from the extant originals and the reports of their theological enemies. But the fact of the debates remains itself an essential datum of Roman Christianity, though we know more, and can therefore get a clearer picture of, the philosophy of those 'who were struggling to establish a normative Christianity', 'to recompose a world, a trustworthy social and ritual environment' against, as they saw it, the differentiations and the splits brought by the heretics.73
When debate did turn to questions about monotheism and Christology the same inter-school rivalry seems to be reflected in the tension between Callistus and 'Hippolytus'.74 One survived as the author of a respected corpus of writings, the other as the official bishop in the line that hindsight established.
From 'fTactionalisation' to schism
In the tradition of Hippolytus stood Novatian (d. c.258 ce), who, despite his eventual schism, may be regarded as one of the few known theologians of the third century at Rome,75 as his extant treatise, De Trinitate ('On the Trinity'), demonstrates. Time and theological concerns, however, had drastically changed. Overshadowed by the persecution of the emperor Decius, with numerous martyrs (amongst them bishop Fabian) and countless apostates, the discussion arose about how to treat those who had offered incense or sacrifice to the gods. Throughout the persecution, Novatian held a rigorous position towards those who had apostatised (Cypr. Ep. 30, 31, 36), but was vehemently opposed by a strong, less rigorous party in the Roman community. The same tensions disturbed the church in North Africa, and there were frequent interactions between Rome and Carthage. At Novatian's election as bishop of Rome, an equal part of the community voted for Cornelius. The church remained divided (Euseb. HE 6.43), the Novatians with their theology spreading from Rome to the rest of the empire. What was the theological drive behind the schism? Novatian held that only God could reconcile - it was not in the power of the church. Although similarly rigorous, Cyprian of Carthage had accepted Cornelius' election, and argued that reconciliation (as well as any other sacrament, such as baptism) was indeed of God's grace but could only be performed within the one, united church.
Providing an example of the importance of the oneness of God's church, Cyprian handed to Cornelius' successor at Rome, Stephen, a tool which the Roman bishop would turn in his favour - the most prominent scriptural text in
73 Williams,'Definingheresy', 327.
75 Wallraff, Der Kirchenhistoriker Sokrates.
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