Journal of Theological Studies 14 (1913) pp. 556-564



Notes on the adversus Praxean, §§ 1-17.

FOR some time past I have felt drawn to the study of Tertullian, fascinated both by the difficulty and the importance of the subject. And in casting about where to begin, the adversus Praxean offered itself as a very obvious starting-point. No treatise of Tertullian was so much studied in the patristic period; it has better manuscript authority than many of Tertullian's works, though it is unfortunately absent from the earliest and best MS of all; and it is now accessible in a very careful edition by E. Kroymann in the Vienna Corpus of Latin Fathers. No scholar who has attempted any work at all on the field of Tertullian will criticize his predecessors lightly; he must be too conscious himself of the difficulties which throng his path; and it is therefore only in a very tentative way that I record my impression that Kroymann, while he has given us some excellent emendations, has dealt in an unnecessarily violent way with the manuscript tradition. I should indeed entirely agree that the adversus Praxean must have been published by its author as a treatise intended to be straightforwardly intelligible to those to whom it was addressed: the obscurity of allusion, the habit of stating ironically the exact converse of what was really meant, which render some of the other writings of Tertullian so difficult, would have been out of place on |557 this occasion and would have defeated the writer's aim in dealing with the deep mysteries of his theme. Tertullian when he likes (and I think that here he would have liked) can be quite intelligible. So my object has been to attempt by comparatively small departures from the MS tradition to restore sense and grammar in those passages scattered over the first half of the adversus Praxean in which it seemed to me to be possible to do so. I have added further at the end some additional assistance to the intelligent reading of the treatise by enlarging the editor's apparatus of Scripture and other references to the sources of the text.


1. (§ 1 : 228. 14)

'denique caverat pristinum doctor de emendatione sua.' 

Tertullian has just mentioned that the doctrine of Praxeas had been introduced not only in Rome, but 'hic quoque' in Carthage, where however through his own efforts—for by the words 'per quem deus voluit' he no doubt refers to himself—it had been successfully repelled: in fact 'he who taught had given warranty for his improved behaviour', and the document was still in the hands of the Carthaginian Church. So far all is clear, save that 'doctor' is a little surprising without some defining or explanatory word; but how does 'pristinum' come in? I believe it conceals the word 'presbyter'; and I suggest tentatively 'pr<esbyter> istorum doctor'. pr is an early abbreviation of presbyter which was never in general use and might easily have been misunderstood, so that 'pristorum' became 'pristinum'.


2. (§2: 229. 17)

'ipsa novellitas Praxeae hesterni.'

The emendation I wish to suggest here is not in the text of Tertullian, but by the help of Tertullian in the text of the Gelasian Sacramentary, in the Post-communion prayer of the first Christmas Eve Mass (ed. Wilson, p. 2). 'Cuius [sacramenti] nobilitas singularis humanam repulit vetustatem.' For 'nobilitas' we ought I think to read 'novellitas': the unique newness of this mystery has put away our 'old man', the palaio_j a1nqrwpoj of which the apostle speaks.


3. (§ 3 : 230. 18)

'quasi non et unitas inrationaliter collecta haeresim faciat et trinitas rationaliter expensa veritatem constituat.'

'Expensa' ought, I am quite sure, to be altered: the opposition is that of contracting and expanding, of sustolh& and probolh&. The only question is whether to read 'expansa' or 'extensa': but the latter was the technical word in use as contrasted with 'collecta', and I have little doubt that it should be read here. Compare the Tome of Damasus (Eccl. Occid. Mon. Iur. Ant. I 286 l. 63) 'anathematizamus eos qui |558 Verbum Filium Dei extensionem aut collectionem . . . esse contendunt.'


4. (§ 3 : 230. 20).

' "Monarchiam" inquiunt "tenemus", et ita sonum ipsum vocaliter exprimunt etiam Latini et tam opifice, ut putes illos tarn bene intellegere monarchiam quam enuntiant.'

The adverb 'opifice' does not exist; and if it did, I do not see how it could be translated, with Kroymann, 'so meisterlich'. With some diffidence I suggest what is at least a very slight change 'etiam Latini, et<i>am opifice<s>'. 'The Greek term monarxi/a is mouthed out even by Latins and even by artisans so sonorously, that you might think they really understood exactly what it meant.'


5. (§4: 232. 3)

'Qui filium non aliunde deduco quam de substantia patris . . . quo modo possum de fide destruere monarchiam? '

I cannot translate in this connexion the words 'de fide'; perhaps 'quomodo possum uideri destruere monarchiam? '


6. (§5: 233. 11)

'rationalis enim deus et + ratio in ipsum prius et ita ab ipso omnia.' 

The editor marks the clause as corrupt : but a very simple alteration will, I think, make sense, 'ratio in ipsum prius et ita ab ipso (in) omnia'.


7. (§ 6 : 234. 26)

'dehinc adsistentem eam [i.e. sophiam] ipsa separatione cognosce: "cum pararet" inquit "caelum aderam illi simul".'

'(In) ipsa operatione' is the editor's correction for 'ipsa separatione' of the MSS, and is undoubtedly on the right lines ; but 'ips<iu>s <o>peration<i>' is a good deal nearer the manuscript tradition, and is further supported by 262. 12 'qui solus operationi patris ministravit.'


8. (§7: 236. 16, 17)

' "ergo" inquis "das aliquam substantiam esse sermonem spiritu et sophiae traditione constructam? plane non uis enim eum substantiuum habere in re per substantiae proprietatem".'

For 'sophiae traditione' we must surely read 'sophia et ratione', compare 236. 12 'quasi non ipse sit sermo et in sophiae et in rationis et in omnis divini animi et spiritus nomine' : and for 'habere in re' an obvious emendation is 'haber<i> in <s>e'. Read accordingly ' "ergo" inquis "das aliquam substantiam esse sermonem, spiritu et sophia et ratione constructam? plane non uis enim eum substantiuum haberi in se per substantiae proprietatem " '.


9. (§8: 238.15)

'et numquam separatus aut alius a patre.'

Contrast 239. 16 'alium esse patrem et alium filium', 239. 23 'non |559 sunt idem pater et filius [supply "sed"] uel modulo alius ab alio', 240. 1 'sic et pater alius a filio, dum filio maior', 240. 7 'sic alium a se paracletum, quomodo et nos a patre alium filium'. All these passages are in the near context, and they seem to make it unlikely that Tertullian should have also written in the same neighbourhood 'numquam . . . alius a patre'. Consequently I suggest 'ali<en>us a patre', comparing 239. 10 'nihil tamen a matrice alienatur'. Elsewhere, however, Tertullian does also use the phrase 'alius a patre' in a sense in which he denies it; 260. 9, 10 'igitur unus deus pater et alius absque eo non est. quod ipse inferens non filium negat, sed alium deum. ceterum alius a patre filius non est '.


10. (§ 10 : 240. 16)

'ita aut pater aut filius est, et neque dies eadem et nox neque pater idem et filius.'

So the MSS : Kroymann emends to 'ita ut pater, et filius est, et <ut> neque dies', &c. But the only change that seems necessary is to read 'et . . . et' for 'aut. . . aut' : 'ita <e>t pater <e>t filius EST; et neque dies eadem et nox, neque pater idem et filius.' ' So both the Father is, and the Son is (just as day is and night is) ; and neither is day the same as night, nor Father the same as Son.' The 'est' refers back to the scriptural quotation 'est est' of 240. 14; and this first sentence of chapter 10 really belongs to chapter 9.


11. (§ 11 : 243. 15)


'quem autem uerebatur deus dominus uniuersitatis ita pronuntiare, si ita res erat? an uerebatur ne non crederetur, si simpliciter se et patrem et filium pronuntiasset? unum tamen ueritus est: mentiri,—ueritus autem semetipsum et suam ueritatem—et ideo ueracem deum credens scio ilium non aliter quam disposuit pronuntiasse nec aliter disposuisse quam pronuntiauit.'

The beginning and end of this passage are perfectly lucid; the middle part seems to me neither grammar nor sense. With hesitation I propose a not very drastic change, which at least makes the passage readable : 'unum tamen ueritus est, mentiri uerit<ati>s au<c>t<or>em semetipsum et suam ueritatem.' 'One thing nevertheless he did fear, that the Author of Truth should falsify himself and his truth.'


12. (§ 11 : 245. 4)

'sic et cetera, quae nunc ad patrem de filio uel ad filium, nunc ad filium de patre uel ad patrem, nunc ad spiritum pronuntiantur.'

So the MSS : Kroymann wrongly brackets the last 'nunc', but rightly (as I think) reads 'a spiritu'. Here Tertullian has been enumerating passages of Scripture where one Person of the Trinity speaks of or to another, and thus the distinction of Persons is implied : (1) patris (a patre) de filio, Ps. xliv 2 Is. xlii i ; (2) patris ad filium, Ps. ii 7 Is. xlix 6 ; |560 (3) filii de patre, Is. lxi 1 ; (4) filii ad patrem, Ps. lxx 18 ; (5) spiritus de patre et filio, Ps. cix 1 ; (6) spiritus ad patrem de filio, Is. liii 1. The bearing of the last citation he expands in detail, but briefly summarizes the rest in the words here printed. All the change that is necessary to make his words correspond accurately to the successive sections of his argument is to substitute in each case after 'nunc' ablatives for accusatives, 'nunc a patre' for 'nunc ad patrem', 'nunc a filio' for 'nunc ad filium', and 'nunc a spiritu' for 'nunc ad spiritum'; and to read 'sic et cetera, quae nunc a patre de filio [= (1)] uel ad filium [= (2)], nunc a filio de patre [ = (3)] uel ad patrem [=(4)], nunc a spiritu [ = (5)] pronuntiantur '.


13. (§ 12: 246. 9)

'ET DIXIT DEUS : FIAT LUX, ET FACTA EST ipse statim sermo VERA LUX, QUAE INLUMINAT HOMINEM VENIENTEM IN HUNC MUNDUM, et per illum mundialis quoque lux.'

The words from vera lux to hunc mundum should have been spaced in Kroymann; they are not merely an allusion to, but a definite citation of, Jo. i 9. 'In hunc mundum' is consistently found in all Old Latin authorities for the ei0j to_n ko&smon of this verse. But in St Cyprian (Testimonia i 7 ; Hartel 45. 1) the true reading, though it is still unrepresented in the editions, is not 'venientem' but 'veniens' 1; the 'African' Latin understood e0rxo&menon to go with fw~j and not with a1nqrwpon, as neuter nominative and not masculine accusative. Ought we not to restore the same reading in this passage of Tertullian? The point surely is that the Word came as Light into this created sphere, and through him (Jo. i 3) the created light as well, that is, the sun. The thought that man comes into the world would not seem to stand in any connexion with the 'mundialis lux'; and the creation of light and sun is an 'antecedens opus mundi' (246. 5) to the creation of man. It was just in a familiar phrase like this that the influence of the Vulgate worked havoc with the text of the fathers; and I should be prepared to go behind the evidence of the MSS of Tertullian, and restore the oldest Latin rendering to his text.


14. (§ 13: 247. 10-12)

'et hic enim dicendo deus in te et tu deus, duos proponit qui erant in Christo [or "in Christum"] et spiritum ipsum.'

So the MSS : Kroymann corrects 'erant' to 'erat', and of that correction there can be no doubt. But a difficulty remains in 'spiritum' which Kroymann wishes to remove as a gloss, and the editor in chief, Engelbrecht, to transpose before 'et'. Neither of these expedients is at all satisfactory ; the true solution seems to be a much simpler one, |561 involving the change of only one letter, xpm for spm. 'Et hic enim, dicendo "deus in te" et "tu deus", duos proponit, qui erat in Christo et Christum ipsum.'


15. (§ 13 : 248. 7-9)

'ut si homines per fidem filios dei factos deos scriptura pronuntiare non timuit scias illam [sc. scripturam] multo magis uero et unico dei filio et domini nomen iure contulisse.'

Throughout this chapter the argument of Tertullian has been that Scripture teaches that 'the Father is God and the Son is God', 'the Father is Lord and the Son is Lord'. Four times on this page of Kroymann we have the parallelism of 'deus' and 'dominus' : l. 11 'duos deos et duos dominos', 1. 18 'duos tarnen deos et duos dominos', 1. 21 'duo dii et duo domini', 1. 22 'et deus agnosceretur et dominus uocaretur'. I suggest that the same is the case in the passage under consideration, and that we ought to read 'uero et unico dei filio et dei et domini nomen iure contulisse' : obviously 'et di' would very easily fall out by homoeoarcton before ' et dni '. I think this is better than with Kroymann to change 'et domini' to 'id dei '.


16. (§ 13: 248. 13-15)

'nos enim qui et tempore et causas scripturarum per dei gratiam in spicimus maxime paracleti non hominum discipuli duos quidem definimus patrem et filium.'

I think we need to insert 'ut' after 'maxime'.


17. (§ 14: 252. 17, 18)

'alia débet esse faciès quae si uideatur occidit.'

Tertullian is speaking of the contradiction between passages which say that God was seen, and passages which say that no man can see God and live. And I think that the contrast is wanted in this sentence, and that the hypothesis of an omission by homoeoteleuton is natural enough. Read then 'Alia debet esse facies quae <uisa est, alia quae> si uideatur occidit '.


18. (§ 15: 253. 19-22)

'ad hanc diuersitatem uisi et inuisi in unum conferendam quis ex diuerso non argumentabitur recte utrumque dictum uisibilem quidem in came inuisibilem uero ante camera.'

Tertullian has been elaborating the distinction between the invisible Father and the visible Son ; and he then proceeds to indicate the lines on which his opponent Praxeas will meet his argument. Therefore the negative is exactly what is not wanted, and the editorial device of making the sentence interrogative seems to me quite inappropriate. So I should propose either to substitute 'nunc' for 'non' (as Kroymann has rightly done in 277. 14) or to write 'qui ex diuerso nobis' 'our opponent' for 'quis ex diuerso non '. |562 


19. (§ 16: 254. 11-13)

'qui ante carnem sermo tantum in primordio apud deum patrem, non pater apud sermonem.'

Any contrast between the Word being with the Father and the Father being with the Word would be wholly out of place, and Kroymann is therefore right in suspecting 'apud sermonem'. But his methods of improving the text are brutally drastic : he omits 'apud sermonem' altogether, and inserts 'deus' before 'pater'. If for 'sermonem' we read 'semetipsum' we get just what we want : Tertullian is always recurring to the absurdity to which the Patripassian theory reduces us. When we say that before the Incarnation the Word was in the beginning with the Father, we do not mean simply that the Father was with Himself, 'sermo apud patrem, non pater apud semetipsum'.


20. (§ 15: 255. 16-19)

'et illam [sc. the "lux accessibilis" of the Transfigured or Risen Christ] neque ipse [Paulus] sine periculo luminis expertus est, neque Petrus et Iohannes et Iacobus sine ratione et amentia qui si non passuri filii gloriam sed patrem uidissent credo morituri ibidem.'

Kroymann reads 'rationis' with some little MS authority, omits 'et amentia qui', and transposes 'credo morituri ibidem' before 'si non passuri'. I deprecate such violent dealing with the text; and I think it possible that, parallel with 'sine periculo luminis', Tertullian may have written 'sine ratione amentiae', 'without having to reckon the chance of loss of reason ' (Mark ix 6). The words and order of the MSS may stand for the rest of the sentence ; we must in order to complete the construction either omit 'qui' or supply 'fuissent', which might easily have dropped out if it immediately followed 'vidissent'.


21. (§ 16 : 256. 9-12)

'pater enim qui diligit filium et omnia tradidit in manu eius utique a primordio diligit et a primordio tradidit ex quo a primordio sermo erat apud deum.'

Clearly the last 'a primordio' cannot stand after 'ex quo'. Kroymann adopts again the method of omission. But instead of cutting out 'a primordio', all we have to do is (with one MS) to cut out 'a', and read 'ex quo primordio', 'from that Beginning when the Word was with God '.


22. (§ 17: 259. 1-3)

'haec dicimus et in filium competisse et in his filium venisse et in his semper egisse et sic ea in se hominibus manifestasse.'

In the last clause 'sic' seems certainly to be parallel to 'haec' 'in his', and that being so it is difficult to see how 'ea' comes in. I suggest 'eum' for 'ea in', 'and that He on this wise manifested Himself to men '. |563 



227. 20 'ipse potius a primordio mendax est.' Kroymann gives 1 John iii 8, but the reference is rather to John viii 44.

228. 24 'die suo colligentur omnes adulterae fruges et cum ceteris scandalis igni extinguibili cremabuntur.' To Kroymann's reference, Matt. xiii 30, should be added xiii 41 for 'cum ceteris scandalis' and iii 12 for 'ignis inextinguibilis'.

229. 2 'deductorem omnis ueritatis.' John xvi 13: at 288. 11 where the same words are used, Kroymann has supplied the reference correctly.

229. 16-20 'probabit tam ipsa posteritas omnium haereticorum quam ipsa novellitas Praxeae hesterni, quo peraeque adversus universas haereses iam hinc praeiudicatum sit id esse verum quodcumque primum, id esse adulterum quodcumque posterius. sed salva ista praescriptione . . .' The reference is quite obviously to the writer's earlier book Praescriptio adversus haereticos ; cf. Praescr. 31 'ex ipso ordine manifestatur id esse dominicum et uerum quod sit prius traditum, id autem extraneum et falsum quod sit posterius immissum'.

230. 10 'a pluribus diis saeculi ad unicum et uerum deum'. 1 Cor. viii 5, 6 : and Jo. xvii 3.

233. 14 'iam in usu est nostrorum per simplicitatem interpretationis "sermonem" dicere "in primordio apud deum fuisse". ' Jo. i 1.

233. 20 'sermonem suum miserat.' Ps. cvi (cvii) 20.

236. 20 'quid est enim, dicis, sermo nisi vox et sonus oris et, sicut grammatici tradunt, aer offensus, intellegibilis auditu, ceterum vacuum nescio quid et inane et incorporale?' Novatian de Trinitate xxxi copies Tertullian 'sermo filius natus est, qui non in sono percussi aeris aut tono coactae de visceribus vocis accipitur, sed in substantia prolatae a Deo virtutis agnoscitur'. Comparison of the extant remains of the grammarians indicates a common tradition of the definition of 'vox' which doubtless takes us back behind Tertullian's time : e.g. Donatus I 1 'Vox est aer ictus sensibilis auditu quantum in ipso est', Marius Victorinus de Orthographia I 'Vox est aer ictus auditu percipibilis quantum in ipso est', Maximus Victorinus I 7 'Vox est aer ictus sensibilis qui auditur quantum in ipso est', Diomedes II 1 'Vox est, ut Stoicis videtur, Spiritus tenuis, auditu sensibilis quantum in ipso est. fit autem vel exilis aurae pulsu vel verberati aeris ictu'; Isidore Origines I xiv repeats the phrase of Donatus. In Greek compare Apost. Const. VIII xii § 10 (Funk, 498. 22) 'o9 poih&saj . . . a)e/ra zwtiko_n pro_j ei0spnoh_n kai\ a)napnoh_n kai\ fwnh~j a)po&dosin dia_ glw&tthj plhttou&shj to_n a)e/ra kai\ a)koh_n sunergoume/nhn u(p' au)tou~ w(j e0pai/ein ei0sdexome/nhn th_n prospi/ptousan au)th~| lalia&n.'

237. 11 'deus spiritus est.' Jo. iv 24.

238. 6 'apud nos autem solus filius patrem nouit, et sinum patris |564 ipse exposuit, et omnia apud patrem audiuit et uidit, et quae mandatus est a patre ea loquitur.' For the two first clauses Kroymann rightly refers to Matt. xi 27, Jo. i 18 : for 'omnia audiuit' Jo. xv 15 should be added to viii 26 ; for 'omnia vidit' the reference is presumably to Jo. v 19, 20; for the remaining words Jo. xii 49.

246. 4 'hominem qui tunc de limo formari habebat, imago ueri et similitudo.' Gen. ii 7 ; Rom. v 14.

248. 7 'homines per fidem filios dei factos.' An echo, I think, of Jo. i 12, te/kna qeou~ gene/sqai, toi#j pisteu&ousin. Cp. Gal. iii 26 pa&ntej ga_r ui9oi\ qeou~ e0ste dia_ th~j pi/stewj e0n Xristw~| 'Ihsou~.

251. 12, 23 'coram uelut si quis loquatur ad amicum suum' and 'non quomodo moysi' should have been spaced, as actual words of Exod. xxxiii 11 and Num. xii 7.

252. 4 'in montis secessu.' The last word represents the kat' i0di/an of Matt. xvii 1.

256. 5 'pater enim sensu agit, filius qui in patris sensu est uidens perficit.' Is this an echo of Ignatius ad Eph. § 3 'Ihsou~j Xristo&j, to_ a)dia&kriton h(mw~n zh~n, tou~ patro_j h( gnw&mh?

257. 1 'ita semper ediscebat et deus in terris cum hominibus conuersari'. Kroymann is puzzled, from not recognizing Tertullian's source in Baruch iii 36-38 ou{toj o( qeo_j h9mw~n . . . meta_ tou~to e0pi\ gh~j w!fqh kai\ e0n toi=j a)nqrw&poij sunanestra&fh.

257. 5 'scripta sunt' is part of the quotation of 1 Cor. x 11.

258. 10 'in Pilati tribunal imponunt.' Apparently Tertullian, like the author of the Gospel of Peter, understood e0ka&qisen e0pi\ bh&mati in John xix 13 to be transitive, 'seated' and not 'sat'.

259. 4-12 'cum ergo legis deum omnipotentem et altissimum et deum virtutum et regem Israhelis et qui est, vide ne per haec filius etiam demonstretur suo iure deus omnipotens, qua 1 sermo dei omnipotentis, quaque 2 omnium accepit potestatem; altissimus qua 3 dextera dei exaltatus, sicut Petrus in Actis contionatur; dominus virtutum, quia 4 omnia subiecta sunt illi a patre; rex Israhelis, quia illi proprie 5 excidit sors gentis istius; qui est, quoniam multi 6 filii dicuntur et non sunt.' It seems to have escaped Kroymann that the whole point of this sentence is that under each head it appeals to some passage or passages of Scripture. These I have numbered in the text above for convenience of reference: 1 Apoc. xix (6) 13: 2 Matt. xi 27 xxviii 18, John xiii 3 xvii 2 : 3 Acts ii 33 (given by Kroymann) : 4 1 Cor. xv 27 : 5 Deut. xxxii 8, 9 o#te dieme/rizen o( u#yistoj e1qnh, w(j die/speiren ui9ou_j 'Ada&m, e1sthsen o#ria e0qnw~n kata_ a)riqmo_n a0gge/lwn qeou~ kai\ e0genh&qh meri\j kuri/ou lao_j au)tou~ 'Iakw&b : 6 perhaps 1 Jo. iii 1 i3na te/kna qeou~ klhqw~men, kai/ e0smen.


1. 1 Hartel only records for veniens MV ; I can add L* (venies) PQ of his MSS and Bodl Laud. Misc. 105.

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