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

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III
by Tertullian, translated by Peter Holmes
155294Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III — XVIIPeter HolmesTertullian

Chapter XVII.—Prophecies in Isaiah and the Psalms Respecting Christ’s Humiliation.

Let us compare with Scripture the rest of His dispensation.  Whatever that poor despised body[1] may be, because it was an object of touch[2] and sight,[3] it shall be my Christ, be He inglorious, be He ignoble, be He dishonoured; for such was it announced that He should be, both in bodily condition and aspect. Isaiah comes to our help again: “We have announced (His way) before Him,” says he; “He is like a servant,[4] like a root in a dry ground; He hath no form nor comeliness; we saw Him, and He had neither form nor beauty; but His form was despised, marred above all men.”[5] Similarly the Father addressed the Son just before: “Inasmuch as many will be astonished at Thee, so also will Thy beauty be without glory from men.”[6] For although, in David’s words, He is fairer than the children of men,”[7] yet it is in that figurative state of spiritual grace, when He is girded with the sword of the Spirit, which is verily His form, and beauty, and glory. According to the same prophet, however, He is in bodily condition “a very worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and an outcast of the people.”[8] But no internal quality of such a kind does He announce as belonging to Him. In Him dwelt the fulness of the Spirit; therefore I acknowledge Him to be “the rod of the stem of Jesse.” His blooming flower shall be my Christ, upon whom hath rested, according to Isaiah, “the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of piety, and of the fear of the Lord.”[9] Now to no man, except Christ, would the diversity of spiritual proofs suitably apply.  He is indeed like a flower for the Spirit’s grace, reckoned indeed of the stem of Jesse, but thence to derive His descent through Mary. Now I purposely demand of you, whether you grant to Him the destination[10] of all this humiliation, and suffering, and tranquillity, from which He will be the Christ of Isaiah,—a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, who was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and who, like a lamb before the shearer, opened not His mouth;[11] who did not struggle nor cry, nor was His voice heard in the street who broke not the bruised reed—that is, the shattered faith of the Jews—nor quenched the smoking flax—that is, the freshly-kindled[12] ardour of the Gentiles. He can be none other than the Man who was foretold. It is right that His conduct[13] be investigated according to the rule of Scripture, distinguishable as it is unless I am mistaken, by the twofold operation of preaching[14] and of miracle. But the treatment of both these topics I shall so arrange as to postpone, to the chapter wherein I have determined to discuss the actual gospel of Marcion, the consideration of His wonderful doctrines and miracles—with a view, however, to our present purpose. Let us here, then, in general terms complete the subject which we had entered upon, by indicating, as we pass on,[15] how Christ was fore-announced by Isaiah as a preacher: “For who is there among you,” says he, “that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His Son?”[16] And likewise as a healer: “For,” says he, “He hath taken away our infirmities, and carried our sorrows.”[17]


  1. Corpusculum illud.
  2. Habitum.
  3. Conspectum.
  4. Puerulus, “little child,” perhaps.
  5. Sentences out of Isa. lii. 14 and liii. 2, etc.
  6. Isa. lii. 14.
  7. Ps. xlv. 2.
  8. Ps. xxii. 6.
  9. Isa. xi. 1, 2.
  10. Intentionem.
  11. Isa. liii. 3, 7.
  12. Momentaneum.
  13. Actum.
  14. Prædicationis.
  15. Interim.
  16. Isa. l. 10.
  17. Isa. liii. 4.