Athens and JerusalemRevisited:Reason and Authority in Tertullian

JUSTO L. GONZaLEZ Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? quid academiae et ecclesiae? quid haereticis et christianis? De prasecriptione haereticorum 7.9 Very few ancient Christian writers have been as maligned by posterity as Tertullian has been. This is understandable, for Tertullian made little effort to endear himself to either his contemporaries or his future readers. His conversion to-many still say "lapse into"-Montanism was not calculated to make him popular with Catholic historians. His so-called legalism has become a favorite straw man for Protestant writers. The disappearance of both Montanism and the ancient African church destroyed the two logical communities where his name might have been venerated. In the sixteenth century a number of scholars became sufficiently interested in him to produce editions of his works; but although his rhetorical ability attracted some attention from the humanists, they found his manner and spirit too uncouth. Protestant rigorists who ought to have welcomed his stringency rejected him because of his emphasis on tradition. Catholic polemicists who could be expected to welcome such an emphasis ignored him because of his apparent denial of the authority of tradition in becomeing a Montanist. Rationalist scholars who ought to have enjoyed his wit and his unflinching logic were unable to sympathize with the seemingly illogical consequences of that logic. The result of these various biases has been a surprising agreement on a generally negative evaluation of Tertullian as a thinker and as a person. At no point has Tertullian been more maligned than in that which has to do with the issues of faith and reason. This may be seen in the fact that the oft quoted phrase credo quai absurdum-I believe because it is absurd-usually attributed to him is nowhere to be found in his works. Although this is usually recognized by modern scholars, many still insist that the phrase, while not his, is a correct summary of his attitude.' According to this view, Tertullian was stauchly opposed, not only to philosophy, the mother of all heresies, but also to reason, her handmaiden. This supposed opposition to reason has been pictured as an at1. F. Loofs, Leitfaden zum Studiurn der Dogmengeschichte, 6th ed. (Tiibingen: Max Niemeyer, 1959), p. 118: "Das ihm nachgesagte 'credo, quia absurdum' ist zwar apokryh; aber Tertullian hat ahnlich sich ausgesprochen: Crucifixus . . . [then follows the

crucial text of De Came Christi 5]." G. Bardy, "Tertullien," Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique (Paris: Letouzey et Ane 1903-1946), "Ce n'est pas litt6ralement le Credo quia absurdum, mais c'en est 1'quivalent." G. J. de Vries, Bijdrage tot de psychologie van Tertullianus (Utrecht: Kemink en zoon, 1929), p. 50: "Het 'credo quia absurdum' moge dan legendair zijn, het geeft den inhoud van het bovenstaande [credible est, quia ineptum est] goed weer." H. A. Wolfson, The Philosophy of the Church Fathers (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1970), 1:102-106, interprets Tertullian along the same lines, and then proceeds to show how Tertullian contradicts himself. This could well be an indication not of contradiction in Tertullian, but of an error in interpretation,

Mr. Gonzdlez is associate professor of world christianity in Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. 17



tempt to make faith more meritorious by making it more unreasonable,2 or to make it stronger by forcing it to strive to accept the rationally unbelievable.3 As a result of this common interpretation of Tertullian's stance on the issues of reason and authority, he has been depicted as a flashy but superficial thinker, incapable of systematic thought: ". . . he never created any system. In fact, he lacked the essential qualification, a balanced mind, which would enable him to arrange the different articles of faith in logical order and to assign to each of them its proper place."4 Given this vantage point, Tertullian's entire contribution to the development of western theology is seen as consisting mostly in a number of fortunate formulae and felicitous phrases. One is reminded of the ancient fable about the donkey that was eating grass and unwittingly happened to play a flute that was lying in the pasture. The problem with applying such an image to Tertullian is that he somehow managed to play the flute much too often! Such a simplistic interpretation could not long remain unchallenged. Tertullian's works are too unflinching in their own kind of logic to allow for it. Although he rejected the authority of philosophy to correct the "rule of faith"-whatever that may have been-he nevertheless argued that the soul has a natural knowledge of some elements of Christian truth,5 and he made use of Stoic and even Platonic elements in constructing his own theology. Therefore, in recent times several scholars have pointed to the rational elements in Tertullian's theology.6 Others have shown that he borrowed extensively from the very philosophers whom he blamed for having given rise to heresy.7 There have been numerous studies of particular aspects of Tertullian's theology, and they usually show the coherence which rules his thought on whatever happens to be the subject of the study.8 What I shall attempt to do here is to go one step further and show, not merely that Tertullian has what Tillich calls "a sharp rational mind", but rather that he has a clear understanding of reason-of its nature, function and limitsand that within that understanding of reason he remains strictly rational and systematic. Hopefully, this will then serve to clarify the relationship between reason and faith as sources of authority for Tertullian. To do this I shall first ex2. A. C. McGiffert, A History of Christian Thought (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1954), 2:16: "The more unreasonable it appears to us, so Tertullian seems to think, the greater the merit of our faith." As iources for this assertion, MeGiffert mentions Adv. Marcionem 2.2 and 5.5. But to draw such a conclusion from these texts would require a great deal of unreasonable (and meritorious ) faith in McGiffert!

3. J. L. Neve, A History of Christian Thought (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1946), 1:93: "Faith is consent in a state of absolute obedience. The more unreasonable the articles of faith are, the more opportunity there is for faith to develop its strength." 4. J. Quasten, Patrology (Utrecht: Spectrum, 1953), 2:320. 5. De testimonio animae passim. See also the excellent discussion by J. Lortz, Tertullian als Apologet (Munster: Aschendorff, 1927), 1:224-248. 6. For instance, Paul Tillich, A Complete History of Christian Thought (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), Pt. 1, p. 38, credits Tertullian with "a sharp rational mind." 7. C. de L. Shortt, The Influence of Philosophy on the Mind of Tertullian (London: Elliot Stock, 1933); F. Refoul1, "Tertullien et la philosophie," Revue des Sciences Religieuses I shall in this paper-that Tertullian is not an anti-ra30 (1956): 42-45, argues-as tionalist. He does not seem to think, however, that this argument can be made while insisting on the coherence of Tertullian's thought. For the influence of Platonism on Tertullian, see J. H. Waszink, "Observations on Tertullian's Treatise Against Hermogenes," Vigiliae Christianae 9 (1955):129-147. 8. Two excellent examples of this are Th. Brandt, Tertullians Ethik: Zur Erfassung des systematischen Grundanschauung (Gutersloh: Bertelsmann, 1928) and V. Nauman, "Das Problem des Bosen in Tertullians zweiten Buch gegen Marcion: Ein Beitrag zur Theodizce Tertullians," Zeitschrift fur katholische Theologie 58 (1934):311-363.



amine the crucial text in De carne Christi 5, from which the myth of the credo quia absurdumhas arisen. Then, taking Adversus Praxean 10 as my starting on pointand supporting interpretation a numberof othertexts, I shallattemptto my of clarify Tertullian'sunderstanding reason. Finally, I shall attempt to outline what this means for the issue of authorityin Tertullian,especiallyas it relates to his conversionto Montanism. The text which has given rise to the "credoquia absurdum" clear and conis cise: "Crucifixus dei filius; non pudet, quia pudendum est est. Et mortuusest dei filius; credible est, quia ineptum est. Et sepultus resurrexit; certum est, quia impossible."9 From this text it is clear that, althoughTertulliannever literallysaid "credo, he and quia absurdum", did say its equivalent: "credibileest, quia ineptum",10 "certumest, quia impossibile." Therefore,if one is to claim that the commoninterpretationof Tertullian typified by the "credo, quia absurdum"is incorrect, this must be done, not by simply assertingthat he never did say such a thingas a matter of fact, he practicallydid-but by showing, to begin with, that this text, placed in its proper context and correctly understood,intends to convey of neithera sweepingcondemnation reason,nor a generalpraise of absurdity. Let us then place this text within its propercontext. The purposeof De carne Christi is to refute those who disparagethe flesh, and especiallyits resurrection. In a sense, it is the first part of a whole whose second part is De resurrectione mortuorum.1 Tertullian's opponents here are Marcion, Apelles, Basilides and Valentinus. However, in the first five chapters of De carne Christi-which are the center of our concern here-he is basicallyrefuting the views which he assigns to Marcion.This is significant,for this means that the main thrust of the entire section is not, as has often been assumed,toward the discontinuity between nature and grace, reason and revelation,but rather tocreationand redemption, ward their continuity. Here Marcionis the championof discontinuity.Tertullian is arguing that the God revealedin Jesus is also the God revealed in creation, and that the flesh of Jesus is the same as humancreated flesh. It would indeed be strangeif he were trying to prove this point by claimingthat Christianreason is opposedto naturalreason,and that this oppositionis such that naturalabsurdity constitutesChristianproof! This is preciselywhat he is not doing in spite of the many opinionsto the contrary. After two chaptersof introductionfull of the pathos and ethos which Aristotle commendedand other authoritieson rhetoricclaimed were specially fitting Tertulliangets down to businessin chapter3.12 There he outin the introduction,
9. De carne Christi 5.4. "The son of God was crucified; it shames one not, because it is shameful. And the son of God died; it is believable, because it is foolish (absurd). And having been buried he resurrected; it is certain, because it is impossible." (A number of manuscripts include "prorsus" before "credibile", but this does not appear in the best manuscripts. In any case, it wouldn't affect my argument in any significant manner.) 10. "Ineptum," although not quite the equivalent of "absurdum", comes close to it. It does not carry the connotation of logical impossibility; but it does mean foolish or inappropriate. 11. E. Evans, Tertullian's Treatise on the Incarnation (London: S.P.C.K., 1956), p. x, and Tertullian's Treatisc on the Besurrection (London: S.P.C.K., 1960), p. xiv, shows that what we have here is an actio prima and an actio secunda, as was common in forensic practice. He also shows how each of these two treatises follows the prescribed rules of rhetoric, although in a very imaginative fashion. On the same issue, see R. D. Sider, Ancient Rhetoric and the Art of Tertullian (London: Oxford University Press, 1971). On pp. 27-28, Sider examines the rhetorical structure of De carne Christi. 12. Sider, pp. 13-14.



lines his refutation of Marcion by suggesting that the latter rejects the incarnaion because he believes it to be either impossible or unbefitting the nature of God.'3 He then devotes that entire chapter to proving that the incarnation is not impossible. The core of the argument against the impossibility of the incarnation is summarized in the sentence which follows the text quoted above: "But nothing is impossible for God, except that which he does not will."14 After a discussion on whether or not God did in fact will to be incarnate, Tertullian has Marcion raise the objection of the divine immutability. To be incarnate, God would have to change, and change implies an end to what was formerly. Therefore God, who has no end, is incapable of change, and could not have become incarnate.15 Interestingly enough, Tertullian does not attempt to refute this argument-as most later theologians would-by claiming that the divine immutability is somehow compatible with the incarnation. On the contrary, he argues that God can change if he wills to change, and that one must assert this if one is not to deprive him of his omnipotence. "Otherwise he would be on a parity with those things which in changing lose what they were."'6 In conclusion, the incarnation is not impossible. Chapter 4 then turns to the objection that the incarnation is unbefitting God. By the very nature of the case, the argumentation here is more of what Aristotle would call pathos and ethos than what he would call logos, and need not detain us here. What is significant is that Tertullian is arguing that the incarnation is not shameful, for human nature is not shameful. As the chapter proceeds, it becomes increasingly clear that what is meant by "unbefitting" (inconveniens in 3.1; indignus in 4.1) is actually "shame" (erubescentia in 4.4) and "folly" (stultitia in 4.5ff.). This in turn leads Tertullian to quote a text which the Marcionites presumably accept as Scriptural, for it comes from Paul: "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise."17 Tertullian then turns to a lengthy commentary of this text, whose climax is the famous "certum est, quia impossibile."18 What then, asks Tertullian, are the "foolish things" to which Paul refers? Certainly, they cannot be such things as the one true God and the practice of virtue.19 They are rather the nativity, passion and resurrection of Christ. "If we judge God according to our own understanding",2 these things are indeed folly. Yet they are not foolish, but rather true, because God has willed to them to take place, and they have indeed taken place. And then, in a typical rhetorician's climax to this argument, comes the crescendo of paradoxes: "non pudet, quia pudendum est ... credibile est, quia ineptum est ... certum est, quia impossibile." It is hardly believable that, after writing an entire chapter to prove that the incarnation is not impossible, Tertullian would have made its impossibility the criterion for its certitude, or that after devoting one and a half chapters to show
13. De came Christi 3.1 "Necesse est, quatenus hoc putas arbitrio tuo licuisse, ut aut impossibilem aut inconvenientem deo existimaueris nativitatem." Italics are mine. 14. Ibid.: "Sed deo nihil impossibile nisi quod non vult." 15. Ibid., 3.4-5: " 'Sed ideo', inquis, 'nego deum in hominem uere conuersum,ita ut et nasceretur et came corporaretur,quia qui sine fine est etiam inconuertibilis sit necesse est. Converti enim in aliud finis est pristini. Non competit ergo conversio eius, cui non competit finis. ' 16. Ibid., 3.6: "Alioquin par erit eorum, quae conversa amittunt quod fuerunt. . ." 17. Ibid., 4.5: "Stulta mundi elegit deus, ut confundat sapientia." 18. A point which has been very well made by V. D6carie, "Le paradoxe de Tertullien," Vigiliae Christianae 15 (]961):23-31. 19. De carne Christi 4.6. In numerousplaces, especially in De testimonio animae, Tertullian has shown that any wise man can know these. 20. Ibid., 4.5.



that it is neither shameful nor foolish, he would have made its shame and its folly the reason for its acceptance. This is not what Tertullian is doing in this passage. What he is saying is simply that these things, which seem impossible, are not really such, because God willed them to happen. In other words, he is not saying that the criterion for truth is impossibility. He is saying that the criterion of natural reason, usually valid, is not always ultimately valid, for that reason itself shows that God, who is the ultimate deciding factor, does not have to subject himself to it. He is also saying that in such cases the criterion of truth is not some inner logic which one can discover by purely rational investigation, but rather whether God did or did not will the event in question-in this case the incarnation and its sequel-to happen. Perhaps it would be useful to show how this criterion works in a different and less debated text. In Adversus Praxean 10 Tertullian finds that the argument of God's omnipotence is being used against him. Praxeas claims that the Father and the Son are the same. After the typical exordium, narratio and partitio, Tertullian moves in chapter 2 to the more positive confirmatio. As had become common in his time, he doesn't separate clearly between the confirmatio, where he makes his own case, and the reprehensio, where he refutes his opponent's arguments. These two are rather combined, although it is true that the earlier part of this section is more like a confirmatio, and the latter part more like a reprehensio. Part of the reason for this combination is Tertullian's frequent use of the praemunitio, where the rhetor attempts to forestall his opponent's case by raising an objection which that opponent might otherwise raise, and then responding to it. In one such praemunitio Tertullian acknowledges that the argument from divine omnipotence can be adduced against all the logical arguments which he has offered hitherto. Granted that it is not reasonable for the Father to be his own Son, as Tertullian has been arguing, this still does not prove that it is impossible. But "nothing is difficult for God"; who does not know that? And "the things which are impossible with the world are possible with God"; who is ignorant of it? And "the foolish things of the world God chose to confound the wise." All these things we have read [in scripture].21 This is actually the same sort of argument which Tertullian used against Marcion in De came Christi, and which is now used against him. His response to it when used against him is fully consistent with the use we have seen him make of it in De came Christi. On the basis of divine omnipotence, one could imagine about God anything which he pleases, as if God did things simply because he can do them: "We are not to believe that because he can do all things he has done even those things which he has not done. We must ask rather whether he has done them."22 God was able to give wings to man, just as he has given them to kites. But he didn't. God could have destroyed Praxeas and all heretics. But he didn't. The fact that he was able does not prove that he actually did it. In a way there are certain things which even God cannot do, although not because he lacks the power, but rather because he does not wish to do them. Therefore, Praxeas must
21. Adversus Praxean 10.7: "Sed nihil Deo difficile, quis hoc nesciatt Et: Impossibilia apud saeculum possibilia apud Deum, quis ignoret? Et: Stulta mundi elegit Deus, ut confundat sapientia. Legimus omnia." 22. Ibid., 10.8: "Non autem, quia omnia potest facere, ideoque credendum est illum fecisse etiam quod non fecerit sed an fecerit requirendumn." Italics are mine.



prove, not only that God can theoretically become his own Son, but also that he actually has done so.28 Once again, Tertullian is not arguing against the use of reason. Rather he is making use of reason as far as he believes it will go and clearly stating the limits of rational argument. What, then, does Athens have to do with Jerusalem? In De praescriptione haereticorum this question is purely rhetorical. The answer is obvious from the context: nothing. However, in order to gain a clear picture of Tertullian's attitude, one must first understand what he seems to mean here by "Athens" and "Jerusalem." He certainly is not claiming to reject philosophy in toto, for a short time before penning these lines he had written De testimonio animae, where he makes use of Stoic philosophy to show that the very soul of man witnesses to Christian truth. He never seems to have wavered from that position, even in his most rigoristic Montanist moments. Towards the end of his literary career, in De anima, he is still unabashedly employing Stoic materials. Nor can one claim that "philosophy" here means only Platonic and Aristotelian thought, and that Stoicism is exempt from the rejection of "Athens", for in the very next sentence Tertullian refers to the "porch of Solomon" in clear contrast to the Stoa.24 Finally, he cannot be said to be giving free rein to this supposed anti-rationalism, as if he were claiming, in a credo quia absurdum fashion, that a doctrine is to be accepted precisely because it is opposed to philosophy. To claim that "Athens" here is a synonym of reason, and that "Jerusalem" stands for faith or for revelation, is again to make Tertullian into an antirationalist. I have already shown that, even in the seemingly outrageous text in De carne Christi, he is not arguing that faith is opposed to reason. Here again, the rejection of reason would undercut Tertullian's entire argument, which is tightly woven with a series of logical arguments. What he is really arguing for is the use of reason in a "reasonable" fashion, so that it does not lose its bearings and arrive at senseless conclusions. To him, then, the question is not one of reason versus faith as sources of authority but is rather a question of two different sorts of reason. One is the reason of "Athens"; the other is the reason of "Jerusalem." One could be called "dialectical reason"; the other would then be "historical reason." The former turns to itself, and achieves nothing because it is applied to and ruled by nothing but itself.25 The latter turns to given facts-in this case, the historical "disciplina" of Jesus, as summarized in the "rule of faith"and arrives at conclusions on the basis of such facts.26 Dialectical reason asks whether or not God can do a certain thing; historical reason asks whether or not he in fact has done it, and then applies itself to that given fact. "Athens" and "Jerusalem" stand here as symbols, not of the opposition between faith and reason-"faith" was one of the main categories employed by the heretics whom Tertullian is attacking-but rather of the opposition between a mode of thought which believes that fact conforms to reason, and another which believes that reason must conform to fact. If fact conforms to reason, as "Athens"
23. Ibid., 10.8-9. 24. De praesc. haer. 7.10. 25. Ibid., 7.6: "Miserum Aristotelen! qui illis dialectican instituit, artificem struendi et destruendi, uersipellem in sententiis, coactam in coniecturis, duram in argumentis, operariam contentionum, molestam etiam sibi ipsam, omnia retractantem ne quid omino tractaverit." Italics are mine. 26. See my comments on Adv. Prax., above.



would have it, only that which can be understoodand logically stated can be factual. Thus, Achilles never catchesup with the turtle; only Being is; God cannot become incarnate. If reason conforms to fact, as "Jerusalem" claims, only that which is factualcan be understood.Movementis demonstrated walking; by Becoming is; God has become incarnate. "Athens"is spatial and static reason; is "Jerusalem" temporaland dynamicreason. Although Tertullianis not concernedhere with the "Athens"typified by the classical historians,I would venture to say that, had the issue been brought up, he would have found points of contact with them, but also points of clear divergence. Indeed,betweenthe logos of Elea, which led to ontology,and the logos of Ionia, which led to physics and history, Tertullian would probablyhave chosen the latter. But still both of these approachesseek after logos, which is for them the final criterionof truth. Tertullian,on the other hand, seeks after the will of God as it has been actualizedin historicalfact. Therefore,both Elea and Ionia may be includedin the global symbol "Athens." This does not mean that "Jerusalem" is not concernedabout logos, nor that "Athens"is not concernedabout temporalfact; Tertulliantakes great pains to make sure that his various refutations of heresiesmakeas much sense as possible,and Socrateswants to make sure that the rooster which he owes is paid. It does mean that the final criteria of truth are different. to "Athens"and "Jerusalem" thus imply two differentapproaches authority. no better source of authoritythan universalreason, If "Athens"is right, there is which it has in historicalman. especiallyas it is purifiedfrom the imperfections If "Jerusalem" right, there is no better source of authoritythan an ocular witis ness, althoughthat witness must still make sense-and here one must remember that Tertullianis constantlyblendingapostolicJerusalemwith forensic Rome. of His blendingof Jerusalemwith Rome gives Tertullian'sunderstanding authority a flavor which it is difficult to understandapart from that background. Authorityis not opposedto reason. On the contrary,there are cases where TerAuctoritasis the capacitythat a pertullian seems to use the two as synonyms.27 son has to stand as an auctor,that is, as a guarantor,and that capacitymust be basedon given reasons.The best auctoris the one who can claim that title also in the sense of "author",or originator,and to him belongs the highest authority. Others can serve as auctoresif there is reason to believe that their guaranteeis valid. When Cicero refers to Polybius as bonus auctor, he does not mean that which Polybiusis a "goodauthor",but that his word is good.28In jurisprudence, seems to have been Tertullian'sbackground, term auctoritaswas used in a the technical sense to indicate the right of possession, and was applied also to the auctoresof the past who were quotedas having auctoritas,not becausethey were "good authors"in the sense that their style was good, nor in the sense that they had createdsomethinggood, but in the sense that they knew what they were talkThat is the essential characteristic an auctor: to know first-hand of ing about.29 what he is talking about. If we now return to Tertullian's"Jerusalem", and to what authoritymeans from its standpoint, shall be able to understand we how Tertullian'snotion of au27. De Pud. 22.11: "quaecumque auctoritas, quaecumque ratio." If these two are not synonymous,at least they are two parallel ways in which the act of restoring murderers and fornicators could be justified by Tertullian's opponents. 28. Cicero De Off. 3.113. 29. Ibid., 1.37; Cicero Topica 23.



thority, as set forth in De praescriptione, still allowed him to abandon the church which could claim apostolic succession.30 In that treatise, the argument is basically that the apostles are the auctores-not in the sense of originators, but in the sense of guarantors-of the Christian faith,81 and that the church is their heir.32 Thus, authority strictly belongs to the apostles, and the bishops of the church can claim apostolic authority only because they can show themselves to be the legitimate heirs of the apostles. The apostles stand as auctores, not only through the succession of bishops, but also through their writings and through the rule of faith. The apostles, and not the bishops, are the auctores, and theirs is the auctoritas. They speak through Scripture, through the rule of faith, and through their successors in the episcopacy. Therefore, the authority of the bishops does not derive from the physical succession, but from the fact that they hold the faith of the apostles. Their ability to show a direct line of succession from the apostles is not what makes them authoritative, but is rather one more proof-together with their agreement with Scripture and with the rule of faith-that they are indeed apostolic, and can thus claim the apostles as their auctores. This is why even those churches which cannot show a line of succession from the apostles, if they hold to the faith of the church, can be accepted as apostolic on the basis of their kindred faith-pro consanguinitate doctrinae.33 What Tertullian does not say in this treatise is that the counterpart is also true: that if a bishop who can show a direct line of succession from the apostles departs from the true faith he is to be no longer counted as apostolic. At the time when he was writing De praescriptione haereticorum, arguing as he was for the Church which could show this succession, he did not make this particular point. Later, when as a Montanist he became convinced that the bishops had departed from the apostolic faith, he could make this further point without contradicting what he had said in De praescriptione haereticorum, or invalidating its argument. In becoming a Montanist Tertullian claimed for himself the conservative position, over against what he declared to be the innovations of the bishops-especially the bishops of Rome. In De praescriptione Tertullian could refer to Rome and its episcopacy as the place where authority was at hand.84 But soon a series of developments showed that the Roman episcopacy was particularly vulnerable to what Tertullian took to be moral and doctrinal decay. The history of the Roman church during the reigns of Victor, Zephyrinus and Callistus Tertullian saw as
30. In A History of Christian Thought (Nashville: Abingdon, 1970), 1:181, I affirmed that Tertullian's conversion to Montanism invalidated his argument in De praesc. haer., and that it was for this reason that he felt compelled to write refutations of individual heresies. My uneasiness with that assertion was suggested at that time in a footnote, showing that in De praesc. haer. Tertullian had already promised such further refutations. I now have come to the conclusion that I must retract my earlier affirmation, for I find no evidence that Tertullian felt that there was any contradiction between his argument in De praesc. haer. and his having become a Montanist. On the contrary, in De carne Christi, which is clearly a Montanist work, he explicitly refers to De praesc. haer. as having refuted all heresies (De carne Christi 2.6). 31. De praesc. haer. 6.4: "Apostolos Domini habemus auctores qui nec ipsi quicquam exsuo arbitrio quod inducerent elegerunt, sed acceptam a Christo disciplinam fideliter nationibus adsignaverunt." 32. Ibid., 37.3-4: habeo origines firmas ab ipsis auctoribus quorum fuit res. Ego sum heres apostolorum." 33. Ibid., 32.6. 34. "Authority", however, in the sense that the presence of the apostles Peter, Paul and John, the auctores, can be felt there, both in their "thrones", and in their writings. "At hand", because Tertullian has been suggesting various places where such authority may be found, and Rome is the nearest one (ibid., 36.1-6).



one of theological wavering and moral relaxation. With Praxeas and Sabellius, patripassianism gained the ear of the bishops, and it took the schismatic Hippolytus to refute it. With the famous "edict of Callistus", the traditional moral rigor of the Christian faith was forsaken. Even Hippolytus, who had no sympathy for Callistus, but who was no Montanist either, claims that at this time new and unacceptable practices were introduced.35 Referring to the power which Praxeas seemed to have in Rome, and to his efforts to introduce patripassianism have the prophecies of the Montanists condemned, Tertullian says that Praxeas has served the Devil in Rome in two ways: by expelling prophecy, and by introducing heresy; by sending away the Paraclete, and by crucifying the Father.36 This conservative self-understanding on the part of Tertullian is significant, for it is fully consistent with his notion of authority as described above. Indeed, when authority is seen as depending, not on logical coherence, nor even on moral rectitude, but on the ability to attest to historical accuracy, it necessarily leads to a conservative attitude. What is important is to determine what was the word of the original auctores. Therefore, Tertullian insists that the Paraclete reveals nothing new.37 He simply shows more clearly what was implicit in the writings of the apostles, and what the bishops have now abandoned. The fact that this claim was not quite true, and that a number of Montanist "revelations" were actually innovations, is something which modern scholars can show, but to which Tertullian had to remain blind. Given this understanding of the manner in which the recent history of the church had perverted the original "disciplina" of the apostles, one can see how Tertullian could become a Montanist without repudiating the entire argument in De praescriptione. The Montanists were the true heirs of the apostles, of the auctores. Abandoning the apostolic discipline, the bishops had lost the right to claim these auctores and therefore had no authority. In De praescriptione strict apostolic succession was not required for apostolicity; now that succession is not sufficient to guarantee true apostolicity. Scriptures and the rule of faith still hold as the two basic criteria for being able to claim the auctoritas of the apostles; but to these now is added the Paraclete, while apostolic succession is left aside. Tertullian would say, however, that the Paraclete is no new addition, for his promise is included in the texts of the auctores and in the rule of faith. What is new is that the bishops have departed from the true tradition, and that they now find themselves in conflict with the Paraclete who has been sustaining the church throughout its history. And once again, in a series of treatises which I cannot review here, Tertullian sets out to show, by means of logical argument, that the Montanist position is faithful to the faith delivered at Jerusalem. Thus, when he became a Montanist as well as when he was a catholic, Tertullian did not use the "Jerusalem" principle as a means to excuse himself from rigorous thought. Nor did he simply appeal to the revelations given to the Montanist prophets-which he could logically have done. Rather, he applied his unusual logical abilities to prove the consistency between his beliefs and the historical facts of Christianity, or, as he would have put it, to show that the apostolic auctores of the Christian faith lent their auctoritas to the Montanist position.
35. Philosophumena9.6-7. 36. Aidv. Praz. 1.5: "Ita duo negotia diaboli Praxeas Romae procuravit: prophetiam. expulit et haeresin intulit, Paracletum fugavit et Patrem crucifixit." 37. De monogamia 2, 3.

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