Cyprian of Carthage: a bishop or an urban elite?

Alekaey Vital’evich Kargaltsev PhD in History, senior lecturer, Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia (naberezhnaya reki Moiki, 48/20a, Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 191186)

Kargaltsev A. V. Cyprian of Carthage: a bishop or an urban elite?, Religiya. Tserkov’. Obshchestvo. Issledovaniya i publikatsii po teologii i religii [Religion. Church. Society: Research and publications in the field of theology and religious studies], Saint-Petersburg, 2022, vol. 10, pp. 212–221.

doi: 10.24412/2308-0698-2022-10-212-221

Language: Russian

The article analyzes the social status of Bishop Cyprian of Carthage as a representative of the urban aristocracy. In our opinion, it was his education and reputation as well as professional skills that predetermined the election of Cyprian as bishop, contrary to the existing church traditions. The head of Carthaginian See used both his authority and wealth to change the position of Christians in the city, especially during the period of the epidemic known as the Plague of Cyprian. Also, he did so and in the matter of church transformations and relationships with other Christian pulpits. Another issue under consideration is the trial of Cyprian in 258. It is shown that although the bishop was sentenced to death, the attitude of the city authorities towards him was fundamentally different in comparison with other clergy of the city. Undoubtedly, the Roman governor perceived him in a friendly way, which was reflected in the type of his imprisonment before the execution, and in the last itself. Moreover, Cyprian retained ties with the urban aristocracy during the period of his episcopacy. Friends were ready to save him from death, which obviously indicates the stability of these ties. Thus, we can talk about a fairly stable social stratum to which the bishop belonged, even during the height of the crisis of the 3rd century. Its representatives could become Christian hierarchs, which explains the transfer of the initiative of anti-Christian persecutions from local authorities, as prescribed by the Edict of Trajan, to the imperial authorities.

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Key words: Christianity, Early Church, Roman Empire, Cyprian of Carthage, persecution, urban space


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