Early Church Fathers
374 apobrecai. This is translated by Crusè and by Salmond (in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, VI. p. 101) "soak (or steep) in water"; but the liquid is not specified in the text, and it has consequently been thought by others that the bread was dipped in the wine, as was commonly done in the celebration of the eucharist in the Eastern Church (see Bingham's Ant. Bk. XV.). But it must be noticed that the bread was soaked not by the presbyter but by the boy, and that too after his return home, where there can have been no consecrated wine for eucharistic use, and there is no hint that wine was given him for the purpose by the presbyter. It therefore seems probable that the bread was soaked simply in water, and that the soaking was only in order that the old man, in his enfeebled state, might be able to receive the element in a liquid instead of in a solid form.
375 kata tou stomatoj epistacai.
376 omologhqhnai. The meaning is apparently "acknowledged or confessed by Christ," and Valesius is doubtless correct in remarking that Dionysius was alluding to the words of Matt. x. 32.
377 This epistle to Novatian was doubtless written in reply to a letter from him announcing his election to the episcopate of Rome, for we know that Novatian sent such letters, as was customary, to all the prominent bishops of the Church. Dionysius' epistle, therefore, must have been written soon after the election of Novatian, which took place in the year 251. We have only the fragment quoted in this chapter.
378 Novatian may well have been urged against his will to permit himself to be made opposition bishop; but of course, once having taken the step, so long as he believed an the justice of the cause for which he was contending, he could not turn back, but must maintain his position with vigor and firmness. This, of course, would lead his enemies to believe that he had himself sought the position, as Dionysius evidently believed that he had.
379 This epistle on the subject of repentance or penance, which was the burning one just at this time in connection with the lapsed, was doubtless written at about the same time with those to Fabius and Novatian, already referred to. No fragments of it have been preserved.
380 This work (proj Konwna idia tij peri metanoiaj grafh), which was probably written at about this same time, is mentioned also by Jerome (de vir. ill. 69). Eusebius preserves no extract from it, but extended fragments have been preserved in various mss., and have been published by Pitra (Spic. Solesm. I. p. 15 sq.), though it is questionable whether all that he gives are genuine. The translation of Dionysius' works in the Ante-Nicene Fathers omits all of these fragments, though they are interesting and valuable. For further particulars, see Dittrich, p. 62. The general character of the letter must have been the same as that of the preceding.
381 epistreptikh; literally, "calculated to turn." Musculus and Christophorsonus translate hortatoria; Valesius, objurgatoria; Stroth and Closs, "Ermahnungsschrift"; Crusè, "epistle of reproof." The word does not necessarily carry the idea of reproof with it, but it is natural to suppose in the present case that it was written while Dionysius was absent from Alexandria, during the persecution of Decius, and if so, may well have contained an admonition to steadfastness, and at the same time, possibly, an argument against rigoristic measures which some of the people may have been advocating in reference to the lapsed. At least, the connection in which Eusebius mentions it might lead us to think that it had something to do with that question, though, as the epistle is no longer extant, we can reach no certainty in the matter.
382 This epistle was doubtless written while Origen was suffering imprisonment in the persecution of Decius (see above, chap. 39, and below, p. 394), and was for the purpose of comforting and encouraging him (cf. Origen's own work on martyrdom, referred to in chap. 28, above). The epistle is no longer extant. Numerous fragments are given by Gallandi, Migne, and others, which they assign to this work; but Dittrich has shown (p. 35 sq.) that they are to be ascribed to some one else, perhaps to another Dionysius who lived much later than the great bishop.
383 This epistle to the Laodiceans, which is no longer extant very likely dealt, like so many of the others, with the question of discipline. Of Thelymidres, bishop of Laodicea, we know nothing.
384 We know no more about this epistle to the Armenians than is told us here. The character of the letter must have been similar to the two upon the same subject mentioned above. Of the bishop Merozanes nothing is known.
385 On Cornelius, see above, chap. 39, note. 3. His epistle to Dionysius is no longer extant. Dionysius' epistle to him is likewise lost, and is known to us only from what Eusebius tells us here. It was written after the death of Fabius of Antioch (see below, §4), and therefore probably in 253 (see above, chap. 39, note 7). It has been questioned whether this synod of Antioch to which, according to Eusebius, Dionysius referred, was really held, or only projected. The Libellus Synodicus records it as an actual synod, but its authority is of no weight. On the other hand, Eusebius' words seem plainly to indicate that he believed that the council was really held, for he speaks of it as "the synod at Antioch"; had he thought of it only as projected, he could hardly have referred to it in such definite terms. In spite, therefore, of the doubts of Dittrich, Hefele, and others, I am inclined to believe that Eusebius supposed that the synod had actually been held in Antioch. Whether the epistle of Dionysius warranted him in drawing that conclusion is another question, which cannot be decided. I look upon it, however, as probable that, had the synod been simply projected and failed to convene, some indication of that fact would have been given by Dionysius, and would have caused a modification of Eusebius' statement.
386 Helenus, bishop of Tarsus, played a prominent part in the controversy concerning the re-baptism of heretics, maintaining, like most of the Oriental bishops, the necessity of re-baptizing them (see below, Bk. VII. chap. 5), and also in the controversy which arose about Paul of Samosata (see Bk. VII. chaps. 28 and 30). From the latter chapter we should gather that he presided at the final council in Antioch, which passed condemnation upon Paul, Firmilian, who seems to have presided at the previous councils, having died on his way to the last one. Of Helenus' dates we know only what we can gather from the facts here stated. He must have been bishop as early as 252; and he cannot have died until after 265 (on the date of the Antiochian synod at which Paul was condemned, see Bk. VII. chap. 29, note 1).
387 On Firmilian, see above, chap. 26, note 3.
388 On Theoctistus, see above, chap. 19, note 27.
389 On Fabius, bishop of Antioch, see above, chap. 39, note 7.
390 Demetrianus, the successor of Fabius, and predecessor of Paul in the bishopric of Antioch, is mentioned also in Bk. VII. chaps. 5, 14, 27, and 30. The date of his accession is uncertain; but as Fabius died probably in 253 (possibly in 252), we can fix approximately the beginning of his episcopate. In Bk. VII. chaps. 5 and 14, he is said to have survived Gallienus' edict of toleration (260 a.d.); but as Harnack has shown (Zeit des Ignatius, p. 51), this notice is quite unreliable, as are also the notices in the Chronicle. We can only say that his successor, Paul, became bishop between the years 257 and 260.
391 On Alexander, bishop of Jerusalem, see above, chap. 8, note 6.
392 The interpretation of this sentence is very difficult. The Greek runs echj tauth kai etera tij epistolh toij en 'Rwmh tou Dionusiou feretai diakonikh dia 'Ippolutou. The feretai, according to the usage of Eusebius, must mean "is extant," and some participle (e.g. "written" or "sent") must then be supplied before dia 'Ippolutou. Whether Eusebius means that the letter was written by Hippolytus or was carried by him to Rome cannot be determined. The latter is more probable and is the commonly accepted interpretation. That Eusebius should name a messenger in this particular case and in no other seems peculiar, unless it be supposed that Hippolytus was so prominent a character as to merit especial mention. Who he was we do not know, for chronology will not permit us (as was formerly done by some scholars) to identify him with the great writer of the Roman church (see above, chaps. 20 and 22), and no other Hippolytus of prominence is known to us. In view of Eusebius' mention of the name at this point, I am inclined, however, to think that he, knowing so little about the Roman Hippolytus, fancied that this was the same man. If he did, he had good reason to mention him. The word "diaconal" (diakonikh) in this sentence has caused much dispute. Rufinus translates epistola de ministeriis; Valesius, epistola de officio diaconi, that is, "concerning the office (or duties) of the diaconate," and it seems out of the question to understand the word in any other way. Why Dionysius should address an epistle on this subject to the Roman church it is is impossible to say. Magistris supposed that it was called "diaconal" because it was to be read in church by a deacon, and concluded that it was an exhortation to peace, since it was customary for the deacons to offer the eirhnika, or prayers for peace. The supposition is attractive, for it is natural to think that this epistle, like the others, discussed the Novatian schism and contained an exhortation to peace. But we cannot without further evidence adopt Magistris' explanation, nor indeed can we assume that a diaconal epistle as such (whether the word is a technical one or not, and though it might seem such we have no other trace of such a use of it) had to do with the unity or peace of the Church. We must, in fact, leave the matter quite undetermined. Compare Dittrich, ibid. p. 55.
393 Of these two epistles to the Romans we know only the titles, as given here by Eusebius.
394 On these confessors, and their return to the Church, see above, chap. 43, note 9. Dionysius' epistles to them are known to us only from Eusebius' reference to them in this passage.
395 Besides the epistles mentioned by Eusebius in this and the previous chapter we know at least the titles of a number of others. In Bk. VII. many are referred to, and extracts from some are quoted by Eusebius. See especially Bk. VII. chap. 26, where another partial list of them is given. Eusebius does not pretend to mention all of Dionysius' epistles; indeed, he states that he wrote many besides those mentioned. For further particulars in regard to all the epistles known to us, see Dittrich's monograph.
1 On Dionysius, see especially Bk. VI. chap. 40, note 1.
2 Decius reigned about thirty months, from the summer of 249 until almost the close of the year 251 (see Tillemont, Hist. des Emp. III. p. 285). His son Herennius Etruscus was slain with his father in a battle fought against the Goths in Thrace; another son, Hostilianus, was associated in the purple with Decius' successor, Gallus, but died soon afterwards, probably by the plague, which was at that time raging; possibly, as was suspected, by the treachery of Gallus. There has been some controversy as to whether Hostilianus was a son, or only a nephew, or a son-in-law of Decius. Eusebius in speaking of more than one son becomes an independent witness to the former alternative, and there is really little reason to doubt it, for Zosimus' statements are explicit (see Zosimus, I. 25, and cf. Tillemont, ibid. p. 506). Two other sons are mentioned in one inscription but its genuineness is doubtful. Eusebius, however, may be urged as a witness that he had more than two (cf. Tillemont, ibid.).
3 enoj deonta thj zwhj ebdomhkonta apoplhsaj eth teleuta. Upon the date of Origen's birth and upon his life in general, see above, Bk. VI. chap. 2, note 1, and below, p. 391 sq.
4 Of this Hermammon we know nothing. The words of Eusebius at the close of chap. 22, below, lead us to think that he was probably a bishop of some church in Egypt. Fragments of the epistle addressed to him are preserved in this chapter and in chapters 10 and 23, below. It is possible that Dionysius wrote more than one epistle to Hermammon and that the fragments which we have are from different letters. This, however, is not probable, for Eusebius gives no hint that he is quoting from more than one epistle, and, moreover, the three extracts which we have correspond excellently with one another, seeming to be drawn from a single epistle which contained a description of the conduct of successive emperors toward the Christians. The date of the epistle is given at the close of chap. 23; namely, the ninth year of the Emperor Gallienus (i.e. August, 261-August, 262), reckoning from the time of his association with his father Valerian in the purple.
5 Gallus succeeded Decius toward the close of the year 251 and reigned until the summer of 253 (some with less ground say 254), when he was slain, with his son, by his own soldiers. His persecution of the Christians (under him, for instance, Cornelius, bishop of Rome, was banished, see above, Bk. VI. chap. 39, note 3), seems to have been less the result of a deeply rooted religious conviction and a fixed political principle (such as Decius possessed) than of the terrible plague which had begun during the reign of Decius and was ravaging the empire during the early part of Gallus' reign (see Tillemont's Hist. des Emp. III. p. 288). He persecuted, therefore, not so much as a matter of principle as because he desired either to appease the populace or to propitiate the Gods, whom he superstitiously believed, as the people did, to be the authors of the terrible scourge.
6 On Cornelius, see Bk. VI. chap. 39, note 3.
7 Eusebius makes Cornelius' episcopate a year too long (see Bk. VI. chap. 39, note 3), and hence puts the accession of Julius too late. Jerome puts him in the second year of Gallus (see the same note) and gives the duration of his episcopate as eight months, agreeing with Eusebius in the present passage. The Armenian Chron. puts Lucius in the seventh year of Philip, and assigns only two months to his episcopate. But it is far out of the way, as also in regard to Cornelius. The Liberian catalogue assigns three years and eight months to Lucius' episcopate, putting his death in 255; but Lipsius has shown conclusively that this must be incorrect, and concludes that he held office eight months, from June, 253, to March, 254. He was banished while bishop of Rome, but returned very soon, and died in a short time, probably a natural death. The strife in regard to the lapsed, begun while Cornelius was bishop, continued under him, and he followed the liberal policy of his predecessor. One letter of Cyprian addressed to him is extant (Ep. 57; al. 61).
8 Lipsius puts the accession of Stephen on the twelfth of May, 254, and his death on the second of August, 257, assigning him an episcopate of three years, two months and twenty-one days. The dates given by the chief authorities vary greatly. The Liberian catalogue gives four years, two months and twenty-one days, which Lipsius corrects simply by reading three instead of four years, for the latter figure is impossible (see chap. 5, note 5). Eusebius, in chap. 5, tells us that Stephen held office two years. Jerome's version of the Chron. says three years, but puts his accession in the second year of Gallus, which is inconsistent with his own statement that Cornelius became bishop in the first year of Gallus. The Armenian Chron. agrees with Eusebius' statement in chap. 5, below, in assigning two years to the episcopate of Stephen, but puts his accession in the seventh year of Philip, which, like his notices of Cornelius and Lucius is far out of the way.
The discussion in regard to the lapsed still continued under Stephen. But the chief controversy of the time was in regard to the re-baptism of heretics, which caused a severe rupture between the churches of Rome and Carthage. Stephen held, in accordance with ancient usage and the uniform custom of the Roman church (though under Callistus heretics were re-baptized according to Hippolytus, Phil. IX. 7), that baptism, even by heretics and schismatics, is valid; and that one so baptized is not to be re-baptized upon entering the orthodox church, but is to be received by the imposition of hands. Cyprian, on the other hand, supported by the whole of the Asiatic and African church, maintained the invalidity of such baptism and the necessity of re-baptism. The controversy became very sharp, and seems to have resulted in Stephen's hurling an excommunication against the Asiatic and African churches. Compare the epistle of Firmilian to Cyprian (Ep. 75), and that of Dionysius, quoted by Eusebius in chap. 5, below. Stephen appears to have been a man of very dictatorial and overbearing temper, if our authorities are to be relied upon, and seems to have made overweening claims in regard to Rome's prerogatives; to have been the first in fact to assume that the bishop of Rome had the right of exercising control over the whole Church (see especially the epistle of Firmilian to Cyprian; Cyprian's Epistles, No. 74, al. 75). It must be remembered, however, that we know Stephen only through the accounts of his opponents. It had been the practice in the churches of Asia for a long time before Cyprian to re-baptize heretics and schismatics (cf. the epistle of Firmilian to Cyprian, and the epistle of Dionysius, quoted by Eusebius in chap. 5, below), and the custom prevailed also in Africa, though it seems to have been a newer thing there. Cyprian, in his epistle to Jubaianus (Ep. 72, al. 73), does not trace it back beyond Agrippinus, bishop of Carthage, under whom the practice was sanctioned by a council (186-187 or 215-217 a.d.). Under Cyprian himself the practice was confirmed by a council at Carthage, in 255 a.d. The more liberal view of the Roman church, however, in time prevailed and was confirmed with some limitations by the Council of Aries, in 314. Stephen figures in tradition as a martyr, but there is no reason to think that he was one, for the Church was enjoying comparative peace at the time of his death. Two epistles are extant, addressed to him by Cyprian (Nos. 66 and 71, al. 68 and 72). A number of Cyprian's epistles refer to Stephen.
9 Six epistles by Dionysius on the subject of baptism are mentioned by Eusebius (see below, chap. 5, note 6). It is clear that Dionysius, so far as Eusebius knew, wrote but one to Stephen on this subject, for he calls the one which he wrote to Xystus the second (in chap. 5). Dionysius' own opinion on the subject of re-baptism is plain enough from Eusebius' words in this chapter, and also from Dionysius' own words in chap. 5, below. He sided with the entire Eastern and African church in refusing to admit the validity of heretical baptism, and in requiring a convert from the heretics to be "washed and cleansed from the filth of the old and impure leaven" (see chap. 5, §5).
10 See note 3.
11 From 247 or 248 to 258, when he suffered martyrdom.
12 See the previous chapter, note 3.
13 dia grammatwn, which might mean "letters," but in the present case must refer apparently to a single letter (the plural, grammata, like the Latin litterae, was very commonly used to denote a single epistle), for in chap. 2 Eusebius says that Dionysius' first epistle on baptism was addressed to Stephen, and in chap. 5 informs us that his second was addressed to Xystus. The epistle mentioned here must be the one referred to in chap. 2 and must have been devoted chiefly to the question of the re-baptism of heretics or schismatics (peri toutou referring evidently to the subject spoken of in the previous chapter). But Eusebius quite irrelevantly quotes from the epistle a passage not upon the subject in hand, but upon an entirely different one, viz. upon the peace which had been established in the Eastern churches, after the disturbances caused by the schism of Novatian (see Bk. VI. chap. 43 sq.). That the peace spoken of in this epistle cannot mean, as Baronius held, that the Eastern churches had come over to Stephen's opinion in regard to the subject of baptism is clear enough from the fact that Dionysius wrote another epistle to Stephen's successor (see the next chapter) in which he still defended the practice of re-baptism. In fact, the passage quoted by Eusebius from Dionysius' epistle to Stephen has no reference to the subject of baptism.
14 The persecution referred to is that of Decius.
15 On Demetrianus, Thelymidres, and Helenus, see Bk. VI. chap. 46. On Theoctistus, see ibid. chap. 19, note 27; on Firmilian, ibid. chap. 26, note 3; on Mazabanes, ibid. chap. 39, note 5.
16 This clause (koimhqentoj 'Alecandrou) is placed by Rufinus, followed by Stroth, Zimmermann, Valesius (in his notes), Closs, and Crusè, immediately after the words "Mazabanes in Aelia." But all the mss.; followed by all the other editors give the clause in the position which it occupies above in my translation. It is natural, of course, to think of the famous Alexander of Jerusalem as referred to here (Bk. VI. chap. 8, note 6), but it is difficult to see how, if he were referred to, the words could stand in the position which they occupy in the text. It is not impossible, however, to assume simple carelessness on Dionysius' part to explain the peculiar order, and thus hold that Alexander of Jerusalem is here referred to. Nor is it, on the other hand, impossible (though certainly difficult) to suppose that Dionysius is referring to a bishop of Tyre named Alexander, whom we hear of from no other source.
17 The church of Rome had been from an early date very liberal in assisting the needy in every quarter. See the epistle of Dionysius of Corinth to Soter, bishop of Rome, quoted above in Bk. IV. chap. 23.
18 Dionysius speaks just below (§6) of epistles or an epistle of Stephen upon the subject of baptism, in which he had announced that he would no longer commune with the Oriental bishops, who held to the custom of baptizing heretics. And it is this epistle which must have stirred up the rage of Firmilian, which shows itself in his epistle to Cyprian, already mentioned. The epistle of Stephen referred to here, however, cannot be identical with that one, or Dionysius would not speak of it in such a pleasant tone. It very likely had something to do with the heresy of Novatian, of which Dionysius is writing. It is no longer extant, and we know only what Dionysius tells us about it in this passage.
19 Known as Sixtus II. in the list of Roman bishops. On Sixtus I. see above, Bk. IV. chap. 4, note 3. That Xystus (or Sixtus) was martyred under Valerian we are told not only by the Liberian catalogue, but also by Cyprian, in an epistle written shortly before his own death, in 258 (No. 81, al. 80), in which he gives a detailed account of it. There is no reason to doubt the date given by the Liberian catalogue (Aug. 6, 258); for the epistle of Cyprian shows that it must have taken place just about that time, Valerian having sent a very severe rescript to the Senate in the summer of 258. This fixed point for the martyrdom of Xystus enables us to rectify all the dates of the bishops of this period (cf. Lipsius, l.c.). As to the duration of his episcopate, the ancient authorities differ greatly. The Liberian catalogue assigns to it two years eleven months and six days, but this is impossible, as can be gathered from Cyprian's epistle. Lipsius retains the months and days (twelve or six days), rejecting the two years as an interpolation, and thus putting his accession on Aug. 24 (or 31), 257. According to Eusebius, chap. 27, and the Armenian Chron., he held office eleven years, which is quite impossible, and which, as Lipsius remarks, is due to the eleven months which stood in the original source from which the notice was taken, and which appears in the Liberian catalogue. Jerome's version of the Chron. ascribes eight years to his episcopate, but this, too, is quite impossible, and the date given for his accession (the first year of Valerian) is inconsistent with the notice which he gives in regard to Stephen. Xystus upheld the Roman practice of accepting heretics and schismatics without re-baptism, but he seems to have adopted a more conciliatory tone toward those who held the opposite view than his predecessor Stephen had done (cf. Pontius' Vita Cypriani, chap. 14).
20 The first of Dionysius' epistles on baptism was written to Stephen of Rome, as we learn from chap. 2, above. Four others are mentioned by Eusebius, addressed respectively to Philemon, a Roman presbyter (chap. 7, §1), to Dionysius of Rome (ibid. §6), to Xystus of Rome (chap. 9, §1), and to Xystus and the church of Rome (ibid. §6).
22 Dionysius afterward became Xystus' successor as bishop of Rome. See below, chap. 27, note 2.
23 Of this Philemon we know only that he was a presbyter of Rome at this time (see below, chap. 7, §1). A fragment from Dionysius' epistle to him on the subject of baptism is quoted in that chapter.
24 Of the life of Sabellius we know very little. He was at the head of the Monarchian (modalistic) party in Rome during the episcopate of Zephyrinus (198-217), and was there perhaps even earlier. He is, and was already in the fourth century, commonly called a native of Africa, but the first one directly to state this is Basil, and the opinion seems to rest upon the fact that his views were especially popular in Pentapolis as early as the middle of the third century, as Dionysius says here. Hippolytus in speaking of him does not mention his birthplace, which causes Stokes to incline to the opinion that he was a native of Rome. The matter, in fact, cannot be decided. We are told by Hippolytus that Callistus led Sabellius into heresy, but that after he became pope he excommunicated him in order to gain a reputation for orthodoxy. Of the later life of Sabellius we know nothing. His writings are no longer extant, though there are apparently quotations from some of them in Epiphanius, Haer. 62, and Athanasius, Contra Arian. Oratio 4.
In the third century those Monarchians (modalists) who were known as Patripassians in the West were called Sabellians in the East. In the fourth and fifth centuries the Fathers used the term Sabellianism in a general sense for various forms of Monarchianism, all of which, however, tended in the one direction, viz. toward the denial of any personal distinction in the Godhead, and hence the identification of Father and Son. And so we characterize every teaching which tends that way as Sabellianistic, although this form of Monarchianism is really much older than Sabellius. See Harnack's article on Monarchianism in Herzog, 2d ed. (abridged translation in Schaff-Herzog), and Stokes' article on Sabellius and Sabellianism in the Dict. of Christ. Biog., both of which give the literature, and Schaff's Ch. Hist. II. p. 580 sqq., which gives the sources in full. Neander's account deserves especial notice. Upon Eusebius' attitude toward Sabellianism, see above, p. 13 sq.
25 epesteila tina wj edunhqhn, parasxontoj tou qeou, didaskalikwteron ufhgoumenoj, wn ta antigrafa epemya soi. Of these letters no fragments are extant. They are not to be confounded with the four books against Sabellius, addressed to Dionysius of Rome, and mentioned in chap. 26, below. It is possible, as Dittrich suggests that they included the letters on the same subject to Ammon, Telesphorus, Euphranor, and others which Ensebius mentions in that chapter. Upon Dionysius' attitude toward Sabellianism, see above, Bk. VI. chap. 40, note 1.
26 epemya. The epistolary aorist as used here does not refer to a past time, but to the time of the writing of the letter, which is past when the person to whom the letter is sent reads the words. The same word (epemya) is used in this sense in Acts xxiii. 30, 2 Cor. ix. 3, Eph. vi. 22, Col. iv. 8. Cf. the remarks of Bishop Lightfoot in his Commentary on Galatians, VI. 11.
27 Of this Philemon we know no more than we can gather from this chapter. Upon Dionysius' position on the re-baptism of heretics, see above, chap. 2, note 4, and upon his other epistles on that subject, see chap. 5, note 6.