Who was Agrippinus?

Identifying the First Known Bishop of Carthage

In: Church History and Religious Culture
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  • 1 KU Leuven, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies

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It is generally assumed that Agrippinus was one of the earliest known bishops of Carthage, if not the earliest. He probably presided over the first recorded council of bishops in North Africa around AD 220. It was presumably Agrippinus who opposed Tertullian when the latter attacked the church’s practice of forgiving sexual sins in his work De pudicitia. This article will first provide a historical overview of the development of what has become the commonly accepted image of Agrippinus, combining the hypotheses just mentioned, and will then re-examine the extant sources and popular arguments for the dating of his term of office. It will conclude that the sources do not support a dating of the first council in Carthage before AD 230. Furthermore, there is not much evidence in the available sources to substantiate the commonly held belief that Agrippinus was Tertullian’s episcopal opponent.

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