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ANF05. Fathers of the Third Century: Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, Novatian, Appendix
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Chapter VII.—The Personal History of Callistus; His Occupation as a Banker; Fraud on Carpophorus; Callistus Absconds; Attempted Suicide; Condemned to the Treadmill; Re-Condemnation by Order of the Prefect Fuscianus; Banished to Sardinia; Release of Callistus by the Interference Of Marcion; Callistus Arrives at Rome; Pope Victor Removes Callistus to Antium; Return of Callistus on Victor’s Death; Zephyrinus Friendly to Him; Callistus Accused by Sabellius; Hippolytus’ Account of the Opinions of Callistus; The Callistian School at Rome, and Its Practices; This Sect in Existence in Hippolytus’ Time.

Callistus happened to be a domestic of one Carpophorus, a man of the faith belonging to the household of Cæsar. To this Callistus, as being of the faith, Carpophorus committed no inconsiderable amount of money, and directed him to bring in profitable returns from the banking business. And he, receiving the money, tried (the experiment of) a bank in what is called the Piscina Publica.993993    The Latin name is written by Hippolytus in Greek letters, and means “the public fish-market.” The Piscina, one of the fourteen quarters of Rome, was the resort of money-dealers. And in process of time were entrusted to him not a few deposits by widows and brethren, under the ostensive cause of lodging their money with Carpophorus.  Callistus, however, made away with all (the moneys committed to him), and became involved in pecuniary difficulties. And after having practised such conduct as this, there was not wanting one to tell Carpophorus, and the latter stated that he would require an account from him. Callistus, perceiving these things, and suspecting danger from his master, escaped away by stealth, directing his flight towards the sea. And finding a vessel in Portus ready for a voyage, he went on board, intending to sail wherever she happened to be bound for. But not even in this way could he avoid detection, for there was not wanting one who conveyed to Carpophorus intelligence of what had taken place. But Carpophorus, in accordance with the information he had received, at once repaired to the harbour (Portus), and made an effort to hurry into the vessel after Callistus. The boat, however, was anchored in the middle of the harbour; and as the ferryman was slow in his movements, Callistus, who was in the ship, had time to descry his master at a distance. And knowing that himself would be inevitably captured, he became reckless of life; and, considering his affairs to be in a desperate condition, he proceeded to cast himself into the sea.  But the sailors leaped into boats and drew him out, unwilling to come, while those on shore were raising a loud cry. And thus Callistus was handed over to his master, and brought to Rome, and his master lodged him in the Pistrinum.994994    The Pistrinum was the domestic treadmill of the Roman slaveholders.

But as time wore on, as happens to take place in such cases, brethren repaired to Carpophorus, and entreated him that he would release the fugitive serf from punishment, on the plea of their alleging that Callistus acknowledged himself to have money lying to his credit with certain persons. But Carpophorus, as a devout man, said he was indifferent regarding his own property, but that he felt a concern for the deposits; for many shed tears as they remarked to him, that they had committed what they had entrusted to Callistus, under the ostensive cause of lodging the money with himself.995995    [An instance illustrative of the touching sense of moral obligation given in 2 Kings vi. 5.] And Carpophorus yielded to their persuasions, and gave directions for the liberation of Callistus. The latter, however, having nothing to pay, and not being able again to abscond, from the fact of his being watched, planned an artifice by which he hoped to meet death. Now, pretending that he was repairing as it were to his creditors, he hurried on their Sabbath-day to the synagogue of the Jews, who were congregated, and took his stand, and created a disturbance among them. They, however, being disturbed by him, offered him insult, and inflicted blows upon him, and dragged him before Fuscianus, who was prefect of the city. And (on being asked the cause of such treatment), they replied in the following terms: “Romans have conceded to us996996    See Josephus, Antiq., xix. 10. the privilege of publicly reading those laws of ours that have been handed down from our fathers. This person, however, by coming into (our place of worship), prevented (us so doing), by creating a disturbance among us, alleging that he is a Christian.”  And Fuscianus happens at the time to be on the judgment-seat; and on intimating his indignation against Callistus, on account of the statements made by the Jews, there was not wanting one to go and acquaint Carpophorus concerning these transactions. And he, hastening to the judgment-seat of the prefect, exclaimed, “I implore of you, my lord Fuscianus, believe not thou this fellow; for he is not a Christian, but seeks occasion of death, having made away with a quantity of my money, as I shall prove.” The Jews, however, supposing that this was a stratagem, as if Carpophorus were seeking under this pretext to liberate Callistus, with the greater enmity clamoured against him in presence of the prefect. Fuscianus, however, was swayed by these Jews, and having scourged Callistus, he gave him to be sent to a mine in Sardinia.997997    The air of Sardinia was unwholesome, if not pestilential; and for this reason, no doubt, it was selected as a place of exile for martyrs.  Hippolytus himself, along with the Roman bishop Pontianus, was banished thither. See Introductory Notice.

But after a time, there being in that place other martyrs, Marcia, a concubine of Commodus, who was a God-loving female, and desirous of performing some good work, invited into her presence998998    Marcia’s connection with the emperor would not seem very consistent with the Christian character which Hippolytus gives her. Dr. Wordsworth supposes that Hippolytus speaks ironically in the case of Marcia, as well as of Hyacinthus and Carpophorus. [I do not see the evidence of this. Poor Marcia, afterwards poisoned by the wretch who degraded, was a heathen who under a little light was awakening to some sense of duty, like the woman of Samaria, John iv. 19.] the blessed Victor, who was at that time a bishop of the Church,999999    [Note this expression in contrast with subsequent claims to be the “Universal Bishop.”] and inquired of him what martyrs were in Sardinia. And he delivered to her the names of all, but did not give the name of Callistus, knowing the villanous acts he had ventured upon. Marcia,10001000    See Dio Cassius, lxxii. 4. [See vol. ii. p. 604, this series.] obtaining her request from Commodus, hands the letter of emancipation to Hyacinthus, a certain eunuch,10011001    Or, “a presbyter, though an eunuch,” thus indicating the decay of ecclesiastical discipline. rather advanced in life. And he, on receiving it, sailed away into Sardinia, and having delivered the letter to the person who at that time was governor of the territory, he succeeded in having the martyrs released, with the exception of Callistus. But Callistus himself, dropping on his knees, and weeping, entreated that he likewise might obtain a release. Hyacinthus, therefore, overcome by the captive’s importunity, requests the governor to grant a release, alleging that permission had been given to himself from Marcia10021002    Or, “that Marcia had been brought up by him.” [See what Bunsen has to say (vol. i. pp. 126, 127, and note) upon this subject, about which we know very little.] (to liberate Callistus), and that he would make arrangements that there should be no risk in this to him. Now (the governor) was persuaded, and liberated Callistus also. And when the latter arrived at Rome, Victor was very much grieved at what had taken place; but since he was a compassionate man, he took no action in the matter. Guarding, however, against the reproach (uttered) by many,—for the attempts made by this Callistus were not distant occurrences,—and because Carpophorus also still continued adverse, Victor sends Callistus to take up his abode in Antium, having settled on him a certain monthly allowance for food. And after Victor’s death, Zephyrinus, having had Callistus as a fellow-worker in the management of his clergy, paid him respect to his own damage; and transferring this person from Antium, appointed him over the cemetery.10031003    The cemetery of Callistus was situated in the Via Appia.  [The catacombs near the Church of St. Sebastian still bear the name of this unhappy man, and give incidental corroboration to the incident.]

And Callistus, who was in the habit of always associating with Zephyrinus, and, as I have previously stated, of paying him hypocritical service, disclosed, by force of contrast, Zephyrinus to be a person able neither to form a judgment of things said, nor discerning the design of Callistus, who was accustomed to converse with Zephyrinus on topics which yielded satisfaction to the latter. Thus, after the death of Zephyrinus, supposing that he had obtained (the position) after which he so eagerly pursued, he excommunicated Sabellius, as not entertaining orthodox opinions. He acted thus from apprehension of me, and imagining that he could in this manner obliterate the charge against him among the churches, as if he did not entertain strange opinions.10041004    [Here Wordsworth’s note is valuable, p. 80. Callistus had doubtless sent letters to announce his consecration to other bishops, as was customary, and had received answers demanding proofs of his orthodoxy. See my note on the intercommunion of primitive bishops, vol. ii. p. 12, note 9; also on the Provincial System, vol. iv. pp. 111, 114. Also Cyprian, this vol. passim.] He was then an impostor and knave, and in process of time hurried away many with him. And having even venom imbedded in his heart, and forming no correct opinion on any subject,10051005    εὐθέως μηδὲν. Scott reads εὐθέος μηδὲν. Dr. Wordsworth translates the words thus: “having no rectitude of mind.” and yet withal being ashamed to speak the truth, this Callistus, not only on account of his publicly saying in the way of reproach to us, “Ye are Ditheists,” but also on account of his being frequently accused by Sabellius, as one that had transgressed his first faith, devised some such heresy as the following.  Callistus alleges that the Logos Himself is Son, and that Himself is Father; and that though denominated by a different title, yet that in reality He is one indivisible spirit. And he maintains that the Father is not one person and the Son another, but that they are one and the same; and that all things are full of the Divine Spirit, both those above and those below. And he affirms that the Spirit, which became incarnate in the virgin, is not different from the Father, but one and the same. And he adds, that this is what has been declared by the Saviour: “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”10061006    John xiv. 11. For that which is seen, which is man, he considers to be the Son; whereas the Spirit, which was contained in the Son, to be the Father. “For,” says (Callistus), “I will not profess belief in two Gods, Father and Son, but in one. For the Father, who subsisted in the Son Himself, after He had taken unto Himself our flesh, raised it to the nature of Deity, by bringing it into union with Himself, and made it one; so that Father and Son must be styled one God, and that this Person being one, cannot be two.” And in this way Callistus contends that the Father suffered along with the Son; for he does not wish to assert that the Father suffered, and is one Person, being careful to avoid blasphemy against the Father. (How careful he is!) senseless and knavish fellow, who improvises blasphemies in every direction, only that he may not seem to speak in violation of the truth, and is not abashed at being at one time betrayed into the tenet of Sabellius, whereas at another into the doctrine of Theodotus.

The impostor Callistus, having ventured on such opinions, established a school of theology in antagonism to the Church, adopting the foregoing system of instruction. And he first invented the device of conniving with men in regard of their indulgence in sensual pleasures, saying that all had their sins forgiven by himself.10071007    [Here is a very early precedent for the Taxa Pœnitentiaria, of which see Bramhall, vol. i. pp. 56, 180; ii. pp. 445, 446]. For he who is in the habit of attending the congregation of any one else, and is called a Christian, should he commit any transgression; the sin, they say, is not reckoned unto him, provided only he hurries off and attaches himself to the school of Callistus. And many persons were gratified with his regulation, as being stricken in conscience, and at the same time having been rejected by numerous sects; while also some of them, in accordance with our condemnatory sentence, had been by us forcibly ejected from the Church.10081008    [Elucidation XII.] Now such disciples as these passed over to these followers of Callistus, and served to crowd his school. This one propounded the opinion, that, if a bishop was guilty of any sin, if even a sin unto death,10091009    1 John v. 16. he ought not to be deposed. About the time of this man, bishops, priests, and deacons, who had been twice married, and thrice married, began to be allowed to retain their place among the clergy. If also, however, any one who is in holy orders should become married, Callistus permitted such a one to continue in holy orders as if he had not sinned.10101010    [Elucidation XIII. And on marriage of the clergy, vol. iv. p. 49, this series.] And in justification, he alleges that what has been spoken by the Apostle has been declared in reference to this person: “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant?”10111011    Rom. xiv. 4. But he asserted that likewise the parable of the tares is uttered in reference to this one: “Let the tares grow along with the wheat;”10121012    Matt. xiii. 30. or, in other words, let those who in the Church are guilty of sin remain in it. But also he affirmed that the ark of Noe was made for a symbol of the Church, in which were both dogs, and wolves, and ravens, and all things clean and unclean; and so he alleges that the case should stand in like manner with the Church. And as many parts of Scripture bearing on this view of the subject as he could collect, he so interpreted.

And the hearers of Callistus being delighted with his tenets, continue with him, thus mocking both themselves as well as many others, and crowds of these dupes stream together into his school. Wherefore also his pupils are multiplied, and they plume themselves upon the crowds (attending the school) for the sake of pleasures which Christ did not permit. But in contempt of Him, they place restraint on the commission of no sin, alleging that they pardon those who acquiesce (in Callistus’ opinions). For even also he permitted females, if they were unwedded,10131013    This passage, of which there are different readings, has been variously interpreted. The rendering followed above does probably less violence to the text than others proposed. The variety of meaning generally turns on the word ἐναξία in Miller’s text. Bunsen alters it into ἐν ἀξίᾳἡλικίᾳ, i.e., were inflamed at a proper age. Dr. Wordsworth reads ἡλικιώτῃἀναξίῳ, i.e., an unworthy comrade. Roeper reads ἡλικίᾳἀναξίου, i.e., in the bloom of youth were enamoured with one undeserving of their choice. and burned with passion at an age at all events unbecoming, or if they were not disposed to overturn their own dignity through a legal marriage, that they might have whomsoever they would choose as a bedfellow, whether a slave or free, and that a woman, though not legally married, might consider such a companion as a husband. Whence women, reputed believers, began to resort to drugs10141014    Dr. Wordsworth places περιδεσμεῖσθαι in the first sentence, and translates thus: “women began to venture to bandage themselves with ligaments to produce abortion, and to deal with drugs in order to destroy what was conceived.” for producing sterility, and to gird themselves round, so to expel what was being conceived on account of their not wishing to have a child either by a slave or by any paltry fellow, for the sake of their family and excessive wealth.10151015    [The prescience of Hermas and Clement is here illustrated. See vol. ii. pp. 9, 32, 279, 597, etc.] Behold, into how great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by inculcating adultery and murder at the same time! And withal, after such audacious acts, they, lost to all shame, attempt to call themselves a Catholic Church!10161016    [Elucidation XIV.] And some, under the supposition that they will attain prosperity, concur with them. During the episcopate of this one, second baptism was for the first time presumptuously attempted by them.  These, then, (are the practices and opinions which) that most astonishing Callistus established, whose school continues, preserving its customs and tradition, not discerning with whom they ought to communicate, but indiscriminately offering communion to all. And from him they have derived the denomination of their cognomen; so that, on account of Callistus being a foremost champion of such practices, they should be called Callistians.10171017    [Bunsen, i. 115. Elucidation XV.]


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