Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Anti-Marcion/The Prescription Against Heretics/Chapter XXXVIII
Chapter XXXVIII.—Harmony of the Church and the Scriptures. Heretics Have Tampered with the Scriptures, and Mutilated, and Altered Them. Catholics Never Change the Scriptures, Which Always Testify for Them.
Where diversity of doctrine is found, there, then, must the corruption both of the Scriptures and the expositions thereof be regarded as existing. On those whose purpose it was to teach differently, lay the necessity of differently arranging the instruments of doctrine. They could not possibly have effected their diversity of teaching in any other way than by having a difference in the means whereby they taught. As in their case, corruption in doctrine could not possibly have succeeded without a corruption also of its instruments, so to ourselves also integrity of doctrine could not have accrued, without integrity in those means by which doctrine is managed. Now, what is there in our Scriptures which is contrary to us? What of our own have we introduced, that we should have to take it away again, or else add to it, or alter it, in order to restore to its natural soundness anything which is contrary to it, and contained in the Scriptures? What we are ourselves, that also the Scriptures are (and have been) from the beginning. Of them we have our being, before there was any other way, before they were interpolated by you. Now, inasmuch as all interpolation must be believed to be a later process, for the express reason that it proceeds from rivalry which is never in any case previous to nor home-born with that which it emulates, it is as incredible to every man of sense that we should seem to have introduced any corrupt text into the Scriptures, existing, as we have been, from the very first, and being the first, as it is that they have not in fact introduced it who are both later in date and opposed (to the Scriptures). One man perverts the Scriptures with his hand, another their meaning by his exposition. For although Valentinus seems to use the entire volume, he has none the less laid violent hands on the truth only with a more cunning mind and skill than Marcion. Marcion expressly and openly used the knife, not the pen, since he made such an excision of the Scriptures as suited his own subject-matter. Valentinus, however, abstained from such excision, because he did not invent Scriptures to square with his own subject-matter, but adapted his matter to the Scriptures; and yet he took away more, and added more, by removing the proper meaning of every particular word, and adding fantastic arrangements of things which have no real existence.
- By the instrumenta doctrinæ he here means the writings of the New Testament.
- [Our author insists on the precise agreement of Catholic Tradition with Holy Scripture. See valuable remarks on Schleiermacher, in Kaye, pp. 279–284.]
- We add the original of this sentence, which is obscured by its terseness: “Quid de proprio intulimus, ut aliquid contrarium ei et in Scripturis deprehensum detractione vel adjectione vel transmutatione remediaremus?”
- That is, teaching the same faith and conversation (De la Cerda).
- Integro instrumento.
- Callidiore ingenio.
- That is, cutting out whatever did not fall in with it (Dodgson).
- Non comparentium rerum. [Note, he says above “of them, the Scriptures, we, Catholics, have our being.” Præscription does not undervalue Scripture as the food and life of the Church, but supplies a short and decisive method with innovaters.]