Hippolytus
(d. 240 AD)

EarlyChurch.org.uk


Synopsis

HIPPOLYTUS, a distinguished ecclesiastical writer; b. in the second half of the second century; d. about the year 240. Greek was his native tongue; and, although this may point to an Oriental birth, he was in Rome at an early age. He heard Irenæas lecture (Photius). The vivid minuteness with which he relates the fortunes of Callistus leads to the conclusion that he was in Rome under Victor (189-199). At the beginning of the third century he was a presbyter, conspicuous for learning, eloquence, zeal, and moral earnestness. He dissented, in matters of doctrine, from Victor’s successors (Zephyrinus and Callistus), holding the view that heretics should not be received back into the Church, and favoring the subordination theory of the Trinity; while they were inclined to Patripassianism. he seems to refer to himself as bishop, and stood at the head of a schismatic body in Rome (so also Prudeutius). Thus much is extracted from the author’s own work, the Philosophoumena. The other notices of his life are few. Eusebius (Hist., vi 20, 26) calls him bishop, and puts his life in the reign of Alexander Severus (222—285); and Prudentius (400) designates his bishopric as Portus, the port of Rome. Jerome (Cat. Vir. Illustr., 61) gives nothing more about him than a few of his writings. An ancient catalogue of Roman bishops, which Mommsen puts in 354, states that Yppolitus presbyter, with the Roman Bishop Pontianus, was banished by Severus to the unhealthy island of Sardinia (about 235). It does not say that he died there; and so the account of his death by Prudentius can be harmonized with this statement, but is not corroborated by any other testimony. He says Hippolytus was regarded as a martyr by the Roman Church, and suffered martyrdom at Portus, being torn to pieces by horses. The authenticity of this account is justly denied by Dollinger, on the ground that this mode of punishment was not practised by the Romans. In 1551 a marble statue was exhumed at Portus, which represents Hippolytus in a sitting posture, with beard and high forehead. On the chair are inscribed the titles of his works.

Writings. - In 1842 a learned Greek, Minoides Minas, employed by the French Government, found at Mount Athos, and brought to Paris, a number of manuscripts. Among these was one which E. Miller published at Oxford in 1851, under the title Origen’s Phliosophoumena; or, Refutation of all Heresies. The first book of this work was known before, and was generally ascribed to Origen. Of the original ten books, the second, third, and a part of the fourth, are still wanting. It is almost universally agreed by critics that this work is by the hand of Hippolytus, and not Origen. Baur (Theol. Jahrb., 1853) regarded the presbyter Caius as the author; but he has no followers in this opinion.

Hippolytus displays in this work wise judgment, large information, a wide acquaintance with the writings of philosophers, and acuteness in bringing out the relation of the ancient philosophies to the Christian heresies. He was as harsh and uncompromising a foe of philosophy as Tertullian. The Refutation of all Heresies … is a polemical work whose main object is to refute the doctrines (and especially the secret doctrines) of the Gnostics, and to abash heretics by showing that their views were taken from Pagan philosophy and Oriental theosophy. Book i. gives a summary of the Greek, Druid, and Indian philosophies. Books ii. and iii. are lost. Book iv. begins in the middle of an account of Chaldaean astrology, and gives an account of the magic practised at that time, etc. Books v.-x. contain the account of the heresies. In v. the Ophites (Naaseni, Peraticae, Sethites, Justinus) are treated; in vi., the followers of Simon Magus, and Valentinus and his disciples; in vii., Basilides (whose views appear to us in an altogether new phase) and Marcion; in viii., the Doketae, an Arabian Monoimos, the Quartodecimani, and the Montanists; in ix., Patripassianism, the author giving a valuable picture of the congregation in Rome at that time, and in x. he summarizes the contents of books i. and iv.-ix. It was from this summary that Theodoret drew. From the fact that Hippolytus looks back upon the administration of Callistus (217-222) as belonging to the past, the date of composition may be assigned pretty confidently to the year 234.

[996]

Other writings of Hippolytus are mentioned on the statue discovered at Pontus, to the number of thirteen. The greater number of these are entirely lost, and only fragments of others remain. Other works ascribed to him … are so different in style from the Refutation as hardly to be genuine. The same is true in regard to the exegetical works which are ascribed to him on the basis of notices in the fathers, manuscripts, etc. The fragments on Daniel, however, edited by Bardenhewer (D. heil. Hippol. Comnientar z. Buck Daniel, Freiburg, 1877), we may confidently regard as genuine.

Jacobi, "HIPPOLYTUS," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 2. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.995-996. [Greek titles of works omitted.]

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Primary Sources

Book or monograph R. Butterworth, trans., Hippolytus of Rome, Contra Noetum. London: Sheed & Ward Ltd, 1977. Pbk. ISBN: 0905764013. pp.160.
Book or monograph G. Dix, trans. The Treatise on the Apostolic Tradition of St. Hippolytus of Rome, Bishop and Martyr (C.160-c.244), 3rd edn. Curzon Press, 1991. Pbk. ISBN: 0700702326. pp.200.
Book or monograph B.W. Easton, The Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus. Hamden: Archon Books, 1962.

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Secondary Sources

Article C.P. Bammel, "The State of Play with Regard to Hippolytus and the Contra Noetum," Heythrop Journal 31 (1990): 195-199.
Article Albert I. Baumgarten, "Josephus and Hippolytus on the Pharisees," Hebrew Union College Annual 55 (1984): 1-25.
Book or monograph Allen Brent, Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension Before the Emergence of a Monarch-bishop. Vigiliae Christianae, Supplements. Leiden: Brill, 1995. Hbk. ISBN: 9004102450. pp.600. {Amazon.com}
Article Allen Brent, "Was Hippolytus a Schismatic?" Vigiliae Christianae 49.3 (1995): 215-244.
Article J.A. Cerrato, "Hippolytus On the Song of Songs and the New Prophecy," Studia Patristica. Proceedings of the the 12th International Congress on Patristic Studies, Oxford 1995. Leuven: Peeters Press.
Book or monograph J.A. Cerrato, Hippolytus Between East and West. Oxford University Press, 2001. Hbk. ISBN: 0199246963. pp.280.
Book or monograph F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. pp.94-96.
Book or monograph R.H. Connolly, The So-Called Egyptian Church Order and Derived Documents. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,1916.
Book or monograph F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. pp.155-167.
Book or monograph J.J.I. von Dillinger, Hippolytus and Callistus. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1876.
On-line Resource David Dunbar, "The problem of Hippolytus of Rome: a study in historical-critical reconstruction," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 25.1 (March 1982): 63-74.View in PDF format
Article David G. Dunbar, "Hippolytus of Rome and the Eschatological Exegesis of the Early Church," Westminster Theological Journal 45.2 (1983): 322-339.
Article David G. Dunbar, "The Delay of the Parousia in Hippolytus," Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 37 (1983): 313-327.
Article C.M. Edsman, "A Typology of Baptism in Hippolytus Romanus," Studia Patristica 2 (1957): 35-40.
Article Thomas M. Finn, "Ritual Process and the Survival of Early Christianity: A Study of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus," Journal of Ritual Studies 3.1 (1989): 69-89.
On-line Resource Hippolytus (Christian Classic Ethereal Library)
Article M. de Jonge, "Hippolytus' Benedictions of Isaac, Jacob and Moses' and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," Bijdragen 46.3 (1985): 245-60.
On-line Resource Hippolytus of Rome (Peter Kirby)
Book or monograph Jaap J. Mansfeld, Heresiography in Context: Hippolytus' "Elenchos" as a Source for Greek Philosophy. Philosophia Antiqua Series. Leiden: Brill, 1992. Hbk. ISBN: 9004096167. pp.391. {Amazon.com}
Article G. Ogg, "Hippolytus and the Introduction of the Christian Era," Vigiliae Christianae 16 (1962): 2-18.
Book or monograph Osborne: Rethinking Early Greek Philosophy: Hippolytus of Rome and the PresocraticsCatherine Osborne, Rethinking Early Greek Philosophy: Hippolytus of Rome and the Presocratics. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1987. Hbk. ISBN: 0715619756. pp.392.
Article Carroll D. Osburn, "The Test of the Pauline Epistles in Hippolytus of Rome," Second Century 2.2 (1982): 97-124.
Article L. Edward Phillips, "Daily Prayer in the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus," Journal of Theological Studies 40.2 (1989): 389-400.
Article D.L. Powell, "The Schism of Hippolytus," Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 12 (Texte und Untersuchungen, 115). Berlin: Akademie, 1975. pp.449-456.
Article E. Segelberg, "The Ordination Prayers in Hippolytus," Studia Patristica 13 (1975): 397-408.
Article C.N. Tsirpanlis, "The Antichrist and the End of the World in Irenaeus, Justin, Hippolytus and Tertullian," Patristic and Byzantine Review 9 (1990): 5-17.
Book or monograph Gerard Vallée, A Study in Anti-Gnostic Polemics: Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius. Studies in Christianity and Judaism, 1. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 1981. Pbk. ISBN: 0919812147. pp.114. {Amazon.com}
Article A. Whealey, "Hippolytus' Lost De Universo and De resurrectione: Some New Hypotheses," Vigiliae Christianae 50.3 (1996): 244-256.
Article A. Whealey, "Prologues on the Psalms. Origen, Hippolytus, Eusebius," Revue bénédictine de critique, d'histoire et de littérature religieuses 106 (1996): 234-45.
Book or monograph Wordsworth: Hippolytus and the Church of RomeChr. Wordsworth, Hippolytus and the Church of Rome. London: Rivingtons, 1880. Reprinted: Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2001. Pbk. ISBN: 157910763X. pp.328. {Amazon.com}
Article Benjamin G. Wright, "Cerinthus Apud Hippolytus: An Inquiry Into The Traditions About Cerinthus's Provenance," Second Century 4.2 (1984): 102-115.
Article R.J. Zwi Werblowsky, "On the Baptismal Rite According to St. Hippolytus," Texte und Untersuchungen 64 (1957): 93-105.

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Biographies

On-line Resource Hippolytus, Bishop, Scholar, and Martyr (James E. Kiefer)

Related Subjects

Montanism

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