Revue des sciences religieuses 25 (1951) pp.96-97
E. EVANS, Tertullian's Treatise against
Praxeas. Londres, S. P. C. K.
1948. In-8°; viii - 342 pages. Prix : 21 s.
Parmi les ouvrages de Tertullien, l'Adversus Praxean est le plus
La présentation séparée du texte (p. 89-129) et de la traduction
On ne se plaindra pas de la longueur du commentaire (p. 183-331).
Quatre Index précieux terminent le volume : Index of Scripture Texts
L'auteur déclare qu'il n'avait d'abord fait son travail que pour se
Among the works of Tertullian, Adversus Praxean is the most significant for the history of the Christian dogma. To give a translation and a commentary of it, Reverend Evans was not satisfied with the editions of Oehler (1853-54) and Kroymann (CSEL 1906); the publication of this last had admitted too many hazardous corrections. It thus presents a text which marks a return to the readings of the manuscripts and in which it grants to the conjectures only a limited place, in eleven cases only. His edition, profiting by correct observations of Engelbrecht and Turner, marks thus a clear improvement. One must consider it most regrettable that its base was rather narrow. This treatise of Tertullian is preserved to us in fifteen still existing manuscripts, among which the Codex Luxemburgensis 75 remained, in a surprising way, ignored by Kroymann. Four only of those provide readings to Evans, who used, moreover, indications of nine editions based, partly, on mss. now disappeared. He does not give a report on several studies which presented observations or suggestions on various passages of this treatise: those of L Rosenmeyer, Questiones Tertullianae, Strasbourg 1910, and of G Thörnell, Studia tertullianea. Upsal 1917, 1921, 1922 and 1925. In § 9, portendat (p. 97, line 29), proposed by Fr. Junius (1579), deserved to be quoted, in the apparatus at least, because this verb is found elsewhere under the pen of Tertullian with the sense of "to signify " which could be appropriate here (cf J H. Waszink, De anima. Amsterdam 1947, p. 257).
The separate presentation of the text (p. 89-129) and the translation (p. 130-179) offers, for the reader, only disadvantages; the provision of the commentary at the end of volume is normal, but it worsens the inconvenience which I have just mentioned. The introduction starts by presenting the life and the work of Tertullian; then it recalls the various phases of the Monarchian controversy. After a summary of the treatise, some remarks on the influence that this one exerted on authors of the IIIrd century, like the debt of Tertullian towards the Apologists and Irenaeus. An interesting paragraph examines then the theological terminology of Tertullian (p. 38-75); it finds a complement in several notes in the commentary. To finish presenting the author of Adversus Praxeas, some pages (75-82) are devoted to Montanism; they are followed by some indications on the mss. and the editions (p. 82-85) which were used as a basis for the present work. The commentary of this introduction testifies to a good knowledge of the treatise, and its theological and historical context. Undoubtedly several readers, in favour of the anteriority of Hippolytus compared to Tertullian, will not subscribe to all that is said in p. 23-25 or in one or the other observation of the commentary. The membership of St. Perpetua and Felicitas of the Montanist sect isn't as stripped of probability as in J A. Robinson, cited on p. 76?
One will not complain the length of the commentary (p. 183-331). The summary of each chapter of the treaty is followed by notes devoted to elucidate various expressions using references either to the Bible, or with Christian authors or pagans; in other cases, it is the origin or the future of such expressions which is studied.
Four invaluable Indices finish the volume: Index of Scripture Texts (p. 332-334), Index scriptorum antiquorum (p. 335-337), Index locorum ipsius Tertulliani (p. 338-340), atque Index locorum verborum latinorum graecorum (p. 341-342).
The author declares that he had initially done his work only "to relax from the more demanding duties of his profession" and he has dreaded to have written ea quae nec indocti intellegere possent nec docti legere curarent. He can abandon all fear regarding all those who wish to better know the work of Tertullian. The vicar of Hellifield has given us a new proof that the spirits are not measured at the level of the pulpit from where they communicate their ideas. Still let us wish him some leisures, since he proposes to present to us the treatises of Tertullian which have awaited for more than half-a-century their publication in the Corpus of Vienna.
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