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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part II: Marcus and Colarbasus.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter V.—Marcus and Colarbasus.

After these there were not wanting a Marcus and a Colarbasus, composing a novel heresy out of the Greek alphabet. For they affirm that without those letters truth cannot be found; nay more, that in those letters the whole plenitude and perfection of truth is comprised; for this was why Christ said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” 8393 In fact, they say that Jesus Christ descended, 8394 that is, that the dove came down on Jesus; 8395 and, since the dove is styled by the Greek name περιστερά —(peristera), it has in itself this number DCCCI. 8396 These men run through their Ω, Ψ, Χ, Φ, Υ, Τ—through the whole alphabet, indeed, up to Α and Β—and compute ogdoads and decads.  So we may grant it useless and idle to recount all their trifles. What, however, must be allowed not merely vain, but likewise dangerous, is this:  they feign a second God, beside the Creator; they affirm that Christ was not in the substance of flesh; they say there is to be no resurrection of the flesh.



See Rev. 1:7, Rev. 21:6, Rev. 22:13.


Denique Jesum Christum descendisse. So Oehler, who does not notice any conjectural emendation, or various reading, of the words. If correct, his reading would refer to the views of a twofold Jesus Christ—a real and a phantasmal one—held by docetic Gnostics, or to such views as Valentine’s, in whose system, so far as it is ascertainable from the confused and discrepant account of it, there would appear to have been one Æon called Christ, another called Jesus, and a human person called Jesus and Christ, with whom the true Jesus associated Himself. Some such jumble of ideas the two heretics now under review would seem to have held, if Oehler’s be the true reading. But the difficulties are somewhat lessened if we accept the very simple emendation which naturally suggests itself, and which, I see, Semler has proposed and Routh inclines to receive, “in Jesum Christum descendisse,” i.e. “that Christ descended on Jesus.”


See Matt. 3:13, Mark 1:9, Luke 3:21, John 1:29.


Habere secum numerum DCCCI. So Oehler, after Jos. Scaliger, who, however, seems to have read “secum hunc numerum,” for the ordinary reading, “habere secundum numerum,” which would mean, “represents, in the way of numerical value, DCCCI.”

Next: Cerdo, Marcion, Lucan, Apelles.

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