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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Other Speculations of Hermogenes, About Matter and Some of Its Adjuncts, Shown to Be Absurd. For Instance, Its Alleged Infinity.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXXIII.—Other Speculations of Hermogenes, About Matter and Some of Its Adjuncts, Shown to Be Absurd. For Instance, Its Alleged Infinity.

My observations touching the site 6536 of Matter, as also concerning its mode 6537 have one and the same object in view—to meet and refute your perverse positions. You put Matter below God, and thus, of course, you assign a place to it below God. Therefore Matter is local. 6538 Now, if it is local, it is within locality; if within locality, it is bounded 6539 by the place within which it is; if it is bounded, it has an outline, 6540 which (painter as you are in your special vocation) you know is the boundary to every object susceptible of outline.  Matter, therefore, cannot be infinite, which, since it is in space, is bounded by space; and being thus determinable by space, it is susceptible of an outline. You, however, make it infinite, when you say: “It is on this account infinite, because it is always existent.”  And if any of your disciples should choose to meet us by declaring your meaning to be that Matter is infinite in time, not in its corporeal mass, 6541 still what follows will show that (you mean) corporeal infinity to be an attribute of Matter, that it is in respect of bulk immense and uncircumscribed.  “Wherefore,” say you, “it is not fabricated as a whole, but in its parts.” 6542 In bulk, therefore, is it infinite, not in time. And you contradict yourself 6543 when you make Matter infinite in bulk, and at the same time ascribe place to it, including it within space and local outline. But yet at the same time I cannot tell why God should not have entirely formed it, 6544 unless it be because He was either impotent or envious. I want therefore to know the moiety of that which was not wholly formed (by God), in order that I may understand what kind of thing the entirety was. It was only right that God should have made it known as a model of antiquity, 6545 to set off the glory of His work.



De situ.


Oehler here restores the reading “quod et de modo,” instead of “de motu,” for which Pamelius contends. Oehler has the mss. on his side, and Fr. Junius, who interprets “modo” here to mean “mass or quantity.” Pamelius wishes to suit the passage to the preceding context (see ch. xxxvi.); Junius thinks it is meant rather to refer to what follows, by which it is confirmed.


In loco.




Lineam extremam.


Modo corporis: or “bulk.”


Nec tota fabricatur, sed partes ejus. This perhaps means: “It is not its entirety, but its parts, which are used in creation.”


Obduceris: here a verb of the middle voice.


In reference to the opinion above mentioned, “Matter is not fabricated as whole, but in parts.”


Ut exemplarium antiquitatis.

Next: These Latter Speculations Shown to Be Contradictory to the First Principles Respecting Matter, Formerly Laid Down by Hermogenes.

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