Hippolytus or Hippolytus of Rome?

SBLHS 2 § offers two entries for ancient writers named Hippolytus (noted by Litwa 2016, xxxii). The first, listed simply as Hippolytus, has fourteen works attributed to him; the second, Hippolytus of Rome, is cited as the author of only a single work.


Careful readers will notice that one work is listed in both entries, although not in exactly the same form.

Haer. Refutatio omnium haeresium (Philosophoumena) Refutation of All Heresies
Haer. Refutatio omnium haeresium (Philosophoumena; Elenchus) Refutation of All Heresies

The TLG Canon of Greek Authors and Works (Berkowitz and Squitier 1990) confirms that the two authors listed here are one and the same person and gives the preferred form of his name: Hippolytus.

It would seem a simple enough solution for a future edition of SBLHS to combine all the works listed into a single entry under the heading Hippolytus. However, the attribution of Refutatio to Hippolytus is questionable. The work itself is anonymous, and scholars have previously attributed it to Origen or one of two individuals named Hippolytus. After exploring the evidence for and against Hippolytus and other possible authors, David Litwa concludes:

For scholars, conventional attributions based on questionable evidence should not have normative status. In the current state of research, we best confront our horror vacui and call our anonymous writer “the author of the Refutation.” (Litwa 2016, xl; see further xxxii–xl; Moreschini and Norelli 2005, 1:232–39)

Whatever one’s position on the authorship of the Refutatio, editors of a style manual still must decide where readers are most likely to look for a given work. For that, they rely on standard authorities such as the Canon of Greek Authors and Works. Because that authority lists Refutatio omnium haeresium under Hippolytus, future editions of SBLHS will follow suit (listing the work under Hippolytus and deleting the Hippolytus of Rome entry), and those who follow SBLHS can use Ref. as the abbreviation for that work:

Ref. Refutatio omnium haeresium (Philosophoumena or Elenchus) Refutation of All Heresies

Authors who wish to indicate disagreement with the standard attribution may add a note explaining their position on authorship or signal that disagreement by placing the abbreviation of the work within brackets: [Ref.]. SBLHS is and will remain agnostic about questions of authorship such as this; our goal is simply to provide a style standard so that communication is as clear and precise as possible.

Works Cited

Berkowitz, Luci, and Karl A. Squitier, eds. 1990. Canon of Greek Authors and Works. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Litwa, M. David. 2016. Refutation of All Heresies. WGRW 40. Atlanta: SBL Press.

Moreschini, Claudio, and Enrico Norelli. 2005. Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature: A Literary History. Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell. 2 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

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