The Tertullianistae


In 388 a group known as the Tertullianistae appear in the literary record. They came from Carthage. The sect gained rapid conversions at Rome and was patronized by a supporter of the usurper Magnus Maximus. Soon, however, the group vanished again, when its surviving members in Carthage rejoined the Catholics and surrendered their basilica to bishop Aurelius.

This information is supplied by Augustine1 in De haeresibus ch. 86, and the anonymous 'Praedestinatus' (ca 435 AD) who partly copies him 2 4. These writers claim that Tertullian founded the sect after quarrelling with the Montanists. (Click on De haeresibus and Praedestinatus for the texts).

However it has also been claimed 5 6 that the Tertullianistae were simply the African branch of the Montanists, with no other connection to Tertullian.

Finally it has been claimed that the group were not necessarily more than a Tertullian fan-club, with only tenuous connections to Montanism7.

We have no other information about this group.


Notes (checked):

1. Augustine, De Haeresibus 86, written around 428AD and covering 88 heresies 3
2. Praedestinatus, Haer. I.86 3
3. For De haeresibus see J.P.Migne, Patrologia Latina XLII. 46 f. An English translation of De haeresibus does exist - L.G.Muller, The "De haeresibus of St. Augustine" (Patristic Studies 90), Catholic University of America, Washington 1956
Praedestinatus is in Migne, PL LIII 616 f. I know of no English translation.
4. For more on 'Praedestinatus' see B.Altaner/A.Stuiber, Patrologie (1966), 459. An English translation of this exists - Altaner, Berthold Patrology, translated by Hilda.C.Graef from the 5th German edition, Nelson, Edinburgh & London, 1960.
5. B.Fuller, Dictionary of Christian Biography IV (1887), 819 (Not checked)
6. T.D.Barnes also supports this view.  
7. Tabbernee, W, in various works, e.g. Montanist Inscriptions.

8. There is an important article on this subject by D. Powell, Tertullianists and Cataphrygians, Vigiliae Christianae 29 (1975), pp. 33-54.

This page has been online since 11th December 1999.

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