Otto BARDENHEWER, Patrology, the Lives and Works of the Fathers of the Church2. Freiburg in Breisgau & St. Louis: B. Herder, (1908).  English translation by Thomas J. SHAHAN. 232 x 145 mm., 697pp. 
pp. 178-190. (Excerpt)




§ 49. General Considerations.

As early as the third century the ecclesiastical literature of the West exhibits certain native peculiarities. Its organ is the Latin, not the Greek tongue, and a distinctly Roman spirit dominates its contents. There reigns throughout its products a sober and practical spirit. The idealism of the Greek writings, their tendency to speculation and dialectic are not entirely foreign to this Latin Christian literature; yet its direct purpose is the immediately necessary or useful. Withal, it exhibits versatility and variety in a degree that almost astonishes the reader. Owing to the circumstances of the times the apologetic element is supreme. In the writings of Tertullian and in the (Greek) writings of Hippolytus anti-heretical polemic abounds. Exegesis is represented chiefly by Hippolytus and Victorinus of Pettau. Commodianus leads the procession of Christian poets in the Latin tongue. It is worthy of note that the Western writers are few, and that of the small number the majority comes from Northern Africa.



§ 50. Tertullian.

1. HIS LIFE. -- Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus was born, it is usually believed, about the year 160 at Carthage, where his father was serving as a centurion (centurio proconsularis) in the service of the proconsul of Africa1. He received an excellent academic training and probably entered upon the career of an advocate2. There are in the Pandects some excerpts from the writings of a jurist Tertullian (Quaestionum libri viii, De castrensi peculio) whom many historians are inclined to identify with our ecclesiastical writer About 193, certainly before 197, he became a Christian, was ordained also a priest according to St. Jerome3, and began a long literary career in the service of the new faith. About midway in his life (ca. 202) he openly joined the sect of the Montanists, and began to attack the Catholic Church with a violence scarcely inferior to that which he had manifested against heathenism. Within the Montanist fold he founded a special sect known as Tertullianists4. He is said to have lived to a very advanced age 5.

1 Hier., De viris ill., c. 53. 
Eus.. Hist, eccl., ii. 2, 4. 
De viris ill., c. 53. 
Aug., De haer., c. 86. 
Hier., 1. c. : fertur vixisse usque ad decrepitam aetatem. 

    C. E. Freppel, Tertullian, 2 voll, Paris, 1864; 3. ed. 1886. F. Böhringer, Die Kirche Christi und ihre Zeugen, 2. ed., iii. - iv: Die lateinisch-afrikanische Kirche. Tertullianus, Cyprianus (Stuttgart, 1864); 2. ed. 1873. A. Hauck, Tertullians Leben und Schriften, Erlangen, 1877. E. Nöldechen, Tertullian, Gotha, 1890. Cf. Nöldechen, Die Abfassungszeit der Schriften Tertullians, Leipzig, 1888 (Texte und Untersuchungen, v. 2). In these two books Nöldechen collected the results of investigations previously published in several theological and historical reviews. -- Schanz, Geschichte der röm. Literatur (1896), iii. 240 - 302. P. Monceaux, Histoire litteraire de l'Afrique chretienne. I: Tertullien, Paris, 1901. H. Kellner and G. Esser, in Kirchenlexikon, 2. ed., xi. 1389-1426. -- On the Jurist Tertullian cf. Schanz, 1. c., iii. 182.


2. HIS LITERARY LABORS. -- Tertullian is the most prolific of all the Latin writers ; he is also the most original and personal. Ebert says well that perhaps no author has ever more fully justified than Tertullian the phrase of Buffon that the style is the man; for there never was a man that spoke more from his heart. He lives habitually in an atmosphere of conflict with others and with himself. He is quite conscious of this weakness. « Unhappy me!» he cries out on one occasion, «always burning with the fever of impatience» -- miserrimus ego semper uror caloribus impatientiae6. All his extant writings, it may be said, are polemical. They fall easily into three groups : apologetic, in defence of Christianity or |p180 against heathenism and Judaism; dogmatico-polemic, in refutation of heresy in general and of certain heretics; practico-ascetical, dealing with various questions of Christian morality and discipline. Even in these writings the polemical element, or a highly personal note, is always present, whether he writes as a Catholic carried away with holy zeal yet harshly rigoristic, or as a Montanist overflowing with passionate rage against the pretended laxity of the Catholic Church. Tertullian is ever a powerful adversary, a man of burning eloquence, biting satire, compact and forcible logic. As a rule he over-shoots the mark, and fails to attain his immediate purpose1. As a writer he is without moderation, contemptuous of all compromise, proving frequently more than is needed; the reader is carried away rather than persuaded by his argument; he is hushed by the fine display of wit, but remains unconvinced and antagonistic.

In expression Tertullian is concise and bold, solid and rugged, involved and obscure. He has no sense for beauty of form; he deliberately scoffs at the refined diction of a Minucius Felix (§ 24). He seizes with pleasure on popular expressions; in a moment of embarrassment he is daringly creative and suddenly enriches the vocabulary of the Latin tongue. The theology of the Western Christians is indebted to him for many of its technical terms.

The manuscript tradition of the writings of Tertullian is very imperfect. Only the Apologeticum has come down in numerous codices, some of them quite ancient; a whole series of his other writings has been preserved only through the Codex Agobardinus (Parisiensis) of the ninth century. The works De baptismo, De ieiunio and De pudicitia are now without any manuscript evidence or guarantee. His writings, as far as we possess them, must have appeared between 195 and 218. For each of them the actual date is doubtful or much disputed; there are no certain points of comparison. However, it is usually possible to say whether a given work belongs to his Catholic or his Montanist period.

6 De pat. c. 1.
1 De virg. vel., c. 1.

    For the manuscripts of the writings of Tertullian see Preuschen, in Harnack, Gesch. der altchristl. Literatur, i. 675-677, and E. Kroymann, Die Tertullian-Überlieferung in Italien, Wien, 1898 (Sitzungsberichte der phil.-histor. Kl. der kgl. Akad. der Wissensch. zu Wien, cxxxviii. -- Complete editions of his works were published by B. Rhenanus, Basle, 1521, and often since (cf. A. Horawitz, in the above-mentioned Sitzungs-berichten, 1872, lxxi. 662-674); J. Pamelius, Antwerp., 1579; N. Rigaltius, Paris, 1634; J. S. Semler, Halle, 1769-1776, 6 voll.; Migne, PL., Paris, 1844, i.-ii.; Fr. Öhler, Leipzig, 1851-1854, 3 voll., and also (editio minor), Leipzig, 1854 (cf. Klussmann, in Zeitschr. für wissensch. Theol. [1860], iii. 82 - 100, 363-393, and Öhler, ib. [1861], iv. 204-211). An edition corresponding to modern scientific needs and conditions was undertaken by A. Reifferscheid, and continued after his death (1887) by |p181 G. Wissowa: Pars I, Vienna, 1890 (Corpus scriptorum eccl. Lat., xx.). Cf. W. von Hartel, Patristische Studien, Wien, 1890, i.-iv. (reprint from the just-mentioned Wiener Sitzungsberichten, cxx.-cxxi.). For other contributions to the textual criticism of Tertullian cf. M. Klussmann, Curarum Tertullianearum partic. i.-iii., Halle, 1881, Gotha, 1887 ; Excerpta Tertullianea in Isidori Hispalensis Etymologiis (Progr.), Hamburg, 1892. J. van der Vliet, Studia ecclesiastica: Tertullianus. I. Critica et interpretatoria, Leiden, 1891. Aem. Kroymann, Quaestiones Tertullianeae criticae, Innsbruck, 1894; H. Gomperz, Tertullianea, Vienna, 1895; Kroymann, Kritische Vorarbeiten für den dritten und vierten Band der neuen Tertullian-Ausgabe, Vienna, 1900 (Sitzungsberichte, clxiii.). -- Fr. A. von Besnard, Tertullian. Sämtliche Schriften übersetzt und bearbeitet, 2 voll., Augsburg, 1837-1838. H. Kellner, Tertullians ausgewahlte Schriften übersetzt, 2 voll., Kempten 1870-1871 (Bibl. der Kirchenvater). Id., Tertullians sämtliche Schriften aus dem Lateinischen übersetzt, 2 voll., Cologne, 1882. -- For an English translation of the writings of Tertullian see Holmes and Thelwall, in Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. Coxe), iii. 17-697, 707-717; iv. 3-121.

    On the style and diction of Tertullian the reader may consult G. R. Hauschild, Die Grundsätze und Mittel der Wortbildung bei Tertullian (Progr.), I, Leipzig, 1876; II, Frankfurt, 1881. J. P. Condamin, De Q. S. Fl. Tertulliano vexatae religionis patrono et praecipuo, apud Latinos, christianae linguae artifice (Thèse), Bar-le-duc, 1877. H. Hoppe, De sermone Tertullianeo quaestiones selectae (Dissert, inaug.), Marburg, 1897. E. Norden, Die antike Kunstprosa, Leipzig, 1898, ii. 606-615. H. Hoppe, Syntax und Stil des Tertullian, Leipzig, 1903. See also for the illustration of the text C. Cavedoni, Luoghi notevoli di Tertulliano dichiarati coi riscontri del monumenti antichi, in Archivio dell' Ecclesiastico (1864), ii. 409 to 431. H. Kellner, Organischer Zusammenhang und Chronologie der Schriften Tertullians, in «Katholik» (1879), ii. 561-589; Id., Chronologiae Tertullianeae supplementa (Progr.), Bonn, 1890. G. N. Bonwetsch, Die Schriften Tertullians nach der Zeit ihrer Abfassung untersucht, Bonn, 1878. A. Harnack, Zur Chronologie der Schriften Tertullians, in Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch. (1877 -1878), ii. 572-583. E. Noldechen, Die Abfassungszeit der Schriften Tertullians, Leipzig, 1888 (see above). J. Schmidt, Ein Beitrag zur Chronologie der Schriften Tertullians und der Prokonsuln von Afrika, in Rhein. Museum für Philol., new series (1891), xlvi. 77-98. J. P. Knaake, Die Predigten des Tertullian und Cyprian, in Theol. Studien und Kritiken (1903), lxxvi. 606-639. -- Works on the doctrine of Tertullian : J. A. W. Neander, Antignostikus. Geist des Tertullianus und Ein-leitung in dessen Schriften, Berlin, 1825; 2. ed. 1849. C. L. Leimbach, Beiträge zur Abendmahlslehre Tertullians, Gotha, 1874. G. Caucanas, Tertullian et le montanisme, Geneve, 1876. G. R. Hauschild, Die rationale Psychologie und Erkenntnistheorie Tertullians, Leipzig, 1880. G. Ludwig, Tertullians Ethik in durchaus objektiver Darstellung (Inaug. - Diss.), Leipzig, 1885. G. Esser, Die Seelenlehre Tertullians, Paderborn, 1893. K. H. Wirth, Der «Verdienst»-Begriff in der christl. Kirche. I: Der «Ver-dienst»-Begriff bei Tertullian, Leipzig, 1893. J. Stier, Die Gottes- und Logoslehre Tertullians, Göttingen, 1889. G. Schwelowsky, Der Apologet Tertullian in seinem Verhältnis zu der griechisch-romischen Philosophie, Leipzig, 1901. C. Guignebert, Tertullien. Étude sur ses sentiments a 1'égard de 1'empire et de la societé civile, Paris, 1901. -- J. F. Bethune-Baker, Tertullian's use of Substantia, Natura, and Persona, in Journal of Theol. Studies (1902-1903), iv. 440-442. J. Leblanc, Le materialisme de Tertullien, in Annales de philos. chrétienne, Juillet, 1903, pp. 415-423. H. Ronsch, Das Neue Testament Tertullians aus dessen Schriften  |p182 möglichst vollständig rekonstruiert, Leipzig, 1871. J. Kolberg, Verfassung, Kultus und Disziplin der christlichen Kirche nach den Schriften Tertullians, Braunsberg, 1886. A. Harnack, Tertullian in der Literatur der alten Kirche (Sitzungsberichte der kgl. preußischen Akad. der Wissensch. zu Berlin, 1895, pp. 545-579). A. J. Mason, Tertullian and Purgatory, in Journal of Theol. Studies (1902), iii. 598-601. J. Tixeront, Histoire des dogmes. I: La Theologie ante-Nicéenne, Paris, 1904. A. d'Alès, La Théologie de Tertullien, Paris, 1905. J. Turmel, Tertullien, in La Pensée chrétienne, Textes et études, Paris, 1905, xlviii. 398.


3. APOLOGETIC WRITINGS. -- Foremost among these is the Apologeticum or Apologeticus (the most ancient text-witnesses do not agree), a defence of Christianity, composed in the summer or autumn of 197, and addressed to the provincial governors of the Roman Empire. It opens with a request, couched in words of great beauty and force, that the truth, being forbidden to defend itself publicly, may reach the ears of the rulers at least by the hidden paths of dumb letters. The Apology itself falls into two parts, in so far as it treats first of the «secret» and then of the «public» crimes of the Christians (occulta facinora, c. 6; manifestiora, cc. 6 9). He makes short work of the first class of accusations: infanticide, Thyestaean banquets, incest (cc. 7-9); all the more lengthy and detailed is his treatment (cc. 10-27 28-45) of the «public» crimes: contempt of the religion of the fatherland (intentatio laesae divinitatis, c. 27), and the still more reprehensible crime of high treason (titulus laesae augustioris maiestatis, c. 28). He closes with an assertion of the absolute superiority of Christianity; it is a revealed religion and is beyond the rivalry of all human philosophy (cc. 46-50). The special characteristic of the work lies in the boldness with which the politico-juridical accusations against the Christians are brought to the front. Its relations to the Octavius of Minucius Felix have already been indicated (§ 24, 2). An ancient Greek version has perished; we know of it only through citations in Eusebius1. A second Apology, Ad nationes libri ii, is partly illegible in the only manuscript known to us, the Codex Agobardinus. In the first book he demonstrates that the accusations launched against the Christians are really true of the heathens; in the second book he draws on Varro's Rerum divinarum libri xvi in order to cover with ridicule the heathen belief in the gods. The tone of this work is more animated and acrimonious, than that of the Apologeticum. Its process of reasoning is also less orderly and the diction less chaste. It was also written in 197, a little while before the Apologeticum, the appearance of which it frequently announces (i. 3 7 10; al). The golden booklet De testimonio animae is an appendix to the Apologeticum, destined to illustrate the meaning of the phrase testimonium animae naturaliter christianae (Apol. c. 17). Even the heathen, by his  |p183 involuntary exclamations and his ordinary modes of speech, gives expression to a natural religious knowledge of God, to belief in His existence and unity, the reality of malevolent spirits, and a life beyond the grave. All this corresponds admirably with the teachings of the Christians. In his treatment of these ideas Tertullian reveals the touch and temper of the poet. The brief letter Ad Scapulam, written probably some time after Aug. 14., 212, was intended as an admonition to Scapula, proconsul of Africa, an especially fierce persecutor of the Christians. Tertullian reminds him of the divine judgments that had fallen upon the persecutors of former days. The Adversus Iudaeos, called forth, as the opening words show, by a discussion between a Christian and a Jewish proselyte, was written to prove that the grace of God, voluntarily rejected by Israel, has been offered to the Gentiles. In place of the ancient law of retribution there has come the new law of love. In Jesus of Nazareth the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled. The last chapters, 9-14, which deal with the Messianic office of Jesus, are clearly an unskilful excerpt from the third book of Tertullian's «Against Marcion». Some passages, nevertheless, not found in the latter work seem to indicate by their style and vocabulary the personality of Tertullian. It is probably true that Tertullian left the work incomplete; a later and unskilful hand has compiled the last chapters. Chapters 1-8 are surely the work of Tertullian; both internal evidence and citations by St. Jerome make it certain1.

p. 182 1 Hist, eccl., ii. 2, 4-6; al.
p. 183 1 Comm. in Dan. ad ix. 24 ff.

    The best of the separate editions of the Apologeticum is that of S. Haverkamp, Leyden, 1718. Later editions or reprints are those by J. Kayser, Paderborn, 1865; H. Hurter, Innsbruck, 1872 (Ss. Patr. opusc, sel., xix); F. Léonard, Namur, 1881; T. H. Bindley, London, 1889. Vizzini, Bibliotheca Ss. Patrum, Rome, 1902-1903, series iii, voll. i ii iii iv v, has edited the Apologeticum (according to Havercamp's text), De praescriptione haereticorum, De testimonio animae, De baptismo, De poenitentia, De oratione, De pudicitia, Adversus Marcionem, Adversus Valentinianos. P. de Lagarde published a new recension of the Apologeticum, in Abhandlungen der k. Gesellsch. d. Wissensch. zu Göttingen, 1891, xxxvii. 73ff. C. Callewaert, Le codex Fuldensis, le meilleur manuscrit de l'Apologeticum de Tertullian, in Revue d'hist. et de lite'r. religieuses (1902), vii. 322-353. For the ancient Greek version see Harnack, in Texte und Untersuchungen (1892), viii. 4, 1-36. The relation between the Apologeticum and the Ad nationes is treated by v. Hartel, Patristische Studien, ii. The letter Ad Scapulam, with the De praescriptione and the Ad martyres, were edited anew by T. H. Bindley, Oxford, 1894. For the Adversus Iudaeos see P. Corssen, Die Altercatio Simonis Iudaei et Theophili Christiani, Berlin, 1890, pp. 2-9; E, Nöldechen, in Texte und Untersuchungen, (1894), xii. 2; J. M. Einsiedler, De Tertulliani adv. Iudaeos libro (Dissert. Inaug.), Vienna, 1897. Nöldechen maintains the genuineness and unity of the work; Einsiedler, on the contrary, holds that with a few exceptions the second part is owing to a later compiler.



4. DOGMATICO-POLEMICAL WORKS. -- Apart from its local and immediate purpose, the defence of Catholic doctrine in general, or the refutation of heresy as such, was the theme of Tertullian in his imperishable work De praescriptione haereticorum, a title vouched for by the oldest and best manuscripts. Praescriptio is a form of defence in civil procedure based on length of possession; its result is to exclude the accuser at the very opening of the process. It is admitted by all that the Lord confided to the Apostles the preaching of His doctrine; therefore only the churches founded by them, and not heretics, can be admitted to testify in regard to Christian truth. This is a consequence of the principalitas veritatis et posteritas mendacitatis (c. 31). Catholic doctrine is that which existed from the beginning, and is therefore the true one; every heresy is an innovation and as such necessarily false. The appeal of heretics to the Holy Scriptures is clearly unjustifiable, for they are the property of the Catholic Church, which received them from the Apostles. Previous to his discussion and demonstration of the thesis of prescription by possession (cc. 15-40), Tertullian treats at some length of the origin and nature of heresy (cc. i -14); in conclusion he calls attention to the lack of moral gravity and of religious earnestness visible among heretics; they manifest themselves thereby as followers of falsehood (cc. 41-44). This work stands as a classic defence of the Catholic principle of authority and tradition. It is a development of the theory of St. Irenaeus1, set forth with the skill of a jurist. Tertullian wrote it while still a Catholic, probably before any of his writings against individual heretics (cf. c. 44).

Among the latter works the Adversus Marcionem libri v is easily pre-eminent; he revised it twice before it reached its present form (i. 1). The first book in its third (and surviving) form was edited in 207, «in the fifteenth year of the emperor Severus» (i: 15); it is not possible to determine more closely at what intervals the other four books followed. In the first two he refutes Marcion's doctrine of a good God and a Creator-God, the latter at once just and wicked. There cannot be a good God other than the Creator of the world (book i); the Creator is rather the one true God, to whom belong all the attributes with which the Marcionites clothe their good God (book ii). In the third book he proves that the historical Christ is the Messias foretold in the Old Testament. The two remaining books are a critique of the New Testament according to Marcion; in the fourth he discusses the «evangelium», in the fifth the «apostolicum» (§25, 7). Adversus Hermogenem was probably written after De praescriptione ; in it he attacks with philosophical and scriptural weapons the dualism of the Gnostics. It was called forth by the teaching of  |p185 the painter Hermogenes (at Carthage?) that God had not created the world. He only fashioned it out of matter that had existed from all eternity. Hermogenes claimed also for his teaching the authority of Scripture. Tertullian is already a Montanist in the Adversus Valentinianos (c. 5). Its composition is posterior (c. 16) to that of the work against Hermogenes; in it he is content to describe the doctrine of his adversaries according to St. Irenaeus1 and to cover them with ridicule. We do not know that he ever published the scientific criticism of the Valentinian Gnosis promised in this work (cc. 3 6). He composed the De baptismo while still a Catholic, in order to solve the doubts raised among the Christians of Carthage by the rationalistic objections that a certain Quintilla (the proper reading, c. i) was urging against the ecclesiastical teaching concerning baptism. He declared all heretical baptism invalid (c. 15). The Scorpiace, or antidote against the bites of the scorpion, is a booklet against the Gnostics whom he compares to scorpions. Its purpose is to show the moral worth and meritorious nature of martyrdom; it was very probably published after the second book against Marcion (c. 5). The De carne Christi is a polemical work against the Gnostic Docetism of Marcion, Apelles, Valentinus, and Alexander; he proves that the body of Christ was a real human body, taken from the virginal body of Mary, but not by the way of human procreation. It is here that we meet (c. 9) his eccentric notion, otherwise in keeping with his extreme realism, that the appearance of Christ was unseemly. He cites in this work among other Christian sources his own fourth book against Marcion (c. 7). The large work De resurrectione carnis, also against the Gnostics, seems (c. 2) to have been published immediately after the De carne Christi. It reviews (cc. 3 -17) the arguments furnished by reason in favor of the resurrection of the body, illustrates at length the pertinent texts of the Old and New Testaments (cc. 18-55), and discusses the nature and qualities of the risen body (cc. 56 - 63). In the closing chapters he lays especial stress on the substantial identity of the risen with the actual body. Adversus Praxeam, probably the last of his anti-heretical writings, certainly written long after his definitive exit from the Church, defends the ecclesiastical teaching; concerning the Trinity against Patripassian monarchianism. In his defence of the personal distinction between the Father and the Son he does not, apparently, avoid a certain subordinationism. Nevertheless in many very clear expressions and turns of thought he almost forestalls the Nicene creed.

p. 184 1 Adv. haer., iii.; cf. § 34, 3.
p. 185 1 Adv. haer., i.

New editions, or reprints of old editions, of the De praescriptione have been made by H. Hurter, Innsbruck, 1870 1880 (SS. Patr. opusc. sel. ix); E. Preuschen, Freiburg, 1892 (Sammlung ausgewählter kirchen- und dogmengeschichtl. Quellenschriften, iii); T. H. Bindley, Oxford, 1894. Vizzini's |p186 edition is mentioned on p. 183. L. Lehanneur, Le traite de Tertullian centre les Valentiniens, Caen, 1886. De baptismo is also in Hurter, 1. c., Innsbruck, 1869, vii. R. A. Lipsius, Über Tertullians Schrift wider Praxeas, in Jahrb. fur deutsche Theol. (1868), xiii. 701-724. -- Th. Schermann, Lateinische Parallelen zu Didimus (in De baptismo), in Rom. Quartalschr. für christl. Altertumskunde und für Kirchengesch. (1902), xvi. 232-242. E. Heintzel, Hermogenes, der Hauptvertreter des philosophischen Dualismus in der alten Kirche, Berlin, 1902. E. von der Goltz, Die Traktate des Tertullian und Cyprian liber das Gebet, in «Das Gebet in der ältesten Christenheit», Leipzig, 1901, pp. 279-287.


5. PRACTICO-ASCETICAL WRITINGS. -- The spirited treatise De patientia especially interests all readers of Tertullian, because in a sense addressed to its own impatient author. He was to find a certain consolation in speaking of the beauty and sublimity of patience, even as the sick delight in speaking of the value of health (c. 1). The book surely belongs to the Catholic period of his life, as does also De oratione destined for the Catechumens. In the latter he undertakes to explain the Lord's Prayer (cc. 2-9), gives various instructions on the value of prayer in general (cc. 10-28) and ends with a moving description of its power and efficacy (c. 29). In De paenitentia he treats of penance at length, of the penitential temper, the practice of penance, and of two kinds of penance peculiar to the early Church: that which an adult was expected to perform before baptism (cc. 4-6) and the so-called canonical penance that the baptised Christian had to undergo after the commission of such grave sins as homicide, idolatry and sins of the flesh, before being reconciled with the Church (cc. 7-12). In his Montanist work De pudicitia he directly contradicts the teaching of this Catholic work on penance. His change of attitude was occasioned by the decree of Pope Callixtus (217-222) that henceforth sins of adultery and fornication would be remitted those who had fulfilled the canonical penance (c. 1). In this work Tertullian laments with bitterness the decadence of virtue and righteousness, attacks violently the «psychici», a name given to the Catholics in opposition to the «pneumatici» or Montanists, and undertakes to show that the Church cannot remit such grave sins as adultery and fornication (c. 4). The beautiful letter Ad martyres, written certainly (c. 6) in 197, contains words of consolation and exhortation to a number of Christians who had been suffering a long imprisonment for their faith, and were in daily expectation of the final summons. Among his writings are several on Christian marriage, especially on second marriages. The earliest and most attractive is his work Ad uxorem in two books. In it he advises his wife Esther not to remarry after his death, or else to marry no one but a Christian. As a Montanist, however, he rejects second marriage unconditionally. In the tractate De exhortatione castitatis addressed to a widowed friend, he declares that a second marriage is simply fornication (non |p187 aliud dicendum erit secundum matrimonium quam species stupri, c. 9). In De monogamia, written somewhat later, about 217, he maintains the same opinion with even less reserve (imum matrimonium novimus sicut unum Deum, c. 1). The De spectaculis is devoted to an exhaustive study of a question that had then become very serious: Can Christians frequent the public games and theatres (spectacula) of the heathens ? His answer is that all such plays are intimately correlated with the idolatrous worship of the times (cc. 4-13) and necessarily constitute an immediate peril for Christian morality by reason of the savage passions they arouse (cc. 14-30). He pours out against heathenism all the hatred of his soul in a flaming description of the greatest spectacle the world shall ever behold, the Second Coming of the Lord or the Last Judgment (c. 30). In De idololatria, posterior (c. 13) to De spectaculis, and written very probably while he was still a Catholic, he illustrates in every sense the duty of Christians to avoid idolatry; the fine arts and public life are entirely permeated with it and cannot therefore offer any opening for Christian activity. Quite similar are the contents of De corona, written probably during August or September of 211, apropos of the act of a Christian soldier who had refused to put on a crown of flowers, in keeping with a heathen custom. As the wearing of such a crown was among the specific rites of idolatry (c. 7) it followed that a Christian soldier could not, on principle, accept military service (c. 11). In the two books De cultu feminarum, written while he was still a Catholic, he thunders against female vanity in the matter of dress and ornament. It is only in the Codex Agobardinus that the first book bears the title De cultu feminarum ; in all other manuscripts it is known as De habitu muliebri; moreover, it has reached us in a very imperfect state. The second book pursues the same theme, and is composed in a calmer and milder spirit. In the De oratione (cc. 21 22) he had maintained that Christian virgins should always be veiled in the Church. Some dissented from his views, and he returned to the subject in a special treatise, De virginibus velandis. in which he appealed to the Paraclete, the Holy Scriptures and the discipline of the Church, and went beyond his former demand by insisting that these virgins, once they had reached the age of maturity, should be always and everywhere veiled. De fuga in persecutione is a Montanist work, written towards the close of 212; it forbids as absolutely illicit flight of any kind during the stress of persecution. De ieiunio adversus psychicos is one of the most offensive of his Montanist writings; in it he denounces (c. 1) the Catholics as gluttons because they observe a certain moderation in fasting.

De patientia is printed in Hurter, SS. Patr. opusc. selecta, iv; also ib.) De oratione, ii; De paenitentia, v. De paenitentia and De pudicitia |p188 were edited apart by E. Preuschen, Freiburg, 1891 (Sammlung ausgewählter Quellenschriften, ii), and by P. de Labriolle, with a French translation (Coll. Hemmer et Lejay), Paris, 1906, lxvii. 237. Cf. Preuschen, Tertullians Schriften De paenitentia und De pudicitia mit Rücksicht auf die Bußdisziplin untersucht (Inaug.-Diss.), Tübingen, 1890; also E. Rolffs, Das Indulgenzedikt des römischen Bischofs Kallist, Leipzig, 1893 (Texte und Untersuchungen, xi. 3). G. Esser, De pudic. c. 21 und der Primat des röm. Bischofs, in «Katholik» (1903), 3, 193-220. -- Ad martyres is found in Hurter, 1. c., iv; there is also an edition by T. H. Bindley, Oxford, 1894. -- On the De monogamia see Rolffs, in Texte und Untersuchungen (1895), xii. 4, 50-109: «Tertullians Gegner in De monogamia»; cf. § 35, 5. E. Klussmann has published an excellent separate edition of De spectaculis, Leipzig, 1876. See his Adnot. crit. ad Tert. libr. de spectac., Rudolstadt, 1876. For the purpose and the sources of the De spectaculis cf. E. Nöldechen, in Zeitschr. fur wissenschaftl. Theol. (1894), xxxvii. 91-125; Neue Jahrb. für deutsche Theol. (1894), iii. 206-226; Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch. (1894-1895), xv. 161 - 203; Philologus, Suppl. (1894), vi. 2, 727 to 766. K. Werber, Tertullians Schrift De spectac. in ihrem Verhältnis zu Varros Rerum divinarum libri (Progr.), Teschen, 1896. On the De ieiunio see Rolffs, 1. c. (1895), xii. 4, 5-49: «Tertullians Gegner in De ieiunio».


6. THE «DE ANIMA» AND «DE PALLIO». -- Two works of Tertullian do not fall into any of the above-mentioned groups; they merit therefore a distinct mention. De anima belongs to his Montanist period (cc. 9 45 58) and was written after the second book against Marcion (c. 21). It is the first Christian psychology, though less a manual of philosophy than of theology, its purpose being (c. 1-3) to describe the doctrine of the soul according to Christian revelation and to refute the philosophic or rather Gnostic heresy that hid itself beneath the cloak of philosophy. The first section (cc. 4-22) deals with the nature and the faculties of the soul. While he does not deny the immaterial character of the latter, he believes himself bound to maintain a certain degree of corporeity; for a condition of pure spirituality was unintelligible to him1. In the second section (cc. 23 to 41) he investigates the problem of the specific origin of each soul, rejects the theories of pre-existence and of metempsychosis, and opposes to creatianism the crassest generatianism or traducianism. In the act of generation man reproduces his whole nature, body and soul. The third section (cc. 42-58) treats of death, sleep, the world of dreams, the state and place of the soul after death. The curious little work De pallio, written between 209 and 211 (cf. c. 2), owes its origin to a personal circumstance. For some unknown reason Tertullian had put off the toga and taken to wearing the pallium, an act that drew down on him the satire of his fellow-citizens. In this booklet he justifies his conduct with playful art and biting sarcasm.

1 De carne Christi, c. 11 ; Adv. Praxeam, c. 7.

Concerning the source of De anima, a work on the same subject (De an. c. 6) by Soranus, a physician of Ephesus, see H. Diels, |p189 Doxographi Graeci, Berlin, 1890, pp. 203 ff. We owe to Cl. Salmasius an excellent separate edition of the De pallio, Paris, 1622, Leyden, 1656. This latter treatise is illustrated by H. Kellner, in Theol. Quartalschr. (1870), lii. 547-566, and by G. Boissier, La fin du paganisme, Paris, 1891 (3. ed., Paris, 1898), i. 259-304.


7. LOST WRITINGS OF TERTULLIAN. -- Three of his extant Latin works, he tells us, were written also in Greek: De spectaculis1, De baptismo or on the invalidity of heretical baptism (c. 15), De virginibus velandis (c. 1). The Greek text of these writings has perished; and similarly the Latin text of a still larger number of writings. We know from his own statement that he published works entitled De spe fidelium, De paradiso, Adversus Apelleiacos (?), De censu animae adversus Hermogenum, De fato. De spe fidelium2 promoted Chiliastic views3. In De paradiso4 he discussed many questions concerning Paradise5; among other things he maintained the thesis that all departed souls, except those of the martyrs, must wait in the under-world «until the day of the Lord»6. Adversus Apelleiacos was directed against the followers of Apelles (§ 25, 7) who held that not God, but a superior angel had created this world and was afterwards seized with regret for his act7. In De censu animae8, «on the origin of the soul», he refuted the doctrine of Hermogenes that the soul was material in its origin, and there was in man no such thing as free will9. De fato was written against the teachings of the philosophers concerning fate and chance 10. Through St. Jerome we know of three (or rather, perhaps, five) other works of Tertullian. One of them was entitled De ecstasi, or rather peri\ e0ksta&sewj 11, perhaps a Greek work in defence of Montanism or the ecstatic speech of the Montanist prophets. It was originally in six books, but when he had read the anti-Montanistic work of Apollonius (§ 35, 3) he added a seventh book against the latter. A work on marriage, Ad amicum philosophum de angustiis nuptiarum, is mentioned twice by St. Jerome12. Another lost work was entitled De Aaron vestibus, on the liturgical garments of the High Priest in the Old Testament13. It is supposed that he wrote two other works: De circumcisione and De mundis atque immundis animalibus14. The index of the Codex Agobardinus shows that it once contained three works of Tertullian entitled: De carne et anima. De animae submissione, De superstitione saeculi ; nothing is known of them beyond these titles.

1 Tert., De corona, c. 6. 
Adv. Marcion., iii. 24.
3 Hier., De viris ill., c. 18; Comm. in Ezech. ad xxxvi. I ss.
4 Tert., De anima, c. 55. 
Id., Adv. Marc, v. 12.
6 Id., De anima, c. 55. 
Id., De carne Christi, c. 8.
8 Id., De anima, c 1. 
Ib., cc. 1 3 11 21 22 24.
10 Ib., c. 20; see the citation in Planciades Fulgentius: Tertull. opp. (ed. Öhler), ii. 745.
11 Hier., De viris ill., c. 53; cf. c. 40 and also c. 24. 
Hier., Ep. 22, 22.
13 Hier., Ep. 64, 23. 14 Id., Ep. 36, I.|p189 


8. SPURIOUS WRITINGS. -- In the manuscripts and editions there is commonly added to De praescriptione, as an appendix, a Libellus adversus omnes haereses, containing a list of heretics from Dositheus to Praxeas. The work is surely not from Tertullian's pen, but rather from that of Victorinus of Pettau (§ 58, 1). The principal source used by its author was the so-called Syntagma of Hippolytus (§ 54, 3). The works De Trinitate and De cibis Judaicis, published in the editions of Tertullian, were written by Novatian (§ 55, 2 3). A fragment De execrandis gentium diis, proving from the example of Jupiter that the heathens entertain unworthy notions of the divinity, is of unknown origin; the diversity of style shows that it cannot belong to Tertullian. Neither is he the author of the poem Adversus Marcionem or Adversus Marcionitas in 1302 hexameters and five books. It is not only devoid of poetical merit, but frequently violates the rules of grammar and prosody. Hückstädt and Oxè agree in attributing it to the latter half of the fourth century, the former to a writer in Rome, the latter to one in Africa, while Waitz maintains that it was composed by Commodianus (§ 57).

For the Libellus adversus omnes haereses (Oehler, l. c., ii. 751-765) see the literature on the Syntagma of Hippolytus (§ 54, 3). E. Hückstädt, Über das pseudo-tertullianische Gedicht Adv. Marcionem (Inaug.-Diss.), Leipzig, 1875. A. Oxè, Prolegomena de carmine Adv. Marcionitas (Dissert, inaug.), Leipzig, 1888; also Oxè, Victorini versus de lege Domini, ein un-edierter Cento aus dem Carmen Adv. Marcionitas (Progr.), Krefeld, 1894. H. Waitz, Das pseudo-tertullianische Gedicht Adv. Marcionem, Darmstadt, 1901. For the poems De genesi cf. Oehler, 1. c., ii. 774-776 (§ 88, 2), De Sodoma and De Iona ib., ii. 769-773 (§ 88, 2). See § 116, 5 for the poem De iudicio Domini (Oehler, 1. c., ii. 776-781), also found amidst the works of Cyprian (ed. Hartel, iii. 308-325) where it is entitled Ad Flavium Felicem de resurrectione mortuorum.

Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press
SPIonic font, free from here.

This page has been online since 23rd February 2002.

Return to the Tertullian Project About these pages