Recherches de Science Religieuse 27 (1937) p. 620

TERTULLIAN IN BEDE? [Original text]

The Venerable Bede, primarily an ecclesiastical author, does not like to quote profane authorities. If he meets in Moses, Daniel or St. Paul, some feature of Egyptian, Chaldean or Greek provenance, it shows the need to say that the honey of the pagan bees became inoffensive once embedded in the sacred text; as for the bee which distilled it, if it was honey in the mouth, it had a poisoned sting in the tail 1. Without any doubt, the heretics are for him profane authorities. However, he quoted Tertullian once 2. Here it is:

Pulchre quidam nostrorum ait : Philosophi, patriarchae haereticorum, Ecclesiae puritatem perversa maculavere doctrina.

The three words which we have underlined are well-known to belong to Tertullian, Adv. Hermogenem, 8. But the context where Bede quotes them is taken from Saint Jerome, Ep. CXXXIII, 2, Ad Ctesiphontem. And it is St. Jerome who indicated Tertullian as quidam nostrorum. One could not thus affirm, according to this text alone, that Bede was aware that he was quoting Tertullian through Saint Jerome. 

But he did mention Tertullian by name once, while following (more or less accurately) the trace of Eusebius translated by St. Jerome. See De temporum ratione, A. M. 4170, Chr. 219 3.



1. In Samuelem prophetam allegorica expositio, 1. II, C. 9, P. L., XCI, 590 A.

2. Ibid., 1. IV, c. 10, 710 A. I owe this reference and the preceding one to Dom B. Capelle, le Rôle théologique de Bède le Vénérable, estratto des Studia Anselmiana, n. 6, p. 9. 

3. P. L., XC, 551 B; MGH, Chronica minora, ed. Mommsen, III, 389.

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