Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Tertullian: Part II: Even Unburied Bodies Will Be Raised Again. Whatever Befalls Them God Will Restore Them Again. Jonah's Case Quoted in Illustration of God's Power.
Chapter XXXII.—Even Unburied Bodies Will Be Raised Again. Whatever Befalls Them God Will Restore Them Again. Jonahs Case Quoted in Illustration of Gods Power.
But, that you may not suppose that it is merely those bodies which are consigned to tombs whose resurrection is foretold, you have it declared in Scripture: “And I will comp. 568 mand the fishes of the sea, and they shall cast up the bones which they have devoured; and I will bring joint to joint, and bone to bone.” You will ask, Will then the fishes and other animals and carnivorous birds be raised again, in order that they may vomit up what they have consumed, on the ground of your reading in the law of Moses, that blood is required of even all the beasts? Certainly not. But the beasts and the fishes are mentioned in relation to the restoration of flesh and blood, in order the more emphatically to express the resurrection of such bodies as have even been devoured, when redress is said to be demanded of their very devourers. Now I apprehend that in the case of Jonah we have a fair proof of this divine power, when he comes forth from the fishs belly uninjured in both his natures—his flesh and his soul. No doubt the bowels of the whale would have had abundant time during three days for consuming and digesting Jonahs flesh, quite as effectually as a coffin, or a tomb, or the gradual decay of some quiet and concealed grave; only that he wanted to prefigure even those beasts (which symbolize) especially the men who are wildly opposed to the Christian name, or the angels of iniquity, of whom blood will be required by the full exaction of an avenging judgment. Where, then, is the man who, being more disposed to learn than to assume, more careful to believe than to dispute, and more scrupulous of the wisdom of God than wantonly bent on his own, when he hears of a divine purpose respecting sinews and skin, and nerves and bones, will forthwith devise some different application of these words, as if all that is said of the substances in question were not naturally intended for man? For either there is here no reference to the destiny of man—in the gracious provision of the kingdom (of heaven), in the severity of the judgment-day, in all the incidents of the resurrection; or else, if there is any reference to his destiny, the destination must necessarily be made in reference to those substances of which the man is composed, for whom the destiny is reserved. Another question I have also to ask of these very adroit transformers of bones and sinews, and nerves and sepulchres: Why, when anything is declared of the soul, do they not interpret the soul to be something else, and transfer it to another signification?—since, whenever any distinct statement is made of a bodily substance, they will obstinately prefer taking any other sense whatever, rather than that which the name indicates. If things which pertain to the body are figurative, why are not those which pertain to the soul figurative also? Since, however, things which belong to the soul have nothing allegorical in them, neither therefore have those which belong to the body. For man is as much body as he is soul; so that it is impossible for one of these natures to admit a figurative sense, and the other to exclude it.
Next: So Much for the Prophetic Scriptures. In the Gospels, Christ's Parables, as Explained by Himself, Have a Clear Reference to the Resurrection of the Flesh.
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