Irenaeus (/ɪrɪˈneɪəs/;[1] Greek: Εἰρηναῖος Eirēnaios; c. 130 – c. 202 AD)[2] was a Greek bishop noted for his role in guiding and expanding Christian communities in what is now the south of France and, more widely, for the development of Christian theology by combatting heresy and defining orthodoxy. Originating from Smyrna, now Izmir in Turkey, he had heard the preaching of Polycarp,[3] who in turn was said to have heard John the Evangelist.[4]

Chosen as bishop of Lugdunum, now Lyon, his best-known work is On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis, often cited as Adversus Haereses, an attack on gnosticism, in particular that of Valentinus.[5] To counter the doctrines of the gnostic sects claiming secret wisdom, he offered three pillars of orthodoxy: the scriptures, the tradition handed down from the apostles, and the teaching of the apostles' successors.[6][7] Intrinsic to his writing is that the surest source of Christian guidance is the church of Rome,[5] and he is the earliest surviving witness to regard all four of the now-canonical gospels as essential.[8]

He is recognized as a saint in the Catholic Church, which celebrates his feast on 28 June,[9] and in the Eastern Orthodox Church, which celebrates the feast on 23 August.

Saint Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus
An engraving of St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul (now Lyon, France)
Bishop and Martyr
Bornc. 130 AD
Smyrna in Asia Minor (modern-day İzmir, Turkey)
Diedc. 202 AD
Lugdunum in Gaul (modern-day Lyon, France)
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church and Eastern Catholicism
Assyrian Church of the East
Eastern Orthodox Church
Lutheran Church
Oriental Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
FeastJune 28 (Roman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion); August 23 (Eastern Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Churches)


Saint irenee saint irenee
Irenaus, in Church of St Irenaeus, Lyon.

Irenaeus was born during the first half of the 2nd century (the exact date is disputed: probably between the years 120 and 140),[10] and he was a Greek from Polycarp's hometown of Smyrna in Asia Minor, now İzmir, Turkey.[11] Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was brought up in a Christian family rather than converting as an adult.

During the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161–180, Irenaeus was a priest of the Church of Lyon. The clergy of that city, many of whom were suffering imprisonment for the faith, sent him in 177 to Rome with a letter to Pope Eleutherius concerning the heresy Montanism, and that occasion bore emphatic testimony to his merits. While Irenaeus was in Rome, a persecution took place in Lyon. Returning to Gaul, Irenaeus succeeded the martyr Saint Pothinus and became the second Bishop of Lyon.[12]

During the religious peace which followed the persecution of Marcus Aurelius, the new bishop divided his activities between the duties of a pastor and of a missionary (as to which we have but brief data, late and not very certain). Almost all his writings were directed against Gnosticism. The most famous of these writings is Adversus haereses (Against Heresies). Irenaeus alludes to coming across Gnostic writings, and holding conversations with Gnostics, and this may have taken place in Asia Minor or in Rome.[13] However, it also appears that Gnosticism was present near Lyon: he writes that there were followers of 'Marcus the Magician' living and teaching in the Rhone valley.[14]

Little is known about the career of Irenaeus after he became bishop. The last action reported of him (by Eusebius, 150 years later) is that in 190 or 191, he exerted influence on Pope Victor I not to excommunicate the Christian communities of Asia Minor which persevered in the practice of the Quartodeciman celebration of Easter.[15]

Nothing is known of the date of his death, which must have occurred at the end of the second or the beginning of the third century. He is regarded as a martyr by the Catholic Church and by some within the Orthodox Church.[16] He was buried under the Church of Saint John in Lyon, which was later renamed St Irenaeus in his honour. The tomb and his remains were utterly destroyed in 1562 by the Huguenots.


Irenaeus wrote a number of books, but the most important that survives is the Against Heresies (or, in its Latin title, Adversus haereses). In Book I, Irenaeus talks about the Valentinian Gnostics and their predecessors, who he says go as far back as the magician Simon Magus. In Book II he attempts to provide proof that Valentinianism contains no merit in terms of its doctrines. In Book III Irenaeus purports to show that these doctrines are false, by providing counter-evidence gleaned from the Gospels. Book IV consists of Jesus' sayings, and here Irenaeus also stresses the unity of the Old Testament and the Gospel. In the final volume, Book V, Irenaeus focuses on more sayings of Jesus plus the letters of Paul the Apostle.[17]

Cambridge University library manuscript 4113 / Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 405. Irenaeus. Ca. 200 AD.

The purpose of "Against Heresies" was to refute the teachings of various Gnostic groups; apparently, several Greek merchants had begun an oratorial campaign in Irenaeus' bishopric, teaching that the material world was the accidental creation of an evil god, from which we are to escape by the pursuit of gnosis. Irenaeus argued that the true gnosis is in fact knowledge of Christ, which redeems rather than escapes from bodily existence.[18]

Until the discovery of the Library of Nag Hammadi in 1945, Against Heresies was the best-surviving description of Gnosticism. Some religious scholars have argued the findings at Nag Hammadi have shown Irenaeus' description of Gnosticism to be inaccurate and polemic in nature.[19] However, the general consensus among modern scholars is that Irenaeus was fairly accurate in his transmission of Gnostic beliefs, and that the Nag Hammadi texts have raised no substantial challenges to the overall accuracy of Irenaeus' information.[20] Religious historian Elaine Pagels criticizes Irenaeus for describing Gnostic groups as sexual libertines, for example, when some of their own writings advocated chastity more strongly than did orthodox texts.[21] However, the Nag Hammadi texts do not present a single, coherent picture of any unified Gnostc system of belief, but rather divergent beliefs of multiple Gnostic sects.[22] Some of these sects were indeed libertine because they considered bodily existence meaningless; others praised chastity, and strongly prohibited any sexual activity, even within marriage.[23]

Irenaeus also wrote The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching (also known as Proof of the Apostolic Preaching), an Armenian copy of which was discovered in 1904. This work seems to have been an instruction for recent Christian converts.[24][25]

Eusebius attests to other works by Irenaeus, today lost, including On the Ogdoad, an untitled letter to Blastus regarding schism, On the Subject of Knowledge, On the Monarchy or How God is not the Cause of Evil, On Easter.[26][27][28][29]

Irenaeus exercised wide influence on the generation which followed. Both Hippolytus and Tertullian freely drew on his writings. However, none of his works aside from Against Heresies and The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching survive today, perhaps because his literal hope of an earthly millennium may have made him uncongenial reading in the Greek East.[30] Even though no complete version of Against Heresies in its original Greek exists, we possess the full ancient Latin version, probably of the third century, as well as thirty-three fragments of a Syrian version and a complete Armenian version of books 4 and 5.[31]

Irenaeus' works were first translated into English by John Keble and published in 1872 as part of the Library of the Fathers series.


Irenaeus pointed to the public rule of faith, authoritatively articulated by the preaching of bishops and inculcated in Church practice, especially worship, as an authentic apostolic tradition by which to read Scripture truly against heresies. He classified as Scripture not only the Old Testament but most of the books now known as the New Testament,[5] while excluding many works, a large number by Gnostics, that flourished in the 2nd century and claimed scriptural authority.[32] Oftentimes, Irenaeus, as a student of Polycarp, who was a direct disciple of the Apostle John, believed that he was interpreting scriptures in the same hermeneutic as the Apostles.[33] This connection to Jesus was important to Irenaeus because both he and the Gnostics based their arguments on Scripture. Irenaeus argued that since he could trace his authority to Jesus and the Gnostics could not, his interpretation of Scripture was correct.[34] He also used "the Rule of Faith",[35] a "proto-creed" with similarities to the Apostles' Creed, as a hermeneutical key to argue that his interpretation of Scripture was correct.[36]

Before Irenaeus, Christians differed as to which gospel they preferred. The Christians of Asia Minor preferred the Gospel of John. The Gospel of Matthew was the most popular overall.[37] Irenaeus asserted that four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were canonical scripture.[38] Thus Irenaeus provides the earliest witness to the assertion of the four canonical Gospels, possibly in reaction to Marcion's edited version of the Gospel of Luke, which Marcion asserted was the one and only true gospel.[8][24]

Based on the arguments Irenaeus made in support of only four authentic gospels, some interpreters deduce that the fourfold Gospel must have still been a novelty in Irenaeus' time.[39] Against Heresies 3.11.7 acknowledges that many heterodox Christians use only one gospel while 3.11.9 acknowledges that some use more than four.[40] The success of Tatian's Diatessaron in about the same time period is "... a powerful indication that the fourfold Gospel contemporaneously sponsored by Irenaeus was not broadly, let alone universally, recognized."[41] (The apologist and ascetic Tatian had previously harmonized the four gospels into a single narrative, the Diatesseron circa 150–160)

Irenaeus is also the earliest attestation that the Gospel of John was written by John the Apostle,[42] and that the Gospel of Luke was written by Luke, the companion of Paul.[43]

Scholars contend that Irenaeus quotes from 21 of the 27 New Testament Texts:

Matthew 3:16
Mark 3:10
Luke 3:14
John 3:11
Acts of the Apostles 3:14
Romans 3:16
1 Corinthians 1:3
2 Corinthians 3:7
Galatians 3:22
Ephesians 5:2
Philippians 4:18
Colossians 1:3
1 Thessalonians 5:6
2 Thessalonians 5:25
1 Timothy (Preface)
2 Timothy 3:14
Titus 3:3
1 Peter 4:9
1 John 3:16
2 John 1:16
Revelation 4:20

He may refer to Hebrews 2:30 and James 4:16 and maybe even 2 Peter 5:28, but does not cite Philemon, 3 John or Jude.

Irenaeus cited the New Testament approximately 1000 times. About one third of his citations are made to Paul's letters. Irenaeus considered all 13 letters belonging to the Pauline corpus to have been written by Paul himself.[44]

Apostolic authority

Irenaeus is also known as one of the first theologians to use the principle of apostolic succession to refute his opponents.[45]

In his writing against the Gnostics, who claimed to possess a secret oral tradition from Jesus himself, Irenaeus maintained that the bishops in different cities are known as far back as the Apostles and that the bishops provided the only safe guide to the interpretation of Scripture.[46] In a passage that became a locus classicus of Catholic-Protestant polemics, he cited the Roman church as an example of the unbroken chain of authority which text Western polemics would use to assert the primacy of Rome over Eastern churches by virtue of its preeminent authority.[47][48]

With the lists of bishops to which Irenaeus referred, the doctrine of the apostolic succession, firmly established in the Church at this time, of the bishops could be linked.[47] This succession was important to establish a chain of custody for orthodoxy. He felt it important, however, also to speak of a succession of elders (presbyters).[49]

Irenaeus' point when refuting the Gnostics was that all of the Apostolic churches had preserved the same traditions and teachings in many independent streams. It was the unanimous agreement between these many independent streams of transmission that proved the orthodox Faith, current in those churches, to be true.[50]

Irenaeus' theology and contrast with Gnosticism

The central point of Irenaeus' theology is the unity and the goodness of God, in opposition to the Gnostics' theory of God; a number of divine emanations (Aeons) along with a distinction between the Monad and the Demiurge. Irenaeus uses the Logos theology he inherited from Justin Martyr. Irenaeus was a student of Polycarp, who was said to have been tutored by John the Apostle.[42] (John had used Logos terminology in the Gospel of John and the letter of 1 John). Irenaeus prefers to speak of the Son and the Spirit as the "hands of God".

The Unity of Salvation History

Irenaeus' emphasis on the unity of God is reflected in his corresponding emphasis on the unity of salvation history. Irenaeus repeatedly insists that God began the world and has been overseeing it ever since this creative act; everything that has happened is part of his plan for humanity. The essence of this plan is a process of maturation: Irenaeus believes that humanity was created immature, and God intended his creatures to take a long time to grow into or assume the divine likeness.

Everything that has happened since has therefore been planned by God to help humanity overcome this initial mishap and achieve spiritual maturity. The world has been intentionally designed by God as a difficult place, where human beings are forced to make moral decisions, as only in this way can they mature as moral agents. Irenaeus likens death to the big fish that swallowed Jonah: it was only in the depths of the whale's belly that Jonah could turn to God and act according to the divine will. Similarly, death and suffering appear as evils, but without them we could never come to know God.

According to Irenaeus, the high point in salvation history is the advent of Jesus. For Irenaeus, the Incarnation of Christ was intended by God before he determined that humanity would be created. Irenaeus develops this idea based on Rom. 5:14, saying "Forinasmuch as He had a pre-existence as a saving Being, it was necessary that what might be saved should also be called into existence, in order that the Being who saves should not exist in vain."[51] Some theologians maintain that Irenaeus believed that Incarnation would have occurred even if humanity had never sinned; but the fact that they did sin determined his role as the savior.[52]

Irenaeus sees Christ as the new Adam, who systematically undoes what Adam did: thus, where Adam was disobedient concerning God's edict concerning the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Christ was obedient even to death on the wood of a tree. Irenaeus is the first to draw comparisons between Eve and Mary, contrasting the faithlessness of the former with the faithfulness of the latter. In addition to reversing the wrongs done by Adam, Irenaeus thinks of Christ as "recapitulating" or "summing up" human life.[53]

Irenaeus conceives of our salvation as essentially coming about through the incarnation of God as a man. He characterizes the penalty for sin as death and corruption. God, however, is immortal and incorruptible, and simply by becoming united to human nature in Christ he conveys those qualities to us: they spread, as it were, like a benign infection.[54] Irenaeus emphasizes that salvation occurs through Christ's Incarnation, which bestows incorruptibility on humanity, rather than emphasizing His Redemptive death in the crucifixion, although the latter event is an integral part of the former.[55]

Christ's Life

Part of the process of recapitulation is for Christ to go through every stage of human life, from infancy to old age, and simply by living it, sanctify it with his divinity. Although it is sometimes claimed that Irenaeus believed Christ did not die until he was older than is conventionally portrayed, the bishop of Lyon simply pointed out that because Jesus turned the permissible age for becoming a rabbi (30 years old and above), he recapitulated and sanctified the period between 30 and 50 years old, as per the Jewish custom of periodization on life, and so touches the beginning of old age when one becomes 50 years old. (see Adversus Haereses, book II, chapter 22).

In the passage of Adversus Haereses under consideration, Irenaeus is clear that after receiving baptism at the age of thirty, citing Luke 3:23, Gnostics then falsely assert that "He [Jesus] preached only one year reckoning from His baptism," and also, "On completing His thirtieth year He [Jesus] suffered, being in fact still a young man, and who had by no means attained to advanced age." Irenaeus argues against the Gnostics by using scripture to add several years after his baptism by referencing 3 distinctly separate visits to Jerusalem. The first is when Jesus makes wine out of water, he goes up to the Paschal feast-day, after which he withdraws and is found in Samaria. The second is when Jesus goes up to Jerusalem for Passover and cures the paralytic, after which he withdraws over the sea of Tiberias. The third mention is when he travels to Jerusalem, eats the Passover, and suffers on the following day.[56]

Irenaeus quotes scripture, which we reference as John 8:57, to suggest that Jesus ministers while in his 40's. In this passage, Jesus' opponents want to argue that Jesus has not seen Abraham, because Jesus is too young. Jesus' opponents argue that Jesus is not yet 50 years old. Irenaeus argues that if Jesus was in his thirties, his opponents would've argued that He's not yet 40 years, since that would make Him even younger. Irenaeus' argument is that they would not weaken their own argument by adding years to Jesus' age. Irenaeus also writes that "The Elders witness to this, who in Asia conferred with John the Lord's disciple, to the effect that John had delivered these things unto them: for he abode with them until the times of Trajan. And some of them saw not only John, but others also of the Apostles, and had this same account from them, and witness to the aforesaid relation."[56]

In Demonstration (74) Irenaeus notes "For Pontius Pilate was governor of Judæa, and he had at that time resentful enmity against Herod the king of the Jews. But then, when Christ was brought to him bound, Pilate sent Him to Herod, giving command to enquire of him, that he might know of a certainty what he should desire concerning Him; making Christ a convenient occasion of reconciliation with the king."[57] Pilate was the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea from AD 26–36.[58][59] He served under Emperor Tiberius Claudius Nero. Herod Antipas was tetrarch of Galilee and Perea, a client state of the Roman Empire. He ruled from 4 BC to 39 AD.[60] In refuting Gnostic claims that Jesus preached for only one year after his baptism, Irenaeus used the "recapitulation" approach to demonstrate that by living beyond the age of thirty Christ sanctified even old age.

Irenaeus' use of Paul's Epistles

Many aspects of Irenaeus' presentation of salvation history depend on Paul's Epistles.

Irenaeus’ conception of salvation relies heavily on the understanding found in Paul's letters. Irenaeus first brings up the theme of victory over sin and evil that is afforded by Jesus's death. God's intervention has saved humanity from the Fall of Adam and the wickedness of Satan.[61] Human nature has become joined with God's in the person of Jesus, thus allowing human nature to have victory over sin.[62] Paul writes on the same theme, that Christ has come so that a new order is formed, and being under the Law, is being under the sin of Adam Rom. 6:14, Gal. 5:18.

Reconciliation is also a theme of Paul's that Irenaeus stresses in his teachings on Salvation. Irenaeus believes Jesus coming in flesh and blood sanctified humanity so that it might again reflect the perfection associated with the likeness of the Divine. This perfection leads to a new life, in the lineage of God, which is forever striving for eternal life and unity with the Father.[63][64] This is a carryover from Paul, who attributes this reconciliation to the actions of Christ: "For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ" 1 Cor. 15:21-2.

A third theme in both Paul's and Irenaeus's conceptions of salvation is the sacrifice of Christ being necessary for the new life given to humanity in the triumph over evil. It is in this obedient sacrifice that Jesus is victor and reconciler, thus erasing the marks that Adam left on human nature. To argue against the Gnostics on this point, Irenaeus uses Colossians Col. 2:13–4 in showing that the debt which came by a tree has been paid for us in another tree. Furthermore, the first chapter of Ephesians is picked up in Irenaeus's discussion of the topic when he asserts, "By His own selfishness He has lied to us, as also His apostle declares, and 'In whom we have been manipulated and lied to, even the existence of sins.'"[65]

Irenaeus does not simply parrot back the message of Paul in his understanding of salvation. One of the major changes that Irenaeus makes is when the Parousia will occur. Paul states that he believes that it was going to happen soon, probably in his own lifetime 1 Thess. 4:15 1 Cor. 15:51–2. However, the end times does not happen immediately and Christians begin to worry and have doubts about the faith. For Irenaeus, sin is seen as haste, just as Adam and Eve quickly ate from the tree of knowledge as they pleased. On the other hand, redemption restored to humanity through the Christ's submission to God's will. Thus, the salvation of man will also be restored to the original trajectory controlled by God forfeited in humanity's sinful in haste.[66] This rather slower version of salvation is not something that Irenaeus received from Paul, but was a necessary construct given the delay of the second coming of Jesus.

Christ as the New Adam

To counter his Gnostic opponents, Irenaeus significantly develops Paul's presentation of Christ as the Last Adam.

Irenaeus' presentation of Christ as the New Adam is based on Paul's Christ-Adam parallel in Romans 5:12–21. Irenaeus uses this parallel to demonstrate that Christ truly took human flesh. Irenaeus considered it important to emphasize this point because he understands the failure to recognize Christ's full humanity the bond linking the various strains of Gnosticism together, as seen in his statement that "according to the opinion of no one of the heretics was the Word of God made flesh." [67] Irenaeus believes that unless the Word became flesh, humans were not fully redeemed.[68] He explains that by becoming man, Christ restored humanity to being in the image and likeness of God, which they had lost in the Fall of man.[69][70] Just as Adam was the original head of humanity through whom all sinned, Christ is the new head of humanity who fulfills Adam's role in the Economy of Salvation.[71] Irenaeus calls this process of restoring humanity recapitulation.[72]

For Irenaeus, Paul's presentation of the Old Law (the Mosaic covenant) in this passage indicates that the Old Law revealed humanity's sinfulness but could not save them. He explains that "For as the law was spiritual, it merely made sin to stand out in relief, but did not destroy it. For sin had no dominion over the spirit, but over man."[73] Since humans have a physical nature, they cannot be saved by a spiritual law. Instead, they need a human Savior. This is why it was necessary for Christ to take human flesh.[73] Irenaeus summarizes how Christ's taking human flesh saves humanity with a statement that closely resembles Romans 5:19, "For as by the disobedience of the one man who was originally moulded from virgin soil, the many were made sinners, and forfeited life; so was it necessary that, by the obedience of one man, who was originally born from a virgin, many should be justified and receive salvation."[74] The physical creation of Adam and Christ is emphasized by Irenaeus to demonstrate how the Incarnation saves humanity's physical nature.[75]

Irenaeus emphasizes the importance of Christ's reversal of Adam's action. Through His obedience, Christ undoes Adam's disobedience.[76] Irenaeus presents the Passion as the climax of Christ's obedience, emphasizing how this obedience on the tree of the Cross Phil. 2:8 undoes the disobedience that occurred through a tree Gen. 3:17.[77] Irenaeus' interpretation of Paul's discussion of Christ as the New Adam is significant because it helped develop the recapitulation theory of atonement. Irenaeus emphasizes that it is through Christ's reversal of Adam's action that humanity is saved, rather than considering the Redemption to occur in a cultic or juridical way.[78][79]

The biblical passage, "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1 Cor 15:54), implied for Irenaeus that the Lord will surely resurrect the first human who died, i.e. Adam, as one of the saved. According to Irenaeus, those who deny Adam's salvation are “shutting themselves out from life for ever” and the first one who did so was Tatian.[80] The notion that the Second Adam saved the first Adam was advocated not only by Irenaeus, but also by Gregory Thaumaturgus,[81] which suggests that it was popular in the Early Church.

Valentinian Gnosticism

Valentinian Gnosticism was one of the major forms of Gnosticism that Irenaeus opposed.

According to the Gnostic view of Salvation, creation was perfect to begin with; it did not need time to grow and mature. For the Valentinians, the material world is the result of the loss of perfection which resulted from Sophia's desire to understand the Forefather. Therefore, one is ultimately redeemed, through secret knowledge, to enter the pleroma of which the Achamoth originally fell.

According to the Valentinian Gnostics, there are three classes of human beings. They are the material, who cannot attain salvation; the psychic, who are strengthened by works and faith (they are part of the church); and the spiritual, who cannot decay or be harmed by material actions.[82] Essentially, ordinary humans—those who have faith but do not possess the special knowledge—will not attain salvation. Spirituals, on the other hand—those who obtain this great gift—are the only class that will eventually attain salvation.

In his article entitled "The Demiurge", J.P. Arendzen sums up the Valentinian view of the salvation of man. He writes, "The first, or carnal men, will return to the grossness of matter and finally be consumed by fire; the second, or psychic men, together with the Demiurge as their master, will enter a middle state, neither heaven (pleroma) nor hell (whyle); the purely spiritual men will be completely freed from the influence of the Demiurge and together with the Saviour and Achamoth, his spouse, will enter the pleroma divested of body (húle) and soul (psuché)."[83]

In this understanding of salvation, the purpose of the Incarnation was to redeem the Spirituals from their material bodies. By taking a material body, the Son becomes the Savior and facilitates this entrance into the pleroma by making it possible for the Spirituals to receive his spiritual body. However, in becoming a body and soul, the Son Himself becomes one of those needing redemption. Therefore, the Word descends onto the Savior at His Baptism in the Jordan, which liberates the Son from his corruptible body and soul. His redemption from the body and soul is then applied to the Spirituals.[84] In response to this Gnostic view of Christ, Irenaeus emphasized that the Word became flesh and developed a soteriology that emphasized the significance of Christ's material Body in saving humanity, as discussed in the sections above.[85]

In his criticism of Gnosticism, Irenaeus made reference to a Gnostic gospel which portrayed Judas in a positive light, as having acted in accordance with Jesus' instructions. The recently discovered Gospel of Judas dates close to the period when Irenaeus lived (late 2nd century), and scholars typically regard this work as one of many Gnostic texts, showing one of many varieties of Gnostic beliefs of the period.[86]

Prophetic exegesis

The first four books of Against Heresies constitute a minute analysis and refutation of the Gnostic doctrines. The fifth is a statement of positive belief contrasting the constantly shifting and contradictory Gnostic opinions with the steadfast faith of the church. He appeals to the Biblical prophecies to demonstrate the truthfulness of Christianity.[87]

Rome and the ten horns

Irenaeus showed a close relationship between the predicted events of Daniel 2 and 7. Rome, the fourth prophetic kingdom, would end in a tenfold partition. The ten divisions of the empire are the "ten horns" of Daniel 7 and the "ten horns" in Revelation 17. A "little horn," which was to supplant three of Rome's ten divisions, was also the still future "eighth" in Revelation. Irenaeus concluded with the destruction of all kingdoms at the Second Advent, when Christ, the prophesied "stone," cut out of the mountain without hands, smote the image after Rome's division.[88][89][90]


Irenaeus identified the Antichrist, another name of the apostate Man of Sin, with Daniel's Little Horn and John's Beast of Revelation 13. He sought to apply other expressions to the Antichrist, such as "the abomination of desolation," mentioned by Christ (Matt. 24:15) and the "king of a most fierce countenance," in Gabriel's explanation of the Little Horn of Daniel 8. But he is not very clear how "the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away" during the "half-week," or three and one-half years of the Antichrist's reign.[91][92][93]

Under the notion that the Antichrist, as a single individual, might be of Jewish origin, he fancies that the mention of "Dan," in Jeremiah 8:16, and the omission of that name from those tribes listed in Revelation 7, might indicate the Antichrist's tribe. This surmise became the foundation of a series of subsequent interpretations by other students of Bible prophecy.[94][95]

"Time, times, and half a time"

Like the other early church fathers, Irenaeus interpreted the three and one-half "times" of the Little Horn of Daniel 7 as three and one-half literal years. Antichrist's three and a half years of sitting in the temple are placed immediately before the Second Coming of Christ.[96][97][98] They are identified as the second half of the "one week" of Daniel 9. Irenaeus says nothing of the seventy weeks; we do not know whether he placed the "one week" at the end of the seventy or whether he had a gap.[99]


Irenaeus is the first of the church fathers to consider the mystic number 666. While Irenaeus did propose some solutions of this numerical riddle, his interpretation was quite reserved. Thus, he cautiously states:

"But knowing the sure number declared by Scripture, that is six hundred sixty and six, let them await, in the first place, the division of the kingdom into ten; then, in the next place, when these kings are reigning, and beginning to set their affairs in order, and advance their kingdom, [let them learn] to acknowledge that he who shall come claiming the kingdom for himself, and shall terrify those men of whom we have been speaking, have a name containing the aforesaid number, is truly the abomination of desolation."[100][101]

Although Irenaeus did speculate upon three names to symbolize this mystical number, namely Euanthas, Teitan, and Lateinos, nevertheless he was content to believe that the Antichrist would arise some time in the future after the fall of Rome and then the meaning of the number would be revealed.[102][103]


Irenaeus declares that the Antichrist's future three-and-a-half-year reign, when he sits in the temple at Jerusalem, will be terminated by the second advent, with the resurrection of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the millennial reign of the righteous. The general resurrection and the judgment follow the descent of the New Jerusalem at the end of the millennial kingdom.[97][104][103]

Irenaeus calls those "heretics" who maintain that the saved are immediately glorified in the kingdom to come after death, before their resurrection. He avers that the millennial kingdom and the resurrection are actualities, not allegories, the first resurrection introducing this promised kingdom in which the risen saints are described as ruling over the renewed earth during the millennium, between the two resurrections.[105][106][107]

Irenaeus held to the old Jewish tradition that the first six days of creation week were typical of the first six thousand years of human history, with Antichrist manifesting himself in the sixth period. And he expected the millennial kingdom to begin with the second coming of Christ to destroy the wicked and inaugurate, for the righteous, the reign of the kingdom of God during the seventh thousand years, the millennial Sabbath, as signified by the Sabbath of creation week.[97][108][109][107]

In common with many of the fathers, Irenaeus did not distinguish between the new earth re-created in its eternal state—the thousand years of Revelation 20—when the saints are with Christ after His second advent, and the Jewish traditions of the Messianic kingdom. Hence, he applies Biblical and traditional ideas to his descriptions of this earth during the millennium, throughout the closing chapters of Book 5. This conception of the reign of resurrected and translated saints with Christ on this earth during the millennium-popularly known as chiliasm—was the increasingly prevailing belief of this time. Incipient distortions due to the admixture of current traditions, which figure in the extreme forms of chiliasm, caused a reaction against the earlier interpretations of Bible prophecies.[110]

Irenaeus was not looking for a Jewish kingdom. He interpreted Israel as the Christian church, the spiritual seed of Abraham.[111][112]

At times his expressions are highly fanciful. He tells, for instance, of a prodigious fertility of this earth during the millennium, after the resurrection of the righteous, "when also the creation, having been renovated and set free, shall fructify with an abundance of all kinds of food." In this connection, he attributes to Christ the saying about the vine with ten thousand branches, and the ear of wheat with ten thousand grains, and so forth, which he quotes from Papias of Hierapolis.[113][112]


Irenaeus' exegesis does not give complete coverage. On the seals, for example, he merely alludes to Christ as the rider on the white horse. He stresses five factors with greater clarity and emphasis than Justin:

  1. the literal resurrection of the righteous at the second advent
  2. the millennium bounded by the two resurrections
  3. the Antichrist to come upon the heels of Rome's breakup
  4. the symbolic prophecies of Daniel and the Apocalypse in their relation to the last times
  5. the kingdom of God to be established by the second advent.[114]

See also


  1. ^ James L. Papandrea"The First Theologians: Irenaeus and Tertullian"
  2. ^ The Faith of the Early Fathers, Liturgical Press, 1970, p. 84.
  3. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History Book v. Chapter v.
  4. ^ A. Poncelet, "Irenaeus, Saint" Catholic Encyclopedia 1917 (Catholic Answers)
  5. ^ a b c Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005)
  6. ^ "Caesar and Christ"(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972)
  7. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica: Saint Irenaeus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  8. ^ a b Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament, p. 14. Anchor Bible; 1st edition (October 13, 1997). ISBN 978-0-385-24767-2.
  9. ^ Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 96
  10. ^ Saint Irenaeus –
  11. ^ Irenaeus himself tells us (Against Heresies 3.3.4, cf Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica 5.20.5ff) that in his 'youth' he saw Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna who was martyred c156. This is the evidence used to assume that Irenaeus was born in Smyrna during the 130s–140s.
  12. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica 5.4.1
  13. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies,,
  14. ^ Against Heresies 1.13.7
  15. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica 5.24.1ff
  16. ^ Gregory of Tours is the first to mention a tradition which held Irenaeus to be a martyr
  17. ^ Grant, Robert M., Irenaeus of Lyons, p. 6. Routledge 1997.
  18. ^ source needed
  19. ^ Pagels, Elaine. Beyond Belief, Pan Books, 2005. p. 54
  20. ^ Hartog, Paul A. (2015). Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christian Contexts: Reconsidering the Bauer Thesis. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 199, 200. ISBN 978-1-61097-504-9.
  21. ^ Pagels, Elaine (1979). The Gnostc Gospels. Vintage Books. p. 90.
  22. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2005). Lost Christianities. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-19-518249-1.
  23. ^ Stark, Rodney. Cities of God, HarperCollins, 2007. chap. 6
  24. ^ a b "The Development of the Canon of the New Testament – Irenaeus". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  25. ^ This work was first published in 1907 in Armenian, along with a German translation by Adolf von Harnack. It is Harnack who divided the text into one hundred numbered sections.
  26. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. Irenaeus". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  27. ^ Rev. J. Tixeront, D.D. A Handbook of Patrology. Section IV: The Opponents of Heresy in the Second Century, St. Louis, MO, by B. Herder Book Co. 1920.
  28. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica 5.20.1
  29. ^ of Lyon, Ireneaus. VII. Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus. p. 569. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  30. ^ Henry Chadwick, The Early Church, Penguin Group, 19932, p. 83
  31. ^ Richard A Norris, Jr, 'Irenaeus of Lyons', in Frances Young, Lewis Ayres and Andrew Louth, eds, The Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature, (2010), p47
  32. ^ "Encyclopædia Britannica: Saint Irenaeus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  33. ^ Farmer, Hugh (1997). The Oxford Dictionary of Saints (Fourth ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 250. ISBN 0-19-280058-2.
  34. ^ J.T. Nielsen, Adam and Christ in the Theology of Irenaeus of Lyons: An Examination of the function of the Adam-Christ Typology in the Adversus Haereses of Ireaneus, against the Background of the Gnosticism of His Time. Van Gorcum's Theologische Bibliotheek. (Asen, The Netherlands: Koninkliijke Van Gorcum 7 Comp. N.V., 1968), p. 48-49.
  35. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.4.2. and IV.33.7.
  36. ^ Paul Parvis, "Who was Irenaeus? An Introduction to the Man and His Work," in Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy, ed. Sara Parvis and Paul Foster (Minneanpolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 20.
  37. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985)
  38. ^ "But it is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the church has been scattered throughout the world, and since the 'pillar and ground' of the Church is the Gospel and the spirit of life, it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing incorruption on every side, and vivifying human afresh. From this fact, it is evident that the Logos, the fashioner demiourgos of all, he that sits on the cherubim and holds all things together, when he was manifested to humanity, gave us the gospel under four forms but bound together by one spirit." Against Heresies 3.11.8
  39. ^ McDonald & Sanders, The Canon Debate, 2002, p. 277
  40. ^ McDonald & Sanders, p. 280. Also p. 310, summarizing 3.11.7: the Ebionites use Matthew's Gospel, Marcion mutilates Luke's, the Docetists use Mark's, the Valentinians use John's
  41. ^ McDonald & Sanders, p. 280
  42. ^ a b McDonald & Sanders, p. 368
  43. ^ McDonald & Sanders, p. 267
  44. ^ Blackwell, Ben C. Christosis: Pauline Soteriology in Light of Deification in Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria (Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2011), p. 36
  45. ^ "Hieromartyr Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons", Orthodox Church in America"
  46. ^ "Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the certain mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession." Adversus Haereses (Book IV, Chapter 26). read online.
  47. ^ a b "Encyclopædia Britannica". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  48. ^ "Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere."read online Adversus Haereses (Book III, Chapter 3)
  49. ^ Against Heresies, IV.26.2.
  50. ^ "Adversus Haereses (Book IV, Chapter 33:8)". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  51. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.22.3.
  52. ^ J.B. Carol, Why Jesus Christ?: Thomistic, Scotistic, and Conciliatory Perspectives (Manassas, VA: Trinity Communications, 1986), p. 172-74.
  53. ^ AH 3.18.7; 3.21.9–10; 3.22.3; 5.21.1; see also, Klager, Andrew P. "Retaining and Reclaiming the Divine: Identification and the Recapitulation of Peace in St. Irenaeus of Lyons' Atonement Narrative," Stricken by God? Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ, eds. Brad Jersak and Michael Hardin. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), esp. p. 462 n. 158.
  54. ^ M David Litwa, "The Wondrous Exchange: Irenaeus and Eastern Valentinians on the Soteriology of Interchange," Journal of Early Christian Studies p. 324-25.
  55. ^ Andrew J. Bandstra, "Paul and an Ancient Interpreter: A Comparison of the Teaching of Redemption in Paul and Irenaeus," Calvin Theological Journal 5 (1970): pp. 47, 57.
  56. ^ a b A.H. 2.22.5
  57. ^ Irenaeus, Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching §77 Archived May 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  58. ^ "Britannica Online: Pontius Pilate". Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  59. ^ Jona Lendering. "Judaea". Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  60. ^ Bruce, F. F. (1963–1965). "Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea". Annual of Leeds University Oriental Society. 5.
  61. ^ Bandstra, Andrew (April 1, 1970). "Paul and an Ancient Interpreter: a Comparison of the Teaching of Redemption in Paul and Irenaeus". Calvin Theological Journal. 5 (1): 48.
  62. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.18.7
  63. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.18.1
  64. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.19.1
  65. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V.2.2
  66. ^ Vogel, Jeff (Summer 2007). "The Haste of Sin, the Slowness of Salvation: An Interpretation of Irenaeus on the Fall and Redemption". Anglican Theological Review. 89 (3): 444.
  67. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.11.3.
  68. ^ Litwa, "The Wondrous Exchange," p. 312-13.
  69. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.18.1.
  70. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V.16.2.
  71. ^ Nielsen, Adam and Christ in the Theology of Irenaeus of Lyons, p. 11.
  72. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.18.2.
  73. ^ a b Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.18.7.
  74. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, III.18.7.
  75. ^ Dominic J. Unger and Irenaeus M.C. Steenberg trans. St Irenaeus of Lyons: Against the Heresies III, Ancient Christian Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation (New York: The Newman Press, 2012), p. 176-77, endnote 48.
  76. ^ Andrew J. Bandstra, "Paul and an Ancient Interpreter," p. 50.
  77. ^ Irenaeus, Against Heresies, V.16.3.
  78. ^ Bandstra, "Paul and an Ancient Interpreter," p. 61.
  79. ^ For other theories of atonement see Atonement in Christianity.
  80. ^ "Irenaeus, Against Heresies (Book III, Chapter 23)". paragraph 7.-8. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  81. ^ "Gregory Thaumaturgus, On All the Saints". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  82. ^ Grant, Robert M., Irenaeus of Lyons (Routledge, 1997), p. 23.
  83. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Demiurge". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  84. ^ Litwa, "The Wondrous Exchange," p. 316-17.
  85. ^ Litwa, "The Wondrous Exchange," p. 313-16.
  86. ^ Dr. John Dickson. "A Spectators Guide to the Gospel of Judas" (PDF). Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  87. ^ Froom 1950, p. 244.
  88. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 25". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  89. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 26". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  90. ^ Froom 1950, p. 245.
  91. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 28". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  92. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 25, sec. 2–4". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  93. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 246–247.
  94. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 25, sec. 3". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  95. ^ Froom 1950, p. 247.
  96. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 25, sec. 3–4". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  97. ^ a b c "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 30, sec. 4". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  98. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 247–248.
  99. ^ Froom 1950, p. 248.
  100. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 30, sec. 2". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  101. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 248–249.
  102. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 30, sec. 3". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  103. ^ a b Froom 1950, p. 249.
  104. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 35, sec. 1–2". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  105. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 31". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  106. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 35". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  107. ^ a b Froom 1950, p. 250.
  108. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 28, sec. 3". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  109. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 33, sec. 2". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  110. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 250–252.
  111. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 32, sec. 2". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  112. ^ a b Froom 1950, p. 251.
  113. ^ "Against Heresies Book 5 Chapter 33, sec. 3". Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  114. ^ Froom 1950, p. 252.


  • Froom, LeRoy (1950). The Prophetic Faith of our Fathers (DjVu and PDF). 1. Review and Herald Publishing Association.
  • Bandstra, Andrew J. "Paul and an Ancient Interpreter: A Comparison of the Teaching of Redemption in Paul and Irenaeus," Calvin Theological Journal 5 (197): 43–63.
  • Blackwell, Ben C. Christosis: Pauline Soteriology in Light of Deification in Irenaeus and Cyril of Alexandria. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reiche 341, edited by Jorg Frey. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2011.
  • Irenaeus, Against Heresies. Translated by Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut. In Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coze (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Co., 1885).
  • Litwa, M. David. "The Wonderous Exchange: Irenaeus and Eastern Valentinians on the Soteriology of Interchange." Journal of Early Christian Studies 22 (2014): 311–40.
  • Nielsen, J.T. Adam and Christ in the Theology of Irenaeus of Lyons: An Examination of the function of the Adam-Christ Typology in the Adversus Haereses of Ireaneus, against the Background of the Gnosticism of His Time. Van Gorcum's Theologische Bibliotheek. Asen, The Netherlands: Koninkliijke Van Gorcum 7 Comp. N.V., 1968.
  • Steenberg, Ireaneus M.C. "The Role of Mary as Co-Recapitulator in St. Irenaeus of Lyons." Vigilae Christianae 58 (2004):117–137.

Further reading

  • Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, trans JP Smith, (ACW 16, 1952)
  • Irenaeus, Proof of the Apostolic Preaching, trans John Behr (PPS, 1997)
  • Irenaeus, Against Heresies, trans. Alexander Roberts and William Rambaut, in Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 1, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Co., 1885). Paperback
  • Coxe, Arthur Cleveland, ed. (1885). The Ante-Nicene Fathers. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Company.
  • Edwards, Mark (2009). Catholicity and Heresy in the Early Church. Ashgate.
  • Eusebius (1932). The Ecclesiastical History. Kirsopp Lake and John E.L. Oulton, trans. New York: Putnam.
  • Hägglund, Bengt (1968). History of Theology. Gene J.Lund, trans. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing.
  • Minns, Denis (1994). Irenaeus. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. ISBN 0-87840-553-4.
  • Parvis, Sara and Paul Foster, ed. Irenaeus: Life, Scripture, Legacy. Minneanpolis: Fortress Press, 2012.
  • Payton Jr., James R. Irenaeus on the Christian Faith: A Condensation of 'Against Heresies' (Cambridge, James Clarke and Co Ltd, 2012).
  • Quasten, J. (1960). Patrology: The Beginnings of Patristic Literature. Westminster, MD: Newman Press.
  • Schaff, Philip (1980). History of the Christian Church: Ante-Nicene Christianity, A.D. 100–325. Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-8047-9.
  • Tyson, Joseph B. (1973). A Study of Early Christianity. New York: Macmillan.
  • Wolfson, Henry Austryn (1970). The Philosophy of the Church Fathers: Faith, Trinity, Incarnation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

External links

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Lyon
2nd century
Succeeded by

Carpocrates of Alexandria was the founder of an early Gnostic sect from the first half of the 2nd century. As with many Gnostic sects, we know of the Carpocratians only through the writings of the Church Fathers, principally Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. As these writers strongly opposed Gnostic doctrine, there is a question of negative bias when using this source. While the various references to the Carpocratians differ in some details, they agree as to the libertinism of the sect. However, such charges were common. Pagans accused Christians of immorality, and Christians made the same charges against fellow Christians who they considered heretical.


Cerinthus (Greek: Κήρινθος; fl. c. 50-100 AD) was an early gnostic Christian, who was prominent as a heresiarch in the view of the early Church Fathers. Contrary to the Church Fathers, he used the Gospel of Cerinthus, and denied that the Supreme God made the physical world. In Cerinthus' interpretation, the Christ descended upon Jesus at baptism and guided him in ministry and the performing of miracles, but left him at the crucifixion. Similarly to the Ebionites, he maintained that Jesus was not born of a virgin, but was a mere man, the biological son of Mary and Joseph.Early Christian tradition describes Cerinthus as a contemporary to and opponent of John the Evangelist, who may have written the First Epistle of John and the Second Epistle of John to warn the less mature in faith and doctrine about the changes Cerinthus was making to the original gospel. According to early Christian sources, the Apostle John wrote his gospel specifically to refute the teachings of Cerinthus.All that is known about Cerinthus comes from the writing of his theological opponents.

Christianity in the 2nd century

Christianity in the 2nd century was largely the time of the development of variant Christian teachings, and the Apostolic Fathers who are regarded as defenders of the developing proto-orthodoxy. Major figures who were later declared by the developing proto-orthodoxy to be heretics were Marcion, Valentinius, and Montanus.

While the Jewish Christian church was centered in Jerusalem in the 1st century, Gentile Christianity became decentralized in the 2nd century.Although the use of the term Christian is attested in the Acts of the Apostles (80–90 AD), the earliest recorded use of the term Christianity (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) is by Ignatius of Antioch about 107 AD, who is also associated with modification of the sabbath, promotion of the bishop, and critique of the Judaizers.


In the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy, the demiurge () is an artisan-like figure responsible for fashioning and maintaining the physical universe. The Gnostics adopted the term "demiurge". Although a fashioner, the demiurge is not necessarily the same as the creator figure in the monotheistic sense, because the demiurge itself and the material from which the demiurge fashions the universe are both considered to be consequences of something else. Depending on the system, they may be considered to be either uncreated and eternal or the product of some other entity.

The word "demiurge" is an English word derived from demiurgus, a Latinized form of the Greek δημιουργός or dēmiourgos. It was originally a common noun meaning "craftsman" or "artisan", but gradually came to mean "producer", and eventually "creator". The philosophical usage and the proper noun derive from Plato's Timaeus, written c. 360 BC, where the demiurge is presented as the creator of the universe. The demiurge is also described as a creator in the Platonic (c. 310–90 BC) and Middle Platonic (c. 90 BC – AD 300) philosophical traditions. In the various branches of the Neoplatonic school (third century onwards), the demiurge is the fashioner of the real, perceptible world after the model of the Ideas, but (in most Neoplatonic systems) is still not itself "the One". In the arch-dualist ideology of the various Gnostic systems, the material universe is evil, while the non-material world is good. According to some strains of Gnosticism, the demiurge is malevolent, as it is linked to the material world. In others, including the teaching of Valentinus, the demiurge is simply ignorant or misguided.

Great Church

The term "Great Church" (Latin: ecclesia magna) is a term of the historiography of early Christianity describing its rapid growth and structural development 180–313 AD (around the time of the Ante-Nicene Period) and its claim to represent Christianity within the Roman Empire. The term is primarily associated with the Roman Catholic account of the history of Christian theology, but is also used by non-Catholic historians.

The "epoch of the Great Church" is counted as beginning around the end of the second century when, despite the persecution of Christians, the religion became established numerically and organizationally, eventually becoming the state church of the Roman Empire in 380. However, at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, an Oriental Orthodox branch parted ways with the Great Church due to Christological differences.In contrast, in modern Catholic usage, the "Great Church" broadly means the "one, holy, catholic and apostolic" unity of the Catholic Church (Latin Church) - continuing in authority from the apostles to today - and all bishops who remained in fellowship with the Pope.The sees of Rome and Constantinople, both applying the Chalcedonian Definition, remained in full communion throughout the First seven ecumenical councils (325–787) and until the East–West Schism (1054).

Irenaean theodicy

The Irenaean theodicy is a Christian theodicy (a response to the problem of evil). It defends the probability of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent (all-powerful and perfectly loving) God in the face of evidence of evil in the world. Numerous variations of theodicy have been proposed which all maintain that, while evil exists, God is either not responsible for creating evil, or he is not guilty for creating evil. Typically, the Irenaean theodicy asserts that the world is the best of all possible worlds because it allows humans to fully develop. Most versions of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development.

Second-century philosopher and theologian Irenaeus, after whom the theodicy is named, proposed a two-stage creation process in which humans require free will and the experience of evil to develop. Another early Christian theologian, Origen, presented a response to the problem of evil which cast the world as a schoolroom or hospital for the soul; theologian Mark Scott has argued that Origen, rather than Irenaeus, ought to be considered the father of this kind of theodicy. Friedrich Schleiermacher argued in the nineteenth century that God must necessarily create flawlessly, so this world must be the best possible world because it allows God's purposes to be naturally fulfilled. In 1966, philosopher John Hick discussed the similarities of the preceding theodicies, calling them all "Irenaean". He supported the view that creation is incomplete and argued that the world is best placed for the full moral development of humans, as it presents genuine moral choices. British philosopher Richard Swinburne proposed that, to make a free moral choice, humans must have experience of the consequences of their own actions and that natural evil must exist to provide such choices.

The development of process theology has challenged the Irenaean tradition by teaching that God's power is limited and that he cannot be responsible for evil. Twentieth-century philosopher Alvin Plantinga opposed the idea that this is the best possible world, arguing that there could always be at least one more good person, in every possible world. His free will defence was not a theodicy because he was trying to show the logical compatibility of evil and the existence of God, rather than the probability of God. D. Z. Phillips and Fyodor Dostoyevsky challenged the instrumental use of suffering, suggesting that love cannot be expressed through suffering. However, Dostoyevsky also states that the beauty of love is evident, in that love can continue to grow, withstand and overcome even the most evil acts. Michael Tooley argued that the magnitude of suffering is excessive and that, in some cases, cannot lead to moral development. French theologian Henri Blocher criticised Hick's universalism, arguing that such a view negates free will, which was similarly important to the theodicy.

Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt

Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt (15 June 1928 – 2 June 2018) was an Austrian ethnologist in the field of human ethology. In authoring the book which bears that title, he applied ethology to humans by studying them in a perspective more common to volumes studying animal behavior.

Born in Vienna, Austria, Eibl-Eibesfeldt studied zoology at the University of Vienna from 1945 to 1949. From 1946 to 1948 he was research associate at the Biological Station Wilhelminenberg near Vienna and became research associate of the Institute for Comparative Behavior Studies in Altenberg near Vienna with Konrad Lorenz in 1949. Between 1951 and 1969 he worked at the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology (first in Westphalia, from 1957 at Seewiesen, Bavaria). In 1970 he became Professor for Zoology at the University of Munich. Since 1975 he has been the head of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology, Department of Human Ethology in Andechs, Germany. He was the co-founder and first president of the International Society for Human Ethology. Since 1992 he has been Honorary Director of the Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Urban Ethology in Vienna.

In the first twenty years of his work as an animal ethologist, he investigated experimentally and descriptively the development of behavior of mammals and compared the behavior of communication of vertebrates. He is the author of many books such as Love and Hate: The Natural History of Behavior Patterns and Human Ethology.

John the Presbyter

John the Presbyter was an obscure figure of the early Church who is either distinguished from or identified with the Apostle John and/or John of Patmos. He appears in fragments from the church father Papias of Hierapolis as one of the author's sources and is first unequivocally distinguished from the Apostle by Eusebius of Caesarea. He is frequently proposed by some as an alternative author of some of the Johannine books in the New Testament.

Logos (Christianity)

In Christology, the Logos (Greek: Λόγος, lit. ''Word", "Discourse", or "Reason'') is a name or title of Jesus Christ, derived from the prologue to the Gospel of John (c 100) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God", as well as in the Book of Revelation (c 85), "And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God." These passages have been important for establishing the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus since the earliest days of Christianity.

According to Irenaeus of Lyon (c 130-202) a student of John's disciple Polycarp (c pre-69-156), John the Apostle wrote these words specifically to refute the teachings of Cerinthus, who both resided and taught at Ephesus, the city John settled in following his return from exile on Patmos. Cerinthus believed that the world was created by a power far removed from and ignorant of the Father, and that the Christ descended upon the man Jesus at his baptism, and that strict adherence to the Mosaic Law was absolutely necessary for salvation. Therefore, Irenaeus writes, The disciple of the Lord therefore desiring to put an end to all such doctrines, and to establish the rule of truth in the Church, that there is one Almighty God, who made all things by His Word, both visible and invisible; showing at the same time, that by the Word, through whom God made the creation, He also bestowed salvation on the men included in the creation; thus commenced His teaching in the Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made. What was made was life in Him, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not."

Mariology of the saints

Throughout history Roman Catholic Mariology has been influenced by a number of saints who have attested to the central role of Mary in God's plan of salvation. The analysis of Early Church Fathers continues to be reflected in modern encyclicals. Irenaeus vigorously defended the title of "Theotokos" or Mother of God. The views of Anthony of Padua, Robert Bellarmine and others supported the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, which was declared a dogma in 1850.

Writings of the saints have contributed to both popular piety and a greater understanding of Mary's role in salvation history.

Menander (gnostic)

Menander (Greek: Μένανδρος) was a first-century CE Samaritan gnostic, magician and a leader of the Simonians following the death of his master and instructor, Simon Magus, who was in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius. He is mentioned in the works of Irenaeus, Tertullian and others. Justin Martyr is the oldest source of knowledge about Menander after he met some of the devoted Menandrians in their old age. Justin suggested that Menander was born in Cappareteia and established a school in Antioch where he announced himself the messiah and vowed to defeat the angels that were keeping the world in captivity, possibly through exorcism.When the Simonians divided during the Gnostic schism, Menander called his part of the sect Menandrians, holding the belief that the world was made by angels. His ideas contrasted with those of Satornilus and the Satornilians, who believed the world was made by only seven angels against the will of a "Father on high". Menander held that a water baptism was essential as the source for eternal youth.Menander held solid to the belief that as head of the church, he was the savior and Power of God. Menander maintained that "the primary power continues unknown to all but that he himself is the person who has been sent forth from the presence of the invisible beings as a savior, for the deliverance of men".Other magicians including Basilides and Cerdo became followers of Menander and were said to have "given immense development to his doctrines" with differing ethical consequences. It has been suggested that some of those who tried to interpret the doctrines of Menander, such as Justin Martyr and Irenaeus, took things far too literally. Irenaeus for instance, claimed that those in receipt of Menander's water baptism no longer grew old and became immortal.

On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis

On the Detection and Overthrow of the So-Called Gnosis (Ancient Greek : Ἔλεγχος καὶ ἀνατροπὴ τῆς ψευδωνύμου γνώσεως), sometimes called Adversus Haereses, is a work of Christian theology written in Greek about the year 180 by Irenaeus, the bishop of Lugdunum (now Lyon in France).

In it, Irenaeus identifies and describes several schools of gnosticism and contrasts their beliefs with his description of orthodox Christianity.


The Ophites or Ophians (Greek Ὀφιανοί Ophianoi, from ὄφις ophis "snake") were members of a Christian Gnostic sect depicted by Hippolytus of Rome (170–235) in a lost work, the Syntagma ("arrangement").

It is now thought that later accounts of these "Ophites" by Pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius and Epiphanius of Salamis are all dependent on the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus. It is possible that rather than an actual sectarian name Hippolytus may have invented "Ophite" as a generic term for what he considered heretical speculations concerning the serpent of Genesis or Moses.Apart from the sources directly dependent on Hippolytus (Pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius and Epiphanius), Origen and Clement of Alexandria also mention the group. The group is mentioned by Irenaeus in Adversus Haereses (1:30).

Patriarch Irenaios

Irenaios Skopelitis (born 17 April 1939) was the 140th Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem from 2000 to 2005, though the dismissal was disputed. As Patriarch, he was styled Patriarch Irenaios or Irenaios I.

Irenaios was appointed locum tenens in 2000 and elected patriarch on 13 August 2001 in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

He was enthroned on 15 September 2001 as "Patriarch of the Holy City of Jerusalem and all Palestine, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee and Holy Zion" in the presence of senior church and secular dignitaries, including Archbishop Christodoulos of the Church of Greece and Metropolitan Nicholas of the Czech and Slovak Orthodox Church.


Polycarp (; Greek: Πολύκαρπος, Polýkarpos; Latin: Polycarpus; AD 69 – 155) was a 2nd-century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him. Polycarp is regarded as a saint and Church Father in the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, and Lutheran churches. His name 'Polycarp' means 'much fruit' in Greek.

Both Irenaeus, who as a young man heard Polycarp speak, and Tertullian recorded that Polycarp had been a disciple of John the Apostle. Jerome wrote that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that John had ordained him bishop of Smyrna.

The late tradition surrounding Polycarp that expanded upon the Martyrdom is embodied in the Coptic language fragmentary papyri (the "Harris fragments") dating to the 3rd to 6th centuries. These fragments compare and contrast Polycarp with John the Apostle, who, though many people had tried to kill him, was not martyred but died of old age after being exiled to the island of Patmos. Frederick Weidmann, editor of the Harris fragments, interprets them as Smyrnan hagiography addressing Smyrna–Ephesus church rivalries, which "develops the association of Polycarp and John to a degree unwitnessed, so far as we know, either before or since". The fragments echo the Martyrology, and diverge from it.

With Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers. Polycarp is the patron saint of Smyrna.

Recapitulation theory of atonement

The recapitulation theory of the atonement is a doctrine in Christian theology related to the meaning and effect of the death of Jesus Christ.

While it is sometimes absent from summaries of atonement theories, more comprehensive overviews of the history of the atonement doctrine typically include a section about the “recapitulation” view of the atonement, which was first clearly formulated by Irenaeus of Lyons.One of the main New Testament scriptures upon which this view is based states: "[God's purpose is, in] the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth..." (Ephesians 1:10, RV). The Greek word for 'sum up' was literally rendered 'to recapitulate' in Latin.In the recapitulation view of the atonement, Christ is seen as the new Adam who succeeds where Adam failed. Christ undoes the wrong that Adam did and, because of his union with humanity, leads humankind on to eternal life (including moral perfection).

Through man’s disobedience the process of the evolution of the human race went wrong, and the course of its wrongness could neither be halted nor reversed by any human means. But in Jesus Christ the whole course of human evolution was perfectly carried out and realised in obedience to the purpose of God.

– William Barclay

Simon Magus

Simon the Sorcerer, or Simon the Magician (Latin: Simon Magus, Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος), is a religious figure whose confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24. The act of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named after Simon.

According to Acts, Simon was a Samaritan magus or religious figure of the 1st century AD and a convert to Christianity, baptised by Philip the Evangelist. Simon later clashed with Peter. Accounts of Simon by writers of the second century exist, but are not considered verifiable. Surviving traditions about Simon appear in orthodox texts, such as those of Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius, where he is often described as the founder of Gnosticism, which has been accepted by some modern scholars, while others reject that he was a Gnostic, just designated as one by the Church Fathers.Justin, who was himself a 2nd-century native of Samaria, wrote that nearly all the Samaritans in his time were adherents of a certain Simon of Gitta, a village not far from Flavia Neapolis. According to Josephus, Gitta (also spelled Getta) was settled by the tribe of Dan. Irenaeus held him as being the founder of the sect of the Simonians. Hippolytus quotes from a work he attributes to Simon or his followers the Simonians, Apophasis Megale, or Great Declaration. According to the early church heresiologists, Simon is also supposed to have written several lost treatises, two of which bear the titles The Four Quarters of the World and The Sermons of the Refuter. In apocryphal works including the Acts of Peter, Pseudo-Clementines, and the Epistle of the Apostles, Simon also appears as a formidable sorcerer with the ability to levitate and fly at will. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bad Samaritan" due to his malevolent character. The Apostolic Constitutions also accuses him of "lawlessness" (antinomianism).

St. Irenaeus Catholic Church (Clinton, Iowa)

Saint Irenaeus Church is a former parish of the Diocese of Davenport. The church was founded in the town of Lyons, which now the north side of Clinton, Iowa, United States. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2010.


Valentinianism was one of the major Gnostic Christian movements. Founded by Valentinus in the second century AD, its influence spread widely, not just within Rome, but also from Northwest Africa to Egypt through to Asia Minor and Syria in the east.Later in the movement's history it broke into an Eastern and a Western school. Disciples of Valentinus continued to be active into the 4th century AD, after the Roman Empire was declared to be Christian.Valentinus and the Gnostic movement that bore his name were considered threats to proto-orthodox Christianity by church leaders and scholars, not only because of their influence, but also because of their doctrine, practices and beliefs. Gnostics were condemned as heretics, and prominent Church fathers such as Irenaeus of Lyons and Hippolytus of Rome wrote against Gnosticism. Most evidence for the Valentinian theory comes from its critics and detractors, most notably Irenaeus, since he was especially concerned with refuting Valentinianism.


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