THE COMPENDIUM AGAINST ALL THE HERESIES.
A work by Hippolytus 'against all the Heresies' was widely known among early writers. It is mentioned by Eusebius and Jerome, it supplied Epiphanius and Philaster largely with materials, and it is probably quoted by the Roman Bishop Gelasius. Photius (AR. 32. b) has described the work, which he calls συνταγμα 'a compendium,' rather fully.
He speaks of it as a little book (βιβλιδαριον). It comprised thirty-two heresies, beginning with the Dositheans and ending with Noetus and the Noetians. It was founded on some lectures of Irenaeus (?ομιλουντος Ειρηναιου), in which these heresies were submitted to refutations (ελεγχοις ?υποβληθηναι). It was clear, grave, and terse in style; though it fell short of the Attic diction. It was not absolutely accurate in some respects, as for instance in stating that the Epistle to the Hebrews was not written by S. Paul.
When the great work of Hippolytusthe so-called Philosophumenawas discovered and published for the first time by Miller, who however ascribed it to Origen, several critics, who discerned the true authorship, believed that this was the identical work described by Photius. Bunsen for instance was very positive on this point; though in his later edition he speaks more circumspectly. But a careful inspection showed that the identification was impossible. In the first place Photius calls the work which he describes 'a little book.' Now the Philosophumena is a large book, even in its present mutilated condition, and when it comprised the whole ten booksof which two are lostcould not by any figure of language be called βιβλιδαριον. Least of all, would it be designated a 'Synopsis,' or 'Compendium'; for it is even diffuse in the treatment of most heresies of which it treats at all. Secondly; by no feat of arithmetic can the number of heresies which it includes be summed up as thirty-two. Thirdly; it neither begins nor ends like the work described by Photius. The first heresy dealt with is not the Dosithean, but the Naassene; and the last is not the Noetian, but the Elchesaite. Of its relation to Irenaeus I shall have to speak presently.
But though the Philosophumena is not the identical treatise mentioned by Photius, it recognizes the existence of that treatise; and it does so in such a way as to show that the two were the work of the same author. At the commencement of this longer work the writer states (AR. 1. a) that long ago (παλαι) he had written to expose and refute the doctrines of the heretics, not minutely (κατα λεπτον), but roughly and in their broad features (?αδρομερως); that they had failed to profit by his moderation, and that now he must speak more plainly and warn them of their eternal peril. Here then we have a description, as having been written at a much earlier date, of the 'Compendium' seen by Photius.
But is this 'Compendium' still extant in any form or other? At the close of the Praescriptio Haereticorum of Tertullian is added, as a sort of appendix, a brief summary of heresies, which has long been recognised as the work of some other author besides Tertullian. As this list begins with the Dositheans, it was a somewhat obvious conjecture that we have here a Latin translation or abridgement of Hippolytus' work. This conjecture is as old as Allix Fathers vindicated touching the Trinity p. 99, who is quoted by Waterland (Works V. p. 227); but to Lipsius (Quellenkritik des Epiphanios, Wien 1865) the merit is due of rescuing the theory from the region of conjecture and placing it on a solid scientific basis.
The list of the Pseudo-Tertullian contains about thirty-two heresies, one or two more or less, for it is not possible in every case to determine whether a particular designation is intended to specify a separate heresy or not. Moreover it begins, as I have said, with the Dositheans, as Photius describes the Syntagma of Hippolytus as beginning; but instead of ending with Noetus, it substitutes another monarchian, Praxeas. How this came to pass I shall explain presently.
But the great testimony to the identity of the Pseudo-Tertullian with Hippolytus is derived from a different source. Two later writers on heresies, Epiphanius and Philaster, have very much in common. They wrote about the same time. Epiphanius commenced his work in the year 374, and the 66th of the 80 sections was written in 376. The date of Philaster's work cannot be decided with absolute certainty, but it seems to have been written about 380. Thus there is no chronological impossibility in the common parts having been derived by Philaster from Epiphanius. But the independence of the two is shown incontestably by the two following considerations.
The following list of heresies in the three writers, carried down as far as the Arians, will make these phenomena plain:
|De Fortuna Caeli|
|De Ara Tophet|
|Worshippers of the Brazen Serpent|
|Worshippers in subterranean caves|
|Baalites (or Belites)|
|Astar and Astaroth-worshippers|
|Simon Magus||Simon Magus||Simon Magus|
|Gnostici||(isti Barbelo venerantur)|
|De Patris et|
|Paul of Samosata||(Hermeonites)|
|Paul of Samosata|
The original treatise of Hippolytus closed with the heresy of Noetus. In place of Noetus, the Latin abridgement substitutes another monarchian, Praxeas. With this Praxeas we are chiefly acquainted through the tract of Tertullian against him1. He came to Rome during the pontificate of Zephyrinus (c. A.D. 199-217), with whom his doctrines found favour, as we learn from Hippolytus that he embraced monarchian views. This is the pontiff respecting whom Tertullian writes (c. 1) 'Duo negotia diaboli Praxeas Romae procuravit, prophetiam expulit et haeresim intulit, paracletum fugavit et patrem crucifixit.' He moreover says that Praxeas had influenced this bishop by representing his predecessors as having maintained the orthodox doctrine (praecessorum ejus auctoritates defendendo), just as the same charge is brought against the contemporary monarchians, Artemon and others, by the author of the treatise directed against them, presumably Hippolytus. There can be little doubt therefore that Tertullian writes during the episcopate of Zephyrinus2. It seems clear also that Tertullian borrows from Hippolytus, and not conversely.
[This section was never finished3.]
1 See the article Tertullian wider Praxeas by Noedechen in Jahrb. f. Protest. Theol. XIV. p. 576 sq (1888), in which the relations of Tertullian to Hippolytus are traced, showing that the African father is indebted to the Roman, and not conversely.
2 I have stated elsewhere that Victor was the bishop attacked by Tertullian; but I am now convinced that Zephyrinus is meant.
3 [For the approximate date of the Compendium see below, p. 426.]
Return to the Table of Contents of J. B. Lightfoot's The Aposstolic Fathers, Part I, Vol. 2
Please buy the CD to support the site, view it without ads, and get bonus stuff!