« Prev Tertullian. A.D. 200. Next »

Tertullian. A.D. 200.

Tertullian, originally a lawyer, in mature life converted to Christianity, and one of its ablest and most fearless advocates against infidels and heretics, flourished towards the close of the second and the beginning of the third century as presbyter in Northern Africa, till about A.D. 220. He was a rugged and eccentric genius, and joined the Montanist sect, which believed in the advent of the age of the Paraclete in the person of Montanus, the continuance of the gift of prophecy in woman as well as man, and the near approach of the millennium, and which maintained severe discipline and some peculiar customs, in opposition to the more tolerant practice of the Catholic Church. He placed truth ( veritas ) above authority and custom ( vetus consuetude ). But otherwise he was one of the strongest champions of 17catholic orthodoxy against the Gnostic heresies, and would allow no change in matters of fundamental doctrine. He alludes three times to the Creed, and quotes the chief articles with some variations and interwoven with his comments. In other places he mentions only one or two articles, as the occasion suggested. See Walch, pp. 7–10; Hahn, pp. 68–73; Heurtley, pp. 13–17; Swainson, pp. 35–40.


First Form.

De Virginibus Velandis, cap. 1.

Regula quidem fidei una omnino est, sola, immobilis, et irreformabilis, credendi scilicet

The Rule of Faith is altogether one, sole, immovable, and irreformable—namely, to believe
In unicum Deum Omnipotentem, in one God Almighty,
mundi conditorem; the Maker of the world;
et Filium ejus, Jesum Christum, and his Son, Jesus Christ,
natum ex Virgine Maria, born of the Virgin Mary,
crucifixum sub Pontio Pilato, crucified under Pontius Pilate,

tertia die resuscitatum a mortuis,

on the third day raised again from the dead,
receptum in cælis, received in the heavens,

sedentem nunc ad dexteram Patris,

sitting now at the right hand of the Father,

venturum judicare vivos et mortuos,

coming to judge the quick and the dead,

per carnis etiam resurrectionem. 88    That is: This also belongs to the unchangeable rule of faith, that the Lord will hold general judgment after the dead are raised to life again. Neander (Tertull. p. 303) transposes etiam before per: 'To judge the dead also through the resurrection.' To this Tertullian adds: ' Hac lege fidei manente, cætera jam disciplinæ et conversationis admittunt novitatem correctionis, operante scilicet et proficiente usque in finem gratia Dei ' (This law of faith remaining, all other matters of discipline and conversation admit of the novelty of correction, the grace of God, namely, working and advancing to the end). The article on the Holy Ghost is here omitted.

also through the resurrection of the flesh.


Second Form.

Adv. Praxeam (a Patripassian Unitarian), cap. 2.

Nos vero et semper, et nunc magis, ut instructiores per Paracletum, Deductorem scilicet omnis veritatis,

But we believe always, and now more, being better instructed by the Paraclete, the Leader into all truth,


Unicum quidem Deum credimus:

One God:99    In the Latin the following sentences depend on credimus. The English idiom requires more freedom.

sub hac tamen dispensatione, quam œconomiam dicimus,

but under this dispensation which we call economy,

ut unici Dei sit et Filius,

and the Son of the one God,

Sermo ipsius, qui ex ipso processerit,

his Word [Logos] who proceeded from him,

per quem omnia facta sunt,

by whom all things were made,

et sine quo factum est nihil.

(John i. 3.)

and without whom nothing was made.

Hunc missum a Patre in Virginem,

This was sent from the Father into the Virgin,

et ex ea natum,

and was born of her,

hominem et Deum, Filium hominis et Filium Dei,

both Man and God, the Son of Man and the Son of God,

et cognominatum Jesum Christum:

and called Jesus Christ:

Hunc passum,

He suffered,

hunc mortuum et sepultum,

he died and was buried,

secundum Scripturas; according to the Scriptures;1010    This important insertion (the only express recognition of the Scriptures in the Creed) is also found in the Nicene Creed ( κατὰ τὰς γραφάς ), after the clause risen on the third day, but disappeared in the later forms of the Apostles' Creed.
et resuscitatum a Patre, and raised again by the Father,
et in cælos resumptum, and taken up into the heavens,

sedere ad dexteram Patris,

and sitteth at the right hand of the Father,

venturum judicare vivos et mortuos:

he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

qui exinde miserit, secundum promissionem suam, a Patre,

He thence did send, according to his promise, from the Father,

Spiritum Sanctum, Paracletum,

the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete,

Sanctificatorem fidei eorum qui credunt in Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum. 1111    To this Tertullian adds: ' Hanc regulam ab initio Evangelii decucurrisse, etiam ante priores quosque hæreticos, ne dum ante Praxean hesternum, probabit tam ipsa posteritas omnium hæreticorum, quam ipsa novellitas Praxeæ hesterni. ' i.e. 'That this rule has come down from the beginning of the gospel, even before the earlier heretics, and so of course before the Praxeas of yesterday, is proved both by the lateness of all heretics, and by the novelty of this Praxeas of yesterday.'

the Sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.



Third Form.

De Præscript. Hæret. cap. 13.

Regula est autem fidei, … illa scilicet qua creditur,

The Rule of Faith is, … namely, that by which we believe

Unum omnino Deum esse,

That there is but one God,

nec alium præter mundi conditorem,

and no other besides the Maker of the world,

qui universa de nihilo produxerit,

who produced the universe out of nothing,

per Verbum suum primo omnium demissum;

by his Word sent forth first of all;

id Verbum, Filium ejus appellatum,

that this Word, called his Son,

in nomine Dei varie visum a patriarchis,

was seen in the name of God in various ways by the patriarchs,

in prophetis semper auditum,

was always heard in the prophets,

postremo delatum, ex Spiritu Patris Dei et virtute, in Virginem Mariam,

at last was sent down, from the Spirit and power of God the Father, into the Virgin Mary,

carnem, factum in utero ejus, et ex ea natum,

was made flesh in her womb, and born of her,

egisse1212    Al. exisse (Cod. Urs.). Jesum Christum;

lived (appeared) as Jesus Christ;

exinde prædicasse novam legem

that then he preached the new law

et novam promissionem regni cælorum;

and the new promise of the kingdom of heaven;

virtutes fecisse;

wrought miracles;

fixum cruci;

was nailed to the cross;

tertia die resurrexisse;

rose again on the third day;

in cælos ereptum;

was caught up to the heavens;

sedisse1313    Al. sedere, sitteth. ad dexteram Patris;

and sat down at the right hand of the Father;


misisse vicariam vim Spiritus Sancti,

sent in his place the power of the Holy Ghost,

qui credentes agat;

to guide the believers;

venturum cum claritate

he will come again with glory

ad sumendos sanctos in vitæ æternæ et promissorum cælestium fructum,

to take the saints into the enjoyment of eternal life and the celestial promises,

et ad profanos adjudicandos igni perpetuo,

and to judge the wicked with eternal fire,

facta utriusque partis resuscitatione,

after the resuscitation (resurrection) of both,

cum carnis restitutione. 1414     'Hæc regula,' he adds here also, 'a Christo, ut probabitur, instituta nullas habet apud nos quæstiones, nisi quas hæreses inferunt et quæ hæreticos faciunt; cæterum manente forma ejus in suo ordine, quantum libet quæras et tractes et omnem libidinem curiositatis effundas.'

with the restitution (restoration) of the flesh.


« Prev Tertullian. A.D. 200. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |