Latomus 24 (1965) pp. 659-660
Q. S. F. TERTULLIANI De baptismo, éd. E. EVANS, Londres, S.P.C.K.,
1964, XL-122 p., 35 s.
Le traité de Tertullien qu'E. Evans nous présente dans une édition nou-
par son recours diligent au grec de la LXX dont la pensée de l'Africain était
Dans l'ensemble, le texte du De Baptismo procuré par Evans, fruit de sa
The treatise of Tertullian that E. Evans presents to us in a new edition, accompanied by an English translation and of a commentary of 65 pages, constitutes a crucial document on the rite and doctrine of baptism in the Occident at the beginning of IIIrd century: it is all the more regrettable since, to reconstitute the text, full of difficulties, we only dispose of a manuscript base reduced to two witnesses: the editio princeps of Mesnart, made in 1545 from a ms today lost (B) and Trecensis 523 (T) discovered in 1916 by Dom Wilmart. Since this discovery, there have appeared three significant editions (of Alès, Borleffs, Refoulé) which opened the way for Evans who in any case did not want to undertake a critical study on new evidence, being satisfied to use the materials placed at his disposal by the apparatus of the Borleffs edition: a use moreover sagacious and advised, helped by the great familiarity of the editor with the work of Tertullian and by his diligent recourse to the Greek of the LXX of which the thought of the African was very nourished. The establishment of the text does not seem to have been chained to rigid principles: thus, while proclaiming (p. xxxvii) the privileged value of T (on the account of which however several recent works force us to revise a too favorable judgement: cf H. Tränkle, ed. Adu. Iudaeos, Wiesbaden 1964, p. cii and ff.), Evans does not hesitate sometimes, and with reason, to return to the text of B (1, 4; 7, 6 etc...). But elsewhere his confidence in T appears excessive to us: thus 3, 7 and especially 10, 23 (where the non of B is guaranteed however bythe ne... quidem of the following clause). In other cases, conversely, an examination of the practices of B could have put him on guard against certain readings of this witness whom he adopts in preference to those of T preserved by his predecessors: thus antepraecursor (6, 3; 11, 15, T having each time antecursor) and Israel Iudaeus (15, 16) seem rather to result from a faulty slip in the text of B either from interlinear alternatives, or from marginal glosses of which this witness offers other examples (cf 12, 4); in the same way the form baptismus which Evans, following B, systematizes (whereas T often has baptismum which guarantees besides the neuter quod of 15, 12 given by the two witnesses) could come well from a posterior standardization, which also appears in 18, 13 (where T carries scriptum instead of the usual scriptura). In the practice of emendation, the editor was reasonable and moderate. Generally, it is by a punctuation or a new interpretation that he endeavours to make the difficulties disappear: he succeeds thus in more than one case. In 17, 22 sq., the explanation presented would have appeared still more convincing to us if the text of T to line 20 had been maintained. New corrections were sometimes proposed: the majority are happy or plausible; others are doubtful, one is indefensible: the addition of saluare (13, 9), this verb is only met with once in the work of Tertullian, in an explicit quotation of scripture (cf our Deus Christianorum, p. 492). One will note also some small errors (to read numerari with 15, 12 and to restore et between gaudii and gratulatio with 20, 16) and omissions (18, 6: the orthography hamartiis is the work of the editor, T having amartiis).
As a whole, the text of De Baptismo produced by Evans, fruit of his attentive reflection on a difficult author that he knows well, will be of a great help for a better understanding of the treatise. The reader will be also helped by a precise and clear translation, by a rich introduction devoted to the author, the work and his environment (with a history of the baptismal rite and a profound reconstitution, according to Hippolytus and Tertullian, of what it was at the beginning of the IIIrd century). Finally the commentary, in addition to the justification of the text, will bring multiple explanations of a historical, theological and linguistic nature to him. One does however regret the references to out-of-date works (like the Index of Oehler) and the absence of reference to recent work in connection with terms like traditio, praescriptio, sacramentum etc... How also not to be astonished that chapter 2 contained no remark on what is called generally the "paradox" of Tertullian, his attitude with regard to reason? Four indices usefully supplement this volume of which the clear and correct printing is not the least of its merits.
This page has been online since 20th March 2001.
|Return to the Tertullian Project||About these pages|