Vigiliae Christianae 7 (1953) pp.246-253


Q. Septimi Florentis Tertulliani Adversus Praxean Liber. Ter-
tullian's Treatise Against Praxeas. The Text edited, with an Intro-
duction, Translation, and Commentary by
Ernest Evans. London,
S.P.C.K., 1948. 342 pp. Pr. 21/-.

        This review has to begin with an apology for its lateness; it was only in
the course of 1951 that I came to know, about this edition, and the necessity
to study it carefully - it should, indeed, be read more than once - made
it impossible to finish this critique at an earlier date.

        This book, which was not written for publication and was only published
at the suggestion of one of the author's friends - who thereby has obliged
all patristic scholars - cannot be better characterized than by the words
which in the Preface Dr Evans devotes to his Introduction but which in
fact bear upon the whole work: "I have now come to hope that the intro-
ductory matter may be found to have the value of the judgement of one
who during thirty years has made a careful study of the original contemporary
authorities, and, being unable to procure many modern books, nor having
the leisure to read them, has escaped the bondage of that modern scholas-
ticism which accepts the brilliant but often unproven theories of famous
scholars at the value of their authors' great names and proceeds to build
upon them an edifice bearing little relation to that which the original
documents portray". Indeed the strength of this edition lies in the editor's
thorough knowledge of the New Testament, the Apologists, and the Fathers
of the first four centuries of the Church: throughout the introduction and
the commentary the reader will not find one thoughtless quotation - every
relevant passage is fully (and soundly) interpreted, and in the discussion of
important parallels the differences are never overlooked. Dr Evans' first
hand knowledge of the development of the dogma of the Trinity and his
acute treatment of all problems connected with it deserve the serious
attention of all patristic scholars; needless to say that his work will prove
especially useful to those students of the patristic era who, like the author
of this review, are not professional theologians, were it only to teach them

        The introduction (pp. 1/85) consists of seven chapters, viz., I. Tertullian's
life and works; II. The Monarchian controversy; III. Tertullian's treatise
and its influence; IV. Tertullian's debt to his predecessors; V. Tertullian's
theological terminology; VI. Montanism; VII. Manuscripts and editions.
The most important of these are chapters II, III (the author establishes a
direct influence of the Adversus Praxean on Hippolytus, Novatian, and
St. Hilary of Poitiers, and an utilization of Tertullian's materials by
Dionysius of Alexandria and in the letter of the synod of Antioch to Paul
of Samosata), IV, and V. With regard to the last chapter, I may draw

[p. 247]
attention to a Dutch dissertation which appeared in the same year as the
present edition, viz., Th. Verhoeven, S.V.D., .Studiën over Tertullianus'
Adversus Praxean, voornamelijk betrekking hebbende op Monarchia, Oikonomia,
Probola in verband met de Triniteit
(inaugural dissertation in the University
of Utrecht, Amsterdam 1948, 207 pp.).

        The text is based on Kroymann's edition in the Vienna Corpus, vol. 47
- or rather on Kroymann's apparatus, as fortunately Dr Evans has banished
from his text Kroymann's ingenious but impossible conjectures; on the
other hand, he frequently agrees with August Engelbrecht, many of whose
excellent corrections of the text lie had found independently before consulting
Kroymann's edition (in which these corrections slumber undeservedly at
the bottom of the page). In general Dr Evans is justly conservative in his
establishment of the text: except for improved punctuation lie has only,
as he says himself, "presumed to print his own corrections in ten places".

        At first the author of this review greatly regretted that Dr Evans had
not had the opportunity of consulting two major works on the text of
Tertullian, viz., Thörnell's Studia Tertullianea and Löfstedt's Zur Sprache
. However, on close inspection the damage proves to be slight:
since both Dr Evans and the two Swedish Latinists observe a sound con-
servatism, by far the greater part of the passages treated in the two
monographs just mentioned are treated in the same way in the present
edition, a consensus which does great credit to all three scholars. The
remaining divergencies are so few in number that they can be discussed in
this review.

        The most interesting passage - or rather a locus desperatus - occurs at
the end of ch. 12 (246, 23/26 Kr.; 102, 20/22 Ev.). Tertullian wants to
motivate his statement that, though the Trinity has unam substantiam in
tribus cohaerentibus, a difference must be made between cum qui dicit and
cum qui facit. This motivation is given in a particularly intricate sentence
which in Oehler's text runs as follows: nam nec iuberet, si ipse faceret dum
iuberet fieri per eum. Tamen iubebat, hand sibi iussurus, si unus esset, aut
sine iussu facturus; quia non expectasset ut sibi iuberet
. Apart from Oehler's
punctuation, this is the text as it is given by P (instead of haud, M and F
read aut). Kroymann alters the text rather a great deal: nam nec iuberet,
si ipse faceret dum iuberet, fieri per cum,
<cui> tum iubebat, aut sibi iussurus,
. Thörnell (op. cit., I, p. 48), disapproving of Oehler's text ("Nam its eum
non habet, quo referatur, si quidem id ipsum erat demonstrandum, alterum
praeter deum patrem tune adfuisse"), also inserts a cui : nam nec iuberet,
si ipse faceret, dum iuberit fieri, per eum tamen
, <cui> iubebat, aut sibi
iussurus, etc.; he adds the following comment: "Ita appendicula illa per
tamen, inducta graviter monetur, quid insit in eo, quod iubebat fieri, illud
scilicet, ut fieret per eum, cui iubebat, i.e. per alterum, non per ipsum;
quare per alterum necessario, id amplius nec sine iteratione quadam, a
Tertulliano non aliena, exponitur in sequentibus : aut sibi iussurus, si unus
esset e.q.s.". Dr Evans reads: nam nec iuberet, si ipse faceret dum iuberet
fieri. per eum tamen iubebat, haud sibi iussurus si unus esset, aut sine iussu

[p. 248]
facturus; quia non expectasset ut sibi iuberet, of which he gives the following
translation (p. 146): "For he would not be commanding if he himself were
making while commanding things to be made. Yet he did command <them
to be made> by him, since he would not have commanded himself if he had
been one <alone>: or he would have made them without command, for he
would not have waited to command himself". In the commentary (p. 262)
he considers a different interpretation, reading aut instead of haud and
putting a comma after facturus, which gives the following translation: "For
neither would he be commanding if himself were the maker when he
commanded things to be made: yet he did command <them to be made
by him, though if he had been alone he would either have commanded
himself or would have made them without a command, since he would not
have waited to command himself". On this establishment of the text he
observes: "The objection to this is that the second aut should have been
vel potius. Most of the difficulty would vanish if we could omit dum iuberet
fieri per eum
". I regard it as certain that aut, not haud should be read:
first, aut is given by M which is unquestionably superior to P, secondly,
haud would give a tautology: "if God were one alone, he would not have
commanded himself and so would not have commanded at all or he would
have made all things without command" - in this case we should expect
a sed instead of the second aut ; moreover, the clause quia non expectasset ut
sibi iuberet
is only understandable if first the possibility that God should
actually have commanded himself is mentioned. Thus the words aut sibi
iussurus . . . ut sibi iuberet
indicate the impossible consequences of the
assumption that God should have been alone (the future participles are
equivalent to conditional clauses as they are frequently in Latin and
particularly in Tertullian, e.g. Adv. Hermog. 11 (138, 10/11 Kr.): (if that is
true, then) et iudicium frustra constituit deus, iniustitia utique puniturus:
"for in that case His punishments would be unjust by all means"). From
this it follows that in the preceding part of the sentence a positive proof of
the fact that God was not alone must have been found in the circumstance
that He commanded another being, and this being must be indicated by eum.
I cannot subscribe to Thörnell's assertion that eum should refer to something
in the sentence, and that therefore, a cui must be inserted: the present
sentence is closely connected with the preceding one (alium dicam oportet
ex necessitate sensus eum
(viz., deum) qui iubet et eum qui facit) as is evident
from the fact that the subject of the first iuberet (viz., is (deus) qui iubet)
must be supplied from it; therefore it is also possible to understand eum in
the same context as eum qui facit (one may, of course, try to refute this
argument by saying that et in the preceding sense is equivalent to atque
"that he who commands is different from (alium et = alium atque) him who
makes", so that the subject of iuberet is clearly indicated in the preceding
sentence, but against this it is to be observed that Tertullian never uses
alias et = alias atque (in this context cf. also Kühner-Stegmann, Synt., II,
p. 6). Further, per eum should, in my opinion, not be separated from fieri,
for in the preceding part of the chapter the whole argument is based on

John 1. 3 omnia per eum facta sunt. Thus I arrive at the conclusion that the
passage should be read as follows: . . . alium dicam oportet ex necessitate
sensus eum qui iubet et eum qui facit, nam nec iuberet (viz., is deus qui iubet)
si ipse faceret, dum iuberet. Fieri per eum tamen iubebat, aut sibi iussurus, si
unus esset, aut sine iussu facturus, quia non expectasset ut sibi iuberet
. What
we have here, is one of Tertullian's many confused syllogisms or rather a
contamination of two syllogisms:
A. 1. is qui iubet must be different from is qui facit, nam nec iuberet, si ipse
         faceret, dum iuberet
     2. The deus iubens ( = deus pater) did command.
     3. Then a different deus qui faciebat must also have existed.
B. 1. If God were one alone, he would not have commanded (aut sibi
         iussurus . . . ut sibi iuberet
     2. But God did command.
     3. Then God was not one alone.

        Tertullian begins by mentioning A. 1, then gives A. 2 (= B. 2) in which
he inserts per eum from A. 3 which he does not mention explicitly (as he
also omits B. 3) and adds B. 1 "nec sine iteratione quadam, a Tertulliano
non aliena", as Thörnell rightly observes.

        Ch. 9 (239, 26 s. Kr.; 97, 35/36 Ev.): a quo et minoratus canitur in psalmo
(Ps. 8. 6) modicum quid citra angelos. Löfstedt (op. cit., pp. 14/15) rightly
defends the modico given by the manuscripts (modicum R3).

        At the end of ch. 13 (248, 25/26 Kr.; 104, 20 Ev.) the editor reads nam
etsi soles duos f aciam with P, whereas M and F have et instead of etsi ; the
latter reading is vindicated by Thörnell, II, p. 49.

        Ch. 15 (253, 19 Kr.; 107, 1/2 Ev.) quomodo et visus est et invisus? Löfstedt
prefers to delete the first et which is not found in P and M (p. 46, note 1).

        Ch. 15 (255, 16 Kr.; 108, 3/4 Ev.): quamquam et illam (viz., lucem
inaccessibilem) neque ipse sine periculo luminis expertus est (viz
., St. Paul).
The manuscripts read neque et ipse (et was first deleted by Rhenanus in his
third edition) which may be retained, as Löfstedt does, p. 31.

        Ch. 24 (273, 24 ss. Kr.; 119, 23 ss. Ev.). Here it seems preferable to read
with Thörnell II, p. 94: Et Jesus (viz., ait) "ego sum via, veritas et vita . . .
si cognovissetis me, cognovissetis et patrem". Sed et: "abhinc nostis illum et
vidistis illum
" (sed et the manuscripts, sed Gelenius, followed by Kroymann
and Dr Evans who include sed in the quotation).

        Finally, in ch. 24 (274, 7 Kr.; 119, 30 Ev.): quem dicit cognosci ab illis
the insertion of se (Engelbrecht) is unnecessary according to
Löfstedt, p. 53.

        The translation is an excellent piece of work - it is entirely accurate and
eminently readable, preserving all the vehemence of Tertullian's style.
A few passages about which I disagree with Dr Evans will be discussed at
the end of this review.

        The commentary is mainly devoted to the explication of the trend of
thought - the interpretation of each chapter is opened by an excellent
paraphrase of its contents -, of Tertullian's frequently misleading termi-

nology, and of the chief conceptions dealt with in the treatise. I need not
repeat here the words of praise which I have already devoted to the edition
as a whole; instead I offer a number of suggestions for the interpretation
of the text; that they are not meant as criticisms ipsa earum facies monstrabit.

        Ch. 1 (227, 1 ss. Kr.; 89, 21/22 Ev.): nam iste (viz., Praxeas) primus ex
Asia hoc genus perversitatis intulit Romam, homo et alias inquietus (Romam,
Oehler, romanae humo PM, Romanae humo, <homo> Eng. Kr.): the
reading homo finds strong support in the similar description of Hermogenes
in the first chapter of the Adversus Hermogenem: Hermogenis autem doctrina
tam novella est; denique ad hodiernum homo in saeculo
. I wonder whether
alias is correctly translated by "generally" (p. 130): apart from the fact
that Praxeas "was the first to import to Rome out of Asia this kind of
wrongheadedness" he is in other respects, too, a restless man - Tertullian
is speaking of his actions rather than of his character.

        Ch. 1 (228, 22/23 Kr.; 90, 9 Ev.): sed et denuo eradicabitur (viz., the evil
seed mentioned in Matt. 13.25), si voluerit dominus, in isto commeatu. The
editor translates (p. 131): "in the time now at my disposal" but Tertullian
rather means "in this era" (viz., before the Last Judgment), as is evident
from what follows: si quo minus, die suo colligentur omnes adulterae fruges
et cum ceteris scandalis igni inextinguibili cremabuntur
. The original meaning
is "delay", cf. Apol. 32, 1: ipsamque clausulam saeculi . . . Romani imperii
commeatu scimus retardari
("by the delay granted to the Roman Empire",
cf. Waltzing's note ad loc.; this period of delay gradually becomes equivalent
to "era" in Tertullian's works).

        Ch. 5 (234, 5/6 Kr.; 94, 1 Ev.) : ad onmem cognitationis tui motum, ad omnem
sensus tui pulsum
is translated by (p. 135) : "at every movement of your
thought, at every impression of your consciousness"; however, it seems
more probable that by sensus Tertullian means the senses, cf. De anima
19, 7 : de primis sensuum <motibus> et de primis intellectuum pulsibus. For
pulsus, cf. also De carn. resurr. 61 (122, 15): ad pulsus linguae temperandos.

        Ch. 8 (239, 10/12 Kr.; 97,21/23 Ev.): ita trinitas . . . oeconomiae statum
is translated (p. 140) : "In this way the Trinity . . . conserves the
quality of the economy". I wonder whether status means "quality" here - I
would rather translate "the fact of its existence" (cf. the excellent discussion
of status by the editor in the Introduction, pp. 50/51).

        Ch. 15 (253, 9/10 Kr.; 106, 29/30 Ev.): ne quodcunque in filium reputo
in patrem proinde defendas
: "lest whatever I account to the Son you imme-
diately claim for the Father" (p. 151). It seems preferable to translate
proinde by "equally".

        P. 201. I cannot agree with the editor that in Tertullian's works condicio
and conditio appear to be frequently confused - such confusion as appears
in our printed texts is, in my opinion, not due to the author himself but to
the arbitrariness of the scribes. Therefore, in De carne Chr. 5, where our texts
give proprietas conditionum divinae et humanae and where, as the editor
rightly observes, "conditio divina cannot imply creation or anything for-
tuitous", we shall have to read condicionum (likewise, ib. 6 and 22). In De

anima 40: caro . . . res est alterius plane substantiae et alterius condicionis,
the words alterius condicionis do not refer to "another act of creation"
(from De anima 27 it is evident that such a conception is out of the question)
but simply mean: "of a different condition".

        P. 210. The meaning of deducere in De anima 43 - and generally in
Tertullian's works - is not movere, persuadere but rather docere, o(dhgei/n
cf. Thes. 1. L.V, 1: 283, 80 ss. and my note on De anima 15, 3 (p. 224).

        On p. 212 the editor observes: "According to de anima, 18, sensus is
concerned with corporalia, intellectus with spiritualia"; however, it should
be added that Tertullian in this passage only records Plato's view, which
thereupon he refutes.

        P. 214. I wonder whether in De anima 31, 5: iam nunc de tanto Graeciae
censu quattuor solae animae recensentur
the meaning of recensentur is "are
counted a second time" - for Tertullian recenseri has gradually become
equivalent to renasci, cf. my note ad loc., p. 381.

        P. 235. Besides the quotations from De carn. resurr. 11, cf. also Adv.
Hermog. 33 (163, 3/4 Kr.): nihil invenio factum nisi ex nihilo, quia quod
factum invenio non fuisse cognosco

        P. 239/240. For the conception of probolh&, cf. especially Verhoeven,
op. cit., pp. 137/147. In De anima 34, 3 iniectio is not a translation of
probolh& but rather of e)pibolh&, cf. my note, pp. 407/408. It should be noted
that already Lucretius (II 740) translated Epicurus' e)pibolh& thj dianoi/aj by
animi iniectus.

        P. 241. I cannot believe that "a sentence or so of summary has dropped
out after nesciat" in ch. 8 (238, 2 ss. Kr.; 96, 25 ss. Ev.): Valentinus probolaj 
suas discernit et separat ab auctore, et ita longe ab eo ponit ut aeon patrem
nesciat ; denique desiderat nosse nec potest, immo et paene devoratur et
dissolvitur in reliquam substantiam
. - denique does not "mark the last
clause of a series" but means "at all events", as it does very frequently in
Tertullian. It is true that reliquam needs an antecedent but Tertullian is
often obscure when discussing topics which he has fully dealt with in
previous works (in this case in the Adversus Valentinianos, ch. 14/15).

        P. 253. In ch. 11 (242, 19/21 Kr.; 99, 32 ss. Ev.) the editor reads with
Oehler: porro qui eundem patrem dicis et filium, eundem et protulisse ex
semetipso facis et prodisse quod deus est. si potuit fecisse, non tamen fecit
and translates (p. 143): "Further, you who identify the Father and the
Son, cause the same one both to have brought forth from himself that
which is God, and as such to have come forth. If he could have done so,
yet he did not do so" (and in the commentary, loc. cit. : "Further, you . . .
make out that the same One brought forth from himself a divine entity
and proceeded forth from himself as that divine entity"). However, it may
be questioned whether eundem . . . prodisse quod deus est can mean "that
he came forth from himself as a divine entity" (Tertullian not unfrequently
writes quod deus est with the meaning "divinity", "divine entity" but, as
far as I know, he always uses this clause as an accusative, e.g. Ad. Hermog. 1
(127, 2/3 Kr.) totum quod est deus aufert.); it is, in my opinion, more probable

that we should accept here an absolute use of protulisse (just as throughout
the Adversus Hermogenem we find creare and facere used without an object).
Against Kroymann's conjecture ( . . . et prodisae. quod deus etsi potuit fecisse,
non tamen fecit
) the editor observes: "the admission that God could have
done some thing which he has not in fact done, is not one that Tertullian is
prepared to make (see the conclusion of § 10) : the bare suggestion (si, not
etsi) is all he is able to allow". But this objection can be removed by
reading, not etsi, but et si (which is so frequent in Tertullian) - the author
himself records this as Kroymann's conjecture in his apparatus, adding
"forsan recte".

        P. 266. For the use of penes and apud as complete equivalents better
evidence is to be found than Adv. Marc. V 6, e.g. I. 46, 17 penes nos ...
apud vos
; cf. my note on De anima 14, 2, p. 214.

        P. 266. For Tertullian's conception that divine revelation is progressive
the locus classicus is De virg. vel. 1.

        P. 270, note 1. On Adv. Marc. 1127 (373, 18/19 Kr.), where the manuscripts
read (Christusediscens iam inde a primordio, iam inde hominem quod erat
futurus in fine
, and where Kroymann deletes the words iam inde hominem,
Dr Evans observes: "Perhaps read iam inde a primordio hominem <indutus
id esse> quod
, etc., or possibly, regarding iam inde hominem as a marginal
note, read iam inde a primordio id esse, quod, etc." However, from the
preceding words qua diminutione in haec quoque dispositus est a patre quae
ut humans reprehenditis
it is, in my opinion, evident that the accusative
hominem cannot be deleted: Christ was ediscens humanitatem (cf. below the
note on p. 284). For homo meaning "humanity", "human state", cf. my
note on De anima 35, 6, pp. 417/418; ediscere is frequently found with an
object in the accusative in Tertullian, cf. orat. 3 (182, 24/25 R.-W.): iam
hinc officium futurae claritatis ediscens
; De carn.. resurr. 58 (119, 11/ 12 Kr);
De anima 19, 5 and 43, 12. Therefore it seems more plausible that we should
only delete the second iam inde, thus reading ediscens iam inde a primordio
hominem, quod erat futurus in fine

        P. 278. At the end of chapter 14, Tertullian states that the word facies
is sometimes used to denote a maior persona; on the strength of this
statement he concludes from John 14.28, Pater maior me est, that the
Father may be called the facies of the Son. Thereupon he quotes Lam.
4. 20 in a curious form which is found nowhere else (for details, cf. Dr Evans'
comment, p. 278), viz., spiritus personae eius (= dei) Christus dominus,
and adds an argument which in the present edition runs as follows
(253, 1/2 Kr.; 106, 22/24 Ev.): ergo si Christus personae paternae spiritus
est, merito spiritus cuius persona erat, id est patris eius, faciem auam ex
unitate scilicet pronuntiavit
. Dr Evans, regarding suam as a substitute for
eius, and the unexpressed antecedent of cuius as the object of pronuntiavit,
gives the following interpretation: "If then Christ is the spirit of the
Father's person, rightly did the Spirit (as the author of the Old Testament)
declare that he whose the person was - namely, the Father - is his
(i.e. the Son's) face, ex unitate scilicet, because persona and facies are

synonymous terms". I cannot agree with some parts of this interpretation.
In my opinion, the words faciem suam pronuntiavit clearly refer to Pater,
inquit, maior me est ("maior = facies"), so that the subject of pronuntiavit
must be Christus, and so suam cannot have been substituted for eius but
refers to the subject of the sentence. As to the words merito spiritus cuius
persona erat
, it is evident that they must bring about the connection between
the two statements pater est facies filii and filius est spiritus personae
. Thus the argument runs as follows: "If the Son is spiritus personae
, he rightly called him of whose persona he was the spiritus, his
facies, for facies = persona". From this it follows that we should adopt
Iunius' conjecture personae: merito (viz., eum) spiritus cuius personae erat
(= eum., cuius personae spiritus erat)
. The eius after patris is best explained
by assuming that the words id est patris eius should be understood as an
explanation by Tertullian which does not form part of the sentence and
which therefore should be put between dashes (as Dr Evans also does).
Similar cases are found in De carn. resurr. (76, 18/19 Kr.): et relinquitur
corpus intellegi id, quod in promptu sit, caro scilicet
(caro instead of carnem,
since it does not belong to the sentence); De anima 24, 3: cum tanta sit
iniuria oblivio quanta est gloria eius cuius iniuria est, memoria
(instead of
memoriae) scilicet.

        P. 284. In Adv. Marc. III 9 (391, 27/28 Kr.) Kroymann is certainly right
in reading ediscentis (viz., carnis) iam inter homines conversari (et discentes
MR1, discentis R3, et discens iam or discens etiam Dr Evans) - cf., not the
passages quoted by Kroymann ad loc. (Adv. Marc. II 27 = 373, 18 and
De carne Chr. 6), but Adv. Prax. 16 (257, 1/2 Kr.; 108, 22/23 Ev.): ita
semper ediscebat et deus in terris cum hominibus conversari

        P. 304. Something more might have been said on the subject of Tertullian's
numerous conscious and unconscious errors, cf. e.g. Harnack, Sitzungs-
berichte Preuss. Akad. d. Wiss., 1914, pp. 303 ss. ; Waltzing, Etude sur le
Codex Fuldensis de l'Apologgtique de Tertullien
, p. 368.

        P. 317. Of Tertullian's curious anticipation of later errors another instance
may perhaps be found in De anima 35, 5 (Matt. 11. 14 quoted as an argument
in favour of the doctrine of metempsychosis).


Cambridge 38 (Mass.), Harvard University (pro tempore)

J.H. WASZINK, Vigiliae Christianae 7 (1953) pp.246-253.  © Brill Academic Publishers, 1951.  Reproduced by permission of the publisher.  All rights reserved.

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