Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: The Profane Account Given of the Origin of Christ and the Holy Ghost Sternly Rebuked. An Absurdity Respecting the Attainment of the Knowledge of God Ably Exposed.
Chapter XI.—The Profane Account Given of the Origin of Christ and the Holy Ghost Sternly Rebuked. An Absurdity Respecting the Attainment of the Knowledge of God Ably Exposed.
Accordingly, after the banishment of the Enthymesis, and the return of her mother Sophia to her husband, the (illustrious) Monogenes, the Nus, 6733 released indeed from all care and concern of the Father, in order that he might consolidate all things, and defend and at last fix the Pleroma, and so prevent any concussion of the kind again, once more 6734 emits a new couple 6735 (blasphemously named). I should suppose the coupling of two males to be a very shameful thing, or else the one 6736 must be a female, and so the male is discredited 6737 by the female. One divinity is assigned in the case of all these, to procure a complete adjustment among the Æons. Even from this fellowship in a common duty two schools actually arise, two chairs, 6738 and, to some extent, 6739 the inauguration of a division in the doctrine of Valentinus. It was the function of Christ to instruct the Æons in the nature of their conjugal relations 6740 (you see what the whole thing was, of course!), and how to form some guess about the unbegotten, 6741 and to give them the capacity of generating within themselves the knowledge of the Father; it being impossible to catch the idea of him, or comprehend him, or, in short, even to enjoy any perception of him, either by the eye or the ear, except through Monogenes (the Only-begotten). Well, I will even grant them what they allege about knowing the Father, so that they do not refuse us (the attainment of) the same. I would rather point out what is perverse in their doctrine, how they were taught that the incomprehensible part of the Father was the cause of their own perpetuity, 6742 whilst that which might be comp. 510 prehended of him was the reason 6743 of their generation and formation. Now by these several positions 6744 the tenet, I suppose, is insinuated, that it is expedient for God not to be apprehended, on the very ground that the incomprehensibility of His character is the cause of perpetuity; whereas what in Him is comprehensible is productive, not of perpetuity, but rather of conditions which lack perpetuity—namely, nativity and formation. The Son, indeed, they made capable of comprehending the Father. The manner in which He is comprehended, the recently produced Christ fully taught them. To the Holy Spirit, however, belonged the special gifts, whereby they, having been all set on a complete par in respect of their earnestness to learn, should be enabled to offer up their thanksgiving, and be introduced to a true tranquillity.
Copulationem: The profane reference is to Christ and the Spirit.509:6736
[A shocking reference to the Spirit which I modify to one of the Divine Persons.]509:6737
Perpetuitatis: i.e. “what was unchangeable in their condition and nature.”510:6743
Rationem: perhaps “the means.”510:6744
Next: The Strange Jumble of the Pleroma. The Frantic Delight of the Members Thereof. Their Joint Contribution of Parts Set Forth with Humorous Irony.
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