Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension before the Emergence of a Monarch-Bishopby Allen Brent (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 83, Number 2, April 1997
- pp. 294-295
- View Citation
- Additional Information
294BOOK REVIEWS times,"Constantine saw Christianity through Roman eyes as a cult reUgion (only later did he come to understand the significance of the creed in Christianity) with recognizable structures (a hierarchical organization, an ideal unity throughout the empire, universaUsm, a capacity to establish itself in history) which was admirably suited to contribute to the task of the state" (p. 49). Brox's description of the trinitarian controversies and the whole ethos created in the East by the condemnation ofArius' subordinationism is as clear and carefuUy nuanced as one could ever expect. He is truly a master in echoing the tenor of those times. In discussing the fifth-century christological controversies, Brox gives a very fair treatment of Nestorius, pointing out that modern scholarship has been able to show "that he did not advocate the heresy imputed to him, i.e., the division or spUtting ofChrist into two natures. He was orthodox—even according to the criteria of his own time. Others certainly put forward a Nestorian christology, but Nestorius was no 'Nestorian'" (p. 166). A nice feature of readabiUty is the author's decision to document only where necessary and then directly within the text itself, thereby avoiding the multiple footnotes we so often find in comparable texts.The book is clearly a high-level student reader and surely wiU be cherished as such by students, especiaUy in a paperback edition. There are a few typos that could be corrected in the next printing (viz., pp. 95, 97, 164). Ray R. Noll University ofSan Francisco Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the Third Century: Communities in Tension before the Emergence ofa Monarch-Bishop. ByAUen Brent. [Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae, formerly Philosophia Patrum.Texts and Studies of Early Christian Life and Language,Volume XXXI.] (Leiden: E. J. BrUl. 1995. Pp. xiv, 61 1; 24 plates. $ 143.00.) Hippolytus of Rome is one of the most elusive figures in the first three centuries of Christian history. A presbyter in Rome in the early third century and the last Christian writer from Rome to write in Greek, Hippolytus became the leader, it is reported by later ecclesiastical writers, of a "schismatic" community. He was also a major thinker who wrote on many topics, bibUcal exegesis (the first commentary on the book of Daniel), against heresy, on the date of Easter, and on chronology, and he is considered the author of an early and important church order, theApostolicTradition. His writings, however,have come down to us in fragmentary form. Further, a statue discovered in Rome in 1551 with a Ust of his writings and a paschal calendar is widely thought to be a statue of Hippolytus. BOOK REVIEWS295 In this large and diffuse book, Brent AUen attempts to sort out the archaeological and Uterary information concerning Hippolytus and to set forth a historical interpretation of the "schism" that divided the Roman Church in the early third century. Because of the nature of the sources and the vast scholarly Uterature on the archaeological data, the argument is often dense and highly technical , and many of the points discussed at great length wiU be of interest only to specialized readers. But Brent does have a thesis, and it has to do, as the subtitle suggests, with the development of the monarchical episcopate and the organization of the Church in Rome in the third century. FoUowing the suggestion of Peter Lampe in his study of the early Roman Church, Brent attempts to show that the monarchical episcopate was late in developing in the city of Rome. Lampe was concerned chiefly with the second century, but AUen argues that even in the third century, i.e., in Hippolytus' time, the Roman Church was composed of several different communities simUar to phUosophical schools and that it is within this social setting that Hippolytus is best understood. Put simply ,the city ofRome did not have a single "bishop"in the early third century.The statue is a "corporate icon" of the community that supported Hippolytus. Brent is weU aware of the complexity of the issues surrounding Hippolytus and the Roman Church in the third century, and an invaluable feature of the book is the careful discussion of the scholarly...