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ANF05. Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix
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Chapter VIII.—Sect of the Elchasaites; Hippolytus’ Opposition to It.

The doctrine of this Callistus having been noised abroad throughout the entire world, a cunning man, and full of desperation, one called Alcibiades, dwelling in Apamea, a city of Syria, examined carefully into this business. And considering himself a more formidable character, and more ingenious in such tricks, than Callistus, he repaired to Rome; and he brought some book, alleging that a certain just man, Elchasai,10181018    See Eusebius, Hist. Ecclesiast., vi. 38; Epiphanius, Hær, xix.; and Theodoret, Hær. Fab., ii. 7. had received this from Seræ, a town of Parthia, and that he gave it to one called Sobiaï. And the contents of this volume, he alleged, had been revealed by an angel whose height was 24 schœnoi, which make 96 miles, and whose breadth is 4 schœnoi, and from shoulder to shoulder 6 schœnoi; and the tracks of his feet extend to the length of three and a half schœnoi, which are equal to fourteen miles, while the breadth is one schœnos and a half, and the height half a schœnos. And he alleges that also there is a female with him, whose measurement, he says, is according to the standards already mentioned. And he asserts that the male (angel) is Son of God, but that the female is called Holy Spirit. By detailing these prodigies he imagines that he confounds fools, while at the same time he utters the following sentence: “that there was preached unto men a new remission of sins in the third year of Trajan’s reign.” And Elchasai determines the nature of baptism, and even this I shall explain. He alleges, as to those who have been involved in every description of lasciviousness, and filthiness, and in acts of wickedness, if only any of them be a believer, that he determines that such a one, on being converted, and obeying the book, and believing its contents, should by baptism receive remission of sins.

Elchasai, however, ventured to continue these knaveries, taking occasion from the aforesaid tenet of which Callistus stood forward as a champion. For, perceiving that many were delighted at this sort of promise, he considered that he could opportunely make the attempt just alluded to. And notwithstanding we offered resistance to this, and did not permit many for any length of time to become victims of the delusion.10191019    For πλανηθῆναι Dr. Wordsworth reads πλατυνθῆναι, i.e., did not suffer the heresy to spread wide. For we carried conviction to the people, when we affirmed that this was the operation of a spurious spirit, and the invention of a heart inflated with pride, and that this one like a wolf had risen up against many wandering sheep, which Callistus, by his arts of deception, had scattered abroad. But since we have commenced, we shall not be silent as regards the opinions of this man.  And, in the first place, we shall expose his life, and we shall prove that his supposed discipline is a mere pretence. And next, I shall adduce the principal heads of his assertions, in order that the reader, looking fixedly on the treatises of this (Elchasai), may be made aware what and what sort is the heresy which has been audaciously attempted by this man.


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