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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Recapitulation.  Definition of the Soul.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXII.—Recapitulation. Definition of the Soul.

Hermogenes has already heard from us what are the other natural faculties of the soul, as well as their vindication and proof; whence it may be seen that the soul is rather the offspring of God than of matter. The names of these faculties shall here be simply repeated, that they may not seem to be forgotten and passed out of sight.  We have assigned, then, to the soul both that freedom of the will which we just now mentioned, and its dominion over the works of nature, and its occasional gift of divination, independently of that endowment of prophecy which accrues to it expressly from the grace of God. We shall therefore now quit this subject of the soul’s disposition, in order to set out fully in order its various qualities. 1664 The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal, possessing body, having form, simple in its substance, intelligent in its own nature, developing its power in various ways, free in its determinations, subject to be changes of accident, in its faculties mutable, rational, supreme, endued with an instinct of presentiment, evolved out of one (archetypal soul). It remains for us now to consider how it is developed out of this one original source; in other words, whence, and when, and how it is produced.



Tertullian had shown that “the soul is the breath or afflatus of God,” in ch. iv. and xi. above. He demonstrated its “immortality” in ch. ii.–iv., vi., ix., xiv.; and he will repeat his proof hereafter, in ch. xxiv., xxxviii., xlv., li., liii., liv. Moreover, he illustrates the soul’s “corporeity” in ch. v.–viii.; its “endowment with form or figure,” in ch. ix.; its “simplicity in substance” in ch. x. and xi.; its “inherent intelligence,” in ch. xii.; its varied development, in ch. xiii.–xv. The soul’s “rationality,” “supremacy,” and “instinctive divination,” Tertullian treated of in his treatise De Censu Animæ against Hermogenes (as he has said in the text); but he has treated somewhat of the soul’s “rational nature” in the sixteenth chapter above; in the fourteenth and fifteenth chapters he referred to the soul’s “supremacy or hegemony;” whilst we have had a hint about its “divining faculty,” even in infants, in ch. xix. The propagation of souls from the one archetypal soul is the subject of the chapter before us, as well as of the five succeeding ones (La Cerda).

Next: The Opinions of Sundry Heretics Which Originate Ultimately with Plato.

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