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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Other Incidents of the Passion Minutely Compared with Prophecy. Pilate and Herod. Barabbas Preferred to Jesus. Details of the Crucifixion. The Earthquake and the Mid-Day Darkness. All Wonderfully Foretold in the Scriptures of the Creator. Christ's Giving Up the Ghost No Evidence of Marcion's Docetic Opinions. In His Sepulture There is a Refutation Thereof.

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Chapter XLII.—Other Incidents of the Passion Minutely Compared with Prophecy. Pilate and Herod. Barabbas Preferred to Jesus. Details of the Crucifixion. The Earthquake and the Mid-Day Darkness. All Wonderfully Foretold in the Scriptures of the Creator. Christ’s Giving Up the Ghost No Evidence of Marcion’s Docetic Opinions. In His Sepulture There is a Refutation Thereof.

For when He was brought before Pilate, they proceeded to urge Him with the serious charge 5121 , of declaring Himself to be Christ the King5122 that is, undoubtedly, as the Son of God, who was to sit at God’s right hand. They would, however, have burdened Him 5123 with some other title, if they had been uncertain whether He had called Himself the Son of God—if He had not pronounced the words, “Ye say that I am,” so as (to admit) that He was that which they said He was. Likewise, when Pirate asked Him, “Art thou Christ (the King)?” He answered, as He had before (to the Jewish council) 5124 “Thou sayest that I am” 5125 in order that He might not seem to have been driven by a fear of his power to give him a fuller answer. “And so the Lord hath stood on His trial.” 5126 And he placed His people on their trial. The Lord Himself comes to a trial with “the elders and rulers of the people,” as Isaiah predicted. 5127 And then He fulfilled all that had been written of His passion. At that time “the heathen raged, and the people imagined vain things; the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers gathered themselves together against the Lord and against His Christ.” 5128 The heathen were Pilate and the Romans; the people were the tribes of Israel; the kings were represented in Herod, and the rulers in the chief priests. When, indeed, He was sent to Herod gratuitously 5129 by Pilate, 5130 the words of Hosea were accomplished, for he had prophesied of Christ: “And they shall carry Him bound as a present to the king.” 5131 Herod was “exceeding glad” when he saw Jesus, but he heard not a word from Him. 5132 For, “as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so He opened not His mouth,” 5133 because “the Lord had given to Him a disciplined tongue, that he might know how and when it behoved Him to speak” 5134 —even that “tongue which clove to His jaws,” as the Psalm 5135 said it should, through His not speaking.  Then Barabbas, the most abandoned criminal, is released, as if he were the innocent man; while the most righteous Christ is delivered to be put to death, as if he were the murderer. 5136 Moreover two malefactors are crucified around Him, in order that He might be reckoned amongst the transgressors. 5137 Although His raiment was, without doubt, parted among the soldiers, and partly distributed by lot, yet Marcion has erased it all (from his Gospel), 5138 for he had his eye upon the Psalm: “They parted my garments amongst them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” 5139 You may as well take away the cross itself! But even then the Psalm is not silent concerning it: “They pierced my hands and my feet.” 5140 Indeed, the details of the whole event are therein read: “Dogs compassed me about; p. 421 the assembly of the wicked enclosed me around. All that looked upon me laughed me to scorn; they did shoot out their lips and shake their heads, (saying,) He hoped in God, let Him deliver Him.” 5141 Of what use now is (your tampering with) the testimony of His garments? If you take it as a booty for your false Christ, still all the Psalm (compensates) the vesture of Christ. 5142 But, behold, the very elements are shaken. For their Lord was suffering. If, however, it was their enemy to whom all this injury was done, the heaven would have gleamed with light, the sun would have been even more radiant, and the day would have prolonged its course 5143 —gladly gazing at Marcion’s Christ suspended on his gibbet! These proofs 5144 would still have been suitable for me, even if they had not been the subject of prophecy. Isaiah says: “I will clothe the heavens with blackness.” 5145 This will be the day, concerning which Amos also writes: And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that the sun shall go down at noon and the earth shall be dark in the clear day.” 5146 (At noon) 5147 the veil of the temple was rent” 5148 by the escape of the cherubim, 5149 which “left the daughter of Sion as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers.” 5150 With what constancy has He also, in Psalm xxx., laboured to present to us the very Christ! He calls with a loud voice to the Father, “Into Thine hands I commend my spirit,” 5151 that even when dying He might expend His last breath in fulfilling the prophets. Having said this, He gave up the ghost.” 5152 Who?  Did the spirit 5153 give itself up; or the flesh the spirit?  But the spirit could not have breathed itself out. That which breathes is one thing, that which is breathed is another. If the spirit is breathed it must needs be breathed by another.  If, however, there had been nothing there but spirit, it would be said to have departed rather than expired5154 What, however, breathes out spirit but the flesh, which both breathes the spirit whilst it has it, and breathes it out when it loses it? Indeed, if it was not flesh (upon the cross), but a phantom 5155 of flesh (and 5156 a phantom is but spirit, and 5157 so the spirit breathed its own self out, and departed as it did so), no doubt the phantom departed, when the spirit which was the phantom departed: and so the phantom and the spirit disappeared together, and were nowhere to be seen. 5158 Nothing therefore remained upon the cross, nothing hung there, after “the giving up of the ghost;” 5159 there was nothing to beg of Pilate, nothing to take down from the cross, nothing to wrap in the linen, nothing to lay in the new sepulchre. 5160 Still it was not nothing 5161 that was there. What was there, then? If a phantom Christ was yet there. If Christ had departed, He had taken away the phantom also. The only shift left to the impudence of the heretics, is to admit that what remained there was the phantom of a phantom! But what if Joseph knew that it was a body which he treated with so much piety? 5162 That same Joseph “who had not consented” with the Jews in their crime? 5163 The “happy man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of the scornful.” 5164



Onerare cœperunt.


“King Messiah;” λέγοντα ἑαυτὸν Χριστὸν βασιλέα εἶναι, Luke 23:1, 2.






Luke xxiii. 3.


Constitutus est in judicio. The Septuagint is καταστήσεται εἰς κρίσιν, “shall stand on His trial.”


Isa. 3:13, 14 (Septuagint).


Ps. 2:1, 2.


Velut munus. This is a definition, in fact, of the xenium in the verse from Hosea. This ξένιον was the Roman lautia, “a state entertainment to distinguished foreigners in the city.”


Luke xxiii. 7.


Hos. x. 6 (Sept. ξένια τῷ βασιλεῖ).


Luke 23:8, 9.


Isa. liii. 7.


Isa. l. 4 (Sept.).


Ps. xxii. 15.


Luke xxiii. 25.


Comp. Luke 23:33, Isa. 53:12.


This remarkable suppression was made to escape the wonderful minuteness of the prophetic evidence to the details of Christ’s death.


Ps. xxii. 18.


Ps. xxii. 16.


Ps. 22:16, 7, 8.


We append the original of these obscure sentences: “Quo jam testimonium vestimentorum? Habe falsi tui prædam; totus psalmus vestimenta sunt Christi.” The general sense is apparent. If Marcion does suppress the details about Christ’s garments at the cross, to escape the inconvenient proof they afford that Christ is the object of prophecies, yet there are so many other points of agreement between this wonderful Psalm and St. Luke’s history of the crucifixion (not expunged, as it would seem, by the heretic), that they quite compensate for the loss of this passage about the garments (Oehler).


Comp. Josh. x. 13.




Isa. l. 3.


Amos viii. 9.


Here you have the meaning of the sixth hour.


Luke xxiii. 45.


Ezek. 11:22, 23.


Isa. i. 8.


Comp. Luke 23:46, Ps. 31:5.


Luke xxiii. 46.


Spiritus: or “breath.”


Expirasse: considered actively, “breathed out,” in reference to the “expiravit” of the Luke 23.46 above.


A sharp rebuke of Marcion’s Docetism here follows.






Nusquam comparuit phantasma cum spiritu.


Post expirationem.


See these stages in Luke xxiii. 47-55.


Non nihil: “a something.”


This argument is also used by Epiphanius to prove the reality of Christ’s body, Hæres. xl. Confut. 74. The same writer also employs for the same purpose the incident of the women returning from the sepulchre, which Tertullian is going to adduce in his next chapter, Confut. 75 (Oehler).


Luke xxiii. 51.


Ps. i. 1.

Next: Conclusions. Jesus as the Christ of the Creator Proved from the Events of the Last Chapter of St. Luke. The Pious Women at the Sepulchre. The Angels at the Resurrection. The Manifold Appearances of Christ After the Resurrection. His Mission of the Apostles Amongst All Nations.  All Shown to Be in Accordance with the Wisdom of the Almighty Father, as Indicated in Prophecy. The Body of Christ After Death No Mere Phantom.  Marcion's Manipulation of the Gospel on This Point.

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