Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dates for Some of Tertullian's Works (According to FL Cross)

From F. L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers (London: Penguin, 1993), 141-142.

1. Adversus Marcionem (circa 208-211 CE)

2. Adversus Hermogenem (circa 200 CE)

3. De Carne Christi (210-213 CE)

4. De Carnis Resurrectione (210-212 CE)


Matt13weedhacker said...

LATIN TEXT: “...Hic [4.] cum usque ad mediam aetatem presbyter Ecclesiae permansisset, invidia postea et contumeliis clericorum Romanae Ecclesiae, ad Montani dogma delapsus, in multis libris Novae Prophetiae meminit...” - (De Viris Illustribus, Chapter 53:4, Migne, J.P., Patrologia Latina 23 (1845), Col 661-664, with a couple of amendments from Biblioteca Patristica 12, 1988.)

JEROME (circa. 347-420 C.E.): “...[4.] This one was a presbyter of the church until his middle year, but later, because of the envy and reproaches of the clergy of the Roman church, he had lapsed into Montanism, and he makes mention of the New Prophecy in many books...” - (De Viris Illustribus, Chapter 53:4, From Halton, Thomas P., Saint Jerome: On Illustrious Men, Fathers of the Church 100, Catholic University of America Press (1999), pp.74-6. Checked)

JEROME (circa. 347-420 C.E.): “...Tertullian was a priest of the church until middle age, but then, because of the envy and insults of the clergy of the church of Rome, he lapsed into Montanism and refers to the New Prophecy in many treatises...” - (De Viris Illustribus, Chapter 53:4, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Edited by Roberts and Donaldson.)

Jeromes: “De Viris Illustribus,” was written in Bethlehem (circa 392-393 C.E.) = approx. 168 years after Tertullian's death.

I would translate Ltn., ( usque ad mediam aetatem ): “...up to middle age...”

The two above: “...until his middle year...” or “...until middle age...”

I date Tertullian (circa. 145-225 C.E.).

By this dating he lived to approx. 80 years of age.

So his “...middle age/year...” = 40 years old.

So I would give an approx. date circa. 185 C.E.

Jerome relates Ltn., ( usque ad ): “...up to...” or “...until...” and Ltn., ( postea ) “ after...” or “...there after...” he:

Ltn., ( ad Montani dogma delapsus ) “...fell into [the] dogma of Montanus...”

Or “...sunk down into [the] doctrine of Montanus...”

Or “...sunk down into [the depths of] the philosophical-tenets of Montanus...”

Jerome uses a very descriptive word for Tertullians fall:

Ltn., ( delapsus ) = perfect passive (supine) masculine nominative singular

1. to fall, sink, slip down, glide down, descend
2. [figuratively] to come down, sink, descend, fall, slide, stoop, condescend
3. [of sounds] to descend, be derived

Edgar Foster said...


Your input is appreciated. I looked back at my book on Tertullian (revised M.Th. thesis) and noted that I suggested Tertullian's dates may have been 160-220, although Evans posits that Tertullian died in 240 CE based on a passage from Jerome which describes the VIR ARDENS from Carthage as living AD DECREPITAM AETATEM. Conversely, O. Bardenhewer (in his Patrology, page 179) claims that Tertullian died in 220 CE. From what I remember, Timothy Barnes also undertook some intensive research on the chronology of Tertullian's Leben und Schriften.

Edgar Foster said...

You can find Bardenhewer's text here:

Matt13weedhacker said...

Dear Edgar.

Would it be an accurate to summarize the posistions of the respective parties in Tertullian's Against Praxaes as the following:

1.) TERTULLIAN = did believe in a “...MONARCHY...” but as a three persons in one substance eceonomy or dispensation

2.) PRAXAES = believed in a “...MONARCHY...” but as one person three manifestations/modes

3.) THE MAJORITY OF CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS = believed in the “...MONARCHY...” of the Father alone as the one God and absolute ruler

Of course there are far more details and intricacies than that, but to put it breifly to someone is this how you would put it?

Or would you say something different?

I always value your opinion Edgar and like to pass things by you before I use them.

Edgar Foster said...

Hi Mt13:

I believe that you understand Tertullian correctly. I would qualify his use of the expression "three persons" but he does support the notion of a monarchy while believing that God is revealed as three PERSONAE in the divine economy. You're also correct about Praxeas who argued for a modalistic view of God (three modes/one person) whereas the simplices adhered to a strict monarchical view of God.

Matt13weedhacker said...

Hi Edgar.

May I ask please, as a matter of interest, how you would qualify "...three persons..."?

It's amazing how the same mind set of that Tertullain of ridiculing the "...majority of believers..." as simple and un-learned and as the phsycics has not really changed. The tri{3}nitarians today still resort to belittlement and insulting the inteliegence of those who don't believe as they do.

I do believe that there is a difference between what is now called "Monachism" and the 2nd century view of a monarchia.

In Adv. Prax. it appears that it was a Monarchy or rule by ( one person ) who was the Father, judging by Tertullians own comments in the later part of chapter three, that was the one God described in the rule of faith.

He just wanted to put a "NEW PROPHECY" spin and new interpretation on it.

I think he was trying to compete with Praxaes, and those of like doctrine, for -- acceptence -- by the "Orthodox," (for want of a better word), Christians, going by the events described in chapter 1.

For it appears that the Montantist's were on the verge of being accepted in Rome.

It's interesting, that if genuine, Hippolytus (of Rome) writings, along with Dionysius, also (of Rome), who speaks of a "Monarchy" as well, started to speak of a "trinity" - only - after the this period.

Did the Montantist's preaching infect the Christians (in Rome)?

Did the elements of Noetus and Praxaes and Sabellius teachings inffect (Roman) Christians?

This last question is a definite yes, according to Hippolytus.

Perhaps it is fesible that they started to blend elements of them both.

Tertullian modified the doctrine of Montanus himself, who taught more of a Modalistic idea than Tertullian, judging by the remaining Montantist's oracles attributed to him, and by the Roman Christians incorporating these views with their own, deviated from the original "Monarchy" of the Father alone.

That's what I think possibly happened. It's a crucial era around the time when Adverse Praxaes takes place. There seems to be a clear before and after shift in Christian doctrine as a reaction to both the montantist's and the Sabellian type ideas.

Edgar Foster said...


Here are some quotes that indicate how I would qualify Tertullian's "trinitarianism." The first quote is from Jean Danielou's work on this history of doctrine. He contends that in Tertullian's theology:

"The Son and the Spirit are distinguished, therefore, from the Father in that they have their own subsistent being, which is not, however, based on their eternal specific individuality, but rather on their function in relation to God's creation [i.e. the economy]. Tertullian does not manage to
get beyond the combination of a modalism with regard to the
distinctness of the individual persons and a subordinationism with
regard to their existential plurality" (Danielou 3:364).

Harnack also argues concerning Tertullian's account of God subsisting alone before the
generation of Discourse:

"If even men can carry on conversations with themselves and make themselves objects of reflection, how much more is this possible with God. But as yet he was the only PERSON" (Harnack, History of Dogma, page 2:259).

Gerald Bray likewise says that Tertullian came right up to the line (so to speak) of Trinity belief, but never crossed it. His trinitarianism differs substantially from the post-Nicene version of God's triunity.