Classical Review - New Series 6 (1956) pp. 175-7


CARL BECKER: (1) Tertullian : Apolo-
geticum
. Verteidigung des Christen-
tums-Lateinisch and Deutsch. (2)
Tertullians Apologeticum. Werden
and Leistung. Pp. 317, 383. Mu-
nich: Kösel-Verlag, 1952, 1954
Cloth, DM. 22, 24.8o.

THIS work is already famous. To praise it
would be an impertinence: to criticise it is
probably beyond the competence of anyone


less learned than the author himself. It must
suffice to outline briefly the contents of the
two volumes, while drawing attention to a
few of their more notable features.

    (1) contains an introduction (4o pp.), fol-
lowed by the Latin text and a German trans-
lation printed face to face. There are here no
footnotes, but the variants between the Ful-
dan and the standard texts are printed in
full in the next section of the book, with an
apparatus criticus beneath them. There are
no explanatory notes, but the commendable
device of an alphabetical Register gives all
the information necessary for the under-
standing of Tertullian's personal and general
allusions. There is a short bibliography.

    The Latin text is in a beautiful italic type : 
since the sentences do not begin with capitals,
it would have been easier to read if the com
positor had left a larger space after the
periods. The German translation a foreigner
is not competent to judge, except to say that
even to him it has in a few places thrown new
light on Latin with which he has been fami-
liar for forty years. The Introduction is a
notable piece of work, as well as a fine
example of the dignity and clarity of the
German language; if the whole work cannot
(under present circumstances) appear in
English, this Introduction might well do so.
Among other matters it describes Tertul-
lian's life and character as known from his
writings; it has a brief sketch of Greek
apologetic, and a discussion of the juristic
basis of Christian trials; and it contains a
masterly summary of the argument of the
Apology, with the suggestion that it is one of
the greatest works of Latin literature. Antici-
pating the detailed arguments of his suc-
ceeding volume, the author states his position
that Ad Nationes was written early in 197,
and recast as the Apologeticum late that same
year; the Fragmentum Fuldense (summarized
from Theophilus) was a note made by Ter
tullian, not for publication but for use in
preparing the Apology; the Fuldan text
represents the Apology in its original form,
and the standard text is the completed work.
It is clear that the Fuldan text was in circu-
lation in the early centuries; it is not clear
whether it was put into circulation by Ter-
tullian, or whether, like others of his works,
it was published without his authority. The
Octavius of Minucius Felix is indebted to
Tertullian. There are two pages of observa-
tions on methods of translation, which jus-
tify, and are justified by, the version which
follows.

    The further volume, (2), is designed to
prove the theories outlined above. It does
much more than that. It makes very heavy
-------------------------------------------------------
reading, and will require and repay careful
and detailed study. The contents of its five
chapters can only be briefly summarized.
Chapter i is an account of modern (since
about 1900) discussion of the problems in-
volved, in which the work of French, Dutch,
Italian, and Swedish, as well as German,
scholars is shown in its proper relations.
Chapter ii concerns the two books Ad 
Nationes
and their relation to the Apology;
a full analysis of their argument is followed
by a long discussion of passages which show
signs of having needed further revision. The
suggestion is that Tertullian, dissatisfied with
this work, entirely recast it, thoroughly
changing its tone and temper, and reissued
it as the Apology. Chapter iii treats of the
manuscript tradition of the Apology, the
history of the problems involved, the relation
of the two texts, the so-called Fragmentum
Fuldense
, and marks of lack of final polish
(unfertige Stellen) in the Fuldan text. Chapter
iv, which the author claims is the most signi-
ficant part of his work, has some acute
observations on Tertullian's use of language,
and discusses in great detail the different
factors of Tertullian's intention in the change 
over (Umgestaltung) from Ad Nationes to
Apology, and the further revision of the
latter. A section on the purpose of the work
and its intended public suggests that (in
spite of the forensic form of this oration) it
was not Tertullian's intention to use it in
court, nor his expectation that it would bring
an end to persecution, but rather that it
should put the Christian case before the
general public; in other words, it was pro-
paganda rather than apologetic--a conclu
sion with which most readers will agree.
Chapter v produces arguments in favour of
the proposition that Minucius Felix is subse-
quent to Tertullian; here again we think the
author has given new expression to what was
already evident.

    There are three excursuses: on the alleged
Latin Christian Sondersprache, which the
author thinks should be related to the general
spoken Latin of the time; on the chronology
of Tertullian's early writings; and on Momm-
sen's now exploded view of the juristic basis
of imperial persecution of Christianity.

    The author refers in his Introduction to
R. Heinze's work (1910), Virgils epische
Technik
. In the present work he has applied
and expanded Heinze's methods, indicating
that we have in Tertullian that which we
have nowhere else in our legacy from anti-
quity, the materials for watching the develop-
ment of a literary work from its first casting,
through several stages, to its polished finality.
For this reason Dr. Becker's work may be of


interest even to such classical scholars as are
not usually concerned about Christian Latin,
provided they can set their teeth against
grammatical forms and syntactical usages
which are not Ciceronian though they have
certain affinities with Tacitus, and can
tolerate them in a work which, like that of
Tacitus, has the uncommon merits of
vigorous expression and moral sincerity.

E. EVANS

Hellifield


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