Cyprian was a major figure in Carthage after Tertullian, who actually influenced a lot of his work, although they did not seem to know eachother personally. (Jerome reports that Cyprian read Tertullian's writings daily, saying 'Give me the master!')
- Cyprian was born into a wealthy pagan family, in around AD200
- He was provided with a good education, and ended up as a lawyer by profession. Outside of work, a lot of his time was taken up with the administration of his family's estates.
- Converted under the influence of Caecilius, whose name he adopted, in AD246, he began to share some of his wealth with the needy.
- Cyprian at first became a deacon, and it was probably during this time that he sold some of his estate to the poor.
- After a short time as presbyter, and some two years after his conversion, he was appointed Bishop of Carthage in AD249.
- Not long after his appointment, came about the Decian persecution in AD250. Cyprian went into hiding and dispersed his flock by means of letters.
- Returning around AD251, Cyprian had to come to terms and deal with the aftermath of the Decian persecution, such as: Treatment of the lapsed, Stephen, bishop of Rome and his issues surrounding heretical baptism, and also the schisms of Novatus and Novation. (Carthage and Rome).
- Although Cyprian survived the Decian persectuion, he was tried in AD257, and was martryed on the 14th of September AD258 under Valerian.
Cyprian was the first bishop of the west to produce Christian Literature. Some 81 letters and a dozen treatsies were determined largely by the Decian persecution and the controversies that followed in its path. Thus, penance, unity of the church and baptism were the main and topical issues that made up his writings.
Cyprian on the Unity of the Catholic Church
Cyprian's most important writing is 'On the Unity of the Catholic Church', which he read to the bishops at the council of carthage. This writing deals with the aftermath of the Decian persecution, more specifically the schism of Novatus, and generally…