Term of Award

Summer 2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts in History (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of History

Committee Chair

Timothy Teeter

Committee Member 1

Nadejda Popov

Committee Member 2

Jeffrey Burson

Abstract

St. Cyprian was a pivotal figure in the early Church. During his tenure as bishop of Carthage, 248-9 to 258, the Roman emperor Decius ignited the first empire-wide persecution of the Christian Church. The problems that resulted from this persecution were unprecedented. This thesis will analyze the letters and treatises of Cyprian and will illustrate how Cyprian solidified certain powers of the bishop and built upon the existing orthodoxy of the Church. The actions of Cyprian will be viewed as a microhistory. Cyprian is not a fringe character in history; he is a well-known Church father and a saint in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Thus, this microhistory is focused on the textualsources of Cyprian rather than all the available material on the subject of the Decian persecution and the controversies Cyprian experienced. The epistles and treatises written and received by Cyprian will be the bases of research chronicling the events in which he lived. Thus, differing from other modern scholarship, this thesis states that at the pinnacle of Cyprianic ecclesiology is the belief that the bishop, as the divine head of an ecclesiastical community, was to guard both the faithful and the damaged until the return of their Lord.

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