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Firmilian of Caesarea

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Estimated Range of Dating: 230-268 A.D.

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Information on Firmilian of Caesarea

B. Windau writes, "From ca. 230 to 268 Firmilian was bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia. Our information on his life comes mainly from Eusebius (h.e. 6; 7 passim). Firmilian was one of the leading figures of the eastern church. He was in contact with Origen, whom he invited to his city and whom he himself visited in order to receive theoloical instruction. There was also a correspondence between them, beginning after 238. Firmilian fought against the Montanists of his province and was spokesman at the Synod of Antioch, which dealt with Novatian and his supporter Fabian of Antioch. In the controversy over heretical baptism between Cyprian and Stephen of Rome, Firmilian, along with most bishops of Asia Minor, sided with Cyprian. In this connection there is also a letter of Firmilian to Cyprian in autumn 256, which is an answer to a lost letter of Cyprian and is found, in a Lat. translation, among the letters of Cyprian (ep. 75). In it Firmilian approves Cyprian's attitude and attacks Stephen. Because of his position in the heretical baptism controversy Firmilian was excommunicated by Stephen, but there was a later restoration of communion with Rome. Firmilian presided at the first two synods of Antioch on christology and the manner of life of Paul of Samosata. He died on the way to the third synod in 268. Basil the Great says Firmilian wrote a work called Logoi in which he held the same teaching on the Holy Spirit as Basil did (spir. 29.74). But these views of Firmilian, of which nothing else is known, are not described in detail." (Dictionary of Early Christian Literature, p. 237)

Quasten writes, "Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, was a contemporary of Gregory the Wonder-Worker, whom he met as a member of Origen's circle and whose regard for the Alexandrian teacher he shared: 'He displayed such esteem for Origen, that at one time he would summon him to his own parts for the benefit of the churches; at another, journey himself to Judaea, and spend some time with him for his own progress in divine knowledge' (Euseb., Hist. eccl., 6,27). Both bishops attended the first two synods at Antioch that condemned the errors of Paul of Samosata. Firmilian died shortly after the second in 268. He was one of the outstanding prelates of his time. Of his writing there is extant only one letter, addressed to St. Cyprian of Carthage and dealing with the vexed question of the rebaptism of heretics. It represents the answer to a lost letter of Cyprian's on the same subject and was for this reason preserved in a Latin translation in the collection of the latter's epistles (Epist. 75). The original Greek is lost. The version shows all the peculiarities of Cyprian's Latin and was therefore most probably made by him. It seems to have been written about the year A.D. 256." (Patrology, vol. 2, p. 128)

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Kirby, Peter. "Firmilian of Caesarea." Early Christian Writings. <>.