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A Handbook of Patrology


  1. African Writers - Tertullian
  2. St. Cyprian
  3. Commodianus and Anonymous Contemporary Writers
  4. Arnobius and Lactantius
  5. Roman Writers - St. Hippolytus
  6. Novatian and the Popes of the Third Century
  7. Writers of Gaul and Pannonia - Victorinus of Pettau

Something has been said before concerning the positive and practical turn of mind of the writers of the West, as contrasted with the speculative and philosophical spirit of those of the East. While the Greeks debate on problems of religious metaphysics, the Latins prefer to apply themselves to questions of Christian morality or ecclesiastical organization. This is owing to racial differences and characteristics. Besides, in the third century, Origen was for the East a literary center, around which everything gravitated. Nearly all writers were either friends or foes of the great Alexandrian. In the West there is no such central figure; but the divisions are merely geographical, and hence we find three different groups,— the African writers, the Roman writers, and (the smallest group) the writers of Gaul and Pannonia. We shall deal successively with each group.


The African writers are by far the most numerous and the most important. It is in Africa that Latin ecclesiastical literature originated and reached its apogee in St. Augustine. One of the first representatives, if not the pioneer, of this school was Tertullian.

Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born, c. 160, at Carthage, where his father was garrisoned as a Roman officer. As the latter was a pagan, Tertullian's youth

[1] Works in P. L., I-III; better edit. by F. Oehler, Q. S. F. Tertulliani quae supersunt omnia, Lipsiae, 1853-1854. The edition of the Corpus of Vienna is incomplete. In the Textes et Documents have appeared: De Paenitentia, De Pudicitia (1906), De Praescriptione Hacreticorum (1907), Latin text and French transl. by P. de Labriolle. J. P. Waltzing has published a French translation and a commentary of the Apologeticum, Louvain, 1910. See Freppel, Tertullien, Paris, 1864: G. Boissier, La Fin du Paganisme, I, 259-304; P. Monceaux, Hist. Litter, de l'Afrique Chretienne, I, Paris, 1901; A. d'Ales, La Theologie de Tertullien, Paris, 1905.


was not at all virtuous. But it was laborious, for Tertullian read and studied whatever he could lay his hands on. His erudition, consequently, was considerable. Of Roman law, in particular, he possessed a profound knowledge, and if he was not a lawyer by profession, he certainly had the temperament and spirit of one. His conversion to Christianity took place c. 193-195. We do not know what motives led him to become a Christian, but his conversion was sincere and complete. Towards the year 200, though married, he was ordained to the priesthood, passed undisturbed through the persecution of Septimius Severus, and thus reached the year 213, waging war against heresy and paganism.

It was at this time that Tertullian broke definitively with the Church. The cause of this rupture was the condemnation by Rome of Montanism and, more particularly, the papal authorization to contract a second marriage, which practice was denounced by Montanists. Tertullian now turned against Catholics the weapons he had so effectually wielded in his battles against heresy. Yet from this moment on there was a marked decrease in his literary activity. His last known work, De Pudicitia, was written from 217 to 222. After this date all trace of him is lost. We know only that he fell out with the bulk of the Montanists and became the leader of a special sect, known as Tertullianists. St. Jerome says that he lived to a very advanced age, which makes it likely that he died between 240 and 250.

Tertullian was a born fighter. Energetic of mind, independent of character, an implacable logician, he pushed his principles to the extreme and with an iron will, before which everything had to bend, fought all his life for what he thought to be true, good, and right. Unfortunately, he possessed the defects of his qualities. He lacks moderation; his logic runs into paradox. Carried away by his cause, he exaggerates principles and unconsciously distorts texts and facts; he picks arguments at random and, without stopping to discriminate, hurls them pell-mell at his opponent. His firmness is very often stubbornness. He exaggerates Christian morality and makes it impracticable, for he fails to perceive the truths connected with those he is developing, and applies to the complex problems of practical life an inflexible and abstract logic which suits only problems of pure speculation. In short, he is a very poor casuist.

Evidently there was in his character a notable amount of


pride. He himself confessed that his great defect was impatience, i.e., inability to wait, to deal with things coolly, and to leave a part in the conduct of affairs and consciences to time, to God, and to other human influences besides his own.

Tertullian is a writer of the first order. Not that he has no serious and evident defects, for he is, on the contrary, often careless, nay unnatural and affected. His excessive terseness and fondness for contrast betray him into obscurity. He has an eye to rhetorical effect and counts purity of diction as nothing. He borrows words freely and does not hesitate, when there is need, to coin new ones. On the other hand he composes with care, his writings are generally very orderly and, even in his wildest digressions he never loses sight of the end in view. His style is altogether original, warm, crisp, and varied. The fire and genius which characterize his thought are felt in his style and compel the reader's assent, while they carry him on, breathless and amazed. Even his neologisms are often justified. Owing to the fact that he had to express new and Christian ideas in an ancient and pagan idiom, Tertullian was forced to introduce new terms into the language he wrote, or modify the meaning of old ones, to express his thought completely. He is the creator of theological terminology in Latin.

We possess 31 authentic writings of Tertullian, four of which date from 197-200, ten from 200-206, twelve from 206-216 and five from 213-222. However, instead of following this chronological order, we shall divide his writings into apologetical, controversial, dogmatic, moral and disciplinary, and mention the lost writings at the end.

I. APOLOGETICAL WRITINGS. There are five of these.

a) Ad Nationes (To the Pagans), two books. Book I is a criticism of pagan morals; Book II, of pagan beliefs as presented notably by Varro. The work was written in 197 and announces a future work, the Apologeticum.

b) The Apologeticum, which appeared at the end of 197, is the most remarkable of the early apologies. Tertullian's predecessors had limited themselves as a rule to protest the innocence of Christians and, by way of retaliation, scoffed at paganism. Tertullian does not reject this mode of proceeding, but adopts new tactics. In the Apologeticum he contests, from the judicial point of view, the legitimacy of


the laws of persecution and relies on the ideas implied in these laws to show the injustice of the measures taken against the Christians. The entire treatise may be summed up in the following four propositions: α) The procedure employed against the Christians is irregular and absurd (chs. 1-3); β) The laws under which they are pursued, are contrary to common right and the natural law (chs. 4-6); γ) the crimes of impiety and high treason which serve as a basis for condemning Christians are imaginary (chs. 7-38); δ) the association of Christians is lawful, their doctrines are true, their public and private conduct is irreproachable (chs. 39-50). The most original part is in the first chapters, where the author demonstrates the inconsistency of the persecutors who do not seek out the Christians whom they suspect of being guilty, and release those who apostatize. The whole work is written with intense earnestness such as is to be found nowhere in his other works. As he was entirely in the right, Tertullian had only to follow the trend of his genius to produce a masterpiece.

c) De Testimonio Animae (On the Testimony of the Soul), in six chapters, written between 197 and 200, may be considered as an appendix to the Apologeticum, one of the arguments of which it develops.

d) Ad Scapulam, c. 212, an open letter in which the author threatens Scapula, a cruel governor, with the divine judgment if he persists in persecuting the Christians. This idea was later taken up by Lactantius.

e) Adversus Judaeos (Against the Jews), 200-206, a demonstration of the truth of Christianity from the prophecies. The work comprises 14 chapters: there is no decisive evidence against the authenticity of the last six.

2. POLEMICAL WRITINGS. Tertullian's chief polemical writings are:

a) De Praescriptione Haereticorum, the foremost among them, is a general refutation of all dogmatic innovations, in which Tertullian, in juridical form, takes up the argument employed in the third book of St. Irenaeus' treatise Adversus Haereses and opposes to heretics the authority of tradition and of the Church. The work may be divided into three parts: α) Chs. 1-14. Tertullian addresses the faithful and warns them against heresy and heretics. Heresies are a trial for the Church and a danger for the feeble; one must


fly before them, avoid all rash curiosity, and remain attached to the rule of faith. β) Chs. 15-37. Such is not the conduct of heretics. They pretend to correct the rule of faith by appealing to the Scriptures. But they must not be allowed even to argue from the Scriptures. Antecedently to their pleading Tertullian opposes to them prescription, i.e., not a possession of long duration in the sense of our actual law, but an exceptio iuris, a preliminary difficulty, making their plea impossible by wrenching from their hands the very instrument of proof upon the use of which they depend. That heretics be permitted to use S. Scripture, it is necessary that Scripture should belong to them. But it is the property of those who profess the true faith. Now heretics have not the true faith, since that faith is only in the churches founded by the Apostles, or deriving from the Apostolic churches the doctrines of Jesus Christ. Truth comes to us from God through Jesus Christ, the Apostles and the Apostolic churches. Now heretics are outside of these churches; they can, therefore, possess neither the true faith nor the Scriptures. Hence they are intruders and robbers and their case is lost from the outset. This is the second and principal part of the treatise, γ) Chs. 38-44 are devoted to a description of the doctrinal divergencies and the absence of all discipline among heretics. After vanquishing his opponents, Tertullian sarcastically scoffs at them. This treatise De Praescriptione is one of Tertullian's best works, of far-reaching importance and written in the author's most characteristic style. It must have been written around the year 200.

b) Adversus Marcionem Libri V, (208—211), is Tertullian's next work in order of importance. It was edited three times during the author's life, the last edition alone having come down to us. Book I demonstrates the unity of a good and just God; Book II, the identity of this God with the Creator; Book III, the unity of Christ; Books IV and V refute the Antitheses of Marcion, a heretic, and show that the Gospel of St. Luke and the Epistles of St. Paul, admitted by Marcion, condemn his system.

c) Marcion had a disciple named Hermogenes, a painter at Carthage, who insisted on the opposition between God and matter and maintained that matter was a second principle, eternal like God. Against him Tertullian directed the De Censu animae, which has been lost, and, 200-206, the


treatise Adversus Hermogenem, a strong refutation, mixed with mockeries, showing that Hermogenes is as bad a philosopher as he is a painter.

d) The treatise Adversus Valentinianos is the weakest of Tertullian's polemical writings. Not having made any personal study of Valentinianism, he contents himself with summing up more or less adequately the assertions of former writers, notably St. Irenaeus. In place of a refutation we find a none too lofty satire on the adventures of the eons. The whole is nothing but a superficial plagiarism.


Strictly speaking, these works — at least the greater number of them — might be ranged among the writings against heresies, for they aim at establishing some truth denied by dissident sects. Yet as the exposition of dogma holds the principal place in them, we have placed them in a separate category.

a) De Baptismo. This treatise was written between 200 and 206 for the use of neophytes, to put them on their guard against the propaganda of a certain Quintilla, who sought to discredit the Sacrament. The author answers nearly all the questions that may be asked about this Sacrament: its necessity, unity, ceremonies, minister, subject, and effects, the value of the baptism administered by heretics, etc.

b) The Scorpiace, or Antidote against the Bites of the Scorpion, was written in 211-212 against the Gaianites, who denied the duty of confessing one's faith unto death and martyrdom. Idolatry, argues Tertullian, is forbidden; hence also apostasy. Sometimes martyrdom becomes a duty; at any rate it is for the Christian the pledge of eternal glory.

c) De Came Christi. The treatises On the Body of Christ and On the Resurrection, mentioned below, are, in the mind of their author, parts of one and the same demonstration. The dogma of our resurrection is based on the fact of Christ's own. Now the resurrection of Christ could take place only because his body was a real human body. Before proving, therefore, the fact of our own resurrection, we must prove the reality of the body of Christ. Such is the preliminary thesis Tertullian sets forth in the De Carne Christi. The treatise was written between 208 and 211 and comprises two parts. The first (chs. 1-16) refutes different doctrines advanced by Marcion, Apelles, Valentine, and Alexander. The


second (chs. 17-25) gives the proofs for the Christian belief. In this work, side by side with passages of great elevation, we meet with vulgar details and a shocking realism.

d) De Resurrectione Carnis was published almost immediately after the De Carne Christi (208-211). It was written against the pagans and Gnostics. After a few words of praise about the human body and the part it plays in the work of sanctification, Tertullian proves that the resurrection of the body is possible — nay, fitting and necessary, and that the Scriptures teach its reality. He next examines in what practical conditions the resurrection will take place. This is one of Tertullian's best works; the reasoning is strong and logical, the form, calm and moderate.

e) Adversus Praxean (213-217) was written against one of the leaders of the Patripassian heresy and against his adherents. Praxeas had introduced his error into Africa, but he had also cautioned Pope Victor in Rome against the Montanists and thus prevented them from being admitted to the communion. This twofold grievance provoked the hostility of Tertullian, who was now a declared Montanist, and the result was a work of harsh and haughty controversy, but of surprising theological strength, on the unity of substance and the distinction of persons in the Trinity. Nothing more clear or more conclusive had been written on the subject before. The author, in his exposition of the Trinity and the Incarnation, has coined expressions and formulas which have become classical.

f) De Anima, Tertullian's longest treatise after the Adversus Marcionem, may be ranked with the preceding dogmatical treatises. Three questions are examined in this work: What is the soul? What is its origin? And what becomes of it after death? The author answers these questions from Scripture and philosophy, Stoic philosophy in particular. His answers are, therefore, not always correct. For instance, he distinctly affirms the corporeity of the soul and its origin ex traduce, like that of the body. All souls, except those of the martyrs, descend into hell after death, to await there the resurrection of the body for the final retribution. Tertullian's psychology is one of the weakest parts of his system, as he instinctively inclines to sensualism.


In the writings of this class the author treats points of


ecclesiastical discipline or individual moral questions, or endeavors to solve practical difficulties which arise for Christians from their constant relations with the pagans.

a) De Oratione (200-206) was intended, partially at least, as an instruction for catechumens. It comprises three sections: α) Chs. 1-9 explain in detail the Lord's Prayer; β) Chs. 10-27 specify the moral, physical and liturgical conditions of a good prayer; γ) Chs. 28-29 describe the excellence and marvelous effects of prayer, by which, as it is a perpetual sacrifice, we can obtain from God whatever we need.

b) De Paenitentia. We have two treatises of Tertullian on penance. The first, De Paenitentia, is orthodox and was written between 200 and 206. It deals with the penance to be performed first before (chs. 1-6), and secondly after Baptism (chs. 7-12). Post-baptismal penance is possible, painful, and laborious, but salutary, and should be performed with generosity if there is need of it.

c) The De Pudicitia (On Chastity} is altogether different. It is a protest against the declaration of a Pope (Callixtus, it is thought) that he would grant pardon, after a certain period of penance, to sinners guilty of fornication or adultery. Tertullian was then a Montanist and denied that the Pope and the bishops in general were able to remit this kind of sins, as also those of apostasy and murder. Only a "spiritual" follower of the Paraclete could remit them in virtue of a charism or special privilege granted to him by God; but, as a matter of fact, God does not grant such charisms. Tertullian, then, denies the power of the Church to absolve from certain sins. The treatise appeared between 217 and 222.

This question of chastity well deserved Tertullian's attention. He devoted five boks to it, the three latter aimed especially at second marriage. They are: On the Dress of Women (De Cultu Feminarum, 200-206), On the Veil of Virgins (De Virginibus Velandis, 208-211), To My Wife (Ad Uxorem, 200-206), Exhortation to Chastity (De Exhortatione Castitatis, 208-211), and On Monogamy (De Monogamia, 213).

d) De Cultu Feminarum is an exhortation to women to practice simplicity in dress and ornament. It is satyrical, a medley of reproach and advice. It is difficult to give an analysis of this work. The first book deals especially with


dress; the second, with the care of the body and the face.

e) A particular detail of feminine dress was the wearing of the veil. Married women were veiled at church and on the street; for young girls the custom varied. In the De Velandis Virginibus Tertullian insists that virgins be veiled and gives his reasons. Some of these reasons are excellent; others are pure sophistry.

f) In the two books Ad Uxorem Tertullian begins the exposition of his ideas on marriage and second nuptials. He always looked upon marriage as a mere tolerance and makeshift and on second nuptials as hardly licit. In the Ad Uxorem he exhorts his wife not to marry again after his death (Bk. I), or at least not to marry a pagan, mixed marriages being very objectionable (Bk. II).

g) The same advice, not to remarry, is repeated in the De Exhortatione Castitatis, addressed to a widowed friend. In this work the tone against second nuptials is sharper. If St. Paul seems to permit second marriage, he does not speak as the interpreter of the Holy Spirit, but according to his own human and fallible mind.

h) The De Monogamia is Tertullian's last step towards error. He maintains against the psychici1 the absolute illicitness of second nuptials. The Holy Ghost has corrected the Old Testament and St. Paul; laymen must be monogamous just as clerics. This is a crafty plea, full of inexactitudes and sophisms. In order to attack second nuptials, the author does not hesitate to attack marriage itself and the family.

i) The treatise De Ieiunio adversus Psychicos is a Montanist work (written after 213), in which Tertullian defends the numerous and rigorous fasts of his sect against the criticism of Catholics. There are a few general reflections, which are correct, but they are spoiled by offensive and coarse remarks addressed to his opponents.

j) The treatise or letter to the martyrs (Ad Martyres) dates from 197 and is the earliest work we have of Tertullian. Certain confessors imprisoned together were, it seems, divided in opinion on subjects which the author does not specify. Tertullian writes to them and exhorts them to keep the peace and face death courageously. The letter, though

[1] Name given to Catholics in opposition to the Pneumatici (Montanists).


not entirely free from rhetoric, is delicate in expression and contains many beautiful thoughts.

k) The De Patientia is a treatise on individual morality. The word "patientia" must not be taken to mean here what is generally meant by "patience"; Tertullian understood by it the disposition to accept the trials sent by Providence, — persecutions, sickness, insults, etc. The author praises this virtue and shows how it differs from Stoic apathy.

The following works solve social difficulties encountered by Christians in their daily contact with pagans.

1) De Spectaculis, c. 200. May Christians frequent the circus, the stadium, the theatre, the amphitheatre and other official spectacles, given, as a rule, on festivals of the gods or in temple precincts, and accompanied by pagan religious ceremonies? "No," says Tertullian uncompromisingly; "no, never!" In fact, he forbids all such amusements in the name of Scripture, because they can hardly be dissociated from idolatry and immorality.

m) The De Corona is the solution of a specific case of conscience. A soldier who presented himself before the Emperors to receive a bounty had, according to the regulations, to wear a crown of laurels on his head. In 211, a Christian soldier, who had come to receive the donativum, refused to conform to this heathen rite and, when reprimanded, laid down his weapons and was thrown into prison to await death. His zeal was generally blamed as excessive and compromising. But Tertullian cordially approved of his conduct and in the De Corona maintained that the crown was an idolatrous and pagan symbol not to be worn by a Christian, and incidentally asserted that military service was incompatible with the profession of Christianity.

n) De Fuga in Persecutione is a similar work. Consulted, after 213, by a Catholic Christian as to whether it was allowable to flee during persecution or to pay to the public treasury a sum that exempted one from persecution, Tertullian condemns both these means of escaping danger as equivalent to formal apostasy. Persecution is willed by God, therefore men must bear it.

o) De Idololatria. Towards 211-212, Tertullian undertook to solve in globo all such difficulties as those dealt with separately in the three works just mentioned. Perhaps nowhere better than in this work, De Idololatria, has he


shown how incapable he was, on account of his temperament, to give a practical solution of a practical problem. To remove from Christians the danger of idolatry, he forbids them not only to manufacture idols and construct temples, but even to be tradesmen, teachers, soldiers or office-holders; he isolates them from social, and even from family life, and almost condemns them to die of hunger. To such results may logic lead when it starts from unsound principles.

p) The De Pallio, a witty and bantering bit of rhetoric on a matter of small consequence, which it is difficult to place in any of the preceding categories, owes its origin to the following circumstance. Towards the year 206-208, when Tertullian was already leaning to Montanism, he conceived the idea of putting off the toga and donning the pallium, which was the ordinary garment of philosophers and rhetoricians. People wondered and laughed, and to justify his conduct Tertullian wrote the De Pallio.


Besides the works we have enumerated, there existed other writings of Tertullian known to us either through the author himself or through more recent writers.

a) The De Spectaculis and the De Velandis Virginibus appeared in Latin, but the author, who wrote Greek fluently, rewrote them in that language.

b) Furthermore, we know from Tertullian himself that he composed in Greek: α) a work on Baptism other than the one we possess; β) De Spe Fidelium, against the Jews; γ) De Paradiso; δ) Adversus Apelleiacos, directed against the followers of Apelles; ε) a book on the origin of the soul, De Censu Animae, against Hermogenes; and ζ) on Fate and Chance, De Fato.

c) St. Jerome mentions: De Extasi (περι εκστασεως), a Montanist work written probably in Greek; Ad Amicum Philosophum de Anqustiis Nuptiarum, a youthful pastime; Liber de Aaron Vestibus, a book on the liturgical garments of Aaron; and perhaps a few other writings.

d) Lastly, an ancient catalogue of the works of Tertullian, contained in a manuscript of the ninth century, attributes other works to him: De Carne et Anima, De Animae Submissione, and De Superstitions Saeculi.



Caecilius Cyprianus was born at Carthage, probably c. 210, of wealthy but heathen parents. (The name Thascius, which is sometimes given him, is a sobriquet of unknown origin and meaning.) After a thorough and careful education, he entered upon the career of a rhetorician, practiced law, as it seems, soon became prominent and made the acquaintance of the most distinguished men of Carthage. But temporal prosperity could not satisfy him. About the year 245 he was converted to Christianity by Caecilianus, a venerable priest of Carthage, and his conversion was complete. Soon after, he was ordained a priest and, at the beginning of the year 249, succeeded Donatus in the see of Carthage. His episcopate lasted only nine years, but they were full of activity. The persecution of Decius broke out in 250. As a measure of prudence, and to avoid drawing the violence of the persecutors upon the people by his presence, Cyprian left Carthage and took refuge in the neighboring country. He returned to Carthage in the spring of 251 and at once took up the question of the Lapsi, i.e., those who had been led by the persecution into a more or less formal apostasy. A happy combination of moderation and severity enabled the bishop to bring the matter to a succesful conclusion. Between 252 and 254 a plague laid waste all Carthage, and in 255 began the quarrel which resulted in a division between Cyprian and Pope Stephen on the question of the validity of Baptism when administered by heretics. The controversy was scarcely ended when a new persecution broke out, in the month of August, 257. Cyprian was exiled to Curubis and remained there for a year. Recalled in 258, he was again arrested, summoned to offer sacrifice to the gods, and, upon his refusal, was sentenced to be beheaded the following day. The official records of his martyrdom are still extant.

A tradition handed down by St. Jerome tells us that St. Cyprian was an assiduous reader of the writings of Tertullian, and that in calling for them it was his habit to say,

[1] Edition G. Hartel, in the Corpus Script. Eccl. Latin., Vienna, 1868-1871. See Freppel, Saint Cyprien, Paris, 1865. P. Monceaux, Hist. Litter. de l'Afrique Chretienne, II, Paris, 1902, and S. Cyprien (in the collection Les Saints), Paris, 1914. E. W. Benson, Cyprian, his Life, his Times, his Work, London, 1897.


"Da magistrum." However, it would be difficult to conceive of two characters more unlike than Cyprian and Tertullian. Tertullian was violent and passionate, whereas had complete mastery ot himself, and was patient and well-balanced. His biographer, Pontius, informs us that, whilst Cyrian's dignified address commanded respect, his simplicity, charity, and cordiality endeared him to all. He was prodigiously active, applying himself to every kind of work, yet was never hasty or over-excited. He was a man of authority and deserves to be ranked with such great administrators and popular leaders as Basil, Ambrose, Leo, and Gregory. Through his personal influence Cyprian made his see the center of the entire African episcopate and, although he did not possess the title, he was really their primate.

His literary works reflect the Saint's calm and equable temperament. He seldom aims at nicety of style or at effect, though in spite of his efforts he betrays his African temperament and his training in a school of rhetoric. His sole purpose is to write what will profit his readers. He possesses harmonious form of a classical writer. His Latin, less and expressive than that of Tertullian, is more correct, though at times the influence of post-classical decadence and Africanism is noticeable. His style was greatly admired and often imitated in the following centuries. Though not perfect, he is a good model.

St. Cyprian has left us, besides his letters, thirteen authentic works. They are either apologetic, or treatises on morals and ecclesiastical discipline.


a) The Ad Donatum is the first of these, composed in all probability shortly after the author's conversion. St. Cyprian depicts in this book the moral transformation effected in his friend by the reception of Baptism and exhorts him to surrender himself completely to divine grace.

b) The Ad Demetrianum is entirely different in character. Demetrius, a dissolute and dangerous pagan, was constantly animating the Christians and annoying the Bishop by his persistent visits. Finally Cyprian decided to answer him. He first brands him as a base character and then takes up his accusation that the Christians were the cause of the lies which devastated Africa and the entire world. The


real cause of all these evils, he says, is the obstinacy of the heathen, which provokes the anger of God.

Besides these two, we may list among the apologetical works of St. Cyprian also the three following, which are more properly collections of materials and texts.

c) Quod Idola won sint Dii (The Idols are not Gods). This work is a compilation of notes, some of which are copied literally from Minucius Felix and the Apologeticum of Tertullian and arranged so as to constitute a proof of the fallacy of idolatry and the truth of Christianity. The book was written probably before the year 250. Although its authenticity has been contested, it is the sort of work that fits in well with what we know of St. Cyprian. The Bishop of Carthage was a very busy man and used to prepare in advance whatever materials he thought he could utilize later, when the opportunity presented itself. We have two other examples of such work, the Testimonia and the Ad Fortunatum.

d) The Testimonia ad Quirinum (249-260), in three books, contains texts from the Old and New Testaments, which show (Bk. I) the provisional character of the Jewish Law, (Bk. II) the fulfilment of the prophecies in Jesus Christ and His divinity, and (Bk. III) treats of faith and Christian obligations and virtues.

e) The Ad Fortunatum, written in the autumn of 257, groups together the Scriptural texts relative to the duty of a Christian in time of persecution. It is easy to see the importance of these two compilations for the history of the Latin Bible in Africa before the Vulgate.


Foremost among the works of St. Cyprian on morals and discipline must be placed the two treatises De Lapsis and De Unitate Catholicae Ecclesiae, both of which were read at the Council of 251. The purpose of the first book is to show that, before being reconciled to the Church, the apostates of the Decian persecution must perform a serious penance. The purpose of the second is to prove that there can be in the world, and in each diocese, but one true Church; that in this Church unity is to be obtained by the communion of the faithful among themselves and with the bishop, and that, in consequence, schism is the most serious of crimes. The work was directed against Novatian and his sectaries.


At an early date the text was slightly retouched; some critics attribute this revision to St. Cyprian himself.

Among the moral treatises of St. Cyprian, the most original and most impressive is the De Mortalitate. It is a sort of pastoral letter, issued during the plague of 252-253, to revive the courage of the terrified inhabitants of Carthage. The De Opere et Eleemosynis encourages almsgiving; the De lo et Livore denounces envy; the remaining treatises — De Habitu Virginum (249), De Oratione (c. 252), and De Bono Patientiae (256) — are poor imitations of corresponding treatises of Tertullian. But while St. Cyprian is inferior to his model in style and method of treatment, he is a better moralist than Tertullian. His examples are truer and his counsels wiser, because he has profited more by experience and is more moderate in his views.


The letters of St. Cyprian constitute the most important of his work. We know that he himself kept copies of them and classified them according to subjects. Fifty-nine of these letters on dogmatic and disciplinary questions are extant and all are of great historical interest. Pearson[2] is the first author to attempt to fix the dates of Cyprian's letters, and later critics have hardly modified his conclusions.


The question has been often discussed, when and where Commodianus, "the beggar of Christ," as he was accustomed to call himself, lived. It seems certain to us that he in Africa and wrote between 251 and 258, during the episcopate of St. Cyprian. He was born of heathen parents, but after having sought the truth from every available source, finally embraced Christianity and received Baptism. In

[2] Annales Cyprianici, 1682.

[1] Edition B. Dombart, Commodiani Carmina, Vindobonae, 1887 (C. S. E. L.); French translation and commentary on the Instructions by J. Durel, Les Instructions de Commodien, Paris, 1912. See G. Boissier, La Fin du Paganisme, II; P. Monceaux, Hist. Litter, de l'Afrique Chretienne, in, Paris, 1905; J. Durel, Commodien, Paris, 1912. On the period in which Commodianus flourished, see A. d'Ales, Commodien et son Temps, in Recherches de Science Religieuse, 1911, nos. 5 and 6.


consequence of some sin he had committed, he was obliged to do penance, and though he became a very fervent Christian, always remained a layman. That he was treasurer of the church to which he belonged is a mere supposition put forth in explanation of the title of gasaeus that he gave himself. Commodianus was a man of independent character, rather blunt in his manner, but distinterested and generous at heart. He was poorly educated, unacquainted with the classics and with philosophy, a kind of self-made litterateur, sprung from the people and writing for them.

The works of Commodianus are peculiar in that they are written in verse, but in verse of a special meter. It was the author's intention to write hexameter verse and, substituting accent for quantity, he strictly observes the pause after the second foot and gives to the last two feet the appearance, at least in pronunciation, of a dactyl and a spondee, but sets at naught the laws of prosody. Out of the 1060 verses which make up the Carmen Apologeticum, only 26 are correct. This carelessness is not intentional, for Commodianus was ignorant of the rules of prosody. A sort of vague trace of Virgilian rhythm rings in his ears, and he endeavors to reproduce this as best he can. His style is very imperfect, not because he lacks imagination and life, but because his syntax is incorrect and he is totally ignorant of the art of composition. "His works," says Monceaux, "contain the finest collection of barbarisms the worst Latinist could ever dream of."

Two of Commodianus' works are still preserved,— the Instructiones and the Carmen Apologeticum. The Instructiones is a collection, in two books, of eighty poems, each containing 6-48 verses. All these poems, except two, are acrostic, i.e., arranged in such a way that the first letters of the verses, taken in order, form the title of the poem. The first book is written against the heathen and the Jews; the second deals with questions of morals and discipline. The Carmen Apologeticum adversus Iudaeos et Paganos is a sort of exposition of the Christian religion. The last part (vv. 791-1060), in which is described the millennium and the end of the world, is the most striking.

Besides a certain number of letters addressed to St. Cyprian, which in some editions have been placed among his own letters, we must include among the writings of the


of the third century and of the African Church a few anonymous works:[2] Exhortatio ad Paenitentiam; Ad Novatianum, written by a bishop, c. 253; De Rebaptismate, written probably in 256, in defence of the Roman thesis against St. Cyprian; a treatise on Easter (De Pascha Computus), 243, which re-edits and corrects St. Hippolytus; De Laude Martyrii, 252 or 253, a very poor effort; De Spectaculis and De Bono Pudicitiae, weak imitations of Tertullian, falsely attributed to St. Cyprian; and lastly a sermon On the Players (De Aleatoribus), a work which, though full of errors, is nevertheless strong and lively and a beautiful specimen of popular preaching.


I. Arnobius.[1] Very little is known of Arnobius, surnamed the Ancient. He was born c. 255-260, taught rhetoric at Sicca, a small town in Proconsular Numidia, where he had Lactantius for a pupil. Arnobius was at that time a fervent pagan, pious even to superstition, and a declared enemy of the Christian religion. About 295 or 296 he was led rather suddenly to embrace Christianity. This action was a surprise to those about him; so much so that the bishop to whom he applied, fearing dissimulation, exacted a proof of sincerity before he would admit him among the catechumens. Arnobius furnished this proof by composing the first two books of his treatise Adversus Nationes, and then received Baptism. From this time on we know nothing more t him. St. Jerome seems to fix the date of his death in 327.

The only Christian work of Arnobius is his Apology Against the Pagans (Adversus Nationes), in seven books. In the first two books, written c. 296, he answers those who make Christianity the cause of all the evils which devestate the Roman Empire. The five other books are polemical. Arnobius assumes the offensive and censures lism, both official and popular, and its philosophy. Here and there he manifests real ability and broad erudition.

[2] These works are among the spuria of St. Cyprian, edit. Hartel, III.

[1] Works in P. L., V; better edit. Reifferscheid in the Corpus of Vienna, 1875. See P. Monceaux, Hist. Litt. de l'Afrique Chretienne, III, Paris, 1905; Freppel, Commodien, Arnobe, Lactance, Paris, 1893.


Although he has not the genius of Tertullian, he has something of his literary qualities and imitates his bold, rapid, brilliant, and witty style. But he knows very little of the religion he is defending. Christianity for him is a sort of exalted spiritualism. An exaggerated diffidence of the power of human reason and a bitter pessimism cause him to depreciate man's powers unduly. His style is frequently over-emphatic, redundant, and even incorrect. Very often Arnobius has not the right notion of the things of which he speaks, and does not employ the correct terms to describe them.

2. Lactantius. Lucius Caecilius Firmianus — Lactantius is merely a surname[1] — was born in the neighborhood of Cirta, or Mascula (Numidia), probably between the years 240 and 250. He completed his studies under the direction of Arnobius, became a master in his turn, and taught rhetoric, first in Africa and then, towards 290, at Nicomedia, whither he had been called by the Emperor Diocletian. It was in the latter city that he became a Christian, c. 300. He passed through the persecution untouched, witnessed in 311 the palinody of the Emperor Galerius, and, in 317 at the latest, was named by Constantine as tutor of his son Crispus. It is probable he never left the court from this time on. The time and place of his death are unknown.

Lactantius, of a calm and well-balanced mind, was a lover of peace and a sincere Christian, who did his work without noise. From the intellectual point of view, he was the type of the rhetorician and scholar. For him to write well is not to express personal ideas in a strong and personal way, but to imitate as closely as possible the great models of Latin antiquity, especially Cicero, by introducing everywhere in his sentences order, measure, and harmony. Lactantius is a classicist; his style is clear and his diction as pure as his subject and the period at which he writes allow; but he is extremely cold and formal. His theology is mediocre; like Arnobius, he almost confounds Christianity with Deism. The only dogma he persistently sets forth is that of Divine Providence.

If we except the works written before his conversion and the two books of Letters to Demetrianus, written during the

[1] Works in P. L., VI, VII; better edition Brandt and Laubmann in the Corpus, Vienna, 1890-1897. See R. Pichon, Lactance, Paris, 1901; P. Monceaux, Hist. Litt de l'Afr. Chret., III, Paris, 1905.


Christian period of his life, but no longer extant, there remain known to us four apologetical, one historical, and probably one poetical work.

Lactantius' best apologetical work is entitled Divine Institutions (Divinae Institutiones), in seven books. The first of these books seems to have been completed in 307, and the entire work in 311. The author's purpose was to establish the truth of Christianity and to set forth its dogmatic moral teaching in a form pleasing to cultured minds. To accomplish this he proves in Book I the unity of God and refutes polytheism. In Book II he demonstrates the necessity of a religion and the fact that paganism cannot be the true worship of God. In Book III he shows that philosophy is incapable of giving men the religious teaching they need. He then asks what will give them this teaching, and answers, Christianity. Book IV brings out the truth of Christianity and Books V-VII expose its moral system, its discipline, and its beliefs about the end of the world and the future life.

Lactantius wrote also a sort of introduction to the Divinae Institutiones, a small tract entitled De Opificio Dei, published ably in the last part of the year 305. Its purpose is to prove the existence of God from the marvelous organism of the human body. The De Ira Dei (310-311) is a complement to the Institutions, in which Lactantius shows that God punishes sin and rewards virtue. The Epitome (after 311) is a summary of all this, or rather a second and much abbreviated edition for those who would not attempt the work in its lengthier form.

In the De Ira Dei the author had not completely exhausted the idea of an avenging God; he had merely affirmed the existence of the divine retribution. After the triumph of Constantine he came to realize that the vengeance of God upon the persecutors of the Church was manifest and striking, and this led him to write, between 314 and 320, the De Mortibus Persecutorum. This sketch is at once historical and apologetical, — a history, remarkable for its accuracy, of the successive events and in particular the persecutions from the beginning of the reign of Diocletian until 313; an apology which points to the wretched deaths of the imperial tyrants as a just punishment for their cruelties. It has been denied that Lactantius is the author of the De Mortibus Persecutorum, chiefly because there is a contrast between the cold


and regular style of Lactantius and the colored and lively one of the De Mortibus. However, this contrast may be sufficiently accounted for by the special nature of the subject and the passion created by the terrible record of the last persecution even in his habitually calm mind.

A short poem is attributed to Lactantius, entitled De Ave Phoenice (On the Phenix) which relates the myth of this bird as it was current in the fourth century. This ascription is probable, though not certain.


Christian literature in third-century Rome has two chief representatives, Hippolytus and Novatian.

Few memories have been so obscured by myth and legend as that of St. Hippolytus. It is only lately that it has been found possible to describe, even in a very imperfect way, the career of this mysterious personality.

It is thought that he was born towards 170-175, — where, we do not know. He calls himself a disciple of St. Irenaeus, but this may easily be understood of his intellectual training through books written by the Bishop of Lyons. However this may be, St. Hippolytus appears c. 212 as a presbyter of the Roman Church and a recognized scholar. Origen, who came to Rome at this time, had the opportunity of hearing him. At this date Zephyrinus was pope, and Callixtus his adviser. Hippolytus did not agree with their solution of the doctrinal difficulties raised by Patripassianism. The accession of Callixtus to the papacy, in 217, brought about a complete break. Hippolytus opened a schism and set up a rival church, of which he became the bishop. This situation lasted for eighteen years, until 235, when the persecution of Maximinus broke out. This was directed especially against the heads of the Church. Without discriminating between the two rivals, the pope and the anti-pope, the Emperor ordered both Pontianus, the second successor

[1] Edited by Fabricius very incompletely in P. G., X. For the Scriptural works espec., edit. N. Bonwetsch and H. Achelis, Hippolytus' Werke, I (in the Schriftsteller of Berlin), Leipzig, 1897. For the Philosophoumena, ed. P. Cruice, Paris, 1860, or else P. G., XVI (among the works of Origen), P. Wendland, in Hippolytus' Werke, III. Band, Leipzig, 1916. For the Chronicles, edit. Bauer (Texte und Unters., XXIX, I), Leipzig, 1905. See A. d'Ales, La Theologie de S. Hippolyte, Paris, 1906.


of Callixtus, and Hippolytus to be seized and deported fo the unhealthful island of Sardinia, where they both soon died. Before his departure, Hippolytus had confessed his fault, reentered the true fold, and recommended his followers to seek reconciliation. Hence, there was nothing to prevent his recognition as a true martyr, and as such the Church honors him. The Depositio Martyrum, inserted in the Liberian Catalogue of 354, gives August 13 as the day of burial of his body on the Via Tiburtina — "Y politi in Tiburtina et Pontiani in Callisti"; but it does not say in what year. It is not likely, however, that the statue of Hippolytus, discovered near his burial place in 1551, was erected to his memory by the official Roman Church; more probably it was erected by his followers, either during his lifetime, or shortly after his death.

Judging from the number and variety of his works, St. Hippolytus was a man of high talent. His mind embraced forms of sacred science, — exegesis, apology, dogma, moral, discipline, history and geography, perhaps even religious poetry. However, he is, above all, an exegete. Inferior to Origen in erudition and penetration, he resembles him in his taste for allegorical interpretation, but is more sober and more rational. Notwithstanding all this, Hippolytus is a Western theologian. He fought side by side with Tertullian against the Gnostics and the Sabellians. As a preacher and a homilist he shows true oratorical ability. Photius found his style clear, elegant, and unaffected. Yet St. Hippolytus thought very little about writing well; he was careful about his ideas and doctrines, and the cadence of his sentences was natural rather than acquired. We must add, however, that, on many points, we can judge of his talent only in an imperfect way. St. Hippolytus wrote in Greek, although he lived in Rome at a time when Latin was displacing Greek as the language of the Roman Church. This circumstance, joined to the memory of his unhappy schism, is responsible for the loss of most of his writings.

We have the titles, and in some cases the texts, of about 35 Works of St. Hippolytus. This list is furnished partly by a catalogue engraved on his statue and partly by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Theodoret, Photius, and other authors. His may be divided into Scriptural, controversial, apologetical and dogmatical, historical and chronological, and disciplinary and hortatory works.


1. Scriptural Works.— The Scriptural works of St. Hippolytus are not, as a rule, cast in the form of continuous commentaries. They are rather homilies on selected passages of the sacred text. He has treated in this way certain parts of Genesis, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Ruth, I Kings, Psalms, Isaias, and Ezechiel and commented upon the whole of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, Daniel, and Zacharias. Of all these commentaries only a few fragments remain. The Commentary upon the Canticle of Canticles has been preserved in part and the Commentary on Daniel almost entirely. The latter, written c. 204, is the most ancient Scripture commentary we know of.

In the New Testament, St. Hippolytus seems to have explained only a few texts here and there. His only continuous work is a Commentary on the Apocalypse, mentioned by St. Jerome,[2] of which a few passages are preserved.

2. CONTROVERSIAL WORKS.— Against the heresies of his time, taken collectively, St. Hippolytus wrote two works. The first, which Photius calls an abridged refutation of 32 heresies (Συνταγμα κατα ειρεσεων λβ'), is lost, but the bulk of it is embodied in the writings of pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius, and St. Epiphanius, who all borrowed from it. The second, Κατα ποσων αιρεσεων ελεγχοσ, whose abbreviated title is Philosophoumena, has been preserved entire. The author's plan is admirable. He says he purposes to explain all the systems of Greek wisdom and philosophy and to examine the different systems of heretics and show that they borrowed their errors from the philosophers. The heretics thus appear as the successors of the pagan philosophers and the champions of perverted reason against divine wisdom. The work is written exactly as it was planned. Of its ten books, I-IV (we no longer possess II and III), deal with the philosophers and astrological theories; Books V-VIII expound and refute Christian heresies down to that of the Encratites; Book IX deals with Noetus and Sabellius and describes the author's quarrel with Zephyrinus and Callixtus; and Book X is a recapitulation of the whole work. The part about the philosophers is not very strong. Doubts have been raised by some critics (Salmon, Stahlin) about the value of the heretical documents analysed by St. Hippolytus, in particular the comparisons he establishes between the heresies and the philosophical systems of Greece, which seem often fanciful

[2] Vir. Ill. 61.

and overdone. The Philosophoumena are later than the year 322; perhaps they were written in the last years of the author's life.

Besides these two compositions of general interest, we have important fragment, Against Noetus, which, together the Adversus Artemon cited by Eusebius,[3] seems to been part of a more extensive work against the Monarchian heresy. We are acquainted also with a refutation of Marcion (προς Μαρκιωνα), probably identical with the book On Good and Whence Comes Evil; and a treatise On the Charismata, probably aimed at Montanism. The work On gospel of St. John and the Apocalypse was directed against the Alogi; the Capita adversus Caium ascribe the authorship of the Apocalypse to St. John the Evangelist. There remain a few citations from each of these writings.

3. APOLOGETIC AND DOGMATIC WRITINGS.— The only dogmatic writing of St. Hippolytus, in fact the only one of which we have the complete text is the Demonstration according to the Holy Scriptures of that which Concerns Christ and the the Antichrist, generally known as De Antichristo. It was written c. 200 and depicts in a graphic manner the various circumstances surrounding the coming brief triumph and downfall of the Antichrist.

The following are either completely lost or are known to through citations: an apology Against the Greeks and against Plato, or On the Universe, in two books[4]; To the Empress Julia Mammaea, a Discourse on the Resurrection, probably identical with the work On God and on the Resurrection of the Flesh, inscribed on his statue and mentioned by St. Jerome;[5] an Exhortation to Severina; a treatise on the Incarnation, mentioned by Abedjesu; and a Demonstration against the Jews, of doubtful authenticity.

HISTORICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL WORKS.— The inscription on the statue of Hippolytus mentions two of these works. The first is entitled Chronicles (Χρονικα). We already possessed a few Latin recensions of this work, but recently a part of it has been discovered in the original Greek. It was a kind of compendium of profane and sacred history and geography, compiled from the books of that period and of very little scientific value. The second comprised a reckoning of the date of Easter and a Paschal Canon

[3] H. E., v, 28, 1.

[4] Photius, Cod. 48.

[5] Vir. Ill., 61.


('Αποδειξεις χρονων του πασχα και τα εν τω τινακι). This book is divided into two parts: a theoretical introduction, in which Hippolytus explains his Paschal computation and justifies it, and tables or canons which give the result of his calculations. Part of these Paschal tables have been engraved on the chair in which the figure of Hippolytus is seated. Hippolytus started with the false assumption that a period of sixteen years corresponds to an entire and fixed number of lunary months, and that consequently Easter falls on the same date every sixteenth year,— an error of three days, — so that it was necessary in 242-243 to correct his calculation. Later it was given up entirely. It is commonly believed that he made it c. 224.

5. DISCIPLINARY AND HORTATORY WORKS.— Among the disciplinary writings of St. Hippolytus we must mention the two attributed to him by St. Jerome, on the questions: Should we Fast on Saturday? and Should we Receive the Eucharist Every Day? Besides these, we have in an Arabic translation a collection of 261 canons, which claim to be the work of Hippolytus. These Canones Hippolyti[6] are of the utmost importance for the history of Christian institutions; but they cannot, at least in their actual form, be considered the work of the great Roman doctor. As to the Odes on all the Scriptures, we know nothing more about them than the title given in the statue catalogue.

This summary review of the writings of St. Hippolytus confirms what has been said at the beginning about his versatility.


The early life of Novatian[1] is known to us principally through the letters of Pope Cornelius to Fabius of Antioch, extracts of which are furnished by Eusebius.[2] Born probably in Italy, perhaps at Rome, Novatian was for some time thought to be possessed by the devil and was exorcised. Then, falling into a serious illness, he received Baptism of the

[6] Latin translation by Haneberg, reproduced by H. Achelis, Texte und Unters., VI, 41, Leipzig, 1891, and by L. Duchesne, Origines du Culte chretien, 3rd edit., Paris, 1902.

[1] Works in P. L., III. For the De Trinitate, edit, of W. Yorke Fausset, Cambridge, 1909. For the letters edit. of St. Cyprian by Hartel.

[2] H. E., vi, 43.


sick (clinicorum) without episcopal consignation (i.e. without confirmation) — a circumstance which made him irregular for ordination. But Novatian was endowed with remarkable intellectual qualities and, in spite of the opposition of the clergy and many laymen, the then pope, Fabian, (or perhaps Pontian), ordained him to the priesthood, and in 250 we find him holding a prominent position at Rome. It was he who, during the vacancy of the Holy See, wrote to St. Cyprian, in the name of the Roman clergy, letter xxxi and, almost certainly, also letter xxxvi among those ascribed to the Bishop of Carthage. Hence Novatian might well have hoped to succeed Fabian, but the choice of the clergy and the people fell on Cornelius (March, 251). Embittered by this disappointment, Novatian sought espiscopal consecration from three rural bishops and set up a schismatical church, which was still flourishing in the Orient in the fifth century. After this break, nothing more is heard of Novatian. Socrates,[3] says he died a martyr's death in the persecution of Valerian (257-258), but this information is not trustworthy.

St. Jerome,[4] without pretending to enumerate all the works Novatian, relates that he wrote on Easter, on the Sabbath, on Circumcision, on the (high) Priest, on prayer, on Jewish meats, on persecution, on Attala, and on the Trinity. Of all these writings there remain only two letters to St. Cyprian, the De Trinitate and the treatise De Cibis Judaicis, just mentioned.

The letters were written in 250-251 to inform St. Cyprian of the opinion of the Roman clergy regarding the lapsi. That opinion is, on the whole, in conformity with that of the Bishop of Carthage.

The De Trinitate, Novatian's masterpiece, was written before 250. It is a commentary on a formula of faith shorter than the Apostles' Creed, yet longer than the simple baptismal formula. Chs. 1-8 treat of God and His perfections, the creation, and the Mosaic revelation; chs. 9-28, of Jesus Christ, true man and true God, and His personal distinction the Father; ch. 29, of the Holy Spirit and His action Old and New Testaments; chs. 30-31 return to the fand the Son, to show that they are but one God. The De Trinitate was the first work written at Rome on a theological subject in Latin. It was written in a logical order

[3] H.E., iv, 28.

[4] Vir. Ill., 70.


and clear style, and was long esteemed as the model work of its kind.

The De Cibis Judaicis is a schismatic work of Novatian. It is a kind of pastoral letter, addressed to the Novatian community, in which he explains allegorically the distinction of meats among the Jews. We cannot but notice certain philosophical ideas which confirm what St. Cyprian said about the author's Stoical turn of mind.

No composition worthy of note has been left us by the Popes of the third century. All we have is a few letters or fragments. Among the more important documents must be mentioned the edict of Pope Callixtus (217-222), mentioned above; a few letters of Pope Cornelius (251-253) to St. Cyprian and to Fabius of Antioch; the letters of Pope Stephen (254-257) to St. Cyprian and the churches of Asia Minor on the question of Baptism by heretics; and finally the letter of Pope Dionysius (259-268) to Dionysius of Alexandria on the divinity of Jesus Christ.


The only Gallic writer of the third century known to us is Reticius of Autun. He was bishop before 313, for he was present in that year at a council held in Rome under Pope Miltiades, and, in the month of August, 314, at the Council of Arles, which dealt with Donatism. Some authors give 334 as the year of his death.

St. Jerome[1] was acquainted with two of Reticius' writings : a Commentary on the Canticle of Canticles, the style of which he highly appreciated, though he thought the matter was mediocre[2]; and a large work Against Novatian. It was perhaps from this latter that St. Augustine borrowed the citations he makes of Reticius in the Contra Julianum (I, 7) and the Contra Julianum Opus Imperfectum (I, 55). Both works of Reticius have disappeared.

Time has dealt more kindly with the work of Victorinus,[3] bishop of Pettau in Upper Pannonia (now Hungary). Victorinus was probably a Greek by birth, for St. Jerome

[1] Vir. Ill., 82.

[2] Epist. xxxvii.

[3] P. L., v and J. Haussleiter, Corp. Script, Eccles. Latinorum, XLIX, Vienna, 1916. See two articles by D. Morin in the Journal of Theological Studies, VII (1906).


says that he knew Greek better than Latin.[4] It was in Latin, however, in an obscure and halting style, that he wrote, towards the end of the third century, a number of works of of which St. Jerome had a very poor opinion, for he says that author had more good will than skill.[5] Victorinus died a martyr, probably in the persecution of Diocletian, 303-311.

His work is in the main exegetical. He wrote commentaries upon upon Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Isaias, Ezechiel, Habacuc, Ecclesiastes, the Canticle of Canticles, the Apoclypse and St. Matthew, or at least upon certain passages of them. Outside of a few meagre indications, nothing remains of all this work except the end of the commentary on the Apocalypse, discovered in 1895. Victorinus was a firm believer in the millennium.

Besides these commentaries, St. Jerome mentions a treatise Adversus Omnes Haereses, which is identified by some critics wf the Libellus Adversus Omnes Haereses printed with the De Praescriptione of Tertullian; but this identification gives rise to difficulties.

As to the opinion of D. Morin, that the Muratorian Fragment, the famous catalogue of New Testament books discovered in 1740, might well in its actual form be the work of Victorinus, it is so far only a hypothesis, which requires further confirmation before it can be accepted.

[4] Vir. Ill., 74.

[5] Epist., lxx, 5.

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