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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Another Passage in the Sacred History of the Creation, Released from the Mishandling of Hermogenes.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXX.—Another Passage in the Sacred History of the Creation, Released from the Mishandling of Hermogenes.

The following words will in like manner apparently corroborate the conjecture of Hermogenes, “And darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the water;” 6426 as if these blended 6427 substances, presented us with arguments for his massive pile of Matter6428 Now, so discriminating an enumeration of certain and distinct elements (as we have in this passage), which severally designates “darkness,” “the deep,” “the Spirit of God,” “the waters,” forbids the inference that anything confused or (from such confusion) uncertain is meant. Still more, when He ascribed to them their own places, 6429 “darkness on the face of the deep,” “the Spirit upon the face of the waters,” He repudiated all confusion in the substances; and by demonstrating their separate position, 6430 He demonstrated also their distinction.  Most absurd, indeed, would it be that Matter, which is introduced to our view as “without form,” should have its “formless” condition maintained by so many words indicative of form, 6431 without any intimation of what that confused body 6432 is, which must of course be supposed to be unique, 6433 since it is without form. 6434 For that which is without form is uniform; but even 6435 that which is without form, when it is blended together 6436 from various component parts, 6437 must necessarily have one outward appearance; 6438 and it has not any appearance, until it has the one appearance (which comes) from many parts combined6439 Now Matter either had those specific parts 6440 within itself, from the words indicative of which it had to be understood—I mean “darkness,” and “the deep,” and “the Spirit,” and “the waters”—or it had them not. If it had them, how is it introduced as being “without form?” 6441 If it had them not, how does it become known? 6442



Gen. i. 2.




Massalis illius molis.






Tot formarum vocabulis.


Corpus confusionis.










Ex varietate.


Unam speciem.


Unam ex multis speciem.


Istas species.


Non habens formas.



Next: A Further Vindication of the Scripture Narrative of the Creation, Against a Futile View of Hermogenes.

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