DIS CIPLI'NA ARCA'NI (Lat., discipline of the st.crtt L. A term, ap plied to a system of the early Church which treated certain rites as mysteries and withheld them from the knowledge of the uninitiated. There is no trace of this secret discipline before the end of the second century. It emerges into \ion; duri ig the third, and is well establi,lied in the fourth and fifth centuries, which constitute its most flourishing period. The writers who set forth the mystery idea are Itrigen. .1thanasius. Basil. Epiphanius. l'h•ysostom, ('veil of dernsa lent, Cyril of Alexandria, Thcodorct. .\mbrose, .Augustin)', and Psendo.l)ionysius .%reopagita. It appears ilk() in the \ post (die Const it ut ions. From the sixth century onward. When Chris tianity had won the victory over paganism, we hear less and less (1 the secret discipline, yet its influence is elear/y traceable in East ern and \\ )'.stern Catholicism, even down to modern times (cf. e.g. the liassian Catechism of 1 s:19 ) .
!tallish' and the eucharist were the two rites of the Church to which especially the mystery idea beetm. attached. To call baptism a 'seal,' or 'illumination"; to speak of 'the initiated' and 'the uninitiated': to use the term •tuystery• for the holy communion, or for the creed, or for the Lord's Prayer—all this denotes assimilation of heathen nodes of expression and of thought. The process bent on during the period when the Church was receiving her largest necessions from the Occident 1;r:two-Roman and ()richt:II religions. .1in1 it could hardly be expeeted that an institution with solemn rites and formulas of its uttn, which thus drew constituents from other religion:, should remain wholly free from their intInenee. or escape the unconscious appro priation Of some of their ideas, llence resulted significant elialige: in the Chri-tiali silerainents, and took the place of pedagogy in Christian nurture. The creed came to le re garded as a mystery because it was formally delivered to the catechumen at his baptism; the Lord's Prayer. because of its prominence in the comumnion These things were often drawn from piddle Mention, or referred to only remotely. with such words as"the initiated know what I ine..11„" etc. Sozomen will not include e Ni•ene Creed in Ilk //i..,./ory. for fear some• of the profane 'nay read the book. .1nihrose warns tlo. t'llu•eli to against ineautiously divulging ry of the ('rood or of t he "Lord's Prayer." Chrysostom explains reticence with regard to the lofte r by that "no unhap iized person can call (loll his shis rebukes these trio are "not ashamed to parade the sacred mysteries before catechumens, or, worst of all. even before heathen." It I•as the general opinion that familiarity with such sacred things must be discouraged. Basil ob• serves that veneration of the mysteries is 1,1.,err,..,1 by silence." And .kugustine goes so far as to assert that concealment, Il• provok ing eurio•ity. helps along the eXtell.don of ChristianitY; for the uninitiated are eager to learn the rwercts Which the Clittreli so carefully guards: The %ietts given in the preceding paragraph are those of a mod rn critical school, and are denied generally by those who hold the traditional theory of the history of Christianity. .According
to the latter, the early Christians, surrounded by pagan populations %dm were only too prone to misinterpret their teachings, and severely per• seemed by the government, naturally sought von. ecalment :Ind practiced a prudent reticency. Tie. ,iirding their doctrines as It sacred deposit, they shrank from recklessly communieating them to the profane who might ili,tort thent. Experienee had talight thorn, Moreover, that all ileophytew Were not sincere, and the danger of betrayal by informers mho pretended led them to guard the more intimate and practices from catechumens until after a long probation. Further, it was not deemed ni•e to ciallintiniente the of truth to the miprepared mind. :mil for this reason also the neophyte was only grad ually inducted into the ,Hysteric. of the faith.
ly there arose alining the early I•hris• thins a symbolic mode of expression by they ioigiut communicate in public with their brethren without betraying themselves. The fa mous inscription discovered at .'tries in 1ti:19 furnishes tin excellent example of their symbolic food, sweet as honey, of the saviour of the holy ones. and drink, holding the fish in thy hands"—words utterly unintel ligible to the profane, but perfectly clear to the Christian. for whom the fish was the symbol of Christ, initial letters of the Crcek words for l'Itrist. Son of God, Saviour." forming the word fish. 1Zoin0n ('atholies hold that the discipline of the secret originated in apos tolic times, and urge that the words of Terttillian l'rt•eript. 11) indiente that it was already a well-established tradition in his day .\s regards its subject-matter. Protestant writers generally that it embraced merely certain rites (If worship. and that the silence of early Christian writers on certain doctrines is evidence that they were not held by the primitive church. Pounan Calh)'lies hold that the system included doctrines as well as rites. and that it explains the silence of certain writers on points after wards held to have been handed down cur sinuous tradition. For the division of the en eharistie serviee into two parts, from the more sacred of \Odell the unhaptized were excanled. see Lill ins.
For the lloman l'alholie view, consult: Schel strafe, De Diseir/ina .I••fnii (Rome, 1(185); for the Protestant view, Tentzel. l)issertatio de Disci. !dim? 1 :Tani (Leipzig. 1692) ; also in general. Itingliam, .Initqililiea of the ri.s.1 ion Church, bk. ix. (London, lti'.1.11; lInich. The Influence of ()nil; Ideas and l'sagett upon the rh riPt Inn (1..ondon, 1tig:11 nas anti•e d1us II in 19e1110111 l'in /lug!: nu( (1115 Chrk• ten hum ( 1S941 \\'')se, 1'4 rin yo ( Freiburg. ; VVnb hermit'. udien (Perlin, lctut .