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Callistus

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Treatise
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Greek
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Estimated Range of Dating: 217-222 A.D.

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Ronald E. Heine writes, "Noetus' central doctrine was based on an argument which combined Scripture and Stoic logic. ... This logic yielded a God who, though not immanent in the material world, was much more directly involved in it than the Platonists' God. God the Father created the material world without the intervention of an intermediate Logos, and God the Father redeemed the material world without the intervention of an intermediate Logos. Callistus, as also Praxeas, if they were, indeed, two different people, modified this doctrine slightly to avoid saying that the Father suffered. He identified the Son who suffered with the flesh born of the virgin, and the Father with the Spirit who was in the Son, and said that the Father did not suffer him self, but suffered 'along with the Son’ (Hippolytus, Haer. 9.12.18–19; Tertullian, Prax. 29)." (The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, p. 203)

J. Quasten writes, "In his De pudicitia (1,6) Tertullian makes the following complaint 'The Sovereign Pontiff, that is the bishop of bishops, issues an edict: I remit the sins of adultery and fornication to those who have done penance.' For a long time Callistus was held to be the author of this 'peremptory edict,' as Tertullian calls it. G. B. de Rossi first ascribed it to him and A. v. Harnack's support gained such universal recognition for the view that the 'peremptory edict' came simply to be called the 'edict of Callistus.' The basis of the identification was the charge directed against the Pope by Hippolytus in his Philosophumena (9, 12). However, in 1914, G. Esser demonstrated that this accusation has nothing to do with the 'peremptory edict' mentioned by Tertullian. Moreover, K. Adam in 1917 advanced the opinion that the decree which Tertullian has in mind originated not in Rome but in Africa. The words Pontifex Maximus and episcopus episcoporum which Tertullian uses do not refer to any Roman, but to an African bishop, most probably Agrippinus of Carthage, G. Bardy, K. Preysing, A. Ehrhard, especially P. Galtier, and others have adopted this idea; B. Poschmann has given it his full support. On the other hand, the attribution to Callistus has been defended again by H. Kock, A. v Harnack, P. Batiffol, E. Goeller, J. Hoh, D. van den Eynde, E. Caspar, B. J. Kidd, W. Koehler, J. Haller, k. Muller, and H. Stoeckius. The reasons against identifying the object of Hippolytus' opposition with the 'peremptory edict' have been given above (cf. p. 204 f). The titles Pontifex Maximus and episcopus episcoporum do not prove the authorship of a Roman bishop. It must be remembered that Pontifex Maximus was no special name for the bishop of Rome at that time, but a purely pagan distinction reserved for the emperor alone. Tertullian applies it sarcastically to his adversary because he had arrogated to himself the power of an emperor. Thus it could quite possibly designate the bishop of Carthage, Agrippinus. The same can be said of episcopus episcoporum. There is no sufficient reason to assume that the bishop of Rome is meant. Cyprian uses the term ironically for an arrogant layman in the Church of Carthage (Epist. 66,3). D. Franses and A. de Vellico have tried to mediate in this controversy by suggesting that Tertullian refers to an edict of Callistus as well as of Agrippinus, the latter finding it nescessary to specialize the moe general decree of the former." (Patrology, vol. 2, pp. 234-235)

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