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On the Resurrection of the Flesh.

The heretics against whom this work is directed, were the same who maintained that the demiurge, or the god who created this world and gave the Mosaic dispensation, was opposed to the supreme God. Hence they attached an idea of inherent corruption and worthlessness to all his works—amongst the rest, to the flesh or body of man; affirming that it could not rise again, and that the soul alone was capable of inheriting immortality.72847284    See Bp. Kaye, On Tertullian, p. 256. A full examination of the tenets of these Gnostic heretics occurs in our author’s Treatise against Marcion. An able review of Tertullian’s line of thought in this work on the resurrection occurs in Neander’s Antignostikus, Bohn’s translation, ii. 478–486.  [There is a decisive ebullition of Montanistic fanaticism in cap. xi., and in the second chapter there is a reference to the De Carne Christi. Date this treatise circa a.d. 208.]

[Translated by Dr. Holmes.]


Chapter I.—The Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Body Brought to Light by the Gospel. The Faintest Glimpses of Something Like It Occasionally Met with in Heathenism.  Inconsistencies of Pagan Teaching.

The resurrection of the dead is the Christian’s trust.72857285    Fiducia. By it we are believers. To the belief of this (article of the faith) truth compels us—that truth which God reveals, but the crowd derides, which supposes that nothing will survive after death.  And yet they do honour72867286    Parentant. to their dead, and that too in the most expensive way according to their bequest, and with the daintiest banquets which the seasons can produce,72877287    Pro temporibus esculentorum. on the presumption that those whom they declare to be incapable of all perception still retain an appetite.72887288    Etiam desiderar. But (let the crowd deride): I on my side must deride it still more, especially when it burns up its dead with harshest inhumanity, only to pamper them immediately afterwards with gluttonous satiety, using the selfsame fires to honour them and to insult them. What piety is that which mocks its victims with cruelty? Is it sacrifice or insult (which the crowd offers), when it burns its offerings to those it has already burnt?72897289    Cum crematis cremat. But the wise, too, join with the vulgar crowd in their opinion sometimes. There is nothing after death, according to the school of Epicurus. After death all things come to an end, even death itself, says Seneca to like effect.  It is satisfactory, however, that the no less important philosophy of Pythagoras and Empedocles, and the Plantonists, take the contrary view, and declare the soul to be immortal; affirming, moreover, in a way which most nearly approaches (to our own doctrine),72907290    Adhuc proxime: “Christianæ scilicet doctrinæ.” Oehler. that the soul actually returns into bodies, although not the same bodies, and not even those of human beings invariably:  thus Euphorbus is supposed to have passed into Phythagoras, and Homer into a peacock. They firmly pronounced the soul’s renewal72917291    Recidivatum. to be in a body,72927292    Corporalem. (deeming it) more tolerable to change the quality (of the corporeal state) than to deny it wholly: they at least knocked at the door of truth, although they entered not. Thus the world, with all its errors, does not ignore the resurrection of the dead.

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