Studia Patristica 3.1 (1961) pp. 196-199


Second Thoughts on Tertullian against Praxeas

E. EVANS, Hellifield, Yorkshire

My edition of Tertullian, Against Praxeas, is selling so slowly that I am unlikely to live long enough to see that work through the press a second time. I therefore propose, with your permission, to use this opportunity of correcting a few mistakes in my publication of ten years ago, and of expressing a more assured judgement in places where I was then merely tentative.

One place where I am sure I was right, but in which the editors of Corpus Christianorum have failed to follow my lead, is in chapter 6, in the quotation from Proverbs 8. Primo is evidently no part of the text of Proverbs (as Oehler and Kroymann print it) but contrasts with dehinc a few lines below: and the contrast is made explicit in the following chapter, where conditus ab eo primum ad cogitatum in nomine sophiae is balanced by dehinc generatus ad effectum. In other words, according to Tertullian the passage of Proverbs 8, 22-30 falls into two parts, the first of which describes the establishment of Thought in the mind of God (verses 22-26), so that the rest of the verses may describe the generation of the same Thought as Speech with a view to the creation of the world.

Still in chapter 7 (on page 95 of my edition): I was mistaken in accepting from Pamelius the alteration of gaudenti into gaudentem. The sentence runs: ad quem deinceps gaudens proinde gaudenti in persona illius, Filius meus es tu, etc., and I ought to have seen that ad quem (sc. sermonem) gaudens is an interpretation of Proverbs 8, 30, ego (i. e. sophia) eram ad quam gaudebat, and (proinde being equivalent to perinde) gaudenti in persona illius corresponds with cotidie oblectabar in persona ipsius, the dative gaudenti being governed by the ait or inquit which must be mentally supplied with the further quotation Filius meus es tu. My note on page 228 needs rewriting in this sense. |197

There are some other places where I am disposed almost to insist that the manuscripts are right and that the editors have been wrong. On the same page 95 (still in chapter 7) the MSS have, as it appears, apparet unam eandemque vim esse nunc in nomine sophiae, nunc in appellatione sermonis, quae initium accepit viarum in dei opera et quae caelum confirmavit, per quem omnia facta sunt et sine quo nihil factum est. The change of gender in the relative pronouns has troubled the editors, who have altered quem and quo to quam and qua, so as to keep the feminine reference (to sophia) throughout. In a footnote I suggested the retention of quem and quo, with the transference of nunc in appellatione sermonis immediately before per quem omnia facta sunt. I now think that the MSS have what Tertullian wrote. There is a similar sentence, on the same subject, in Apology 21, ostendens se esse verbum dei, id est λόγον, with illud primordiale primogenitum (immediately after λόγον) in neuter agreement with verbum, and then eundem qui . . . fecisset by hyperbaton in masculine agreement with λόγον.

I am encouraged in my conviction that the MSS are often right, as against the editors, by the support of Dr. Vincentius Bulhart in his small but notable Tertullian-Studien (Vienna 1957). I made a further suggestion of this kind on chapter 3 (page 91), where the MSS have, Monarchiam, inquiunt, tenemus: et ita solium ipsum vocaliter exprimunt etiam Latini et tam opifice ut putes illos tam bene intellegere monarchiam quam enuntiant. Rhenanus in his third edition changed solium to sonum, and later editors have copied him. But even with this change the meaning is by no means clear, and I suggested that solium was part of what Tertullian wrote, and that another word had been lost. Either solum solium or solisolium (if there were such a word) could be the Latin equivalent of μοναρχία, and Tertullian may have meant that Latins, even uneducated manual workers, were using the Greek word, shouting it as a slogan, and giving the unwarranted impression that their understanding of the subject was equal to the loudness of their voices. Vocaliter, without any reference to the actual voice, is used at Apuleius, Metamorphoses I 22 of loud knocking at a door: ianuam firmiter oppessulatam pulsare vocaliter incipio. But whether we read solium or sonum, ipsum is still unexplained, and a new approach seems necessary. I now suggest that solium ipsum is right and that the only change necessary is to read etiam opifices (for et tam opifice): Tertullian will then |198 mean that even Latins, even manual workers, say monarchia in Greek when they refer to Caesar's throne (solium ipsum), and moreover in this theological connexion testify by constant repetition of this word to their conviction concerning the divine unity, while yet both Greeks and Latins οἰκονομίαν intellegere nolunt, refuse to understand the economy, the distribution of the divine unity into trinity. I think we can agree that even Tertullian is unlikely to have invented such a barbarous adverb as opifice.

In chapter 8 (page 96 line 19) the MSS have non ideo non utatur et veritas vocabulo isto et re accessu eius quia et haeresis utitur. For accessu, which is meaningless, Rhenanus wrote ac censu, which is intelligible: but I suspect that ac sensu might be as good, or perhaps better. My alteration of utatur to utitur, and of utitur to utatur, I think ought to stand. On the same page, on the last line, I ought either to have printed aliud a patre or to have accepted Turner's suggestion of alienus.

In chapter 13 (page 104 line 2) I ought to have printed et iam (for etiam) pater per ipsum plenius manifestatus.

In chapter 16 (page 108 line 35): ut facilius crederemus filium dei descendisse in saeculum si et retro tale quid gestum cognosceremus: si was supplied by Rhenanus, and makes good sense: cum might more easily have dropped out, by haplography from the last syllable of saeculum.

In chapter 28 (page 126 line 34) est (omitted by Kroymann and bracketed by me) should be retained. Bulhart gives several examples of the deferment of et until later in its clause, and the natural order here would have been et suscitaturus est mortalia corpora nostra.

There are a number of small misprints in my work, largely due to my then being unaware that I ought to have been wearing spectacles: most of them will be easy to correct. But there is at least one serious slip in the translation. In chapter 8 (page 140 line 5) I ought to have written, 'For the Spirit is third from (not 'with') God and his Son'. On page 319, in the note on unare, remove the remark that it occurs only here: it does in fact occur elsewhere, but (as far as I know) only in Tertullian. On page 35 line 4 read ἠλέγχθη: on line 21 repeat τὰ πάντα after the second σὺν αὐτῷ. On page 65, in the quotation from Hermas, read μιάνασα. There are also one or two false Greek accents. |199 

In making this claim that the manuscripts are witnesses which have at times been too rashly disregarded, I do not forget that they are no more than witnesses and ought not to be elevated to the position of either judge or jury. It is the interpreter's business to hear their evidence and test its credibility. To disregard the witnesses when they may be speaking the truth is a risky proceeding. But to exalt the witnesses, and particularly one single witness, to the position of both judge and jury, is neither good jurisprudence nor, I suggest, sound scholarship.


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