Tertullian: Adversus Marcionem. Edited by ERNEST
EVANS. Pp. xxiv
+658. (Oxford Early Christian Texts.) Oxford: Clarendon
Press, 1972. £8.
DESPITE its oddities and obscurities, its more than occasional quibbles
and its dated biblical exegesis, Tertullian's reply to Marcion is an im-
pressive work, necessary reading if we would comprehend how a radical
challenge to early Christianity was met, yet understandably more
often cited than read. To those who desire or need to go right through
it Dr. Evans's convenient and scholarly edition will come as a great boon.
It contains an introduction, text, and translation on facing pages, appar-
atus criticus, biblical references, occasional notes, two appendices,
and two indexes.
The introduction provides first a succinct account of Marcion's
teaching and influence and a summary of the present treatise with
paragraphs on its successive editions (what we have is Tertullian's
third), on the Montanist element in it, on its relation to Adversus
Judaeos, its sources, and its author's biblical text. Of all this the clarity
is admirable, the brevity presumably required by the rules of the
excellent series in which it appears. Dr. Evans then comments on the
manuscripts and editions and adds a surprisingly short bibliography.
D'Ales's solid Theologie de Tertullien of 1905 is hardly the last word:
Braun and Moingt, who are not included, have discussed at length, and
with reference to Evans's own studies, the technical vocabulary of
Tertullian's doctrine of God, and are necessarily much concerned with
This treatise was edited for C.S.E.L. by Kroymann in 1942. While
he improved the text at very many points, his high-handed treatment
of the extant (admittedly inadequate) manuscripts has provoked some
scholars, including Evans, to prefer Oehler's more conservative edition
of 1854. Corpus Christianorum reprinted Kroymann for the sake of its
apparatus, adding a selection of comments by other recent scholars.
Evans of course has kept his eye on all this material, but the retention
of Oehler's text 'except where it is unintelligible or where subsequent
critics have made suggestions which are manifestly preferable' is some
thing of a risk, since he used two inferior manuscripts only. Evans's own
conjectures are comparatively few, and often attractive. As elsewhere,
his revised punctuation frequently makes better sense. The apparatus
itself is slight, since this does not purport to be a definitive edition, but
everything Evans says deserves attention. Touches of characteristic
individuality enliven it: at iv. 21 (p. 374) 'mulso scribere audebam:
multum libri et edd.', and at iv. 119 (p. 362) the dig at Pamelius, 'vix
intellecto sensu scriptoris'. The rather drastic emendation 'per crucem' in
i. 25, which Evans explains from iv. 40, perhaps receives further support
from iii. 118 where 'lignum passionis suae baiulantis' may correspond to
the `molestum sibi' of i. 25.
It is quickly apparent that the translation is very good, even if it leaves
some difficulties unresolved. Though Evans is not afraid to rearrange
clauses or whole sentences or to amplify the original in order to bring
out the meaning, he does not overdo either practice. Few who read the
English version alone will realize what scholarship and what pains have
been required to smooth their path (rough enough still) through
Tertullian's frequent tortuosities. Evans pays a just tribute, however,
to his predecessor, Peter Holmes (1868) who has sometimes been
Since this is not a commentary, notes are not abundant. More cross-
references, internal or to Tertullian elsewhere, might usefully have been
squeezed in (e.g. on p. 5 to De Praescriptionibus); some biblical texts
invite comment, however brief (e.g. mendicus in the Psalms and Beati-
tudes at iv. 114, and tempestivus decore in Ps. xlv at iii. 14 and 117). The
note on figura (iv. 4o) does not face the whole problem. Admittedly
repraesentare means 'make present', in some sense, and figura need not
be merely figurative. The difficulty here is the figurative use of figura
in the rest of the chapter, leaving Tertullian's eucharistic doctrine
uncertain (perhaps it was).
Appendix I, 'Some Technical Terms', is crisp and good, but its
sixteen lines leave no room for qualification. Consult Braun and
Moignt for the complications. Appendix II is a very useful summary of
the more significant alterations in Marcion's New Testament. Index II,
of 'Names', unhappily omits some. An index to the patristic references
in the notes would have been valuable, but scarcely imperative.
Any adverse criticism expressed above is marginal. I end with feelings
of respect and gratitude, and with the hope that Dr. Evans will give us
yet more Tertullianea.
S. L. GREENSLADE