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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Of the Times of Christ's Birth and Passion, and of Jerusalem's Destruction.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VIII.—Of the Times of Christ’s Birth and Passion, and of Jerusalem’s Destruction.

Accordingly the times must be inquired into of the predicted and future nativity of the Christ, and of His passion, and of the extermination of the city of Jerusalem, that is, its devastation. For Daniel says, that “both the holy city and the holy place are exterminated together with the coming Leader, and that the pinnacle is destroyed unto ruin.” 1226 And so the times of the coming Christ, the Leader, 1227 must be inquired into, which we shall trace in Daniel; and, after computing them, shall prove Him to be come, even on the ground of the times prescribed, and of competent signs and operations of His.  Which matters we prove, again, on the ground of the consequences which were ever announced as to follow His advent; in order that we may believe all to have been as well fulfilled as foreseen.

In such wise, therefore, did Daniel predict concerning Him, as to show both when and in what time He was to set the nations free; and how, after the passion of the Christ, that city had to be exterminated. For he says thus: “In the first year under Darius, son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, who reigned over the kingdom of the Chaldees, I Daniel understood in the books the number of the years.…And while I was yet speaking in my prayer, behold, the man Gabriel, whom I saw in the vision in the beginning, flying; and he touched me, as it were, at the hour of the evening sacrifice, and made me understand, and spake with me, and said, Daniel I am now come out to imbue thee with understanding; in the beginning of thy supplication went out a word. And I am come to announce to thee, because thou art a man p. 159 of desires; 1228 and ponder thou on the word, and understand in the vision. Seventy hebdomads have been abridged 1229 upon thy commonalty, and upon the holy city, until delinquency be made inveterate, and sins sealed, and righteousness obtained by entreaty, and righteousness eternal introduced; and in order that vision and prophet may be sealed, and an holy one of holy ones anointed.  And thou shalt know, and thoroughly see, and understand, from the going forth of a word for restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem unto the Christ, the Leader, hebdomads (seven and an half, and 1230 ) lxii and an half: and it shall convert, and shall be built into height and entrenchment, and the times shall be renewed: and after these lxii hebdomads shall the anointing be exterminated, and shall not be; and the city and the holy place shall he exterminate together with the Leader, who is making His advent; and they shall be cut short as in a deluge, until (the) end of a war, which shall be cut short unto ruin. And he shall confirm a testament in many. In one hebdomad and the half of the hebdomad shall be taken away my sacrifice and libation, and in the holy place the execration of devastation, (and 1231 ) until the end of (the) time consummation shall be given with regard to this devastation.” 1232

Observe we, therefore, the limit,—how, in truth, he predicts that there are to be lxx hebdomads, within which if they receive Him, “it shall be built into height and entrenchment, and the times shall be renewed.” But God, foreseeing what was to be—that they will not merely not receive Him, but will both persecute and deliver Him to death—both recapitulated, and said, that in lx and ii and an half of an hebdomad He is born, and an holy one of holy ones is anointed; but that when vii hebdomads 1233 and an half were fulfilling, He had to suffer, and the holy city had to be exterminated after one and an half hebdomad—whereby namely, the seven and an half hebdomads have been completed. For he says thus: “And the city and the holy place to be exterminated together with the leader who is to come; and they shall be cut short as in a deluge; and he shall destroy the pinnacle unto ruin.” 1234 Whence, therefore, do we show that the Christ came within the lxii and an half hebdomads?  We shall count, moreover, from the first year of Darius, as at this particular time is shown to Daniel this particular vision; for he says, “And understand and conjecture that at the completion of thy word 1235 I make thee these answers.” Whence we are bound to compute from the first year of Darius, when Daniel saw this vision.

Let us see, therefore, how the years are filled up until the advent of the Christ:—

For Darius reigned…xviiii 1236 years (19).

Artaxerxes reigned…xl and i years (41).

Then King Ochus (who is also called Cyrus) reigned…xxiiii years (24).

Argus…one year.

Another Darius, who is also named Melas…xxi years (21).

Alexander the Macedonian…xii years (12)

Then, after Alexander, who had reigned over both Medes and Persians, whom he had reconquered, and had established his kingdom firmly in Alexandria, when withal he called that (city) by his own name; 1237 after him reigned, (there, in Alexandria,)

Soter…xxxv years (35).

To whom succeeds Philadelphus, reigning…xxx and viii years (38).

To him succeeds Euergetes…xxv years (25).

Then Philopator…xvii years (17).

After him Epiphanes…xxiiii years (24).

Then another Euergetes…xxviiii years (29).

Then another Soter,…xxxviii years (38).

Ptolemy…xxxvii years (37).

Cleopatra,…xx years v months (20 5–12).

Yet again Cleopatra reigned jointly with Augustus…xiii years (13).

After Cleopatra, Augustus reigned other…xliii years (43).

For all the years of the empire of Augustus were…lvi years (56).

Let us see, moreover, how in the forty-first year of the empire of Augustus, when he has been reigning for xx and viii years after the death of Cleopatra, the Christ is born.  (And the same Augustus survived, after Christ is born, xv years; and the remaining times of years to the day of the birth of Christ will p. 160 bring us to the xl first year, which is the xx and viiith of Augustus after the death of Cleopatra.) There are, (then,) made up cccxxx and vii years, v months: (whence are filled up lxii hebdomads and an half:  which make up ccccxxxvii years, vi months:) on the day of the birth of Christ. And (then) “righteousness eternal” was manifested, and “an Holy One of holy ones was anointed”—that is, Christ—and “sealed was vision and prophet,” and “sins” were remitted, which, through faith in the name of Christ, are washed away 1238 for all who believe on Him. But what does he mean by saying that “vision and prophecy are sealed?” That all prophets ever announced of Him that He was to come and had to suffer. Therefore, since the prophecy was fulfilled through His advent, for that reason he said that “vision and prophecy were sealed;” inasmuch as He is the signet of all prophets, fulfilling all things which in days bygone they had announced of Him. 1239 For after the advent of Christ and His passion there is no longer “vision or prophet” to announce Him as to come. In short, if this is not so, let the Jews exhibit, subsequently to Christ, any volumes of prophets, visible miracles wrought by any angels, (such as those) which in bygone days the patriarchs saw until the advent of Christ, who is now come; since which event “sealed is vision and prophecy,” that is, confirmed.  And justly does the evangelist 1240 write, “The law and the prophets (were) until John” the Baptist. For, on Christ’s being baptized, that is, on His sanctifying the waters in His own baptism, 1241 all the plenitude of bygone spiritual grace-gifts ceased in Christ, sealing as He did all vision and prophecies, which by His advent He fulfilled. Whence most firmly does he assert that His advent “seals visions and prophecy.”

Accordingly, showing, (as we have done,) both the number of the years, and the time of the lx two and an half fulfilled hebdomads, on completion of which, (we have shown) that Christ is come, that is, has been born, let us see what (mean) other “vii and an half hebdomads,” which have been subdivided in the abscision of 1242 the former hebdomads; (let us see, namely,) in what event they have been fulfilled:—

For, after Augustus who survived after the birth of Christ, are made up…xv years (15).

To whom succeeded Tiberius Cæsar, and held the empire…xx years, vii months, xxviii days (20 etc.).

(In the fiftieth year of his empire Christ suffered, being about xxx years of age when he suffered.)

Again Caius Cæsar, also called Caligula,…iii years, viii months, xiii days (3 etc.).

Nero Cæsar,…xi years, ix months, xiii days (11 etc.).

Galba…vii months, vi days. (7 etc.).

Otho…iii days.

Vitellius,…viii mos., xxvii days (8 mos.).

Vespasian, in the first year of his empire, subdues the Jews in war; and there are made lii years, vi months.  For he reigned xi years. And thus, in the day of their storming, the Jews fulfilled the lxx hebdomads predicted in Daniel.

Therefore, when these times also were completed, and the Jews subdued, there afterwards ceased in that place “libations and sacrifices,” which thenceforward have not been able to be in that place celebrated; for “the unction,” too, 1243 was “exterminated” in that place after the passion of Christ. For it had been predicted that the unction should be exterminated in that place; as in the Psalms it is prophesied, “They exterminated my hands and feet.” 1244 And the suffering of this “extermination” was perfected within the times of the lxx hebdomads, under Tiberius Cæsar, in the consulate of Rubellius Geminus and Fufius Geminus, in the month of March, at the times of the passover, on the eighth day before the calends of April, 1245 on the first day of unleavened bread, on which they slew the lamb at even, just as had been enjoined by Moses. 1246 Accordingly, all the synagogue of Israel did slay Him, saying to Pilate, when he was desirous to dismiss Him, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children;” 1247 and, “If thou dismiss him, thou art not a friend of Cæsar;” 1248 in order that all things might be fulfilled which had been written of Him. 1249



See Dan. ix. 26 (especially in the LXX.).


Comp. Isa. lv. 4.


Vir desideriorum; Gr. ἀνὴρ ἐπιθυμιῶν; Eng. ver. “a man greatly beloved.” Elsewhere Tertullian has another rendering—“miserabilis.” See de Jej. cc. vii, ix.


Or, “abbreviated;” breviatæ sunt; Gr. συνετμήθνσαν. For this rendering, and the interpretations which in ancient and modern days have been founded on it, see G. S. Faber’s Dissert. on the prophecy of the seventy weeks, pp. 5, 6, 109–112. (London, 1811.) The whole work will repay perusal.


These words are given, by Oehler and Rig., on the authority of Pamelius. The mss. and early editions are without them.


Also supplied by Pamelius.


See Dan. 9:0, Dan. 24:0. It seemed best to render with the strictest literality, without regard to anything else; as an idea will thus then be given of the condition of the text, which, as it stands, differs widely, as will be seen, from the Hebrew and also from the LXX., as it stands in the ed. Tisch. Lips. 1860, to which I always adapt my references.


Hebdomades is preferred to Oehler’s -as, a reading which he follows apparently on slender authority.


There is no trace of these last words in Tischendorf’s LXX. here; and only in his footnotes is the “pinnacle” mentioned.


Or, “speech.” The reference seems to be to Dan. 9.23, but there is no such statement in Daniel.


So Oehler; and I print all these numbers uniformly—as in the former part of the present chapter—exactly in accordance with the Latin forms, for the sake of showing how easily, in such calculations, errors may creep in.


Comp. Ps. xlix. 11 (in LXX. Ps. xlviii. 12).


Diluuntur. So Oehler has amended for the reading of the mss. and edd., “tribuuntur.”


Comp. Pusey on Daniel, pp. 178, 179, notes 6, 7, 8, and the passages therein referred to. And for the whole question of the seventy weeks, and of the LXX. version of Daniel, comp. the same book, Lect. iv. and Note E (2d thousand, 1864). See also pp. 376–381 of the same book; and Faber (as above), pp. 293–297.


Or rather, our Lord Himself. See Matt. 11:13, Luke 16:16.


Comp. the very obscure passage in de Pu. c. vi., towards the end, on which this expression appears to cast some light.


Or, “in abscision from.”


And, without “unction”—i.e. without a priesthood, the head whereof, or high priest, was always anointed—no “sacrifices” were lawful.


See Ps. xxii. 16 (xxi. 17 in LXX.)


i.e., March 25.


Comp. Exod. 12:6, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7.


See Matt. 27:24, 25, with John xix. 12 and Acts iii. 13.


John xix. 12.


Comp. Luke xxiv. 44, etc.

Next: Of the Prophecies of the Birth and Achievements of Christ.

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