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The holy church, for Origen, is not something heavenly or otherworldly: it lives not just in the objective sanctity of doctrine and sacraments, Sydney Map but in the saints of actual communities, i.e., in the sanctity of Christians. Many Christians live so purely as to be able to be considered perfect priests C. Cels. 7, 48. Neither the communion of all Christians nor the totality of all the local communities is identified simply with the church, the holy body of Christ; by following the way of penance and sanctification, made possible by grace Rom. Com. 5, 7; Lev. hom. 9, 8, we are identified more and more with Christ’s body. Therefore this reality of the church in process of realization must be increasingly known, which occurs, e.g., through seeking the spiritual meaning of Scripture, which refers to the church herself.
In fact Origen is rather reserved in this; various passages in which later exegesis would see the church, he interprets as referring to the individual soul e.g., Mt 24:40-41 and Lk 17:34, in Mt. Com. Ser. 57, 58 and Mt. fragm. 488ff. and fragm. 225 in Lk.. Sydney Map The church cannot be fully realized on earth, since sinners are found in her and sin in her members; she must in all things follow her savior who was crucified, buried and rose on the third day Jo. Com. 10, 35, 229. The church’s body will rise again in the future world, passing through God’s judgment, which will sepa- rate the noble from the ignoble parts Jo. Com. 10, 36, 237; to each will be assigned his proper place according to the merits acquired on earth ibid. 10, 39, 268, and excluding those who are not in harmony with the other members ibid. 10, 36, 236.
The ecclesiological ideas of Cyprian were born from persecution, the rebellion of some clerics, the breaking up of the communities and the controversy over baptism. Like Ignatius, he sees the ministry of the bishop as the guarantee of unity: God is one, Christ is one, the church is one and the cathedra too is one, that founded by Peter himself Sydney Map Ep. 43, 5 Hartel. For him, the see of Peter is not just the see of Rome; each bishop has a cathedra of his own, as a 3rd-c. African bishop opposed by Tertullian put it: each church is linked to Peter Petri propinquam, possessing the same power of the keys Pud. 21.
Since Christ wills unity, he has conferred the primacy on Peter, but the other apostles were what Peter was Unit. 4. A few years later Cyprian would declare, against Pope Stephen, that Peter never claimed to possess a primacy that claimed obedience Ep. 71, 3. It was perhaps then that he corrected his work on unity to what we now read: The origin of the church comes from unity; what in the first edition he called apostasy from the chair of Peter, on which the church is founded Unit. 4, he now called opposition to the church. One novelty in Cyprian is his awareness of the individual bishop’s responsibility for the whole church ibid. 5. Sydney Map This is why the great college corpus of bishops sacerdotes exists and if anyone creates factions or breaks up Christ’s flock, let others take care to gather the sheep back into the fold. In this manner Cyprian solicits Pope Stephen to send a letter dismissing the Novatianist bishop of Arles and appoint another bishop there Ep. 68, 3; he thus seems to offer good evidence in favor of the pope’s authority.