In reference, however, to the character of Novatian, dearest brother, of whom you desired that intelligence should be written you what heresy he had introduced; know that, in the first place, we ought not even to be inquisitive as to what he teaches, so long as he teaches out of the pale of unity
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.” 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
"It has been argued that the document reveals a development in the understanding of the office of bishop, establishing the bishop as the center of sacramental life in the church, and finally conforming Roman practice to the understanding of the role of a bishop already found in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. The text is undeniably enormously complex and seems to preserve layers of liturgical practice, with material which probably dates from the late second-century overlain with revisions from the early mid-third. It is unlikely that the finished product was in any simple sense a liturgical book for practical use."
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