Novatian


Novatian

Latin  Novatianus  
born c. 200, , Rome [Italy]
died c. 258

      the second antipope in papal history, in 251. He was the first Roman theologian to write in Latin and inspired the Novatian Schism—a break from the Christian church by rigorists who condemned apostasy. (His name was certainly Novatianus, not Novatus, as given by the Greeks.)

      Novatian was ordained at Rome and about 250 became a leader of the Roman clergy, in whose name he wrote two letters to Bishop Cyprian of Carthage concerning the lapsi—i.e., those early Christians who renounced their faith during the persecutions. He had shared with Cyprian a moderate attitude toward apostates, but, when Cornelius (Cornelius, Saint) was elected pope in 251, Novatian became the champion of rigorism. By then he had a high reputation as a learned theologian. While a majority favoured Cornelius as pope, a minority declared itself for Novatian, and he set himself up as antipope. His rigorist doctrine was uncompromising, and, by denying the administration of penance, he refused to admit the lapsi into the church. Novatian and his followers were excommunicated at a synod convened by Cornelius in 251.

      Although Cyprian and Cornelius joined forces against the Novatianists, the schism developed into a sect that spread across the empire and lasted for several centuries. Despite opposition, Novatian managed to build his own church with his own bishops throughout Christendom. During the persecution of Christians from 251 to 253, he fled Rome. The assertion of the church historian Socrates (d. c. 445) that Novatian was martyred about 258 under the Roman emperor Valerian appears confirmed by the inscription “novatiano . . . martyri” found in a cemetery near San Lorenzo, Rome, in 1932.

      Novatian's apologetic De trinitate (“On the Trinity”), considered to be his most important work, summarizes and defends the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity against contemporary heresies. In De cibis Judaicis (“Concerning Jewish Foods”), he points out that dietary laws and other practical prohibitions of the Old Testament must be understood spiritually rather than literally. In De spectaculis (“On Spectacles”), he condemns Christians who attend public games, and, in De bono pudicitiae (“Concerning the Value of Chastity”), he praises chastity.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Novatian — No*va tian, n. (Eccl. Hist.) One of the sect of Novatius, or Novatianus, who held that the lapsed might not be received again into communion with the church, and that second marriages are unlawful. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Novatian — (d. 257/8)    Antipope, Sect Founder and Martyr.    Little is known of the life of Novatian. He was a Roman presbyter who was elected Bishop of Rome in opposition to Pope Cornelius in 251. He was the author of an important work on the doctrine of …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Novatian — 1. noun A Roman priest, who became an antipope against St. Cornelius in 251 AD, and schismatic heresiarch as founder of a Christian sect known as Novatianism 2. adjective relating to the heresiarch Novatian (see above) and/or his schismatic sect …   Wiktionary

  • NOVATIAN —    a priest of the Church in Rome, a convert from paganism, who in the third century took a severe view of the conduct of those who had lapsed under persecution, particularly the Decian, and insisted that the Church, having no power to absolve… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • NOVATIAN — Novatianus …   Abbreviations in Latin Inscriptions

  • novatian — no·va·tian …   English syllables


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