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Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific
early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religi ...
author from
Carthage Carthage was the capital city of the ancient , on the eastern side of the in what is now . Carthage was the most important trading hub of the Ancient Mediterranean and one of the most affluent cities of the . The city developed from a n colony ...
in the
Roman province of Africa Africa Proconsularis was a Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and ...
. He was the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
Christian literature. He was an early
Christian apologist Christian apologetics ( grc, ἀπολογία, "verbal defence, speech in defence") is a branch of Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian beli ...
and a polemicist against
heresy Heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. The term is usually used in reference to violations of important religi ...
, including contemporary
Christian Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century CE among Judaism, Jewish and Early Christianity, early Christian sects. These ...
. Tertullian has been called "the father of
Latin Christianity , native_name_lang = la , image = San Giovanni in Laterano - Rome.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , alt = Façade of the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran , caption = Archbasilica of Saint Joh ...
" and "the founder of Western theology". Tertullian originated new theological concepts and advanced the development of early Church doctrine. He is perhaps most famous for being the first writer in Latin known to use the term ''trinity'' (Latin: ''trinitas''). Tertullian was never recognized as a
saint In religious belief, a saint is a person who is recognized as having an exceptional degree of Q-D-Š, holiness, likeness, or closeness to God. However, the use of the term ''saint'' depends on the context and Christian denomination, denominatio ...

saint
by the Eastern or Western
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
churches. Several of his teachings on issues such as the clear subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father, as well as his condemnation of remarriage for widows and of fleeing from persecution, contradict the doctrines of these traditions, and his later rejection of
orthodoxy Orthodoxy (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
for
Montanism Montanism (), known by its adherents as the New Prophecy, was an early Christian movement of the late 2nd century, later referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus. Montanism held views about the basic tenets of Christian theology #RED ...
has led these communions to refrain from considering him a
Church father The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, di ...
, important ecclesiastical writer though he was.


Life

Scant reliable evidence exists regarding Tertullian's life; most history about him comes from passing references in his own writings. Roman Africa was famous as the home of orators, and this influence can be seen in his writing style with its archaisms or provincialisms, its glowing imagery and its passionate temper. He was a scholar with an excellent education. He wrote at least three books in Greek. In them he refers to himself, but none of these is extant. Some sources describe him as
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...

Berber
. The linguist René Braun suggested that he was of
Punic The Punic people or Western Phoenicians, were a group of Semitic Semitic most commonly refers to the Semitic languages, a name used since the 1770s to refer to the language family currently present in West Asia, North and East Africa, and Malt ...
origin, while acknowledging that it's difficult to decide since the heritage of Carthage had become common to the Berbers. Tertullian's own understanding of his ethnicity has been questioned. He referred to himself as ''Poenicum inter Romanos'' () in his book ''De Pallio'' and claimed Africa as his patria. According to church Tradition, Tertullian was raised in Carthage and was thought to be the son of a Roman centurion; Tertullian has been claimed to have been a trained lawyer and an ordained priest. These assertions rely on the accounts of
Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου) ...

Eusebius of Caesarea
, ''
Church History __NOTOC__ Church history or ecclesiastical history as an academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fa ...
'', II, ii. 4, and
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authoriz ...

Jerome
's ''
De viris illustribus ''De Viris Illustribus'', meaning "concerning illustrious men", represents a genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. ...
'' (''On famous men'') chapter 53. Jerome claimed that Tertullian's father held the position of ''centurio proconsularis'' ("aide-de-camp") in the
Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

Roman army
in Africa. Further, Tertullian has been thought to be a lawyer based on his use of legal analogies and an identification of him with the jurist Tertullianus, who is quoted in the ''
Pandects The ''Digest'', also known as the Pandects ( la, Digesta seu Pandectae, adapted from grc, πανδέκτης , "all-containing"), is a name given to a compendium or digest of juristic writings on Roman law Roman law is the law, legal system ...
''. Although Tertullian used a knowledge of Roman law in his writings, his legal knowledge does not demonstrably exceed that of what could be expected from a sufficient Roman education. The writings of Tertullianus, a lawyer of the same ''
cognomen A ''cognomen'' (; plural ''cognomina''; from ''con-'' "together with" and ''(g)nomen'' "name") was the third name of a citizen of ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC ...
,'' exist only in fragments and do not explicitly denote a Christian authorship. Finally, any notion of Tertullian being a priest is also questionable. In his extant writings, he never describes himself as ordained in the church and seems to place himself among the laity. His conversion to Christianity perhaps took place about 197–198 (cf.
Adolf Harnack Carl Gustav Adolf von Harnack (born Harnack; 7 May 1851 – 10 June 1930) was a Baltic German Lutheran theology, Lutheran theologian and prominent Church historian. He produced many religious publications from 1873 to 1912 (in which he is s ...

Adolf Harnack
, Bonwetsch, and others), but its immediate antecedents are unknown except as they are conjectured from his writings. The event must have been sudden and decisive, transforming at once his own personality. He writes that he could not imagine a truly Christian life without such a conscious breach, a radical act of conversion: "Christians are made, not born" (''Apol.'', xviii). Two books addressed to his wife confirm that he was married to a Christian wife. In middle life (about 207), he was attracted to the "New Prophecy" of
Montanism Montanism (), known by its adherents as the New Prophecy, was an early Christian movement of the late 2nd century, later referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus. Montanism held views about the basic tenets of Christian theology #RED ...
, though today most scholars reject the assertion that Tertullian left the mainstream Church or was excommunicated. " are left to ask whether Saint Cyprian could have regarded Tertullian as his master if Tertullian had been a notorious schismatic. Since no ancient writer was more definite (if not indeed fanatical) on this subject of schism than Saint Cyprian, the question must surely be answered in the negative." In the time of , a group of "Tertullianists" still had a basilica in Carthage which, within that same period, passed to the orthodox church. It is unclear whether the name was merely another for the Montanists or that this means Tertullian later split with the Montanists and founded his own group. Jerome says that Tertullian lived to old age. By the doctrinal works he published, Tertullian became the teacher of
Cyprian Cyprian ( ; la, Thaschus Caecilius Cyprianus; 210 – September 14, 258 AD''The Liturgy of the Hours according to the Roman Rite: Vol. IV.'' New York: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1975. p. 1406.) was a bishop of Carthage The Archdiocese ...

Cyprian
and the predecessor of Augustine, who, in turn, became the chief founder of Latin theology.


Writings


General character

Thirty-one works are extant, together with fragments of more. Some fifteen works in Latin or Greek are lost, some as recently as the 9th century (''De Paradiso, De superstitione saeculi, De carne et anima'' were all extant in the now damaged Codex Agobardinus in 814 AD). Tertullian's writings cover the whole theological field of the time
apologetics Apologetics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...
against paganism and Judaism,
polemic Polemic () is contentious rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of persuasion, which along with grammar and logic (or dialectic – see Martianus Capella), is one of the Trivium, three ancient arts of discourse. Rhetoric aims ...
s, polity, discipline, and morals, or the whole reorganization of human life on a Christian basis; they gave a picture of the religious life and thought of the time which is of great interest to the church historian. Like other early
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
writers Tertullian used the term ''paganus'' to mean "civilian" as a contrast to the "soldiers of Christ". The motif of
Miles Christi The ''miles Christianus'' (Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Ch ...
did not assume the literal meaning of participation in war until Church doctrines justifying Christian participation in battle were developed around the 5th century. In the 2nd century writings of Tertullian ''paganus'' meant a "civilian" who was lacking self-discipline. In ''De Corona Militis'' XI.V he writes:


Chronology and contents

The chronology of his writings is difficult to fix with certainty. It is in part determined by the Montanistic views that are set forth in some of them, by the author's own allusions to ''this'' writing, or ''that,'' as antedating others (cf. Harnack, ''Litteratur'' ii.260–262), and by definite historic data (e.g., the reference to the death of
Septimius Severus Lucius Septimius Severus (; 11 April 145 – 4 February 211) was Roman emperor from 193 to 211. He was born in Leptis Magna (present day Al-Khums, Libya) in the Roman province of Africa (Roman province), Africa. As a young man he advanced thro ...
, ''Ad Scapulam'', iv). In his work against
Marcion Marcion of Sinope (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; 85 – c. 160) was an Diversity in early Christian theology, early Christian theologian, an Evangelism, evangelist, and an important figure in early Christianity. Marcion preached that the benevo ...

Marcion
, which he calls his third composition on the Marcionite heresy, he gives its date as the fifteenth year of the reign of Severus (''Adv. Marcionem'', i.1, 15) – which would be approximately 208. The writings may be divided with reference to the two periods of Tertullian's Christian activity, the mainstream and the Montanist (cf. Harnack, ii.262 sqq.), or according to their subject matter. The object of the former mode of division is to show, if possible, the change of views Tertullian's mind underwent. Following the latter mode, which is of a more practical interest, the writings fall into two groups. Apologetic and polemic writings, like ''
Apologeticus ''Apologeticus'' ( la, Apologeticum or ''Apologeticus'') is a text attributed to Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christian ...
'', ''De testimonio animae'', the
anti-Jewish Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is hostility to, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 ISO The International Organization for Standardization (ISO ) is an ...
'' De Adversus Iudaeos'', ''Adv. Marcionem'', ''Adv. Praxeam'', ''Adv. Hermogenem'', ''De praescriptione hereticorum'', and ''Scorpiace'' were written to counteract
Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Judaism, Jewish and Early Christianity, early Christian sects. These ...
and other religious or philosophical doctrines. The other group consists of practical and disciplinary writings, e.g., ''De monogamia'', ''Ad uxorem'', ''De virginibus velandis'', ''De cultu feminarum'', ''De patientia'', ''De pudicitia'', ''De oratione'', and ''Ad martyras''. Among his apologetic writings, the ''Apologeticus,'' addressed to the Roman magistrates, is a most pungent defense of Christianity and the Christians against the reproaches of the pagans, and an important legacy of the ancient Church, proclaiming the principle of
freedom of religion Freedom of religion or religious liberty is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in ...
as an inalienable human right and demanding a fair trial for Christians before they are condemned to death. Tertullian was the first to disprove charges that Christians sacrificed infants at the and committed incest. He pointed to the commission of such crimes in the pagan world and then proved by the testimony of
Pliny the Younger Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo (61 – c. 113), better known as Pliny the Younger (), was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study ...

Pliny the Younger
that Christians pledged themselves not to commit murder, adultery, or other crimes. He adduced the inhumanity of pagan customs such as feeding the flesh of gladiators to beasts. He argued that the gods have no existence and thus there is no pagan religion against which Christians may offend. Christians do not engage in the foolish worship of the emperors, that they do better: they pray for them, and that Christians can afford to be put to torture and to death, and the more they are cast down the more they grow; "the blood of the Christians is seed" (''Apologeticum'', 50). In the ''De Praescriptione'' he develops as its fundamental idea that, in a dispute between the Church and a separating party, the whole burden of proof lies with the latter, as the Church, in possession of the unbroken tradition, is by its very existence a guarantee of its truth. The five books against Marcion, written in 207 or 208, are the most comprehensive and elaborate of his polemical works, invaluable for gauging the early Christian view of Gnosticism. Tertullian has been identified by Jo Ann McNamara as the person who originally invested the consecrated virgin as the “bride of Christ”, which helped to bring the independent virgin under patriarchal rule.


Theology


General character

Though thoroughly conversant with the Greek theology, Tertullian remained independent of its metaphysical speculations. He had learned from the Greek apologies, and offered a direct contrast to
Origen of Alexandria Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an early Christian ...
who drew many of his theories regarding creation from
Middle Platonism Middle Platonism is the modern name given to a stage in the development of Platonic philosophy Platonism is the philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics ...
. Tertullian carried his
realism Realism, Realistic, or Realists may refer to: In the arts *Realism (arts), the general attempt to depict subjects truthfully in different forms of the arts Arts movements related to realism include: *Classical Realism *Literary realism, a movem ...
to the verge of
materialism Materialism is a form of philosophical monism which holds matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimate ...
. This is evident from his ascription to God of corporeality and his acceptance of the traducian theory of the origin of the human spirit. He despised Greek philosophy, and, far from looking at
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, and other Greek thinkers whom he quotes as forerunners of Christ and the Gospel, he pronounces them the patriarchal forefathers of the heretics (''De anima'', iii). He held up to scorn their inconsistency when he referred to the fact that
Socrates Socrates (; ; –399 BC) was a Greek philosopher from Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is the capital city, capital and List of cities in Greece, largest city of Greece. Athens domi ...

Socrates
in dying ordered a cock to be sacrificed to Aesculapius (''De anima'', i). Tertullian always wrote under stress of a felt necessity. He was never so happy as when he had opponents like
Marcion Marcion of Sinope (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; 85 – c. 160) was an Diversity in early Christian theology, early Christian theologian, an Evangelism, evangelist, and an important figure in early Christianity. Marcion preached that the benevo ...

Marcion
and
Praxeas Praxeas was a Monarchian from Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A la ...
, and, however abstract the ideas may be which he treated, he was always moved by practical considerations to make his case clear and irresistible. It was partly this element which gave to his writings a formative influence upon the theology of the post-Nicene period in the West and has rendered them fresh reading to this day. Although he was by nature a polemicist, no mention is made of his name by other authors during the 3rd century. Lactantius at the opening of the 4th century is the first to do so. Augustine, however, treats him with respect. Cyprian, Tertullian's North African compatriot, though nowhere mentioning his name, was well read in his writings, according to Cyprian's secretary in a letter to Jerome.


Specific teachings

Tertullian's main doctrinal teachings are as follows:


The soul

The soul or human spirit, was not preexistent, as Plato affirmed, nor subject to
metempsychosis Metempsychosis ( grc-gre, μετεμψύχωσις), in philosophy, refers to transmigration of the soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a soci ...
or
reincarnation Reincarnation, also known as rebirth or transmigration, is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with p ...
, as the
Pythagoreans Pythagoreanism originated in the 6th century BC, based on the teachings and beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans. Pythagoras established the first Pythagorean community in Crotone, Italy. Early Pythagorean communities spr ...
held. In each individual it is a new product, proceeding equally with the body from the parents, and not created later and associated with the body (''De anima'', xxvii). This position is called
traducianism In Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' deri ...
in opposition to '
creationism Creationism is the religious belief that nature, and aspects such as the universe, Earth, life, and humans, originated with supernatural acts of Creation myth, divine creation.#Gunn 2004, Gunn 2004, p. 9, "The ''Concise Oxford Dictionary'' say ...
', or the idea that each immortal spirit is a fresh creation of God.


The soul's sinfulness

The soul's sinfulness is easily explained by its traducian origin (''De anima'', xxxix). It is in bondage to
Satan Satan, (''śāṭān''), meaning "adversary"; grc, ὁ σατανᾶς or σατάν (''ho satanas'' or ''satan''); ar, شيطان (''shaitan''), meaning "astray", "distant", or sometimes "devil" also known as the Devil, is an entity in th ...

Satan
(whose works it renounces in baptism), but has seeds of good (''De anima'', xli), and when awakened, it passes to health and at once calls upon God (''Apol.'', xvii) and is naturally Christian. It exists in all men alike; it is a culprit and yet an unconscious witness – by its impulse to worship, its fear of demons, and its musings on death – to the power, benignity, and judgment of God as revealed in the Christian's Holy Scriptures (''De testimonio,'' v–vi).


The name of God

Tertullian reserves the appellation God, in the sense of the ultimate originator of all things, to the Father, who made the world out of nothing through his Son, the Word, has corporeity though he is a spirit (''De praescriptione'', vii.; ''Adv. Praxeam,'' vii). However Tertullian used 'corporeal' only in the
Stoic Stoic may refer to: * An adherent of Stoicism; one whose moral quality is associated with that school of philosophy *STOIC, a programming language *Stoic (film), ''Stoic'' (film), a 2009 film by Uwe Boll *Stoic (mixtape), ''Stoic'' (mixtape), a 201 ...
sense, to mean something with actual material existence, rather than the later idea of flesh. Tertullian is often considered an early proponent of the Nicene doctrine, approaching the subject from the standpoint of the Logos doctrine, though he did not state the later doctrine of the immanent Trinity. In his treatise against Praxeas, who taught
patripassianism In Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better understand Christian tenets * make comparative religion, com ...
in Rome, he used the words "trinity", "economy" (used in reference to the three persons), "persons", and "substance," maintaining the distinction of the Son from the Father as the unoriginate God, and the Spirit from both the Father and the Son (''Adv. Praxeam,'' xxv). "These three are one substance, not one person; and it is said, 'I and my Father are one' in respect not of the singularity of number but the unity of the substance." The very names "Father" and "Son" indicate the distinction of personality. The Father is one, the Son is another, and the Spirit is another ("dico alium esse patrem et alium filium et alium spiritum" ''Adv. Praxeam'', ix), and yet in defending the unity of God, he says the Son is not other ("alius a patre filius non est", ''Adv. Prax.'' 18) as a result of receiving a portion of the Father's substance. At times, speaking of the Father and the Son, Tertullian refers to "two gods". He says that all things of the Father belong also to the Son, including his names, such as Almighty God, Most High, Lord of Hosts, or King of Israel. Though Tertullian considered the Father to be God (Yahweh), he responded to criticism of the Modalist Praxeas that this meant that Tertullian's Christianity was not monotheistic by noting that even though there was one God (Yahweh, who became the Father when the Son became his agent of creation), the Son could also be referred to as God, when referred to apart from the Father, because the Son, though subordinate to God, is entitled to be called God "from the unity of the Father" in regards to being formed from a portion of His substance. ''The Catholic Encyclopedia'' comments that for Tertullian, "There was a time when there was no Son and no sin, when God was neither Father nor Judge." in ''Princeton Theological Review'', 1906, pp. 56, 159. Similarly J.N.D. Kelly stated: "Tertullian followed the Apologists in dating His 'perfect generation' from His extrapolation for the work of creation; prior to that moment God could not strictly be said to have had a Son, while after it the term 'Father', which for earlier theologians generally connoted God as author of reality, began to acquire the specialized meaning of Father of the Son." As regards the subjects of subordination of the Son to the Father, the ''New Catholic Encyclopedia'' has commented: "In not a few areas of theology, Tertullian’s views are, of course, completely unacceptable. Thus, for example, his teaching on the Trinity reveals a subordination of Son to Father that in the later crass form of
Arianism Arianism is a Christology, Christological doctrine first attributed to Arius (), a Christian presbyter in Alexandria, Alexandria, Egypt. Arian theology holds that the Son of God is not co-eternal with God the Father and is distinct from th ...
the Church rejected as heretical." Though he did not fully state the doctrine of the immanence of the Trinity, according to B. B. Warfield, he went a long distance in the way of approach to it.


Soteriology

In
soteriology Soteriology (; el, σωτηρία ' "salvation Salvation (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ' ...
, Tertullian does not dogmatize; he prefers to keep silence at the mystery of the cross (''De Patientia'', iii). The sufferings of Christ's life as well as of the
crucifixion Crucifixion is a method of capital punishment Capital punishment, also known as the death penalty, is the state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the ...
are efficacious to redemption. In the water of
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
, which (upon a partial quotation of John 3:5) is made necessary (''De baptismo'', vi.), humans are born again; the baptized does not receive the
Holy Spirit In Abrahamic religions, the Holy Spirit is an aspect or agent of God in Abrahamic religions, God, by means of which God communicates with people or acts on them. In Judaism, it refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the ...

Holy Spirit
in the water, but is prepared for the Holy Spirit. Humans are little fishes – after the example of the ''
ichthys The ichthys or ichthus (), from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its p ...

ichthys
'', fish, Jesus Christ – born in water (''De baptismo'', i). In discussing whether sins committed subsequent to baptism may be forgiven, Tertullian calls baptism and
penance Penance is any act or a set of actions done out of repentance Repentance is reviewing one's actions and feeling contritionIn Christianity, contrition or contriteness (from the Latin ''contritus'' 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is ...
"two planks" on which the sinner may be saved from shipwreck – language which he gave to the Church (''De penitentia'', xii).


Rule of faith

With reference to the '
rule of faith The rule of faith ( gr, κανών της πίστεως, la, regula fidei) is the name given to the ultimate authority or standard in religious belief. It was used by Early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religi ...
', it may be said that Tertullian is constantly using this expression, and by it means ''now'' the authoritative tradition handed down in the Church, ''now'' the Scriptures themselves, and, ''perhaps'', a definite doctrinal formula. While he nowhere gives a list of the books of Scripture, he divides them into two parts and calls them the ''instrumentum'' and ''testamentum'' (''Adv. Marcionem'', iv.1). He distinguishes between the
four Gospels Gospel originally meant the Christian message ("the gospel"), but in the 2nd century it came to be used also for the books in which the message was set out. In this sense a gospel can be defined as a loose-knit, episodic narrative of the words an ...
and insists upon their apostolic origin as accrediting their authority (''De praescriptione'', xxxvi; ''Adv. Marcionem'', iv.1–5); in trying to account for Marcion's treatment of the Lucan Gospel and the Pauline writings he sarcastically queries whether the "shipmaster from Pontus" (Marcion) had ever been guilty of taking on contraband goods or tampering with them after they were aboard (''Adv. Marcionem'', v.1). The Scripture, the rule of faith, is for him fixed and authoritative (''De corona'', iii–iv). As opposed to the pagan writings they are divine (''De testimonio animae'', vi). They contain all truth (''De praescriptione'', vii, xiv) and from them the Church drinks (''potat'') her faith (''Adv. Praxeam'', xiii). The prophets were older than the Greek philosophers and their authority is accredited by the fulfilment of their predictions (''Apol.'', xix–xx). The Scriptures and the teachings of philosophy are incompatible, insofar as the latter are the origins of sub-Christian heresies. "What has
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
to do with
Jerusalem Jerusalem (; he, יְרוּשָׁלַיִם ; ar, القُدس, ', , (combining the Biblical and common usage Arabic names); grc, Ἱερουσαλήμ/Ἰεροσόλυμα, Hierousalḗm/Hierosóluma; hy, Երուսաղեմ, Erusał ...

Jerusalem
?" he exclaims, "or the Academy with the Church?" (''De praescriptione'', vii). Philosophy as pop-paganism is a work of demons (''De anima'', i); the Scriptures contain the wisdom of heaven. However, Tertullian was not averse to using the technical methods of
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
to discuss a problem (''De anima''). The rule of faith, however, seems to be also applied by Tertullian to some distinct formula of doctrine, and he gives a succinct statement of the Christian faith under this term (''De praescriptione'', xiii).


Apostolicity

Tertullian was a defender of the necessity of apostolicity. In his ''Prescription Against Heretics'', he explicitly challenges heretics to produce evidence of the
apostolic succession Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followe ...
of their communities. "Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that hat first bishop of theirsbishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men – a man, moreover, who continued steadfast with the apostles. For this is the manner in which the apostolic churches transmit their registers: as the church of Smyrna, which records that
Polycarp Polycarp (; el, Πολύκαρπος, ''Polýkarpos''; la, Polycarpus; AD 69 155) was a Christian bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with ...

Polycarp
was placed therein by
John John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) John is a common English name and surname: * John (given name) * John (surname), including a list of people who have the name John John may also refer to: New Testament Works ...
; as also the church of Rome, which makes to have been ordained in like manner by
Peter Peter may refer to: People * List of people named Peter, a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * Peter (given name) ** Saint Peter (died 60s), apostle of Jesus, leader of the early Christian Church * Peter (surname), a sur ...

Peter
. In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed."


Sin

Fornicators and
murder Murder is the unlawful killing of another human without justification (jurisprudence), justification or valid excuse (legal), excuse, especially the unlawful killing of another human with malice aforethought. ("The killing of another person w ...

murder
ers should never be readmitted into the church under any circumstances. In ''De pudicitia'', Tertullian condemns Pope for allowing such people to be readmitted if they show repentance.


Moral principles

Tertullian was a determined advocate of strict discipline and an austere code of practise, and like many of the African fathers, one of the leading representatives of the rigorist element in the early Church. These views may have led him to adopt
Montanism Montanism (), known by its adherents as the New Prophecy, was an early Christian movement of the late 2nd century, later referred to by the name of its founder, Montanus. Montanism held views about the basic tenets of Christian theology #RED ...
with its ascetic
rigor Rigour (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification of grammar and usage ...
and its belief in
chiliasm Millennialism (from millennium A millennium (plural millennia or millenniums) is a period of one thousand year A year is the orbital period of a planetary body, for example, the Earth, moving in Earth's orbit, its orbit around the S ...
and the continuance of the prophetic gifts. In his writings on public amusements, the veiling of virgins, the conduct of women, and the like, he gives expression to these views. On the principle that we should not look at or listen to what we have no right to practise, and that polluted things, seen and touched, pollute (''De spectaculis'', viii, xvii), he declared a Christian should abstain from the theater and the amphitheater. There pagan religious rites were applied and the names of pagan divinities invoked; there the precepts of modesty, purity, and humanity were ignored or set aside, and there no place was offered to the onlookers for the cultivation of the Christian graces. Women should put aside their gold and precious stones as ornaments, and virgins should conform to the law of St. Paul for women and keep themselves strictly veiled (''De virginibus velandis''). He praised the unmarried state as the highest (''De monogamia'', xvii; ''Ad uxorem'', i.3) and called upon Christians not to allow themselves to be excelled in the virtue of celibacy by
Vestal Virgin In ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian ...
s and Egyptian priests. He even labeled second marriage a species of adultery (''De exhortationis castitatis'', ix), but this directly contradicted the Epistles of the
Apostle Paul Paul; el, Παῦλος, translit=Paulos; cop, ⲡⲁⲩⲗⲟⲥ; he, פאולוס השליח, name=, group= (born Saul of Tarsus;; ar, بولس الطرسوسي; el, Σαῦλος Ταρσεύς, Saũlos Tarseús; tr, Tarsuslu Pavlus A ...
. Tertullian's resolve to never marry again and that no one else should remarry eventually led to his break with Rome because the orthodox church refused to follow him in this resolve. He, instead, favored the Montanist sect where they also condemned second marriage. One reason for Tertullian's disdain for marriage was his belief about the transformation that awaited a married couple. He believed that marital relations coarsened the body and spirit and would dull their spiritual senses and avert the Holy Spirit since husband and wife became one flesh once married. Tertullian is sometimes criticized for being
misogynistic Misogyny () is hatred or contempt for Woman, women. It is a form of sexism used to keep women at a lower social status than men, thus maintaining the societal roles of patriarchy. Misogyny has been widely practiced for thousands of years. I ...
, on the basis of the contents of his ''De Cultu Feminarum,'' section I.I, part 2 (trans. C.W. Marx): "Do you not know that you are
Eve Eve (; ; ar, حَوَّاء, Ḥawwāʾ; el, Εὕα, Heúa; la, Eva, Heva; : romanized: ) is a figure in the in the . According to the origin story, "Creation myths are symbolic stories describing how the universe and its inhabitants came ...

Eve
? The judgment of God upon this sex lives on in this age; therefore, necessarily the guilt should live on also. You are the gateway of the devil; you are the one who unseals the curse of that tree, and you are the first one to turn your back on the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the devil was not capable of corrupting; you easily destroyed the image of God,
Adam Adam (; Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long his ...

Adam
. Because of what you deserve, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die." Tertullian had a radical view on the cosmos. He believed that heaven and earth intersected at many points and that it was possible that sexual relations with supernatural beings can occur.


Works

Tertullian's writings are edited in volumes 1–2 of the ''
Patrologia Latina The ''Patrologia Latina'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
,'' and modern texts exist in the '' Corpus Christianorum Latinorum.'' English translations by
Sydney Thelwall Sydney Thelwall (born 18 December 1834 — 28 August 1922) was an England, English clergyman and Christian scholar. Life The son of Algernon Sydney Thelwall, Sydney Thelwall was educated at King's College London. He was admitted as a pensioner t ...
and Philip Holmes can be found in volumes III and IV of the ''
Ante-Nicene Fathers The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, di ...
'' which are freely available online; more modern translations of some of the works have been made. ;Apologetic * '' Apologeticus pro Christianis''. * ''Libri duo ad Nationes''. * ''De Testimonio animae''. * ''Ad Martyres''. * ''
De Spectaculis ''De Spectaculis'', also known as ''On the Spectacles'' or ''The Shows'', is a surviving moral and ascetic treatise by Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Ch ...
''. * ''De Idololatria''. * ''Accedit ad Scapulam liber''. ;Dogmatic * ''De Oratione''. * ''De Baptismo''. * ''De Poenitentia''. * ''De Patientia''. * ''Ad Uxorem libri duo''. * ''De Cultu Feminarum lib. II''. ;Polemical * ''De Praescriptionibus adversus Haereticos''. * ''De Corona Militis''. * ''De Fuga in Persecutione''. * ''Adversus Gnosticos Scorpiace''. * ''Adversus Praxeam''. * ''Adversus Hermogenem''. * ''Adversus Marcionem libri V''. * ''
Adversus Valentinianos ''Adversus Valentinianos'', or ''Against the Valentinians'', is a famous refutation of Valentinianism by Tertullian, an orthodox contemporary of the Gnosticism, Gnostics and one of the first to investigate them. The work satirized the bizarre elem ...
''. * ''Adversus Judaeos''. * ''De Anima''. * ''
De Carne Christi ''De Carne Christi'' () is a polemical work by Tertullian against the Gnosticism, Gnostic Docetism of Marcion, Apelles, Valentinus (Gnostic), Valentinus and Pope Alexander I, Alexander. It purports that the body of Christ was a real human body, born ...
''. * ''De Resurrectione Carnis''. ;On morality * ''De velandis Virginibus''. * ''De Exhortatione Castitatis''. * ''De Monogamia''. * ''De Jejuniis''. * ''De Pudicitia''. * ''De Pallio''.


Possible chronology

The following chronological ordering was proposed by John Kaye, Bishop of Lincoln in the 19th century:cf. J.Kaye, 1845, ''The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries''. List here as reproduced in Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, 1867–1872, ''Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translation of the Writings of the Fathers, Down to AD 325'', Vol. 18, p. xii–xiii Probably mainstream (Pre-Montanist): * 1. ''De Poenitentia'' (On Repentance) * 2. ''De Oratione'' (On Prayer) * 3. ''De Baptismo'' (On Baptism) * 4, 5. ''Ad Uxorem'', lib. I & II, (To His Wife) * 6. ''Ad Martyras'' (To the Martyrs) * 7. ''De Patientia'' (On Patience) * 8. ''Adversus Judaeos'' (Against the Jews) * 9. ''De Praescriptione Haereticorum'' (On the Prescription of Heretics) Indeterminate: * 10. ''Apologeticus pro Christianis'' (Apology for the Christians) * 11, 12. ''ad Nationes'', lib. I & II (To the Nations) * 13. ''De Testimonio animae'' (On the Witness of the Soul) * 14. ''De Pallio'' (On the Ascetic Mantle) * 15. ''Adversus Hermogenem'' (Against Hermogenes) Probably Post-Montanist: * 16. ''Adversus Valentinianus'' (Against the
Valentinians Valentinianism was one of the major Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Jewish Jews ( he ...
) * 17. ''ad Scapulam'' (To Scapula, Proconsul of Africa) * 18. ''De Spectaculis'' (On the Games) * 19. ''De Idololatria'' (On Idolatry) * 20, 21. ''De cultu Feminarum'', lib. I & II (On Women's Dress) Definitely Post-Montanist: * 22. ''Adversus Marcionem'', lib I (Against
Marcion Marcion of Sinope (; Ancient Greek, Greek: ; 85 – c. 160) was an Diversity in early Christian theology, early Christian theologian, an Evangelism, evangelist, and an important figure in early Christianity. Marcion preached that the benevo ...

Marcion
, Bk. I) * 23. ''Adversus Marcionem'', lib II * 24. ''De Anima'' (On the Soul), * 25. ''Adversus Marcionem'', lib III * 26. ''Adversus Marcionem'', lib IV * 27. ''De Carne Christi'' (On the Flesh of Christ) * 28. ''De Resurrectione Carnis'' (On the Resurrection of Flesh) * 29. ''Adversus Marcionem'', lib V * 30. ''Adversus Praxean'' (Against
Praxeas Praxeas was a Monarchian from Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A la ...
) * 31. ''Scorpiace'' (Antidote to Scorpion's Bite) * 32. ''De Corona Militis'' (On the Soldier's Garland) * 33. ''De velandis Virginibus'' (On Veiling Virgins) * 34. ''De Exhortatione Castitatis'' (On Exhortation to Chastity) * 35. ''De Fuga in Persecutione'' (On Flight in Persecution) * 36. ''De Monogamia'' (On Monogamy) * 37. ''De Jejuniis, adversus psychicos'' (On Fasting, against the materialists) * 38. ''De Puditicia'' (On Modesty)


Spurious works

There have been many works attributed to Tertullian in the past which have since been determined to be almost definitely written by others. Nonetheless, since their actual authors remain uncertain, they continue to be published together in collections of Tertullian's works. * 1 ''Adversus Omnes Haereses'' (Against all Heresies) – poss.
Victorinus of Pettau Marcus Piavonius VictorinusSome of the inscriptions record his name as M. Piavvonius Victorinus, as does the first release of coins from the Colonia mint. A mosaic from Augusta Treverorum (Trier) lists him as Piaonius. was emperor in the Gallic ...
* 2 ''De execrandis gentium diis'' (On the Execrable Gods of the Heathens) * 3 ''Carmen adversus Marcionem'' (Poem against Marcion) * 4 ''Carmen de Iona Propheta'' (Poem about the Prophet Jonas) – poss.
Cyprianus Gallus Cyprianus Gallus (fl. c. 397–430) was a fifth-century poet who wrote a Late Latin Epic poetry, epic versification of the historical books of the Vetus Latina, though only the Heptateuch (''Heptateuchos'') has survived to the present day. He, ...
* 5 ''Carmen de Sodoma'' (Poem about Sodom) – poss.
Cyprianus Gallus Cyprianus Gallus (fl. c. 397–430) was a fifth-century poet who wrote a Late Latin Epic poetry, epic versification of the historical books of the Vetus Latina, though only the Heptateuch (''Heptateuchos'') has survived to the present day. He, ...
* 6 ''Carmen de Genesi'' (Poem about Genesis) * 7 ''Carmen de Judicio Domini'' (Poem about the Judgment of the Lord) The popular ''Passio SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis'' (Martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas), much of it presented as the personal diary of St.
Perpetua Perpetua and Felicity ( la, Perpetua et Felicitas) were Christian martyrs of the 3rd century. Vibia Perpetua was a recently married well educated noblewoman, said to have been 22 years old at the time of her death, and mother of an infant she w ...

Perpetua
, was once assumed to have been edited by Tertullian. That view is no longer widely held, and the work is usually published separately from Tertullian's own works.


See also

*
Christian pacifism Christian pacifism is the theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline An academic discipline or academic field is a subdivision of ...
* ''
Credo quia absurdum ''Credo quia absurdum'' is a Latin phrase that means "I believe because it is absurdism, absurd", originally misattributed to Tertullian in his ''De Carne Christi''. It is believed to be a paraphrasing of Tertullian's "''prorsus credibile est, qui ...
'' *
Septimia gens The gens Septimia was a minor plebs, plebeian family at ancient Rome. The gens first appears in history towards the close of the Roman Republic, Republic, and they did not achieve much importance until the latter half of the second century, when Se ...
*
Pseudo-Tertullian Pseudo-Tertullian is the scholarly name for the unknown author of ''Adversus Omnes Haereses'', an appendix to the work ''De praescriptionem haereticorum'' of Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – ...
*
Tertulia A tertulia (, ; pt, tertúlia ; ca, tertúlia ) is a social gathering with literary or artistic overtones, especially in Iberian Peninsula, Iberia or in Latin America. Tertulia also means an informal meeting of people to talk about current affair ...
*
Descriptions in antiquity of the execution cross Descriptions in antiquity of the execution cross, whether by Christians or non-Christians, present the instrument ordinarily used in putting people to death by crucifixion as composed of two wooden pieces. Whether the two pieces of timber of the nor ...
* List of Christian women of the patristic age


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * *


Further reading

* Ames, Cecilia. 2007. "Roman Religion in the Vision of Tertullian." In ''A Companion to Roman Religion.'' Edited by Jörg Rüpke, 457–471. Oxford: Blackwell. * Dunn, Geoffrey D. 2004. ''Tertullian.'' New York: Routledge. * Gero, Stephen. 1970. "Miles gloriosus: The Christians and Military Service according to Tertullian." ''Church History'' 39:285–298. * Hillar, Marian. 2012. ''From Logos to Trinity. The Evolution of Religious Beliefs from Pythagoras to Tertullian.'' Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press. * Lane, Anthony N. S. 2002. "Tertullianus Totus Noster? Calvin’s use of Tertullian." ''Reformation and Renaissance Review'' 4:9–34. * O’Malley, Thomas P. 1967. ''Tertullian and the Bible. Language, Imagery, Exegesis.'' Latinitas christianorum primaeva 21. Nijmegen, The Netherlands: Dekker & Van de Vegt. * Otten, Willemien. 2009. "Views on Women in Early Christianity: Incarnational Hermeneutics in Tertullian and Augustine." In ''Hermeneutics, Scriptural Politics, and Human Rights.'' Between text and context. Edited by Bas de Gaay Fortman, Kurt Martens, and M. A. Mohamed Salih, 219–235. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan. * * Rankin, David. 1995. ''Tertullian and the Church.'' Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press. * Wilhite, David E. 2007. ''Tertullian the African. An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian’s Context and Identities.'' Millennium Studien 14. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter.


External links

Primary sources
Tertullian's works in many languages, including Latin, and English
website intratext.com. * English translations of all Tertullian's works can be found in Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors, 1867–1872, ''Ante-Nicene Christian Library: Translation of the Writings of the Fathers, Down to AD 325'', Edinburgh: T&T Clark
Vol. 7 (Tertullian's Against Marcion)Vol. 11(Tertullian's Treatises, Pt. 1)Vol. 15 (Tertullian's Treatises, Pt.2)Vol. 18 (Tertullian's Treatises, Pt. 3)Works by Tertullian at Perseus Digital Library
* Secondary sources
EarlyChurch.org.uk
Detailed bibliography and on-line articles. * Jerome'

Chapter 53 is devoted to Tertullian. * *
The Tertullian Project
a site which provides all of the works of this Father of Church in Latin, translations in many languages, manuscripts etc. * J. Kaye, Bishop of Lincoln (1845, third edition)
The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries, illustrated from the writings of Tertullian
'. London: Rivington. * {{Authority control Carthage Church Fathers Converts to Christianity from pagan religions Post–Silver Age Latin writers Christian anti-Gnosticism Ancient Christian anti-Judaism Septimii, Florens Tertullianus, Quintus Christian pacifists Ancient Christians involved in controversies Christian apologists Romans from Africa Berber writers Historians of the Catholic Church Berber Christians 155 births 220 deaths 2nd-century Romans 3rd-century Romans 2nd-century Christian theologians 3rd-century Christian theologians 2nd-century Berber people 3rd-century Berber people 2nd-century Punic people 3rd-century Punic people 3rd-century Latin writers Marcionism