Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Each Side Claims to Possess the True Gospel. Antiquity the Criterion of Truth in Such a Matter. Marcion's Pretensions as an Amender of the Gospel.
Chapter IV.—Each Side Claims to Possess the True Gospel. Antiquity the Criterion of Truth in Such a Matter. Marcions Pretensions as an Amender of the Gospel.
We must follow, then, the clue 3561 of our discussion, meeting every effort of our opponents p. 349 with reciprocal vigor. I say that my Gospel is the true one; Marcion, that his is. I affirm that Marcions Gospel is adulterated; Marcion, that mine is. Now what is to settle the point for us, except it be that principle 3562 of time, which rules that the authority lies with that which shall be found to be more ancient; and assumes as an elemental truth, 3563 that corruption (of doctrine) belongs to the side which shall be convicted of comparative lateness in its origin. 3564 For, inasmuch as error 3565 is falsification of truth, it must needs be that truth therefore precede error. A thing must exist prior to its suffering any casualty; 3566 and an object 3567 must precede all rivalry to itself. Else how absurd it would be, that, when we have proved our position to be the older one, and Marcions the later, ours should yet appear to be the false one, before it had even received from truth its objective existence; 3568 and Marcions should also be supposed to have experienced rivalry at our hands, even before its publication; and, in fine, that that should be thought to be the truer position which is the later one—a century 3569 later than the publication of all the many and great facts and records of the Christian religion, which certainly could not have been published without, that is to say, before, the truth of the gospel. With regard, then, to the pending 3570 question, of Lukes Gospel (so far as its being the common property 3571 of ourselves and Marcion enables it to be decisive of the truth, 3572 ) that portion of it which we alone receive 3573 is so much older than Marcion, that Marcion himself once believed it, when in the first warmth of faith he contributed money to the Catholic church, which along with himself was afterwards rejected, 3574 when he fell away from our truth into his own heresy. What if the Marcionites have denied that he held the primitive faith amongst ourselves, in the face even of his own letter? What, if they do not acknowledge the letter? They, at any rate, receive his Antitheses; and more than that, they make ostentatious use 3575 of them. Proof out of these is enough for me. For if the Gospel, said to be Lukes which is current amongst us 3576 (we shall see whether it be also current with Marcion), is the very one which, as Marcion argues in his Antitheses, was interpolated by the defenders of Judaism, for the purpose of such a conglomeration with it of the law and the prophets as should enable them out of it to fashion their Christ, surely he could not have so argued about it, unless he had found it (in such a form). No one censures things before they exist, 3577 when he knows not whether they will come to pass. Emendation never precedes the fault. To be sure, 3578 an amender of that Gospel, which had been all topsy-turvy 3579 from the days of Tiberius to those of Antoninus, first presented himself in Marcion alone—so long looked for by Christ, who was all along regretting that he had been in so great a hurry to send out his apostles without the support of Marcion! But for all that, 3580 heresy, which is for ever mending the Gospels, and corrupting them in the act, is an affair of mans audacity, not of Gods authority; and if Marcion be even a disciple, he is yet not “above his master;” 3581 if Marcion be an apostle, still as Paul says, “Whether it be I or they, so we preach;” 3582 if Marcion be a prophet, even “the spirits of the prophets will be subject to the prophets,” 3583 for they are not the authors of confusion, but of peace; or if Marcion be actually an angel, he must rather be designated “as anathema than as a preacher of the gospel,” 3584 because it is a strange gospel which he has preached. So that, whilst he amends, he only confirms both positions: both that our Gospel is the prior one, for he amends that which he has previously fallen in with; and that that is the later one, which, by putting it together out of the emendations of ours, he has made his own Gospel, and a novel one too.
Funis ducendus est.349:3562
Posterius revincetur. See De Præscriptione Hæret., which goes on this principle of time. Compare especially chapters xxix. and xxx. [p. 256, supra.]349:3565
De veritate materiam.349:3569
De veritate disceptat.349:3573
Quod est secundum nos. [A note of T.s position.]349:3574
Projectam. [Catholic = Primitive.]349:3575
Matt. x. 24.349:3582
1 Cor. xv. 11.349:3583
1 Cor. xiv. 32.349:3584
Gal. i. 8.
Next: By the Rule of Antiquity, the Catholic Gospels are Found to Be True, Including the Real St. Luke's. Marcion's Only a Mutilated Edition. The Heretic's Weakness and Inconsistency in Ignoring the Other Gospels.
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