Quintus Florens Tertullian
“‘But at night He went out to the Mount of Olives.’ For thus had Zechariah pointed out: ‘And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives’ [Zech. xiv. 4].”.
Tertullian Against the Jews “Tertullian seems to return to the topic at hand – the fulfillment of those events that were prophesied to take place after the Christ had been on earth. One would expect him to have examined the fulfillent of the prophecies about the fall of Jerusalem, yet he did not. Instead he turned his attention to other events that were to take place in the aftermath of the coming of the Christ.. yet only after that did he return to the significance of the fulfillment of the prophecy about the fall of Jerusalem.”
‘This both Ezekiel had knowledge of, and the Apostle John beheld. And the word of the New Prophecy, which is a part of our belief, attests how it foretold that there would be for a sign a picture of this very city exhibited to view previous to its manifestation. This prophecy, indeed, has been very lately fulfilled in an expedition to the East’ (Adv. Marc., III. 24).
(On fulfillment of Zechariah 14:4)
“‘But at night He went out to the Mount of Olives.’ For thus had Zechariah pointed out: ‘And His feet shall stand in that day on the Mount of Olives’ [Zech. xiv. 4].” (“Against Marcion,” Book 4, chapter XL, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, 3:417.)
(On the Seventy Weeks of Daniel)
“Let us see what is the meaning of (A) the seven and a half weeks, which in turn are divided up into a subsection of earlier weeks; by what transaction were they fulfilled? Well, after Augustus, (B) who lived on after Christ’s birth, fifteen years elapsed. He was succeeded by Tiberius Caesar, and he held sway for twenty-two years, seven months and twenty-eight (C) days. In the fifteenth year of his reign (D) Christ suffered, being about (694) thirty-three when He suffered. Then there was Gaius Caesar, also named Caligula, who reigned for three years, eight months and thirteen days. [Note that Claudius’ reign of 13 years is here omitted.] Nero reigned for nine years, nine months and thirteen days. Galba ruled for seven months and twenty-eight (E) days; Otho for three months and five days; and Vitellius for eight months and twenty-eight (F) days. Vespasian vanquished the Jews in the first year of his reign, bringing the number of years to a total of fifty-two, plus six months. For he ruled for eleven years, and so by the date of his |108 storming Jerusalem, the Jews had completed the seventy weeks foretold by Daniel.” (Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews 8.)
(On the Significance of A.D. 70)
“among us, who have been called out of the nations, -‘and they shall join to beat their glaives into ploughs, and their lances into sickles; and nations shall not take up glaive against nation, and they shall no more learn to fight.’ Who else, therefore, are understood but we, who, fully taught by the new law, observe these practices, – the old law being obliterated, the coming of whose abolition the action itself demonstrates?” (“Of Circumcision and the Supercession of the Old Law,” An Answer to the Jews, Chapter III)
CHAP. VIII.–OF THE TIMES OF CHRIST’S BIRTH AND PASSION, AND OF JERUSALEM’S DESTRUCTION.
“Accordingly the times must be inquired into of the predicted and future nativity of the Christ, and of His passion, and of the extermination of the city of Jerusalem, that is, its devastation. For Daniel says, that “both the holy city and the holy place are exterminated together with the coming Leader, and that the pinnacle is destroyed unto ruin.” And so the times of the coming Christ, the Leader, must be inquired into, which we shall trace in Daniel; and, after computing them, shall prove Him to be come, even on the ground of the times prescribed, and of competent signs and operations of His. Which matters we prove, again, on the ground of the consequences which were ever announced as to follow His advent; in order that we may believe all to have been as well fulfilled as foreseen.
“Therefore, when these times also were completed, and the Jews subdued, there afterwards ceased in that place “libations and sacrifices,” which thenceforward have not been able to be in that place celebrated; for “the unction,” too, was “exterminated” in that place after the passion of Christ. For it had been predicted that the unction should be exterminated in that place; as in the Psalms it is prophesied, “They exterminated my hands and feet.” And the suffering of this “extermination” was perfected within the times of the lxx hebdomads, under Tiberius Caesar, in the consulate of Rubellius Geminus and Fufius Geminus, in the month of March, at the times of the passover, on the eighth day before the calends of April, on the first day of unleavened bread, on which they slew the lamb at even, just as had been enjoined by Moses. Accordingly, all the synagogue of Israel did slay Him, saying to Pilate, when he was desirous to dismiss Him, “His blood be upon us, and upon our children;” and, “If thou dismiss him, thou art not a friend of Caesar;”(11) in order that all things might be fulfilled which had been written of Him.” (An Answer to the Jews, Ch.8)
Against the Jews, Chapter XIII. Argument from the Destruction of Jerusalem and Desolation of Judea.
“But if hitherto he has not been born, what “leader” was it who was thus announced as to proceed from the tribe of Judah, out of Bethlehem? For it behoves him to proceed from the tribe of Judah and from Bethlehem. But we perceive that now none of the race of Israel has remained in Bethlehem; and (so it has been) ever since the interdict was issued forbidding any one of the Jews to linger in the confines of the very district, in order that this prophetic utterance also should be perfectly fulfilled: “Your land is desert, your cities burnt up by fire,”-that is, (he is foretelling) what will have happened to them in time of war “your region strangers shall eat up in your sight, and it shall be desert and subverted by alien peoples.”259 And in another place it is thus said through the prophet: “The King with His glory ye shall see,”-that is, Christ, doing deeds of power in the glory of God the Father;260 “and your eyes shall see the land from afar,”261 -which is what you do, being prohibited, in reward of your deserts, since the storming of Jerusalem, to enter into your land; it is permitted you merely to see it with your eyes from afar: “your soul,” he says, “shall meditate terror,”262 -namely, at the time when they suffered the ruin of themselves.263 How, therefore, will a “leader” be born from Judea, and how far will he “proceed from Bethlehem,” as the divine volumes of the prophets do plainly announce; since none at all is left there to this day of (the house of) Israel, of whose stock Christ could be born?
Now, if (according to the Jews) He is hitherto not come, when He begins to come whence will He be anointed?264 For the Law enjoined that, in captivity, it was not lawful for the unction of the royal chrism to be compounded.265 But, if there is no longer “unction” there266 as Daniel prophesied (for he says, “Unction shall be exterminated”), it follows that they267 no longer have it, because neither have they a temple where was the “horn”268 from which kings were wont to be anointed. If, then, there is no unction, whence shall be anointed the “leader” who shall be born in Bethlehem? or how shall he proceed “from Bethlehem,” seeing that of the seed of Israel none at all exists in Bethlehem.
A second time, in fact, let us show that Christ is already come, (as foretold) through the prophets, and has suffered, and is already received back in the heavens, and thence is to come accordingly as the predictions prophesied. For, after His advent, we read, according to Daniel, that the city itself had to be exterminated; and we recognise that so it has befallen. For the Scripture says thus, that “the city and the holy place are simultaneously exterminated together with the leader,”269 -undoubtedly (that Leader) who was to proceed “from Bethlehem,” and from the tribe of “Judah.” Whence, again, it is manifest that “the city must simultaneously be exterminated” at the time when its “Leader” had to suffer in it, (as foretold) through the Scriptures of the prophets, who say: “I have outstretched my hands the whole day unto a People contumacious and gainsaying Me, who walketh in a way not good, but after their own sins.”270 And in the Psalms, David says: “They exterminated my hands and feet: they counted all my bones; they themselves, moreover, contemplated and saw me, and in my thirst slaked me with vinegar.”271 These things David did not suffer, so as to seem justly to have spoken of himself; but the Christ who was crucified. Moreover, the “hands and feet,” are not “exterminated,”272 except His who is suspended on a “tree.” Whence, again, David said that “the Lord would reign from the tree: “273 for elsewhere, too, the prophet predicts the fruit of this “tree,” saying “The earth hath given her blessings,”274 -of course that virgin-earth, not yet irrigated with rains, nor fertilized by showers, out of which man was of yore first formed, out of which now Christ through the flesh has been born of a virgin; “and the tree,”275 he says, “hath brought his fruit,”276 -not that “tree” in paradise which yielded death to the protoplasts, but the “tree” of the passion of Christ, whence life, hanging, was by you not believed!277 For this “tree” in a mystery,278 it was of yore wherewith Moses sweetened the bitter water; whence the People, which was perishing of thirst in the desert, drank and revived;279 just as we do, who, drawn out from the calamities of the heathendom280 in which we were tarrying perishing with thirst (that is, deprived of the divine word), drinking, “by the faith which is on Him,”281 the baptismal water of the “tree” of the passion of Christ, have revived,-a faith from which Israel has fallen away, (as foretold) through Jeremiah, who says, “Send, and ask exceedingly whether such things have been done, whether nations will change their gods (and these are not gods!). But My People hath changed their glory: whence no profit shall accrue to them: the heaven turned pale thereat” (and when did it turn pale? undoubtedly when Christ suffered), “and shuddered,” he says, “most exceedingly; “282 and “the sun grew dark at mid-day: “283 (and when did it “shudder exceedingly” except at the passion of Christ, when the earth also trembled to her centre, and the veil of the temple was rent, and the tombs were burst asunder?284 “because these two evils hath My People done; Me,” He says, “they have quite forsaken, the fount of water of life,285 and they have digged for themselves worn-out tanks, which will not be able to contain water.” Undoubtedly, by not receiving Christ, the “fount of water of life,” they have begun to have “worn-out tanks,” that is, synagogues for the use of the “dispersions of the Gentiles,”286 in which the Holy Spirit no longer lingers, as for the time past He was wont to tarry in the temple before the advent of Christ, who is the true temple of God. For, that they should withal suffer this thirst of the Divine Spirit, the prophet Isaiah had said, saying: “Behold, they who serve Me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; they who serve Me shall drink, but ye shall thirst, and from general tribulation of spirit shall howl: for ye shall transmit your name for a satiety to Mine elect, but you the Lord shall slay; but for them who serve Me shall be named a new name, which shall be blessed in the lands.”287
Again, the mystery of this “tree”288 we read as being celebrated even in the Books of the Reigns. For when the sons of the prophets were cutting “wood”289 with axes on the bank of the river Jordan, the iron flew off and sank in the stream; and so, on Elisha290 the prophet’s coming up, the sons of the prophets beg of him to extract from the stream the iron which had sunk. And accordingly Elisha, having taken “wood,” and cast it into that place where the iron had been submerged, forthwith it rose and swam on the surface,291 and the “wood” sank, which the sons of the prophets recovered.292 Whence they understood that Elijah’s spirit was presently conferred upon him.293 What is more manifest than the mystery294 of this “wood,”-that the obduracy of this world295 had been sunk in the profundity of error, and is freed in baptism by the “wood” of Christ, that is, of His passion; in order that what had formerly perished through the “tree” in Adam, should be restored through the “tree” in Christ?296 while we, of course, who have succeeded to, and occupy, the room of the prophets, at the present day sustain in the world297 that treatment which the prophets always suffered on account of divine religion: for some they stoned, some they banished; more, however, they delivered to mortal slaughter,298 -a fact which they cannot deny.299
This “wood,” again, Isaac the son of Abraham personally carried for his own sacrifice, when God had enjoined that he should be made a victim to Himself. But, because these had been mysteries300 which were being kept for perfect fulfilment in the times of Christ, Isaac, on the one hand, with his “wood,” was reserved, the ram being offered which was caught by the horns in the bramble;301 Christ, on the other hand, in His times, carried His “wood” on His own shoulders, adhering to the horns of the cross, with a thorny crown encircling His head. For Him it behoved to be made a sacrifice on behalf of all Gentiles, who “was led as a sheep for a victim, and, like a lamb voiceless before his shearer, so opened not His mouth” (for He, when Pilate interrogated Him, spake nothing302 ); for “in humility His judgment was taken away: His nativity, moreover, who shall declare? “Because no one at all of human beings was conscious of the nativity of Christ at His conception, when as the Virgin Mary was found pregnant by the word of God; and because “His life was to be taken from the land.”303 Why, accordingly, after His resurrection from the dead, which was effected on the third day, did the heavens receive Him back? It was in accordance with a prophecy of Hosea, uttered on this wise: “Before daybreak shall they arise unto Me, saying, Let us go and return unto the Lord our God, because Himself will draw us out and free us. After a space of two days, on the third day”304 -which is His glorious resurrection-He received back into the heavens (whence withal the Spirit Himself had come to the Virgin305 ) Him whose nativity and passion alike the Jews have failed to acknowledge. Therefore, since the Jews still contend that the Christ is not yet come, whom we have in so many ways approved306 to be come, let the Jews recognise their own fate, -a fate which they were constantly foretold as destined to incur after the advent of the Christ, on account of the impiety with which they despised and slew Him. For first, from the day when, according to the saying of Isaiah, “a man cast forth his abominations of gold and silver, which they made to adore with vain and hurtful (rites),”307 -that is, ever since we Gentiles, with our breast doubly enlightened through Christ’s truth, cast forth (let the Jews see it) our idols,-what follows has likewise been fulfilled. For “the Lord of Sabaoth hath taken away, among the Jews from Jerusalem,” among the other things named, “the wise architect” too,308 who builds the church, God’s temple, and the holy city, and the house of the Lord. For thenceforth God’s grace desisted (from working) among them. And “the clouds were commanded not to rain a shower upon the vineyard of Sorek,”309 -the clouds being celestial benefits, which were commanded not to be forthcoming to the house of Israel; for it “had borne thorns”-whereof that house of Israel had wrought a crown for Christ-and not “righteousness, but a clamour,”-the clamour whereby it had extorted His surrender to the cross.310 And thus, the former gifts of grace being withdrawn, “the law and the prophets were until John,”311 and the fishpool of Bethsaida312 until the advent of Christ: thereafter it ceased curatively to remove from Israel infirmities of health; since, as the result of their perseverance in their frenzy, the name of the Lord was through them blasphemed, as it is written: “On your account the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles: “313 for it is from them that the infamy (attached to that name) began, and (was propagated during) the interval from Tiberius to Vespasian. And because they had committed these crimes, and had failed to understand that Christ “was to be found”314 in “the time of their visitation,”315 their land has been made “desert, and their cities utterly burnt with fire, while strangers devour their region in their sight: the daughter of Sion is derelict, as a watch-tower in a vineyard, or as a shed in a cucumber garden,”-ever since the time, to wit, when “Israel knew not” the Lord, and “the People understood Him not; “but rather “quite forsook, and provoked unto indignation, the Holy One of Israel.”316 So, again, we find a conditional threat of the sword: “If ye shall have been unwilling, and shall not have been obedient, the glaive shall eat you up.”317 Whence we prove that the sword was Christ, by not hearing whom they perished; who, again, in the Psalm, demands of the Father their dispersion, saying, “Disperse them in Thy power; “318 who, withal, again through Isaiah prays for their utter burning. “On My account,” He says, “have these things happened to you; in anxiety shall ye sleep.”319
Since, therefore, the Jews were predicted as destined to suffer these calamities on Christ’s account, and we find that they have suffered them, and see them sent into dispersion and abiding in it, manifest it is that it is on Christ’s account that these things have befallen the Jews, the sense of the Scriptures harmonizing with the issue of events and of the order of the times. Or else, if Christ is not yet come, on whose account they were predicted as destined thus to suffer, when He shall have come it follows that they will thus suffer. And where will then be a daughter of Sion to be derelict, who now has no existence? where the cities to be exust, which are already exust and in heaps? where the dispersion of a race which is now in exile? Restore to Judea the condition which Christ is to find; and (then, if you will), contend that some other (Christ) is coming.” (An Answer to the Jews)
(On the timing of John’s banishment)
“But if thou art near to Italy, thou hast Rome, where we also have an authority close at hand. What an happy Church is that! on which the Apostles poured out all their doctrine, with their blood: where Peter had a like Passion with the Lord; where Paul bath for his crown the same death with John; where the Apostle John was plunged into boiling oil, and suffered nothing, and was afterwards banished to an island.” (Exclusion of Heretics 36.)
(On the Fulfillment of Prophecy)
“Who is He that shall bestow “the power of treading on serpents and scorpions?”(17) Shall it be He who is the Lord of all living creatures or he who is not god over a single lizard? Happily the Creator has promised by Isaiah to give this power even to little children, of putting their hand in the cockatrice den and on the hole of the young asps without at all receiving hurt.(18) And, indeed, we are aware (without doing violence to the literal sense of the passage, since even these noxious animals have actually been unable to do hurt where there has been faith) that under the figure of scorpions and serpents are portended evil spirits, whose very prince is described(19) by the name of serpent, dragon, and every other most conspicuous beast in the power of the Creator. This power the Creator conferred first of all upon His Christ, even as the ninetieth Psalm says to Him: “Upon the asp and the basilisk shall Thou tread; the lion and the dragon shall Thou trample under foot.”(21) So also Isaiah: “In that day the Lord God shall draw His sacred, great, and strong sword” (even His Christ) “against that dragon, that great and tortuous serpent; and He shall slay him in that day .”(22) But when the same prophet says, “The way shall be called a clean and holy way; over it the unclean thing shall not pass, nor shall be there any unclean way; but the dispersed shall pass over it, and they shall not err therein; no lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; it shall not be found there,”(23) he points out the way of faith, by which we shall reach to God; and then to this way of faith he promises this utter crippling(24) and subjugation of all noxious animals. Lastly, you may discover the suitable times of the promise, if you read what precedes the passage: “Be strong, ye weak hands and ye feeble knees: then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be articulate.” (25) When, therefore, He proclaimed the benefits of His cures, then also did He put the scorpions and the serpents under the feet of His saints–even He who had first received this power from the Father, in order to bestow it upon others and then manifested it forth conformably to the order of prophecy.(l) [Against Marcion, 388, 389, CDROM.]
Against Marcion, Chapter XXII.
The Dispersioin of the Jews, adn their desolate condition for rejecting Christ foretold
“Now, since you join the Jews in denying that their Christ has come, recollect also what is that end which they were predicted as about to bring on themselves after the time of Christ, for the impiety wherewith they both rejected and slew Him. For it began to come to pass from that day, when, according to Isaiah, “a man threw away his idols of gold and of silver, which they made into useless and hurtful objects of worship;” in other words, from the time when he threw away his idols after the truth had been made clear by Christ. Consider whether what follows in the prophet has not received its fulfilment: “The Lord of hosts hath taken away from Judah and from Jerusalem, amongst other things, both the prophet and the wise artificer;” that is, His Holy Spirit, who builds the church, which is indeed the temple, and household and city of God. For thenceforth God’s grace failed amongst them; and “the clouds were commanded to rain no rain upon the vineyard” of Sorech; to withhold, that is, the graces of heaven, that they shed no blessing upon “the house of Israel,” which had but produced “the thorns” wherewith it had crowned the Lord, and “instead of righteousness, the cry” wherewith it had hurried Him away to the cross. And so in this manner the law and the prophets were until John, but the clews of divine grace were withdrawn from the nation. After his time their madness still continued, and the name of the Lord was blasphemed by them, as saith the Scripture: “Because of you my name is continually blasphemed amongst the nations” (for from them did the blasphemy originate); neither in the interval from Tiberius to Vespasian did they learn repentance. Therefore “has their land become desolate, their cities are burnt with fire, their country strangers are devouring before their own eyes; the daughter of Sion has been deserted like a cottage in a vineyard, or a lodge in a garden of cucumbers,” ever since the time when “Israel acknowledged not the Lord, and the people understood Him not, but forsook Him, and provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger.” So likewise that conditional threat of the sword, “If ye refuse and hear me not, the sword shall devour you,” has proved that it was Christ, for rebellion against whom they have perished. In the fifty-eighth Psalm He demands of the Father their dispersion: “Scatter them in Thy power.” By Isaiah He also says, as He finishes a prophecy of their consumption by fire: “Because of me has this happened to you; ye shall lie down in sorrow.” But all this would be unmeaning enough, if they suffered this retribution not on account of Him, who had in prophecy assigned their suffering to His own cause, but for the sake of the Christ of the other god. Well, then, although you affirm that it is the Christ of the other god who was driven to the cross by the powers and authorities of the Creator, as it were by hostile beings, still I have to say, See how manifestly He was defended by the Creator: there were given to Him both “the wicked for His burial,” even those who had strenuously maintained that 342
His corpse had been stolen, “and the rich for His death,” even those who had redeemed Him from the treachery of Judas, as well as from the lying report of the soldiers that His body had been taken away. Therefore these things either did not happen to the Jews on His account, in which case you will be refuted by the sense of the Scriptures tallying with the issue of the facts and the order of the times, or else they did happen on His account, and then the Creator could not have inflicted the vengeance except for His own Christ; nay, He must have rather had a reward for Judas, if it had been his master’s enemy whom they put to death. At all events, if the Creator’s Christ has not come yet, on whose account the prophecy dooms them to such sufferings, they will have to endure the sufferings when He shall have come. Then where will there be a daughter of Sion to be reduced to desolation, for there is none now to be found? Where will there be cities to be burnt with fire, for they are now in heaps? Where a nation to be dispersed, which is already in banishment? Restore to Judaea its former state, that the Creator’s Christ may find it, and then you may contend that another Christ has come. But then, again, how is it that He can have permitted to range through His own heaven one whom He was some day to put to death on His own earth, after the more noble and glorious region of His kingdom had been violated, and His own very palace and sublimest height had been trodden by him? Or was it only in appearance rather that he did this? God is no doubt a jealous God! Yet he gained the victory. You should blush with shame, who put your faith in a vanquished god! What have you to hope for from him, who was not strong enough to protect himself? For it was either through his infirmity that he was crushed by the powers and human agents of the Creator, or else through maliciousness, in order that he might fasten so great a stigma on them by his endurance of their wickedness. (Against Marcion, Ch. 23)
WHAT OTHERS HAVE SAID
“Tertullian also has mentioned Domition in the following words: ‘Domition also, who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished” (vol. 1, pp. 148-149)
H. Wayne House
“In his work Against Marcion, Tertullian seems to set forth A.D. 70 as the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy of destruction, . . .”
A. Lukyn Williams
(Chapter 5) “It is said that when the future Emperor Caracalla was about seven years old, in A.D. 195 or 196, a fellow playmate, presumably slightly older, became inclined to Judaism and was so severely chastised by the Emperor Severus and his own father, that the young prince took this punishment deeply to heart.2
Be that as it may–and we can hardly take Noeldechen’s suggestion seriously that this event in Rome moved Tertullian in Carthage to write our treatise–there is no doubt that a few Christians did apostatise to Judaism, while, on the other hand, many were desirous of winning Jews to Christianity. Also a large number of Jews lived in North Africa, as the big Jewish cemetery at Carthage still testifies.3 There was therefore sufficient reason for the Adversus Judaeos to be composed, both as a protection to Christians, and as a means of winning Jews.
Directly, however, we examine it we are struck by its twofold
character. The first eight chapters are crisp and polished–if such
words may be used of Tertullian’s harsh and rugged style–the
last six chapters are drawn out, and altogether more loosely strung
together. It is no wonder therefore that their relation to the first
part has caused much controversy, at least from the time of Semler,
who was frankly sceptical about many of the works attributed to
Tertullian.4 Neander thought that only chh. i-viii were
1 Adversus Judaeos, Oehler’s edition, 1853, is still the best. The treatise is
translated by Thelwall in the Ante-Nicene Library, 1870.
2 “Septennis puer, cum conlusorem suum puerum ob Judaicam religionem
gravius verberatum audisset, neque patrem suum neque patrem pueri velut
auctores verberum diu respexit.” Spartianus (c. 285), Ant. Caracalla, i, in the
Scriptores Hist. Aug. Teubner, 1927, i. 183. See Noeldechen (vide infra, p. 44),
1894, pp. 87-89.
3 See Monceaux, Hist. Litteraire de l’Afrique Chretienne, 1901, pp. 9, 294; Jew.
Enc. iii. 594, 617.
4 Semler denied the genuineness of the whole treatise. His criticism was
published in his edition of Tertullian (1770-1773), and may be found more
conveniently in Oehler, vol. iii, where, further, the parts of our treatise that
resemble Adv. Marc, are set forth in parallel columns (pp. 639-657).
Tertullian’s, and chh. ix-xiv were compiled by an unknown author
from Adversus Marcionem, iii,1 and this is still the opinion of many
critics. But Noeldechen,2 by comparing the Adv. Jud. with Tertullian’s
other writings in general3 as well as with Adv. Marc, iii,
comes to the conclusion that our chh. ix–xiv are a rough draft
made by Tertullian, and chh. i-viii a more finished sketch, while
the whole tract was afterwards used freely by Tertullian for the
third book of his Adv. Marc. (c. A.D. 210). Noeldechen thinks that
the Adv. Jud. was written in A.D. 195-6.4
Harnack is equally sure that chh. ix-xiv contain nothing contradictory
to Tertullian’s authorship,5 but has a theory of his own
that Tertullian wrote chh. i-viii after the first edition of his Adv.
Marc., which already contained the amplifications (Ausführungen)
that we now find in Adv. Marc, iii (third edition), and then added
chh. ix-xiv out of the first. For, having the contents of those
chapters there already, he naturally would not use the Adv. Jud.
Neither theory is very attractive,but the important point is that both
scholars agree that chh. ix-xiv were written by Tertullian himself.
Both, however, wrote before serious notice had been paid to the
suggestion that the Church possessed catenae of Old Testament
passages thought to bear upon the truth of Christianity. And
though recent writers have exaggerated this fact, and, going beyond
all probabilities, have tried to prove the existence of one such Book
of Testimonies only, which continued, somewhere or other, down
to the twelfth century–though not quoted by name6 and visible
only by identity of Old Testament quotations–there is this much
truth in the theory, that such catenae existed, differing greatly in
1 Antignostikus, 1825 (Bohn’s translation, ii. 530). So also J. M. Fuller in
Diet. Chr. Biog. 1887, iv. 827.
2 In his two treatises Die Abfassungszeit der Schriften Tertullians, Texte u. Unters.
v. 2, 1889; Tertullians Gegen die Juden, T. u. U. xii. 2, 1895.
3 E.g. in phraseology (1895, pp. 35-46).
4 Monceaux strongly prefers A.D. 200-206. He thinks the second edition of
the Anti-Marcion refers to it (iii. 7): “Discat nunc haereticus ex abundanti
cum ipso licebit Judaeo rationem quoque errorum.” “Tertullien indique clairement
ici qu’il va faire un emprunt a son traite Contre les Juifs et reproduire son
raisonnement sur les causes d’erreur, parce que Marcion lui-meme reproduisait
une objection des Juifs” (op. cit. i. p. 205; cf. p. 295). In any case it was written
before he became a Montanist (A.D. 207), for it contains no trace of the heresy.
Harnack’s theory requires the late date.
5 ” Weder in Stil, noch in den Anschauungen findet sich m. E. irgend etwas
Untertullianisches” (Altchristl. Lit. 1904, ii. 2, p. 290).
6 For Pseudo-Gregory’s words do not bear out that explanation. See above
on The Books of Testimonies, p. 6.
details, and yet necessarily containing much common matter.
These would therefore lie ready at hand for Tertullian to incorporate.
It seems not unlikely therefore that he used such a catena
for the Adv. Jud., and using it again, or perhaps only what he had
already incorporated from it, revised and polished and adapted
the passages to suit his rather different objective in the more
important treatise against Marcion.
It is not necessary, however, to spend more time over this
controversy, for in any case the question of the unity and even the
authorship of the tract In Answer to the Jews is of little more than
academic interest for our purpose. Every one is agreed that the
third book against Marcion was written by Tertullian, and there
is hardly a quotation from the Old Testament, or any interpretation
of a quotation, in the Adv. Jud. which is not to be found there.
It will be sufficient therefore to consider the tract itself, and that
as a whole.1
Tertullian tells us that he found a Jewish proselyte–a man of
Gentile stock, but whether he had ever been a Christian or had
been only a heathen he does not say, but apparently the latter–
arguing with a Christian in favour of Judaism; and that Tertullian
thought it well to state the evidence for the true faith more clearly
in writing than was possible in the rather misty verbal discussion.
I. Beginning, it would seem, with the assumption that the
Gentile had some warrant for accepting the chief truths of Judaism,
and that by admitting him the Jews acknowledged that their
religion was not for Jews only, Tertullian discusses the true nature
of the Law, and shows its temporary character (chh. i-v).
If Gentiles are admissible to God’s Law, the Jew need not
despise them. In fact God’s promise to Rebecca, “two peoples
and two nations” (Gen. xxv. 23), refers to both Jewish and Gentile
believers, and hints that whereas the younger son was to be greater
than the elder, so there were to be more Gentile believers than
Jewish (ch. i).2
1 For convenience’ sake, and without prejudice to further examination, I shall
speak of the author of chh. ix-xiv as “Tertullian”. He knew no Hebrew.
2 In this chapter Tertullian pictures to us “the calf-like head” of the Golden
Calf corning out from the melted gold first: “Cum . . . aurum fuisset igne conflatum
et processisset eis bubulum caput” (Ex. xxxii. 24). If this supposition
was current among the Jews it may have given rise to the later belief that the
Calf came out alive and skipping (Midr. Tanchuma, Ki Tissa, § 19, edition 1902,
p. 103 a; not in Buber’s edition); see Jew. Enc. iii. 509.
Again, the Old Testament itself suggests that the Law of Moses
was not intended to last for ever. There was a Law before that
Law, which would have been sufficient, if it had been kept. Its
essence indeed is for all, but not its totality. That former Law was
long before Moses; it existed even in Eden. Noah, Abraham, and
others were found righteous by the observance of this natural Law,
under which Melchizedek was even a priest. Adam, knew nothing
of Sabbath or Circumcision. Had circumcision been so important,
why was not Adam circumcised (ch. ii) ?
What then was the use of Circumcision? It was given to
Abraham1 and to Moses (see what is said about Zipporah) as a
sign by which Israelites were to be distinguished, that thus they
should not be able to enter Jerusalem–in accordance with
Hadrian’s decree.2 But Jeremiah announces a new Law,3 from
which we may learn that bodily circumcision was to come to an
end. No doubt therefore we Gentile believers are the people of
whom Isa. ii. 2 sq. speaks (ch. iii).
It is the same with the Sabbath. Its observance was to be but
for a time, even as it was unknown to the Patriarchs. Observe too
that the Prophets themselves distinguish between Jewish sabbaths
and eternal and spiritual sabbaths, for Isaiah speaks of your
sabbaths,4 and “Isaiah” of My sabbaths.5 Isaiah refers to the eternal
sabbath when he says that all flesh shall come to worship in
Jerusalem.6 “And this we must understand was fulfilled in the
time of Christ, when all flesh, i.e. every nation, came to worship
in Jerusalem God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son, as was
foretold by the Prophet, Behold, the proselytes shall go unto Thee
through Me.”7 Tertullian points out further that after Moses’ time
even the observance of the sabbath did not consist in cessation
1 Tertullian curiously puts the circumcision of Abraham (Gen. xvii. 10) before
he received the bread and wine at the hands of the uncircumcised Melchizedek
(Gen. xiv. 18). There may be some connexion between this and Barnabas’ statement
(ix. 8) that Abraham circumcised his 318 trained men whom he took with
him to pursue the four kings (Gen. xiv. 14); for circumcision may be a midrashic
expansion of “trained”, “initiated”.
2 Cf. Trypho, xvi. 2 (supra, p. 34). See also infra, ch. xiii.
3 Jer. xxxi. 31 sq. Cf. Trypho often, e.g. xi. 3-5 (supra, p. 36).
5 Ezek. xxii. 8. Tertullian says “Isaiah”. For similar errors see Trypho, xiv.
8 (supra, p. 34).
7 “Ecce proselyti per me ad te ibunt” (Isa. liv. 15 LXX).
from work, for the people went round Jericho for seven days, and
the Maccabees fought on a sabbath (ch. iv).1
So again with Sacrifices. Both earthly and spiritual were alike
foretold, and in fact even from the beginning the former were foreshown
in the offerings of the elder son, Gain, who represented
Israel, and the latter in those of Abel the younger son, representing
us Christians. The latter alone were accepted, for true offering to
God must be made by spiritual sacrifices, as the Psalmist says.2
Further, Tertullian notes, the former sacrifices were to be offered
in a place in the Holy Land alone, “both for sins and for persons”,3
and nowhere else than in the Holy Land. Whereas of spiritual
sacrifices God says that they shall be offered in every place (ch. v).4
II. Now that Tertullian has shown that the Old Testament
contemplates a cessation of the Law of Moses with its component
earthly parts, he turns to ask whether He who was to give the new
spiritual Law has come or not. The answer is that He has come
indeed, and that He is Jesus (chh. vi-xiv). For the ancient Law
and the Prophets could not have ceased unless He were come
We see that the prophecies that the nations should hear Him
are already being fulfilled,5 even to the very ends of the earth,
including “the parts of Britain unreached by Rome” (ch. vii).6
But is the time itself in agreement with that which is foretold in
Scripture? Tertullian answers this question by examining in detail
the prophecy of Dan. ix. 20-27, proving (according to his methods)7
that these verses refer to the period from the Birth (and consequent
Death) of Christ to the destruction of Jerusalem, for “the seventy
3 “Tam pro peccatis quam pro animabus”, i.e. to atone for sins and also
to consecrate persons, etc.
5 Isa. xlv. i is quoted as “Christo meo Domino”, reading Ku&rw| (Cyrus) as
Ku&ri/w|, as in Barnabas, xii. 11 (vide supra, p. 26), though neither language nor
context suggests any literary dependence.
6 “Britannorum inaccessa Romanis loca.” Tertullian is quite eloquent here.
7 These are so far from clear, and are based on such a mistaken system of
chronology, that they need not detain us. “But the principles of the calculation
are, that the commencement of the Seventy Weeks is to be dated from the first
year of Darius, in which Daniel states that he saw the vision–that sixty-two
weeks and half a week were completed in the forty-first year of the reign of
Augustus when Christ was born–and that the remaining seven weeks and half
a week were completed in the first year of Vespasian, when the Jews were
reduced beneath the Roman yoke” (Bishop Kaye, Collected Works, 1888, viii.
355 sq.). Peter Damian refers to Tertullian’s argument (vide infra, p. 370).
hebdomads” were completed in the first year of Vespasian, when
Jerusalem was taken. Further, Dan. ix. 24 says that “vision and
prophecy were sealed”,1 which is true, “inasmuch as He is the
signet (signaculum) of all the prophets, fulfilling all things which
they had previously foretold. For after the (first) Advent of Christ
… there is no longer vision or prophet to announce Him as yet
to come.” Jews indeed can bring forward no prophets or miracles
since that time, for, on Christ being baptised, “the whole quantity
of former spiritual gifts ceased in Christ” (ch. viii).2
Here, as has already been said, ends the unique portion of our
book. The following chapters have much that is verbally identical
with passages in the third book against Marcion. But there is not
sufficient evidence (as has been seen) for denying their proper place
here also in the original form of our treatise. They do in fact
continue the argument, though, as it seems, in a rougher, more
detailed, and less polished form, being, perhaps, taken with little
alteration from some Book of Testimonies.
The author turns now to consider prophecies about our Lord’s
birth, showing that they have been fulfilled. He naturally begins
with the words of Isaiah,3 stating the Jewish objection that the
name Emmanuel was never used of our Lord, and answering it by
appealing to the meaning of the term. Further, he insists that the
actions predicated of the Child must be understood figuratively
only.4 It may perhaps be urged that the Old Testament knows
nothing of the word “Jesus” as the name of the Messiah. Not so,
replies Tertullian, it is indicated plainly by the change from
“Oshea” to “Joshua” as the name of him who was to lead Israel
into the promised land.5 So again Joshua is called “Angel”,6 just
as John the Baptist was,7 and it may be noted that He who spoke
to Moses was not the Father, but the Son.8 Again, we learn in
1 “Signari visionem et prophetiam dicebat.”
2 “Omnis plenitude spiritualium retro charismatum in Christo cesserunt.”
Cf. Justin’s Trypho, lxxxii. i (vide supra, p. 36).
3 Isa. vii. 14. Cf. Trypho often, e.g. lxxxiv (supra, p. 38).
4 For His conquest of Samaria, Damascus, and the Assyrians (Isa. viii. 4)
being fulfilled in the coming of the Magi, see Trypho, lxxvii (supra, p. 41).
6 Cf. Trypho, lxxv. 2 (supra, p. 40). For Tertullian’s identification of Christ
here with the flint knives of Josh. v. 2, see Trypho, cxiii. 6 (supra, p. 38).
6 Ex. xxiii. 20. The Trypho does not say that Joshua was called “Angel”,
though it applies the term to Christ, lix. i-lx. 4 (supra, p. 36).
8 “Nam qui ad Moysen loquebatur, ipse erat dei filius, qui et semper
Isa. xi. 1 that the Messiah was to be of the line of David, and,
further, the word virga (“shoot”) there suggests Virgo, the Virgin
Mary herself.1 Not only so, but we see predictions of the character,
the preaching, and even the miracles, which were all satisfied in
Jesus (ch. ix).
Tertullian then refers to the predictions of the Passion and
Death, and it is in ch. x, perhaps, that the suggestion that he used
a list of proof-passages is the most convincing. He begins by
stating the objection felt by Jews to the death upon the cross, for
it is said, Cursed is every one that has hung on a tree.2 He replies that
an examination of the facts removes the difficulty. For Moses was
not dealing with hanging on a tree in general, but with the specific
case of a malefactor, a man punished in this way because he
deserved it. Christ had not deserved punishment, and therefore
the objection does not apply to Him. He was crucified only to
fulfil other Scriptures.3 At this point Tertullian makes an interesting
remark when he meets the argument that the predictions
about our Lord ought to have been much clearer.4 For he says
that the balder the statement of the suffering to be endured by the
Messiah had been, the greater would have been the stumbling-block
to Jews. And, on the other hand, the more magnificent the
promises of the Messiah’s greatnes, the less clearly must they be
foreshadowed, in order that the difficulty of understanding them might
not be merely intellectual, but dependent on the grace of God.
The wood borne by Isaac hinted at the Cross. Joseph was sold
by his brethren, and in connexion with this Tertullian recalls his
blessing by Jacob. For Jacob speaks of him as a bull, and a bull
has horns which in themselves suggest the Cross.5 Besides, Christ,
1 “Fuit enim de patria Bethlehem et de domo David, sicut apud Romanes
in censu descripta est Maria.” Tertullian omits this sentence in his Adv. Marc.
iii. 17. perhaps because he himself was thinking of Luke iii. 31, and his readers
might suppose him to be referring to independent evidence of the Roman
courts, which, so far as he knew, was non-existent.
2 Deut. xxi. 23. Cf. Gal. iii. 13; Trypho, lxxxix. 2. The text is adduced also
in Jason and Papiscus (p. 29); Tim.-Aq. Fol. 100 v° (infra, p. 74); “Anastasius”,
Second Add. (p. 179); Alvaro (p. 225). On the subject cf. Dalman, Jesus-Jeschua,
1922, p. 168, E.T. p. 186. I cannot find any trace of the argument Tertullian
3 E.g. Ps. xxii. 17.
4 See Gregentius, First Day (p. 143); Troph. Dam. iii (p. 165); Papiscus and
Philo, § ii (p. 173); “Anastasius”. ii (p. 179); Gennadius (pp. 192 sq.).
5 Cf. Trypho, xci. I sq. (supra, p. 39). Oehler’s text is “nam et benedicitur a
patre in haec verba Joseph” and Deut. xxxiii. 17 is quoted (i.e. Moses’ words).
But he warns us “a patre om. cd.” Adv. Marc. iii. 18 has the same mistake.
as a bull, tosses nations by faith from earth to heaven,1 and will
toss them, through His Judgment of them, from heaven to earth.
Similarly, when Simeon and Levi hamstrung a bull,2 this meant
that the Scribes and Pharisees were not only to slay Christ, but in
their fury to fix His tendons with nails.3 Again, the cross is prefigured
by Moses’ session in Joshua’s fight with Amalek,4 and his
setting up the Brazen Serpent.5 It is spoken of also in Ps. xcvi. 10,6
and was to be borne on Messiah’s shoulder.7 And Jeremiah speaks
of wood being put into His bread.8
The twenty-second psalm is full of references to our subject, and
Isa. liii says that the Messiah’s reward is given Him because of His
death. Amos viii. 9 sq. foretells even the darkness of the day of the
Passion, which proved to be the beginning of the Jews’ captivity
and dispersion. Lastly, Tertullian goes so far as to say that Moses
refers in so many words to the Passion of Christ, when he writes,
not the passover of God, as such, but the passover of the Lord, i.e. of
Christ (ch. x).9
But, besides these varied predictions and hints of the Lord’s
death, the Old Testament foretells that after this has been brought
about the ruin of the Jewish nation will be at hand. See Ezek. viii.
12-ix. 6, where the Prophet says also that those who have on their
foreheads the sign of a Tau10 shall be kept safe. Further, Moses
foretells the dispersion and misery of the nation, when, as he says,
thy very Life (i.e. Christ) shall be hanging on the Tree before thine eyes?11
Thus again all vision and prophecy were sealed in Christ, as is
said also in ch. viii and ch. xiv, end (ch. xi).
The very short ch. xii gives us only a summary of the argument of ch. vii.
Then comes a chapter which, like the first eight, is not to be found in the Anti-Marcion. But it is thoroughly Tertullianic. For
1 Cf. Trypho, xci. 3.
2 Gen. xlix. 6. 3 Not in Trypho.
4 Trypho, xc. 4 (supra, p. 40).
5 Trypho, xciv. 2 (supra, p. 39).
6 a ligno; see Trypho (supra, p. 34).
8 Jer. xi. 19 LXX. Cf. Trypho, lxxii. 2 (supra, p. 33).
9 Ex. xii. ii, 27.
10 The last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in Ezekiel’s time in the form of a
St Andrew’s cross.
11 “Et erit vita tua pendens in ligno ante oculos tuos” (Deut. xxviii. 65 sq.).
See also ch. xiii, “lignum passionis Christi, unde vita pendens a vobis credita
non est”. The same passage is quoted in Cyprian, Test. ii. 20 (p. 62); Ath.-Zacch.
§§36 sq. (p. 123); Zacch.-Apoll. ii. vi (p. 297); Ps.-Greg. Nyssa, vii (p. 127);
“Anastasius”, iii (p. 177) (cf. Tim.-Aq. Fol. 133 r°).
with reference to the time of which Daniel spoke, the author brings
forward a demurrer1 to the effect that when it is said that Christ
shall come from Bethlehem in the future, it is no longer possible
for Him to do so. No Israelite is there, or indeed is allowed to go
there.2 Again, how shall Messiah be anointed in the future, for
the chrism cannot be made in captivity?3 And indeed Daniel says
that anointing shall be exterminated.4
Then many texts are quoted, most of which have been adduced
already in these pages. The chapter ends with a challenge to
restore Judaea to the condition in which it was when Jesus came,
for the predictions of the Old Testament were in fact fulfilled in
that condition, and the effects of the Dispersion, etc., were dependent
on it (ch. xiii).
Last of all, Tertullian gives us “the clue” (ducatum) to the error
of the Jews. They do not see that the Old Testament speaks of two
Advents of the Messiah, one in suffering and death, of which
proofs have already been given, and the other in glory and judgment.
The Jews ought to have recognised this second advent as
being a second (without prejudice to the first) in Dan. vii. 13;
Ps. xlv; viii. 5 sq.; Zech. xii. 10; iii. 3, 5. 5 The chapter and the
treatise end with a renewed appeal on the basis of Christ’s present
work. You Jews, our author writes, cannot urge that “what you can
see already is to take place in the future. Either you must deny that
what you see with your own eyes was foretold in prophecy, or (at
least) the prophecies (when you hear them read) have actually been
fulfilled, or, if you accept both statements they will have been
fulfilled in Him of Whom they were prophesied” (ch. xiv).6
1 “Praescribamus.” Cf. Tertullian’s De Praescriptione.
2 By Hadrian’s decree. Cf. c. iii, and vide supra, p. 34.
3 Ex. xxx. 20-33. There is no reason to accuse Tertullian of forgetting that
our Lord was not anointed with visible chrism. He is but meeting the Jews on
their own ground, when they say that the true Messiah of the future must be
4 Dan. ix. 26 LXX (not Theod. Hebr. or Vulg.).
5 In Zech. iii. 3, 5, the sordid attire of Jeshua (the very name of Jesus is
foretold!) indicates the first Advent in the flesh with its trials, and the change
to glorious raiment the second Advent. Tertullian adduces also the two goats
of Lev. xvi, one of which was girt with scarlet and subjected to spitting (“cir-
cumdatus coccino . . . consputatus”), though the latter point is not stated in
Scripture, nor, as it seems, in the written traditions of Judaism, but is mentioned
in Barn. vii. 8 (supra, p. 23). Trypho, xl. 4 (supra, p. 40), also uses the account
of the two goats for the same general purpose.
6 “Non potes futurum contendere quod vides fieri. Haec aut prophetata
nega, cum coram videntur, aut adimpleta, cum leguntur, aut si non negas
utrumque, in eo erunt adimpleta in quem sunt prophetata.”
So the treatise ends. The author has been short and sensible
throughout, according to the knowledge and methods of his day,
and has sufficient acquaintance with the popular objections adduced
by Jews to justify his writing. But he is very inferior to
Justin Martyr in any personal knowledge of his opponents and
It may be asked whether he made use of Justin’s Trypho. It is
commonly asserted that this was the case, on the ground that he
employs many of the Old Testament passages found in Justin, and
these in the same way, however strange it may appear to us. But
the similarity lies only on the surface, and was perhaps inseparable
from both the Jewish and the Christian manner of exegesis at the
time. The texts are seldom, if ever, quoted in the same order or
connexion,1 and the common treatment of the Old Testament is
better explained by the existence of a traditional method of exposition,
and by the probability that catenae of Old Testament proof-texts
were in the possession of both writers.
1 The twofold explanation of the Bull and its Horns (xiv; supra, pp. 49 sq.)
is hardly a case in point. For it is all one passage. (Adversus Judaeos: A bird’s-eye view of Christian Apologiae until the Renaissance. © Cambridge University Press (1935). This excerpt pp. 43-52.)
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