Vol. 2, Chapter XIII (Cont’d) – Hippolytus


(I.) S. Hippolyti episcopi et martyris Opera, Graece et Lat. ed. J. Afabricius, Hamb. 1716-18, 2 vols. fol.; ed. Gallandi in “Biblioth. Patrum,” Ven. 1760, Vol. II.; Migne: Patr. Gr., vol. x. Col. 583-982. P. Ant. de Lagarde: Hippolyti Romani quae feruntur omnia Graece, Lips. et Lond. 1858 (216 pages). Lagarde has also published some Syriac and Arabic fragments, of Hippol., in his Analecta Syriaca (p. 79-91) and Appendix, Leipz. and Lond. 1858.

Patristic notices of Hippolytus. Euseb.: H. E. VI. 20, 22; Prudentius in the 11th of his Martyr Hymns (περὶ στεφάνων) Hieron De Vir. ill. c. 61; Photius, Cod. 48 and 121. Epiphanius barely mentions Hippol. (Haer. 31). Theodoret quotes several passages and calls him “holy Hippol. bishop and martyr” (Haer. Fab. III. 1 and Dial. I., II. and III.). See Fabricius, Hippol. I. VIII.-XX.

S. Hippolyti EpIs. et Mart. Refutationis omnium Haeresium librorum decem quae supersunt, ed. Duncker et Schneidewin. Gött. 1859. The first ed. appeared under the name of Origen: Ωριγένους φιλοσοφύμενα ἣ κατὰ πασῶν αἰρέεων ἔλεγχος. Origenis Philosophumena, sive omnium Haeresium refutatio. E codice Parisino ninc primum ed. Emmanuel Miller. Oxon. (Clarendon Press), 1851. Another ed. by Abbe Cruice, Par. 1860. An English translation by J. H. Macmahon, in the “Ante-Nicene Christian Library,” Edinb. 1868.

A MS. of this important work from the 14th century was discovered at, Mt. Athos in Greece in 1842, by a learned Greek, Minoïdes Mynas (who had been sent by M. Villemain, minister of public instruction under Louis Philippe, to Greece in search of MSS.), and deposited in the national library at Paris. The first book had been long known among the works of Origen, but had justly been already denied to him by Huet and De la Rue; the second and third, and beginning of the fourth, are still wanting; the tenth lacks the conclusion. This work is now universally ascribed to Hippolytus.

Canones S. Hippolyti Arabice e codicibus Romanis cum versione Latina, ed. D. B. de Haneberg. Monach. 1870. The canons are very rigoristic, but “certain evidence as to their authorship is wanting.”

O. Bardenhewer: Des heil. Hippolyt von Rom. Commentar zum B. Daniel. Freib. i. B. 1877,

(II.) E. F. Kimmel: De Hippolyti vita et scriptis. Jen. 1839. Möhler: Patrol. p. 584 sqq. Both are confined to the older confused sources of information.

Since the discovery of the Philosophumena the following books and tracts on Hippolytus have appeared, which present him under a new light.

Bunsen: Hippolytus and his Age. Lond. 1852. 4 vols. (German in 2 vols. Leipz. 1855); 2d ed. with much irrelevant and heterogeneous matter (under the title: Christianity and Mankind). Lond. 1854. 7 vols.

Jacobi in the “Deutsche Zeitschrift,” Berl. 1851 and ‘53; and Art.”Hippolytus” in Herzog’s Encykl. VI. 131 sqq. (1856), and in Herzog2 VI. 139-149.

Baur, in the “Theol. Jahrb.” Tüb. 1853. Volkmar and Ritschl, ibid. 1854,

Gieseler, in the “Stud. u. Krit.” for 1853.

Döllinger (R. Cath., but since 1870 an Old Cath.): Hippolytus und Callistus, oder die röm. Kirche in der ersten Hälfte des dritten Jahrh. Regensburg 1853. English translation by Alfred Plummer, Edinb. 1876 (360 pages). The most learned book on the subject. An apology for Callistus and the Roman see, against Hippolytus the supposed first anti-Pope.

Chr. Wordsworth (Anglican): St. Hippolytus and the Church of Rome in the earlier part of the third century. London 1853. Second and greatly enlarged edition, 1880. With the Greek text and an English version of the 9th and 10th books. The counter-part of Döllinger. An apology for Hippolytus against Callistus and the papacy.

L’abbé Cruice (chanoine hon. de Paris): Etudes sur de nouv. doc. hist. des Philosophumena. Paris 1853 (380 p.)

W. Elfe Tayler: Hippol. and the Christ. Ch. of the third century. Lond. 1853. (245 p.)

Le Normant: Controverse sur les Philos. d’ Orig. Paris 1853. In “Le Correspondant,” Tom. 31 p. 509-550. For Origen as author.

G. Volkmar: Hippolytus und die röm. Zeitgenossen. Zürich 1855. (174 pages.)

Caspari: Quellen zur Gesch. des Taufsymbols und der Glaubensregel. Christiania, vol. III. 349 sqq. and 374-409. On the writings of H.

Lipsius: Quellen der ältesten Ketzergesch. Leipzig 1875.

De Smedt (R.C.): De Auctore Philosophumenon. In “Dissertationes Selectae.” Ghent, 1876.

G. Salmon: Hipp. Romanus in Smith and Wace III. 85-105 (very good.)


I. Life of Hippolytus

This famous person has lived three lives, a real one in the third century as an opponent of the popes of his day, a fictitious one in the middle ages as a canonized saint, and a literary one in the nineteenth century after the discovery of his long lost works against heresies. He was undoubtedly one of the most learned and eminent scholars and theologians of his time. The Roman church placed him in the number of her saints and martyrs, little suspecting that he would come forward in the nineteenth century as an accuser against her. But the statements of the ancients respecting him are very obscure and confused. Certain it is, that he received a thorough Grecian education, and, as he himself says, in a fragment preserved by Photius, heard the discourses of Irenaeus (in Lyons or in Rome). His public life falls in the end of the second century and the first three decennaries of the third (about 198 to 236), and he belongs to the western church, though he may have been, like Irenaeus, of Oriental extraction. At all events he wrote all his books in Greek.

Eusebius is the first who mentions him, and he calls him indefinitely, bishop, and a contemporary of Origen and Beryl of Bostra; he evidently did not know where he was bishop, but he gives a list of his works which he saw (probably in the library of Caesarea). Jerome gives a more complete list of his writings, but no more definite information as to his see, although he was well acquainted with Rome and Pope Damasus. He calls him martyr, and couples him with the Roman senator Apollonius. An old catalogue of the popes, the Catalogus Liberianus (about a.d. 354), states that a “presbyter” Hippolytus was banished, together with the Roman bishop Pontianus, about 235, to the unhealthy island of Sardinia, and that the bodies of both were deposited on the same day (Aug. 13), Pontianus in the cemetery of Callistus, Hippolytus on the Via Tiburtina (where his statue was discovered in 1551). The translation of Pontianus was effected by Pope Fabianus about 236 or 237. From this statement we would infer that Hippolytus died in the mines of Sardinia and was thus counted a martyr, like all those confessors who died in prison. He may, however, have returned and suffered martyrdom elsewhere. The next account we have is from the Spanish poet Prudentius who wrote in the beginning of the fifth century. He represents Hippolytus in poetic description as a Roman presbyter (therein agreeing with the Liberian Catalogue) who belonged to the Novatian party (which, however, arose several years after the death of Hippolytus), but in the prospect of death regretted the schism, exhorted his numerous followers to return into the bosom of the catholic church, and then, in bitter allusion to his name and to the mythical Hippolytus, the son of Theseus, was bound by the feet to a team of wild horses and dragged to death over stock and stone. He puts into his mouth his last words: “These steeds drag my limbs after them; drag Thou, O Christ, my soul to Thyself.” He places the scene of his martyrdom at Ostia or Portus where the Prefect of Rome happened to be at that time who condemned him for his Christian profession. Prudentius also saw the subterranean grave-chapel in Rome and a picture which represented his martyrdom (perhaps intended originally for the mythological Hippolytus). But as no such church is found in the early lists of Roman churches, it may have been the church of St. Lawrence, the famous gridiron-martyr, which adjoined the tomb of Hippolytus. Notwithstanding the chronological error about the Novatian schism and the extreme improbability of such a horrible death under Roman laws and customs, there is an important element of truth in this legend, namely the schismatic position of Hippolytus, which suits the Philosophumena, perhaps also his connection with Portus. The later tradition of the catholic church (from the middle of the seventh century) makes him bishop of Portus Romanus (now Porto) which lies at the Northern mouth of the Tiber, opposite Ostia, about fifteen miles from Rome. The Greek writers, not strictly distinguishing the city from the surrounding country, call him usually bishop of Rome.

These are the vague and conflicting traditions, amounting to this, that Hippolytus was an eminent presbyter or bishop in Rome or the vicinity, in the early part of the third century, that he wrote many learned works and died a martyr in Sardinia or Ostia. So the matter stood when a discovery in the sixteenth century shed new light on this mysterious person.

In the year 1551, a much mutilated marble statue, now in the Lateran Museum, was exhumed at Rome near the basilica of St. Lawrence on the Via Tiburtina (the road to Tivoli). This statue is not mentioned indeed by Prudentius, and was perhaps originally designed for an entirely different purpose, possibly for a Roman senator; but it is at all events very ancient, probably from the middle of the third century. It represents a venerable man clothed with the Greek pallium and Roman toga, seated in a bishop’s chair. On the back of the cathedra are engraved in uncial letters the paschal cycle, or easter-table of Hippolytus for seven series of sixteen years, beginning with the first year of Alexander Severus (222), and a list of writings, presumably written by the person whom the statue represents. Among these writings is named a work On the All, which is mentioned in the tenth book of the Philosophumena as a product of the writer. This furnishes the key to the authorship of that important work.

Much more important is the recent discovery and publication (in 1851) of one of his works themselves, and that no doubt the most valuable of them all, viz. the Philosophumena, or Refutation of all Heresies. It is now almost universally acknowledged that this work comes not from Origen, who never was a bishop, nor from the antimontanistic and antichiliastic presbyter Caius, but from Hippolytus; because, among other reasons, the author, in accordance with the Hippolytus-statue, himself refers to a work On the All, as his own, and because Hippolytus is declared by the fathers to have written a work Adversus omnes Haereses. The entire matter of the work, too, agrees with the scattered statements of antiquity respecting his ecclesiastical position; and at the same time places that position in a much clearer light, and gives us a better understanding of those statements.

The author of the Philosophumena appears as one of the most prominent of the clergy in or near Rome in the beginning of the third century; probably a bishop, since he reckons himself among the successors of the apostles and the guardians of the doctrine of the church. He took an active part in all the doctrinal and ritual controversies of his time, but severely opposed the Roman bishops Zephyrinus (202-218) and Callistus (218-223), on account of their Patripassian leanings, and their loose penitential discipline. The latter especially, who had given public offence by his former mode of life, he attacked without mercy and not without passion. He was, therefore, if not exactly a schismatical counter-pope (as Döllinger supposes), yet the head of a disaffected and schismatic party, orthodox in doctrine, rigoristic in discipline, and thus very nearly allied to the Montanists before him, and to the later schism of Novatian. It is for this reason the more remarkable, that we have no account respecting the subsequent course of this movement, except the later unreliable tradition, that Hippolytus finally returned into the bosom of the catholic church, and expiated his schism by martyrdom, either in the mines of Sardinia or near Rome (A. D. 235, or rather 236, under the persecuting emperor Maximinus the Thracian).


II. His Writings

Hippolytus was the most learned divine and the most voluminous writer of the Roman church in the third century; in fact the first great scholar of that church, though like his teacher, Irenaeus, he used the Greek language exclusively. This fact, together with his polemic attitude to the Roman bishops of his day, accounts for the early disappearance of his works from the remembrance of that church. He is not so much an original, productive author, as a learned and skilful compiler. In the philosophical parts of his Philosophumena he borrows largely from Sextus Empiricus, word for word, without acknowledgment; and in the theological part from Irenaeus. In doctrine he agrees, for the most part, with Irenaeus, even to his chiliasm, but is not his equal in discernment, depth, and moderation. He repudiates philosophy, almost with Tertullian’s vehemence, as the source of all heresies; yet he employs it to establish his own views. On the subject of the trinity he assails Monarchianism, and advocates the hypostasian theory with a zeal which brought down upon him the charge of ditheism. His disciplinary principles are rigoristic and ascetic. In this respect also he is akin to Tertullian, though he places the Montanists, like the Quartodecimanians, but with only a brief notice, among the heretics. His style is vigorous, but careless and turgid. Caspari calls Hippolytus “the Roman Origen.” This is true as regards learning and independence, but Origen had more genius and moderation.

The principal work of Hippolytus is the Philosophumena or Refutation of all Heresies. It is, next to the treatise of Irenaeus, the most instructive and important polemical production of the ante-Nicene church, and sheds much new light, not only upon the ancient heresies, and the development of the church doctrine, but also upon the history of philosophy and the condition of the Roman church in the beginning of the third century. It furthermore affords valuable testimony to the genuineness of the Gospel of John, both from the mouth of the author himself, and through his quotations from the much earlier Gnostic Basilides, who was a later contemporary of John (about a.d. 125). The composition falls some years after the death of Callistus, between the years 223 and 235. The first of the ten books gives an outline of the heathen philosophies which he regards as the sources of all heresies; hence the title Philosophumena which answers the first four books, but not the last six. It is not in the Athos-MS., but was formerly known and incorporated in the works of Origen. The second and third books, which are wanting, treated probably of the heathen mysteries, and mathematical and astrological theories. The fourth is occupied likewise with the heathen astrology and magic, which must have exercised great influence, particularly in Rome. In the fifth book the author comes to his proper theme, the refutation of all the heresies from the times of the apostles to his own. He takes up thirty-two in all, most of which, however, are merely different branches of Gnosticism and Ebionism. He simply states the heretical opinions from lost writings, without introducing his own reflection, and refers them to the Greek philosophy, mysticism, and magic, thinking them sufficiently refuted by being traced to those heathen sources. The ninth book, in refuting the doctrine of the Noëtians and Callistians, makes remarkable disclosures of events in the Roman church. He represents Pope Zephyrinus as a weak and ignorant man who gave aid and comfort to the Patripassian heresy, and his successor Callistus, as a shrewd and cunning manager who was once a slave, then a dishonest banker, and became a bankrupt and convict, but worked himself into the good graces of Zephyrinus and after his death obtained the object of his ambition, the papal chair, taught heresy and ruined the discipline by extreme leniency to offenders. Here the author shows himself a violent partizan, and must be used with caution.

The tenth book, made use of by Theodoret, contains a brief recapitulation and the author’s own confession of faith, as a positive refutation of the heresies. The following is the most important part relating to Christ:

“This Word (Logos) the Father sent forth in these last days no longer to speak by a prophet, nor willing that He should be only guessed at from obscure preaching, but bidding Him be manifested face to face, in order that the world should reverence Him when it beheld Him, not giving His commands in the person of a prophet, nor alarming the soul by an angel, but Himself present who had spoken.

“Him we know to have received a body from the Virgin and to have refashioned the old man by a new creation, and to have passed in His life through every age, in order that He might be a law to every age, and by His presence exhibit His own humanity as a pattern to all men, and thus convince man that God made nothing evil, and that man possesses free will, having in himself the power of volition or non-volition, and being able to do both. Him we know to have been a man of the same nature with ourselves.

“For, if He were not of the same nature, He would in vain exhort us to imitate our Master. For if that man was of another nature, why does He enjoin the same duties on me who am weak? And how can He be good and just? But that He might be shown to be the same as we, He underwent toil and consented to suffer hunger and thirst, and rested in sleep, and did not refuse His passion, and became obedient unto death, and manifested His resurrection, having consecrated in all these things His own humanity, as first fruits, in order that thou when suffering mayest not despair, acknowledging thyself a man of like nature and waiting for the appearance of what thou gavest to Him.

“Such is the true doctrine concerning the Deity, O ye Greeks and Barbarians, Chaldaeans and Assyrians, Egyptians and Africans, Indians and Ethiopians, Celts, and ye warlike Latins, and all ye inhabitants of Europe, Asia, and Africa, whom I exhort, being a disciple of the man-loving Word and myself a lover of men (λόγου ὑπάρχων μαθητὴς καὶ φιλάνθρωπος). Come ye and learn from us, who is the true God, and what is His well-ordered workmanship, not heeding the sophistry of artificial speeches, nor the vain professions of plagiarist heretics, but the grave simplicity of unadorned truth. By this knowledge ye will escape the coming curse of the judgment of fire, and the dark rayless aspect of Tartarus, never illuminated by the voice of the Word …

Therefore, O men, persist not in your enmity, nor hesitate to retrace your steps. For Christ is the God who is over all (ὁ κατὰ πάντων θεός, comp. Rom_9:5), who commanded men to wash away sin [in baptism], regenerating the old man, having called him His image from the beginning, showing by a figure His love to thee. If thou obeyest His holy commandment and becomest an imitator in goodness of Him who is good, thou wilt become like Him, being honored by Him. For God has a need and craving for thee, having made thee divine for His glory.”

Hippolytus wrote a large number of other works, exegetical, chronological, polemical, and homiletical, all in Greek, which are mostly lost, although considerable fragments remain. He prepared the first continuous and detailed commentaries on several books of the Scriptures, as the Hexaëmeron (used by Ambrose), on Exodus, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, the larger prophets (especially Daniel), Zechariah, also on Matthew, Luke, and the Apocalypse. He pursued in exegesis the allegorical method, like Origen, which suited the taste of his age.

Among, his polemical works was one Against Thirty-two Heresies, different from the Philosophumena, and described by Photius as a “little book,” and as a synopsis of lectures which Hippolytus heard from Irenaeus. It must have been written in his early youth. It began with the heresy of Dositheus and ended with that of Noëtus. His treatise Against Noëtus which is still preserved, presupposes previous sections, and formed probably the concluding part of that synopsis. If not, it must have been the conclusion of a special work against the Monarchian heretics, but no such work is mentioned.

The book On the Universe was directed against Platonism. It made all things consist of the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water. Man is formed of all four elements, his soul, of air. But the most important part of this book is a description of Hades, as an abode under ground where the souls of the departed are detained until the day of judgment: the righteous in a place of light and happiness called Abraham’s Bosom; the wicked in a place of darkness and misery; the two regions being separated by a great gulf. The entrance is guarded by an archangel. On the judgment day the bodies of the righteous will rise renewed and glorified, the bodies of the wicked with all the diseases of their earthly life for everlasting punishment. This description agrees substantially with the eschatology of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian.

The anonymous work called The Little Labyrinth, mentioned by Eusebius and Theodoret as directed against the rationalistic heresy of Artemon, is ascribed by some to Hippolytus, by others to Caius. But The Labyrinth mentioned by Photius as a work of Caius is different and identical with the tenth book of the Philosophumena, which begins with the words, “The labyrinth of heresies.”

The lost tract on the Charismata dealt probably with the Montanistic claims to continued prophecy. Others make it a collection of apostolical canons.

The book on Antichrist which has been almost entirely recovered by Gudius, represents Antichrist as the complete counterfeit of Christ, explains Daniel’s four kingdoms as the Babylonian, Median, Grecian, and Roman, and the apocalyptic number of the beast as meaning , i.e., heathen Rome. This is one of the three interpretations given by Irenaeus who, however, preferred Teitan.

In a commentary on the Apocalypse he gives another interpretation of the number, namely Dantialos (probably because Antichrist was to descend from the tribe of Dan). The woman in the twelfth chapter is the church; the sun with which she is clothed, is our Lord; the moon, John the Baptist; the twelve stars, the twelve apostles; the two wings on which she was to fly, hope and love. Armageddon is the valley of Jehoshaphat. The five kings (17:13) are Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius, Alexander, and his four successors; the sixth is the Roman empire, the seventh will be Antichrist. In his commentary on Daniel he fixes the consummation at a.d. 500, or A. M. 6000, on the assumption that Christ appeared in the year of the world 5500, and that a sixth millennium must yet be completed before the beginning of the millennial Sabbath, which is prefigured by the divine rest after creation. This view, in connection with his relation to Irenaeus, and the omission of chiliasm from his list of heresies, makes it tolerably certain that be was himself a chiliast, although he put off the millennium to the sixth century after Christ.

We conclude this section with an account of a visit of Pope Alexander III. to the shrine of St. Hippolytus in the church of St. Denis in 1159, to which his bones were transferred from Rome under Charlemagne. “On the threshold of one of the chapels the Pope paused to ask, whose relics it contained. ‘Those of St. Hippolytus,’ was the answer. ‘Non credo, non credo,’ replied the infallible authority, ‘the bones of St. Hippolytus were never removed from the holy city.’ But St. Hippolytus, whose dry bones apparently had as little reverence for the spiritual progeny of Zephyrinus and Callistus as the ancient bishop’s tongue and pen had manifested towards these saints themselves, was so very angry that he rumbled his bones inside the reliquary with a noise like thunder. To what lengths he might have gone if rattling had not sufficed we dare not conjecture. But the Pope, falling on his knees, exclaimed in terror, I believe, O my Lord Hippolytus, I believe, pray be quiet.’ And he built an altar of marble there to appease the disquieted saint.”



The questions concerning the literary works of Hippolytus, and especially his ecclesiastical status are not yet sufficiently solved. We add a few additional observations.

I. The List of Books on the back of the Hippolytus-statue has been discussed by Fabricius, Cave, Döllinger, Wordsworth, and Volkmar. See the three pictures of the statue with the inscriptions on both sides in Fabricius, I. 36-38, and a facsimile of the book titles in the frontispiece of Wordsworth’s work. It is mutilated and reads — with the conjectural supplements in brackets and a translation — as follows




[πρὸς τοὺς Ἰουδα] ίους. Against the Jews.   

[Περὶ παρθε] νίας. On Virginity.   

[Or, perhaps, εἰς παροιμίας] [Or, On the Proverbs.]   

[εἰς τοὺς ψ]αλμούς. On the Psalms.   

[εἰς τὴν ἐ] γγαστρίμυθον. On the Ventriloquist [the witch at Endor?]   

[ἀπολογία] ὐπὲρ τοῦ κατὰ Ἰωάννην Apology of the Gospel according to John,   

εὐαγγελίου καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως. and the Apocalypse.   

Περὶ χαρισμάτων On Spiritual Gifts.   

ἀποστολικὴ παρὰδοσις Apostolic Tradition.   

χρονικῶν [sc. Βίβλος] Chronicles [Book of]   

πρὸς Ἕλληνας, Against the Greeks,   

καὶ πρὸς Πλάτωνα, and against Plato,   

ἢ καὶ περὶ τοῦ παντός or also On the All.   

προτρεπτικός πρὸς σεβήρειναν A hortatory address to Severina. [Perhaps the Empress Severa, second wife of Elogabalus]   

ἀπόδε[ι]ξις χρόνων τοῦ πάσχα Demonstration of the time of the Pascha   

κατὰ [τὰ] ἐν τῷ πίνακι. according to the order in the table.   

ᾠδαί [ε]ἰς πάσας τὰς γραφάς. Hymns on all the Scriptures.   

Περὶ θ[εο]ῦ, καὶ σαρκός ἀναστάσεως. Concerning God, and the resurrection of the flesh.   

Περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ, καὶ πόθεν τὸ κακόν Concerning the good, and the origin of evil.  


Comp. on this list Fabricius I. 79-89; Wordsworth p. 233-240; Volkmar, p. 2 sqq.

Eusebius and Jerome give also lists of the works of Hippolytus, some being the same, some different, and among the latter both mention one Against Heresies, which is probably identical with the Philosophumena. On the Canon Pasch. of Hippol. see the tables in Fabricius, I. 137-140.

II. Was Hippolytus a bishop, and where?

Hippolytus does not call himself a bishop, nor a “bishop of Rome,” but assumes episcopal authority, and describes himself in the preface to the first book as “a successor of the Apostles, a partaker with them in the same grace and principal sacerdocy (ἀρχιεράτεια), and doctorship, and as numbered among the guardians of the church.” Such language is scarcely applicable to a mere presbyter. He also exercised the power of excommunication on certain followers of the Pope Callistus. But where was his bishopric? This is to this day a point in dispute.

(1.) He was bishop of Portus, the seaport of Rome. This is the traditional opinion in the Roman church since the seventh century, and is advocated by Ruggieri (De Portuensi S. Hippolyti, episcopi et martyris, Sede, Rom. 1771), Simon de Magistris (Acta Martyrum ad Ostia Tiberina, etc. Rom. 1795), Baron Bunsen, Dean Milman, and especially by Bishop Wordsworth. In the oldest accounts, however, he is represented as a Roman “presbyter.” Bunsen combined the two views on the unproved assumption that already at that early period the Roman suburban bishops, called cardinales episcopi, were at the same time members of the Roman presbytery. In opposition to this Dr. Döllinger maintains that there was no bishop in Portus before the year 313 or 314; that Hippolytus considered himself the rightful bishop of Rome, and that he could not be simultaneously a member of the Roman presbytery and bishop of Portus. But his chief argument is that from silence which bears with equal force against his own theory. It is true that the first bishop of Portus on record appears at the Synod of Arles, 314, where he signed himself Gregorius episcopus de loco qui est in Portu Romano. The episcopal see of Ostia was older, and its occupant had (according to St. Augustin) always the privilege of consecrating the bishop of Rome. But it is quite possible that Ostia and Portus which were only divided by an island at the mouth of the Tiber formed at first one diocese. Prudentius locates the martyrdom of Hippolytus at Ostia or Portus (both are mentioned in his poem). Moreover Portus was a more important place than Döllinger will admit. The harbor whence the city derived its name Portus (also Portus Ostien Portus Urbis, Portus Romae) was constructed by the Emperor Claudius (perhaps Augustus, hence Portus Augusti), enlarged by Nero and improved by Trajan (hence Portus Trajani), and was the landing place of Ignatius on his voyage to Rome (Martyr. Ign. c. 6: τοῦ καλουμένου Πόρτου) where he met Christian brethren. Constantine surrounded it with strong walls and towers. Ostia may have been much more important as a commercial emporium and naval station (see Smith’s Dict. of Gr. and Rom. Geogr. vol. II 501-504); but Cavalier de Rossi, in the Bulletino di Archeol., 1866, p. 37 (as quoted by Wordsworth, p. 264, secd ed.), proves from 13 inscriptions that “the site and name of Portus are celebrated in the records of the primitive [?] church,” and that “the name is more frequently commemorated than that of Ostia.” The close connection of Portus with Rome would easily account for the residence of Hippolytus at Rome and for his designation as Roman bishop. In later times the seven suburban bishops of the vicinity of Rome were the suffragans of the Pope and consecrated him. Finally, as the harbor of a large metropolis attracts strangers from every nation and tongue, Hippolytus might with propriety be called “bishop of the nations” (ἐπίσκοπος ἑθνῶν). We conclude then that the Portus-hypothesis is not impossible, though it cannot be proven.

(2.) He was bishop of the Arabian Portus Romanus, now Aden on the Red Sea. This was the opinion of Stephen Le Moyne (1685), adopted by Cave, Tillemont, and Basnage, but now universally given up as a baseless conjecture, which rests on a misapprehension of Euseb. VI. 20, where Hippolytus accidentally collocated with Beryllus, bishop of Bostra in Arabia. Adan is nowhere mentioned as an episcopal see, and our Hippolytus belonged to the West, although he may have been of eastern origin, like Irenaeus.

(3.) Rome. Hippolytus was no less than the first Anti-Pope and claimed to be the legitimate bishop of Rome. This is the theory of Döllinger, derived from the Philosophumena and defended with much learning and acumen. The author of the Philosophumena was undoubtedly a resident of Rome, claims episcopal dignity, never recognized Callistus as bishop, but treated him merely as the head of a heretical school (διδασκαλεῖον) or sect, calls his adherents “Callistians,” some of whom he had excommunicated, but admits that Callistus had aspired to the episcopal throne and “imagined himself to have obtained” the object of his ambition after the death of Zephyrinus, and that his school formed the majority and claimed to be the catholic church Callistus on his part charged Hippolytus, on account of his view of the independent personality of the Logos, with the heresy of ditheism (a charge which stung him to the quick), and probably proceeded to excommunication. All this looks towards an open schism. This would explain the fact that Hippolytus was acknowledged in Rome only as a presbyter, while in the East he was widely known as bishop, and even as bishop of Rome. Dr. Döllinger assumes that the schism continued to the pontificate of Pontianus, the successor of Callistus, was the cause of the banishment of the two rival bishops to the pestilential island of Sardinia (in 235), and brought to a close by their resignation and reconciliation; hence their bones were brought back to Rome and solemnly deposited on the same day. Their death in exile was counted equivalent to martyrdom. Dr. Caspari of Christiania who has shed much light on the writings of Hippolytus, likewise believes that the difficulty between Hippolytus and Callistus resulted in an open schism and mutual excommunication (l. c. III. 330). Langen (Gesch. der röm. Kirche, Bonn. 1881, p. 229) is inclined to accept Döllinger’s conclusion as at least probable.

This theory is plausible and almost forced upon us by the Philosophumena, but without any solid support outside of that polemical work. History is absolutely silent about an Anti-Pope before Novatianus, who appeared fifteen years after the death of Hippolytus and shook the whole church by his schism (251), although he was far less conspicuous as a scholar and writer. A schism extending through three pontificates (for Hippolytus opposed Zephyrinus as well as Callistus) could not be hidden and so soon be forgotten, especially by Rome which has a long memory of injuries done to the chair of St. Peter and looks upon rebellion against authority as the greatest sin. The name of Hippolytus is not found in any list of Popes and Anti-Popes, Greek or Roman, while that of Callistus occurs in all. Even Jerome who spent over twenty years from about 350 to 372, and afterwards four more years in Rome and was intimate with Pope Damasus, knew nothing of the see of Hippolytus, although he knew some of his writings. It seems incredible that an Anti-Pope should ever have been canonized by Rome as a saint and martyr. It is much easier to conceive that the divines of the distant East were mistaken. The oldest authority which Döllinger adduces for the designation “bishop of Rome,” that of Presbyter Eustratius of Constantinople about a.d. 582 (see p. 84), is not much older than the designation of Hippolytus as bishop of Portus, and of no more critical value.

(4.) Dr. Salmon offers a modification of the Döllinger-hypothesis by assuming that Hippolytus was a sort of independent bishop of a Greek-speaking congregation in Rome. He thus explains the enigmatical expression ἐθνῶν ἐπίσκοπος, which Photius applies to Caius, but which probably belongs to Hippolytus. But history knows nothing of two independent and legitimate bishops in the city of Rome. Moreover there still remains the difficulty that Hippolytus notwithstanding his open resistance rose afterwards to such high honors in the papal church. We can only offer the following considerations as a partial solution: first, that he wrote in Greek which died out in Rome, so that his books became unknown; secondly, that aside from those attacks he did, like the schismatic Tertullian, eminent service to the church by his learning and championship of orthodoxy and churchly piety; and lastly, that be was believed (as we learn from Prudentius) to have repented of his schism and, like Cyprian, wiped out his sin by his martyrdom.

III. But no matter whether Hippolytus was bishop or presbyter in Rome or Portus, he stands out an irrefutable witness against the claims of an infallible papacy which was entirely unknown in the third century. No wonder that Roman divines of the nineteenth century (with the exception of Döllinger who seventeen years after he wrote his book on Hippolytus seceded from Rome in consequence of the Vatican decree of infallibility) deny his authorship of this to them most obnoxious book. The Abbé Cruice ascribes it to Caius or Tertullian, the Jesuit Armellini to Novatian, and de Rossi (1866) hesitatingly to Tertullian, who, however, was no resident of Rome, but of Carthage. Cardinal Newman declares it “simply incredible” that a man so singularly honored as St. Hippolytus should be the author of “that malignant libel on his contemporary popes,” who did not scruple “in set words to call Pope Zephyrinus a weak and venal dunce, and Pope Callistus a sacrilegious swindler, an infamous convict, and an heresiarch ex cathedra.” (Tracts, Theological and Ecclesiastical, 1874, p. 222, quoted by Plummer, p. xiv. and 340.) But he offers no solution, nor can he. Dogma versus history is as unavailing as the pope’s bull against the comet. Nor is Hippolytus, or whoever wrote that “malignant libel” alone in his position. The most eminent ante-Nicene fathers, and the very ones who laid the foundations of the catholic system, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian (not to speak of Origen, and of Novatian, the Anti-Pope), protested on various grounds against Rome. And it is a remarkable fact that the learned Dr. Döllinger who, in 1853, so ably defended the Roman see against the charges of Hippolytus should, in 1870, have assumed a position not unlike that of Hippolytus, against the error of papal infallibility.


184. Caius of Rome

Euseb.: H. E. II. 25; III. 28, 31; VI. 20. Hieron.: De Vir. ill. 59. Theodor.: Fab. Haer. II. 3; III. 2. Photius: Biblioth. Cod. 48. Perhaps also Martyr. Polyc., c. 22, where a Caius is mentioned as a pupil or friend of Irenaeus.

Routh: Rel. S. II. 125-158 (Comp. also I. 397-403). Bunsen: Analecta Ante-Nicaena I. 409 sq. Caspari: Quellen etc., III. 330, 349, 374 sqq. Harnack in Herzog,2 III. 63 sq. Salmon in Smith and Wace I. 384-386. Comp. also Heinichen’s notes on Euseb. II. 25 (in Comment. III. 63-67), and the Hippolytus liter., § 183, especially Döllinger. (250 sq.) and Volkmar. (60-71).

Among the Western divines who, like Irenaeus and Hippolytus, wrote exclusively in Greek, must be mentioned Caius who flourished during the episcopate of Zephyrinus in the first quarter of the third century. He is known to us only from a few Greek fragments as an opponent of Montanism and Chiliasm. He was probably a Roman presbyter. From his name, and from the fact that he did not number Hebrews among the Pauline Epistles, we may infer that he was a native of Rome or at least of the West. Eusebius calls him a very learned churchman or ecclesiastic author at Rome, and quotes four times his disputation with Proclus (διάλογος πρὸς Πρόκλον), the leader of one party of the Montanists. He preserves from it the notice that Philip and his four prophetic daughters are buried at Hierapolis in Phrygia, and an important testimony concerning the monuments or trophies (τρόπαια) of Peter and Paul, the founders of the Roman church, on the Vatican hill and the Ostian road.

This is nearly all that is certain and interesting about Caius. Jerome, as usual in his catalogue of illustrious men, merely repeats the statements of Eusebius, although from his knowledge of Rome we might expect some additional information. Photius, on the strength of a marginal note in the MS. of a supposed work of Caius On the Universe, says that he was a “presbyter of the Roman church during the episcopate of Victor and Zephyrinus, and that he was elected bishop of the Gentiles (ἐθνῶν ἐπίσκοπος).” He ascribes to him that work and also The Labyrinth, but hesitatingly. His testimony is too late to be of any value, and rests on a misunderstanding of Eusebius and a confusion of Caius with Hippolytus, an error repeated by modern critics. Both persons have so much in common — age, residence, title — that they have been identified (Caius being supposed to be simply the praenomen of Hippolytus). But this cannot be proven; Eusebius clearly distinguishes them, and Hippolytus was no opponent of Chiliasm, and only a moderate opponent of Montanism; while Caius wrote against the Chiliastic dreams of Cerinthus; but he did not deny, as has been wrongly inferred from Eusebius, the Johannean authorship of the Apocalypse; he probably meant pretended revelations (ἀποκαλύψεις) of that heretic. He and Hippolytus no doubt agreed with the canon of the Roman church, which recognized thirteen epistles of Paul (excluding Hebrews) and the Apocalypse of John.

Caius has been surrounded since Photius with a mythical halo of authorship, and falsely credited with several works of Hippolytus, including the recently discovered Philosophumena. The Muratorian fragment on the canon of the New Testament was also ascribed to him by the discoverer (Muratori, 1740) and recent writers. But this fragment is of earlier date (a.d. 170), and written in Latin, though perhaps originally in Greek. It is as far as we know the oldest Latin church document of Rome, and of very great importance for the history of the canon.


185. The Alexandrian School of Theology

J. G. Michaelis: De Scholae Alexandrinae prima origine, progressu, ac praecpuis doctoribus. Hal. 1739.

H. E. Fr. Guerike: De Schola quae Alexandriae floruit catechetica commentatio historica et theologica. Hal. 1824 and ‘25. 2 Parts (pp. 119 and 456). The second Part is chiefly devoted to Clement and Origen.

C. F. W. Hasselbach: De Schola, quae Alex. floruit, catech. Stettin 1826. P. 1. (against Guerike), and De discipulorum .. De Catechumenorum ordinibus, Ibid. 1839.

J. Matter: L’Histoire de l’ École d’Alexandrie, second ed. Par. 1840. 3 vols.

J. Simon: Histoire de I’ École d’Alexandrie. Par. 1845.

E. Vacherot: Histoire critique de l’ École d’Alexandrie. Par. 1851. 3 vols.

Neander: I. 527-557 (Am. ed.); Gieseler I. 208-210 (Am. ed.)

Ritter: Gesch. der christl. Philos. I. 421 sqq.

Ueberweg: History of Philosophy, vol. I. p. 311-319 (Engl. transl. 1875).

Redepenning in his Origenes I. 57-83, and art. in Herzog2 I. 290-292. Comp. also two arts. on the Jewish, and the New-Platonic schools of Alexandria, by M. Nicolas in Lichtenberger’s “Encyclopédie” I. 159-170.

C. H. Bigg: The Christian Platonists of Alexandria. Lond. 1886.

Alexandria, founded by Alexander the Great three hundred and twenty-two years before Christ, on the mouth of the Nile, within a few hours’ sail from Asia and Europe, was the metropolis of Egypt, the flourishing seat of commerce, of Grecian and Jewish learning, and of the greatest library of the ancient world, and was destined to become one of the great centres of Christianity, the rival of Antioch and Rome. There the religious life of Palestine and the intellectual culture of Greece commingled and prepared the way for the first school of theology which aimed at a philosophic comprehension and vindication of the truths of revelation. Soon after the founding of the church which tradition traces to St. Mark, the Evangelist, there arose a “Catechetical school” under the supervision of the bishop. It was originally designed only for the practical purpose of preparing willing heathens and Jews of all classes for baptism. But in that home of the Philonic theology, of Gnostic heresy, and of Neo-Platonic philosophy, it soon very naturally assumed a learned character, and became, at the same time, a sort of theological seminary, which exercised a powerful influence on the education of many bishops and church teachers, and on the development of Christian science. It had at first but a single teacher, afterwards two or more, but without fixed salary, or special buildings. The more wealthy pupils paid for tuition, but the offer was often declined. The teachers gave their instructions in their dwellings, generally after the style of the ancient philosophers.

The first superintendent of this school known to us was Pantaenus, a converted Stoic philosopher, about a.d. 180. He afterwards labored as a missionary in India, and left several commentaries, of which, however, nothing remains but some scanty fragments. He was followed by Clement, to a.d. 202 and Clement, by Origen, to 232, who raised the school to the summit of its prosperity, and founded a similar one at Caesarea in Palestine. The institution was afterwards conducted by Origen’s pupils, Heraclas (d. 248), and Dionysius (d. 265), and last by the blind but learned Didymus (d. 395), until, at the end of the fourth century, it sank for ever amidst the commotions and dissensions of the Alexandrian church, which at last prepared the way for the destructive conquest of the Arabs (640). The city itself gradually sank to a mere village, and Cairo took its place (since 969). In the present century it is fast rising again, under European auspices, to great commercial importance.

From this catechetical school proceeded a peculiar theology, the most learned and genial representatives of which were Clement and Origen. This theology is, on the one hand, a regenerated Christian form of the Alexandrian Jewish religious philosophy of Philo; on the other, a catholic counterpart, and a positive refutation of the heretical Gnosis, which reached its height also in Alexandria, but half a century earlier. The Alexandrian theology aims at a reconciliation of Christianity with philosophy, or, subjectively speaking, of pistis with gnosis; but it seeks this union upon the basis of the Bible, and the doctrine of the church. Its centre, therefore, is the Divine Logos, viewed as the sum of all reason and all truth, before and after the incarnation. Clement came from the Hellenic philosophy to the Christian faith; Origen, conversely, was led by faith to speculation. The former was an aphoristic thinker, the latter a systematic. The one borrowed ideas from various systems; the other followed more the track of Platonism. But both were Christian philosophers and churchly gnostics. As Philo, long before them, in the same city, had combined Judaism with Grecian culture, so now they carried the Grecian culture into Christianity. This, indeed, the apologists and controversialists of the second century had already done, as far back as Justin the “philosopher.” But the Alexandrians were more learned, and made much freer use of the Greek philosophy. They saw in it not sheer error, but in one view a gift of God, and an intellectual schoolmaster for Christ, like the law in the moral and religious here. Clement compares it to a wild olive tree, which can be ennobled by faith; Origen (in the fragment of an epistle to Gregory Thaumaturgus), to the jewels, which the Israelites took with them out of Egypt, and turned into ornaments for their sanctuary, though they also wrought them into the golden calf. Philosophy is not necessarily an enemy to the truth, but may, and should be its handmaid, and neutralize the attacks against it. The elements of truth in the heathen philosophy they attributed partly to the secret operation of the Logos in the world of reason, partly to acquaintance with the writings of Moses and the prophets.

So with the Gnostic heresy. The Alexandrians did not sweepingly condemn it, but recognized the desire for deeper religious knowledge, which lay at its root, and sought to meet this desire with a wholesome supply from the Bible itself. To the , they opposed a Their maxim was, in the words of Clement: “No faith without knowledge, no knowledge without faith;” or: “Unless you believe, you will not understand.” Faith and knowledge have the same substance, the saving truth of God, revealed in the Holy Scriptures, and faithfully handed down by the church; they differ only in form. Knowledge is our consciousness of the deeper ground and consistency of faith. The Christian knowledge, however, is also a gift of grace, and has its condition in a holy life. The ideal of a Christian gnostic includes perfect love as well as perfect knowledge, of God. Clement describes him as one “who, growing grey in the study of the Scriptures, and preserving the orthodoxy of the apostles and the church, lives strictly according to the gospel.”

The Alexandrian theology is intellectual, profound, stirring and full of fruitful germs of thought, but rather unduly idealistic and spiritualistic, and, in exegesis, loses itself in arbitrary allegorical fancies. In its efforts to reconcile revelation and philosophy it took up, like Philo, many foreign elements, especially of the Platonic stamp, and wandered into speculative views which a later and more orthodox, but more narrow-minded and less productive age condemned as heresies, not appreciating the immortal service of this school to its own and after times.