Cyprian of Carthage

Henry Chadwick

in The Church in Ancient Society

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246953
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600463 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Cyprian of Carthage

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The letters and tracts of Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, are one of the main sources for the history of the Church in the mid‐third century, when the problems of the Roman Empire provoked popular hostility towards Christians. Cyprian describes Church organization and liturgy at Carthage and presents an analysis of what he considered the ills of society. A period of peace was followed by harsh persecution under the emperor Decius (249–51), which led to disputes about the readmission of lapsed believers to the Church. The church in Rome split over this issue, causing Cyprian to write ‘On the Unity of the Catholic Church’, the first Christian treatise on the Church, and a quarrel between Carthage and Pope Stephen in Rome over the issue of baptism and re‐baptism. In fresh persecution under the emperor Valerian (253–60), both Cyprian and Pope Sixtus suffered martyrdom. Cyprian did not deal with theology as such, but his strictness about Church membership, heresy, and schism kept the Carthage church together. The arguments about baptism remained a point of cleavage between the Latin west and the Greek east.

Keywords: baptism; Carthage; Church Order; Cyprian; Decius; liturgy; persecution; popes; Rome; Valerian

Chapter.  7970 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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