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Headword: Ναυάτος
Adler number: nu,50
Translated headword: Nauatos, Novatus, Novatian
Vetting Status: high
This man, being an elder of the Church in Rome, was separated [from it] when the bishop Cornelius received into communion the faithful who had sacrificed[1] in the persecution which the emperor Decius had stirred up against the church.[2] So having been separated for this reason and having been appointed to the bishopric by the bishops who agreed with him,[3] he wrote to the churches everywhere that they should not accept those who had sacrificed into their sacraments, but they should urge them towards repentance but leave their forgiveness to God, who was able and had the authority to forgive sins. [Those] throughout the provinces who received such letters made their decisions on the things set forth in accordance with their personal leanings. For as he indicated that it was not right to regard those who had committed mortal sin after baptism as worthy of the sacraments, to some his exposition of the canon seemed to be stringent and harsh, but others accepted it as just and ensuring properly governed life. With this [issue] stirred up to such an extent, letters followed from Cornelius the bishop which announced forgiveness for those who had sinned after baptism. So with both of them sending contradictory [orders] and each corroborating what he said from the scriptures, each man reverted to his own personal leaning and to that which he had previously been inclined. For as many as delighted in sin, latching on to the forgiveness that was granted then and also for the future, made use of it for every sort of sin."[4]
But Novatus was a martyr in the time when the emperor Valens was stirring up persecution against the Christians.[5]
Greek Original:
Ναυάτος: οὗτος πρεσβύτερος ὢν τῆς ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἐκκλησίας διεκρίθη, ἐπειδὴ Κορνήλιος ὁ ἐπίσκοπος τοὺς ἐπιθύσαντας πιστοὺς ἐν τῷ διωγμῷ, ὃν ὁ βασιλεὺς Δέκιος κατὰ τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐκίνησεν, εἰς κοινωνίαν ἐδέξατο. διὰ ταύτην οὖν τὴν αἰτίαν διακριθεὶς καὶ εἰς ἐπισκοπὴν παρὰ τῶν συμφρονησάντων αὐτῷ ἐπισκόπων προχειρισθεὶς ταῖς πανταχοῦ ἐκκλησίαις ἔγραφε, μὴ δέχεσθαι τοὺς ἐπιτεθυκότας εἰς τὰ μυστήρια, ἀλλὰ προτρέπειν μὲν αὐτοὺς εἰς μετάνοιαν, τὴν δὲ συγχώρησιν ἐπιτρέπειν θεῷ, τῷ δυναμένῳ καὶ ἐξουσίαν ἔχοντι συγχωρεῖν ἁμαρτήματα. τοιαύτας ἐπιστολὰς κατ' ἐπαρχίας δεχόμενοι πρὸς τὰ οἰκεῖα ἤθη ἐποιοῦντο τῶν δηλουμένων τὰς κρίσεις. ὡς γὰρ ἐκεῖνος ἐδήλου μὴ δεῖν ἀξιοῦσθαι τῶν μυστηρίων τοὺς μετὰ τὸ βάπτισμα εἰς θάνατον ἁμαρτίαν πεποιηκότας, τοῖς μὲν ἐδόκει πικρὰ καὶ ἀπηνὴς εἶναι ἡ τοῦ κανόνος ἔκθεσις, οἱ δὲ ὡς δίκαιον αὐτὸν καὶ ὀρθοῦντα τὴν πολιτείαν ἐδέχοντο. ἐν τοσούτῳ δὲ τούτου κινουμένου, ἐπικαταλαμβάνει Κορνηλίου τοῦ ἐπισκόπου γράμματα, τοῖς μετὰ τὸ βάπτισμα ἡμαρτηκόσιν ἐπαγγελλόμενα τὴν συγχώρησιν. οὕτω δὲ ἀμφοτέρων ἐπιστελλόντων τἀναντία καὶ ἐκ τῶν θείων ὀχυρούντων ἃ ἑκάτερος ἔλεγεν, ἕκαστος κατ' ἔθος ἐς τοῦτο ἔτρεψεν, ἐς ὃ καὶ πρότερον μᾶλλον ἐπέκλινεν. ὅσοι γὰρ φιλαμαρτήμονες δραξάμενοι τῆς τότε δοθείσης συγχωρήσεως καὶ εἰς τὸν ἔπειτα χρόνον ἐπὶ πάσης ἁμαρτίας αὐτῇ συνεχρήσαντο. ἀλλὰ Ναυάτος ἐπὶ Οὐάλεντος τοῦ βασιλέως διωγμὸν κινήσαντος κατὰ Χριστιανῶν ἐμαρτύρησεν.
This is not the laxist Novatus of Carthage, but the rigorist Novatian after whom the heresy of Novatianism was called (see nu 51); the name used in Greek is the same for both. Both lived in the 3rd century A.D.
[1] The so-called "Lapsi" who had sacrificed to pagan gods to stay alive.
[2] cf. delta 193.
[3] This may be referring to the establishment of Novatian as anti-pope (c. 251).
[4] Socrates, Historia Ecclesiastica 4.28 (translation at web address 1).
[5] The only known martyr named "Novatus" died about 150 A.D., more than two centuries before the rule of Valens (364-378). However, as an Arian, Valens persecuted all the Homoousians, which included Novatians. A misunderstanding of this point may be the source of the present claim. On Valens, see omicron 764.
Associated internet address:
Web address 1
Keywords: biography; Christianity; chronology; ethics; geography; historiography; history; religion
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 10 April 2008@04:04:07.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented notes and keywords; tweaks and cometics) on 10 April 2008@06:11:24.
Catharine Roth (added link) on 13 April 2009@01:20:32.
Catharine Roth (tweaked translation, raised status) on 5 June 2013@01:04:32.
David Whitehead (another keyword) on 5 June 2013@02:56:23.


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