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Chapter V.—The Peace following the Persecution.

1. “But know now, my brethren, that all the churches throughout the East and beyond, which formerly were divided, have become united. And all the bishops everywhere are of one mind, and rejoice greatly in the peace which has come beyond expectation. Thus Demetrianus in Antioch, 2174 Theoctistus in Cæsarea, Mazabanes in Ælia, Marinus in Tyre (Alexander having fallen asleep), 2175 Heliodorus in Laodicea (Thelymidres being dead), Helenus in Tarsus, and all the churches of Cilicia, Firmilianus, and all Cappadocia. I have named only the more illustrious bishops, that I may not make my epistle too long and my words too burdensome.

2. And all Syria, and Arabia to which you send help when needed, 2176 and whither you have just written, 2177 Mesopotamia, Pontus, Bithynia, and in short all everywhere are rejoicing and glorifying God for the unanimity and brotherly love.” Thus far Dionysius.

3. But Stephen, having filled his office two years, was succeeded by Xystus. 2178 Dionyp. 295 sius wrote him a second epistle on baptism, 2179 in which he shows him at the same time the opinion and judgment of Stephen and the other bishops, and speaks in this manner of Stephen:

4. “He therefore had written previously concerning Helenus and Firmilianus, and all those in Cilicia and Cappadocia and Galatia and the neighboring nations, saying that he would not commune with them for this same cause; namely, that they re-baptized heretics. But consider the importance of the matter.

5. For truly in the largest synods of the bishops, as I learn, decrees have been passed on this subject, that those coming over from heresies should be instructed, and then should be washed 2180 and cleansed from the filth of the old and impure leaven. And I wrote entreating him concerning all these things.” Further on he says:

6. “I wrote also, at first in few words, recently in many, to our beloved fellow-presbyters, Dionysius 2181 and Philemon, 2182 who formerly had held the same opinion as Stephen, and had written to me on the same matters.” So much in regard to the above-mentioned controversy.



On Demetrianus, Thelymidres, and Helenus, see Bk. VI. chap. 46. On Theoctistus, see ibid. chap. 19, note 27; on Firmilian, ibid. chap. 26, note 3; on Mazabanes, ibid. chap. 39, note 5.


This clause (κοιμηθέντος ᾽Αλεξ€νδρου) is placed by Rufinus, followed by Stroth, Zimmermann, Valesius (in his notes), Closs, and Crusè, immediately after the words “Mazabanes in Ælia.” But all the mss. followed by all the other editors give the clause in the position which it occupies above in my translation. It is natural, of course, to think of the famous Alexander of Jerusalem as referred to here (Bk. VI. chap. 8, note 6), but it is difficult to see how, if he were referred to, the words could stand in the position which they occupy in the text. It is not impossible, however, to assume simple carelessness on Dionysius’ part to explain the peculiar order, and thus hold that Alexander of Jerusalem is here referred to. Nor is it, on the other hand, impossible (though certainly difficult) to suppose that Dionysius is referring to a bishop of Tyre named Alexander, whom we hear of from no other source.


The church of Rome had been from an early date very liberal in assisting the needy in every quarter. See the epistle of Dionysius of Corinth to Soter, bishop of Rome, quoted above in Bk. IV. chap. 23.


Dionysius speaks just below (§6) of epistles or an epistle of Stephen upon the subject of baptism, in which he had announced that he would no longer commune with the Oriental bishops, who held to the custom of baptizing heretics. And it is this epistle which must have stirred up the rage of Firmilian, which shows itself in his epistle to Cyprian, already mentioned. The epistle of Stephen referred to here, however, cannot be identical with that one, or Dionysius would not speak of it in such a pleasant tone. It very likely had something to do with the heresy of Novatian, of which Dionysius is writing. It is no longer extant, and we know only what Dionysius tells us about it in this passage.


Known as Sixtus II. in the list of Roman bishops. On Sixtus I. see above, Bk. IV. chap. 4, note 3. That Xystus (or Sixtus) was martyred under Valerian we are told not only by the Liberian catalogue, but also by Cyprian, in an epistle written shortly before his own death, in 258 (No. 81, al. 80), in which he gives a detailed account of it. There is no reason to doubt the date given by the Liberian catalogue (Aug. 6, 258); for the epistle of Cyprian shows that it must have taken place just about that time, Valerian having sent a very severe rescript to the Senate in the summer of 258. This fixed point for the martyrdom of Xystus enables us to rectify all the dates of the bishops of this period (cf. Lipsius, l.c.). As to the duration of his episcopate, the ancient authorities differ greatly. The Liberian catalogue assigns to it two years eleven months and six days, but this is impossible, as can be gathered from Cyprian’s epistle. Lipsius retains the months and days (twelve or six days), rejecting the two years as an interpolation, and thus putting his accession on Aug. 24 (or 31), 257. According to Eusebius, chap. 27, and the Armenian Chron., he held office eleven years, which is quite impossible, and which, as Lipsius remarks, is due to the eleven months which stood in the original source from which the notice was taken, and which appears in the Liberian catalogue. Jerome’s version of the Chron. ascribes eight years to his episcopate, but this, too, is quite impossible, and the date given for his accession (the first year of Valerian) is inconsistent with the notice which he gives in regard to Stephen. Xystus upheld the Roman practice of accepting heretics and schismatics without re-baptism, but he seems to have adopted a more conciliatory tone toward those who held the opposite view than his predecessor Stephen had done (cf. Pontius’ Vita Cypriani, chap. 14).


The first of Dionysius’ epistles on baptism was written to Stephen of Rome, as we learn from chap. 2, above. Four others are mentioned by Eusebius, addressed respectively to Philemon, a Roman presbyter (chap. 7, §1), to Dionysius of Rome (ibid. §6), to Xystus of Rome (chap. 9, §1), and to Xystus and the church of Rome (ibid. §6).




Dionysius afterward became Xystus’ successor as bishop of Rome. See below, chap. 27, note 2.


Of this Philemon we know only that he was a presbyter of Rome at this time (see below, chap. 7, §1). A fragment from Dionysius’ epistle to him on the subject of baptism is quoted in that chapter.

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