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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: The Truly Incarnate State More Worthy of God Than Marcion's Fantastic Flesh.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter X.—The Truly Incarnate State More Worthy of God Than Marcion’s Fantastic Flesh.

Therefore, since you are not permitted to resort to any instances of the Creator, as alien from the subject, and possessing special causes of their own, I should like you to state yourself the design of your god, in exhibiting his Christ not in the reality of flesh. If he despised it as earthly, and (as you express it) full of dung, 3229 why did he not on that account include the likeness of it also in his contempt? For no honour is to be attributed to the image of anything which is itself unworthy of honour. As the natural state is, so will the likeness be. But how could he hold converse with men except in the image of human substance? 3230 Why, then, not rather in the reality thereof, that his intercourse might be real, since he was under the necessity of holding it? And to how much better account would this necessity have been turned by ministering to faith rather than to a fraud! 3231 The god whom you make is miserable enough, for this very reason that he was unable to display his Christ except in the effigy of an unworthy, and indeed an alien, thing. In some instances, it will be convenient to use even unworthy things, if they be only our own, as it will also be quite improper to use things, be they ever so worthy, if they be not our own. 3232 Why, then, did he not come in some other worthier substance, and especially his own, that he might not seem as if he could not have done without an unworthy and an alien one? Now, since my Creator held intercourse with man by means of even a bush and fire, and again afterwards by means of a cloud and column, 3233 and in representations of Himself used bodies composed of the elements, these examples of divine power afford sufficient proof that God did not require the instrumentality of false or even of real flesh.  But yet, if we look steadily into the subject, there is really no substance which is worthy of becoming a vestment for God. Whatsoever He is pleased to clothe Himself withal, He makes worthy of Himself—only without untruth. 3234 Therefore how comes it to pass that he should have thought the verity of the flesh, rather than its unreality, a disgrace? Well, but he honoured it by his fiction of it. How great, then, is that flesh, the very phantasy of which was a necessity to the superior God!


Footnotes

329:3229

Stercoribus infersam.

329:3230

A Marcionite argument.

329:3231

Stropham, a player’s trick; so in Spectac. 29.

329:3232

Alienis.

329:3233

Globum.

329:3234

Mendacio.


Next: Christ Was Truly Born; Marcion's Absurd Cavil in Defence of a Putative Nativity.

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