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Irenaeus, St

Irenaeus, St (c.140–c.200). Church father. He heard Polycarp as a boy, so is generally supposed to have come from Asia Minor. He studied at Rome, then became presbyter and later (c.178) bishop of Lyons. The tradition that he was a martyr is late and unreliable. The most important work of Irenaeus is his Detection and Overthrow of the Falsely Named ‘Knowledge’ (usually known as Against Heresies). This is a detailed attack on gnosticism, especially the system of Valentinus. With him is associated the notion of ‘recapitulation’: based on Romans 13. 9 and Ephesians 1. 10, the idea in Irenaeus is that Christ is the consummation and completion of God's purpose and design, summoning up all that God intended in creation and dealing in his own person with the defects which had entered in.

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