Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: The Call of Levi the Publican. Christ in Relation to the Baptist. Christ as the Bridegroom. The Parable of the Old Wine and the New. Arguments Connecting Christ with the Creator.
Chapter XI.—The Call of Levi the Publican. Christ in Relation to the Baptist. Christ as the Bridegroom. The Parable of the Old Wine and the New. Arguments Connecting Christ with the Creator.
The publican who was chosen by the Lord, 3811 he adduces for a proof that he was chosen as a stranger to the law and uninitiated in 3812 Judaism, by one who was an adversary to the law. The case of Peter escaped his memory, who, although he was a man of the law, was not only chosen by the Lord, but also obtained the testimony of possessing knowledge which was given to him by the Father. 3813 He had nowhere read of Christs being foretold as the light, and hope, and expectation of the Gentiles! He, however, rather spoke of the Jews in a favourable light, when he said, “The whole needed not a physician, but they that are sick.” 3814 For since by “those that are sick” he meant that the heathens and publicans should be understood, whom he was choosing, he affirmed of the Jews that they were “whole” for whom he said that a physician was not necessary. This being the case, he makes a mistake in coming down 3815 to destroy the law, as if for the remedy of a diseased condition. because they who were living under it were “whole,” and “not in want of a physician.” How, moreover, does it happen that he proposed the similitude of a physician, if he did not verify it? For, just as nobody uses a physician for healthy persons, so will no one do so for strangers, in so far as he is one of Marcions god-made men, 3816 having to himself both a creator and preserver, and a specially good physician, in his Christ. This much the comparison predetermines, that a physician is more usually furnished by him to whom the sick people belong. Whence, too, does John come upon the scene? Christ, suddenly; and just as suddenly, John! 3817 After this fashion occur all things in Marcions system. They have their own special and plenary course 3818 in the Creators dispensation. Of John, however, what else I have to say will be found in another passage. 3819 To the several points which now come before us an answer must be given. This, then, I will take care to do 3820 —demonstrate that, reciprocally, John is suitable to Christ, and Christ to John, the latter, of course, as a prophet of the Creator, just as the former is the Creators Christ; and so the heretic may blush at frustrating, to his own frustration, the mission of John the Baptist. For if there had been no ministry of John at all—“the voice,” as Isaiah calls him, “of one crying in the wilderness,” and the preparer of the ways of the Lord by denunciation and recommendation of repentance; if, too, he had not baptized (Christ) Himself 3821 along with others, nobody could have challenged the disciples of Christ, as they ate and drank, to a comparison with the disciples of John, who were constantly fasting and praying; because, if there existed any diversity 3822 between Christ and John, and their followers respectively, no exact comparison would be possible, nor would there be a single point where it could be challenged. For nobody would feel surprise, and nobody would be perplexed, although there should arise rival predictions of a diverse deity, which should also mutually differ about modes of conduct, 3823 having a prior difference about the authorities 3824 upon which they were based. Therefore Christ belonged to John, and John to Christ; while both belonged to the Creator, and both were of the law and the prophets, preachers and masters. Else Christ would have rejected the discipline of John, as of the rival god, and would also have defended the disciples, as very properly pursuing a different walk, because consecrated to the service of another and contrary deity. But as it is, while modestly 3825 giving a reason why “the children of the bridegroom are unable to fast during the p. 361 time the bridegroom is with them,” but promising that “they should afterwards fast, when the bridegroom was taken away from them,” 3826 He neither defended the disciples, (but rather excused them, as if they had not been blamed without some reason), nor rejected the discipline of John, but rather allowed 3827 it, referring it to the time of John, although destining it for His own time. Otherwise His purpose would have been to reject it, 3828 and to defend its opponents, if He had not Himself already belonged to it as then in force. I hold also that it is my Christ who is meant by the bridegroom, of whom the psalm says: “He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His return is back to the end of it again.” 3829 By the mouth of Isaiah He also says exultingly of the Father: “Let my soul rejoice in the Lord; for He hath clothed me with the garment of salvation and with the tunic of joy, as a bridegroom. He hath put a mitre round about my head, as a bride.” 3830 To Himself likewise He appropriates 3831 the church, concerning which the same 3832 Spirit says to Him: “Thou shalt clothe Thee with them all, as with a bridal ornament.” 3833 This spouse Christ invites home to Himself also by Solomon from the call of the Gentiles, because you read: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse.” 3834 He elegantly makes mention of Lebanon (the mountain, of course) because it stands for the name of frankincense with the Greeks; 3835 for it was from idolatry that He betrothed Himself the church. Deny now, Marcion, your utter madness, (if you can)! Behold, you impugn even the law of your god. He unites not in the nuptial bond, nor, when contracted, does he allow it; no one does he baptize but a cælebs or a eunuch; until death or divorce does he reserve baptism. 3836 Wherefore, then, do you make his Christ a bridegroom? This is the designation of Him who united man and woman, not of him who separated them. You have erred also in that declaration of Christ, wherein He seems to make a difference between things new and old. You are inflated about the old bottles, and brain-muddled with the new wine; and therefore to the old (that is to say, to the prior) gospel you have sewed on the patch of your new-fangled heresy. I should like to know in what respect the Creator is inconsistent with Himself. 3837 When by Jeremiah He gave this precept, “Break up for yourselves new pastures,” 3838 does He not turn away from the old state of things? And when by Isaiah He proclaims how “old things were passed away; and, behold, all things, which I am making, are new,” 3839 does He not advert to a new state of things? We have generally been of opinion 3840 that the destination of the former state of things was rather promised by the Creator, and exhibited in reality by Christ, only under the authority of one and the same God, to whom appertain both the old things and the new. For new wine is not put into old bottles, except by one who has the old bottles; nor does anybody put a new piece to an old garment, unless the old garment be forthcoming to him. That person only 3841 does not do a thing when it is not to be done, who has the materials wherewithal to do it if it were to be done. And therefore, since His object in making the comparison was to show that He was separating the new condition 3842 of the gospel from the old state 3843 of the law, He proved that that 3844 from which He was separating His own 3845 ought not to have been branded 3846 as a separation 3847 of things which were alien to each other; for nobody ever unites his own things with things that are alien to them, 3848 in order that he may afterwards be able to separate them from the alien things. A separation is possible by help of the conjunction through which it is made. Accordingly, the things which He separated He also proved to have been once one; as they would have remained, were it not for His separation. But still we make this concession, that there is a separation, by reformation, by amplification, 3849 by progress; just as the fruit is separated from the seed, although the fruit comes from the seed. So likewise the gospel is separated from the law, whilst it advances 3850 from the law—a different thing 3851 from it, but not an alien one; diverse, but not contrary. Nor in Christ do we even find any novel form of discourse. Whether He proposes similip. 362 tudes or refute questions, it comes from the seventy-seventh Psalm. “I will open,” says He, “my mouth in a parable” (that is, in a similitude); “I will utter dark problems” (that is, I will set forth questions). 3852 If you should wish to prove that a man belonged to another race, no doubt you would fetch your proof from the idiom of his language.
He means Levi or St. Matthew; see Luke v. 27-39.360:3812
Matt. xvi. 17.360:3814
Luke v. 31.360:3815
Homo a deo Marcionis.360:3817
See chap. vii. of this book, and chap. ii. of book. iii.360:3818
See below, chap. xviii.360:3820
Marcions diversitas implied an utter incompatibility between John and Christ; for it assigned John to the Creator, from whom it took Christ away.360:3823
De disciplinis: or, “about discipleships.”360:3824
De auctoritatibus; or, “about the authors thereof.”360:3825
Luke 5:34, 35.361:3827
Ps. 19:5, 6.361:3830
Isa. lxi. 10.361:3831
The same, which spake again by Isaiah.361:3833
Isa. xlix. 18.361:3834
Song of Sol. iv. 8.361:3835
There is also in Hebrew an affinity between הנבל, “frankincense,” and זובבִל, “Lebanon.” [Note this strange but reiterated and emphatic identification of incense with idolatry. In the Gentile church it was thoroughly identified with Paganism.]361:3836
See also book i. chap. xxix. [On this reservation of Baptism see Elucidation II.]361:3837
Jer. iv. 3.361:3839
His reading of (probably) Isa. 43:19, 2 Cor. 5:17.361:3840
That is, “the oldness of the law.”361:3845
That is, “the newness of the gospel.”361:3846
Separatione. The more general reading is separationem.361:3848
Alienis: i.e., “things not his own.”361:3849
Provehitur, “is developed.”361:3851
See Ps. lxxviii. 2.
Next: Christ's Authority Over the Sabbath. As Its Lord He Recalled It from Pharisaic Neglect to the Original Purpose of Its Institution by the Creator the Case of the Disciples Who Plucked the Ears of Corn on the Sabbath. The Withered Hand Healed on the Sabbath.
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