Dionysius studied under Origen and Heraclas in Alexandria, and he would go on to succeed Heraclas as the head of the catechetical school in 231. Dionysius became the bishop of Alexandria in 248. His correspondence survives primarily through quotations from Eusebius.
During the Decian persecution, he went into hiding. Later he would side with those who wanted to accept the lapsed, who had disowned their faith during the persecution, back into the church. He did not favor rebaptism for the lapsed or heretics. In the controversy between Novatian and Cornelius over the bishopric of Rome, he sided with Cornelius. Dionysius used the title "Theotokos," mother of God, for Mary, a phrase first used by Origen.
Dionysius was an opponent of chiliasm, an eschatological belief in a 1000-year reign of Christ on earth. In this connection he has a famous passage, quoted in the seventh book of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, in which he reflects on the book of Revelation and considers that it could not have been written by the author of the Gospel of John, saying, "On the character of each, on the linguistic style, and on the general tone, as it is called, of Revelation, I base my opinion that the author was not the same."
Dionysius was born in the late second or early third century. He died of an illness in 264 or 265.
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