Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Five Books Against Marcion/Book III/I

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III
by Tertullian, translated by Peter Holmes
155278Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III — IPeter HolmesTertullian

Book III.

Wherein Christ is shown to be the Son of God, Who created the world; to have been predicted by the prophets; to have taken human flesh like our own, by a real incarnation.


Chapter I.—Introductory; A Brief Statement of the Preceding Argument in Connection with the Subject of This Book.

Following the track of my original treatise, the loss of which we are steadily proceeding[1] to restore, we come now, in the order of our subject, to treat of Christ, although this be a work of supererogation,[2] after the proof which we have gone through that there is but one only God. For no doubt it has been already ruled with sufficient clearness, that Christ must be regarded as pertaining to[3] no other God than the Creator, when it has been determined that no other God but the Creator should be the object of our faith. Him did Christ so expressly preach, whilst the apostles one after the other also so clearly affirmed that Christ belonged to[4] no other God than Him whom He Himself preached—that is, the Creator—that no mention of a second God (nor, accordingly, of a second Christ) was ever agitated previous to Marcion’s scandal.  This is most easily proved by an examination[5] of both the apostolic and the heretical churches,[6] from which we are forced to declare that there is undoubtedly a subversion of the rule (of faith), where any opinion is found of later date,[7]—a point which I have inserted in my first book.[8] A discussion of it would unquestionably be of value even now, when we are about to make a separate examination into (the subject of) Christ; because, whilst proving Christ to be the Creator’s Son, we are effectually shutting out the God of Marcion. Truth should employ all her available resources, and in no limping way.[9] In our compendious rules of faith, however, she has it all her own way.[10] But I have resolved, like an earnest man,[11] to meet my adversary every way and everywhere in the madness of his heresy, which is so great, that he has found it easier to assume that that Christ has come who was never heard of, than He who has always been predicted.


  1. Perseveramus.
  2. Ex abundanti.
  3. i.e., “as the Son of, or sent by, no other God.”
  4. i.e., “was the Son of, or sent by, no other God.”
  5. Recensu.
  6. [Surely Tertullian, when he wrote this, imagined himself not separated formally from the Apostolic churches. Of which see De Præscriptione, (p. 258) supra.]
  7. Ubi posteritas invenitur. Compare De Præscript. Hæret. 34, where Tertullian refers to “that definite rule, before laid down, touching ‘the later date’ (illo fine supra dicto posteritatis), whereby they (i.e., certain novel opinions) would at once be condemned on the ground of their age alone.”  In 31 of the same work he contrasts “posteritatem mendacitatis” with “principalitatem veritatis”—“the latter date of falsehood” with “the primary date of truth.”  [pp. 258, 260, supra.]
  8. See book i. chap. 1.
  9. Non ut laborantem. “Qui enim laborant non totis sed fractis utuntur viribus.” Πανστρατιᾷ πανσυδίῃ; Anglice, “with all her might.”
  10. In præscript. compendiis vincit.
  11. Ut gestientem.