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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: The Lateness of the Revelation of Marcion's God. The Question of the Place Occupied by the Rival Deities. Instead of Two Gods, Marcion Really (Although, as It Would Seem, Unconsciously) Had Nine Gods in His System.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XV.—The Lateness of the Revelation of Marcion’s God. The Question of the Place Occupied by the Rival Deities. Instead of Two Gods, Marcion Really (Although, as It Would Seem, Unconsciously) Had Nine Gods in His System.

After all, or, if you like, 2502 before all, since you have said that he has a creation 2503 of his own, and his own world, and his own sky; we shall see, 2504 indeed, about that third heaven, when we come to discuss even your own aposp. 282 tle. 2505 Meanwhile, whatever is the (created) substance, it ought at any rate to have made its appearance in company with its own god. But now, how happens it that the Lord has been revealed since the twelfth year of Tiberius Cæsar, while no creation of His at all has been discovered up to the fifteenth of the Emperor Severus; 2506 although, as being more excellent than the paltry works 2507 of the Creator, it should certainly have ceased to conceal itself, when its lord and author no longer lies hid? I ask, therefore, 2508 if it was unable to manifest itself in this world, how did its Lord appear in this world? If this world received its Lord, why was it not able to receive the created substance, unless perchance it was greater than its Lord? But now there arises a question about place, having reference both to the world above and to the God thereof. For, behold, if he 2509 has his own world beneath him, above the Creator, he has certainly fixed it in a position, the space of which was empty between his own feet and the Creator’s head. Therefore God both Himself occupied local space, and caused the world to occupy local space; and this local space, too, will be greater than God and the world together. For in no case is that which contains not greater than that which is contained.  And indeed we must look well to it that no small patches 2510 be left here and there vacant, in which some third god also may be able with a world of his own to foist himself in. 2511 Now, begin to reckon up your gods. There will be local space for a god, not only as being greater than God, but as being also unbegotten and unmade, and therefore eternal, and equal to God, in which God has ever been. Then, inasmuch as He too has fabricated 2512 a world out of some underlying material which is unbegotten, and unmade, and contemporaneous with God, just as Marcion holds of the Creator, you reduce this likewise to the dignity of that local space which has enclosed two gods, both God and matter. For matter also is a god according to the rule of Deity, being (to be sure) unbegotten, and unmade, and eternal. If, however, it was out of nothing that he made his world, this also (our heretic) will be obliged to predicate 2513 of the Creator, to whom he subordinates 2514 matter in the substance of the world.  But it will be only right that he 2515 too should have made his world out of matter, because the same process occurred to him as God which lay before the Creator as equally God. And thus you may, if you please, reckon up so far, 2516 three gods as Marcion’s,—the Maker, local space, and matter. Furthermore, 2517 he in like manner makes the Creator a god in local space, which is itself to be appraised on a precisely identical scale of dignity; and to Him as its lord he subordinates matter, which is notwithstanding unbegotten, and unmade, and by reason hereof eternal. With this matter he further associates evil, an unbegotten principle with an unbegotten object, an unmade with an unmade, and an eternal with an eternal; so here he makes a fourth God. Accordingly you have three substances of Deity in the higher instances, and in the lower ones four. When to these are added their Christs—the one which appeared in the time of Tiberius, the other which is promised by the Creator—Marcion suffers a manifest wrong from those persons who assume that he holds two gods, whereas he implies 2518 no less than nine, 2519 though he knows it not.


Footnotes

281:2502

Vel.

281:2503

Conditionem.

281:2504

Adv. Marcionem, v. 12.

282:2505

For Marcion’s exclusive use, and consequent abuse, of St. Paul, see Neander’s Antignostikus (Bohn), vol. ii. pp. 491, 505, 506.

282:2506

[This date not merely settles the time of our author’s work against Marcion, but supplies us with evidence that his total lapse must have been very late in life. For the five books, written at intervals and marked by progressive tokens of his spiritual decline, are as a whole, only slightly offensive to Orthodoxy. This should be borne in mind.]

282:2507

Frivolis. Again in reference to Marcion undervaluing the creation as the work of the Demiurge.

282:2508

Et ideo.

282:2509

In this and the following sentences, the reader will observe the distinction which is drawn between the Supreme and good God of Marcion and his “Creator,” or Demiurge.

282:2510

Subsiciva.

282:2511

Stipare se.

282:2512

Molitus est.

282:2513

Sentire.

282:2514

Subicit.

282:2515

The Supreme and good God. Tertullian here gives it as one of Marcion’s tenets, that the Demiurge created the World out of pre-existent matter.

282:2516

Interim.

282:2517

Proinde et.

282:2518

Assignet.

282:2519

Namely, (1) the supreme and good God; (2) His Christ; (3) the space in which He dwells; (4) the matter of His creation; (5) the Demiurge (or Marcion’s “Creator”); (6) his promised Christ; (7) the space which contains him; (8) this world, his creation; (9) evil, inherent in it.


Next: Marcion Assumes the Existence of Two Gods from the Antithesis Between Things Visible and Things Invisible. This Antithetical Principle in Fact Characteristic of the Works of the Creator, the One God--Maker of All Things Visible and Invisible.

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