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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Chapter I

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 271 II.

The Five Books Against Marcion.

Book I.  2320

Wherein is described the god of Marcion. He is shown to be utterly wanting in all the attributes of the true God.


Chapter I.—Preface. Reason for a New Work. Pontus Lends Its Rough Character to the Heretic Marcion, a Native. His Heresy Characterized in a Brief Invective.

Whatever in times past 2321 we have wrought in opposition to Marcion, is from the present moment no longer to be accounted of. 2322 It is a new work which we are undertaking in lieu of the old one. 2323 My original tract, as too hurriedly composed, I had subsequently superseded by a fuller treatise. This latter I lost, before it was completely published, by the fraud of a person who was then a brother, 2324 but became afterwards an apostate. He, as it happened, had transcribed a portion of it, full of mistakes, and then published it. The necessity thus arose for an amended work; and the occasion of the new edition induced me to make a considerable addition to the treatise.  This present text, 2325 therefore, of my work—which is the third as superseding 2326 the second, but henceforward to be considered the first instead of the third—renders a preface necessary to this issue of the tract itself that no reader may be perplexed, if he should by chance fall in with the various forms of it which are scattered about.

The Euxine Sea, as it is called, is self-contradictory in its nature, and deceptive in its name. 2327 As you would not account it hospitable from its situation, so is it severed from our more civilised waters by a certain stigma which attaches to its barbarous character. The fiercest nations inhabit it, if indeed it can be called habitation, when life is passed in waggons. They have no fixed abode; their life has 2328 no germ of civilization; they indulge their libidinous desires without restraint, and for the most part naked.  Moreover, when they gratify secret lust, they hang up their quivers on their car-yokes, 2329 to warn off the curious and rash observer.  Thus without a blush do they prostitute their weapons of war. The dead bodies of their parents they cut up with their sheep, and devour at their feasts.  They who have not died so as to become food for others, are thought to have died an accursed death. Their women are not by their sex softened to modesty.  They uncover the breast, from which they suspend their battle-axes, and prefer warfare to marriage. In their climate, too, there is the same rude nature. 2330 The day-time is never clear, the sun never cheerful; 2331 the sky is uniformly cloudy; the whole year is wintry; the only wind that blows is the angry North. Waters melt only by fires; their rivers flow not by reason of the ice; their mountains are covered 2332 with heaps of snow. All things are torpid, all stiff with cold. Nothing there has the glow 2333 of life, but that ferocity which has given to scenic plays their stories of the sacrifices 2334 of the Taurians, and the loves 2335 of the Colchians, and the torments 2336 of the Caucasus. Nothing, however, in Pontus is so barbarous p. 272 and sad as the fact that Marcion was born there, fouler than any Scythian, more roving than the waggon-life 2337 of the Sarmatian, more inhuman than the Massagete, more audacious than an Amazon, darker than the cloud, 2338 (of Pontus) colder than its winter, more brittle than its ice, more deceitful than the Ister, more craggy than Caucasus.  Nay 2339 more, the true Prometheus, Almighty God, is mangled 2340 by Marcion’s blasphemies. Marcion is more savage than even the beasts of that barbarous region. For what beaver was ever a greater emasculator 2341 than he who has abolished the nuptial bond?  What Pontic mouse ever had such gnawing powers as he who has gnawed the Gospels to pieces? Verily, O Euxine, thou hast produced a monster more credible to philosophers than to Christians. For the cynic Diogenes used to go about, lantern in hand, at mid-day to find a man; whereas Marcion has quenched the light of his faith, and so lost the God whom he had found. His disciples will not deny that his first faith he held along with ourselves; a letter of his own 2342 proves this; so that for the future 2343 a heretic may from his case 2344 be designated as one who, forsaking that which was prior, afterwards chose out for himself that which was not in times past. 2345 For in as far as what was delivered in times past and from the beginning will be held as truth, in so far will that be accounted heresy which is brought in later.  But another brief treatise 2346 will maintain this position against heretics, who ought to be refuted even without a consideration of their doctrines, on the ground that they are heretical by reason of the novelty of their opinions. Now, so far as any controversy is to be admitted, I will for the time 2347 (lest our compendious principle of novelty, being called in on all occasions to our aid, should be imputed to want of confidence) begin with setting forth our adversary’s rule of belief, that it may escape no one what our main contention is to be.



[Written A.D. 207. See Chapter xv. infra.  In cap. xxix. is the token of Montanism which denotes his impending lapse.]




Jam hinc viderit.


Ex vetere.








[Euxine=hospitable. One recalls Shakespeare:

—“Like to the Pontick Sea

Whose icy current and compulsive force

Ne’er feels retiring ebb.”—Othel.]




De jugo. See Strabo (Bohn’s trans.), vol. ii. p. 247.










[Iphigenia of Euripides.]


[See the Medea of Euripides.]


[Prometheus of Æschylus.]


Hamaxobio. This Sarmatian clan received its name ῾Αμαξόβιοι from its gypsy kind of life.


[I fancy there is point in this singular, the sky of Pontus being always overcast. Cowper says:

“There is but one cloud in the sky,

But that doth the welkin invest,” etc.






Castrator carnis. See Pliny, N. H. viii. 47 (Bohn’s trans. vol. ii. p. 297).


Ipsius litteris.








He alludes to his book De Præscriptione Hæreticorum. [Was this work then already written? Dr. Allix thinks not. But see Kaye, p. 47.]


Interdum. [Can it be that when all this was written (speaking of ourselves) our author had fully lapsed from Communion with the Catholic Church?]

Next: Marcion, Aided by Cerdon, Teaches a Duality of Gods; How He Constructed This Heresy of an Evil and a Good God.

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