Ante Nicene Fathers Timeline

Cyprian of Carthage

Cyprian, or to quote his real name Cyprianus Thascius Ceciliuswas, was born around AD200 probably in Carthage in present day Tunisia. He received a classical education and became a member of the legal profession and an orator in the courts in Carthage. He converted to Christianity in middle age, probably under the influence of Tertullian and rose to become Bishop of Carthage in AD248.

A year later he was forced to flee Carthage, due to the extreme persecution of Christians under Emperor Decius between AD249 and 251. After the death of Decius he returned to Carthage to find that some of the faithful had fallen away and some others had followed the heretic Novatian who had caused a split in the church. Cyprian was furious and refused to allow the fallen to return to the fold. Some of them followed Felicissimus and elected Fortunatus as Bishop in oposition to Cyprian.

Cyprian called a Council of North African Bishops in Carthage to discuss the lapsed faithful and the schism caused by Felicissimus. Most of the council sided with Cyprian and condemned Felicissimus. Cyprian argued that they should be received back into the church after suitable intervals of probation and penance, adjusted to the gravity of the denial. In this he took a middle course between Novatus, who received apostates with no probation at all, and Novatian, who would not receive them back at all, and who broke communion with the rest of the Church over this issue, forming a dissident group particularly strong in Rome and Antioch. Novatus, somewhat surprisingly, ended up joining the party of Novatian. Cyprian, who held the same position as the Bishop of Rome on the treatment of the lapsed, wrote urging the Christians of Rome to stand with their bishop.

During the persecutions of Valerian (also known as Caesar Publius Licinius Valerianus Augustus), he was exiled to Curubis in 257, brought back Carthage, and then martyred in 258.

Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage


Early Church Fathers

Clement of Rome Ignatius of Antioch Polycarp of Smyrna
Clement of Alexandria Tertullian of Carthage Cyprian of Carthage
Irenaeus of Lyons Origen of Alexandria Athanasius of Alexandria

The Council of Nicaea AD 325