Tag Archives: Tertullian

Tertullian on Tongues: a New English Translation

Tertullian: Against Marcion. Book V. 8:7-12


Seeing as the Creator especially promised the gift of the Spirit in the latter days; and moreover Christ appeared in these latter days as the dispenser of spiritual gifts to which the apostle says, ”But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son,”(1) Galatians 4:4 and again, ”Because the time is now in short supply”,(2)”Quia tempus iam in collecto est” — perhaps from I Cor. 7:29 “hoc itaque dic fratres tempus breve est” and it is evident that this gift of the Spirit leads with praises towards Christ. Now compare the types between the apostles and Isaiah: “To one is given”, he says, “by the Spirit the word of wisdom;” and Isaiah steadfastly prefers the spirit of wisdom. “To another, the word of knowledge;” this will be the spirit of understanding and counsel. “To another, faith by the same Spirit;” this will be the spirit of holiness(3)religionis and fear of the Lord. “To another, the gifts of healing, and to another the working of miracles;” this will be the power of might. “To another prophecy, to another another discerning of spirits, to another various kinds of languages, to another the interpretation of languages;” this will be the spirit of knowledge.(4)agnitio See how the apostle is bringing together and developing the concept of one spirit and in the prophet’s precise way that applies about interpreting. I can say this very thing that he has harmonized throughout the many and diverse members of our body the unity of the various gifts into a structured form, and on the same theme he shows the Lord in regards to the human body and Holy Spirit, which he did not want the merits of the gifts to be in the context of a spiritual body, nor did he establish such things in the context of a human body in relation to love, which is naturally put ahead too over all the other gifts. This guided the apostle as the lead principle to be established and because Christ esteemed this: “You shall love your neighbour as your own self.”(5)This is an abbreviated version of Luke 10:27 “diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo et ex tota anima tua et ex omnibus viribus tuis et ex omni mente tua et proximum tuum tua et proximum tuum sicut te ipsum.”

When he mentions that it is written in the Law, he is recalling the Creator is going to proceed to speak in other languages and lips, he validates this reference with the gift of languages — a different gift here of the Creator cannot be shown with special mention. Equally so, this apostle recommends silence of the women in the Church, nor that women should speak anything specifically for the reason that a male is going to learn, (yet shows the right for the ability to prophesy is currently also given to the female participant, he additionally assigns a veil with with the woman who prophesies), he reinforces from the Law the responsibility of the woman is someone who ought to be subordinate, which, let me say once for all, that he ought not to know [what the woman is teaching] except for its repudiation.(6)nosse non debuit nisi in destructionem Let us now move from the spiritual things, the matters themselves ought to prove which of us blindly claims his god, and whether it is possible to oppose against our side, and even if the Creator promised these things for His Christ who had not yet been revealed, as being only destined to the Jews, getting ready to have His works in His time, in His Christ, and in His people. Marcion is then to exhibit gifts from his god, some prophets, who nevertheless have spoken not from the human sense, but by the spirit of God, which the things to come are going to be proclaimed, and the secrets of the heart are going to be exposed.(7)cordis occulta traduxerint He is probably showing some type of psalm, vision, prayer, merely a spiritual thing, in ecstasy, that is in madness,(8)Tertullian is mocking the form of worship as lacking structure and simply creating stupidity and senselessness like the ancient Greek prophets. It is trying to be spiritual but lacks any definition. as if an interpretation of languages had occurred.(9)accessit Let him show to me also a woman who exaggerates among them that can prophesy according to those most sacred women(10)ex illis suis sanctioribus feminis — I think this is not be taken literally but referring to a religious order of women but lack information to be conclusive about this If all these things are being easily made known by me, and by all means these things work together in one accord as a basic principles, the construct of the arguments, and teachings of the Creator, without doubt Christ, the Spirit, and the apostle will be of my God. It contains my statement that anyone would have been certain to examine.


Partially translated and revised by Charles A. Sullivan. Some portions are directly taken from the translation by Peter Holmes’ found in the Ante–Nicene Fathers. Vol. 3 (1885).

For the actual Latin text, click on the following link, Tertullian on Tongues: the Latin.

References   [ + ]

Tertullian on Tongues: the Latin

Tertullian on the doctrine of tongues: the Latin text.

Against Marcion, Book V.

As found at the Latin Library.

Et utique si in novissimos dies gratiam spiritus creator repromisit, Christus autem spiritalium dispensator in novissimis diebus apparuit, dicente apostolo, At ubi tempus expletum est misit deus filium suum, et rursus, Quia tempus iam in collecto est, apparet et de temporum ultimorum praedicatione hanc gratiam spiritus ad Christum praedicatoris pertinere. Compara denique species apostoli et Esaiae. [8] Alii, inquit, datur per spiritum sermo sapientiae: statim et Esaias spiritum sapientiae posuit. Alii sermo scientiae: hic erit sermo intellegentiae et consilii. Alii fides in eodem spiritu: hic erit spiritus religionis et timoris dei. Alii donum curationum, alii virtutum: hic erit valentiae spiritus. Alii prophetia, alii distinctio spirituum, alii genera linguarum, alii interpretatio linguarum: hic erit agnitionis spiritus. [9] Vide apostolum et in distributione facienda unius spiritus et in specialitate interpretanda prophetae conspirantem, Possum dicere, ipsum quod corporis nostri per multa et diversa membra unitatem charismatum variorum compagini adaequavit, eundem et corporis humani et spiritus sancti dominum ostendit, qui merita charismatum noluerit esse in corpore spiritus quae nec in corpore humano collocavit, qui de dilectione quoque omnibus charismatibus praeponenda apostolum instruxerit principali praecepto, quod probavit et Christus, [10] Diliges dominum de totis praecordiis et totis viribus et tota anima tua et proximum tuum tanquam te ipsum. Et si quod in lege scriptum esset commemorat, in aliis linguis et in aliis labiis locuturum creatorem, cum hac commemoratione charisma linguarum confirmat, nec hic potest videri alienum charisma creatoris praedicatione confirmasse. [11] Aeque praescribens silentium mulieribus in ecclesia, ne quid discendi duntaxat gratia loquantur (ceterum prophetandi ius et illas habere iam ostendit, cum mulieri etiam prophetanti velamen imponit), ex lege accipit subiciendae feminae auctoritatem, quam, ut semel dixerim, nosse non debuit nisi in destructionem. [12] Sed ut iam a spiritalibus recedamus, res ipsae probare debebunt quis nostrum temere deo suo vindicet, et an nostrae parti possit opponi, haec et si creator repromisit in suum Christum nondum revelatum, ut Iudaeis tantum destinatum, suas habitura in suo tempore in suo Christo et in suo populo operationes. Exhibeat itaque Marcion dei sui dona, aliquos prophetas, qui tamen non de humano sensu sed de dei spiritu sint locuti, qui et futura praenuntiarint et cordis occulta traduxerint; edat aliquem psalmum, aliquam visionem, aliquam orationem, duntaxat spiritalem, in ecstasi, id est amentia, si qua linguae interpretatio accessit; probet etiam mihi mulierem apud se prophetasse ex illis suis sanctioribus feminis magnidicam: si haec omnia facilius a me proferuntur, et utique conspirantia regulis et dispositionibus et disciplinis creatoris, sine dubio dei mei erit et Christus et spiritus et apostolus. Habet professionem meam qui voluerit eam exigere.

Treatise on the Soul

Tertulliani, Liber De Anima, as found at Documenta Catholica Omnia

IX. DE EFFIGIE. [1] Cum animae corpus adserimus propriae qualitatis et sui generis, iam haec condicio proprietatis de ceteris accidentibus corpulentiae praeiudicabit aut haec adesse, quam corpus ostendimus, sed et ipsa sui generis pro corporis proprietate,  aut etsi non adsint, hoc esse proprietatis, non adesse corpori animae quae corporibus  ceteris adsint. Et tamen non inconstanter profitebimur sollemniora quaeque et omnimodo debita corpulentiae adesse animae quoque, ut habitum, ut terminum, ut illud trifariam distantiuum, longitudinem dico et latitudinem et sublimitatem, quibus metantur corpora philosophi. [2] Quid nunc, quod et effigiem animae damus, Platone nolente, quasi periclitetur de animae immortalitate? Omne enim effigiatum compositum et structile affirmat; dissolubile autem omne compositicium et structile; sed animam immortalem, igitur indissolubilem, qua immortalem, et ineffigiatam, qua indissolubilem, ceterum compositiciam et structilem, si effigiatam, tamquam alio eam modo effigians intellectualibus formis, pulchram iustitia et disciplinis philosophiae, deformem uero contrariis artibus. [3] Sed nos corporales quoque illi inscribimus lineas, non tantum ex fiducia corporalitatis per aestimationem, uerum et ex constantia gratiae per reuelationem. Nam quia spiritalia charismata agnoscimus, post Iohannem quoque prophetiam meruimus consequi. [4] Est hodie soror apud nos reuelationum charismata sortita, quas in ecclesia inter dominica sollemnia per ecstasin in spiritu patitur; conuersatur cum angelis, aliquando etiam cum domino, et uidet et audit sacramenta et quorundam corda dinoscit et medicinas desiderantibus sumit. Iamuero prout scripturae leguntur aut psalmi canuntur aut allocutiones proferuntur aut petitiones delegantur, ita inde materiae uisionibus subministrantur. Forte nescio quid de anima disserueramus, cum ea soror in spiritu esset. Post transacta sollemnia  dimissa plebe, quo usu solet nobis renuntiare quae uiderit (nam et diligentissime digeruntur, ut etiam  probentur), ‘inter cetera’, inquit, ‘ostensa est mihi anima corporaliter, et spiritus uidebatur, sed non inanis et uacuae qualitatis, immo quae etiam teneri repromitteret, tenera et lucida et aerii coloris, et forma per omnia humana. Hoc uisio’. Et deus testis et apostolus charismatum in ecclesia futurorum idoneus sponsor; tunc et si res ipsa de singulis persuaserit, credas. [5] Si enim corpus anima, sine dubio inter illa quae supra sumus professi, proinde et coloris proprietas omni corpori aderit. Quem igitur alium animae aestimabis colorem quam aerium ac lucidum? Non, ut aer sit ipsa substantia eius, etsi hoc Aenesidemo uisum est et Anaximeni, puto secundum quosdam et Heraclito, nec ut lumen, etsi hoc placuit Pontico Heraclidi [6] —- nam et cerauniis gemmis non ideo substantia ignita est, quod coruscent rutilato rubore, nec berullis ideo aquosa materia est, quod fluctuent colato nitore (quanta enim et alia color sociat, natura dissociat) —-, sed quoniam omne tenue atque perlucidum aeris aemulum est, hoc erit anima, qua flatus et spiritus tradux, siquidem prae ipsa tenuitatis subtilitate de fide corporalitatis periclitatur. [7] Sic et effigiem de sensu iam tuo concipe non aliam animae humanae deputandam praeter humanam, et quidem eius corporis quod unaquaeque circumtulit. Hoc nos sapere interim primordii contemplatio inducat. Recogita enim, cum deus flasset in faciem homini flatum uitae, et factus esset homo in animam uiuam, totus utique, per faciem statim flatum illum in interiora  transmissum et per uniuersa corporis spatia diffusum simulque diuina aspiratione densatum omni intus linea expressum esse, quam densatus impleuerat, et uelut in forma gelasse. [8] Inde igitur et  corpulentia animae ex densatione solidata est et effigies ex impressione formata. Hic erit homo interior, alius exterior, dupliciter unus, habens et ille oculos et aures suas, quibus populus dominum audire et uidere debuerat, habens et ceteros artus, per quos et in cogitationibus utitur et in somniis fungitur. Sic et diuiti apud inferos lingua est, et pauperi digitus, et sinus Abrahae. Per has lineas et animae martyrum sub altari intelleguntur. A primordio enim in Adam concreta et configurata corpori anima, ut totius substantiae, ita et condicionis istius semen effecit.

The History of Tongues as an Ecstatic Utterance: The Montanists Part 1

Montanist ‘glossolalia’ and Christian tongues.

Many scholars believe the late 2nd century Montanist movement to be the first cited corporate tongues phenomena outside of the New Testament writers. Some propose that it was the last vestige of the gift before the institutional Church dismissed such an activity.

Are these assumptions correct?

The Montanist accounts, along with Origen, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria are key Patristic texts used by scholars who parallel Christian tongues with Hellenistic origins. Therefore it is important to examine these texts very closely. Origen has been covered already in Origen on the Gift of Tongues. Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria have been addressed slightly in this section A History of Tongues as an Ecstatic Utterance. Only a small amount of time spent on these last two because the texts really don’t say much. The Montanists, on the other hand, are more controversial.

For details on the Montanism, the Wikipedia website is a good place to start. In a simplified form, it was begun by a man named Montanus around 162 AD and aided by two women, Maximilla and Priscilla. Montanism lasted up until the 6th century.

The movement is revealed through three major sources, Eusebius of Caesarea, Epiphanius Bishop of Salamis, and Tertullian. The first two write about the Montanists in very negative and vitriolic terms while Tertullian defended them. There are other accounts too, such as Jerome and Didymus of Alexandria, but these give less substantial offerings than the ones above.

The most important source for the Montanists and glossolalia is Eusebius’ account. One must keep in mind his critical report of the Montanist movement is over-the-top rhetoric and makes the reader wonder why so much resources and time were utilized against them. The strong attack causes one to either pity the Montanists or think there is an ulterior motive by the established Church against them. Judging by the voracity of words, the Montanists must have been a populist movement that the institutional Church felt threatened by.

Eusebius himself has his own internal doubts about the account provided to him by an unknown author and stated, “They say that these things happened in this manner. But as we did not see them, O friend, we do not pretend to know.” Ancient Christian writers typically do not directly confront matters of opinion that differ from official Church positions. Disagreement of Church polity is usually subtly suggested in a brief, generalized statement. This is what happened here. Therefore, Eusebuis’ history should be taken with a degree of skepticism.

If one looks closely into the details, the actual historic evidence that equates Montanism with the gift of tongues is very weak. It is not directly found in the Eusebius document. The greek keyword glôssa/γλῶσσα does not appear in the text.

Eusebius’ source was trying to demonize the Montanists in almost every way. The wording and semantics are purposely kept distant from anything familiar to the Christian faith. Yet the history of glossolalia counts them as the last corporate movement until at least the 1700s to practice it.

This weakness regarding the Montanists and glossolalia was also echoed by Christopher Forbes in his book, Prophecy and Inspired Speech, “If Montanist prophecy was in any sense analogous to glossolalia it is quite remarkable that no ancient writer ever noticed or commented on this fact. Though it is certainly true that Montanist prophecy was characterised by ecstasy (in the modern sense), and occasionally by oracular obscurity, there is no unambiguous evidence whatsoever that it took glossolalic form.”(1) Christopher Forbes. Prophecy and Inspired Speech: In Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic Environment. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.1997. Pg. 160

However, this view goes against the majority of modern historians. For example Rex D. Butler retorted that the elements of the Montanist text all correlate with glossolalia. He gave numerous arguments against Forbes’ position. First of all he contends there is a contradiction. If the prophecy was given in intelligible speech why was the prophetess Maximillia an interpreter ἑρμηνεύτην?(2) Rex D. Butler. The New Prophecy and “New Visions”: Evidence of Montanism in the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas Pg. 32 Secondly, he charged that Forbes failed to recognize that the prophets utilized both intelligible and unintelligible speech. Third, he argued against Forbes definition of ξενοφωνεῖν. Forbes believed it to mean to speak as a foreigner while Baxter believed it to mean to speak strangely. Baxter further adds if it is combined with λαλεῖν, which is found in the Eusebius text as λαλεῖν καὶ ξενοφωνεῖν, then it should be translated as chatter or babble. Finally Baxter concluded, “Forbes arguments are not suffficient to overturn the historic understanding that Montanists engaged in glossolalia.”(3) Rex D. Butler. The New Prophecy and “New Visions”: Evidence of Montanism in the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas Pg. 33

Butler failed to fully address Forbes argument. First, he neglected to cite Forbes complete comment which included, “If Montanist prophecy was in any sense analogous to glossolalia it is quite remarkable that no ancient writer ever noticed or commented on this fact.” Forbes is right. There are no Ecclesiastical writings that affirms the Montanist correlation with Christian ‘glossolalia’. Neither are there any pro-glossolalia interpretations of this text or any other until after at least 1825.

This whole argument goes into a number specific areas that goes beyond the differences between Baxter and Forbes. To fully resolve the issue of how to properly understand this text there are three aspects that need to be understood.

  • How to correctly translate the following Greek words as they appear in the text: παρεκστὰσει(2χ)/παρεκστῆναι, ξενοφωνεῖν, ἐκφονημάτων, ἐκφρόνως, προφητοφόντας. ἀμετροφώνους, and εκστάσει.
  • Has Montanism always been correlated with the Christian rite of tongues or is this a recent phenomenon? If so, when did it begin and how did it develop?
  • Is the Montanist example supplied because there are so few examples of any kind? Or, are there much better ones that have been glossed over?

These three questions will be answered in the third part of this series on Montanism. The next article The Montanists Part 2 supplies the basis for the whole coverage. It is the actual Eusebius text from Migne Patrologia Graeca in both the Greek and the Latin. It is also contains an English translation.

References   [ + ]

The Birth-Year of Christ and the History of Calendars: the Regnal System

One of the first systems used for measuring time in year epochs was the regnal system.

This system counted from the start reign of a leader and reset at the introduction of a new leader. It was widely used throughout the ancient Middle East and Mediterranean area and popularized by the Romans.

The Biblical author Luke used this system on at least two occasions: to describe the birth of Christ under the Governorship of Quirinius,(1) Luke 2:2 and Jesus’ baptism being in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius.(2) Luke 3:1ff

This 15th year of Tiberius is critical in many computations, as this is the only solid evidence about the life of Christ that can be accurately measured.

This regnal system was used by the early Church historians, such as the third century Bishop, Eusebius of Caesarea, who claimed that Christ was born in the 42nd year of the reign of Caesar Augustus and the 28th year after the Battle of Actium.(3) Eusebius, Church History, Book III:V “It was in the forty-second year of the reign of Augustus and the twenty-eighth after the subjugation of Egypt and the death of Antony and Cleopatra, with whom the dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt came to an end, that our Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea, according to the prophecies which had been uttered concerning him. His birth took place during the first census, while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.” http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250101.htm If one assumes that Eusebius’ dates are consistent with standard history, this would make Christ’s birth at 3 BC, or if we use a later Christian document called the Chronological Tables that used Eusebius’ account as the basis, it oddly changes the date to 1 BC/AD.

Clement of Alexandria also used the regnal system, “From Julius Caesar, therefore, to the death of Commodus, are two hundred and thirty-six years”.(4)< a href="http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html"> http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html Commodus, the Roman emporer in the late 2nd century was his reference point for determining the birth of Christ. Based on his calculations, the death of Commodus was 192 AD, which is consistent with history.(5)< a href=" http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04166a.htm"> http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04166a.htm He then goes on to write, “From the birth of Christ, therefore, to the death of Commodus are, in all, a hundred and ninety-four years.”(6) IBID < a href=" http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html"> http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html This would make Christ’s birth at 2 BC.

A later editor or Clement himself contradicted this date elsewhere. In another section he employed the reign of Augustus to date the birth of Christ stating “our Lord was born in the twenty-eighth year, when first the census was ordered to be taken in the reign of Augustus.”(7) IBID < a href=" http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html"> http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/clement-stromata-book1.html Clement does not indicate what he believed was the start date of Augustus’ reign. It was quite common for some at this time to date Augustus start by the historic war battle of Actium. This is commonly held to be at 31 BC. If Clement agreed with this date, then Christ’s birth would have been 3 BC. Perhaps the first date of 2 BC was common opinion during his era and 3 BC was the historic Church position.

Continue reading The Birth-Year of Christ and the History of Calendars: the Regnal System

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A Chronology of the Herods: More Details

This article has been removed. The results have been added to the following article, The Chronology of the Herods.