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

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III
by Tertullian, translated by Peter Holmes
155300Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book III — XXIIIPeter HolmesTertullian

Chapter XXIII.—The Dispersion of the Jews, and Their Desolate Condition for Rejecting Christ, Foretold.

Now, since you join the Jews in denying that their Christ has come, recollect also what is that end which they were predicted as about to bring on themselves after the time of Christ, for the impiety wherewith they both rejected and slew Him. For it began to come to pass from that day, when, according to Isaiah, “a man threw away his idols of gold and of silver, which they made into useless and hurtful objects of worship;”[1] in other words, from the time when he threw away his idols after the truth had been made clear by Christ. Consider whether what follows in the prophet has not received its fulfilment: “The Lord of hosts hath taken away from Judah and from Jerusalem, amongst other things, both the prophet and the wise artificer;”[2] that is, His Holy Spirit, who builds the church, which is indeed the temple, and household and city of God. For thenceforth God’s grace failed amongst them; and “the clouds were commanded to rain no rain upon the vineyard” of Sorech; to withhold, that is, the graces of heaven, that they shed no blessing upon “the house of Israel,” which had but produced “the thorns” wherewith it had crowned the Lord, and “instead of righteousness, the cry” wherewith it had hurried Him away to the cross.[3] And so in this manner the law and the prophets were until John, but the dews of divine grace were withdrawn from the nation. After his time their madness still continued, and the name of the Lord was blasphemed by them, as saith the Scripture: “Because of you my name is continually blasphemed amongst the nations”[4] (for from them did the blasphemy originate); neither in the interval from Tiberius to Vespasian did they learn repentance.[5] Therefore “has their land become desolate, their cities are burnt with fire, their country strangers are devouring before their own eyes; the daughter of Sion has been deserted like a cottage in a vineyard, or a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,”[6] ever since the time when “Israel acknowledged not the Lord, and the people understood Him not, but forsook Him, and provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger.”[7] So likewise that conditional threat of the sword, “If ye refuse and hear me not, the sword shall devour you,”[8] has proved that it was Christ, for rebellion against whom they have perished. In the fifty-eighth Psalm He demands of the Father their dispersion:  “Scatter them in Thy power.”[9] By Isaiah He also says, as He finishes a prophecy of their consumption by fire:[10] “Because of me has this happened to you; ye shall lie down in sorrow.”[11] But all this would be unmeaning enough, if they suffered this retribution not on account of Him, who had in prophecy assigned their suffering to His own cause, but for the sake of the Christ of the other god. Well, then, although you affirm that it is the Christ of the other god who was driven to the cross by the powers and authorities of the Creator, as it were by hostile beings, still I have to say, See how manifestly He was defended[12] by the Creator: there were given to Him both “the wicked for His burial,” even those who had strenuously maintained that His corpse had been stolen, “and the rich for His death,”[13] even those who had redeemed Him from the treachery of Judas, as well as from the lying report of the soldiers that His body had been taken away. Therefore these things either did not happen to the Jews on His account, in which case you will be refuted by the sense of the Scriptures tallying with the issue of the facts and the order of the times, or else they did happen on His account, and then the Creator could not have inflicted the vengeance except for His own Christ; nay, He must have rather had a reward for Judas, if it had been his master’s enemy whom they put to death. At all events,[14] if the Creator’s Christ has not come yet, on whose account the prophecy dooms them to such sufferings, they will have to endure the sufferings when He shall have come. Then where will there be a daughter of Sion to be reduced to desolation, for there is none now to be found? Where will there be cities to be burnt with fire, for they are now in heaps?[15] Where a nation to be dispersed, which is already in banishment? Restore to Judæa its former state, that the Creator’s Christ may find it, and then you may contend that another Christ has come.  But then, again,[16] how is it that He can have permitted to range through[17] His own heaven one whom He was some day to put to death on His own earth, after the more noble and glorious region of His kingdom had been violated, and His own very palace and sublimest height had been trodden by him? Or was it only in appearance rather that he did this?[18] God is no doubt[19] a jealous God! Yet he gained the victory. You should blush with shame, who put your faith in a vanquished god!  What have you to hope for from him, who was not strong enough to protect himself? For it was either through his infirmity that he was crushed by the powers and human agents of the Creator, or else through maliciousness, in order that he might fasten so great a stigma on them by his endurance of their wickedness.


  1. Isa. ii. 20.
  2. Architectum, Isa. iii. 1–3, abridged.
  3. Isa. v. 6, 7.
  4. Isa. lii. 5.
  5. Compare Adv. Judæos, 13, p. 171, for a like statement.
  6. Isa. i. 7, 8.
  7. Isa. i. 3, 4.
  8. Isa. i. 20.
  9. Ps. lix. 11.
  10. Exustionem.
  11. Isa. l. 11.
  12. Defensus, perhaps “claimed.”
  13. See Isa. liii. 9.
  14. Certe.
  15. Compare a passage in the Apology, chap. xxi. p. 34, supra.
  16. Jam vero.
  17. Admiserit per.
  18. Hoc affectavit.
  19. Plane.