Berthold ALTANER / Hilda GRAEF, Patrology (1960).  Chapter V, pp. 166-182


§ 30. TERTULLIAN (d. after 220)

QUINTUS Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born at Carthage c. 160; he was the son of a pagan Roman captain. He received a very good education, including especially, legal and rhetorical training (Eus., Hist. 2, 2, 4). He was also thoroughly familiar with Greek. He is very probably identical with the jurist of the same name quoted in the pandects. About 195 he returned as a Christian from Rome, where he had been a lawyer, to his native town, having drained, as he writes himself (Res. carn. 59), the cup of lust to its dregs. He soon embarked on a lively literary career in the service of the Church. It is very improbable that he was a priest, as Jerome asserts (Vir. ill. 53). In 207 at the latest, he broke with the Church. His austere and gloomy cast of mind which abhorred neutrality and compromise led him to the Montanist sect where he soon became the head of a party of his own, the Tertullianists. He died an old man at Carthage, after 220.

Tertullian is one of the most original, and until Augustine the most individual of all Latin ecclesiastical authors. He combined Punic fervour with Roman practical sense. A religious enthusiast, he had a penetrating intelligence, passionate eloquence, ever-ready wit and was extraordinarily well-versed in all departments of knowledge. Moreover, he mastered Latin like no one else and freely moulded it into quite new forms. As H. Hoppe (1932) states, Tertullian formed 509 new nouns, 284 adjectives, 28 adverbs and 161 verbs, i. e. together 982 new words. Apart from the Vetus Latina and the Vulgate his writings have exercised the greatest influence on old Christian Latin. It is, however, an exaggeration to call him the author of Christian Latinity. He writes |167 a concise, vigorous, but for this reason also often obscure style; Vincent of Lerins says rightly of him: Quot paene verba, tot sententiae (c. 18). But continuing: Quot sensus tot victoriae Vincent is wrong; for Tertullian's dialectic is dazzling rather than convincing, and this is due to his nature. He is excitable, inclined to extremes, and he himself must confess that he is wholly lacking in the virtue (patience) in whose praise he wrote a special treatise (Pat. 1). In his rhetoric he plays the whole register of impassioned wrath, mocking wit and legal volubility. In controversy he gives no quarter, and all his writings are controversial. As a Catholic he branded the procedure of the pagan governors and attacked and ridiculed the pagan religion in general, and later, when he had become a Montanist, he attacked the supposed laxity of the Catholic Church with equal bitterness, not even refraining from casting suspicion on the celebration of the Agape by dark allusions (Ieiun. 17). However, on account of his difficult language, but even more because of his defection to Montanism, he was soon no longer read or at least not named, as is the case already in Cyprian.

It is hardly possible to give an exact chronological order for Tertullian's writings; one can normally only say with a fair degree of certainty whether they belong to the Catholic or to the Montanist period of the author. The frequent cross references in his works as well as internal reasons make it possible to establish a relative sequence of many of his writings. The textual tradition, too, is rather defective. Not a few treatises are lost; of others, (Pud., Ieiun.) the MSS from, which the oldest editions were printed have perished; others are extant only in the single Codex Agobardinus (at Paris), which dates from Archbishop Agobardus of Lyons (814-40). Only the Apologeticum exists in numerous MSS. Thirty-one treatises have survived in all. Tertullian was the most fertile Latin author of the time before Constantine. The most important modern literature on Tertullian is |168 assembled and classified, apart from Quasten's Patrology (II, 248ff.), in J. H. Waszink, Tertulliani De anima, 1947, 597/620 as well as in the first facsimile of Tertullian in the CCL II, 1953, X-XXV.

Edd.: ML 1-2. F. Oehler 1-3, 1851/4 and ed. minor 1854. In CSEL so far 4 vols.: 20, 1890 by A. Reifferscheid and G. Wissowa 47, 1906 by A. Kroymann, 69, 1939 by H. Hoppe (Apolog.) and 70, 1942 (Kroymann). A new complete ed. appeared in 2 vols, in the CCL in 1935/4.----Transs.: by H. Kellner, 2 vols., 1882 and selection by H. Kellner and G. Esser (BKV2 7 and 24) 1912/5. S. Thelwall, P. Holmes and others (ANCL 7, 11, 15, 18, 1869/70). H. U. Meyboom, Leiden 1931. ----Mg.: Bardy, DTC. S. F. Sajdak, Tert. Czast-zycie-dziela, Poznan, 1949. A. Hauck 1878. E. Noeldechen 1890. P. Monceaux (supra § 3) 1, 1901. C. Guignebert, P. 1091. F. Ramorino, Milan 1923. H. Koch, Pauly-Wissowa-Krill:Realencyklopaedie II 5, 822/44. On individual questions: G. Esser, Die Seelenlehre T.s, 1893. H. Hoppe, Syntax u. Stil des T., 1903; Beitraege zur Sprache u. Kritik T.s, Lund 1932. A. d'Alès, La theol. de T., 1905. G. Thoernell, Studia Tertullianea 1-4, Up 1917/26. E. R. Roberts, The Theology of T., 1924. P. Vitton, I concetti giuridici nelle opère di T., 1924. A. Beck, Roem. Recht bei T. u. Cyprian, 1930; S. W. J. Teeuwen, Spracht. Bedeutungswandel bei T., 1926. J. Lortz, T. als Apologet, 2 vols., 1927/8. J. Berton, T. le schismatique, 1928. J. Morgan, The Importance of T. in the Development of Christ. Dogma, 1928. T. Brandt, T.s Ethik, 1929. L. Bayard, T. et Cyprien, 1930 (Moralistes chrét.). R. Hoeslinger, Die alte afrik. Kirche im Lichte der Kirchenrechtsforschung nach der kulturhist. Methode, W 1935. G. Krueger 1933, 261, 280 f. V. Nemes, Tert. goeroeg mueveltsege (= Greek education of T.). Pannonhalme 1935. D'Alès, Revue des études grecques 1937, 320/62 (T. helléniste). H. Janssen, Kultur u. Sprache, N 1938 (development of language in T. and Cyprian). K. Vysoky, Remarques sur les sources des œuvres de T., Prague 1937. F. A. Demmel, Die Neubildungen auf -anita und -entia b. T., thesis Zurich 1944. A. Roelli, T.s Stellung z. roem. Staat, thesis Tub 1944. M. M. Baney, Some Reflections of Life in North Africa in the Writings of Tert., Washington 1948. S. Oswiecimski, De scriptorum Rom. vestigiis ap. Tert. obviis quaest. selectae, Krakow 1951. B. Nisters, Tert., seine Persoenlichkeit u. sein Schicksal, Muenster 1950.

Treatises: Borleffs, Mnemosyne 1935, 299/308 (MS). Restrepo-Jaramillo, Gregorianum, Rome 1934, 3/58 (symbol). H. Koch, Gelasius (BAS 1935, 6) 1935, 77/82 (T.'s language in Gelasius). Waszink, Mnemosyne 3, 1935/6, 165/74. D'Alès, RSR 1936, 468; 1937, 620. Aalders, Mnemosyne 1937, 241/82 (Lk.-citations). Waszink, Mnemosyne 9, 1940, 129/37 and 11, 1942, 68ff. (text. crit.). Brou, Ephemerides liturgicae (Rome) 1938, 237/57 (Tert. in the Officium Joannis Bapt). ----View that Tert. was not a priest defended by: H. Koch, Theologische Studien und Kritiken (Gotha) 1931, 108/14; J. Schrijnen, Charakteristik des altchristl. Latein, N 1932, 30 A. 1 ; J. Klein, Tert. Christl. Bewusstsein u. sittl. Forderungen, 1940, 268/73. G. Smitz, Th 1943, 127/39 (Tert. and Montanism). Casamassa, Ang 1943, 184/94 (L'acusa di hesterni). Evans, Church Quarterly Review 1944/5, 56/77 (Theological terminology). Waszink, Vigiliae Christianae 1948, 224/42 (Roman dramatic art). Borleffs-Diercks, Sacris Erudiri 1949, 383/6 (Lexikon Tertullianeum). Basanoff, Doelger:Antike u. Christentum1 1950, 463/5 (pagan concepts contd. in Tert. and August.). Mohrmann, Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 111f. (Tert. in Jerome and August.). Borleffs, Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 65/79 (new MS fragments); cf. also Dekkers, Sacris Erudiri 1952, 372/83. |169 

I. Apologetic writings

1. Ad nationes, two books (197), a defence against pagan attacks and an attack on paganism which, Tertullian asserts, is in a state of moral and religious dissolution (EH 186 f.). This treatise should be considered as a provisional draft dealing with paganism, which was more fully elaborated in the Apologeticum written in the same year.

Text: J. G. Borleffs 1953 (CCL 1, 1). ---- Text. criticism in Castiglioni in Studi dedicati alla memoria di Paolo Ubaldi, Milan  1937, 257ff.; Waszink, Mnemosyne 3/1943, 71f. Kuijper, Vigiliae Christianae 1954, 78/82; Evans, Vigiliae Christianae 1955, 37/44. ---- M. Heidenthaller, T.s 2. Buch Ad nat. u. De test. animae, Pa 1942 (Trans. and commentary).

2. The Apologeticum (end of 197) is addressed to the provincial governors of the Roman Empire. In contrast with all other ancient apologies it considers almost exclusively the political accusations directed against the Christians, i. e. scorn of the state gods and lèse majesté, thus transferring apologetics from the philosophical to the juridical sphere (EH 164/75; EP 274/85).

He cleverly blames the peculiar procedure used by the secular pagan authorities against the Christians: the only crime for which they are condemned is the nomen Christianum. All other criminals are allowed a defence, but not the Christians; to others torture is applied to force a confession, to Christians to obtain a denial. He refutes the vile suspicions circulated against the Christians and gives information on the most important points of the Christian faith and the life of the community. Christianity, he concludes, is a philosophy, but the pagan philosophers are not forced to sacrifice like the Christians, they may even deny the gods without incurring punishment. Yet the pagan cruelties will not harm the Christians, on the contrary: Plures efficimur, quoties metimur a vobis, semen est sanguis christianorum (50).

The text of the Apologeticum has raised much controversy. The treatise was preserved in the Codex Fuldensis, now lost, in a |170 version frequently differing from that in the normal tradition (Vulgata, more than 30 MSS). The view has often been voiced (H. Schroers, G. Thoernell) that we are faced with two different versions made by Tertullian himself. This has also guided the most recent editors (H. Hoppe, C. Becker, E. Dekkers) in shaping the text of the book. This view is opposed by another one, according to which the two traditions, as is proved by common errors, go back to one and the same archetype which early split into two branches, owing to the intervention of unenlightened copyists. In the Codex Fuldensis the original text is less corrupt than in the Vulgata (J. P. Waltzing, J. Martin, Loefstedt, Mohrmann). ---- The Apologeticum was translated into Greek as early as the beginning of the third century.

Text, Trans., Commentary: B. Mayor-A.Souter, C 1917 (with trans.). S. Colombo, Tu 1918 (with commentary) and Tu 1926. G. Rauschen, 1919 (FP 12). J. P. Waltzing-A. Severyns, P 1929, and Waltzing, P 1931 (with trans. and commentary). A. Souter, Aberdeen 1926. J. Martin, 1933 (FP 6). C. Ijsseling, A 1947 (trans.). J. Sajdak, Poznan 1947 (trans.). F. Guarino, R 1950 (trans.). O. Tescari, Tu 1951 (with trans.). Mohrmann, Ut-Bru 1951 (trans. also of 7 other pre-Montanist treatises). C. Becker, Mnemosyne 1952 (with trans.).

Mgs.: Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 5, 188/200 (on 6, 4, 6). Emonds, Rheinisches Museum fuer Philologie 1937, 180/91 (on 46, 16); id., 2nd ed., 1941, 137/87. Bourgery, Latomus 1938, 106/11 (Institutum Neronianum). Bickel, DP 54/61 (on 18). Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 6, 157/9 (on 40, 2). Tescari, RAC 1947/8, 349/52 (on 46, 14). Volterra, Scritti in onore di C. Ferrini, 1947, 471/88 (on 5, 1-2). Griffe, Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique 1949, 129/45 (persecutions of Chrs.). Zeiller, AB 1949, 49/54 (persecutions of Chrs.). Alfonsi, Lat 2, 1949, 5/11 (on 46, 15). Oswiecimski, Eos 44, 1950, 111/22 (on 15). Grant, Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 113 (on 47, 6 f.). Borleffs, Vigiliae Christianae 1952, 129/45 (Institutum Neronianum). C. Becker, Tertullians Apologeticum, Werden u. Leistung, Mnemosyne 1954 (383 pp.). Beran, Misc. Mohlberg 2, 7/32 (De ordine Missae). Quacquarelli, Gregorianum, Rome 1950, 145/74, 562/89 (persecution of Chrs.). Zeiller, RHE 1955, 393/99 (Instit. Neronianum).

3. De testimonio animae elaborates a sentence from the Apologeticum (17): O testimonium animae naturaliter christianae (EP 286). In their spontaneous exclamations the pagans show that they believe, in the depth of their soul, in the unity of God, the survival of the soul and the existence of evil spirits, e.g. when they say : God sees it, or : May the departed rest in peace. |171 

Text: G. Quispel, Leiden 1952; id., Leiden 1952 (trans.). J. C. Scholte, A 1934 (with trans.). ---- Treatises: Lazzati, Atene e Roma, 1939, 153/66 (fonti). Quispel, Latomus 1951, 163/9. Tibiletti, AttiAccadSc, Tu 88, 1953/4, II 84/117.

4. Ad Scapulam (212), an open letter threatening Scapula, proconsul in Africa and an enraged enemy of the Christians, with the punishment of God, referring to an eclipse of the sun (EH 217f.; EP369).

Mgs. : Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 6, 1940, 70 f. (on 4). Quacquarelli, Gregorianum, Rome 1950, 562/89 (persecution of Chrs.).

5. Adversus Iudaeos (EH 207 f). The old law of retaliation must cede to a new law of love. The pagans too, share in the grace of God (1-8). The second part (9-14) is spurious, an excerpt from the third book of the treatise Adv. Marcionem.

Mgs.: A. L.Williams, Adversus Iudaeos, C 1935, 43/52. Brou, Ephemerides liturgicae (Rome) 1938, 237/57 (on 9). Capelle, RTABull 4, 1943, 8f. G. Quispel, De Bronnen v. Tert.' Adv. Marc., Leiden 1943, 61/79; cf. Borleffs, Vigiliae Christianae 1947, 195 f. M. Simon, Versus Israel, P 1948.

II. Dogmatic-polemical writings

6. De praescriptione haereticorum (c. 200). This work shows most clearly Tertullian's juridical training and his knowledge of the Roman law. The title of this work means, in free translation, that in dealing with heretics the law of praescriptio may be applied. In the language of the legal experts of Imperial Rome praescriptio meant that the defendant invoked a praescriptio which rejected the claim of the plaintiff a limine so that there could be no trial at all. Tertullian's "theological praescriptio" was suggested by this legal procedure.

Two statements (praescriptiones) are at the centre of his not always very clear exposition: i. Christ has commissioned no one except the apostles to propagate his teaching; ii. The apostles have entrusted this teaching to no one except the communities founded by them. This proves the greater age not only of the |172 apostolic communities but also of their doctrine in comparison with all heresies. This statement alone convicts the heresies of error, because they came later. From this point of view Tertullian has no need at all to examine the Gnostic doctrines in detail and to refute them as false. Every doctrine that agrees with the doctrine of the apostolic Churches is to be regarded as true, because these Churches have received their doctrine from the apostles, the apostles have received it from Christ, and Christ from God (21). The Church is the rightful owner of the faith ; it also possesses the Scriptures (19). The heretics have no right to judge the sense of Scripture. The scope and content of the faith is decided by the rule of faith, i. e. by the teaching of the apostolic Churches. Private exegesis of Scripture and disputes about the sense of Biblical passages lead nowhere (16). The apostolic tradition also guarantees the correct exegesis of Scripture (15-19). To know nothing against the rule of faith means to know everything (Adversus regulam nihil scire omnia scire est; 14, 5).

Edd.: E. Preuschen, 2 1910. P. de Labriolle, P 1907. J. Martin (FP 4), 1930. J. N. Bakhuizen van den Brink, Haag 1946. ---- Transs.: C. Mohrmann, 1951 (v. supra no. 2). J. Giordani, Brescia 1935. C. F. Savio, Varallo 1944. ---- Studies: P. U. Huentemann, De praescr. haeret. libri analysis, 1924. A. Vellico, La rivelazione e le suefonti, nel De praescr. haeret. di Tert., R 1935. G. Zimmermann, Die hermeneutischen Prinzipien T.s, thesis, L 1937. Allie, Revue de l'Universite d'Ottowa 1937, 211/25; 1938, 16/28. J. Stirnimann, Die Praescr. T.s im Lichte des roem. Rechts und der Theologie, Fri 1949. Czuj, Collectanea Theologica, Lvov 1954, 194/247 (on Praescr. haeret.).----Refoulé -De Labriolle 1957 (SCh46).

The Collection of Thirty-Two Heresies added to the book De praescriptione (chs. 46-53; text: CSEL 47, 213/26) is, according to E. Schwartz (SbMn 1936, 3), a Greek treatise written by Pope Zephyrinus or one of his clerics, translated and modified in an anti-Origenist sense by Victorinus of Pettau (v. infra § 31, 2).

7. The five books Adversus Marcionem (v. § 24, 8) are by far the most voluminous work. Tertullian wrote it in three different recensions, of which however, only the last and longest version is extant. The first book in its present form was written in the |173 fifteenth year of the reign of the Emperor Severus, i.e. in 207 (cf. 1,15). In 5, 10 the author refers to his treatise De carnis resurrectione. The work belongs to his Montanist period (cf. 1,19; 3, 24; 4, 22). In Books 1-2 he proves that the creator of the world cannot be different from the good God, in Book 3 that Christ was the Messias prophesied in the Old Covenant, not a higher aeon in an unreal body. In Books 4 and 5 Tertullian criticizes Marcion's New Testament and shows that there are no contradictions between the Old and the New Testaments (EP 331/45; EH 210; EA 64/66).

Studies: E. Bosshardt, Essai sur l'originalité et la probité de Tert. dans son traité contre Marcion, thesis Fri 1921. A. Harnack, Marcion (TU 45), 21924. Neumann, Zeitschrift fuer katholische Theologie, Innsbruck 1934, 311/63; 533/51 (problem of evil in Marc. 2). D'Alès, RSR 1936, 99f., 585f.; 1937, 228/30 (on Marc. 3, 18; 4, 21). Aalders, Mnemosyne 1937, 241/82 (citations from Lk.). G. Fligersdorfer, De Tert. adv. Marc. lib. tertii argumenta sententiarumque connexu, thesis W 1939. Rist, JR 1942, 39/62 (Pseudographic Refutations of Marcionism). M. C. Tenney, The quotations from Luke in Tert., thesis Harvard Univ. 1944 (unpubl.). Waszink, Mnemosyne 1935/6, 172; 1943, 72/4; 1947, 127/9 (text. crit.). G. Quispel, De bronnen van Tert.' Adv. Marc., Leiden 1943, and Vigiliae Christianae 1947, 47. Grant, Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 114f. (on 1, 13). Higgins, Vigiliae Christianae 1951,1/42 (Text of Luke in Marc. and Tert.).

8. Adversus Hermogenem (EP 321/8), a defence of the Christian doctrine of creation against the Gnostic painter H. at Carthage.

Text: J. H. Waszink, Ut 1956 (Strom. patrist.). Ibid., ACW 24, 1956; id., Vigiliae Christianae 1955, 129/47 (text. crit.). Hiltbrunner, Vigiliae Christianae 1956, 215/28 (text. crit.).

9. Adversus Valentinianos, directed against the Gnostic V. and his followers; makes extensive use of Irenaeus, Haer. 1.

Doelger:Antike u. Christentum 5, 1936, 272/4 (on Valent. 8). Quispel, Nieuw Theologisch Tijdschrift, Haarlem 2, 1948, 280/90 (Tert.'s satire in Adv. Valent.). D'Alès, RSR 1935, 496 (on Valent. 12).

10. Scorpiace, a "remedy for the sting of the scorpion" of the Gnostic heresy, defends the moral value of martyrdom (213). 

Waszink, Mnemosyne 3, 1935/6, 165ff. (text. crit.). Castiglioni, Studi dedicati alla memoria di Paolo Ubaldi, Milan  256ff.

11. De carne Christi (EP 353/9; EH 209) refutes the docetism of the Gnostics ; here (9) it is alleged that Christ was ugly (c. 210/12). |174 

12. De carnis resurrectione (EP 360/5) defends the resurrection of the flesh against the Gnostics.

Trans. by A. Souter (SPCK), Lo 1922. Gewiess, Theologische Quartalschrift 1948, 474ff. (on 6). Davies, JTS 1955, 90/4 (on resurr. carnis 63).

13. Adversus Praxean, the clearest ante-Nicene presentation of the Church's doctrine of the Trinity, directed against the Patripassian Praxeas; first use (3) of the term trinitas.

Edd. of text: A. Kroymann, Tu 1907. E. Evans (SPCK), Lo 1948 (with trans. and commentary), cf. Waszink, Vigiliae Christianae 1953, 246/53.----Studies: J. Barbel, Christos Angelos, Bonn 1941, 70/9. T. L. Verhoeven, Studien over Tert.' Adv. Praxean, A 1948 (thesis Ut) ; Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 43/48. Camelot, Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques 1949, 31/3 (on 8). Quacquarelli, RassScFilos 3, 1950 (Tert. against the Monarchians).

14. De baptismo, a presentation of the Church's doctrine of Baptism, its necessity and its effects. Heretical baptism is invalid (15).

Edd. of text: G. Rauschen, FP 11, 1916. J. W. P. Borleffs, Mnemosyne 1931, 1/102; Leiden 1931. A. d'Alès, R 1933. Borleffs, Haag 1948 (together with De Patientia and De paenitentia). R. F. Refoule-M. Drouzy (SCh 35), 1952 (with trans. and comm.); cf. Borleffs, Vigiliae Christianae 1948, 185/200 (value of MS of Troyes). ibid. 1954, 188/92. Schepens, RSR 1948, 112f. (on 5). Mohrmann, Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 49 (on 2, 2). W. Bedard, The Symbolism of the Baptismal Font in Early Christ. Thought, W 1951.

15. De anima (210-13), apart from the work against Marcion his largest treatise, belongs to the series of anti-Gnostic writings and is akin to the lost treatise De censu animae directed against Hermogenes (v. supra No. 8). It is not a systematic treatise on the doctrine of the soul but has polemical tendencies; Tertullian is concerned to refute philosophical and Gnostic errors. Beside other authors he uses especially the physician Soranus of Ephesus.

Edd. of text: J. H. Waszink, A 1933 (with trans. and comm.); id., Index verborum et locutionum quae Tertulliani de anima libra continentur, Bonn 1935; id., Tert.' De anima ed. with commentary, A 1947 (large ed.); cf. C. Becker, Gn 1953, 47/56.

Studies: F. Seyr, Commentationes Vindobonenses 3, 1937, 51/74 (doctrine of soul and knowledge of Tert. and the Stoa). Waszink, Pisciculi, Muenster 1939, 276/78; id., Vigiliae Christianae 1947, 137/49 (Aristotle in Tert.); id., Vigiliae Christianae 1949, 107/12; Vigiliae Christianae 1950, 212/45 (technique of clauses). Festugière, Revue des sciences philosophiques et theologiques 1949, 129/61 (Composition et |175 l'esprit); id., Jahresber. des Goerres-Ges. 1951, Cologne 1952, 53/68 (philosophy and Gnosis). Nock, Vigiliae Christianae 1950, 129/247 (Ahori in T.). H. Karpp, Probleme altchristl. Anthropologie, 1951, 40/91.

III. Practical-ascetical writings

a. From the Catholic period.

16. Ad martyres (EA 40f.) intended to console and strengthen Christians languishing in prison (197 or 202/03).

H. v. Campenhausen, Die Idee des Martyriums, 1936, 17/28. Schlegel, DR 1945, 125/28 (Circumstance of the Composition). Vysoky, Listy Filologicke 1948, 156/66 (the. sources). E. E. Malone, The Monk and the Martyr, W 1950, 30/4. C. Becker, Tert.s Apologeticum, 1954, 350/4 (on the date: before Ad nat. and Apol.). Alfonsi, In mem. A. Beltrami, Varese 1954, 39/49.

17. De spectaculis (197-200) forbids Christians to visit any kind of pagan plays because of their immorality and their close connexion with idolatry.

Edd. of text: T. R. Glover, Tert., Apology and De spect., with trans., Lo-NY 1931. A. Boulanger, P 1933. G. Marra, Tu 1954 (with De fug. and De pall.).----Treatises: J. Koehne, Die Schrift Tert.s ueber die Schauspiele in kultur- u. religionsgeschichtl. Beleuchtung, thesis Br 1929. J. Buechner, Tert., De spect., Kommentar, Wu 1935. P. de Labriolle, 2 vols, (trans. and comm.), P 1936. E. Witters, Tert., De spect. Index verborum omnium, Lou 1943. Waszink, Vigiliae Christianae 1948, 224/42 (Varro, Livy and Tert. on Roman drama). Couratin, JEH 1951, 19/23 (on 25). Lieftinck, Vigiliae Christianae 1951, 193/203 (new MS fragm.). C. Becker, Tert.s Apologeticum, 1954, 348f. (on date: before Ad nat.).

18. De oratione (EA 44/8) gives instructions for catechumens on prayer in general and expounds the Our Father (198-204).

Edd. of text: R. W. Muncey, Lo 1926. G. F. Diercks, Bussum 1947 (with trans. and comm.). E. Evans (SPCK), 1953 (with trans. and comm.). ---- Studies: Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 5, 1936, 116/37 (on 16). Simovic, France Francise. 1938, 193/222, 145/64 (Our Father). O. Schaefer, Theologie und Glaube 1943, 1/6 (Our Father). Higgins, JTS 1945, 179/83 (Sixth petition of the Our Father). Pétré, RSR 1951, 63/79 (Fourth petition of the Our Father). G. F. Diercks, Tert., De or. et De virg. vel. (Strom, patrist. 4), Ut 1956.

19. De patientia (EA 49/52). Tertullian wants to speak about this virtue which he does not possess, in the same way as the sick |176 man likes to praise health; its greatest enemy is the thirst for revenge (200-203).

Edd. of text: Borleffs, Haag 1948 (v. supra No. 14). ---- Carlson, CP 43, 1948, 93/104 (Pagan Examples of Fortitude in Latin Christ. Apologists).

20. De paenitentia (EH 199/203; EP 311/7) (prob. 203) treats of the mind and practice of penance before Baptism (1-6) and the single ecclesiastical penance a baptized person must undergo after committing a "grave sin" (7-12).

Edd. of text: P. de Labriolle, P 1906 (Paen. and Pud. with trans.). E. Preuschen, Fr 1910. G. Rauschen (FP 10), 1915. Borleffs, Haag 1948 (v. supra No. 14). ----Lukman, Bogoslovni Vestnik, Ljubljana 1939, 263/66; id., Festschr. R. Egger, Klagenfurt 1952, 343/46 (on 7, 7/9).

21. De cultu feminarum (two books; EA 57/62) attacks the various forms of feminine adornments (197-201).

Edd.: J. Marra, Tu 21951. W. Kok, Dokkum 1934 (with trans. and com.). Braun, Sacris Erudiri 1955, 35/48 (text. crit.). A. Ducheyn, Proeve van vertaling en commentaar (of the first book), thesis Gand 1941. Seliga, Munera philologia L. Cwiklinski oblata, Poznan 1936, 262/9 (Tert. et Cyprianus: De feminarum moribus pravis).

22. Ad uxorem (two books; EH 204/6; EA 53/6) asks his wife either to remain a widow or to marry only a Christian after his death (c. 203).

Trans. with comm. P. Le Saint (ACW 13), 1951; cf. Waszink, Vigiliae Christianae 1952, 183/90 (text. crit.). Kuijper, Vigiliae Christianae 1955, 247f. (text. crit.).

b. From the Montanist period.

23. De exhortatione castitatis (EP 366; EA 68f.) exhorts a friend who is a widower not to contract a second marriage, which he actually calls a "kind of fornication" (9) (before 207).

Trans. with comm. : P. Le Saint (ACW 13), 1951.

24. De monogamia (EP 380/2) a violent attack on the lawfulness of the second marriage (c. 217).

Trans. with comm.: P. Le Saint (ACW 13), 1951; on this Plumpe, Theological Studies, Woodstock (Madison),  1951, 557/9 (text. crit.).

25. De virginibus velandis (EP 329 f.) demands that all virgins |177 should be veiled, not only in church, but also in public (before 207).

26. De corona (211) rejects the crowning of soldiers as a specifically pagan custom and forbids military service as incompatible with the Christian faith.

Edd. of text: J. Marra, Tu 21951. ---- Studies: Franchi de' Cavalieri, Studi e Testi 65, 1935, 357/86. K. Baus, Der Kranz in Antike u. Christentum, 1940. Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 6, 1941, 77 (on 12). Minn, Ev. Quarterly 1941, 202/13 (Tert. and war). Bainton, HTR 1946, 190f. (T. and war). De Plinval, Mél. De Ghellinck, 1951, 183/8. Ryan, Theological Studies, Woodstock (Madison),  1952, 17 ff. (T. and military service).

27. De idololatria demands the strictest rejection of idolatry and of all professions in any way connected with it (artists, teachers, state and military officials).

Studies: J. L. Schulte, Het Heidendom bij T., thesis Leiden 1923. Waszink, Mnemosyne 3, 1935/6, 171ff. (text. crit). G. L. Ellspermann, The Attitude of Early Christian Writers Toward Pagan Literat. and Learning, W 1949, 23/42. C. Becker, Tert.'s Apologeticum, 1954, 349f. (on the date). Quacquarelli, RassScFilos 3, 1951 (Tert. on paganism).

28. De fuga in persecution (EP 370) : Flight in persecution is not permitted and opposed to the will of God (c. 212).

Edd. of text: J. J. Thierry, Hilversum 1941 (with trans.). J. Marra, Tu 1932 (with De pallio). ---- Castiglione, Studi dedicati alla memoria di Paolo Ubaldi, Milan 1937 1937, 260ff. Waszink, Museum 1, 1943, 168/70.

29. De ieiunio adversus psychicos, a defence of the Montanist fasting practice with violent attacks on the psychici, i.e. the Catholics who indulge their lusts (16f.); important for the history and practice of fasting.

J. Schuemmer, Die altchristl. Fastenpraxis . . ., Muenster 1933.

30. De pudicitia (EP 383/7; EH 219/21) denies the Church the right to forgive sins, in contrast with his earlier views (supra No. 20). This power is not the privilege of the juridically organized "church of the bishops" but only of the homines spiritales, the spiritual men (apostles and prophets). Tertullian passionately opposes an edictum peremptorium of a not clearly identified bishop (pontifex maximus quod est episcopus episcoporum) who had |178 declared: Ego et moechiae et fornicationis delicta paenitentia functis dimitto (1). The frequently held view that the opponent here indicated is Pope Callistus (217-22) should be rejected. De pudicitia does not offer a satisfactory argument for assuming that Tertullian opposes a bishop living outside Africa, and besides, the account of Hippolytus (Philos. 9, 12), which attacks Callistus and his "lax" practice, is based on an entirely different situation from that which is to be deduced from the treatise of Tertullian. Tertullian evidently attacked Bishop Agrippinus of Carthage (Cypr., Ep. 71, 4).

Edd. of text: E. Preuschen, T 1910. P. de Labriolle, P 1906 (with De paen. and trans.). G. Rauschen, FP 10, 1915. ---- Treatises: On the more recent literature on the bishop opposed by Tert. see Altaner, TR 1939, 129/38. Stoekkius, Archiv fuer katholisches Kirchenrecht 1937, 24/126, W. Koehler, Omnis ecclesia Petri propinqua (SbHei 1938) and ZKG 1942, 124/35. Poschmann 1940, 348/67. Nock, HTR 1939, 83/96 (edictum peremptorium). Keseling, PJB 1947 (Aristotle in 1, 1).

31. De pallio, the shortest of all Tertullian's writings, is a personal apology. With bitter sarcasm he justifies himself before his fellow citizens for having exchanged the toga for the philosopher's cloak (c. 210). On the Passio ss. Perpetuae et Felicitatis v. § 45 n. 8.

Edd. : J. Marra, Tu 1933 (with trans.) and Tu 1954 (with De spect, and De fuga). A. Gerlo, Wetteren, 2 vols, (with trans. and comm.). Q. Cataudella, Genoa 1947 (with trans.). ---- Studies: Castiglioni, Studi dedicati alla memoria di Paolo Ubaldi, Milan  261f. Gerlo, Revue Belge de philologie et d'histoire 1939, 393/408 (text, crit.). Albizatti, Athenaeum 1939, 138/49. J. Klein, Tert. Christl. Bewusstsein, 1940, 252/68 (on date: 193). Waszink, Mnemosyne 1941, 131/7. Van Berchem, Museum Helveticum 1, 1944, 100/19. J. M. Vis, Tert.'s De pallio, thesis N 1949. C. Becker, Tert.'s Apologeticum, 1954, 354f. (on date: 209/11). G. Saeflund, De pallio und d. Stilist. Entwicklung T.s, Lund 1955.

32. Lost and spurious writings. From the imposing number of lost writings we would mention especially the seven books De ecstasi, a defence of the ecstatic speech of the Montanist prophets. Quaestio 115 of the work Quaestiones Vet. et Novi Test. (318/49, ed. A. Souter 1908) which belongs to the Ambrosiaster uses perhaps the treatise De fato. The treatise De exsecrandis gentium diis is spurious.

Bickel, Rheinisches Museum fuer Philologie 1927, 394/417 (6th cent.). |179 

IV. Points of Doctrine

1. In view of the contradictory results of pagan philosophizing, Tertullian's attitude to philosophy is sceptical, if not altogether negative, though he remains in favour of a naïve exercise of reason, even though he proceeds rather summarily. He accepts philosophy in so far as it agrees with the Christian truth (Credo, ut intelligam). He clearly affirms that the existence of God and the immortality of the soul can be known by rational reflexion (Resurr. 3); also that God's absolute perfection results from the fact that he is without origin: Imperfectum non potest esse, nisi quod factum est (Herm. 28).

C. de L. Shortt, The Influence of Philosophy on the Mind of Tert., 1933. Labhardt, MusHelvet 7, 1950, 159/80 (Tert. et la philosophie). Refoulé, RevSR 1956, 42/5 (Tert. et la philos.).

2. Everything that exists is a corpus, though a corpus sui generis (Carn. 11), hence God too, is a corpus, etsi spiritus est (Prax. 7). It is not impossible that corpus here means actually substance, so that Tertullian ascribes only substantiality to God; but then he attributes to the spiritual substance qualities such as are also possessed by the body; for he says of the soul that it has corpus or corporalitas, but also possesses lineage and colour, the colour of luminous air (An. 7 9; EP 346f). Cf. Justin n. 4 and n. 5.

3. Tertullian's Trinitarian doctrine (EP 371/9) is expressed in the treatise Adv. Praxean in terms surprisingly definite for his time: Connexus Patris in Filio et Filii in Paracleto tres efficit cohaerentes, alterum e altero. Qui tres unum sunt, non unus (25) ; tres unius substantiae et unius status et unius potestatis (2). Cf. Pud. 21 : Trinitas unius Divinitatis, Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus. The technical term persona occurs for the first time in his writings : Alium . . . personae, non substantiae nomine, ad distinctionem, non ad divisionem (Prax. 12). The Logos was a res et persona already before the creation of the world, and that per substantiae proprietatem, but only with the |180 creation of the world did his coming forth from the Father become a nativitas perfecta (Prax. 7), and the Wisdom became the Son. Hence the Son as such is not eternal (Herm. 3; EP 321); it is true, his diversitas from the Father is denied (Prax. 9), but he differs from him gradu (order of origin). The Father possesses the fullness of the Godhead (tota substantia est), the Son only a part (derivatio totius et portio), hence he said: The Father is greater than I (9). The Son proceeds from the Father as the ray from the sun (13).

B. B. Warfield, Studies in Tert. and Augustine, O 1930, 1-109. M. Kriebel, Studien zur aelteren Entwicklung der abendlaend. Trinitaetslehre bei Tert. u. Novatian, thesis Marburg 1932. Hanson, Ha 45, 1945, 67/73 (theophanies in the OT and the Second Person). Morel, Studia Catholica, Naples 1940, 194/206 (on Jo. 16,13).

4. Tertullian affirms unequivocally the duality of natures in the one Person of Christ; in this doctrine he became the guide of the West. We find the following expressions in his works: Proprietas utriusque substantiae (in una persona), duplicem statum, non confusum sed coniunctum in una persona, deum et hominem Iesum (Prax. 27, EO 379). The miracles of Jesus show forth his true divinity, the affections and sufferings his true humanity (Carn. 5; EP 353).

Favre, Bulletin de litterature ecclesiastique 1936, 130/45 (communicatio idiomatum).

5. Tertullian is against the virginity of Mary in partu and post partum (Carn. 7, 23; Marc. 4, 19; EP 359) which we meet in tradition for the first time in the apocryphal Gospel of James and in the Odes of Solomon. Later Helvidius claimed the authority of Tertullian for his opinions (Jerome, Adv. Helv. 17).

H. Koch, Virgo Eva ---- Virgo Maria, 1937, 8 /17 ; against this K. Adam, Theologische Quartalschrift 1938, 171 ff. Motherway, Theological Studies, Woodstock (Madison),  1, 1940, 97 ff. (creation of Eve). Madoz, Estudios Ecclesiasticos, Madrid 1944, 187/ 200 (Influence of Tert.'s Mariology).

6. The soul of the child is a shoot (tradux, Traducianism) from the soul of the parent ; this explains the similarity of the psychological endowment of parents and children (An. 36f.). V. supra n. 2. |181 

7. Original sin is taught to be vitium originis in De anima 41 : The poison of evil desire has invaded human nature through the sin of Adam; this is the vitium originis which has become a naturale quodammodo through the devil. Nevertheless, infant baptism is not advisable except in cases of necessity (Bapt. 18).

8. The conception of the Church in Fug. 14, Pud. 21, 17 is purely Montanist: Ubi tres, ecclesia est, licet laici (Esch. 7).

9. According to Pud. 21, 9-11 the primacy and the power to bind and loose were given to St. Peter personally, not also to other bishops. Peter and Paul died in Rome (Scorp. 15; Marc. 4, 5; EH 215 ; EP 341). On the term pontifex maximus supra III 30.

K. Adam, Der Kirchenbegriff Tert.s, 1907. H. Koch, Callist. u. Tert., 1920. U. Gmelin, Auctoritas. Roem. Princeps u. paepstl. Primat, 1937, 83/91. Bardy.Vie Spirituelle, Paris 1939, 109/24 (Le sacerdoce chrét.). J. C. Plumpe, Mater Ecclesia, W 1943, 45/62. Morel, RHE 1939, 243/65; 1944/5, 5/46 (disciplina). De Pauw, Ephemerides theologicae Lovanienses 1942, 5/46 (traditions non écrites). Quasten, Traditio 1944, 481/4 (traditio). V. Morel, De ontwikkeling van de christ. Overlevering folgens Tert., Bruges 1946. J. Ludwig 1952, 11/20.

10. The Doctrine of Penance. In his Catholic treatise De paenitentia Tertullian urges all sinners to submit to the one single, unrepeatable ecclesiastical penance. The question whether he also envisages an ecclesiastical forgiveness (reconciliation) in this work is probably to be answered in the affirmative; cf. an melius est damnatum latere quam palam absolvi? (10). In Paen. 9f. Tertullian treats extensively of public confession (exhomologesis). Later, as a Montanist, he distinguishes peccata remissibilia and peccata irremissibilia (Pud. 2) and restricts the ecclesiastical penance to the peccata leviora. Among the unforgiveable sins the so-called trias of sins stands out particularly, viz. adultery, murder and apostasy or idolatry. According to Tertullian the power of forgiving sins exercised by Christ was purely personal and was not fully transmitted to the Church (Pud. 11). The power of forgiveness belongs to the spiritalis homo, not to the episcopal office; the pneumatici are organs of the Holy Spirit (Pud. 21 ; EP 387). |182 

11. Tertullian calls the eucharistie service gloriae relatio et benedictio et laus et hymni and sees in it the fulfilment of the prophecy of Mal. 1, 10 f. (Marc. 22; Jud. 5). In other places he speaks of orationes sacrificiorum, munditiae sacrificiorum; those present receive "the body of the Lord", "the sacrament of the eucharist" (Orat. 19; Marc. 3, 22; Pud. 9, 16; Cor. 3). For the consecrated bread we find (Marc. 4, 40) the expression figura corporis mei which means as much as : the body under the symbol of bread. The reality of the body that is to be consumed is for him so certain that he wants to prove from it the reality of the crucified body against Marcion (3, 19; EP 337). Caro corpore et sanguine Christi vescitur, ut et anima de Deo saginetur (Resurr. 8).

J. Hoh 1932, 43/58 = Theologie und Glaube 1931, 625/38. Chartier, Ant 1935, 301/44, 499/536. K. Rahner, Zeitschrift fuer katholische Theologie, Innsbruck 1936, 491/507. Poschmann 1940, 283/348. Joyce, JTS 1941, 18/42. Daly, Irish Ecclesiastical Record 1947, 693/707, 815/21; 1948, 731/46; 1950, 156/69. Quacquarelli, RassScFilos 1949, 16/37. K. Rahner, Festschr. K. Adam, 1952, 139/67. Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 6, 1940, 108/17 (on dominica sollemnis). Hitchcock, Church Quarterly Review 1942, 21/36. E. Dekkers, Tert. en de geschiedenis der Liturgie, Bru-A 1947, 49/67. A. Kolping, Sacramentum Tertullianeum, Muenster 1948.

12. Tertullian knows a state of expiatory suffering after death. The dead, with the exception of the martyrs, remain in Hades until the Day of the Lord. There they suffer supplicia out of which the intercessions of the living lead them to the refrigerium (An. 55 58; Resurr. 43; Monog. 10; EP 352, 382). Tertullian was a Chiliast (Marc. 3, 24; Spect. 30).

Daniélou, Vigiliae Christianae 1948, 1/16 (chiliast. interpretation of the week in ancient Christianity). Quacquarelli, RassScFilos 1949, 14/47 (anthropology and eschatology). Tescari, Misc. G. Galbiati, Milan 1951, 13/18 (on angelology). Pelikan, Church History, Chicago 21, 1952, 108/22 (eschatology).

Further studies on dogmatic and philos. history: J. Koehne, Die Ehen zw. Christen u. Heiden in den ersten christl. Jhh., 1931. Delazer, Ant 1932, 441/61 (indissolubility of marriage). Doelger, Antike u. Christentum 5, 262/71 (misericordia). J. Klein, Tertullians christliches Bewusstsein u. sittl Forderungen, 1940. Gonella, RivInternFilos Dir 1937, 23/37 (Le leggi sec. Tert. e Lattanzio). H. Pétré, L'exemplum chez Tert., Dijob 1945. Skard, NorskTTidskr 40, 145/81 (catechumenate). Sevenster, Nieuw Theologisch Tijdschrift, Haarlem 9, 1954/5, 364/73 (resurrection of the body in Tert. and N.T.). H. Karpp, Schrift u. Geist b. Tert., G 1955. Da Lio, StPat 1955, 358/95; 1956, 185/212 (proof from miracles in T.). |183 


[Note to the online text:  The original is very abbreviated. I have tried to expand abbreviations of journals.  I have been unable to locate the copyright holder.  Herder, who published it, deny that they hold the copyright.  If you think you do, please contact me.]


This page has been accessed by ****** people since 7th February 2003.


Home About these pages