Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Apologetic/A Treatise on the Soul/Chapter VII
Chapter VII.—The Soul’s Corporeality Demonstrated Out of the Gospels.
So far as the philosophers are concerned, we have said enough. As for our own teachers, indeed, our reference to them is ex abundanti—a surplusage of authority: in the Gospel itself they will be found to have the clearest evidence for the corporeal nature of the soul. In hell the soul of a certain man is in torment, punished in flames, suffering excruciating thirst, and imploring from the finger of a happier soul, for his tongue, the solace of a drop of water. Do you suppose that this end of the blessed poor man and the miserable rich man is only imaginary? Then why the name of Lazarus in this narrative, if the circumstance is not in (the category of) a real occurrence? But even if it is to be regarded as imaginary, it will still be a testimony to truth and reality. For unless the soul possessed corporeality, the image of a soul could not possibly contain a finger of a bodily substance; nor would the Scripture feign a statement about the limbs of a body, if these had no existence. But what is that which is removed to Hades after the separation of the body; which is there detained; which is reserved until the day of judgment; to which Christ also, on dying, descended? I imagine it is the souls of the patriarchs. But wherefore (all this), if the soul is nothing in its subterranean abode? For nothing it certainly is, if it is not a bodily substance. For whatever is incorporeal is incapable of being kept and guarded in any way; it is also exempt from either punishment or refreshment. That must be a body, by which punishment and refreshment can be experienced. Of this I shall treat more fully in a more fitting place. Therefore, whatever amount of punishment or refreshment the soul tastes in Hades, in its prison or lodging, in the fire or in Abraham’s bosom, it gives proof thereby of its own corporeality. For an incorporeal thing suffers nothing, not having that which makes it capable of suffering; else, if it has such capacity, it must be a bodily substance. For in as far as every corporeal thing is capable of suffering, in so far is that which is capable of suffering also corporeal.
- Luke xvi. 23, 24.
- Ad inferna. [See p. 59, supra.]
- Compare De Resur. Carnis, xvii. There is, however, some variation in Tertullian’s language on this subject. In his Apol. xlviii. he speaks as if the soul could not suffer when separated from the body. See also his De Testimonio Animæ, ch. iv., p. 177, supra; and see Bp. Kaye, p. 183.