Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 2, Ante-Nicene Christianity A.D. 100-325, “Chapter 13. Ecclesiastical Literature of the Ante-Nicene Age, and Biographical Sketches of the Church Fathers.” sec. 159-204.
§ 183. Hippolytus.
Schaff’s bibliography notes that numerous works of Hippolytus were found during the 19th century and had begun to be studied in detail by the end of the century (Schaff 2014, loc. 22089). He observes, “This famous person has lived three lives, a real one in the third century as an opponent of the popes of his day, a fictitious one in the middle ages as a canonized saint, and a literary one in the nineteenth century after the discovery of his long lost works against heresies” (Schaff 2014, loc. 22117). Though he has appeared lately as a critic of the Roman church, she had long since considered him a saint and a martyr. Eusebius and Jerome knew of him as a bishop, and both list written works by him, but they know little about him (Schaff 2014, loc. 22122). He may have died as a prisoner in Sardinia, but he may have been released and died elsewhere. Schaff does note his Philosophumena takes a schismatic position and considers him to have a relationship to Ostia, the port city which was often conflated with Rome (Schaff 2014, loc. 22141). Light was shed on him in 1551, when a marble statue was discovered, possibly depicting him in a bishop’s chair, on which are inscribed the names of works that would be ascribed to him (Schaff 2014, loc. 22150).
In the Philosophoumena Hippolytus opposes Roman bishops Zephyrinus and Callistus (202-223) for doctrinal and lifestyle issues. This leads many to take him as a counter pope or at least as a leader o a schismatic movement similar to that of the Montanists (Schaff 2014, loc. 22165).
Hippolytus wrote extensively, though Schaff considers him “not so much an original, productive author, as a learned and skillful compiler” (Schaff 2014, loc. 22169). His theology is very similar to that of Irenaeus, and his zeal, especially against philosophy, is similar to that of Tertullian (Schaff 2014, loc. 22174). Schaff summarizes the Philosophoumena to give the flavor of Hippolytus’ style. Among his other works, mostly lost, Hippolytus wrote commentaries on about a dozen books of the Bible (Schaff 2014, loc. 22218), largely using a strongly allegorical method. Schaff continues with summaries of several of Hippolytus’ allegorical arguments based on the prophets.
While Hippolytus does not call himself a bishop, he does assert the authority of a bishop (Schaff 2014, loc. 22221). He may well have been a bishop of Portus, near Rome, though considered a presbyter of Rome. Schaff reviews numerous scholarly theories about this and the relationship between Portus and Ostia, separated by a small island. Others have argued that he was a presbyter in Rome who didn’t recognize Callistus as the legitimate bishop (Schaff 2014, loc. 22304). This view also has weaknesses, as Rome kept lists of schisms and anti=popes, but never included Hippolytus in these records (Schaff 2014, loc. 22319). Schaff considers all the theories as inconclusive.