THE JOURNAL OF THEOLOGICAL STUDIES, 25 (1923-4) p.292

THE ‘ACTA PAULI’ ETC. IN TERTULLIAN.


THE reference to the ‘Acta Pauli’ in Tertullian De Baptismo c. 17 is of course well known. In the latest edition of that work (Lupton, Cambridge, 1903) the passage reads :-

quodsi quae Pauli perperam inscripta sunt exemplum Theclae ad licentiam mulierum docendi tinguendique defendunt, sciant in Asia presbyterum . . . decessisse.

Zahn Kanonsgesch. ii 892 (approved by Harnack Sitzungberichte preuss. Akad., 1914, p. 315) emended quae to qui, and sunt to legunt.

Until Dom Wilmart's notable discovery of 1916 was made known, it was believed that no manuscript of the De Baptismo survived ; but the Troyes (Clairvaux) MS 523 (saec. xii) contains it, or rather most of it1, along with four other treatises of Tertullian. All of these I collated in 1920, with Dom Wilmart's full approval, by the aid of a grant from the Hort Fund. I found that the MS reads the above passage thus :-

quodsi que acta pauli que perperam scripta sunt exemplum tecle ad licentiam mulierum docendi tingendi que (eras.) defendunt sciant (ant m 2 in ras.) in asia presbites . . . decessit..

Whatever may be thought of some of the readings of the MS, the recovery of the real title Acta Pauli is an improvement, and we can see why the original editor expunged it. Lupton, as a matter of fact, suggested in his note that perhaps Acta has dropped out after inscripta.

By Mr Lupton's kind permission I am enabled to call attention to the solution of another interesting point with regard to this treatise. There is a well-known crux in ch. v :-

nam et †esietos et lymphaticos et hydrophobos uocant quos aquae necauerunt aut amentia uel formidine exercuerunt.

Here our MS reads soetos (or perhaps scelos), which does not help us. But M. Isidore LÚvy pointed out in 1922 that the Egyptians used esies in the sense of ‘a happy soul’, and that death by water was considered by them as the path to happy immortality (cf the case of Antinous, who is several times mentioned or hinted at by Tertullian). All that we require to do is therefore to alter esietos to esietas. With D'Ales and Lupton I should regard the difficulty as now solved.

1. Details of this MS are probably most accessible to English readers in the Appendix to my translation of Tertullian Concerning the Resurrection of the Flesh (S.P.C.K. 1922).

A. SOUTER.


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