Latin: Munier, 1993 --- English: Thelwall, 1870; Claesson, c.1950 --- French: Genoude, 1852; De Labriolle, 1906 --- German: Kellner, 1915
|Summary||Content||Other points of interest||Manuscripts||Title variations||Bibliography|
A bishop has issued an edict detailing regulations for how fornication and adultery by Christians can be forgiven. Tertullian is appalled.
In 22 chapters.
This rare work deals with a question that any group of Christians must face sooner or later; how does the church deal with blatant sins committed by its members? At what point should they be expelled from the group? A change in practise by the church in Carthage called forth these comments.
Tertullian has become disgusted with the complacent willingness to forgive almost anything, evinced especially by an edict of a bishop, perhaps Agrippinus of Carthage, allowing adultery and fornication, and takes a tough line on sin and repentance. (A similar edict in Rome around the same time by Pope Callistus led to a schism and the election of Hippolytus as the first anti-pope).
The edict in question is quoted in ch 1:
I hear that there has even been an edict set forth, and a peremptory one too. The Pontifex Maximus -that is, the bishop of bishops -issues an edict: "I remit, to such as have discharged (the requirements of) repentance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication."
A general comment from Barnes, ch 7, p83:
"Tertullian's later writings receive abuse and condemnation in subsequent ages. Many of the charges are unmerited. Tertullian did not leave the church wholly or mainly of his own accord. In the age of the Severi, the church was changing. It was becoming an established institution in which enthusiasm or direct communion with God presented a threat to the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Tertullian is the first great teacher of unimpeachable doctrinal orthodoxy who dared to enunciate an unpalatable truth: the church is not a conclave of bishops, but the manifestation of the Holy Spirit: (ch 21, 17): ecclesia spiritus per spiritalem hominem, non ecclesia numerus episcoporum."
How does a church deal with the sins committed by its members? As 1 John makes a statement about there being "sin that leads to death", the church at this time classified these sins as either forgiveable by the church, and not involving exclusion once repentance was made, or else fatal.
There are some sins of daily committal, to which we all are liable: for who will be free from the accident of either being angry unjustly, and retaining his anger beyond sunset; or else even using manual violence or else carelessly speaking evil; or else rashly swearing; or else forfeiting his plighted word or else lying, from bashfulness or "necessity"? In businesses, in official duties, in trade, in food, in sight, in hearing, by how great temptations are we plied! So that, if there were no pardon for such sins as these, salvation would be unattainable to any. Of these, then, there will be pardon, through the successful Suppliant of the Father, Christ.
But there are, too, the contraries of these; as the graver and destructive ones, such as are incapable of pardon-murder, idolatry, fraud, apostasy, blasphemy; (and), of course, too, adultery and fornication; and if there be any other "violation of the temple of God." For these Christ will no more be the successful Head: these will not at all be incurred by one who has been born of God, who will cease to be the son of God if he do incur them. (Ch. 19)
Unforgiveable sins meant exclusion from the church, although not necessarily damnation: the repentance of the excommunicate,
if it reaps not the harvest of peace here, yet it sows the seed of it with the Lord; nor does it lose, but prepares, its fruit. It will not fail of emolument if it does not fail in duty. (Ch. 3)
However a bishop had issued an edict transferring adultery and fornication from the second category to the first, and evidently reflecting the general view among believers at the time. This which was defended from various scriptures such as the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, the prodigal, and that God desires no man to perish. However the more serious felt that this was all an innovation and that much of this exegesis involved deliberate quibbling, and avoiding the obvious teaching of scripture that adultery is just as serious as murder. Nor were they happy at the idea of mankind making decisions of this sort, which would be inevitably corrupted by our own tendencies to convenience.
This book addresses a dispute between believers which turns in part on the interpretation of scripture. Tertullian points out many standard misuses of scripture, and calls for the highest standards of intellectual and personal integrity. He also derides interpretations that would make our Lord a quibbler.
Much of this issue is theoretical for modern Christians, as sadly we have no church that could or would apply excommunication, or require public repentance for the lesser sins. Exclusion from the church is likely to be governed by quite other factors than scriptural ones. However it is permissable to wonder whether 1 John is being correctly interpreted in the first place - creating this disciplinary superstructure upon one verse seems excessive. On the other hand, our age is just as lax as that in which this book was written, and it is perfectly possible that we are not taking the teaching of scripture on this issue as seriously as it deserves, peddling easy 'forgiveness' which God does not recognise, in precisely the way Tertullian describes.
I have written some notes on each chapter.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST
The text of this work was transmitted to us in two collections:
The Corbie collection. All MSS are lost, but copies were used for the 1545, 1550 and 1583/4 early editions.
The 13th century Codex Vaticanus Ottobonianus Latinus 25. This contains large extracts, in folios 241v-244v (cf. CCSL II, p1280).
The title is given without variants in the editions, and also in the catalogues of Corbie and Cologne which once possessed a copy of this work in the Corbie collection.
Unless otherwise indicated, details are from Quasten's Patrology, 2 (1955). See also Editions page and Critical Editions page for more information.
[Note: I need to add some biblio, from l'Annee Phil. for the years 1954-1974 and from CTC after that].
A. REIFFERSCHEID-G. WISSOWA, CSEL 20 (1890) 219-273.
P. DE LABRIOLLE, De paenitentia, De pudicitìa. Texte et traduct. (Textes et documents, publ, par H. Hemmer et P. Lejay). Paris, 1906. Checked.
E. PREUSCHEN, SQ. 1, 2. Tübingen, 1910, 2nd ed.
G. RAUSCHEN, FP 10. Bonn, 1915. [Tertulliani De paenitentia et De pudicitia recensio nova (adnotavit G. Rauschen). Bonnae 1915. 23cm. Series: Florilegium patristicum 10 (Details from Bodleian online catalogue)]
E. DEKKERS, CCSL 2 (1954) 1279-1330.
G. CLAESSON. Unpublished edition with Swedish introduction and notes and English translation. Commenced during the 1950's. Checked. (Personal copy)
Claudio MICAELLI & Charles MUNIER, La pudicité. Sources Chrétiennes 394 & 395 (1993). 2 vols. Introduction, critical text, translation & commentary. Latin text online.
English: S. THELWALL, ANCL
18 (1870) pp.56-122; reprinted ANF 4 (1885), pp. 74-101. Online.
-- G. CLAESSON, loc. cit., 1950-ish. Online.
-- W. P. LE SAINT, Tertullian: Treatises on Penance. Ancient Christian Writers 28 (1959) Checked.
French: A. DE GENOUDE, De la Pudicité. Oeuvres de Tertullien2, Paris (1852). t. 3. pp.443-509. Checked. Online.
-- Pierre DE LABRIOLLE, loc. cit., 1906. Online.
-- Charles MUNIER, loc. cit., 1993.
German: H. KELLNER-G. ESSER, BKV2 24 (1915). Online.
Italian: Claudio MORESCHINI, Tertulliano: Opere scelte, a cura di Claudio MORESCHINI, Seconda edizione interamente rifatta. Torino: Unione Tipografica Editrice Torinese (1999). 817p. 8 p of plates. Series: Classici delle religione. Sezione quarta: La religione cattolica. (Details from CTC 99, 5). Contains 5 works (Cult., Marc., Res., Prax., Pud.). Cult. and Pud. translated by Maria VINCELLI. pp.9-65 = introduction; pp.67-75=bibliography. The 1974 edition also contained Prae. Herm. Iud. Carn. Val. and Mon., tr. by CM.
Dutch: H. U. MEYBOOM, Leiden, 1931.
French: P. DE LABRIOLLE, loc. cit., 1906
E. ROLFFS, Das Indulgenzedikt des römischen Bischofs Callistus (TU 11,3). Leipzig, 1893.
G. ESSER, Tertullian De pudicitia 21 und der Primat des römischen Bischofs: Katholik 92, 2 (1902) 193 ff;
idem, Die Bußschriften Tertullians De paenitentia und De pudicitia und das Indulgenzedikt des Papstes Kallistus. Progr. Bonn, 1905;
idem, Nochmals das Indulgenzedikt des Papstes Kallistus und die Bußschriften Tertullians: Katholik 87, 2 (1907) 184 ff, 297 ff; 88, 1 (1908) 12 ff, 93 ff;
idem, Der Adressat der Schrift Tertullians 'De pudicitia' und der Verfasser des römischen Bußedikts. Bonn, 1914.
F. X. FUNK, Das Indulgenzedikt des Papstes Kallistus: ThQ 88 (1906) 541 ff.
J. STUFLER, Zur Kontroverse über das Indulgenzedikt des Papstes Kallistus: ZkTh 32 (1908) 1 ff.
M. HAGUENIN, De pudicitia 6, 15: RSR (1911) 459 f.
A. D'ALÈS, L'Édit de Calliste. Paris, 1914.
K. PREYSING, Existenz und Inhalt des Bußedikts Kallists : ZkTh 43 ( 1919) 358 ff.
K. ADAM, Das sog. Bußedikt des Papstes Kallistus (Veröffentl. aus dem kirchenhistor. Seminar München 4, 5). Munich, 1917.
H. KOCH, Kallist und Tertullian. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der altchristl. Bußstreitigkeiten und des römischen Primats (SAH 1919, No. 22). Heidelberg, 1920.
A. D'ALÈS, RSR (1920) 254-257.
C. FIGGINI, Agrippino o Callista ?: SC VI, 3 (1924) 204-211.
D. FRANSES, Das 'Edictum Callisti' in der neuern Forschung: StC 1 (1924) 248-259.
G. BARDY, L'édit d'Agrippinus: RSR 4 (1924) 1-25.
A. DONINI, L'Editto di Agrippino: RR (1925) 56-71.
K. PREYSING, Römischer Ursprung des 'Edictum peremptorium' : ZkTh 50 (1926) 143-150.
LUKMAN, Bogoslovni Vestnik (1926) 169-196.
P. BATIFFOL, Les origines de la pénitence (Études d'histoire et de théologie positive, 1e série), 7th éd. Paris, 1926, 78-105.
P. GALTIER, Le véritable édit de Calliste: RHE 23 (1927) 465-488.
A. HARNACK, Ecclesia Pétri propinqua. Zur Geschichte der Anfänge des Primats des römischen Bischofs: SAB 28 (1927) 139-152.
K. ADAM, Neue Untersuchungen über die Ursprünge der kirchlichen Primatslehre: ThQ 109 (1928) 167-203.
F. CAVALLERA, La doctrine de la pénitence au IIIe siècle: BLE 30 (1929) 19-36; 31 (1930) 49-63.
H. KOCH, Cathedra Pétri. Giessen, 1930, 5-32.
A. M. VELLICO, 'Episcopus episcoporum' in Tertulliani libro 'De pudicitìa': Antonianum 5 (1930) 25-26.
E. GÖLLER, Papsttum und Bußgewalt in spätrömischer und frühmittelalterlicher Zeit: RQ 39 (1931) 77-85.
H. KOCH, Zu Tertullian De pudicitia 21, 9 ff: ZNW (1932) 68-72.
A. EHRHARD, Die Kirche der Märtyrer. Munich, 1932, 359-366.
F. J. DÖLGER, Ne quis adulter! Zum Verständnis der scharfen Kritik Tertullians an dem Bußedikt des christlichen 'Pontifex Maximus': Antike und Christentum 3 (1932) 132-148.
W. KÖHLER, Omnis ecclesia Pétri propinqua: ZNW 31 (1932) 60-67.
D. VAN DEN EYNDE, Les normes de l'enseignement chrétien dans la littérature patristique des trois premiers siècles. Paris, 1933, 206.
B. POSCHMANN, Ecclesia principalis. Breslau, 1933, 10 f.
H. KOCH, Nochmals zu Tertullian De pud. 21, 9 ff: ZNW (1934) 317-318.
A. D'ALÈS. Tertullianea. De pudicitia XXII, 9-10: RSR 26 (1936) 366-367;
idem, Tertullianea. De pudicitia VI, 16: RSR 27 (1937) 230-231.
H. STOECKIUS, Ecclesia Petri propria. Eine kirchengeschichtliche Untersuchung der Primatsfrage bei Tertullian: AKK 117 (1937) 24-126.
W. KOEHLER, Omnis ecclesia Petri propinqua (Tert. De pudicitia 21). Versuch einer religionsgeschichtlichen Deutung. Heidelberg, 1938.
A. D. NOCK, A Feature of Roman Religion (De pud. 1): HThR 32 (1939) 83-96.
B. ALTANER, Omnis ecclesia Petri propinqua: ThR 38 (1939) 129-138.
B. POSCHMANN, Paenitentia secunda. Bonn, 1940, 348-367.
P. KESELING, Aristoteles bei Tertullian (De pud. 1, 1): PhJ 57 (1947) 256-257.
A. QUACQUARELLI, Libertà, peccato e penitenza secondo Tertulliano: Rassegna di Scienze filosofiche 2 (1949) 16-37.
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