‘The very deceitfulness of devils’: Firmilian and the doubtful baptisms of a woman possessed by demons

Methuen, C. (2016) ‘The very deceitfulness of devils’: Firmilian and the doubtful baptisms of a woman possessed by demons. Studies in Church History, 52, pp. 49-64. (doi:10.1017/stc.2015.3)

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In the mid-third century, a controversy relating to the validity of baptism by the lapsed broke out between Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and Stephen, bishop of Rome. The former maintained that baptisms carried out by those who later lapsed had no validity, but must be repeated by a priest of whose behaviour there could be no doubt. Stephen maintained that baptisms carried out in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were to be viewed as valid, whoever had carried them out. Cyprian appealed to his fellow bishops for support. In 256, Firmilian, bishop of Caesarea, wrote to him outlining the case of a woman who had for some time baptized and celebrated the eucharist, but who had then been identified as being possessed by demons, casting her earlier actions into question. This essay will analyse the grounds for Firmilian’s doubts about the validity of the woman’s actions, and his proposed response.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Firmilian, doubt, ordination of women.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Methuen, Professor Charlotte
Authors: Methuen, C.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Journal Name:Studies in Church History
Journal Abbr.:SCH
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):2059-0644
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 Ecclesiastical History Society
First Published:First published in Studies in Church History 52: 49-64
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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