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Tertullian

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TERTULLIAN (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus), ecclesiastical writer: b. Carthage, c. 160; d. c. 250. The son of a pagan centurion in the proconsular service, he re ceived a fine literary education and became as conversant with Greek as with Latin. He studied law and probably practised it, his writings disclosing intimate knowledge with juristic terms and methods. In early man hood (not later than the year 197) he was con verted to Christianity by the admirable cour age of the martyrs, although the precise date is not known. He was married, but this did not prevent him from being ordained priest, prob ably of the church at Carthage. About the middle of his career he publicly joined the Montanists and the vigor which he had dis played in defense of the faith against paganism was then displayed against the Church. Saint Jerome mentions certain affronts of the Roman clergy which may have provoked the fall of the• great apologist. Since Tertullian was of a fiery nature, extreme and inclined to rigorism, the new prophecy (as Montanism was styled) with its severity in morals and in discipline had a natural and powerful attraction for him. But his restless spirit could not long be satis fied with Montanism and he became the leader of a separate sect, called after him Tertullian ists. Tertullian was the most fecund, original and powerful genius in all the history of Christian Latin literature, which he in fact cre ated. Nearly all of his works are of a polemic character and this brings out strikingly his penetrating intelligence, vast knowledge and inspinng eloquence. His style is energetic and concise, sometimes at the expense of clearness. Saint Jerome says that he is full of ideas but difficult to read. However, his works were seldom quoted until after the 16th century renaissance. It is not easy to draw a hard and fast line between Tertullian's Catholic and Montanistic works. To the years 197-198 be long the apologetic writings (Ad nationes) (2 books), (Apologeticum,"Ad martyres,) (De testimonio animm) and (Adversus Juda•os.'

Other works of approximately the same pe riod, but of less certain date, are (De prmscrip tione hmreticorum,' (De oratione,) (De bap tismo,) (De pecnitentia,) (De spectaculis,) (De cultu feminarum,' (2 books), (De idololatria,' 'De patientia) and (Ad uxorem) (2 books). The Montanistic writings, including those tinged with Montanism as well as those wholeheartedly Mon tanistic, are (De corona militis,> (De fuga in persecutione,) (De exhortatione castitatis,) (De virginibus velandis,) (Adversus Hermogenem,' (Adversus Valentinianos,"Adversus Marci °nem' (5 books), (De anima,' (De carne Christi,' (De resurrectione carnis,' (Adversus Praxean,) (De pallio,"De pudicitia,' (De monogamia,' (Scorpiace,) (De jejunio' and (Ad Scapulam.) Tertullian's (Apologcticum,' ad dressed about the year 197 to the governors of the provinces of the empire in favor of the Christians, if not the first of the Latin apolo gies in point of time (see FF.Lix, MARCUS Mix uctus), is one of the first in the importance of its subject and its literary beauty. Some im portant works of Tertullian have been lost, notably the lengthy Montanistic work (De ex stasi.) The Vienna 'Corpus script. eccl. contains an edition of Tertullian's works and the (Ante-Nicene Library' contains translations of nearly all of his works.

The patrologies of Bardem hewer and others and the bibliography of Chevalier; D'Ales, 'La theologie de Tertullien) (Paris 1905) ; Monceaux, (Histoire litteraire de l'Afrique chretienne' (Vol. I, Paris 1901); Turmel, (Tertullien' (Paris 1905) ; Hoppe, (Syntax und Stil des Tertullian' (Leipzig 1903) ; Fuller, John Mee, (Tertullianus) (in Smith and Wace's (A Dictionary of Christian Biography,' Vol. IV, London 1887).