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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: A Retort of Heresy Answered. That Scripture Should in So Many Words Tell Us that the World Was Made of Nothing is Superfluous.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXI.—A Retort of Heresy Answered. That Scripture Should in So Many Words Tell Us that the World Was Made of Nothing is Superfluous.

But, you will say to me, if you determine that all things were made of nothing, on the ground that it is not told us that anything was made out of pre-existent Matter, take care that it be not contended on the opposite side, that on the same ground all things were made out of Matter, because it is not likewise expressly said that anything was made out of nothing. Some arguments may, of course, 6334 be thus retorted easily enough; but it does not follow that they are on that account fairly admissible, where there is a diversity in the cause. For I maintain that, even if the Scripture has not expressly declared that all things were made out of nothing—just as it abstains (from saying that they were formed) out of Matter—there was no such pressing need for expressly indicating the creation of all things out of nothing, as there was of their creation out of Matter, if that had been their origin. Because, in the case of what is made out of nothing, the very fact of its not being indicated that it was made of any particular thing shows that it was made of nothing; and there is no danger of its being supposed that it was made of anything, when there is no indication at all of what it was made of.  In the case, however, of that which is made out of something, unless the very fact be plainly declared, that it was made out of something, there will be danger, until 6335 it is shown of what it was made, first of its appearing to be made of nothing, because it is not said of what it was made; and then, should it be of such a nature 6336 as to have the appearance of having certainly been made of something, there will be a similar risk of its seeming to have been made of a far different material from the proper one, so long as there is an absence of statement of what it was made of. Then, if God had been unable to make all things of nothing, the Scripture could not possibly have added that He had made all things of nothing: (there could have been no room for such a statement,) but it must by all means have informed us that He had made all things out of Matter, since Matter must have been the source; because the one case was quite to be understood, 6337 if it were not actually stated, whereas the other case would be left in doubt unless it were stated.





Dum ostenditur: which Oehler and Rigalt. construe as “donec ostendatur.” One reading has “dum non ostenditur,” “so long as it is not shown.”


Ea conditione.


In totum habebat intelligi.

Next: This Conclusion Confirmed by the Usage of Holy Scripture in Its History of the Creation.  Hermogenes in Danger of the Woe Pronounced Against Adding to Scripture.

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