Sunday, 3 May 2015

Scott Manor: Gaius or Hippolytus? Revisiting Lightfoot's hypothesis

In his essay, Caius or Hippolytus?, J.B. Lightfoot hypothesized that these two figures may have been one in the same person. The duplicity of personalities was the result of erroneous assumptions on the part of Eusebius and others who know of an individual "Gaius" primarily through the work Dialogue with Proclus the Montanist in which a certain Gaius is cast as the main protagonist. In reality, nearly every particular that is predicated to Gaius belongs also to Hippolytus, thus leading Lightfoot to question the historical existence of Gaius of Rome.
This hypothesis dissolved upon the discovery of some commentaries by Dionysius bar Salibit (d. 1171), who claims to record a dispute between Hippolytus and Gaius over the integrity of the Johannine literature. With this, Lightfoot abandoned his theory. Moreover, with this new information scholarly estimations of Gaius’ own legacy shifted drastically from viewing him as an orthodox hero to being the sole constituent of the heresy known as the Alogi, which tried to banish the Gospel and Apocalypse of John from the early church. But is this the proper way to conceive of and calibrate the evidence?
The aim of this short communication is to reconsider whether Lightfoot’s original hypothesis was indeed correct. By developing the work of some scholars who have questioned the accuracy the bar Salibi commentaries, I shall argue that the identity and existence of Gaius should once again be subsumed into that of Hippolytus.

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