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

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Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. III, Anti-Marcion, The Five Books Against Marcion, Book V by Tertullian, translated by Peter Holmes
VIII

Chapter VIII.—Man the Image of the Creator, and Christ the Head of the Man.  Spiritual Gifts. The Sevenfold Spirit Described by Isaiah. The Apostle and the Prophet Compared. Marcion Challenged to Produce Anything Like These Gifts of the Spirit Foretold in Prophecy in His God.

“The head of every man is Christ.”[1] What Christ, if He is not the author of man? The head he has here put for authority; now “authority” will accrue to none else than the “author.” Of what man indeed is He the head? Surely of him concerning whom he adds soon afterwards: “The man ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image of God.”[2] Since then he is the image of the Creator (for He, when looking on Christ His Word, who was to become man, said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness”[3]), how can I possibly have another head but Him whose image I am? For if I am the image of the Creator there is no room in me for another head. But wherefore “ought the woman to have power over her head, because of the angels?”[4] If it is because “she was created for the man,”[5] and taken out of the man, according to the Creator’s purpose, then in this way too has the apostle maintained the discipline of that God from whose institution he explains the reasons of His discipline. He adds:  “Because of the angels.”[6] What angels?  In other words, whose angels? If he means the fallen angels of the Creator,[7] there is great propriety in his meaning.  It is right that that face which was a snare to them should wear some mark of a humble guise and obscured beauty.  If, however, the angels of the rival god are referred to, what fear is there for them? for not even Marcion’s disciples, (to say nothing of his angels,) have any desire for women. We have often shown before now, that the apostle classes heresies as evil[8] among “works of the flesh,” and that he would have those persons accounted estimable[9] who shun heresies as an evil thing. In like manner, when treating of the gospel,[10] we have proved from the sacrament of the bread and the cup[11] the verity of the Lord’s body and blood in opposition to Marcion’s phantom; whilst throughout almost the whole of my work it has been contended that all mention of judicial attributes points conclusively to the Creator as to a God who judges. Now, on the subject of “spiritual gifts,”[12] I have to remark that these also were promised by the Creator through Christ; and I think that we may derive from this a very just conclusion that the bestowal of a gift is not the work of a god other than Him who is proved to have given the promise. Here is a prophecy of Isaiah: “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a flower[13] shall spring up from his root; and upon Him shall rest the Spirit of the Lord.” After which he enumerates the special gifts of the same: “The spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of religion.[14] And with the fear of the Lord[15] shall the Spirit fill Him.”[16] In this figure of a flower he shows that Christ was to arise out of the rod which sprang from the stem of Jesse; in other words, from the virgin of the race of David, the son of Jesse. In this Christ the whole substantia of the Spirit would have to rest, not meaning that it would be as it were some subsequent acquisition accruing to Him who was always, even before His incarnation, the Spirit of God;[17] so that you cannot argue from this that the prophecy has reference to that Christ who (as mere man of the race only of David) was to obtain the Spirit of his God. (The prophet says,) on the contrary, that from the time when (the true Christ) should appear in the flesh as the flower predicted,[18] rising from the root of Jesse, there would have to rest upon Him the entire operation of the Spirit of grace, which, so far as the Jews were concerned, would cease and come to an end. This result the case itself shows; for after this time the Spirit of the Creator never breathed amongst them. From Judah were taken away “the wise man, and the cunning artificer, and the counsellor, and the prophet;”[19] that so it might prove true that “the law and the prophets were until John.”[20] Now hear how he declared that by Christ Himself, when returned to heaven, these spiritual gifts were to be sent: “He ascended up on high,” that is, into heaven; “He led captivity captive,” meaning death or slavery of man; “He gave gifts to the sons of men,”[21] that is, the gratuities, which we call charismata. He says specifically “sons of men,”[22] and not men promiscuously; thus exhibiting to us those who were the children of men truly so called, choice men, apostles.  “For,” says he, “I have begotten you through the gospel;”[23] and “Ye are my children, of whom I travail again in birth.”[24] Now was absolutely fulfilled that promise of the Spirit which was given by the word of Joel:  “In the last days will I pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh, and their sons and their daughters shall prophesy; and upon my servants and upon my handmaids will I pour out of my Spirit.”[25] Since, then, the Creator promised the gift of His Spirit in the latter days; and since Christ has in these last days appeared as the dispenser of spiritual gifts (as the apostle says, “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son;”[26] and again, “This I say, brethren, that the time is short”[27]), it evidently follows in connection with this prediction of the last days, that this gift of the Spirit belongs to Him who is the Christ of the predicters. Now compare the Spirit’s specific graces, as they are described by the apostle, and promised by the prophet Isaiah. “To one is given,” says he, “by the Spirit the word of wisdom;” this we see at once is what Isaiah declared to be “the spirit of wisdom.”  “To another, the word of knowledge;” this will be “the (prophet’s) spirit of understanding and counsel.” “To another, faith by the same Spirit;” this will be “the spirit of religion and the fear of the Lord.” “To another, the gifts of healing, and to another the working of miracles;” this will be “the spirit of might.” “To another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another divers kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues;” this will be “the spirit of knowledge.”[28] See how the apostle agrees with the prophet both in making the distribution of the one Spirit, and in interpreting His special graces. This, too, I may confidently say: he who has likened the unity of our body throughout its manifold and divers members to the compacting together of the various gifts of the Spirit,[29] shows also that there is but one Lord of the human body and of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit, (according to the apostle’s showing,)[30] meant not[31] that the service[32] of these gifts should be in the body,[33] nor did He place them in the human body); and on the subject of the superiority of love[34] above all these gifts, He even taught the apostle that it was the chief commandment,[35] just as Christ has shown it to be: “Thou shalt love the Lord with all thine heart and soul,[36] with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbour as thine own self.”[37] When he mentions the fact that “it is written in the law,”[38] how that the Creator would speak with other tongues and other lips, whilst confirming indeed the gift of tongues by such a mention, he yet cannot be thought to have affirmed that the gift was that of another god by his reference to the Creator’s prediction.[39] In precisely the same manner,[40] when enjoining on women silence in the church, that they speak not for the mere sake[41] of learning[42] (although that even they have the right of prophesying, he has already shown[43] when he covers the woman that prophesies with a veil), he goes to the law for his sanction that woman should be under obedience.[44] Now this law, let me say once for all, he ought to have made no other acquaintance with, than to destroy it. But that we may now leave the subject of spiritual gifts, facts themselves will be enough to prove which of us acts rashly in claiming them for his God, and whether it is possible that they are opposed to our side, even if[45] the Creator promised them for His Christ who is not yet revealed, as being destined only for the Jews, to have their operations in His time, in His Christ, and among His people. Let Marcion then exhibit, as gifts of his god, some prophets, such as have not spoken by human sense, but with the Spirit of God, such as have both predicted things to come, and have made manifest[46] the secrets of the heart;[47] let him produce a psalm, a vision, a prayer[48]—only let it be by the Spirit,[49] in an ecstasy, that is, in a rapture,[50] whenever an interpretation of tongues has occurred to him; let him show to me also, that any woman of boastful tongue[51] in his community has ever prophesied from amongst those specially holy sisters of his. Now all these signs (of spiritual gifts) are forthcoming from my side without any difficulty, and they agree, too, with the rules, and the dispensations, and the instructions of the Creator; therefore without doubt the Christ, and the Spirit, and the apostle, belong severally[52] to my God. Here, then, is my frank avowal for any one who cares to require it.


Footnotes[edit]

  1. 1 Cor. xi. 3.
  2. 1 Cor. xi. 7.
  3. Gen. i. 26.
  4. 1 Cor. xi. 10.
  5. 1 Cor. xi. 9.
  6. 1 Cor. xi. 10.
  7. See more concerning these in chap. xviii. of this book.  Comp. Gen. vi. 1–4.
  8. 1 Cor. xi. 18, 19.
  9. Probabiles: “approved.”
  10. See above, in book iv. chap. xl.
  11. Luke xxii. 15–20 and 1 Cor. xi. 23–29.
  12. 1 Cor. xii. 1.
  13. Flos: Sept. ἂνθος.
  14. Religionis: Sept. εὐσεβείας.
  15. Timor Dei: Sept. φόβος Θεοῦ.
  16. Isa. xi. 1–3.
  17. We have more than once shown that by Tertullian and other ancient fathers, the divine nature of Christ was frequently designated “Spirit.”
  18. Floruisset in carne.
  19. See Isa. iii. 2, 3.
  20. Luke xvi. 16.
  21. 1 Cor. xii. 4–11; Eph. iv. 8, and Ps. lxviii. 18.
  22. He argues from his own reading, filiis hominum.
  23. 1 Cor. iv. 15.
  24. Gal. iv. 19.
  25. Joel ii. 28, 29, applied by St. Peter, Acts ii. 17, 18.
  26. Gal. iv. 4.
  27. 1 Cor. vii. 29. [The verse filled out by the translator.]
  28. Comp. 1 Cor. xii. 8–11 and Isa. xi. 1–3.
  29. 1 Cor. xii. 12–30, compared with Eph. iv. 16.
  30. This seems to be the force of the subjunctive verb noluerit.
  31. Noluerit.
  32. Meritum.
  33. They are spiritual gifts, not endowments of body.
  34. De dilectione præferenda.
  35. Compare 1 Cor. xii. 31; xiii. 1, 13.
  36. Totis præcordiis.
  37. Luke x. 27.
  38. “Here, as in John x. 34; xii. 34; xv. 25, ‘the law’ is used for the Old Testament generally, instead of being, as usual, confined to the Pentateuch.  The passage is from Isa. xxviii. 11.” (Dean Stanley, On the Corinthians, in loc.).
  39. 1 Cor. xiv. 21.
  40. Æque.
  41. Duntaxat gratia.
  42. 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.
  43. 1 Cor. xi. 5, 6. [See Kaye, p. 228.]
  44. 1 Cor. xiv. 34, where Gen. iii. 16 is referred to.
  45. Et si: These words introduce the Marcionite theory.
  46. Traduxerint.
  47. 1 Cor. xiv. 25.
  48. 1 Cor. xiv. 26.
  49. Duntaxat spiritalem: These words refer to the previous ones, “not spoken by human sense, but with the Spirit of God.” [Of course here is a touch of his fanaticism; but, he bases it on (1 Cor. xiv.) a mere question of fact: had these charismata ceased?]
  50. Amentia.
  51. Magnidicam.
  52. Erit.