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Donatists

(785 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
1. The Donatists were a North African schismatic church of the fourth and early fifth centuries. They fell into schism because, against the realities of their own time, they wished to be loyal to the ancient principles inherited from Tertullian (ca. 160-ca. 225) and Cyprian (ca. 200–258). With naive enthusiasm they clung to the ideal of a Spirit-filled church of saints and martyrs that could not tolerate anything unclean and that therefore had to suffer persecution. The main period also saw an infusion of social and revolutionary elemen…

Old Roman Creed

(397 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
“Old Roman Creed,” or “Romanum,” is the scholarly name for the earlier and shorter form of the Apostles’ Creed as we have it in its original Greek (with probably also a simultaneous Latin edition) in Marcellus (d. ca. 374) and Rufinus (ca. 345–411) and three MSS from the early Middle Ages. It was evidently the baptismal creed of the early Roman church (Baptism). The baptismal questions that have come down to us from Hippolytus (d. ca. 236) at the beginning of the third century are an almost exact prototype of this creed. Dating of the Old Roman Creed is difficult. A starting point…

Hellenization of Christianity

(435 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
[German Version] Awareness of the hellenization of Christianity as a historical phenomenon in the Early Church first arose in the period of Humanism and the Reformation and was already subject to contrary evaluations then, as is evident from the comments of Erasmus (exemplary importance of cultural blending for the revival of Christian piety), of G. Budé (emphasis on the differences for fear of a relapse into paganism) and Melanchthon (a demand to preserve the purity of the gospel in view of the i…

Irenaeus of Lyon

(690 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
[German Version] (c. 135 – c. 200). Irenaeus, who compiled the products of the Early Church's theological work in the 2nd century and effectively brought this phase to a close, may be regarded as one of the great church fathers (Patristics/Patrology) or certainly as the most significant of the “old Catholic fathers.” Originally from Asia Minor, where he had received a solid pagan education as well as his theological formation, he later moved to Gaul. As presbyter of the Lyon congregation, he trave…

Leo I, Pope (Saint)

(440 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar
[German Version] (pope Sep 29, 440 – Nov 10, 461). Born to a Tuscan family, Leo early on played an influential role among the clergy in Rome, where he came forward with important initiatives and measures ¶ to protect the purity of the faith. From his pontificate there survives a substantial literary corpus: 173 letters (30 addressed to him) and 97 sermons. In combination with some other material, this corpus documents his pontificate in considerable detail. The fact that he and Gregory the Great are the only popes honored with the epithet the Great reflects his towering historical impor…

Rule of Faith

(713 words)

Author(s): Wyrwa, Dietmar | Bromiley, Geoffrey W.
1. Early Church The phrase “rule of faith” (regula fidei), equivalent to “rule of truth,” is a term and concept that we first find in Irenaeus (ca. 130–ca. 200). It then occurs in almost all second- and third-century church fathers but is less common in Constantinian usage. As the defining genitive shows, what is meant is the substance of Christian faith, or truth as a standard and normative authority. In the rule of faith the church has preserved the quintessence of Christian belief, and it has shown its fidelity to the apostolic tradition by maintaining the r…

Hellenism

(3,230 words)

Author(s): Timpe, Dieter | Känel, Rudolf | Veltri, Giuseppe | Wyrwa, Dietmar | Lilie, Ralf J.
[German Version] I. Definition – II. Historical Expansion I. Definition Hellenism as a periodization concept goes back to J.G. Droysen, who gave a positive assessment of the amalgamation of Greek and Near Eastern cultures, seeing this as a characteristic feature of the period and as a precondition for Christianity. Thus, instead of a negative judgment of the period equaling it with a time of decline, its distinct character was highlighted in the definition of the concept. The Greek usage (ἑλληνισμός/ hellēnismós, for the assimilation of non-Greeks to the Greek language an…