Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


(ca. 200 [some say 210]–258). B. probably at Carthage; taught rhetoric; became Christian ca. 246; bp. Carthage by popular acclaim ca. 248; fled during Decian persecution; returned 251 under Gallus, successor of Decius; condemned and beheaded under Valerian (see Persecution of Christians, 4). According to his view, bps. are successors of the apostles and, like them, specially endowed with the Holy Spirit. The properly elected and ordained bp. was supreme in his own ch. Cyprian endeavored to check presbyteral or other infringements on episc. authority. Presbyters participated in sacerdotal functions as delegated by the bp. The episcopate is a unity, each bp. representing the whole office. From the unity of the episcopate springs the unity of the ch., outside of which there is no salvation. Cyprian's conception of the ch. makes every schismatic also a heretic. He recognized the primacy of Peter in representing the unity of the ch., but not in authority and jurisdiction, and regarded other bps., including the bp. of Rome, as his colleagues. See also Agapetae; Fathers of the Church; Stephen I (of Rome).

E. W. Benson, Cyprian: His Life, His Times, His Work (London, 1897); J. A. Faulkner, Cyprian: The Churchman (Cincinnati, 1906); H. Koch, Cyprian und der römische Primat: Eine kirchen- und dogmengeschichtliche Studie, in Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, ed. A. Harnack and C. Schmidt, XXXV, part 1 (Leipzig, 1910); B. Poschmann, Ecclesia Principalis: Ein kritischer Beitrag zur Frage des Primats bei Cyprian (Breslau, 1933); J. H. Fichter, Saint Cecil Cyprian: Early Defender of the Faith (St. Louis, 1942); MPL, 3–4.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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