Pope Victor and Asia Minor


#1

During my research for a history paper I’m writing, I came across a claim in one of the books I’ve made use of that contrary to common belief Pope Victor never attempted to excommunicate the churches of Asia Minor, but only the Asians within Rome itself. This author claims that Eusebius must have got it wrong (writing a couple centuries after the event) as Irenaeus, in his response to the pope’s actions, makes reference to past presbyters of Rome who ‘sent the Eucharist’ to the Asians, which, this author states, can not refer to distant churches as the hosts would become stale and/or moudly during the long journey. How would you respond to this claim?

Tyler


#2

This incident is often cited as evidence for the primacy of Rome in the early centuries of the Church…does anyone have a response?


#3

contrary to common belief

I think this is the key point.

Need you let your faith be shaken by one author who contradicts all others?

In Christ.

Andre.


#4

[quote=twf]During my research for a history paper I’m writing, I came across a claim in one of the books I’ve made use of that contrary to common belief Pope Victor never attempted to excommunicate the churches of Asia Minor, but only the Asians within Rome itself. This author claims that Eusebius must have got it wrong (writing a couple centuries after the event) as Irenaeus, in his response to the pope’s actions, makes reference to past presbyters of Rome who ‘sent the Eucharist’ to the Asians, which, this author states, can not refer to distant churches as the hosts would become stale and/or moudly during the long journey. How would you respond to this claim?

Tyler
[/quote]

This Easter controversy is described by Eusebius in , book 5, chapters 23-25Church History. The quote from Irenaeus is in chapter 24 and reads:Among these were the presbyters before Soter, who presided over the church which thou now rulest. We mean Anicetus, and Plus, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus. They neither observed it themselves, nor did they permit those after them to do so. And yet though not observing it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the parishes in which it was observed; although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it. But none were ever cast out on account of this form; but the presbyters before thee who did not observe it, sent the eucharist to those of other parishes who observed it. And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him.

But though matters were in this shape, they communed together, and Anicetus conceded the administration of the eucharist in the church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect. And they parted from each other in peace, both those who observed, and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church.

The book’s author seems to have misread or misapplied Irenaeus. It seem fairly clear Irenaeus meant that, previous to Pope Victor, other bishops of Rome had “sent the eucharist” not to far off Asia itself but to those Asians who were visiting at Rome, “those who came to them from the parishes in which it [a different Easter custom] was observed.” Again, Polycarp and Pope Anicetus “communed together” “when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome” though Polycarp followed a different Easter custom. Thus, according to Irenaeus, Pope Victor should not excommunicate Asia because previous popes had shared communion with Asians who observed a different Easter custom when they had visited Rome in the past.


#5

Upon further reflection…

I can sort of see where the book’s author might (wrongly) interpret Irenaeus’ mention of Asians at Rome to mean Asian immigrants who were now members of the Church of Rome and thus completely under the bishop of Rome’s authority as opposed to Asian visitors, as I discussed in my previous post. However, when Irenaeus talks about Anicetus, the bishop of Rome, and Polycarp, the visiting bishop of Ephesus, who “parted from each other in peace, both those who observed, and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church,” it seems fairly clear that this concerned more than just discipline within the local Church of Rome. It concerned relations between two ancient local Churches, the Church of Rome and the Church of Ephesus. If, instead of communing together, Anticetus had excommunicated Polycarp, the visiting bishop of Ephesus, for observing a different Easter custom, then Anticetus would have excommunicated the entire Church of Ephesus. This was exactly the sort of thing Irenaeus was trying to convince Pope Victor not to do, that is, trying to convince him not to excommunicate the Churches of Asia.


#6

[quote=Todd Easton]…Polycarp, the visiting bishop of Ephesus…
[/quote]

Correction: Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna not Ephesus.


#7

Thanks for all the helpful replies.


#8

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