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Epistle XXIII.22842284    Oxford ed.: Ep. xxix. The numbering of the epistles has hitherto been in accordance with Migne’s edition of the text: but as he here follows a typographical error in numbering the epistle “xxiv.,” and all the subsequent ones accordingly, it has been thought better to continue the correct order in this translation. In each case, therefore, after this, the number of the epistle in the translation will be one earlier than in Migne.

To the Clergy, on the Letters Sent to Rome, and About the Appointment of Saturus as Reader, and Optatus as Sub-Deacon. a.d. 250.

Argument.—The Clergy are Informed by This Letter of the Ordination of Saturus and Optatus, and What Cyprian Had Written to Rome.

Cyprian to the presbyters and deacons, his brethren, greeting. That nothing may be unknown to your consciousness, beloved brethren, of what was written to me and what I replied, I have sent you a copy of each letter, and I believe that my rejoinder will not displease you. But I ought to acquaint you in my letter concerning this, that for a very urgent reason I have sent a letter to the clergy who abide in the city. And since it behoved me to write by clergy, while I know that very many of ours are absent, and the few that are there are hardly sufficient for the ministry of the daily duty, it was necessary to appoint some new ones, who might be sent. Know, then, that I have made Saturus a reader, and Optatus, the confessor, a sub-deacon; whom already, by the general advice, we had made next to the clergy, in having entrusted to Saturus on Easter-day, once and again, the reading; and when with the teacher-presbyters22852285    Not “teachers and presbyters,” as in the Oxford translation, but “teaching presbyters.” For these were a distinct class of presbyters—all not being teachers,—and these were to be judges of the fitness of such as were to be teachers of the hearers. [According to Cyprian’s theory, all presbyters shared in the government and celebrated the Lord’s Supper, but only the more learned and gifted were preachers. 1 Tim. iv. 17.] we were carefully trying readers—in appointing Optatus from among the readers to be a teacher of the hearers;—examining, first of all, whether all things were found fitting in them, which ought to be found in such as were in preparation for the clerical office. Nothing new, therefore, has been done by me in your absence; but what, on the general advice of all of us had been begun, has, upon urgent necessity, been accomplished. I bid you, beloved brethren, ever heartily farewell; and remember me. Fare ye well.

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