Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1277
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage (North Arfica), writes to Bishop Antonianus, who tends towards the Novatian schism. Cyprian reminds him about the history of the controversy.
Epistula  55
II,1. Sed enim superuenerunt postmodum aliae litterae tuae per Quintum conpresbyterum missae, in quibus animaduerti animum tuum  Nouatiani litteris motum nutare coepisse. [...]
IV,2. Denique cum de quibusdam ad me presbyteri et diaconi scripsissent eos inmoderatos esse et ad communicationem accipiendam festinanter urgere, rescribens eis in epistula mea quae extat et hoc addidi: "qui si nimium properant, habent in sua potestate quod postulant tempore ipso sibi plus quam quod postulant largiente. Acies adhuc geritur et agon cotidie celebratur. Si commissi uere et firmiter paenitet et fidei calor praeualet, qui differri non potest potest coronari."
3. De eo tamen quod statuendum esset circa causam lapsorum distuli, ut cum quies et tranquillitas data esset et episcopis in unum conuenire indulgentia diuina permitteret, tunc communicato et librato de omnium conlatione consilio statueremus quid fieri oporteret, si quis uero ante consilium nostrum et ante sententiam de omnium consilio statutam lapsis temere communicare uoluisset, ipse a communicatione abstineretur.
V,1. Quod etiam Romam ad clerum tunc adhuc sine episcopo agentem et ad confessores Maximum presbyterum et ceteros in custodia constitutos, nunc in ecclesia cum Cornelio iunctos plenissime scripsi, quod me scripsisse de eorum rescriptis potes noscere. Nam in epistula sua ita posuerunt: quamquam nobis in tam ingenti negotio placeat quod et tu ipse tractasti, prius esse ecclesiae pacem sustinendam, deinde sic conlatione consiliorum cum episcopis, presbyteris, diaconis, confessoribus pariter ac stantibus laicis facta lapsorum tractare rationem.
2. Additum est etiam Nouatiano tunc scribente et quod scripserat sua uoce recitante et presbytero Moyse tunc adhuc confessore nunc iam martyre subscribente, ut lapsis infirmis et in exitu constitutis pax daretur. Quae litterae per totum mundum missae sunt et in notitiam ecclesiis omnibus et uniuersis fratribus perlatae sunt.
(ed. Diercks 1994: 257. 259-60)
Letter 55
II,1. But subsequently there arrived other letters of yours sent by Quintus our co-presbyter, in which I observed that your mind, influenced by the letters of Novatian, had begun to waver.  [...]
IV,2. [...] Finally, when the presbyters and deacons had written to me about some persons, that they were without moderation and were eagerly pressing forward to receive communion; replying to them in my letter which is still in existence, then I added also this: “If these are so excessively eager, they have what they require in their own power, the time itself providing for them more than they ask:  the battle is still being carried on, and the struggle is daily celebrated: if they truly and substantially repent of what they have done, and the ardour of their faith prevails, he who cannot be delayed may be crowned.”
3. But I put off deciding what was to be arranged about the case of the lapsed, so that when quiet and tranquillity should be granted, and the divine indulgence should allow the bishops to assemble into one place, then the advice gathered from the comparison of all opinions being communicated and weighed, we might determine what was necessary to be done. But if any one, before our council, and before the opinion decided upon by the advice of all, should rashly wish to communicate with the lapsed, he himself should be withheld from communion.
V,1. And this also I wrote very fully to Rome, to the clergy who were then still acting without a bishop, and to the confessors, Maximus the presbyter, and the rest who were then shut up in prison, but are now in the Church, joined with Cornelius. You may know that I wrote this from their reply, for in their letter they wrote thus: “However, what you have yourself also declared in so important a matter is satisfactory to us, that the peace of the Church must first be maintained; then, that an assembly for counsel being gathered together, with bishop, presbyters, deacons, and confessors, as well as with the laity who stand fast, we should deal with the case of the lapsed.”
2. It was added also—Novatian then writing, and reciting with his own voice what he had written, and the presbyter Moyses, then still a confessor, but now a martyr, subscribing—that peace ought to be granted to the lapsed who were sick and at the point of departure. Which letter was sent throughout the whole world, and was brought to the knowledge of all the churches and all the brethren.


The citation in the paragraph 4 is taken from Letter 19 of Cyprian [1177], and in paragraph 5 of Letter 30 in the epistolary of Cyprian [1236].
 Novatian was ordained against Cornelius, after the election of Cornelius as the bishop of Rome in AD 251. Novatian and his followers took the rigorist view towards the lapsed, but they stayed in communion with the followers of Novatus in Carthage, who rebelled against Cyprian considering him too rigorist.
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 Valerius, 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.
 J. Patout Burns Jr, Cyprian the Bishop, London & New York 2002.


Non-Christian Origin - Jewish
Writing activity - Correspondence
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Ecclesiastical administration - Ecclesiastical envoy
Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
Administration of justice - Secular
Described by a title - Conpresbyter
Administration of justice - Imprisonment
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1277,