Info

Earlier discussions had occurred between Anicetus of Rome (bishop 155-66 ce, influenced by Marcion?) and Polycarp of Smyrna, but only after a further generation in a changed political situation did those tensions lead to a rupture within the church.40 Victor 1, just after his election as bishop (c.189 ce), assembled a synod of bishops and wrote to Polycrates of Ephesus to underline the apostolic practice of breaking the fast on Easter Sunday. Possibly he was responding to inner-Asian tensions41 and wrote in reaction to Polycrates; nevertheless, he insisted on the Roman fasting practice in a letter that went out to all communities in Asia and those that stood in solidarity with them, threatening with excommunication those who continued to follow the Quar-todeciman practice. The result was a number of letters and synods. The Asian bishops remained unconvinced by Rome, whereas the Palestinian bishops of Jerusalem, Caesarea, Tyre and Ptolemais wrote in support of Roman practice. The supportive letter by Demetrius, Victor's colleague of Alexandria, who had become bishop around the same time as he himself, apparently stemmed from the presbytery acting collectively, because they did not yet have a powerful monarchical bishop. For Rome too, the authority of the bishop may not yet have been fully developed. Irenaeus wrote42 urging Victor to recognise long-standing diversity of practice as his predecessors had done, implying that such variety had long existed and been tolerated in Rome itself as a result of immigration. It seems likely that the whole controversy arose because of Victor's ambition to bring all the Roman congregations into uniformity under his leadership, but it had a much wider impact simply because immigrants in Rome were networking closely with the churches from which they originated.

The organisation of the Roman church

Clement wrote to Corinth on behalf of the church in Rome as a whole, but probably there was no unitary congregation; rather, he was the secretary for a group consisting of the leaders of many scattered house churches. A variety of different Christian communities is attested by Hermas, who constantly pleads for unity. The mid-second-century material suggests a number of small communities, based in households, only loosely held together, often led by immigrants. 'Schools', too, such as that of Justin, would have been house-based. This situation continued for a long period of time, with different congregations acknowledging one another by passing around a portion ofthe

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment