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Peter of Alexandria

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Estimated Range of Dating: 300-311 A.D.

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Information on Peter of Alexandria

T. Bhm writes, "During the time of persecution Peter was involved in difficult conflicts with Melitius of Lycopolis. Melitius did not share Peter's moderate attitude toward the lapsi, those who had sacrificed to pagan gods and then wanted to return to the church. The question was evidently not whether or not the lapsi should be taken back; the conflict was over the question of how and what status they were then to have. When the break with Peter came, Melitius replaced imprisoned bishops with his own supporters (Epiph., haer. 68.3). Finally, Peter condemned Melitius and had him deposed by a council (during his own two periods of imprisonment); this elicited the opposition of Arius, who had been ordained by Peter." (Dictionary of Early Christian Literature, p. 479)

Enrico Norelli writes, "Some fragments also remain, some of them probably spurious, of many writings of Peter of Alexandria, bishop there [in Alexandria] from 300 to 311. In a treatise On the Divinity he insisted that Christ did not abandon his divinity when he became a man. In another work, On the Lord's Coming, he stressed the point that Christ was God by nature and a human being by nature. In a work On the Soul he rejected Origen's teaching on the preexistence of souls on the grounds that it was derived from Greek philosophy and alient to Christianity. Fourteen canons of Peter on penance have survived in a work also known as Canonical Letter, which derived from a festal letter of 306: the canons have to do with the penances to be imposed on the various categories of persons who apostatized during persecution. Peter is also a witness to the way in which criticisms of Origen became inscreasingly specific in the Alexandrian world." (Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature, vol. 1, p. 307)

T. Bhm writes, "Several letters (ep.) of Peter have survived that deal with the question of the lapsi (the so-called canonical letters [ep. can.], which is possibly a festal letter or a circular letter after Easter or a treatise on penance) or with the persecutions or the Melitian schism. In addition to homilies (hom.) on riches and on Epiphany (to this group belongs the fragmentary Didascalia in homiletic form) some theol. works have also been preserved and transmitted in Greek, Latin, and Syriac. In the work On the Divinity and Humanity of Christ (deit.) Peter identifies the Logos with the Son; the Logos became incarnate in order to rescue humanity. In the work De anima (an.) Peter opposes the Platonic theory of a preexistence of souls as accepted by Origen. In On the Resurrection (res.; an Easter homily?) Peter attacks the teaching of Origen that after their ascent to heaven human bodies will have a spriitual conditio." (Dictionary of Early Christian Literature, p. 479)

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