Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Tertullianus, Quintus Septimius Florens
Tertullianus (1), Quintus Septimius Florens.
I. LIFE.—The earliest of the great Latin Fathers, their chief in fire and daring, and the first to create a technical Christian Latinity, is known almost entirely through his writings. It can only be conjectured that he was born between a.d. 150 and 160, and died between 220 and 240, with preference for the later dates. He was born at Carthage (Hieron. Catal. Script. Eccl. 53; cf. Tertull. Apol. c. ix.) of heathen parents (de Poen. c. i.; Apol. c. xviii. "de vestris sumus"), his father being a proconsular centurion (Hieron.). Tertullian received a good education (Apol. c. xiv.; adv. Prax. c. iii.). In after-life he recalled his school studies in Homer (ad Nat. i. c. x.); but poetry attracted him less than philosophy, history, science, and antiquarian lore. He spoke and composed in Greek, but his Greek writings are lost. He studied the systems of the philosophers if he mocked and hated the men (cf. de Anima, cc. i.–iii.). Possibly destined for state-official life, he was celebrated for his knowledge of Roman law (Eus. H. E. ii. 2), and the legal fence and juridical style of the advocate are observable throughout his apologetic and polemical writings.
He was probably attracted to Christianity by complex irresistible and converging forces: "Fiunt, non nascuntur Christiani" (Apol. c. xviii.). The constancy of the Christians in times of persecution staggered him. He knew men who began by denouncing such "obstinacy," and ended in embracing the belief which dictated it (Apol. c. l.; ad Scap. c. v.). Demons confessed the superiority of the new faith (Apol. c. xxiii.), and Tertullian, in common with his heathen and Christian contemporaries, was a profound believer in demons (cf. Réville, La Religion à Rome sous les Sèvéres, pp. 44, 46. 130 seq.). These facts led him to examine the faith which seemed to promise a foothold which no philosophical system furnished. It was illustrated by a life of holiness and humility—that of its Founder, the Just One—in contrast with which the life of the Cynic and the Stoic sickened him.
His conversion took place c. 192, in Carthage more probably than in Rome. Carthage was his home and usual dwelling-place (de Pallio, c. i.; Apol. c. ix.; Scorpiace, c. vi.; de Resur. Carnis, c. xlii.); Rome he had visited (de Cultu Femin. i. c. vii.), and he was well known there for his abilities (Eus. l.c.), but critics are by no means agreed whether he ever went there as a Christian (cf. Baron. Annal. Eccl. ii. 476, ed. Theiner). He was married but childless (cf. the two treatises ad Uxorem), and became a priest of the church. He probably exercised his presbyterate at Carthage and not at Rome.
In middle age (c. 119–203), says Jerome, Tertullian became a Montanist, his constitution and temperament predisposing him to a rigour opposed to the laxity prevalent at Rome, and so finding the austere doctrines and practices of Montanus perfectly congenial (Kaye, Account of the Writings of Tertullian,³ p. 34). He became the head of the Montanist party in Africa—a party which existed till the 5th cent. under the name of "Tertullianists."
II. TIMES.—The golden age of the empire died with Marcus Aurelius (161–180); the age of iron began with his son Commodus (180–193). The golden age of the church began with that iron age of the empire (Aubé, Les Chrétiens dans l’empire romain, a.d. 180–249, pp. iii, 495–498). Expiring polytheism and ancient philosophy were confronted by a new philosophy and a nascent faith.
From one quarter only of the empire was the comparative peacefulness noticeable elsewhere absent. In Africa persecution, sharp, short, fitful, and frequent, marked the reign of Septimius Severus and the most active period of Tertullian's life. It is stamped in letters of blood upon his pages.
The church in Africa has no historian before Tertullian, though its foundation is placed, with much probability, at the end of cent. i. or the beginning of cent. ii. By the end of cent. ii. the Christians in Roman Africa were to be counted by thousands (cf. Aubé, p. 152) if not by millions (cf. Apol. c. xxxvii.; ad Scapulam, cc. ii. v.). They were fully organized and had their bishops, priests, deacons, places of assembly, and cemeteries. Immunity from the wholesale decimation which had befallen, by imperial command (cf. Apol. c. v.), other Christian bodies of the East and West, allowed in Africa growth and development, accelerated by occasional suffering and martyrdom. But the tempest broke upon the African church at last.
Facts connected with the persecutions can be followed in those writings of Tertullian which all critics place between a.d. 197 and 212, from the ad Martyres to the ad Scapulam.
The tract ad Martyres depicts men and women in prison, visited and relieved by the brethren, exhorted to unity, and prepared by fasting and prayer for the death which should be a victory for the church. Vigellius Saturninus was the first proconsul to draw the sword against Christians (ad Scapulam, c. iii.), and his date is not apparently earlier than 198 (see Aubé, p. 191, etc.). The martyrology of Africa had begun in 180. In a time of peace the Scillitan martyrs had died at Carthage (Görres, Jahr. f. Prot. Theol. 1884, pts. ii. iii.); but after that there is a blank till 198, when Namphamo was the new "archimartyr" of the church. A few months' respite followed. It was disturbed by an event which is with some plausibility alleged to have taken place at Carthage. A certain soldier refused the donativum of Severus and Caracalla, publicly declined the laurel crown accepted by his fellow-soldiers, and proclaimed himself a Christian. The incident is described in the de Corona; Tertullian, making it a test case, debated whether the Christian could accept military service. His advice, and the conduct founded upon it, infuriated the heathen. Under Hilarian (202–203) persecution broke out again. It took the special form of refusing the Christian dead their usual place of burial; the cry invaded the proconsul's tribune, "Areae non sint!" ("No cemeteries for the Christians!"). Just then the decree issued in 202 by Severus indirectly if not directly gave sanction to all measures of repression. It forbad proselytizing by either Jew or Christian. It was easy, were the African proconsul so minded, to read into this purely prohibitive measure a licence to persecute. The "fight of martyrdom and the baptism of blood" which ensued is perhaps to be traced in Tertullian's de Fuga and Scorpiace (between 202–212). These treatises are fiercely scornful against the flight once counselled when persecution raged. The de Fuga (c. v.) denounces, not less angrily, a growing practice—purchase of immunity. Of sterner mould and of more loving faith were the brothers Satyrus and Saturninus, the slaves Revocatus and Felicitas, and the nobly born and nobly-wedded Perpetua. The Acts of their passion, by some (e.g. Bonwetsch and Salmon) attributed to Tertullian himself, have preserved a picture of the times—a reluctant proconsul, all-willing martyrs, and a scoffing crowd saluting their baptism of blood with the mocking cry, "Salvum lotum" (see the Acts in Migne's Patr. Lat. iii., and Aubé's collation, op. cit. pp. 221–224, 509, etc.).
Again there came a respite, and again must the character of the proconsul have been instrumental in securing it. Of Julius Asper (proconsul in 205 or 206) it is told that not only did he refuse to force a Christian to sacrifice who under the torture had lapsed from the faith, but publicly expressed regret to his assessors and the advocates at having to deal with such cases (ad Scapulam, c. iv.). For five or six years persecution was stayed, years of literary activity on the part of Tertullian. In 211, for some unknown reason, the religious war broke out afresh, and its cruel if brief progress is told in the ad Scapulam. Tertullian's last "Apology" is worthy of the Christian gladiator. Stroke upon stroke he deals his ponderous blows against the proconsul. "We battle with your cruelty," he cries; but his weapons are the "offensive" weapons which Christ had put in his hands—prayer for the persecutors, love for enemies (Matt. v. 44d). God's judgments, he warns them, were abroad. Drought, fires, eclipses, declared His wrath; the miserable deaths of persecuting proconsuls betokened it. "This our sect shall never fail," is his triumphant shout. "Strike it down, it will rise the more. We recompense to no man evil for evil, but we warn you—Fight not against God!"
In 212 the blessing of peace rested again upon Africa and continued for some years.
III. WRITINGS.—Tertullian's literary activity is by some confined to 197–212; by others, with far greater probability, it is extended to at least c. 223. A general chronological arrangement only is possible, the dates given being few and uncertain. The only work which supplies positive evidence of date is the first book adv. Marcionem (3rd ed.). In c. xv. Tertullian says he is writing in the 15th year of Severus, now considered to be a.d. 207 (Bonwetsch, Die Schriften Tertullians nach der Zeit ihrer Abfassung, p. 42). Tertullian was then a Montanist, but his pen had for some years been employed in behalf of the church.
Tertullian's writings represent him variously as layman, priest, and schismatic; and divide broadly into works written in the Catholic or Montanist periods of his life. The latter must further be subdivided into treatises in which Catholic or schismatic elements are respectively prominent. In character they are threefold: (a) Apologetic; (b) Dogmatic and polemical; (c) Moral and ascetic. The arrangements of Bp. Kaye and Bonwetsch have in the main suggested that which follows; though the dates attached are in almost all cases conjectural.
(1) Works written while still in the church: (a) Apologetic writings (c. 197–198): ad Martyres; Apologeticum; de Testimonio Animae; ad Nationes, i. ii; adv. Judaeos.
(b) Other works of this period, but of less certain date: de Oratione; de Baptismo; de Poenitentia; de Spectaculis; de Cultu Feminarum, i.; de Idololatria; de Cultu Feminarum, ii.; de Patientia; ad Uxorem, i. ii. (the last five c. 197–199); de Praescriptione Haereticorum (c. 199); adv. Marcionem i. (1st ed.), c. 200.
(2) Montanistic writings: —
(a) Defending the church and her teachings (c. 202–203): de Corona; de Fuga in Persecutione; de Exhortatione Castitatis.
(b) Defending the Paraclete and His discipline: de Virginibus Velandis (c. 203–204, a transition work); adv. Marcion. (2nd ed.; c. 206); ib. (3rd ed.; c. 207). Between 200–207 or later: adv. Hermogenem; adv. Valentinianos; adv. Marcion. (iv.); de Carne Christi; de Resurrectione Carnis; adv. Marcion. (v.). De Pallio and de Anima (c. 208–209); Scorpiace (c. 212; al. 203 or 204); ad Scapulam (c. 212). Three c. 217, al. 203–207: de Monogamia; de Jejunio; de Pudicitia; and adv. Praxean (c. 223, al. c. 208–209).
A. Tertullian, Layman and Apologist.—Ad Martyres.—Two thoughts (c. iii.) should animate the martyrs. (1) Christians were soldiers, "called to the military service of the living God" by a sacramental oath, to which they must be true. (2) They were Christian athletes whose prison was their training-school (palaestra), where "virtus duritia extruitur, mollitia vero destruitur." The words of Christ (Matt. xxvi. 41) should help them to subject the flesh to the spirit, the weaker to the stronger; the example of the heathens, Lucretia and Mucius, Heraclitus and Peregrinus, Dido and the wife of Hasdrubal, would teach them to count their sufferings trifling if, by enduring them, they might obtain a heavenly glory and a divine reward. In their own day many persons of birth, rank, and age had met their death at the hands of the emperor. Should Christians hesitate to suffer as much in the cause of God?
Apologeticum.—This Apology—the greatest of his works—was a cry for bare justice.
(1) A heading to c. i., "Quod religio Christiana damnanda non sit, nisi qualis sit prius intelligatur," sums up its protest: The rulers of Carthage were persecuting and condemning a "sect" which forthcoming evidence proved unworthy of condemnation. Their conduct was the reverse of that enjoined by the emperor Trajan—that Christians were not to be sought out; but if brought before Pliny were to be punished. Tertullian reminds the rulers (c. v.) that the laws against Christians had been enforced only by emperors whose memory men had learnt to execrate: e.g. Nero and Domitian. Not such as these was Tiberius (cf. Eus. H. E. ii. 2), in whose day Christ came into the world (cf. c. vii.), and who had desired the senate to admit Him among the Roman deities. Marcus Aurelius was a protector. Not even Hadrian, Vespasian, Pius, nor Verus had put into force the laws against Christians. The men who were demanding this were daily and contemptuously infringing laws of all kinds. In proof he draws a sad picture of luxury and immorality. The good old laws had gone which encouraged in women modesty and sobriety.
(2) Chaps. vii.–ix. What were the charges against the Christians? "We are called miscreants"—and the evidence was only rumour! "Fama malum, quo non aliud velocius ullum." It was, Tertullian retorts, the existence (secret or open) of evil practices among the heathen which explained their belief in similar deeds among Christians.
(3) Chaps. x.–xxvii. Tertullian faces the first of the two great charges, "sacrilege and treason." His "apology" as regards the former consists, briefly speaking, of (a) "demonstratio religionis eorum" (cc. x.–xvi. xxiv.–xxvii.) and of (b) "demonstratio religionis nostrae" (cc. xvii.–xxiii.), a most valuable evidential passage.
(a) You Christians, said the heathen, do not worship our gods: No, said Tertullian, and we won't, because we do not recognize them to be gods. They were nothing but men of long ago, whose merits should have plunged them into the depths of Tartarus. How much better would it have been if the deus deificus had waited and taken up to heaven in their place such men as Socrates, Aristides, Themistocles, and others. The images excite Tertullian's intense scorn, as "the homes of hawks and mice and spiders." Caustically does he describe the heathen treatment of their household gods. "You pledge them, sell them, change them. They wear out or get broken, and you turn your Saturn into a cooking-pot and your Minerva into a ladle! You put your national gods in a sale-catalogue; and the man who will sell you herbs in the herb-market will sell you gods at the Capitol. Or what could be more insulting than the company you give them? You worship Larentina, the prostitute, together with Juno or Ceres or Diana. You erect (at Rome) a statue to SIMON MAGUS and give him as inscription the title of sanctus deus (see Kaye's Tertull. p. 542, and Oehler's note here). You turn into a god a sodomite like Antinous" (see Kellner's note).
What then, it was asked, did Christians worship if not the gods? Tertullian answers, "Take in this first of all: they who are not worshippers of a lie are worshippers of truth." From this might be deduced the whole of the Christian religious belief. But before Tertullian proceeds to do this, he refutes some very false, but common, opinions about the Christians, e.g. the vulgar belief that the god of the Christians was an ass's head, that they worshipped the cross, or the sun. Lately a bestiarius (see Semler's and Kellner's notes) had exhibited a picture at Rome inscribed Deus Christianorum ονοκοιτης. The figure had the ears of an ass, one foot was hoofed, in his hand was a book, and he was dressed in a toga (see D. C. A. s.n. "Asinarii"). The name and the form only made us laugh, says Tertullian; and then he retorts: "But our opponents might well have worshipped such a biformed deity: for they have dog-headed and lion-headed gods, gods with horns, gods with wings, gods goat-limbed, fish-limbed, or serpent-limbed from the loins!"
(b) Tertullian turns from what Christianity was not to what it was, and the main lines of the evidences of Christianity in the 2nd cent. are still those of our own. These chapters (xvii.–xxiii.), so valuable in the history of religious belief, deserve the student's close attention. The eloquence, fervour, humility, and devoutness of the writer will be felt to be contagious. Irony and passion are comparatively absent. The section details (b₁) the nature and attributes of the Creator, (b₂) the mission of the prophets, men full of (inundati) the Holy Spirit, (b₃) the character of the Scriptures, and (b₄) the history of the Lord. Under b₃Tertullian notes two things. These Scriptures were marked, first, by that antiquity which his opponents rightly valued. The most ancient heathen writings were far less ancient than those of Moses, the contemporary of the Argive Inachus, and (as some thought) 500 years older than Homer. Nay, the very last prophet was coeval with the first of the (heathen) philosophers, lawgivers, and historians. "Quod prius est, semen sit necesse est." Secondly, the Scriptures were marked by majesty. "Divinas probamus (scripturas), si dubitatur antiquas." This internal evidence was a proof of their antiquity, while the external and daily fulfilment of prophecy was a reason for expecting the verification of what was not yet fulfilled.
b₄is in answer to the questions, Why did Jews and Christians differ? Did not these differences argue worship of different gods? Tertullian's reply (c. xxi.) is a history of the origin of the Christian sect and name, and an account of the Founder of Christianity, such as we have in the Gospels. His account is interspersed with most interesting statements, e.g. the Jewish inference from the humility of Christ that He was only man, and from His miraculous power that He was a magician, and not the Logos of God; the record of the darkening of the sun at the crucifixion preserved in the secret archives of the empire; the reason for the seclusion of the Lord after the resurrection, viz. "that the wicked should be freed from their error, and that faith destined for so glorious a reward should be established upon difficulty"; his own opinion that Caesars (such as Tiberius) would have believed in Christ, if they could have been Caesars and Christians at the same time; the sufferings of the disciples at the hands of the Jews; and at last, through Nero's cruelty, the sowing the seed of Christianity at Rome in their blood (cf. c. l.). He concludes: "Deum colimus per Christum." Count Him a mere man if you like. By Him and in Him God wishes to be known and worshipped.
One more point remained. Romans considered their position as masters of the world the reward of their religious devotion to their gods, and affirmed that they who paid their gods the most service flourished the most. Tertullian traverses this "assumption" in ironical terms, or meets it with positive denial.
(4) Chaps. xxviii.–xxxvi.—The charge laesae augustioris majestatis is now reached. The evil spirits stirred up the heathen to compel Christians to sacrifice pro salute imperatoris; and that compulsion was met by resistance not less determined. Ironically does Tertullian commend in the heathen the dread with which they regarded Caesar as more profound and reverential than that which they accorded to the Olympian Jupiter. Christians were counted publici hostes, because they would not pay to the emperor vain, lying, or unseemly honours; and because, as verae religionis homines, they kept the festival days not lasciviously, but as conscientious men. Truly if public joy was to be expressed by public shame, the Christians deserved condemnation.
(5) Chaps. xxxvii.–xlv.—This section, dealing with minor points of objection to the Christians, opens with an impassioned protest on behalf of men who, actuated by the principle "Idem sumus imperatoribus qui et vicinis nostris," never took vengeance for the wrongs done to them. Mob-law had attacked them with stones and fire, or with Bacchanalian fury had torn their dead from the graves to rend their bodies asunder. Had Christianity tolerated repaying evil with evil, what secret vengeance could have been wrought in a single night with a torch or two! Or, had they determined to act as open enemies, what numbers and resources would they have had! "We are but of yesterday," is Tertullian's proud boast (cf. c. i.), "and yet we have filled your cities, fortresses, towns, assemblies, camp, palace, senate, and forum: sola vobis reliquimus templa. Should we determine to separate from you and betake ourselves to some remote corner of the globe, your loss of so many citizens would cover you with shame. The solitude, silence, and stupor as of a dead world would fill you with fear. You would have to seek subjects to govern. Your enemies would be more numerous than your citizens. At present it is your Christian citizens who make your enemies so few." Tertullian therefore asks that Christians should be admitted "inter licitas factiones." The "sect" was incapable of any such acts as were dreaded in forbidden societies. If they had indeed their own occupations (negotia), why should that give offence? For what were the "negotia Christianae factionis"? (c. xxxix.). Tertullian's answer is a touching picture of the simple Christendom of his day. "We are a body linked together by a common religious profession, by unity of discipline, and by a common hope. We meet as a congregation and pray to God in united supplication. Haec vis Deo grata est. We pray for the emperors, their ministers, and those in authority, for the welfare of the world, for peaceful times, and for the delaying of the end (see c. xxxii.). We come together to listen to our Holy Scriptures (cf. Just. Mart. Apol. ii.); and by holy words we nourish faith, raise hope, stablish confidence, and strengthen discipline. Our presidents are elders of approved character, who have obtained this honour not by purchase but by desert. On the monthly day appointed each gives to the chest what he likes; the money is disbursed not in feasting and drinking, but in supporting and burying the poor, in providing for destitute orphan boys and girls, in supporting the aged, the infirm, and the shipwrecked, and in succouring those sent to the mines or incarcerated in prisons ex causa Dei sectae."
(6) Chaps. xlvi.–l.—Accusations had been met and the case of the Christian stated. What remained? One last perversion on the part of unbelief: "Christianity was no divine institution, but simply a kind of philosophy." The refutation of this closes the Apology. Tertullian, if frequently satirical, is at first grave and dignified, sober and patient, more than is his wont; but the smouldering fire bursts out at last; his last chapter is a climax of withering scorn and impassioned appeal.
Ad Nationes (i. ii.) is practically a short form of the Apology. It covers the same ground, uses the same arguments and largely the same language. But the Apology was addressed to the rulers and magistrates of Carthage, this to the people. Its whole cast is consequently more popular, its arguments less prolonged, its illustrations less reserved (cf. I. cc. iv. viii. xvi.; II. c. xi.).
De Testimonio Animae was written very soon after the Apology, to which it refers (c. v.). Some have thought it the most original and acute of his works (see Neander, Antignosticus, p. 259). Many of his predecessors, says Tertullian (c. i.), had ransacked heathen literature to discover in it support of the Christian efforts to expel error and admit equity. The attempt was, in his opinion, a mistake and a failure. He would not repeat it. Neither would he adduce Christian writings when dealing with heathen, for nobody consulted them unless already a Christian. Therefore he turns to another and a new testimony, that of the soul. Apostrophizing it, he cries, "Thou art not, so far as I know, Christian. The soul is not born Christian [cf. Apol. xviii.], but becomes Christian. Yet Christians beg now for a testimony from thee, as from one outside them; a testimony against thine own that the heathen may blush for their hatred and mockery of us." The testimony of the soul to God is found in popular phrases indicative of knowledge and fear of God; then it is adjured to speak about immortality and the resurrection of the body (c. iv.; cf. Apol. xlviii.).
Adversus Judaeos.—The authenticity and integrity of the treatise, as usually printed, have both been disputed; the latter with justice, the former needlessly, and principally on account of the discredit attaching to the latter portion. Chaps. i.–viii. are certainly Tertullian's, written while still a churchman. The latter chapters are different, both in character and style. The treatise was occasioned by a dispute between a Christian and a heathen converted, not to Christianity but to Judaism. Practically, the question between them was the exclusion or not of Gentiles from the promises of God. But there was a preliminary question. Was any one expected, and if expected, had any one come, "novae legislator, sabbati spiritalis cultor, sacrificiorum aeternorum antistes, regni aeterni aeternus dominator," or was His advent still matter of hope? (c. vii.). The fulfilment of prophecy rightly understood was the answer. Tertullian does not need to prove that the Christ should come. Every Jew believed and hoped it. Is. xlv. 1 was sufficient proof of it. (He renders the passage differently from the present Hebrew text, and with one especially interesting variation, reading, "Thus saith the Lord God to my Christ the Lord (Κυρίῳ)," etc., instead of "to Cyrus (Κύρῳ) His anointed," etc. So also in adv. Prax. cc. xi. xxviii.] In the then fulfilment of this prophecy he sees the proof that the Christ had come. Upon whom but upon Christ had the nations believed?—nations such as (int. al.) Moors, Spaniards, Gauls, Britons, "inhabiting places inaccessible to the Romans but subjugated to Christ" (in the same chapter he speaks of them as "shut up within the circuit of their own seas"), Germans and others, unknown to him, and too numerous to mention. Christ reigned everywhere, was adored everywhere: "omnibus aequalis, omnibus rex, omnibus judex, omnibus Deus et Dominus est."
B. Tertullian the Priest.—Tertullian had hitherto written as a layman. The writings now to be considered indicate more or less directly that he had become a priest (cf. de Baptismo, cc. xvii. xviii.). Persecution was for a time suspended. It is highly probable that about this time a synod of African bishops met at Carthage to discuss matters affecting the organization, discipline, and teaching of the church; and the occasion may have been used to ordain one who, as an "apologist," had proved himself so fearless a champion of the church. Questions concerning heretical baptism, and the attitude of the church towards the heretical sects, were very probably discussed, and Tertullian's lost treatise on heretical baptism was written in Greek to circulate the synod's decisions beyond the confines of the African church.
Other points, however, dealing with Christian life and ethics, came before him in his work in Carthage as a priest. The flock looked to their pastors for guidance: prayer, baptism, repentance, and the discipline connected with them; woman's dress and woman's life, married or unmarried; pleasures, amusements, how far lawful or unlawful,—all were matters upon which direction was desirable, and to all does Tertullian apply himself. Roughly divided, the treatises were practical and doctrinal, but the division must not be pressed too closely.
(1) Practical Treatises.—De Oratione. (a) Of the Lord's Prayer specifically (cc. i.–xi.); (b) of prayer generally—times, places, and customs (cc. xii.–end).
(a) As Christ was Spirit, Word, and Reason, so His prayer was formed of three parts: the word by which it was expressed, the spirit by which alone it had power, the reason by which it was appropriated (the reading is disputed); and the practice of prayer was recommended with three injunctions: that it should be offered up in secret, marked by modesty of faith," and distinguished by brevity. It was in very truth "breviarium totius evangelii." It is reckoned as containing seven clauses, the doxology not being given; and each clause is considered separately. The comments are reflections rather than interpretations; and if unequal and sometimes fanciful, they are very beautiful and can never be read without profit. His own summary (c. ix.) is a mine of spiritual thought. He approves of other prayers being used corresponding with the special circumstances of him who prays, but never to the omission of this, the regular and set form of prayer.
(b) Certain ceremonies, "empty" (vacuae) Tertullian calls them, but illustrative of many an interesting point of ritual and practice of the time, are next considered: Washing the hands before prayer; praying with the cloak taken off; sitting after prayer; the kiss of peace; the "Stations" (c. xix. ; see Oehler's note); the dress of women, and veiling or non-veiling of virgins; kneeling in prayer; place and time of prayer; prayer when brethren met or parted; prayer and psalm. The closing chapter, dealing with the power and effect of prayer, is one of the gems of Tertullian's writings. "Never," he cries, "let us walk unarmed by prayer. Under the arms of prayer guard we the standard of our emperor; in prayer await we the angel's trump. Angels pray; every creature prays. 'Quid amplius? Etiam ipse Dominus oravit.'"
De Baptismo.—One Quintilla, "a viper of the Cainite heresy," had sought to destroy baptism. "What good could water do? Was it to be believed that a man could go down into the water, have a few words spoken over him, and rise again the gainer of eternity?" (see c. vi.). Quintilla was apparently a Gnostic, and the very simplicity of the means of grace repelled her. "Miratur simplicia quasi vana, magnifica quasi impossibilia." Her sneers had corrupted some; others were disturbed by such doubts as, Why was baptism necessary? Abraham was justified without it. The Christ Himself did not baptize. No mention was made in Scripture of the baptism of the apostles; St. Paul himself was bidden not to practise it. Answers had to be given, lest catechumens should perish through lack of right instruction.
(a) The foundation for the sacrament (religionem) of baptism Tertullian finds in (cc. i.–ix.) the history of the creation. The hovering of the Spirit of God over the waters was typical of baptism; and water still, after invocation of God, furnished the sacrament of sanctification. Shortly but beautifully he describes the baptismal ceremonies (cf. de Spect. c. iv.), notes the types and figures of baptism in O.T., and the testimony to baptism in the life and passion of the Lord.
(b) Larger questions acquiescing in the necessity of baptism awaited consideration.
(i) Heretical Baptism.—Christians held firmly to a belief in one God, one Baptism, one Church. This unity was, as regards baptism, imperilled by heretical baptism. The ademptio communicationis (by some = deprivation of communion; by others = excommunication) stamped heretics as strangers. "We and they have not the same God, nor one [i.e. the same] Christ. Therefore we and they have not one [i.e. the same] baptism. What [baptism] they have, they have it not rightly, and therefore have not baptism at all." On these grounds he rejected heretical baptism. On the whole subject consult Libr. of the Fath. x. pp. 280 seq.
(ii) Second Baptism.—The belief and practice of the church Tertullian states thus: "We enter the font but once; our sins are washed away but once, because they ought not to be repeated." The Christian had, nevertheless, a second baptism, viz. the Baptism of Blood (cf. Luke xii. 50). Two baptisms had Christ sent forth from the wounds in His pierced side, that they who believed in His Blood might be washed with water, and that they who had been washed with water might also drink His Blood. This was that Baptism which stood in the place of the font when it had not been received, or restored it when lost (cf. Scorp. c. vii.).
(c) The remainder of the treatise deals with points of church practice and discipline as regards baptism (cc. xvii.–xx.). Laymen as well as clerics could administer it, but only if disciples and in cases of necessity. "Layman" was not taken to include women. Baptism was not to be administered rashly (cf. Matt. vii. 6). Tertullian, like the teachers of Alexandria, recommends delaying it in the case of children, till they had passed "the age of innocence," and in the case of the unwedded and widowed. The times most suitable for baptism were the Passover and Pentecost; but not to the exclusion of other opportunities. When about to receive baptism, candidates should prepare themselves by prayer, fasting, vigil, and confession of sins (cf. Mat. iii. 6); and after baptism they should rejoice rather than fast. Tertullian suggests to them a prayer: "When you rise from that holy font of your new birth and spread your hands for the first time in the house of your mother Church with your brethren, ask of the Father, ask of the Lord, special grace ["peculia gratiae"] and the divers gifts of the Holy Spirit ["distributiones charismatum"]. And, he adds with touching humility, "I pray you that when you ask, you remember in your prayers Tertullian the sinner."
De Poenitentia.—Repentance of sin before baptism (cc. i.–vi.). True repentance had its measure and its limit in the fear of God. God Himself initiated repentance, when He rescinded His sentence on Adam. He exhorted men to it by His Prophets; by St. John He pointed out its sign and seal in baptism. Its aim was the salvation of man through the abolition of sin. There was a tendency to say "God was satisfied with the devotion of heart and mind. Even if men did sin in act, they could do so without prejudice to their faith and fear." With an intensity of sarcasm Tertullian replies, "You shall be thrust down into hell without prejudice to your pardon." Such Antinomianism explained another frequent and lamentable practice. The Christians of the day most firmly believed in the washing away of sins in Holy Baptism, and in the necessity of true repentance as preparatory to the reception of it; but this led "novices" ("inter auditorum tirocinia") not to a willing and holy eagerness to receive baptism, but to a presumptuous and unholy spirit of delay, that they (the soldiers of the Cross) might steal the intervening time as a furlough ("commentum") for sinning rather than for learning not to sin. Tenderly and wisely does Tertullian plead with them. "If a man who has given himself to God is not to cease sinning till he be bound by baptism, I hardly know whether he will not feel, after baptism, more sorrow than joy."
De Spectaculis.—A period of temporary peace after persecution (cf. c. xxvii.) had fallen upon the church in Carthage. Spectacular shows and games were being given, possibly in commemoration of the victory of Severus over Albinus, and the grave question had to be faced—Should Christians attend them? The seal (signaculum) of baptism supplied the reason against attendance. All the preparations connected with the spectacles were based upon idolatry, and idolatry was renounced at the font. In cc. v.–xiii. Tertullian draws out in detail the origin of the spectacles, their titles, apparatus, localities, and arts; and the reader can realize to the very life the places and scenes he describes in impassioned but often one-sided invective. Everywhere in the circus were images and statues, chariots dedicated to gods, their thrones, crowns, and equipments. Religious rites preceded, intervened, and succeeded the games; guilds, priests, and attendants served the conventus daemoniorum. Consecrated to the sun, the solar temple rose in the midst, the solar effigy glittered on the summit. The chariots of the circus were dedicated to the gods, the charioteers wore the colours (white, red, green, and blue) of idolatry. The designator and the haruspex were two most befouled masters of the ceremonies connected with the funereal and sacrificial rites. The theatrum was the home of Venus and Bacchus; the performances there claimed their patronage. The very artistic gifts employed in producing the spectacles were the inspiration of demons, glozed over by a fallacious consecration. Men pleaded, "We cannot live without pleasure." Well, Christians had pleasures many and noble. What greater pleasure could be conceived than reconciliation to God and pardon of the many sins of a past life? What delight should exceed the trampling idolatry under foot, the expulsion of demons, acts of healing, a life unto God? These were the pleasures and spectacles of Christians, holy, perpetual, and free. In the Christian circus they might behold immodesty hurled down by chastity, perfidy slain by fidelity, cruelty bruised by mercy, wantonness overcome by modesty! These were the contests in which to gain the Christian crown. "or do you wish to see the blood shed? Behold Christ's!" Then Tertullian closes his eyes to the spectacles of earth. There looms before him (c. xxx.) the spectacle close at hand of the Lord coming in His glory and triumph. He depicts angels exulting, saints rising from the dead, the kingdom of the just and the city of the New Jerusalem, the hell of the persecutor and scoffer; and there were spectacles even more glorious still. Man could not conceive them; but they were nobler than those of the circus, the amphitheatre, or the racecourse.
De Cultu Feminarum, i. and ii.—The luxury and extravagance of the women of the time is matter of notoriety. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria do not express one whit more strongly than Seneca their ambition, cruelty, and licentiousness. Therefore, when women became Christians, and matronly and wifely virtues or virgin purity and modesty characterized them, it extorted the admiration of some and the impatient scorn of others. But luxury began to creep in and overrule the daughters of the church. Tertullian saw it, and the above works were among other efforts to recall Christian women to the Christian life.
De Idololatria is a protest against serving two masters—Christianity and heathenism. Many Christians had in adult age come over to Christianity from heathenism, and many Christian craftsmen gained their living by distinctly heathen trades, and would not or could not see that they were wrong. Many "servants of God" had official or professional engagements which brought them perpetually in contact with heathen customs, legal forms, sacrificial acts, and social courtesies. They drew sophistical distinctions between what they might write but not speak, or the image they might make but not worship. To Tertullian such contact and collusion, and therefore such professions and trades, were radically wrong. Heathenism in all its shapes was idolatry. Two professions connected with idolatry were especially obnoxious to him, (a) the astrologer (c. ix.), arguing that "astrology was the science of the stars which affirmed the Advent of Christ"; (b) the schoolmaster (ludimagister) and other professors of letters (c. x.), who had to teach the names, genealogies, honours of heathen gods, and keep their festivals from which they derived their income. On festival-days, in honour of emperors, victories, and the like, the doors of Christians were more decorated with lamps and laurels than those of the heathen (cf. Apol. c. xxxv.), men quoting Christ's command; "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" (Matt. xxii. 21). Private and social festivals stood on a different footing (c. xvi.), e.g. the natural ceremonies connected with the assumption of the toga virilis, espousals, nuptials, and the naming of children. It was a more important question (c. xvii.) what was to be the line of slaves or children who were believers, of officials in attendance upon their lords, patrons, or the chief magistrates when sacrificing? Tertullian answers all such questions in detail. From idolatry in act Tertullian passes to idolatry in word (c. xx.), forbidding ejaculations such as "By Hercules!" "By the god of truth" (Medius-fidius, see Andrews's Lex. s.n. Fidius). Lastly a yet subtler form of idolatry is considered (c. xxiii.). Christians borrowed money from the heathen, and by giving bonds in security avoided taking an oath. "Scripsi sed nihil dixi. Non negavi, quia non juravi." Indignantly does Tertullian protest against such sophistry: faults committed in mind were faults in deed (Matt. v. 28).
De Patientia, one of the most spiritual of Tertullian's compositions, is a sermon preached to himself quite as much as to others. His experience as a priest had taught him the need of patience every time he confronted pettiness not less than pride, frivolity not less than idolatry.
Ad Uxorem, i. and ii.—Among the questions discussed in, and disturbing, the Christian church at Carthage was that of second marriages. These were evidently numerous. Tertullian gave his advice in a treatise in two books addressed to his wife, which he hoped might be profitable to her and to any other woman "belonging to God." He does not go here beyond the position taken by St. Paul. If he evidently considered celibacy the higher state, though himself married, he does not forbid marriage. But second marriages were different, and he argues strongly against them.
(2) Doctrinal Treatises.—Three positions laid down by Tertullian (de Praes. Haer. cc. xxi. xxxii. xxxvi.), (a) apostolic doctrine, (b) episcopal succession from the apostles, (c) the apostolic canon of Scripture, were rocks on which the church was then firmly fixed.
(a) His Regula Fidei (cf. de Praes. Haer. c. xiii.; de Virg. Vel. c. i.; adv. Prax. c. ii.) is the form given by Irenaeus (contr. Haer. 1 c. x.; cf. the two in Denzinger's Enchiridion, pp. 1, 2), expanded upon points which had come to the front during a lapse of about 30 years. But it had become something more than a mere regula; it had risen to a doctrina; and in the brotherhood of Carthage it was the contesseratio (cf. de Praes. Haer. cc. xx. xxxvi.) which reason and tradition united in approving. (b) The regula had come down to them through bishops "per successionem ab initio decurrentem" (cf. ib. c. xxxii.), and those bishops had received "cum successionem charisma veritatis certum" (Iren. iv. c. xxvi. 2). The former fact gave historical value to the regula, the latter dogmatic credibility. The unworthy life of many a successor of the apostles (cf. de Pudicitia, c. i.) did not annul the validity of the doctrine. For (c) it was supported by the Scriptures. In the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian the Law and the Prophets, the Gospels and the Apostolic Epistles (cf. de Praes. Haer. c. xxxvi.) formed an undisputed canon. Tertullian's nomenclature for the Bible (see Rönsch, Das N. T. Tertullian's, pp. 47–49) is alone sufficient record of the high value attached to the writings in the custody of "the one Holy Catholic Church." The sacred Scriptures contained the solution of every difficulty (cf. de Idolotat. c. iv. et pass.). It was the armoury of weapons offensive and defensive which the church permitted her children alone to use (cf. de Praes. c. xv., etc.), for she alone had taught them to use them aright. With such an equipment and in defence of "mother" church (ad Mart. c. i.; de Orat. c. ii. and aliter). Tertullian went forth to attack the "heresies " of men who, calling themselves Christians, yet abandoned the apostolic tradition for doctrines whose parentage he attributed to the devil, and whose precepts he scorned as derived from non-Christian religious systems and speculations, or as the offspring of self-willed wickedness.
De Praescriptione Haereticorum.—This treatise, with its title drawn from the language of jurisprudence, consists of (i), an introduction (cc. i.–xiv.), (ii) the main division of the work (cc. xv.–xl.). It is more than probable that it originated in the desire to emphasize the doctrinal stability of the African church in the face of some fresh tendency towards Gnosticism in general and the views of Marcion especially. (i), Persons of weak faith and character (c. iii.) were unsettled because some once accounted firm in the faith were passing over to heresy; and it was not sufficient simply to refer to Scripture, which the Gnostic teachers could apply as much as the orthodox. For the time Tertullian conceived no better way of meeting their difficulty than by positive injunction to refuse appeal to Scripture to their would-be seducers, to note the character of the heretics, and to surrender themselves entirely to the guidance of the church. The authority men advanced for their deviations from the faith was nothing less than the words of the Lord, "Seek, and ye shall find" (Matt. vii. 7). Tertullian argues that Christ's words could bear no such interpretation; they contained advice to search after definite truth and to rest content with it when found. There was safety only in the belief that "Christus instituit quod quaeri oportet, quod credi necesse est." Parables (Luke xi. 5, Luke xv. 8, Luke xviii. 2, 3) taught the same lesson—"finis est et quaerendi et pulsandi et petendi." Therefore Christians were to seek "in their own, from their own, and concerning their own; and only such questions as might be deliberated without prejudice to the rule of faith.
This mention of the regula fidei leads (c. xiii.) to the statement of it. This passage is therefore one of the most important in Tertullian's writings as an index to the articles of the Christian faith believed and accepted in his day (consult Pusey's notes in loco). This "rule" the Christians held to have been taught by Christ. Tertullian is quite willing (c. xiv.) that it should be examined, discussed, and explained to novices by some "doctor gratia scientiae donatus." But he gives a caution. It was not Biblical skill ("exercitatio scripturarum") but faith which saved (cf. Luke xviii. 42). Faith lay deposited in this "rule"; it had a law, and in the keeping of that law came salvation. "Cedat curiositas fidei, cedat gloria saluti."
(ii) Chaps. xv.–xl.—Heresy was sometimes defended on the ground that heretics used and argued from the Scriptures. But, answered Tertullian, their use of them was "audacious" and not to be admitted. None but they whose were the Scriptures had a right to use them. Tertullian adopts this position not from any distrust of his cause, but in accordance with apostolic injunctions (c. xvi.; cf. I. Tim. vi. 3, 4; Tit. iii. 10). Heretics did not deal fairly with the Scriptures; one passage they perverted, another they interpreted to suit their own purposes (cf. c. xxxviii.). A man might have a most admirable knowledge of the Scripture, but yet make no progress with heretical disputants. Everything he maintained they would deny, everything he denied they would maintain. As a result, the weak in faith, seeing neither side had decidedly the better in the discussion, would go away confirmed in uncertainty. Certain questions had therefore to be settled. Where was the true faith? Whose were the Scriptures? From whom, through whom, when, and to whom had been handed down the "disciplina qua fiunt Christiani"? It might be assumed that wherever the true Christian discipline and faith was, there would be also the true Scriptures, true exposition, and all true Christian traditions (c. xix.). In Christ, Tertullian finds Him Who first delivered the faith openly to the people or privately to His disciples, of whom He had chosen twelve "destinatos nationibus magistros." These twelve (St. Matthias having been chosen in the place of Judas) went forth and founded churches everywhere; and from them other churches derived then, and still derived, the tradition of faith and the seeds of doctrine. Hence their name of "apostolic churches." Though so many, they sprang from but one, the primitive church founded by the apostles. Thus all were primitive, all apostolic, all one; and this unity was proved by their peaceful inter-communion, by the title of brotherhood, and by the exercise of hospitality—all of which owed their basis and continuance to one and the same sacramental faith. From this was to be deduced the first rule (c. xxi.) None were to be received (cf. Matt. xi. 27) as preachers but those (apostles) whom the Lord Jesus Christ appointed and sent. A second rule was that what the apostles preached could only be proved by those churches which the apostles themselves founded, to which they preached, and to which they afterwards sent epistles. All doctrine therefore which agreed with these apostolic churches ("matricibus et originalibus fidei") was to be counted true, and firmly held as having been received by the church from the apostles, by the apostles from Christ, by Christ from God; and all doctrine must be pronounced false which contained anything contrary to the truth declared by the churches and apostles of Christ and of God. These rules Tertullian and his co-religionists affirmed to be held by the Holy Church to which they belonged: "Communicamus cum ecclesiis Apostolicis, quod nulla doctrina diversa. Hoc est testimonium veritatis."
Heretics advanced two "mad" objections to these rules: (a) The apostles did not know all things (c. xxii.). (b) Arguing from I. Tim. vi. 20 and II. Tim. i. 14, the apostles did not reveal everything to all men. Some doctrines they proclaimed openly and to all, others secretly and to a few (c. xxv.). Tertullian addressed himself to both these points.
C. Tertullian and Montanism.—About the end of 2nd cent. Montanism invaded Africa. Tertullian would seem to have embraced it wholeheartedly. It suited his temperament; it furnished the logical solutions to problems practical and theological which had been disturbing him. But his Montanism was not the Montanism of 172–177 or of Asia Minor; it had come to him through the purifying medium of distance and time. He knew or remembered nothing of the extravagances connected with the first deliverances of the "new prophets." Montanism was in truth to Tertullian little more than a name; development and restoration rather than novelty underlie the intention, and are stamped upon the thoughts, of every treatise which follows those hitherto considered. The practices Tertullian favoured and advocated, the doctrines he loved and enforced, had alike their roots in the existing practices and doctrines of the church. It is the manner in which he has insisted upon the one which has so much discredited it; it is the juridical fence with which he has driven home the other which has angered opponents. He defended his practice and teaching as necessary for his day. New fasts, protests against second marriages, a sterner accentuation of discipline, were conceived as absolutely necessary by the man who, beginning by tightening bonds which the church had wisely left relaxed, ended by the Pharisaic assumption that he and his were πνευματικοὶ and his opponents ψυχικοί. But if he drew his descriptive language from Gnostic codes, he burned in the spirit to depose Gnostic heresy. The merit he assigned to ecstasy, dream, vision, new prophecy, and special endowment by the Paraclete, were expansions of simpler but Scriptural teaching, with something of Pharisaic lordliness, but ever directed against the Sadduceeism, the materialism, the Patripassianism, and the Monarchianism of his day.
The career of Tertullian, his whole being and character, left him no choice when he had to make his decision. He was bound to side with the sterner party, and he did. If at first he retained his position in the church, that position before long became intolerable. The breach took place of which the de Virg. Vel. gives the ostensible cause; and the passion which animated the apologist in defence of the church was presently employed to revile, discard, and injure her. Few treatises are more painful to read than the de Monogamia, de Jejunio, and de Pudicitia. It is a relief to turn from them to the adv. Praxean. If the heart of the ascetic has been alienated from the church, he can still defend her faith with all his old loving energy, and, by his last existing writing, command respect from those whose affection he had lost.
(1) Practical Treatises.—De Corona is usually counted the first treatise which indicates traces of Montanism (cf. c. i.; Hauck places the de Virg. Vel. before it), and it was written after the de Spectac. (cf. c. vi.). Opinions were divided as to the soldier's conduct. Some blamed him as rash, as eager to die, some as bringing trouble on the Christian name about a mere matter of dress. Tertullian, with one word of laudation of the man—"solus scilicet fortis inter tot fratres commilitones, solus Christianus"—turns furiously upon his decriers.
De Fuga in Persecutione.—It may well have been that excitement threatening persecution was aroused against Christians by the conduct of the soldier specified in the de Corona. In Carthage (c. iii.) the question was anxiously debated, "May Christians flee from persecution or not?" The clergy answered "Yes," and set an example (c. xi.), which they probably defended by Christ's words (Matt. x. 23), and by the practice of a Polycarp and others. A few years before (ad Uxor. i. c. iii.) Tertullian himself had conceded that flight was "better" where the Christian was likely to deny the faith through the agony of torture; but now he thought differently. Montanistic severity had laid its spell upon him. His work deals with the two modes by which the timid and doubtful sought to evade persecution: (a) flight (cc. i.–xi.), and (b) bribery (cc. xii.–end).
De Exhortatione Castitatis.—Some years had elapsed since Tertullian had written ad Uxorem, deprecating for women a second marriage. The death of a friend's wife gave him an opportunity of urging upon men a like continence; and he did so in language declaratory of views far more exaggerated.
De Virginibus Velandis.—The veiling of virgins was a burning question among Christians at Carthage; and partisans in Carthage took sides according as they argued from what St. Paul (I. Cor. xi.) had said or had left to be inferred. Did his term "women" include virgins? Christian married women appeared veiled everywhere, in the church as well as the marketplace; their veil was the mark of their status. The Christian virgin did one of three things: she went everywhere unveiled, or veiled in the streets but unveiled in the church, or everywhere veiled. Of these the first was the oldest and local custom—it was the mark of the virgin and the practice of the majority. But a strong minority had adopted the last of the three practices. This Tertullian approved (cf. de Orat. cc. xx.–xxii.).
(2) Doctrinal Works.—The majority of these were written when Tertullian had become a Montanist. They present more or less the catch-words of the sect, and refer to the Paraclete and the new prophecy, if the doctrines inculcated and defended are those of the church Catholic. To be a Montanist was not with Tertullian to be a seceder from the church in points of faith, though the church found it necessary for the sake of her unity in life and doctrine to count him and his outside her.
Adv. Hermogenem.—For the nature of the opinions of this heretical teacher and of Tertullian's treatise against him see HERMOGENES. The treatise contains two very beautiful passages, (a) the eulogy of wisdom (c. xviii.), and (b) the description of the development of cosmical order out of chaos (c. xxix.).
Adv. Valentinianos.—For a review of the opinions of this school ("frequentissimum plane collegium inter haereticos") see VALENTINUS. Tertullian's treatise does not so much discuss these opinions as state them; it is not so much a refutation as a satire, intended to provoke mirth (c. vi.). It claims no originality, but to be a faithful reflection of the teaching of Justin, Miltiades (cf. Eus. H. E. v. 17) Irenaeus, and Proculus.
De Carne Christi.—This is Tertullian's principal contribution to the Christological problem of the time: Was the flesh of Christ born of the Virgin and human in its nature (c. xxxv.)? In his de Resurrectione Carnis (c. ii.) he himself specifies the tenets he opposes here to be those of Marcion, Basilides, Valentinus, and Apelles. These "modern Sadducees" (c. i.; de Praes. Haer. c. xxxiii.) were apprehensive lest if they admitted the reality of Christ's flesh, they must also admit His resurrection in the flesh, and consequently the resurrection generally. It was necessary to discuss, therefore, His bodily substance. (i) (a) Marcion's views are examined (cc. ii.–v.); then (b) those of Apelles (cc. vi.–ix.) ; then (c) that of the Valentinians (cc. x.–xvi.). (ii) The second part of the treatise deals more especially with the single point—"Did Christ receive flesh from the Virgin" (cc. xvii.–end)?
The treatise fully responds to the intention of the writer. It examines the arguments employed and the Scriptures advanced (see esp. c. xviii.) ; and does so, on the whole, in a style moulded by the recollection that the subject was a grave and solemn one. There are bursts of irony (e.g. cc. ii. iv.); paradoxes (see c. v., perhaps the most famous of Tertullian's many paradoxes) and retorts; but the total result is a valuable contribution to the literature of the subject. His line of argument and his statement of the church's doctrine is that of Irenaeus. For a general view of the opinions attacked see APELLES, MARCION, and VALENTINUS.
De Resurrectione Carnis.—Tertullian wrote this (c. ii.) in fulfilment of the intention expressed in the de Carne Christi (c. xxv.), against those who allowed that the soul would rise again, but refused resurrection to the flesh on account of its worthlessness. It was a logical sequence to their fundamental position that the works of the Demiurge, or the god who created the world and was opposed to the supreme God, were marked by corruption and worthlessness, and that the flesh of man was consequently so also. Tertullian grants that his subject was invested with uncertainty; but it was too important to be passed over. The question affected the very Oneness of the Godhead. To deny the resurrection of the flesh would be to shake that doctrine, to vindicate the resurrection of the flesh would establish it. In contrast to the unseemly language (spurciloquium) of heathen and heretic, he will adopt a more honourable and modest style (cf. de Anima, c. xxxii.); and he has kept his word. There are few sentences which grate upon the ear, while there are many passages of considerable beauty and profound Christian faith.
Adv. Marcionem, bks. i.–v.—This work in its present form is assigned to the 15th year of Severus (bk. i. c. xv.) or c. 208; and comes to us as a work touched and retouched during many years (cf. i. c. xxii.). Tertullian had in other cases felt dissatisfaction with his writings of an earlier period, or altered his arguments to meet the ever-altering phases of false belief. Thus in the earlier work, de Praes. Haer. c. xix., he declines to allow appeal to the Scriptures in the discussion of heresy; in a later treatise, de Resurr. Carnis, c. iii., he demands of heretics that they should support their inquiries from Scripture alone (cf. adv. Prax. c. xi.). So now, his earliest edition of this treatise, if placed (conjecturally) c. 200, would have seemed to him very defective when writing c. 208. He had separated from his old friends, now branded as the "Psychics" (iv. c. xxii.), to find among the Montanists the true church (i. c. xxi.; iv. c. v.). To him "the new prophecy" was now the highest authority, the Paraclete the sole guide unto all truth. The doctrinal controversy between Tertullian and Marcion turned principally on questions of anthropology and Christology. All that Tertullian has to say upon it has been summed up under MARCION.
De Anima.—In the treatise de Testimonio Animae Tertullian had sought to prove that the soul of man bore natural testimony to the truth of the representations given in Holy Scripture of the unity, nature, and attributes of God, and of a future state. In the treatise de Anima, written some ten years or so later, he deals with the soul itself. Between these surviving treatises is to be placed one now lost, de Censu Animae, in which he had combated the opinion of Hermogenes that the origin of the soul was to be found in matter by the counter-opinion that it was formed by the afflatus of God (cf. de Anima, cc. i. iii. xi.; adv. Marc. ii. c. ix.). The attributes of the soul (animae naturalia) pointed, in his opinion, to propinquity to God and not to matter (cf. de Anima, c. xxii.), an opinion supported by the views of Plato, who had taught the divinatio animae (cf. de Anima, c. xxiv.). The discussion of its origin is followed by a general inquiry respecting the nature, powers, and destiny of the soul. An admirable analysis is that of Bp. Kaye (pp. 178–207; cf. also Neander, the careful analysis of Böhringer, and Hauck). In c. xxii. Tertullian gives his definition of the soul as deriving its origin from the breath of God (iv. xi.). The soul is immortal, corporeal (v.–viii.), and endowed with form (ix.); simple in its substance (x. xi.); possessing within itself the principle of intelligence (xii.); working in different ways or channels (xiii.–xv.); endued with free will; affected by external circumstances, and thus producing the infinite variety of disposition observable among mankind; rational (xvi.); supreme over man (xvii. xviii.); and possessing natural insight into futurity (xix.). The Gospels, in (e.g.) the history of the rich man in torment (Luke xvi. 23, 24), proved the corporeity of the soul (c. vii.; also a Stoic opinion), and medical science, "the sister of philosophy," in the volumes of a contemporary physician, Soranus (c. vi.), also attested this belief. The invisibility of the soul was no disproof of its corporeity; witness St. John, who, "when in the spirit," "beheld the souls of the martyrs" (Rev. vi. 9); witness also the testimony of "the sister so endowed with gifts of revelation" (c. ix.). This latter testimony is of interest as exhibiting Montanist religious observances. Revelations used to come to her in the church on the Lord's Day. While the solemn services were being performed, she used to fall into an "ecstasy in the spirit." In that state she conversed with angels, sometimes even with the Lord; she saw and heard mysteries (sacramenta); she read men's hearts; she prescribed remedies to the sick. Sometimes these visions took place when the Scriptures were being read, or when the Psalms were being chanted, or at the time of preaching or of prayer. On one occasion Tertullian thinks that he must have been preaching about the soul. The "sister" was rapt in spiritual ecstasy. After the people had been dismissed, she told him, as was her habit, what she had seen. "The soul was shewn to me in a bodily form. It seemed a spirit; not, however, an empty illusion, but one which could be grasped, 'tenera et lucida et aerii coloris, et forma per omnia humana.'" Such testimony was to the Montanist Tertullian all-conclusive.
The main purpose of cc. xxiii.–xxvii. is to prove that the souls of all mankind are derived from one common source, the soul of Adam. In cc. xxviii.–xxxv. Tertullian ridicules the conclusions necessitated by metempsychosis and metemsomatosis.
As a preliminary to the consideration of the manner in which the soul encounters death, Tertullian considers the subject of sleep—the image of death (cc. xlii.–end). He adopts by preference the Stoic definition of sleep as the temporary suspension of the activity of the senses ("resolutionem sensualis vigoris"), and limits the senses affected to those of the body; the soul, being immortal, neither requiring nor admitting a state of rest. While the body is asleep or dead, the soul is elsewhere.
Death, to which Tertullian now turns (c.1.), was to be the lot of all, let Epicurus and Menander say what they would. The voice of God (Gen. ii. 17) had declared death to be the death of nature. Independent of heathen examples of this truth, Tertullian finds one in the translation of Enoch and Elijah. Their death was deferred only; "they were reserved for a future death, that by their blood they might extinguish Antichrist" (Oehler refers to Rev. xi. 3). Where would the soul be when divested of the body (cc. liii.–lviii.)? Tertullian answers, In Hades; but his Hades is not that of Plato, nor his answer to the question that adopted by philosophers. To Hades, "a subterranean region," did Christ go (Matt. xii. 40; I. Pet. iii. 19); therefore Christians must keep at arms' length those who were too proud to believe that the souls of the faithful deserved to be placed in the lower regions. From Hades shall men remove to heaven at the day of judgment. But what would take place while the soul was in Hades? Would it sleep? No, Tertullian replies; souls do not sleep when men are alive. Full well the soul will know in Hades how to feel joy or sorrow even without the body. The "prison" of the Gospel (Matt. v. 25) was Hades, and "the uttermost farthing" the very smallest offence which had to be atoned there before the resurrection. Hence the soul must undergo in Hades some compensatory discipline without prejudice to the full accomplishment of the resurrection, when recompense would be paid to the flesh also. This conclusion Tertullian affirms to be one communicated by the Paraclete, and therefore accepted by all who admitted the force of His words from a knowledge of His promised gifts.
De Pallio.—This, a treatise intentionally extravagant, is a vindication of the philosopher's mantle (pallium) ridiculed by the people of Carthage. It might be called a juridical plea, couched in witty and forensic language, in an imaginary case of Pallium (see description s.v. in D. C. A.) v. Toga. Some have seen in Tertullian's assumption of the pallium an indication that he adopted it to show his separation from the church. The conjecture has nothing to prove or disprove it. The mantle had virtues of its own (cc. v. vi.). Did it not illustrate simplicity and capacity, economy and austerity, in protest against the follies and effeminacies, the gluttony and extravagance, the impurity and intemperance of the togati? "Grande pallii beneficium est." It was the garb not only of the philosopher, but also of those benefactors of the human race—the grammarian and the rhetorician, the sophist and the physician, the poet and the musician, the student of astronomy and the pupil of national history. In face of such facts, why mind the sneer, "The pallium ranked below the toga of the Roman knight," or the indignant question, "Shall I give up my toga for the pallium"? There was no indignity in the matter. "'Gaude gallium et exsulta!' Thou art honoured by a better philosophy from the time that thou didst become a Christian garment."
Scorpiace.—A defence of martyrdom stronger than is found in the Montanist works of his previous period, perhaps c. 211.
Ad Scapulam.—Probably at the beginning of the reign of Caracalla, a.d. 211, the African proconsula Scapula authorized the persecution to which this work refers. He was a fierce opponent of the Christians, and permitted his fanaticism to override his sense of justice (c. iv.). This treatise uses the arguments of the Apology, but with a change in tone. Tertullian's passion is still strong, but gravely and soberly expressed. There is the same appeal for justice, but defiance has given place to prayer, and hatred of the persecutor to love for the enemy. The treatise may fairly take rank among the best and most interesting of all which have been preserved. Scapula is told frankly that they who had joined the "sect" of Christians were prepared to accept its conditions. The persecutions of men ignorant of what they were doing did not alarm them or make them shrink from heathen "savagery." Against the charges usually brought against them (cf. c. ii.; Apol. cc. vii.–ix.) Scapula should set one plain fact—the behaviour of Christians. They formed the majority in every city, yet their conduct was always marked by silence and modesty. Their "discipline" enforced a patience which was divine; if they were known at all among men, it was for their reformation of the vices which once degraded them. Tertullian does not write to intimidate, but to warn—μὴ θεομαχεῖν. "Perform your duties as proconsul, but remember to be humane." If the Christians of Carthage should see fit to come to Scapula, how many swords and fires would he need for such multitudes of every sex, age, and rank! He would have to slaughter the leading persons of the city, and decimate the noble men and women of his own rank, friends and relations of his own circle. "Spare thyself, Scapula, if thou wilt not spare us. Spare Carthage, if thou wilt not spare thyself. Spare thy province, which the mere mention of thine intention has subjected to the threats and extortions of soldiers and of private foes [cf. de Fuga, cc. xii. xiii.]. As for us, we have no Master but God. Those whom you reckon your masters are but men, and must one day die. Our community shall never die. The more you pull it to the ground, the more it will be built up."
De Monogamia.—Some years passed, of peace from without but not from within; and a third time (c. 217) Tertullian returns to that question—marriage—which had occupied him in the ad Uxorem and de Exhortatione Castitatis. The third treatise is the bitterest. Tertullian now claims for his party that they and they alone were guided by the Paraclete. From Him they had received their teaching on monogamy. He had come to supersede the teaching of St. Paul by yet higher counsels of perfection. Much of Tertullian's argument—e.g. from Scripture—is repeated from his former treatises, and much of it is strained and conjectural, as he felt it would be said to be (c. ix.); but no one will dispute Tertullian's earnestness. Immorality was prevalent and contagious, and in monogamy—supposing celibacy and widowhood to be impossible—he saw a counteracting agency. Discipline and spirituality would be at least practicable to those who would rally round the standard of monogamy.
De Jejunio Adversus Psychicos (al. de Jejuniis).—Another great subject of difference between churchmen and Montanists had reference to fasts. Tertullian's paper is most distressing to read, scanty in argument, plentiful in abuse. Both sides indulged in unmeasured invective; both had lost their temper. The charges of luxury, gluttony, and immorality unhesitatingly and almost exultingly brought by Tertullian against church ecclesiastics and laymen are so gross as almost to refute themselves by their very exaggeration. They are more than the retort of a man infuriated by unjust accusations and meeting them by counter-charges. The ascetic has become a fanatic, and in his mad hatred besmirches and calumniates the church he had once so tenderly loved.
De Pudicitia.—This work has been placed before the de Monogamia and the de Jejunio, but internal and negative evidence, if slight, seems to assign it a place after them. An edict (c. i.) of the bp. of Rome (Zephyrinus, 202–218, or Callistus, 218–223) lashed Tertullian into fury, and completely dissolved the last links of union between him and the Psychics. The treatise is marked by intense bitterness from beginning to end.
Adversus Praxean.—For the history of Praxeas, the nature of his views and Tertullian's answer, see PRAXEAS.
Tertullian was the first who, in the controversy against the Monarchians, introduced prominently the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Praxeas did not touch it. Hence the value of such chapters as viii. ix. xxv. xxx. He fully maintains the personality of the Third Person of the Trinity (cf. ad Mart. c. iii.) if his language is occasionally ambiguous (cf. c. xii., his comment on Gen. i. 26). He bases as usual his arguments on Scripture (cc. xxi. to end), and if not always free from his well-known tendency to read into them what he wants, the passages are as a rule well and wisely handled either in defence of the Catholic position or in refutation of that of Praxeas. He gives (c. xx.) the 3 texts especially valued by this teacher in support of his heresy (Is. xlv. 5; John x. 30, xiv. 9, 10), and refutes his views at length (cc. xxi.–xxiv.).
IV. SUMMARY.—The brief sketch here presented of these powerful writings will have indicated the investigation of many a doctrine and the record of contemporaneous practices heathen and Christian, as well as illustrated the mind, character, and style of their writer.
(a) Tertullian and Heathenism.—On its moral side, extravagance, luxury, immorality, and cruelty were to all external appearance as rampant in his day as ever. Tertullian knows heathenism only in its coarseness and repulsiveness. Yet a reformation was proceeding, religious in origin and intention, which must not be forgotten in any true estimate of the age. Tertullian lived when old pagan traditions and new tendencies were co-operating; when there had risen that religious movement which, owing its impulse to the eclecticism of a Julia Domna, passed through the stirring phases successively represented in the neo-Pythagoreanism of her salon, in the subordination by Elagabalus of every other cultus to that of the Oriental sun-god, and in the equalization by Alexander Severus of all worshipful beings in his common cultus of the heroes of humanity. That movement was the product of a real awakening.
The main centre of these changes and developments was Rome, but Tertullian's writings against heathenism prove that Carthage at least felt the effects of this great tidal wave of religiousness. They are as full of attack as of defence. He strikes at a vigorous paganism as much as he beats off the charges alleged against Christianity. Every page teems with allusions which reflect without effort the firm foothold acquired by all forms of heathen cultus. Ridicule of the worship of the ancient deities of Greece and Rome, of the cultus of the emperors, of the "genius," and of demons is found allied with contempt of the gods of Alexandria (Isis and Serapis), of Phrygia (the Magna Mater and Bellona), of Syro-Phoenicia (the Dea Syra), and of Carthage (the Juno Coelestis). The very fierceness of his invective and scorn against the polytheistic revival, the ridicule he pours upon galli and flamines, priests and priestesses, itinerant and mendicant propagators of this or that cultus, guilds, processions, festivals, evidences the success and popularity of heathenism. The Apology of Apuleius (end of 2nd cent.) is illustrated by the Apology of Tertullian, and the statements of Dio, Spartian, Herodian, Lampridius, etc., can be compared with those of our writer. Were those heathen works lost, it would be almost possible to reproduce from his pages, shorn of their extravagance, a picture of the religiousness of the age such as they have given.
(b) Tertullian and Christianity.—In passing from heathenism to Christianity, Tertullian believed himself to be passing from darkness to light and from corruption to purity. He embraced it with all the strength of a matured mind and life. All the more intelligible, therefore, is his vehement anger with any form of Christian precept and practice, whether at Rome or Carthage, which fell short of his ideal. The church was to him the Virgin and spotless Bride of the Ascended Lord, and her children—bishops, priests, and people—must worthily reflect her purity and faith. He would permit no shortcomings because he would admit no failure. A writer of the 4th cent. has left on record that the Africans as he knew them were "faithless and cunning. There might be some good people among them, but they were not many" (quoted in Mommsen, The Provinces of the Roman Empire, ii. p. 340). This estimate is reflected a century earlier in Tertullian's pages. It is a summary of his opinion of the spurious devotion which marked the Christian fop (de Poenit. c. xi.; cf. de Cultu Fem. ii. c. viii.), the would-be penitent (de Poenit. c. ix.), the rich Christian lady (de Cultu Fem. i. c, ix., ii. cc. v.–vii.; de Virg. Vel. c. xvii.), the fashionable virgin (ib. c. xii.; in contrast with her holy sister, c. xv.), the drugged and petted martyr (de Jej. c. xii., in contrast with the willing and happy martyr, ad Martyres, cc. i.–iii.); and it explains that final revulsion of mind which, spurning every kind of compromise, heaped indiscriminate abuse on what was best as well as what was worst in the life of the Christians of the church, and turned to find in asceticism and Montanism a seriousness and elevation impossible to him elsewhere. Paradoxical as it may seem, it was the same impulsive spirit which kept him staunch to the faith of that church whose discipline and ritual he abjured or carried with him to a schismatic body. Gnosticism was to Tertullian the embodiment of theological corruption, darkness, and falsehood, and he fought it with all his natural vehemence. His theology, if developed by Montanism, is in substance that which the church accepted, and accepts. The admiration felt for his writings by his countryman Cyprian (200–258), bp. of Carthage, should never be forgotten. Cyprian, says St. Jerome, never passed a day without reading a portion of Tertullian's works; he frequently asked for them with the words, "Da mihi magistrum"; and it is impossible to read Cyprian's existing treatises without seeing how largely the thoughts of Tertullian have been absorbed by him, if the language has been softened and deepened. In our own country Bp. Bull (Defensio Fidei Nicenae) and Pearson (On the Creed) have used many an argument which the Montanist of Africa had prepared for them, and Bp. Kaye's illustrations of the Articles of the Church of England from Tertullian's writings (pp. 246, etc.) concur in establishing the force of Möhler's description of his dogma as "so homelike" (Patr. i. p. 737). It is based on the teaching of Christ as handed down by apostles and apostolic men, and formulated in the "regula fidei una, sola, immobilis et irreformabilis" (cf. de Praes. Haer. cc. viii. ix.; de Virg. Vel. c. i.). Theology owes practically to him such words (int. al.) as Trinitas, satisfactio, sacramentum, substantia, persona, liberum arbitrium, transferred (some of them) from the Latin law courts to take their definite place in the language of Latin divinity (cf. the index verborum at the end of Oehler, vol. ii.).
(c) Tertullian, the Man.—Of no one, says Ebert, is Buffon's saying truer, "the style is the man," and the best illustration of his style he finds in the Apology (Geschichte der Christlich-Lateinischen Literatur, pp. 34–37). Tertullian cared nothing for form save as it best expressed his thought. He said right out from his heart what he had to say about friend or foe, without attempt to clothe his speech with the graceful charm of the Greek or the dignified periods of the Roman. Abrupt and impetuous, eloquent and stern, his sentences follow one another with the sweeping, rushing force of storm-waves. The very exceptions do but prove the. rule. Such tender or beautiful passages as those which depict the life of Christ on earth (de Pat. c. iii.; Apol. c. xxi.; were these written with any acquaintance with the Life of the pagan Christ, Apollonius of Tyana, edited by Philostratus at the command of Julia Domna?), the power and effect of prayer (de Orat. c. xxix.), the virtues and portrait of patience (de Pat. c. xv.), contemporary civilization (de Anima, c. xxx.), the happy marriage (ad Uxor. ii. 8), and faith, the barque of the church (de Idol. c. xxiv.); or the impressive analogies of the resurrection he finds in nature (re Resurr. Carnis, c. xii.), and the illustrations of the Trinity (adv. Prax. c. viii.), come upon the reader as a surprise, as something so unlike one who is more in his recognized element when describing the place-hunter (de Poenit. c. xi.), the traitor (Apol. c. xxxv.), and the knowing Valentinian (adv. Val. end), or painting that ghastliest of his portraits, murder and idolatry crooning over adultery (de Pud. c. v.). His paradoxes are characteristic: To him the unity of heretics was schism (de Praes. Haer. c. xlii.); and heresy itself "tantum valeat quantum si non fuisset" (ib. c. i.). "God is great when little" (adv. Marc. ii. c. ii.); "Lie to be true " (de Virg. Vel. c. xvi.), contain thoughts only a shade less startling than the "Mortuus est Dei Filius; prorsus credibile est quia ineptum est; et sepultus resurrexit; certum est quia impossibile est" (de Carne Christi, c. v.), or the well-known "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church" (Apol. c. i.). His right appreciation of the methods of Scripture
exegesis (de Pud. c. ix.; cf. de Res. Carn. c. xxi.) is found side by side with such signal examples of perverse interpretation as those which disfigure the de Jejunio and de Pudicitia, or such fanciful expositions as his view of the cross (adv. Marc. iii. c. xviii.; cf. adv. Jud. cc. x. xiii.), St. Peter and the sword (de Idol. c. xix.), God's Voice to Adam (adv. Marc. ii. c. xxv.), and the phoenix (de Res. Carn. c. xiii.). Such paradoxes, contrasts, and contradictions are characteristic indications not so much of a want of comprehensiveness as of a determination to occupy himself with but one idea or one aspect of a great truth, and subjugate to that the wider bearings of the question. His great acuteness, power, eloquence, and causticity are concentrated for the time being upon a single principle; and whatever will illustrate it, prove it, and drive it home, is drawn into its service, often regardless of its fitness (see this drawn out in Pusey's pref. to Libr. of the Fath. vol. x.) Tertullian's style is strongly marked by the early training of his life: it is juridical in thought, language, and exposition—a fact which explains so much of its difficulty. The advocate is always present. His conduct of the contest between Christianity and heathenism is that of a law-court contest, God v. the devil; his conception of the contest between Montanist and Churchman is that of one who asserted and developed Christianity v. one who surrendered it or left it defective. Tertullian was often wrong, and the church has, with sorrow, so adjudged him; but the character of the man explains everything.
What that character was he has himself told: "Miserrimus ego, semper aeger caloribus impatientiae" (de Pat. c. i.). The sentence, caught up by Jerome, explained to him the man ("homo acris et vehementis ingenii"), as it explains his secession to Montanism and his intellectual and moral defects. Perverse in the sense of wrongheaded he often was in his narrow estimates, but he was never wrong-hearted. His life and work, full of the shades and contrasts of one who loved well and hated well, were after all a life and a work from which more has been gained than lost. If Hilary can regret that his "later error took away from the authority of what he had written," Vincentius can remind us that those writings were "thunderbolts"; they were hurled forth in defence of faith and practice. It will be to his earlier life or less polemical treatises that the reader will turn with Cyprian by preference, and in the perverse impatience of his later life see at once "the fire which kindles and the beacon which warns" (Pusey).
V. LITERATURE.—Oehler's ed. of Tertullian is on the whole the best extant. A new and scientific ed. was commenced by Rufferscheid and Wissowa in the Vienna Corpus Scr. Eccl. Lat. xx. See a full list of recent litt. in Bardenhewer's Patrology (Freiburg im Br. 1908). Kaye is most serviceable in elucidating many points as to his life, era, teaching, and style. Translations into Eng. of some of his apologetic and practical treatises are in Lib. of the Fathers, vol. x., and of almost all his works in Ante-Nicene Lib. vols. ii. vii. xi. xviii.; but the translations are very unequal. Recent edd. are de Praescrip. Haer., ad Martyres, and ad Scapulam in one vol. with intro. and notes, and adv. Gentes, both ed. by T. H. Bindley (Oxf. Univ. Press); de Baptismo, ed. with intro. and notes by J. M. Lupton (Camb. Univ. Press); de Poen. and de Pud. with French notes and intro. by Prof. de Labriolle (1906); and a reprint of the bp. of Bristol's illustrations of Ecclesiastical History from Tertullian's writings in the A. and M. Theol. Libr. (Griffith).