Recherches de Science Religieuse, 14 (1924) p.292 


An enigmatic text of Tertullian, several times discussed in the Recherches, was recently the object of several communications to the Association des Études grecques. As the last of these communications appears to cast a definitive light on the subject, we believe it would be interesting to publish it, as published in the Actes de l'Association, Revue des Études grecques, vol. XXXVI, p. LVIII-LIX.

(Meeting of June 7, 1923)... Mr. Isidore Lévy returns to the text of Tertullian discussed in the meetings of June 1 and of July 6, 1922: esietos vocant... quos aquae necaverunt. Mr. Lévy wrote that by esietas the first interpreters understood drowned: this is correct: ἐσίης ου ἀσίης in the Greek of Egypt does mean "drowned". This word has a very curious history: to the Egyptian of the fifth century hasie means "undying  happiness". The Egyptians believed that death by drowning had religious connotations; that it was a direct means to enter the paradise of Osiris. How did the word pass into Greek? The idea of salvation by drowning must have passed to the Greeks from the Egyptians. The apotheosis of Antinoüs, deification by immersion, is not explicable by Greek ideas. In addition immortality by drowning is to be found in the Apocalypse of Joshua, son of Levi, a rabbinical Alexandrian document which cannot be later than the first century.

For the Greeks, the drowned man is an unfortunate, victim of a βίαιος θάνατος and ἄταφος. To this the Egyptians oppose a contrary idea. The Greek has passed from the first concept to the second.

Mr. Jouguet, Mr. Th. Reinach, Mr. Glotz, the abbot d'Alès, Mr. Pernot presented these observations. The president thanks Mr. Lévy for his remarkable communication, which resolves the problem suggested in a definitive manner.

Greek text in unicode.

This page has been online since 3rd November 2001.

Return to the Tertullian Project Original Language About these pages