Donatists


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Donatists

 

the adherents of a religious movement in Roman North Africa in the fourth and fifth centuries. The Donatist movement originated in 311, when some members of the African church refused to recognize the recently elected Carthaginian bishop Cecilian. This initiated the split of the African Christian church into Cecilianists, or Catholics, and the opponents of Cecilian, who were later called Donatists, after their leader, Bishop Donatus. The orthodox Catholic Church, which had become an active proponent of the existing social and political structure under the protection of the Roman emperor Constantine I and his successors, was supported in North Africa primarily by representatives of the ruling class. The Donatists were joined chiefly by the toiling and exploited strata of North Africa— the coloni, slaves, and the urban poor. Glorifying “martyrs for the faith,” the preaching of the Donatists called for no reconciliation with the Christians who had abandoned their faith in the early fourth century during the period of persecution by the Roman authorities. From the mid-fourth century, the Donatist movement clearly showed signs of opposition to the Roman authorities. The Donatist church supported the anti-Roman uprisings headed by leaders of Moorish tribes— the brothers Firmus (371-73) and Gildo (397-98). However, the actions taken by rank-and-file Donatists against large landowning and exploitation (the Circumcellion uprising) filled the Donatist bishops with fear, and they even summoned Roman troops against the insurgents. Toward the end of the fourth century the Donatists were joined by representatives of anti-Roman elements of the ruling class. After the Council of Carthage, which was held jointly by the orthodox Catholic and Donatist churches in 411, the Roman authorities officially banned Donatism and organized the persecution of the Donatists, who nonetheless survived in Africa as late as the sixth century.

REFERENCE

Diligenskii, G. G. Severnaia Afrika v IV-V vv. Moscow, 1961. (With a bibliography in footnotes.)

G. G. DILIGENSKII

Donatists

Christian group in North Africa who broke with Catholicism (312). [Christian Hist.: EB, III: 618]
References in periodicals archive ?
The second quotation, taken from the Psalm against the Donatist Party (lines 229-31) returns the reader to the chair of Peter.
The earlier arguments against the Donatists are repeated, but the reasoning is weaker.
Several of the sermons contain attacks on Donatists combined with pleas to them to show charity and restore unity with the Catholica.
is remarkably knowledgeable about subtle changes in ecclesiastical politics between the time of the inception of the Donatist controversy and Augustine's writings.
His use of the Song, as Elizabeth Clark has noted, is restricted almost entirely to refutations of the attempts of the Donatists to claim the text as a descriptor of their own ecclesial body.
266) would later indicate that not even the Donatists would argue that those validly baptized could lose their baptismal status whether through apostasy or schism.
He can find no reason why the Donatists could not subsist within the larger Church.
Because he lives at a time of considerable ecclesial tension, of enduring scandal at the lapse of third-century Catholic bishops, of anguished debates on the nature of the Church, and of bitter challenges posed by the Donatists, his teaching on the corpus permixtum has an emotional register that far exceeds its scope simply as an account of the Church.
32) He shifted his thinking in this regard as he became more familiar with both the controversies of Augustine and Gregory the Great against the Donatists who denied the validity of the sacramental acts performed by clergy involved in serious and public sins.
His description of the heretics seems to apply to the Donatists, who continued to be a problem throughout his life.
For Constantine, the thwarting of sectarian groups of Christians such as the Donatists was an example of how a mere idea about a religion, about which no one had any evidence other than the fact that the belief was widespread and adopted by the state, resulted in people being killed.
Sermon 305 A in this collection of Augustine's sermons is dated to the year 401 and said to have been given by Augustine in the cathedral at Carthage, where he had gone to join with other North African bishops in a council against the Donatists.