De haeresibus ad Quodvultdeus ch 86
(To Quodvultdeus, On Heresies)
(by St. Augustine)


LXXXVI. TERTULLIANISTAE a Tertulliano, cuius multa leguntur opuscula eloquentissime scripta, usque ad nostrum tempus paulatim deficientes, in extremis reliquiis durare potuerunt in urbe Carthaginensi: me autem ibi posito ante aliquot annos, quod etiam te meminisse arbitror, omni ex parte consumpti sunt. Paucissimi enim qui remanserant, in Catholicam transierunt, suamque basilicam, quae nunc etiam notissima est, Catholicae tradiderunt.

Tertullianus ergo, sicut scripta eius indicant, animam dicit immortalem quidem, sed eam corpus esse contendit: neque hanc tantum, sed ipsum etiam Deum [2].

Nec tamen hinc haereticus dicitur factus.

Posset enim quoquo modo putari ipsam naturam substantiamque divinam corpus vocare; non tale corpus cuius partes aliae majores, aliae minores valeant vel debeant cogitari, qualia sunt omnia quae proprie dicimus corpora; quamvis de anima tale aliquid sentiat: sed potuit, ut dixi, propterea putari corpus Deum dicere, quia non est nihil, non est inanitas, non est corporis vel animae qualitas, sed ubique totus, et per locorum spatia nulla partitus, in sua tamen natura atque substantia immutabiliter permanet.

Non ergo ideo est Tertullianus factus haereticus; sed quia transiens ad Cataphrygas, quos ante destruxerat, coepit etiam secundas nuptias contra apostolicam doctrinam (1 Tim. 4, 3) tanquam stupra damnare, et postmodum etiam ab ipsis divisus, sua conventicula propagavit.

Dicit sane etiam ipse animas hominum pessimas post mortem in daemones verti.

86. The Tertullianists take their name from Tertullian, whose many eloquent works are still read. Though steadily diminishing in numbers up to our time, they managed to survive to the last remnants in the city of Carthage. But when I found myself there several years ago, as I think you also remember, they disappeared completely. For the very few who were left passed into the Catholic Church and surrendered their basilica, which is even now a very famous one, to the Catholic Church.

Now then, as his writings indicate, Tertullian says that the soul is indeed immortal, but contends it is a body. He maintains that this is true not only of the soul, but also of God himself. However they say that this is not the reason why he became a heretic. We might imagine that he calls the divine nature and substance a body in some way, without meaning the kind of body whose various parts can or must be considered larger or smaller, as is true of all bodies, properly so called. However, he did have some opinion of this kind concerning the soul. But, as I have said, it could have been possible to imagine that he called God a body, because He is not "nothingness", is not "emptiness", He is not a quality of body or soul, but is everywhere a complete whole, having no spatial divisions, but remaining immutable in His own nature and substance.

Therefore, the reason Tertullian became a heretic was not for this, but because in joining the Cataphrygians, whom he had earlier demolished, he also began to condemn, contrary to Apostolic teaching, second marriage as debauchery. Later, having separated from them too, he established congregations of his own.

It is true that he also stated that the most evil human souls are transformed into demons after death.


[2 - The editions: sed eam effigiatum corpus esse contendit: neque hanc tantum, sed ipsum etiam Deum corporeum esse dicit, licet non effigiatum. Nec tamen hinc, etc. Omitted as absent from the MSS]


A list of works with texts and translations is available online at

Latin text has been scanned in and corrected from Migne's Patrologia Latina, vol 42: columns 21-50. Our chapter is to be found in columns 46-47. Checked. The villanova list says that the text is also in CCSL 46. I do not know whether this is a critical edition or not.

The English translation above comes from L.G.Muller, The "De haeresibus of St. Augustine" (Patristic Studies 90), Catholic University of America, Washington 1956. No critical edition seems to exist, according to Muller. Checked

Augustine, Arianism and other heresies : Heresies, Memorandum to Augustine, To Orosius in refutation of the Priscillianists and Origenists, Arian sermon, Answer to an Arian sermon, Debate with Maximinus, Answer to Maximinus, Answer to an Enemy of the Law and the Prophets, ed. John Rotelle, translated by Roland J. Teske, New City Press 1995. This is part of the series Works of Saint Augustine: a Translation for the 21st Century issued under the auspices of the Augustinian Historical Institute. This is Part I, volume 18. ISBN: 1565480554 (series), 1565480384 (pt.1, v.18). 486 p. ; 24 cm. (Details from Bodleian library catalogue). Not checked

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