtained them by gift shall restore them in like manner without delay to the said Christians; and those, moreover, who have bought them, as well as those who have obtained them by gift, if they request anything of our benevolence, they shall apply to the deputy that order may be taken for them too by our clemency. All these must be delivered over at once and without delay by your intervention to the corporation of the Christians. And since the same Christians are known to have possessed not only the places where they are accustomed to assemble, but also others belonging to their corporation, namely, to the churches and not to individuals, all these by the law which we have described above you will order to be restored without any doubtfulness or dispute to the said Christians -- that is, to their said corporations and assemblies; provided always, as aforesaid, that those who restore them without price, as we said, shall expect a compensation from our benevolence. In all these things you must give the aforesaid Christians your most effective intervention, that our command may be fulfilled as soon as may be, and that in this matter also order may be taken by our clemency for the public quiet. And may it be, as already said, that the divine favor which we have already experienced in so many affairs, shall continue for all time to give us prosperity and successes, together with happiness for the State. But that it may be possible for the nature of this decree and of our benevolence to come to the knowledge of all men, it will be your duty by a proclamation of your own to publish everywhere and bring to the notice of all men this present document when it reaches you, that the decree of this our benevolence may not be hidden.

§ 57. Rise of Schisms in Consequence of the Diocletian Persecution

The Diocletian persecution and its various continuations, on account of the severity of the persecution and its great extent, seriously strained the organization of the Church for a time, and in at least three important Church centres gave rise to schisms, of which two were of some duration. The causes for these schisms, as in the case of the schisms connected with the Decian persecution, are to be found in the confusion caused by the enforced absence of bishops from their sees and in the administration of discipline. In the latter point the activity of the confessors no longer plays any part, as the authority of the bishops in the various communities is now undisputed by rival. It was a question of greater or less rigor in readmitting the lapsed to the communion of the Church. For the canons of discipline in force in Alexandria, see the Canonical Epistle of Peter of Alexandria, ANF, VI, 269 ff. (MSG, 18:467.) They were regarded by the rigorist party in Alexandria as too lax. Of the three schisms known to have arisen from the Diocletian persecution, that in Alexandria is known as the Meletian schism, and three selections are given bearing on it. For the proposals of the Council of Nicaea to bring about a settlement and union, see the Epistle of the Synod of Nicaea, Socrates, Hist. Ec., I, 9 (given below, § 61, II, b). The schism continued until the fifth century. The schism at Rome, known as the schism of Heraclius, was much less important. It was caused by the party advocating greater laxity in discipline, and was for a time difficult to deal with on account of long vacancies in the Roman episcopate. The duration of the schism could not have been long, but the solution of the questions raised by it is unknown. In fact, the history of the Roman church is exceedingly obscure in the half-century preceding the Council of Nicaea. The third schism, that of the Donatists in North Africa, which broke out in Carthage, was the most considerable in the Church before the schisms arising from the christological controversies. For the Donatist schism, see §§ 61, 67, 72.

(a) Epistle of Hesychius, Pachomius, Theodorus, and Phileas to Meletius. (MSG, 10:1565.)

The Meletian schism.

The following epistle was written in the name of these four bishops, probably by Phileas, bishop of Thmuis, one of the number, to Meletius, bishop of Lycopolis. The four were in prison when it was written. It is the most important document bearing on the schism, and is important as setting forth the generally accepted legal opinion of the time regarding ordination and the authority of bishops. The document exists only in a Latin translation from a Greek original, and appears to form, with the two following fragments, a continuous narrative, possibly a history of the Church, but nothing further is known of it. For an account of the Meletian schism see Socrates, Hist. Ec., 1, 6 ff. The text of these selections bearing on the Meletian schism is to be found in Routh, op. cit., IV, 91 ff.

Hesychius, Pachomius, Theodorus, and Phileas to Meletius, our friend and fellow-minister in the Lord, greeting. In simple faith, regarding as uncertain the things which have been heard concerning thee, since some have come to us and certain things are reported foreign to divine order and ecclesiastical rule which are being attempted, yea, rather, which are being done by thee, we were not willing to credit them when we thought of the audacity implied by their magnitude, and we thought that they were uncertain attempts. But since so many coming to us at the present time have lent some credibility to these reports, and have not hesitated to attest them as facts, we, greatly astonished, have been compelled to write this letter to thee. And what agitation and sadness have been caused to us all in common and to each of us individually by the ordination performed by thee in parishes not pertaining to thee, we are unable sufficiently to express. We have not delayed, however, by a short statement, to prove thy practice wrong.

In the law of our fathers and forefathers, of which thou also art not thyself ignorant, it is established, according to the divine and ecclesiastical order (for it is all for the good pleasure of God and the zealous regard for better things), that it has been determined and settled by them that it is not lawful for any bishop to perform ordinations in other parishes than his own. This law is exceedingly important and wisely devised. For, in the first place, it is but right that the conversation and life of those who are ordained should be examined with great care; and, in the second place, that all confusion and turbulence should be done away with. For every one shall have enough to do in managing his own parish, and in finding, with great care and many anxieties, suitable subordinates among those with whom he has passed his whole life, and who have been trained under his hands. But thou, considering none of these things, nor regarding the future, nor considering the law of our holy Fathers and those who have put on Christ in long succession, nor the honor of our great bishop and father, Peter,(89) on whom we all depend in the hope which we have in the Lord Jesus Christ, nor softened by our imprisonments and trials, and daily and multiplied reproaches, nor the oppressions and distress of all, hast ventured on subverting all things at once. And what means will be left for thee for justifying thyself with respect to these things?

But perhaps thou wilt say, I did this to prevent many from being drawn away with the unbelief of many, because the flocks were in need and forsaken, there being no pastor with them. Well, but it is most certain that they were in no such destitution; in the first place, because there were many going among them and able to visit them; and, in the second place, even it there were some things neglected by them, representation should have come from the people, and we should have duly considered the matter. But they knew that they were in no want of ministers, and therefore they did not come to seek thee. They knew that either we were wont to warn them from such complaint or there was done, with all carefulness, what seemed profitable; for it was done under correction and all was considered with well-approved honesty. Thou, however, giving such careful attention to the deceits of certain men and their vain words,(90) hast, as it were, stealthily leaped forward to the performance of ordinations. For if, indeed, those accompanying thee constrained thee to this and compelled thee and were ignorant of the ecclesiastical order, thou oughtest to have followed the rule and have informed us by letter; and in that way what seemed expedient would have been done. And if perchance some persuaded thee to credit their story, who said to thee that it was all over with us -- a matter which could not have been unknown to thee, because there were many passing and repassing by us who might visit thee -- even if this had been so, yet oughtest thou to have waited for the judgment of the superior father and his allowance of this thing. But thinking nothing of these matters, and hoping something different, or rather having no care for us, thou hast provided certain rulers for the people. For now we learn that there are also divisions, because thy unwarrantable ordination displeased many.

And thou wert not readily persuaded to delay such procedure or restrain thy purpose, no, not even by the word of the Apostle Paul, the most blessed seer and the man who put on Christ, the Apostle of us all; for he, in writing to his dearly loved Timothy, says: |Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins.| [I Tim.5:22.] And thus he at once shows his own consideration of him, and gives his example and exhibits the law according to which, with all carefulness and caution, candidates are chosen for the honor of ordination. We make this declaration to thee, that in the future thou mayest study to keep within the safe and salutary limits of the law.

(b) Fragment on the Meletian Schism. (MSG, 10:1567.)

For the connection of the Meletians with Arianism, see Socrates, Hist. Ec., I, 6. Text in Routh, op. cit., IV, 94.

Meletius received and read this epistle, and he neither wrote a reply, nor repaired to them in prison, nor went to the blessed Peter [bishop of Alexandria]. But when all these bishops, presbyters, and deacons had suffered in the prison,(91) he at once entered Alexandria. Now in that city there was a certain person, Isidorus by name, turbulent in character, and possessed with the ambition of being a teacher. And there was also a certain Arius, who wore the habit of piety and was in like manner possessed with the ambition of being a teacher. And when they discovered the object of Meletius's passion and what it was he sought, hastening to him and regarding with malice the episcopal authority of the blessed Peter, that the aim and desire of Meletius might be made manifest, they discovered to Meletius certain presbyters, then in hiding, to whom the blessed Peter had given authority to act as diocesan visitors for Alexandria. And Meletius, recommending them to improve the opportunity given them for rectifying their error, suspended them for a time, and by his authority ordained two persons in their places, one of whom was in prison and the other in the mines. On learning these things, the blessed Peter, with much endurance, wrote to the people of Alexandria in the following terms. [See next selection.]

(c) Peter of Alexandria. Epistle to the Church in Alexandria. (MSG, 18:510.)

For Peter of Alexandria, see DCB. Peter was in hiding when he wrote the following to the Alexandrian church in 306. He died 312 as a martyr.

Peter to the brethren in the Lord, beloved and established in the faith of God, peace. Since I have discovered that Meletius acts in no way for the common good, for he does not approve the letter of the most holy bishops and martyrs, and invading my parish, has assumed so much to himself as to endeavor to separate from my authority the priests and those who had been intrusted with visiting the needy, and, giving proof of his desire for pre-eminence, has ordained in the prison several unto himself; now take ye heed to this and hold no communion with him, until I meet him in company with some wise men, and see what designs they are which he has thought upon. Fare ye well.

(d) Epitaph of Eusebius, Bishop of Rome. Cf. Kirch, n.534.

Schism of Heraclius.

The following epitaph was placed on the tomb of Eusebius, bishop of Rome (April 18 to August 17, 310 A. D.), by Damasus, bishop of Rome (366-384.)

I, Damasus, have made this:
Heraclius forbade the fallen to lament their sin,
Eusebius taught the wretched ones to weep for their crimes. The people was divided into parties by the increasing madness. Sedition, bloodshed, war, discord, strife arose.
At once they were equally smitten by the ferocity of the tyrant.(92) Although the guide of the Church(93) maintained intact the bonds of peace. He endured exile joyful under the Lord as judge,
And gave up this earthly life on the Trinacrian shore.(94)

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