Discipleship Unknown

The latin translation “Novatianus”


Born: between 200 and 210 A.D. Rome, Italy


Died: 258 A.D. location unknown

Novation was the first Roman theologian to write in Latin and was known for his persistent eloquence in his works. He was Phrygian, it is the Greater Phrygia that is spoken of in the New Testament. The towns of Antioch in Pisidia ( Acts 13:14). He was converted after he had come to manhood and before this he was a philosopher possibly of the ancient philosophical school of Stoicism; an ancient Greek philosophy which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. Novation while a catchumen was struck by a violent disease, attributed to demoniac agency and being near death received clinical baptism which is baptism given to anyone sick in bed, but was never confirmed and was never admitted to the clerical order. 

It is said that Novation had many other works however the following have been attributed to him. Some of which can be found in the Ante-Nicene Fathers writings;


  • De Trinitate, also known as “The Trinity Treatise”: formerly credited by some to Tertullian, by others to Cyprian; but now Jerome expressly assigns it to be the work of Novatian, It was written after the heresy of Sabellius, which occured in 256 A.D. it contained 31 books and was split into 4 parts, explaining the chracter of the trinity.

  • De Cibis Judaicis, also known as “On Jewish Meats”: at first also attributed by some to Tertullian or Cyprian; but now assigned to Novatian on the testimony of Jerome. It was written during the time of the Decian persecution, about 250 A.D. this writing explained the spiritual outlook of the the Jewish laws.

  • Novatian was the author of the letter addressed by the Roman clergy to Cyprian. So Cyprian himself states.

  • Jerome attributes to him writings on Circumcision, on the Sabbath, on the Passover, on the Priesthood, on Prayer, on Attalus, on the Present Crisis, and Letters.

He became the most influential presbyter of the church, and was ordained in Rome. Novation became a member of the Roman clergy in 250 A.D. This is where he wrote two letters to Bishop Cyprian concerning the Lapsi those Christians that renounced the faith during times of persecution.

Between 250 A.D. – 251 A.D. Fabian was martyred, which lead to Cornelius becoming his successor. However Novation did not agree with this decision as he saw his view of the rebaptism of the lapsed as a lack of dicipline and so he became consecrated by the minority that shared his view, becoming the Antipope to Cornelius.

This lead to the excommunication of Novation and his followers from the church. Novation became known for his leadership in the Novatian Schism.

Although we have little evidence on the death of Novation, Socates explains that Novation was martryed under the Roman Emperor Valerianin in 258 A.D.



Early Church Fathers Library Volume 5 – Novation Introductory Note

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography