Classical Review 63 (1949) p. 35

G. F. DIERCKS : Tertullianus De Oratione. Critische
uitgave met prolegomena, vertaling en philo-
logisch-exegetisch-liturgische commentaar. Pp.
civ+312. Bussum, Holland: Brand, 1947.
Paper, fl. 11.50.

TERTULLIAN's De Oratione is not perhaps one of his
more important works, nor does it display to the
best advantage his characteristic precision of
thought and directness of expression. It is a
homily rather than a treatise, and there seems
reason to think that what we have before us is not
the finished discourse, but preacher's notes in
tended to be expanded at the time of delivery: this
at least would account for the frequent anacolutha
and obscurities of connexion. The first eight
chapters are a somewhat superficial exposition of
the Lord's Prayer, important as the earliest extant
work of the kind, and frequently copied or para-
phrased, often without acknowledgement, by later
workers in the same field. The remainder of the
work is a series of discussions of various questions
of ceremonial and so forth connected with public
and private prayer, a number of which are more
fully treated in others of Tertullian's disciplinary
works. The text is in a far from satisfactory state,
a round dozen passages having so far resisted all
attempts at satisfactory emendation.

    Dr. Diercks's introduction, text, translation, and
commentary are a model of what work of this

kind should be, and will from now on be a neces-
sary part of the equipment not only of those who
study this work in particular, but of all who are
in any way interested in Tertullian's vocabulary,
style, and habits of thought. The introduction and
commentary between them discuss every subject
with any conceivable bearing on Tertullian's work
and its contents. The treatment of the author's
vocabulary is illuminating in the extreme. The
writer of this review, who has had a book on a
kindred subject hanging about in the press for six
years, can only be gratified in finding some of his
own favourite suggestions anticipated here. In
particular one would commend the attention
Dr. Diercks pays to connecting particles, with
results of much value to the interpretation of
the text.

    The text is printed with a full apparatus criticus.
It can hardly be said that the editor has been suc-
cessful in mending any of the desperate places
so much was not to be expected: but he has at
least given all the available material on which
others may exercise their skill. The translation (as
far as the reviewer's knowledge of Dutch enables
him to judge) is competent and clear. The editor
has carefully read a number of other translations,
two of them in English, and his criticisms of their
inaccuracies (which are many) are undoubtedly
justified. Indeed, one fact which leaps to the eye
from a consideration of these pages is that for the
benefit of British scholarship a new English
translation is urgently needed.


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