Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Christ Truly Lived and Died in Human Flesh. Incidents of His Human Life on Earth, and Refutation of Marcion's Docetic Parody of the Same.
Chapter V.—Christ Truly Lived and Died in Human Flesh. Incidents of His Human Life on Earth, and Refutation of Marcions Docetic Parody of the Same.
There are, to be sure, other things also quite as foolish (as the birth of Christ), which have reference to the humiliations and sufferings of God. Or else, let them call a crucified God “wisdom.” But Marcion will apply the knife 7001 to this doctrine also, and even with greater reason. For which is more unworthy of God, which is more likely to raise a blush of shame, that God should be born, or that He should die? that He should bear the flesh, or the cross? be circumcised, or be crucified? be cradled, or be coffined? 7002 be laid in a manger, or in a tomb? Talk of “wisdom!” You will show more of that if you refuse to believe this also. But, after all, you will not be “wise” unless you become a “fool” to the world, by believing “the foolish things of God.” Have you, then, cut away 7003 all sufferings from Christ, on the ground that, as a mere phantom, He was incapable of experiencing them? We have said above that He might possibly have undergone the unreal mockeries 7004 of an imaginary birth and infancy. But answer me at once, you that murder truth: Was not God really crucified? And, having been really crucified, did He not really die? And, having indeed really died, did He not really rise again? Falsely did Paul 7005 “determine to know nothing amongst us but Jesus and Him crucified;” 7006 falsely has he impressed upon us that He was buried; falsely inculcated that He rose again. False, therefore, is our faith also. And all that we hope for from Christ will be a phantom. O thou most infamous of men, who acquittest of all guilt 7007 the murderers of God! For nothing did Christ suffer from them, if He really suffered nothing at all. Spare the whole worlds one only hope, thou who art destroying the indispensable dishonour of our faith. 7008 Whatsoever is unworthy of God, is of gain to me. I am safe, if I am not ashamed of my Lord. “Whosoever,” says He, “shall be ashamed of me, of him will I also be ashamed.” 7009 Other matters for shame find I none which can prove me to be shameless in a good sense, and foolish in a happy one, by my own contempt of shame. The Son of God was crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd. 7010 And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible. But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself true—if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might die, might be buried, and might rise again? I mean this flesh suffused with blood, built up with bones, interwoven with nerves, entwined with veins, a flesh which knew how to be born, and how to die, human without doubt, as born of a human being. It will therefore be mortal in Christ, because Christ is man and the Son of man. Else why is Christ man and the Son of man, if he has nothing of man, and nothing from man? Unless it be either that man is anything else than flesh, or mans flesh comes from any other source than man, or Mary is anything else than a human being, or Marcions man is as Marcions god. 7011 Otherwise Christ could not be described as being man without flesh, nor the Son of man without any human parent; just as He is not God without the Spirit of God, nor the Son of God without having God for His father. Thus the nature 7012 of the two substances displayed Him as man and God,—in one respect born, in the other unborn; in one respect fleshly, in the other spiritual; in one sense weak, in the other exceeding strong; in one sense dying, in the other living. This property of the two states—the divine and the human—is distinctly asserted 7013 with equal truth of both natures alike, with the same belief both in respect of the Spirit 7014 and of the flesh. The powers of the Spirit, 7015 proved Him to be God, His sufferings attested the flesh of man. If His powers were not without the Spirit 7016 in like manner, were not His sufferings without the flesh. If His flesh with its sufferings was fictitious, for the same reason was the Spirit false with all its powers. Wherefore halve 7017 Christ with a lie? He was wholly the truth. Believe me, He chose p. 526 rather to be born, than in any part to pretend—and that indeed to His own detriment—that He was bearing about a flesh hardened without bones, solid without muscles, bloody without blood, clothed without the tunic of skin, 7018 hungry without appetite, eating without teeth, speaking without a tongue, so that His word was a phantom to the ears through an imaginary voice. A phantom, too, it was of course after the resurrection, when, showing His hands and His feet for the disciples to examine, He said, “Behold and see that it is I myself, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have;” 7019 without doubt, hands, and feet, and bones are not what a spirit possesses, but only the flesh. How do you interpret this statement, Marcion, you who tell us that Jesus comes only from the most excellent God, who is both simple and good? See how He rather cheats, and deceives, and juggles the eyes of all, and the senses of all, as well as their access to and contact with Him! You ought rather to have brought Christ down, not from heaven, but from some troop of mountebanks, not as God besides man, but simply as a man, a magician; not as the High Priest of our salvation, but as the conjurer in a show; not as the raiser of the dead, but as the misleader 7020 of the living,—except that, if He were a magician, He must have had a nativity!
Aufer, Marcion. Literally, “Destroy this also, O Marcion.”525:7002
Educari an sepeliri.525:7003
Paul was of great authority in Marcions school.525:7006
1 Cor. ii. 2.525:7007
The humiliation which God endured, so indispensable a part of the Christian faith.525:7009
Matt. 10:33, Mark 8:38, Luke 9:26.525:7010
That is, imaginary and unreal.525:7012
Census: “the origin.”525:7013
This term is almost a technical designation of the divine nature of Christ in Tertullian. (See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, p. 247, note 7, Edin.)525:7015
This term is almost a technical designation of the divine nature of Christ in Tertullian. (See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, p. 247, note 7, Edin.)525:7016
This term is almost a technical designation of the divine nature of Christ in Tertullian. (See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, p. 247, note 7, Edin.)525:7017
See his Adv. Valentin, chap. 25.526:7019
Luke xxiv. 39.526:7020
Next: The Doctrine of Apelles Refuted, that Christ's Body Was of Sidereal Substance, Not Born. Nativity and Mortality are Correlative Circumstances, and in Christ's Case His Death Proves His Birth.
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