During the third and fourth centuries the Christian community in Rome gradually became predominantly Latin-speaking, and memories of its Greek beginnings were lost in mist. The last ancient Christian of Rome to write in Greek was Hippolytus. The calendar of Filocalus of the year 354 records under the year 235 that Bishop Pontianus and Presbyter Hippolytus were exiled to Sardinia, no doubt to sweat as labourers in the mines under the usual lethal conditions. Both names occur in the list of martyrs. A number of works by Hippolytus were known to Eusebius, for example On the Pascha together with an Easter table on a 16-year cycle starting in ad 222; a Hexaemeron expounding the six days of Genesis 1; Against Marcion; On the Song of Songs, On Ezekiel; and Against all Heresies. Extant also is a commentary on Daniel, written to discourage millennial excitements (in Syria a bishop had lately led his flock out into the desert to await the second coming, and had had to be rescued by imperial authority). The work twice alludes to personal envy against the author. His colleagues may have found him difficult. Other works transmitted under his name, probably correctly, are On the universe attacking Plato for incompetence, On Christ and Antichrist, On the Benedictions of Moses. Fragments survive of a letter on the resurrection theme in Paul's Corinthian letters addressed to the empress Mammaea.
Two works attributed to him by modern scholars have been the subject of controversy, namely his Elenchos or 'Refutation of all Heresies', found on Mount Athos and first printed in 1851, and a Church Order which presupposes a situation at Rome early in the third century and was composed by a passionate conservative anxious about recent innovations. In 1551 a statue on a chair was discovered in Rome, on which was a list of titles of Hippolytus' works, including his Easter table (not the Elenchos), and recording work on spiritual charisms and the Apostolic Tradition. The Elenchos is indispensable to students of pre-Socratic Greek philosophy because of the number of quotations of otherwise lost texts; Hippolytus' thesis is that the gnostic heresies have been plagiarized from very uninspired philosophers. The climax of the work turns into a direct and very personal assault on Bishop Callistus of Rome, who had enraged the author by denouncing his Logos theology as ditheism.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: The Church in Ancient Society: From Galilee to Gregory the Great. Contributors: Henry Chadwick - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 2001. Page number: 132.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.