Tertullian

Tertullian (/tərˈtʌliən/; full name Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; c. 155 – c. 240 AD)[1] was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.[2] Of Berber origin,[3][4][5][6][7] he was the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was an early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism.[8] Tertullian has been called "the father of Latin Christianity"[9][10] and "the founder of Western theology."[11]

Though conservative in his worldview, 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). According to The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Tertullian's trinity [is] not a triune God, but rather a triad or group of three, with God as the founding member".[12] A similar word had been used earlier in Greek,[a] though Tertullian gives the oldest extant use of the terminology as later incorporated into the Nicene Creed at the Second Ecumenical Council, the First Council of Constantinople in 381 AD, or as the Athanasian Creed, or both.[13] Other Latin formulations that first appear in his work are "three persons, one substance" as the Latin "tres personae, una substantia", ('consubstantial', in English), itself from the Koine Greek "treis hypostases, homoousioi").[11] Influenced by Stoic philosophy, the "substance" of Tertullian, however, was a material substance that did not refer to a single God, but to the sharing of a portion of the substance of the Father (the only being who was fully God) with the Son and, through the Son, with the Holy Spirit.[12] He wrote his understanding of the three members of the trinity after becoming a Montanist.[11]

Unlike many Church fathers, Tertullian was never recognized as a saint by the Eastern or Western catholic tradition churches. Several of his teachings on issues such as the clear subordination of the Son and Spirit to the Father,[12][14] and his condemnation of remarriage for widows and of fleeing from persecution, contradicted the doctrines of these traditions.

Tertullian
Tertullian

Life

Scant reliable evidence exists to inform us about 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.

According to church tradition, Tertullian was raised in Carthage[15] 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, Church History, II, ii. 4, and Jerome's De viris illustribus (On famous men) chapter 53.[b] Jerome claimed that Tertullian's father held the position of centurio proconsularis ("aide-de-camp") in the Roman army in Africa.[16] However, it is unclear whether any such position in the Roman military ever existed.[17][18]

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. 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.[19] The writings of Tertullianus, a lawyer of the same cognomen, exist only in fragments and do not denote a Christian authorship. (Tertullianus was misidentified only much later with the Christian Tertullian by church historians.)[20] Finally, any notion of Tertullian being a priest is also questionable. In his extant writings, he never describes himself as ordained[17] in the church and seems to place himself among the laity.[21]

His conversion to Christianity perhaps took place about 197–198 (cf. 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 said of himself 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.[22]

In middle life (about 207), he was attracted to the "New Prophecy" of Montanism, though today most scholars reject Saint Jerome's assertion that Tertullian ever left the mainstream Church or was ever excommunicated.[23] "[W]e 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 Cyprian, the question must surely be answered in the negative."[24]

In the time of Augustine, 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[c] or that this means Tertullian later split with the Montanists and founded his own group.

Jerome[25] says that Tertullian lived to a great age, but there is no reliable source attesting to his survival beyond the estimated year 225 AD. By the doctrinal works he published, Tertullian became the teacher of 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 against paganism and Judaism, polemics, 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 the greatest interest to the church historian.

Tertullian did not hesitate to call his opponents blind, utterly perverse, or utterly stupid.[26]

Like other early Christian writers Tertullian used the term paganus to mean "civilian" as a contrast to the "soldiers of Christ".[27] The motif of Miles Christi did not assume the literal meaning of participation in war until Church doctrines justifying Christian participation in battle were developed around the 5th century.[28] In the 2nd century writings of Tertullian paganus meant a "civilian" who was lacking self-discipline. In De Corona Militis XI.V he wrote":[29]

Apud hunc [Christum] tam miles est paganus fidelis quam paganus est miles fidelis.[30] With Him [Christ] the faithful citizen is a soldier, just as the faithful soldier is a citizen.[31]

Chronology and contents

The chronology of these 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, Ad Scapulam, iv). In his work against 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 the year 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, De testimonio animae, the anti-Jewish De Adversus Iudaeos, Adv. Marcionem, Adv. Praxeam, Adv. Hermogenem, De praescriptione hereticorum, and Scorpiace were written to counteract Gnosticism 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 as an inalienable human right and demands a fair trial for Christians before they are condemned to death.

Tertullian was the first to disprove such charges as that the Christians sacrificed infants at the celebration of the Lord's Supper 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 that Christians pledged themselves not to commit murder, adultery, or other crimes. He adduced also 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 martyrs 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. Of the moral and ascetic treatises, the De patientia and De spectaculis are among the most interesting, and the De pudicitia and De virginibus velandis among the most characteristic.

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.[32]

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, who drew many of his theories regarding creation from Middle Platonism. Tertullian carried his realism to the verge of materialism. This is evident from his ascription to God of corporeity and his acceptance of the traducian theory of the origin of the soul. He despised Greek philosophy, and, far from looking at Plato, 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 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 and Praxeas, 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:

  1. The soul was not preexistent, as Plato affirmed, nor subject to metempsychosis or reincarnation, as the Pythagoreans 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 opposition to 'creationism', or the idea that each soul is a fresh creation of God.
  2. The soul's sinfulness is easily explained by its traducian origin (De anima, xxxix). It is in bondage to 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 Scriptures (De testimonio, v-vi).
  3. Tertullian reserves the appellation God, in the sense of the ultimate originator of all things, to the Father,[12] 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 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 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.[12] At times, speaking of the Father and the Son, Tertullian refers to "two gods".[12][d] 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.[33] 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.[12][e] 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."[34][35] Similarly J.N.D. Kelly has 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 and Son.".[36] 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 the Church rejected as heretical."[14] 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.[35]
  4. In soteriology, 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 are efficacious to redemption. In the water of 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 the water, but is prepared for the Holy Spirit. Humans are little fishes—after the example of the ichthys, fish, Jesus Christ—are born in water (De baptismo, i). In discussing whether sins committed subsequent to baptism may be forgiven, Tertullian calls baptism and penance "two planks" on which the sinner may be saved from shipwreck—language which he gave to the Church (De penitentia, xii).
  5. With reference to the 'rule of faith', 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 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 to do with 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 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).
  6. 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 of their communities.[37] "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 [that first bishop of theirs] bishop 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 was placed therein by John; as also the church of Rome, which makes Clement to have been ordained in like manner by 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."
  7. Fornicators and murderers should never be readmitted into the church under any circumstances. In De pudicitia, Tertullian condemns Pope Callixtus I for allowing such people to be readmitted if they show repentance.

Eschatology

Resurrection at the Second Coming

Tertullian was a premillennialist, affirming a literal resurrection at the second advent of Jesus at the end of the world, not at death.[38]

Jesus, the stone that strikes and destroys the image

Concerning the image prophecy of Daniel 2, Tertullian identified Jesus, at his second advent, as the stone cut out of a mountain that strikes and destroys the image of "secular kingdoms". He compares this with Daniel 7, 'Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; and they brought Him before Him, and there was given Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed."[39][40]

Antichrist is the Beast

Like Irenaeus, Tertullian equated the Antichrist with the '"Man of Sin" and the "Beast". He expected a specific Antichrist to appear as a persecutor of the church just before the resurrection, under whom a second company of martyrs will be slain. Unlike Irenaeus, however, Tertullian does not consider the Antichrist to be a Jew sitting in a Jewish temple at Jerusalem. Rather, the Antichrist comes out of the church.[41]

Rome symbolized as Babylon

Tertullian applied the Biblical figure of Babylon to the city of Rome and her domination. He portrayed Rome as drunk with the blood of martyred saints.[42]

Order of Last Days events

The order of Last Days events, according to Tertullian, are the plagues, Babylon's doom, Antichrist's warfare on the saints, the devil cast into the bottomless pit, the Advent, the resurrection of the saints, the Judgment, and the Second Resurrection, with the harvest at the end of the World; and the sixth seal extending to the final dissolution of the earth and sky, including the stars.[43]

Millennium follows resurrection of the righteous dead

Tertullian maintained that the thousand years of Revelation will follow the resurrection of the righteous dead on the earth with the New Jerusalem, proceeding the eternity of heaven. The earth is destroyed after the one thousand years and the saints moved to the kingdom of heaven.[44]

Seventy weeks fulfilled by First Advent

Tertullian contended that Daniel's seventy weeks foretold the time of Christ's incarnation and death. He started the seventy weeks from the first year of Darius, and continued to Jerusalem's destruction by the Romans under the command of Titus, fully completing the vision and prophecy. It is sealed by the advent of Christ, which he places at the end of the sixty-two and one-half weeks.[45]

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 with its ascetic rigor and its belief in chiliasm 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,[46] 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 Virgins 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. 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.[47] 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 the soul and would dull their spiritual senses and avert the Holy Spirit since husband and wife became one flesh once married.[32]

Tertullian is sometimes criticized for being misogynistic, 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? 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. 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 for there to be sexual relations with supernatural beings.[48]

Works

Septimi Florensis Tertulliani Opera
Septimi Florensis Tertulliani Opera (1598)

Tertullian's writings are edited in volumes 1–2 of the Patrologia Latina, and modern texts exist in the Corpus Christianorum Latinorum. English translations by Sidney Thelwall and Philip Holmes can be found in volumes III and IV of the Ante-Nicene Fathers which are freely available online; more modern translations of some of the works have been made.

Apologetic
Polemical
  • De Oratione.
  • De Baptismo.
  • De Poenitentia.
  • De Patientia.
  • Ad Uxorem libri duo.
  • De Cultu Feminarum lib. II.
Dogmatic
  • De Corona Militis.
  • De Fuga in Persecutione.
  • Adversus Gnosticos Scorpiace.
  • Adversus Praxeam.
  • Adversus Hermogenem.
  • Adversus Marcionem libri V.
  • Adversus Valentinianos.
  • Adversus Judaeos.
  • De Anima.
  • De Carne Christi.
  • 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:[49]

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)
  • 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, 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),
  • 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
  • 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
  • 5 Carmen de Sodoma (Poem about Sodom) – poss. Cyprianus Gallus
  • 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 the personal diary of St. Perpetua, was once assumed to have been edited by Tertullian. That view is no longer held, and it is usually published separately from Tertullian's works.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Trinitas is itself a Latinization of the Greek he trias ("the triad"), a term that was used earlier than Tertullian by Theophilus of Antioch in Ad Autolycum 2.15 to refer to God, God's Logos (Jesus), and God's Sophia (Holy Spirit).
  2. ^ See introduction to (Barnes 1971); however Barnes retracted some of his positions in the 1985 revised edition.
  3. ^ The passage in Praedestinatus describing the Tertullianists suggests that this might have been the case, as the Tertullianist minister obtains the use of a church in Rome on the grounds that the martyrs to whom it was dedicated were Montanists. But the passage is very condensed and ambiguous.
  4. ^ "Ergo, inquis, si deus dixit et deus fecit, si alius deus dixit et alius fecit, duo dii praedicantur. Si tam durus es, puta interim. Et ut adhuc amplius hoc putes, accipe et in psalmo duos deos dictos: Thronus tuus, deus, in aevum, <virga directionis> virga regni tui; dilexisti iustitiam et odisti iniquitatem, propterea unxit te deus, deus tuus." ("Therefore", thou sayest, "if a god said and a god made, if one god said and another made, two gods are being preached." If thou art so hard, think a little! And that thou mayest think more fully, accept that in the Psalm two gods are spoken of: "Thy throne, God, is for ever, a sceptre of right direction is thy sceptre; thou hast loved justice and hast hated iniquity, therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee." Adv. Prax. 13)
  5. ^ "Si filium nolunt secundum a patre reputari ne secundus duos faciat deos dici, ostendimus etiam duos deos in scriptura relatos et duos dominos: et tamen ne de isto scandalizentur, rationem reddimus qua dei non duo dicantur nec domini sed qua pater et filius duo, et hoc non ex separatione substantiae sed ex dispositione, cum individuum et inseparatum filium a patre pronuntiamus, nec statu sed gradu alium, qui etsi deus dicatur quando nominatur singularis, non ideo duos deos faciat sed unum, hoc ipso quod et deus ex unitate patris vocari habeat." (If they do not wish that the Son be considered second to the Father, lest being second he cause it to be said that there are two gods, we have also showed that two gods are related in Scripture, and two lords. And yet, let them not be scandalized by this – we give a reason why there are not said to be two gods nor lords but rather two as a Father and a Son. And this not from separation of substance but from disposition, since we pronounce the Son undivided and unseparated from the Father, other not in status but in grade, who although he is said to be God when mentioned by himself, does not therefore make two gods but one, by the fact that he is also entitled to be called God from the unity of the Father. Adv. Prax. 19)

References

  1. ^ Audi, Robert (1999). The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. p. 908.
  2. ^ Barnes 1971, p. 58.
  3. ^ Serralda, Vincent; Huard, André (1984). Le Berbère-- lumière de l'Occident (in French). Nouvelles Editions Latines. p. 52. ISBN 9782723302395.
  4. ^ Brouksy, Lahcen (2006). Les Berbères face à leur destin (in French). Bouregreg. p. 150. ISBN 9789954470121.
  5. ^ Berthier, André (1951-01-01). L'Algérie et son passé: ouvrage illustré de 82 gravures en phototypie (in French). Picard. p. 25.
  6. ^ Zemmouri, Mohammed-Saâd; Wazzānī, Muḥammad al-Yamlāḥī (2000). Présence berbère et nostalgie païenne: dans la littérature maghrébine de langue française (in French). Le Club du Livre. p. 19.
  7. ^ Hilliard, Constance B. (1998). Intellectual Traditions of Pre-colonial Africa. McGraw-Hill. p. 150. ISBN 9780070288980.
  8. ^ Versluis, Arthur (2007). Magic and Mysticism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 23.
  9. ^ Benham, William (1887). The Dictionary of Religion. p. 1013.
  10. ^ Ekonomou 2007, p. 22.
  11. ^ a b c Gonzáles, Justo L. (2010). "The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation". The Story of Christianity. 1. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 91–93.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Tuggy, Dale & Zalta, Edward N. (ed.) (2016). "History of Trinitarian Doctrines". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. Retrieved 24 September 2016.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  13. ^ In Adversus Praxean; see (Barnes 1971) for a summary of the work.
  14. ^ a b Le Saint, W. (2003). "Tertullian". The New Catholic Encyclopedia. 13: 837.
  15. ^ Cross, F. L., ed. (2005). The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press.
  16. ^ Jerome, 'Chronicon' 16.23-4
  17. ^ a b Barnes 1971, p. 11.
  18. ^ "Tertullian" (PDF). NOBTS.
  19. ^ Barnes 1971, p. 24, 27.
  20. ^ Barnes 1971, p. 23.
  21. ^ Tertullian, De Exhortatione Castitatis 7.3 and De Monogamia 12.2
  22. ^ "Book Written to His Wife". newadvent.org. Archived from the original on 2014-03-04.
  23. ^ Still, Todd D; Wilhite, David E (2012-12-20). Tertullian and Paul. ISBN 9780567554116.
  24. ^ http://www.tertullian.org/articles/powell_tertullianists.htm
  25. ^ Jerome. De viris illustribus. p. 53.
  26. ^ "caeci", "perversissime", "stultissime". Adv. Praxean 22, 23, 28.
  27. ^ Ernest Weekley, Etymological Dictionary of English, s.v. "pagan".
  28. ^ Iwanczak, Wojciech (2012). "Miles Christi: the medieval ideal of knighthood". Journal of the Australian Early Medieval Association. 8 (Journal Article): 77–. ISSN 1449-9320.
  29. ^ Cameron, Alan G. (2011). The Last Pagans of Rome. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780199780914. OCLC 553365192.
  30. ^ De Corona Militis XI.V
  31. ^ Ante-Nicene Fathers III, De Corona XI
  32. ^ a b Bitel 2008, p. 17.
  33. ^ Adv. Prax. 17.
  34. ^ ""Tertullian," The Catholic Encyclopedia".
  35. ^ a b B. B. Warfield in Princeton Theological Review, 1906, pp. 56, 159.
  36. ^ J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, Continual International Publishing Book, c1960, 2000, p. 112
  37. ^ "The Prescription against Heretics: Chapter 32".
  38. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 255–256.
  39. ^ Tertulian, Against Marcion, chap. 7, in ANF, Vol. 3, p. 326
  40. ^ Froom 1950, p. 256.
  41. ^ Froom 1950, p. 257.
  42. ^ Froom 1950, p. 258.
  43. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 258–259.
  44. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 259–260.
  45. ^ Froom 1950, pp. 260–261.
  46. ^ De cultu, v-vi
  47. ^ Bitel 2008, p. 21.
  48. ^ "Scholar Discusses the 'Bride of Christ' in the Early Church". Fordham.edu. Archived from the original on January 13, 2016.
  49. ^ 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

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.
  • Osborn, Eric. 1997. Tertullian: First Theologian of the West. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.
  • 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
Secondary sources
Abellio

Abellio (also Abelio and Abelionni) was a god worshipped in the Garonne Valley in Gallia Aquitania (now southwest France), known primarily by a number of inscriptions which were discovered in Comminges. He may have been a god of apple trees.Some scholars have postulated that Abellio is the same name as Apollo, who in Crete and elsewhere was called Abelios (Greek Αβέλιος), and by the Italians and some Dorians Apello, and that the deity is the same as the Gallic Apollo mentioned by Caesar, and also the same as the Belis or Belenus mentioned by Tertullian and Herodian.Other scholars have taken the reverse position that Abellio might have been a similar solar deity of Celtic origin in Crete and the Pyrenees, but the Cretan Abellio may however not be the same god as the Celtic one, but rather a different manifestation, or dialectal form, of the Greek god Apollo or his name.

In his attempt to connect the Grail legends to the Cathars, Otto Rahn identified the worship of Abellio in the Pyrenees with the Latinized form of Belenus-Apollo, which he equated with Lucifer.

Acts of Paul

The Acts of Paul is one of the major works and earliest pseudepigraphal series from the New Testament apocrypha also known as Apocryphal Acts. An approximate date given to the Acts of Paul is 160 CE. The Acts were first mentioned by Tertullian. Tertullian found it heretical because it encouraged women to preach and baptize. The Acts were considered orthodox by Hippolytus but were eventually regarded as heretical when the Manichaeans started using the texts. The author of the Acts of Paul is unknown and wrote out of respect for Paul in Asia Minor. The author does not show any dependency on the canonical Acts but uses oral traditions of Paul's missionary work.

The text is primarily known from Greek manuscripts. The discovery of a Coptic version of the text demonstrated that the text was composed of

the Acts of Paul and Thecla

the Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul

the Third Epistle to the Corinthians

the Martyrdom of Paul – his death at the hand of NeroAll of these constituent parts were often considered worth treating as separate texts and frequently appeared independently, although scholars agree that they were originally part of the Acts of Paul. Besides the four main sections mentioned above, the remainder of the Acts exist only in fragments from the 3rd and 5th centuries:

The healing of Hermocrates from dropsy

The strife of the Ephesian beastsThe texts are a coherent whole and are generally thought to have been written by one author using oral traditions, rather than basing it on any of the other apocrypha or the orthodox canon. The main emphasis of the text is on Chastity and anti-Gnosticism. According to Tertullian, the author was a priest in Asia Minor. While the priest encouraged female ministry, he expressed doctrinal orthodoxy in regard to continence and Resurrection. Also, they mentioned the close relationship of sexual purity and salvation.

The Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul and the Third Epistle of the Corinthians both appear in some editions of the Armenian Bible.

African Rite

In the history of Christianity, the African Rite refers to a now defunct Christian, Western liturgical rite, and is considered a development or possibly a local use of the primitive Roman Rite. It used the Latin language.

The African Rite may be considered in two different periods: The ante-Nicene period when Christians were persecuted and could not freely develop forms of public worship, and when the liturgical prayers and acts had not become fixed; and the post-Nicene period when the simple, improvised forms of prayer gave way to more elaborate, set formularies, and the primitive liturgical actions evolved into grand and formal ceremonies.

Apologeticus

Apologeticus (Latin: Apologeticum or Apologeticus) is Tertullian's most famous work, consisting of apologetic and polemic. In this work Tertullian defends Christianity, demanding legal toleration and that Christians be treated as all other sects of the Roman Empire. It is in this treatise that one finds the phrase: "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church" (Apologeticus, Chapter 50).

There is a similarity of content, if not of purpose, between this work and Tertullian's Ad nationes—published earlier in the same year—and it has been claimed that the latter is a finished draft of Apologeticus. There arises also the question of similarity to Minucius Felix's dialogue Octavius. Some paragraphs are shared by both texts; it is not known which predated the other.

Tertullian's brief De testimonio animae ("Concerning the Evidences of the Soul") is an appendix to the Apologeticus, intended to illustrate the meaning of the phrase testimonium animae naturaliter christianae in chapter 17).

Apostolic see

An apostolic see is an episcopal see whose foundation is attributed to one or more of the apostles of Jesus or to one of their close associates. In Catholicism the phrase, with "the" and usually capitalized, refers to the See of Rome.Tertullian (c. 155 − c. 240) gives examples of apostolic sees: he describes as churches "in which the very thrones of the apostles are still pre-eminent in their places, in which their own authentic writings are read, uttering the voice and representing the face of each of them severally" the following churches: Corinth, Philippi, Ephesus, and Rome. And many more local churches are known to have been founded or at least governed by Saint Paul the Apostle and other apostles.

Tertullian says that from these "all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches".

Christian cross

The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus, is the best-known symbol of Christianity. It is related to the crucifix (a cross that includes a corpus, usually a three-dimensional representation of Jesus' body) and to the more general family of cross symbols, the term cross itself being detached from the original specifically Christian meaning in modern English (as in many other western languages).The basic forms of the cross are the Latin cross with unequal arms (✝) and the Greek cross (✚) with equal arms, besides numerous variants, partly with confessional significance, such as the tau cross, the double-barred cross, triple-barred cross, cross-and-crosslets, and many heraldic variants, such as the cross potent, cross pattée, cross moline, cross fleury, etc.

Christianity in the 2nd century

Christianity in the 2nd century was largely the time of the development of variant Christian teachings, and the Apostolic Fathers who are regarded as defenders of the developing proto-orthodoxy. Major figures who were later declared by the developing proto-orthodoxy to be heretics were Marcion, Valentinius, and Montanus.

While the Jewish Christian church was centered in Jerusalem in the 1st century, Gentile Christianity became decentralized in the 2nd century.Although the use of the term Christian is attested in the Acts of the Apostles (80–90 AD), the earliest recorded use of the term Christianity (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) is by Ignatius of Antioch about 107 AD, who is also associated with modification of the sabbath, promotion of the bishop, and critique of the Judaizers.

Christianity in the 3rd century

Christianity in the 3rd century was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries but before the First Council of Nicaea in 325 (ante-nicene meaning before Nicaea).

In the Edict of Milan (313 AD) the Roman Emperors Constantine the Great and Licinius legalised the Christian religion.

Church Fathers

The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers. There is no definitive list. The era of these scholars who set the theological and scholarly foundations of Christianity largely ended by AD 700 (John of Damascus died in 749 AD, Byzantine Iconoclasm began in 726 AD).In the past, the Church Fathers were regarded as authoritative and more restrictive definitions were used which sought to limit the list to authors treated as such. However, the definition has widened as scholars of patristics, the study of the Church Fathers, have expanded their scope.

Credo quia absurdum

Credo quia absurdum is a Latin phrase that means "I believe because it is absurd", originally misattributed to Tertullian in his De Carne Christi. The original phrase was "It is certain because it is unfitting" in an anti-Marcionite context, however, through early modern, Protestant and Enlightenment rhetoric against Catholicism and religion more broadly, was changed to "I believe because it is absurd" for a personally religious context.

Fideism

Fideism () is an epistemological theory which maintains that faith is independent of reason, or that reason and faith are hostile to each other and faith is superior at arriving at particular truths (see natural theology). The word fideism comes from fides, the Latin word for faith, and literally means "faith-ism".Theologians and philosophers have responded in various ways to the place of faith and reason in determining the truth of metaphysical ideas, morality, and religious beliefs. A fideist is one who argues for fideism. Historically, fideism is most commonly ascribed to four philosophers: Blaise Pascal, Søren Kierkegaard, William James, and Ludwig Wittgenstein; with fideism being a label applied in a negative sense by their opponents, but which is not always supported by their own ideas and works or followers. There are a number of different forms of fideism.

Marcionism

Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144.Marcion believed Jesus was the savior sent by God, and Paul the Apostle was his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament.

Marcionism, similar to Gnosticism, depicted the God of the Old Testament as a tyrant or demiurge (see also God as the Devil). Marcion was the son of a bishop of Sinope in Pontus. About the middle of the second century (140–155) he traveled to Rome, where he joined the Syrian Gnostic Cerdo.Marcion's canon, possibly the first Christian canon ever compiled, consisted of eleven books: a gospel consisting of ten sections drawn from the Gospel of Luke; and ten Pauline epistles. Marcion's canon rejected the entire Old Testament, along with all other epistles and gospels of what would become the 27-book New Testament canon, which during his life had yet to be compiled. Paul's epistles enjoy a prominent position in the Marcionite canon, since Paul was considered by Marcion to be Christ's only true apostle.Marcionism was denounced by its opponents as heresy and written against – notably by Tertullian in a five-book treatise, Adversus Marcionem (Against Marcion), in about 208. Marcion's writings are lost, though they were widely read and numerous manuscripts must have existed. Even so, many scholars claim it is possible to reconstruct and deduce a large part of ancient Marcionism through what later critics, especially Tertullian, said concerning Marcion.

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 similar views about the basic tenets of Christian doctrine to those of the wider Christian Church, but it was labelled a heresy for its belief in new prophetic revelations. The prophetic movement called for a reliance on the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit and a more conservative personal ethic. Parallels have been drawn between Montanism and modern-day movements such as Pentecostalism and the charismatic movement.It originated in Phrygia, a province of Asia Minor, and flourished throughout the region, leading to the movement being referred to elsewhere as "Cataphrygian" (meaning it was "from Phrygia") or simply as "Phrygian". It spread rapidly to other regions in the Roman Empire before Christianity was generally tolerated or legal. It persisted in some isolated places into the 6th century.

Ophites

The Ophites or Ophians (Greek Ὀφιανοί Ophianoi, from ὄφις ophis "snake") were members of a Christian Gnostic sect depicted by Hippolytus of Rome (170–235) in a lost work, the Syntagma ("arrangement").

It is now thought that later accounts of these "Ophites" by Pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius and Epiphanius of Salamis are all dependent on the lost Syntagma of Hippolytus. It is possible that rather than an actual sectarian name Hippolytus may have invented "Ophite" as a generic term for what he considered heretical speculations concerning the serpent of Genesis or Moses.Apart from the sources directly dependent on Hippolytus (Pseudo-Tertullian, Philastrius and Epiphanius), Origen and Clement of Alexandria also mention the group. The group is mentioned by Irenaeus in Adversus Haereses (1:30).

Pallium (Roman cloak)

The pallium was a Roman cloak, which replaced the toga as the prescribed court garment for high-ranking citizens, and especially civil officials, up to the rank of senator. It was similar in form to the palla, which had been worn by respectable Roman women since the mid-Republican era. It was a rectangular length of cloth, as was the himation in ancient Greece. It was usually made from wool or flax, but for the higher classes it could be made of silk with the use of gold threads and embroideries.

The garment varied in fineness, colour and ornament. It could be white, purple red (purpurea from murex), black, yellow, blue, pale green, etc.

The pallium was originally considered to be exclusively Greek and despised by Romans, but was favoured by ordinary people, philosophers, and pedagogues. Tertullian thought it the most appropriate garment for philosophers and Christians.

It officially replaced the toga under the Theodosian Lex Vestiaria of 382; the same law prescribed the paenula for senators.It is not to be confused with the pallium used by Catholic clergy, which is related to the omophorion.

Patrologia Latina

The Patrologia Latina (Latin for The Latin Patrology) is an enormous collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and other ecclesiastical writers published by Jacques-Paul Migne between 1841 and 1855, with indices published between 1862 and 1865. It is also known as the Latin series as it formed one half of Migne's Patrologiae Cursus Completus, the other part being the Patrologia Graeco-Latina of patristic and medieval Greek works with their (sometimes non-matching) medieval Latin translations.

Although consisting of reprints of old editions, which often contain mistakes and do not comply with modern standards of scholarship, the series, due to its availability (it is present in many academic libraries) and the fact that it incorporates many texts of which no modern critical edition is available, is still widely used by scholars of the Middle Ages and is in this respect comparable to the Monumenta Germaniae Historica.

The Patrologia Latina includes Latin works spanning a millennium, from Tertullian (d. 230) to Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), edited in roughly chronological order in 217 volumes;

volumes 1 to 73, from Tertullian to Gregory of Tours, were published from 1841 to 1849, and volumes 74 to 217, from Pope Gregory I to Innocent III, from 1849 to 1855.

Although the collection ends with Innocent III,

Migne originally wanted to include documents all the way up to the Reformation; this task proved too great, but some later commentaries or documents associated with earlier works were included.

Most of the works are ecclesiastic in nature, but there are also documents of literary, historical or linguistic (such as the Gothic bible in vol. 18) interest.

The printing plates for the Patrologia were destroyed by fire in 1868, but with help from the Garnier printing house they were restored and new editions were printed, beginning in the 1880s. These reprints did not always correspond exactly with the original series either in quality or internal arrangement, and caution should be exercised when referencing to the PL in general.

Religio licita

Religio licita ("permitted religion," also translated as "approved religion") is a phrase used in the Apologeticum of Tertullian to describe the special status of the Jews in the Roman Empire. It was not an official term in Roman law.Although it occurs in only one patristic text and in no classical Roman sources or inscriptions, the phrase has spawned abundant scholarly conjecture on its possible significance. Some scholars have gone so far as to imagine that all religions under the Empire had a legal status as either licita or illicita, despite the absence of any ancient texts referring to these categories. The most extreme view has held that Tertullian's phrase means all foreign religions required a license from the Roman government. But it was Roman custom to permit or even encourage the subject peoples of the provinces and foreign communities in Rome to maintain their ancestral religion, unless specific practices were regarded as disruptive or subversive: "A religio was licita for a particular group on the basis of tribe or nationality and traditional practices, coupled with the proviso that its rites were not offensive to the Roman people or its gods."Tertullian uses the phrase in a passage arguing that Christians should be granted the same freedom to practice their religion as any other inhabitant of the Empire; the passage itself, and not the phrase religio licita, is evidence of the general tolerance afforded under the Roman system of religion.

Trinitarianism in the Church Fathers

Whether the earliest Church Fathers believed in the Trinity or not is a subject for debate. Some of the evidence used to support an early belief in the Trinity are triadic statements (referring to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) from the New Testament and the Church Fathers. The view that the Son was 'of the essence of the Father, God of God...very God of very God' was formally ratified at the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The Holy Spirit was included at the First Council of Constantinople (381 AD), where the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one substance (ousia) and three co-equal persons (hypostaseis) was formally ratified.

Valentinus (Gnostic)

Valentinus (also spelled Valentinius; c. AD 100 – c. 160) was the best known and, for a time, most successful early Christian gnostic theologian. He founded his school in Rome. According to Tertullian, Valentinus was a candidate for bishop of Rome but started his own group when another was chosen.Valentinus produced a variety of writings, but only fragments survive, largely those embedded in refuted quotations in the works of his opponents, not enough to reconstruct his system except in broad outline. His doctrine is known to us only in the developed and modified form given to it by his disciples. He taught that there were three kinds of people, the spiritual, psychical, and material; and that only those of a spiritual nature received the gnosis (knowledge) that allowed them to return to the divine Pleroma, while those of a psychic nature (ordinary Christians) would attain a lesser or uncertain form of salvation, and that those of a material nature were doomed to perish.Valentinus had a large following, the Valentinians. It later divided into an Eastern and a Western, or Italian, branch. The Marcosians belonged to the Western branch.

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