Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: The Assumption that There are Two Earths Mentioned in the History of the Creation, Refuted.
Chapter XXV.—The Assumption that There are Two Earths Mentioned in the History of the Creation, Refuted.
He accordingly maintains that there are two earths set before us in the passage in question: one, which God made in the beginning; the other being the Matter of which God made the world, and concerning which it is said, “And the earth was without form, and void.” 6360 Of course, if I were to ask, to which of the two earths the name earth is best suited, 6361 I shall be told that the earth which was made derived the appellation from that of which it was made, on the ground that it is more likely that the offspring should get its name from the original, than the original from the offspring. This being the case, another question presents itself to us, whether it is right and proper that this earth which God made should have derived its name from that out of which He made it? For I find from Hermogenes and the rest of the Materialist heretics, 6362 that while the one earth was indeed “without form, and void,” this one of ours obtained from God in an equal degree 6363 both form, and beauty, and symmetry; and therefore that the earth which was created was a different thing from that out of which it was created. Now, having become a different thing, it could not possibly have shared with the other in its name, after it had declined from its condition. If earth was the proper name of the (original) Matter, this world of ours, which is not Matter, because it has become another thing, is unfit to bear the name of earth, seeing that that name belongs to something else, and is a stranger to its nature. But (you will tell me) Matter which has undergone creation, that is, our earth, had with its original a community of name no less than of kind. By no means. For although the pitcher is formed out of the clay, I shall no longer call it clay, but a pitcher; so likewise, although electrum 6364 is compounded of gold and silver, I shall yet not call it either gold or silver, but electrum. When there is a departure from the nature of any thing, there is likewise a relinquishment of its name—with a propriety which is alike demanded by the designation and the condition. How great a change indeed from the condition of that earth, which is Matter, has come over this earth of ours, is plain even from the fact that the latter has received this testimony to its goodness in Genesis, “And God saw that it was good;” 6365 while the former, according to Hermogenes, is regarded as the origin and cause of all evils. Lastly, if the one is Earth because the other is, why also is the one not Matter as the other is? Indeed, by this rule both the heaven and all creatures ought to have had the names of Earth and Matter, since they all consist of Matter. I have said enough touching the designation Earth, by which he will have it that Matter is understood. This, as everybody knows, is the name of one of the elements; for so we are taught by nature first, and afterwards by Scripture, except it be that credence must be given to that Silenus who talked so confidently in the presence of king Midas of another world, according to the account of Theopompus. But the same author informs us that there are also several gods.
Gen. i. 2.491:6361
Quæ cui nomen terræ accommodare debeat. This is literally a double question, asking about the fitness of the name, and to which earth it is best adapted.491:6362
He means those who have gone wrong on the eternity of matter.491:6363
A mixed metal, of the colour of amber.491:6365
Gen. i. 31.
Next: The Method Observed in the History of the Creation, in Reply to the Perverse Interpretation of Hermogenes.
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