St Hippolytus

(c. 170—236)

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theologian. He was a presbyter at Rome, apparently of some importance. Under Callistus (217–22), whom he regarded as a heretic, he seems to have allowed himself to be elected as a rival Bp. of Rome and continued to attack Callistus' successors. In the persecution of the Emp. Maximin, Hippolytus and Pope Pontianus (230–5) were exiled together to Sardinia. The bodies of both were brought back to Rome in 236. Feast day in the E., 30 Jan.; in the W., 13 Aug.

A list of several of Hippolytus' writings, as well as his Easter tables, was discovered on a statue found in Rome in 1551. Many other works are listed by Eusebius of Caesarea and St Jerome. His main work is the ‘Refutation of all Heresies’ published in 1851 under the title ‘Philosophumena’. In this Hippolytus expresses his trinitarian theology in a form of Logos doctrine, distinguishing between two states of the Word, the one immanent and eternal, the other external and temporal as the Father's voice. Containing in Himself all the Father's ideas, the Word is able to actualize them as the Father's creative agent. The ‘Refutation’ also illustrates his opposition to the mitigation of the penitential system necessitated by the influx of pagan converts.

The attribution of the ‘Apostolic Tradition’ to Hippolytus is now generally accepted. Other works usually attributed to him include various biblical commentaries, a discourse against the followers of Noetus, and a Chronicon. Differences of style and theology between the ‘Refutation’ and the Contra Noetum have led some scholars to divide the works between two authors and sometimes to postulate a second Hippolytus, perhaps an E. bishop.

Subjects: Christianity.

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