Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Community in Certain Points of Marcionite and Jewish Error. Prophecies of Christ's Rejection Examined.
Chapter VI.—Community in Certain Points of Marcionite and Jewish Error. Prophecies of Christs Rejection Examined.
Since, therefore, there clearly exist these two characteristics in the Jewish prophetic literature, let the reader remember, 3157 whenever we adduce any evidence therefrom, that, by mutual consent, 3158 the point of discussion is not the form of the scripture, but the subject it is called in to prove. When, therefore, our heretics in their phrenzy presumed to say that that Christ was come who had never been fore-announced, it followed that, on their assumption, that Christ had not yet appeared who p. 325 had always been predicted; and thus they are obliged to make common cause with 3159 Jewish error, and construct their arguments with its assistance, on the pretence that the Jews were themselves quite certain that it was some other who came: so they not only rejected Him as a stranger, but slew Him as an enemy, although they would without doubt have acknowledged Him, and with all religious devotion followed Him, if He had only been one of themselves. Our shipmaster 3160 of course got his craft-wisdom not from the Rhodian law, 3161 but from the Pontic, 3162 which cautioned him against believing that the Jews had no right to sin against their Christ; whereas (even if nothing like their conduct had been predicted against them) human nature alone, liable to error as it is, might well have induced him to suppose that it was quite possible for the Jews to have committed such a sin, considered as men, without assuming any unfair prejudice regarding their feelings, whose sin was antecedently so credible. Since, however, it was actually foretold that they would not acknowledge Christ, and therefore would even put Him to death, it will therefore follow that He was both ignored 3163 and slain by them, who were beforehand pointed out as being about to commit such offences against Him. If you require a proof of this, instead of turning out those passages of Scripture which, while they declare Christ to be capable of suffering death, do thereby also affirm the possibility of His being rejected (for if He had not been rejected, He could not really suffer anything), but rather reserving them for the subject of His sufferings, I shall content myself at the present moment with adducing those which simply show that there was a probability of Christs rejection. This is quickly done, since the passages indicate that the entire power of understanding was by the Creator taken from the people. “I will take away,” says He, “the wisdom of their wise men; and the understanding of their prudent men will I hide;” 3164 and again: “With your ear ye shall hear, and not understand; and with your eyes ye shall see, but not perceive: for the heart of this people hath growth fat, and with their ears they hear heavily, and their eyes have they shut; lest they hear with their ears, and see with their eyes, and understand with the heart, and be converted, and I heal them.” 3165 Now this blunting of their sound senses they had brought on themselves, loving God with their lips, but keeping far away from Him in their heart. Since, then, Christ was announced by the Creator, “who formeth the lightning, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man His Christ,” as the prophet Joel says, 3166 since the entire hope of the Jews, not to say of the Gentiles too, was fixed on the manifestation of Christ,—it was demonstrated that they, by their being deprived of those powers of knowledge and understanding—wisdom and prudence, would fail to know and understand that which was predicted, even Christ; when the chief of their wise men should be in error respecting Him—that is to say, their scribes and prudent ones, or Pharisees; and when the people, like them, should hear with their ears and not understand Christ while teaching them, and see with their eyes and not perceive Christ, although giving them signs. Similarly it is said elsewhere: “Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, but he who ruleth over them?” 3167 Also when He upbraids them by the same Isaiah: “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his masters crib: but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider.” 3168 We indeed, who know for certain that Christ always spoke in the prophets, as the Spirit of the Creator (for so says the prophet: “The person of our Spirit, Christ the Lord,” 3169 who from the beginning was both heard and seen as the Fathers vicegerent in the name of God), are well aware that His words, when actually upbraiding Israel, were the same as those which it was foretold that He should denounce against him: “Ye have forsaken the Lord, and have provoked the Holy One of Israel to anger.” 3170 If, however, you would rather refer to God Himself, instead of to Christ, the whole imputation of Jewish ignorance from the first, through an unwillingness to allow that even anciently 3171 the Creators word and Spirit—that is to say, His Christ—was despised and not acknowledged by them, you will even in this subterfuge be defeated. p. 326 For when you do not deny that the Creators Son and Spirit and Substance is also His Christ, you must needs allow that those who have not acknowledged the Father have failed likewise to acknowledge the Son through the identity of their natural substance; 3172 for if in Its fulness It has baffled mans understanding, much more has a portion of It, especially when partaking of the fulness. 3173 Now, when these things are carefully considered, it becomes evident how the Jews both rejected Christ and slew Him; not because they regarded Him as a strange Christ, but because they did not acknowledge Him, although their own. For how could they have understood the strange One, concerning whom nothing had ever been announced, when they failed to understand Him about whom there had been a perpetual course of prophecy? That admits of being understood or being not understood, which, by possessing a substantial basis for prophecy, 3174 will also have a subject-matter 3175 for either knowledge or error; whilst that which lacks such matter admits not the issue of wisdom. So that it was not as if He belonged to another 3176 god that they conceived an aversion for Christ, and persecuted Him, but simply as a man whom they regarded as a wonder-working juggler, 3177 and an enemy 3178 in His doctrines. They brought Him therefore to trial as a mere man, and one of themselves too—that is, a Jew (only a renegade and a destroyer of Judaism)—and punished Him according to their law. If He had been a stranger, indeed, they would not have sat in judgment over Him. So far are they from appearing to have understood Him to be a strange Christ, that they did not even judge Him to be a stranger to their own human nature. 3179
“Remember, O reader.”324:3158
The model of wise naval legislation, much of which found its way into the Roman pandects.325:3162
Symbol of barbarism and ignorance—a heavy joke against the once seafaring heretic.325:3163
Ignoratus, “rejected of men.”325:3164
Isa. xxix. 14.325:3165
Isa. 6:9, 10. Quoted with some verbal differences.325:3166
A supposed quotation of Amos iv. 13. See Oehlers marginal reference. If so, the reference to Joel is either a slip of Tertullian or a corruption of his text; more likely the former, for the best mss. insert Joels name. Amos iv. 13, according to the LXX., runs, ᾽Απαγγέλλων εἰς ἀνθρώπους τὸν Χριστὸν αὐτοῦ, which exactly suits Tertullians quotation. Junius supports the reference to Joel, supposing that Tertullian has his ch. ii. 31 in view, as compared with Acts ii. 16-33. This is too harsh an interpretation. It is simpler and better to suppose that Tertullian really meant to quote the LXX. of the passage in Amos, but in mistake named Joel as his prophet.325:3167
Isa. xlii. 19, altered.325:3168
Isa. 1:2, 3.325:3169
This seems to be a translation with a slight alteration of the LXX. version of Lam. iv. 20, πνεῦμα προσώπου ἡμῶν Χριστὸς Κύριος .325:3170
Isa. i. 4.325:3171
Per ejusdem substantiæ conditionem.326:3173
He seems here to allude to such statements of Gods being as Col. ii. 9.326:3174
Alterius, “the other,” i.e., Marcions rival God.326:3177
Planum in signis, cf. the Magnum in potestate of Apolog. 21.326:3178
Æmulum, “a rival,” i.e., to Moses.326:3179
Nec hominem ejus ut alienum judicaverunt, “His manhood they judged not to be different.”
Next: Prophecy Sets Forth Two Different Conditions of Christ, One Lowly, the Other Majestic. This Fact Points to Two Advents of Christ.
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