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

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III
by Tertullian, translated by Peter Holmes
155284Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III — VIIPeter HolmesTertullian

Chapter VII.—Prophecy Sets Forth Two Different Conditions of Christ, One Lowly, the Other Majestic. This Fact Points to Two Advents of Christ.

Our heretic will now have the fullest opportunity of learning the clue[1] of his errors along with the Jew himself, from whom he has borrowed his guidance in this discussion. Since, however, the blind leads the blind, they fall into the ditch together. We affirm that, as there are two conditions demonstrated by the prophets to belong to Christ, so these presignified the same number of advents; one, and that the first, was to be in lowliness,[2] when He had to be led as a sheep to be slain as a victim, and to be as a lamb dumb before the shearer, not opening His mouth, and not fair to look upon.[3] For, says (the prophet), we have announced concerning Him: “He is like a tender plant,[4] like a root out of a thirsty ground; He hath no form nor comeliness; and we beheld Him, and He was without beauty:  His form was disfigured;”[5] “marred more than the sons of men; a man stricken with sorrows, and knowing how to bear our infirmity;”[6] “placed by the Father as a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence;”[7] “made by Him a little lower than the angels;”[8] declaring Himself to be “a worm and not a man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”[9] Now these signs of degradation quite suit His first coming, just as the tokens of His majesty do His second advent, when He shall no longer remain “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence,” but after His rejection become “the chief corner-stone,” accepted and elevated to the top place[10] of the temple, even His church, being that very stone in Daniel, cut out of the mountain, which was to smite and crush the image of the secular kingdom.[11] Of this advent the same prophet says: “Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days; and they brought Him before Him, and there was given Him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”[12] Then indeed He shall have both a glorious form, and an unsullied beauty above the sons of men. “Thou art fairer,” says (the Psalmist), “than the children of men; grace is poured into Thy lips; therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever. Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty, with Thy glory and Thy majesty.”[13] For the Father, after making Him a little lower than the angels, “will crown Him with glory and honour, and put all things under His feet.”[14] “Then shall they look on Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, tribe after tribe;”[15] because, no doubt, they once refused to acknowledge Him in the lowliness of His human condition. He is even a man, says Jeremiah, and who shall recognise Him.  Therefore, asks Isaiah, “who shall declare His generation?”[16] So also in Zechariah, Christ Jesus, the true High Priest of the Father, in the person of Joshua, nay, in the very mystery of His name,[17] is portrayed in a twofold dress with reference to both His advents. At first He is clad in sordid garments, that is to say, in the lowliness of suffering and mortal flesh: then the devil resisted Him, as the instigator of the traitor Judas, not to mention his tempting Him after His baptism: afterwards He was stripped of His first filthy raiment, and adorned with the priestly robe[18] and mitre, and a pure diadem;[19] in other words, with the glory and honour of His second advent.[20] If I may offer, moreover, an interpretation of the two goats which were presented on “the great day of atonement,”[21] do they not also figure the two natures of Christ? They were of like size, and very similar in appearance, owing to the Lord’s identity of aspect; because He is not to come in any other form, having to be recognised by those by whom He was also wounded and pierced. One of these goats was bound[22] with scarlet,[23] and driven by the people out of the camp[24] into the wilderness,[25] amid cursing, and spitting, and pulling, and piercing,[26] being thus marked with all the signs of the Lord’s own passion; while the other, by being offered up for sins, and given to the priests of the temple for meat, afforded proofs of His second appearance, when (after all sins have been expiated) the priests of the spiritual temple, that is, the church, are to enjoy the flesh, as it were,[27] of the Lord’s own grace, whilst the residue go away from salvation without tasting it.[28] Since, therefore, the first advent was prophetically declared both as most obscure in its types, and as deformed with every kind of indignity, but the second as glorious and altogether worthy of God, they would on this very account, while confining their regards to that which they were easily able both to understand and to believe, even the second advent, be not undeservedly deceived respecting the more obscure, and, at any rate, the more lowly first coming.  Accordingly, to this day they deny that their Christ has come, because He has not appeared in majesty, while they ignore the fact that He was to come also in lowliness.


  1. Rationem.
  2. Humilitate.
  3. A reference to, rather than quotation from, Isa. liii. 7.
  4. Sicut puerulus, “like a little boy,” or, “a sorry slave.”
  5. Isa. liii. 2, 3, according to the Septuagint.
  6. See Isa. lii. 14; liii. 3, 4.
  7. Isa. viii. 14.
  8. Ps. viii. 6.
  9. Ps. xxii. 7.
  10. Consummationem: an allusion to Zech. iv. 7.
  11. See Dan. ii. 34.
  12. Dan. vii. 13, 14.
  13. Ps. xlv. 2, 3.
  14. Ps. viii. 5, 6.
  15. Zech. xii. 10, 12.
  16. Isa. liii. 8.
  17. Joshua, i.e., Jesus.
  18. Podere.
  19. Cidari munda.
  20. See Zech. iii.
  21. Jejunio, see Lev. xvi. 5, 7, etc.
  22. Circumdatus.
  23. Perhaps in reference to Heb. ix. 19.
  24. Civitatem, “city.”
  25. In perditionem.
  26. This treatment of the scape-goat was partly ceremonial, partly disorderly. The Mischna (Yoma vi. 4–6) mentions the scarlet ribbon which was bound round the animal’s head between the horns, and the “pulling” (rather plucking out of its hair); but this latter was an indignity practised by scoffers and guarded against by Jews. Tertullian repeats the whole of this passage, Adv. Jud. xiv. Similar use is made of the type of the scape-goat by other fathers, as Justin Martyr (Dial. cum Tryph.) and Cyril of Alex. (Epist. ad Acacium). In this book ix. Against Julian, he expressly says: “Christ was described by the two goats,—as dying for us in the flesh, and then (as shown by the scape-goat) overcoming death in His divine nature.”  See Tertullian’s passages illustrated fully in Rabbi Chiga, Addit. ad Cod. de die Expiat. (in Ugolini, Thes. i. 88).
  27. Quasi visceratione. [See Kaye’s important comment, p. 426.]
  28. Jejunantibus.