Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Specific Points. The Novelty of Marcion's God Fatal to His Pretensions. God is from Everlasting, He Cannot Be in Any Wise New.
Chapter VIII.—Specific Points. The Novelty of Marcions God Fatal to His Pretensions. God is from Everlasting, He Cannot Be in Any Wise New.
In the first place, how arrogantly do the Marcionites build up their stupid system, 2410 bringing forward a new god, as if we were ashamed of the old one! So schoolboys are proud of their new shoes, but their old master beats their strutting vanity out of them. Now when I hear of a new god, 2411 who, in the old world and in the old time and under the old god was unknown and unheard of; whom, (accounted as no one through such long centuries back, and ancient in mens very ignorance of him), 2412 a certain “Jesus Christ,” and none else revealed; whom Christ revealed, they say—Christ himself new, according to them, even, in ancient names—I feel grateful for this conceit 2413 of theirs. For by its help I shall at once be able to prove the heresy of their tenet of a new deity. It will turn out to be such a novelty 2414 as has made gods even for the heathen by some new and yet again and ever new title 2415 for each several deification. What new god is there, except a false one? Not even Saturn will be proved to be a god by all his ancient fame, because it was a novel pretence which some time or other produced even him, when it first gave him godship. 2416 On the contrary, living and perfect 2417 Deity has its origin 2418 neither in novelty nor in antiquity, but in its own true nature. Eternity has no time. It is itself all time. It acts; it cannot then suffer. It cannot be born, therefore it lacks age. God, if old, forfeits the eternity that is to come; if new, the eternity which is past. 2419 The newness bears witness to a beginning; the oldness threatens an end. God, moreover, is as independent of beginning and end as He is of time, which is only the arbiter and measurer of a beginning and an end.
[Cap. xix. infra.]276:2412
The original of this obscure passage is: “Novum igitur audiens deum, in vetere mundo et in vetere ævo et sub vetere deo inauditum quem tantis retro seculis neminem, et ipsa ignorantia antiquum, quidam Jesus Christus, et ille in veteribus nominibus novus, revelaverit, nec alius antehac.” The harsh expression, “quidam Jesus Christus,” bears, of course, a sarcastic reference to the capricious and inconsistent novelty which Marcion broached in his heresy about Christ. [By some slight chance in punctuation and arrangement, I have endeavoured to make it a little clearer.]276:2413
Gloriæ. [Qu. boast?]276:2414
Hæc erit novitas quæ.276:2415
Novo semper ac novo titulo.276:2416
Censetur. A frequent meaning in Tertullian. See Apol. 7 and 12.276:2419
We cannot preserve the terseness of the Latin: Deus, si est vetus, non erit; si est novus, non fuit.
Next: Marcion's Gnostic Pretensions Vain, for the True God is Neither Unknown Nor Uncertain. The Creator, Whom He Owns to Be God, Alone Supplies an Induction, by Which to Judge of the True God.
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