Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der Altchristlichen Literatur 38.4 (1912)


(English translation - RP, part V checked against Hennecke-Schneemelcher I p.38-40.)

Ernst von Dobschütz


I. It was said:

1. Firstly the seven-fold Spirit which remains in Christ should be discussed:

the spirit of wisdom: 'Christ the power and wisdom of God'.
the spirit of understanding: 'I will give you understanding, and I will instruct you in the way you will go'.
the spirit of counsel: 'And his name is called the messenger of great counsel'.
the spirit of virtues: as above, 'The power of God and the wisdom of God'.
the spirit of knowledge: 'Because of the eminence of the knowledge of the apostle of Christ Jesus'.
the spirit of truth: 'I am the way the life and the truth'.
the spirit of the fear of God: 'The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom'.

2. However the dispensation of Christ has a name of many forms:

God, who is spirit;
the word, who is God;
the Son, who is only-begotten of the Father;
the man, who was born of the virgin;
the priest, who offered himself as a sacrifice;
the shepherd, who is the guard;
the worm, who rose from the dead;
the mountain, which is strong;
the way, which is straight;
the harbour, which one may pass through into life;
the lamb, which was slain;
the stone, which is the cornerstone;
the master, who is the bringer of life;
the sun, which is the illuminator;
the true, which is of the Father;
the life, which is the creator;
the bread, which is dear;
the Samaritan, who is the guard and the merciful;
the Christ, who is the anointed one;
Jesus, who is the saviour;
God, who is from God;
the messenger, who was sent;
the bridegroom, who is the mediator;
the vine, by whose own blood we are redeemed;
the lion, who is king;
the rock, which is the foundation;
the flower, which is chosen;
the prophet, who revealed the future.

3. For the Holy Spirit is not of the Father only or of the Son only, but of the Father and the Son; for it is written: 'He who delights in the world, the Spirit of the Father is not in him'; again it is written; 'However anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to him'. So the Holy Spirit is understood to be called of the Father and the Son, [and] of whom the Son himself in the gospel says that the Holy Spirit 'proceeds from the Father' and 'he will receive from me and he will make known to you'.

II. Likewise it was said:

Now indeed the issue of the divine scriptures must be discussed, which the universal Catholic church receives or which it is required to avoid.


Genesis one book
Exodus one book
Leviticus one book
Numbers one book
Deuteronomy one book
Joshua one book
Judges one book
Ruth one book
Kings four books
Chronicles two books
150 Psalms one book
Three books of Solomon  
one book
one book
song of songs
one book
The same of Wisdom one book
one book


Isaiah one book
Jeremiah one book
with Cinoth i.e. his lamentations  
Ezechiel one book
Daniel one book
Hosea one book
Amos one book
Micah one book
Joel one book
Obadiah one book
Jonah one book
Nahum one book
Habbakuk one book
Zephaniah one book
Haggai one book
Zechariah one book
Malachi one book


Job one book
Tobit one book
Esdras two books
Ester one book
Judith one book
Maccabees two books

4. LIKEWISE THE ORDER OF THE SCRIPTURES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT which the holy and catholic Roman church upholds and is venerated:

Four books of the Gospels  
according to Mathew
one book
according to Mark
one book
according to Luke
one book
according to John
one book
Likewise the acts of the apostles one book
The letters of the apostle Paul in number fourteen  
to the Romans
one letter
to the Corinthians
two letters
to the Ephesians
one letter
to the Thesalonians
two letters
to the Galatians
one letter
to the Philippians
one letter
to the Colossians
one letter
to Timothy
two letters
to Titus
one letter
to the Philemon
one letter
to the Hebrews
one letter
Likewise the apocalypse of John one book
Likewise the canonical [catholic] letters in number seven  
of the apostle Peter two letters
of the apostle James one letter
of the apostle John one letter
of the other John the elder two letters
of the apostle Judas the Zealot one letter


III. Likewise it was said:

The manuscripts of the shorter recension begin at this point, with the following heading:


Both versions then continue as follows:

1. After all these [writings of] the prophets and the evangelical and apostolic scriptures which we discussed above, on which the catholic church is founded by the grace of God, we also have thought necessary to say what, although the universal catholic church diffused throughout the world is the single bride of Christ, however the holy Roman church is given first place by the rest of the churches without [the need for] a synodical decision, but from the voice of the Lord our saviour in the gospel obtained primacy: 'You are Peter,' he said, 'and upon this rock I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it; and to you I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you shall bind upon Earth shall be bound also in heaven and whatever you release upon Earth shall also be released in heaven'.

2. In addition there is also the presence of the blessed apostle Paul, 'the chosen vessel', who not in opposition, as the heresies jabber, but on the same date and the same day was crowned in glorious death with Peter in the city of Rome suffering under Nero Caesar; and equally they made the above-mentioned holy Roman church special in Christ the Lord and gave preference in their presence and veneration-worthy triumph before all other cities in the whole world.

3. Therefore first is the seat at the Roman church of the apostle Peter 'having no spot or wrinkle or any other [defect]'.

However the second place was given in the name of blessed Peter to Mark his disciple and gospel-writer at Alexandria, and who himself wrote down the word of truth directed by Peter the apostle in Egypt and gloriously consummated [his life] in martyrdom.

Indeed the third place is held at Antioch of the most blessed and honourable apostle Peter, who lived there before he came to Roma and where first the name of the new race of the Christians was heard.

IV. And although 'no other foundation can be established except that which has been established, Christ Jesus', however for edification likewise the holy Roman church after the books of the Old and New Testaments which we have enumerated above according to the canon also does not prohibit the reception of these writings:

1. the holy synod of Nicaea of 318 fathers chaired by the Emperor Constantine the Great,

at which the heretic Arius was condemned; the holy synod of Constantinople chaired by Theodosius the senior Augustus, at which the heretic Macedonius escaped his deserved condemnation;

the holy synod of Ephesus, at which Nestorius was condemned with the consent of the blessed pope Caelestinus chaired by Cyril of Alexandria in the magistrate's seat and by Arcadius the bishop sent from Italy;

the holy synod of Chalcedon chaired by Marcian Augustus and by Anatolius Bishop of Constantinople, at which the Nestorian et Eutychian heresies together with Dioscorus and his sympathisers were condemned.

but also if there are councils hitherto held by the holy fathers of lesser authority than those four, we have decreed [that] they must be both kept and received. Here added below is on the works of the holy fathers, which are received in the catholic church.

Likewise the works of blessed Caecilius Cyprian the martyr and Bishop of Carthage;
likewise the works of blessed Gregory Nanzanensis the bishop;
likewise the works of blessed Basil Bishop of Cappadocia;
likewise the works of blessed John Bishop of Constantinople;
likewise the works of blessed Theophilus Bishop of Alexandria;
likewise the works of blessed Cyril Bishop of Alexandria;
likewise the works of blessed Bishop Hilary of Poitiers;
likewise the works of blessed Ambrosius Bishop of Milan;
likewise the works of blessed Augustine Bishop of Hippo;
likewise the works of blessed Jerome the priest;
likewise the works of blessed Prosper a most religious man;

3. likewise the letter of blessed pope Leo sent to Flavian Bishop of Constantinople, of which text however if any portion is disputed and it is not that anciently received by all, let it be anathema;

likewise the works and every treatise of all the orthodox fathers, who deviated in nothing from the common [teaching] of the holy Roman church, neither separated from its faith or worship but remained in communion by the grace of God to the last day of their life, we decree are to be read;

likewise the decretal/official letters, which blessed popes gave for the consideration of various fathers at various times from the city of Rome, are to be upheld reverently;

4. likewise the deeds of the holy martyrs,  who are glorious from the manifold tortures on the rack and their wonderful triumphs of steadfastness. Who of the catholics doubts that most of them would be enduring still in agonies with their full strength but would bear it by the grace of God and the help of everyone? but according to old custom by the greatest caution they are not read in the holy Roman church, because the names of those who wrote are not properly known and separate from unbelievers and idiots or [the accounts] are thought less attached to the order of events than they should have been; for instance the [accounts of] Cyricus and Julitta, like Georgius and the sufferings of others like these which appear to have been composed by heretics. On account of this, as  it was said, so that no pretext for casual mockery can arise, they are not read in the holy Roman church. However we venerate together with the aforesaid church all the martyrs and their glorious sufferings, which are well known to God and men, with every devotion;

likewise the lives of the fathers Paul, Antony and Hilarion which with all the hermits described by that blessed man Jerome we receive with honour;

likewise the acts of blessed Silvester bishop of the apostolic seat, although the name of him who wrote [them] is unknown, [but] we know to be read by many catholics however in the city of Rome and because of the ancient use of the multitude this is imitated by the church;

likewise the writings on the finding of the cross and certain other novel writings on the finding of the head of the blessed John the Baptist are romances and some of them are read by catholics; but when these come into the hand of catholics, the saying of Paul the blessed apostle should be <considered> first: 'prove all things, hold fast to what is good'.

likewise Rufinus, a most religious man, work many books of ecclesiastical works, also some interpreting the scriptures; but since the venerable Jerome noted that he took arbitary liberties in some of them, we think those [acceptable] which we know the aforesaid blessed Jerome thought [acceptable]; and not only those of Rufinus, but also [those] of anyone whom that man often remembered for his zeal for God and for the religion of faith criticised.

likewise some works of Origen, which the blessed man Jerome does not reject, we receive to be read, but we say that the rest with their author must be refused.

likewise the chronicle of Eusebius of Caesarea and the books of his church history, however much he fell flat in the first book of his narration and [although he also] afterwards wrote one book in praise and to excuse Origen the schismatic, however on account of his narration of remarkable things, which are useful for instruction, we do not say to anyone that it must be refused.

likewise we praise Orosius a most erudite man, who wrote a very necessary history for us against the calumnies of the pagans and  and with marvellous brevity.

likewise the paschal work of that venerable man Sedulius, which was written in heroic verses [hexameters], we give preference to with manifest praise.

likewise the laborious work of Iuvencus we nevertheless do not spurn but are amazed by.

V. The remaining writings which have been compiled or been recognised by heretics or schismatics the Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church does not in any way receive; of these we have thought it right to cite below a few which have been handed down and which are to be avoided by catholics:


firstly we confess that the synod of Sirmium called together by Constantius Caesar the son of Constantine through the Prefect Taurus is damned then and now and for ever.

the Itinerary in the name of Peter the apostle, which is called the nine books of the holy Clement apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Andrew apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Thomas apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Peter apocryphal
the Acts in the name of the apostle Philip apocryphal
the Gospel in the name of Mathias apocryphal
the Gospel in the name of Barnabas apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of James the younger apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of the apostle Peter apocryphum
the Gospel in the name of Thomas which the Manichaeans use apocryphum
the Gospels in the name of Bartholomew apocrypha
the Gospels in the name of Andrew apocrypha
the Gospels which Lucianus forged apocrypha
the Gospels which Hesychius forged apocrypha
the book on the infancy of the saviour apocryphus
the book of the nativity of the saviour and of Mary or the midwife apocryphus
the book which is called by the name of the Shepherd apocryphus
all the books which Leucius the disciple of the devil made apocryphi
the book which is called the Foundation apocryphus
the book which is called the Treasure apocryphus
the book of the daughters of Adam Leptogeneseos apocryphus
the cento on Christ put together in Virgilian verses apocryphum
the book which is called the Acts of Thecla and Paul apocryphus
the book which is called Nepos's apocryphus
the books of Proverbs written by heretics and prefixed with the name of holy Sixtus  apocryphus
the Revelation which is called Paul's apocrypha
the Revelation which is called Thomas's apocrypha
the Revelation which is called Stephen's apocrypha
the book which is called the Assumption of holy Mary apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Adam apocryphus
the book about Og the giant of whom the heretics assert that after the deluge he fought with the dragon apocryphus
the book which is called the Testament of Job apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Origen apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of holy Cyprian apocryphus
the book which is called the Repentance of Jamne and Mambre apocryphus
the book which is called the Lots of the apostles apocryphus
the book which is called the grave-plate (?)  of the apostles apocryphus
the book which is called the canons of the apostles apocryphus
the book Physiologus written by heretics and prefixed with the name of blessed Ambrose apocryphus
the History of Eusebius Pamphilii apocrypha
the works of Tertullian apocrypha
the works of Lactantius also known as Firmianus apocrypha
the works of Africanus apocrypha
the works of Postumianus and Gallus apocrypha
the works of Montanus, Priscilla and Maximilla apocrypha
the works of Faustus the Manichaean apocrypha
the works of Commodian apocrypha
the works of the other Clement, of Alexandria apocrypha
the works of Thascius Cyprianus apocrypha
the works of Arnobius apocrypha
the works of Tichonius apocrypha
the works of Cassian the Gallic priest apocrypha
the works of Victorinus of Pettau apocrypha
the works of Faustus of Riez in Gaul apocrypha
the works of Frumentius Caecus apocrypha
the cento on Christ stitched together from verses of Virgil apocryphum
the Letter from Jesus to Abgar apocrypha
the Letter of Abgar to Jesus apocrypha
the Passion of Cyricus and Julitta apocrypha
the Passion of Georgius apocrypha
the writing which is called the Interdiction of Solomon apocrypha
all amulets which are compiled not in the name of the angels as they pretend but are written in the names of great demons apocrypha

These and those similar ones, which Simon Magus, Nicolaus, Cerinthus, Marcion, Basilides, Ebion, Paul of Samosata, Photinus and Bonosus, who suffered from similar error, also Montanus with his obscene followers, Apollinaris, Valentinus the Manichaean, Faustus the African, Sabellius, Arius, Macedonius, Eunomius, Novatus, Sabbatius, Calistus, Donatus, Eustasius, Jovianus, Pelagius, Julian of Eclanum, Caelestius, Maximian, Priscillian from Spain, Nestorius of Constantinople, Maximus the Cynic, Lampetius, Dioscorus, Eutyches, Peter and the other Peter, of whom one disgraced Alexandria and the other Antioch, Acacius of Constantinople with his associates, and what also all disciples of heresy and of the heretics and schismatics, whose names we have scarcely preserved, have taught or compiled, we acknowledge is to be not merely rejected but eliminated from the whole Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and with their authors and the followers of its authors to be damned in the inextricable shackles of anathema forever. 

This page has been online since 2nd December 2000.

Bugs fixed 16th June 2007.

Return to the Tertullian Home Page Original      Traduction Français About these pages