Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1237
The presbyters and confessors of Rome write to Cyprian, the bishop of Carthage (North Africa). They agree with him in condemning the excessively easy reconciliation granted to the lapsed of Carthage by some presbyters. Letter 31 in the epistolary of Cyprian, AD 250.
Epistula 31
Cypriano papae Moyses et Maximus presbyteri et Nicostratus et Rufinus et ceteri qui cum eis sunt confessores s[alutem].
The authors thank Cyprian for his letter. Then they touch upon the issue of the reconciliation of the lapsed:
VI,2. Sed quod nos ad maiorem laetitiam robustius prouocasti tacere non possumus quin omni uocis nostrae testimonio prosequamur.
Animaduertimus enim te congruente censura et eos digne obiurgasse, qui inmemores delictorum suorum pacem a presbyteris per absentiam tuam festinata et praecipiti cupiditate extorsissent, et illos qui sine respectu euangelii sanctum domini et margaritas prona facilitate donassent, cum tam grande delictum et per totum paene orbem incredibili uastatione grassatum non oporteat nisi, ut ipse scribis, caute moderate que tractari, consultis omnibus episcopis, presbyteris, diaconibus, confessoribus et ipsis stantibus laicis, ut in tuis litteris et ipse testaris, ne dum uolumus inportune ruinis subuenire, alias maiores ruinas uideamur parare. Vbi enim diuinus metus relinquetur, si tam facile peccantibus uenia praestatur? [...]
(ed. Diercks 1994: 157-158)
Letter 31
The presbyters Moyses and Maximus, and Nicostratus and Rufinus, and other confessors who are with them, to papa Cyprian, greetings.
The authors thank Cyprian for his letter. Then they touch upon the issue of the reconciliation of the lapsed:
VI,2. But what more strongly stimulated us to a greater joy we cannot be silent upon, but must describe with all the testimony of our voice. For we observe that you have both rebuked with fitting censure, and worthily, those who, unmindful of their sins, had, with hasty and eager desire, extorted peace from the presbyters in your absence, and those who, without respect for the Gospel, had with profane facility granted the holiness of the Lord unto dogs, and pearls to swine; although a great crime, and one which has extended with incredible destructiveness almost over the whole earth, ought only, as you yourself write, to be treated cautiously and with moderation, with the advice of all the bishops, presbyters, deacons, confessors, and even the laymen who abide fast, as in your letters you yourself also testify; so that, while wishing unseasonably to bring repairs to the ruins, we may not appear to be bringing about other and greater destruction, for where is the divine word left, if pardon be so easily granted to sinners? [...]


The letter is the answer to Letter 27 sent by Cyprian to Rome [1233].
The presbyters and deacons of Rome address Cyprian as "papa", but also as "brother", underlining the basic equality of their sacerdotal dignity.
The name of the Presbyter Moyses suggests that he was of Jewish or Christian origin.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Rome
  • Carthage
  • Rome

About the source:

Author: Cyprian
Title: Letters, Epistulae, Epistolae
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Cyprian was born probably about AD 200. He converted to Christianity in about 245 and in 248 was elected Bishop of Carthage. Soon after, the Decian persecution began (in 249/250) and Cyprian went into hiding. In 251 he returned to the city. Under Valerian, he was exiled in 257 and executed in 258. The epistolary of Cyprian consists of 81 letters (16 of them by his correspondents, and 6 synodal or collective), the majority of them are from the period of 250-251, when they were the means of Cyprian`s communication with his clergy. They offer us a wide view on the organization of the Church in Carthage in the middle of the third century, her relation with the Church of Rome, on the development of the persecutions, and on the conflicts that they caused inside the Church.
Different numerations of Cyprian's letters exist, I follow the edition of Diercks in Corpus Christianorum.
G.F. Diercks ed., Sancti Cypriani Episcopi Epistularium. Epistulae 1-57, Corpus Christianorum. Series Latina 3B, Turnhout 1994.


Non-Christian Origin - Jewish
Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ritual activity - Reconciliation/Administering penance
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
    Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1237,