Chapter

The African Church in the Time of Cyprian<sup>1</sup>

W. H. C. Frend

in The Donatist Church

Published in print November 1985 | ISBN: 9780198264088
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191682704 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198264088.003.0011
The African Church in the Time of Cyprian1

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The age of Cyprian foreshadows the Donatist controversy in two directions. First, during the Decian persecution, the confessors insisted on their claim in matters of Church discipline and they showed the way to the martyrs of Abitina 50 years later. Second, the dispute between Cyprian and Pope Stephen over the validity of sacraments administered by lapsed or sinful clergy and by heretics aligned the African Church with the puritans in their interpretation of this doctrine. In that respect, Donatism was a continuation of the position maintained by the Council of Carthage in September 256. After his death, Cyprian was regarded by his friends as an example for all time of Christian ‘temperies’, a bishop who throughout his administration had succeeded in steering a middle course between the Novatians and the confessors on the one hand, and the impenitent lapsed and intriguing presbyters on the other.

Keywords: Christianity; Donatist controversy; Roman Empire; Decian persecution; Carthage

Chapter.  7044 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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