Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page


|42

----------------------------------
NOTES
----------------------------------

CHAPTER I

1 Dei spiritus etc. From the text 'God is a spirit'(John 4. 24)
Tertullian deduces that 'spirit' is a term descriptive of the divine
Substance, applicable to all or each of the divine Persons. Thus,
with many other ancient interpreters, he equates 'The Spirit of
God shall come upon thee' (Luke 1. 35, as he read the text) with
'The Word was made flesh' (John 1. 14), and contends that
'Spirit' in this case means the divine Word, the second Person of
the holy Trinity. This does not mean that Tertullian in any
sense identifies the second and third Persons of the holy Trinity,
but only that the texts quoted are interpreted by him as identical
in meaning. In this of course he was mistaken. What the text
from Luke means, as other fathers point out, is that it was by the
operation of the Holy Spirit that the virginal conception took
place. By this miracle the Temple of the Lord's body was
brought into being. How the Lord entered into his Temple is
a mystery too great even for evangelists to look into. Sound
theology, however, requires us to acknowledge that at no
point of its natal or pre-natal existence was that Temple without 
its divine Inhabitant. For Tertullian's argument cf. Adv.
Praxean 26.

1 sermo et ratio. 'Word' and' reason' are alternative renderings
of the Greek lo&goj (John 1.1-14), which has both these meanings
and several others. Tertullian elsewhere observes (Adv. Prax. 5)
that 'speech' and 'reason' are not so much alternative as complementary 
renderings, in that reason is prior to speech, yet is
inconceivable except as a kind of unspoken speech. The second
clause of the present sentence is therefore more than playing with
words: it indicates that this mutual relation between Speech and
Reason is inherent in the Being of God, and thus (as he will


|43

proceed to say) manifests itself in every part of God's revelation,
including the Lord's Prayer.

2 spiritus utrumque is the reading of the manuscripts, and as
it makes sense there seems no need to alter it. If any alteration
were called for, I should prefer to read utrimque, and translate 'in
either case spirit'. Some editors, reading utriusque, suggest the
sense 'the spirit of both'. This can hardly be right, for in Tertullian's 
view Spirit is not in either possessive or partitive dependence 
on the divine Word or Reason, but is his 'substance',
that which he essentially is.

3 novis. So Pamelius corrected the MS. nobis—'to us the disciples'. 
In the Middle Ages there was a tendency for B to be pronounced 
as V (as in modern Spanish) or as W (as in modern Syriac),
and thus, as the critical notes will show, the copyists frequently
confuse such forms as amavit and amabit.

3 orationis formam, 'plan of prayer'. Forma means (a) a rule
of law, a precedent or standing order, (b) an architect's blueprint
or a surveyor's plan. The latter meaning seems more in keeping
with the verb determinant, 'has marked out'. But the former is
within reach of the author's mind, as the next sentence shows.

4 in hac quoque specie, 'in this case also'. Species as a legal
term means the particular application of the requisite forma or
general rule.

9 superducto evangelio, 'by the subsequent addition of the
Gospel'. This is the meaning favoured by Diercks, who discusses
a number of views. There may, however, be a reminiscence of
2 Corinthians 5. 2-4, where it is said that the carnal will be
transmuted to spiritual by being clothed upon by that which is
from heaven: so perhaps translate, 'by being clothed upon with
the Gospel'. In 2 Cor., however, the verb is superindui. Superinducticios 
fratres is quoted by Tertullian (Adv. Marc. v. 3) from
Galatians 2. 4, where it is used in an unfavourable sense, of
sneaking interlopers.

9 expunctore, 'fulfiller'. Expungere commonly, though not
invariably, means 'complete' or 'bring to perfection'. See
a further note on § 9.


|44

12 ratio quo venit is the MS. reading. The editors have changed
quo to qua, and have expressed doubt as to the correctness of
venit, which indeed does not seem to have any very apposite
meaning. I have restored quo, which in all three clauses, and again
below, stands for quod or quoniam. Qua is manifestly wrong:
Tertullian does not say that in the Gospel our Lord is set forth as
the spirit by which he was strong, etc., but that he is shown to be
spirit (i.e. the divine substance) in that he was strong, and so forth.
For venit I have ventured to write intervenit, supposing a reference
to a further sense of ratio, which (like lo&goj) can signify a geometrical 
mean, and thus suggest the idea of mediation. Tertullian
several times quotes the text 'one mediator of God and men'
(1 Timothy 2. 5), and it may have been in his mind here. At
Apol. 17 we have, in reference to God the Father, ratione qua
disposuit,
and again, ibid. 21, ratio adsit disponenti, which may have
some bearing on the present passage.

14 ex ratione quo reconciliat. This clause is not in the MS.,
though evidently some reference to ratio is required to complete
the sentence. Pamelius supplied ex ratione qua docetur, which
seems unlikely in view of docuerat following. Rigaltius preferred
suscipitur, 'by which it is apprehended', which involves a subjectivism 
alien to Tertullian's thought. In such a case one man's
guess is likely to be as good as another's, and I have preferred to
write reconciliat, with a back-reference to my previous suggestion
intervenit—the Word mediates, the prayer ordained by him
reconciles.

17 cum ipso spiritu. There seems to be a reference to 2 Kings
2. 15, 'The spirit of Elijah doth rest upon Elisha', as well as to
Luke 1. 15 and 3. 22. Justin Martyr (Dial. 87), interpreting
Isaiah 11. 2, 'the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him', makes
'rest' mean 'cease', and points out that after the coming of
Christ Jewish prophecy did cease. In the same work (§ 51) he has
already said that when Christ came he caused John to cease from
prophesying and baptizing. Tertullian expresses this idea in
stronger terms, Adv. Marc. iv. 18: ipso iam domino virtutum
sermone et spiritu patris operante in terris et praedicante, necesse erat


|45

portionem spiritus sancti, quae ex forma prophetici moduli in Ioanne
egerat praeparaturam viarum dominicarum, abscedere iam a Ioanne,
redactam scilicet in dominum ut in massalem suam summam.
So also
Adv. Iud. 8: omnis plenitudo spiritalium retro charismatum in Christo
cesserunt
(where read cessarunt).

18 in quae verba: a legal phrase for a dictated form of oath or
verbal undertaking.

26 modestiam fidei, here and a little later, seems to mean the
effect of faith in restricting worship to its only proper object, and
keeping its expression within reasonable bounds. So again in
§17, of restraint in gesture and attitude.

27 sequente sophia, the MS. reading, has been tampered with by
some of the editors. Quintilian (with whose work Tertullian was
acquainted) several times uses primum... sequens... tertium for the
terms of an enumeration: e.g. Inst. Orat. vii. 9. 9, verum id quod
ex his primum est mutatione casuum, sequens divisions verborum aut
translatione emendatur, tertium adiectione.
So here, sequente sophia
connects with imprimis and ad tertium sophiae gradum: and the
subject of pertineat is the clause si non agmine verborum etc.

32 substantia, a late Latin word, first quoted from Quintilian,
is evidently a translation of the Greek u(po&stasij, and capable of
taking on almost any of the many meanings of that word. The
sense here is perhaps of firm ground underfoot, as in LXX of
Psalm 69. 2, 'I stick fast in the deep mire where no ground is', or
(metaphorically) at Hebrews 11. 1, 'certainty concerning things
hoped for'. Or possibly the meaning is 'is sustained by the
wealth of a great and opulent interpretation'. See a further
note on §4.

CHAPTER II

1 testimonio dei, 'our witness to God', an objective genitive.

1 merito fidei, literally 'desert of faith', but by metonymy the
work by which the merit is acquired.

13 mater ecclesia. This is apparently the earliest appearance of
this expression, which however has an obvious origin in Galatians 4. 26,


|46

and was evidently not unknown to Tertullian's audience.
The language here is too abbreviated to be quite clear, and the
thought is somewhat confused: but probably Tertullian does not
mean that the relation between God the Father and God the Son
implies the Church as mother, but that Christians, in calling upon
God as their father, acknowledge the Church as their mother. The
suggestion of some commentators that the Church here means the
Holy Spirit is quite alien to Tertullian's thought. Cf. De Pudicitia
21, where the three divine Persons are described as an ecclesia;
and De Bapt. 6, cum autem sub tribus et testatio fidei (the creed) et
sponsio salutis
(the baptismal formula) pigneretur, necessario adicitur
ecclesiae mentio, quoniam ubi tres, id est pater et filius et spiritus sanctus,
ibi ecclesia quae trium corpus est.
On mater ecclesia see a monograph
by J. C. Plumpe, Washington, D.C., 1943.

14 uno genere aut vocabulo. Literally 'one genus or word'.

CHAPTER III

2 aliud quidem nomen audierat. Tertullian means that
'Father' is, so to speak, the personal name of God, a kind of
proper name such as was asked after by Jacob (Gen. 32. 29),
Moses (Ex. 3. 13), and Manoah (Judges 13. 17). Two of these
received no answer. Moses did receive an answer, but it was not
this name 'Father' but another name 'I am that I am'. Compare
above § 2, 'when we say Father we also give God a [or his]
name'.

3 iam enim filius etc. The MS. text is in some confusion. This
restoration by Gelenius has at least the advantage of making sense
and of being in harmony with what follows and with what
Tertullian says elsewhere. Cf. Adv. Prax. 23, Pater glorifica nomen
tuum, in quo
(sc. nomine) erat filius. Strange as it may seem, Tertullian 
does mean that the Son in person (not the title 'son') is the
Father's new name: which is true in that it is only through the Son
that the Father may be known: cf. Matthew 11. 2; Luke 10. 22.
'New name', if it is correct, will be a reminiscence of Rev. 3. 12.
I am disposed, however, to suggest that the true reading may


|47

be, iniquis enim filius non patris nomen est, a parenthetic reference to
the general tenor of John 5. 43-47 and 12. 37-43.

12 illa angelorum circumstantia. Rev. 7. 11 conflated with
4. 8 and Isaiah 6. 3.

14 angelorum candidati. Here and in other places Tertullian
almost, but never entirely, lends himself to the erroneous idea that
at the resurrection redeemed men will be transmuted into angels.
At De Res. Carn. 36, commenting on Matthew 22. 30, he says,
similes enim erunt angelis qua non nupturi quia nec morituri, sed qua
transituri in statum angelicum per indumentum illud incorruptibilitatis,
per substantiae resuscitatae tamen demutationem.
He frequently recurs
to the same theme. In the passage before us he need mean no more
than that we shall be associated with the angels, joining with them
in the divine praises: though he may also have in mind that other
theory, the truth of which by the time of St Augustine was taken
for axiomatic, that the purpose of God in creating mankind was
to provide those who should fill up the places in heaven left vacant
by the expulsion of Lucifer and his adherents. See Augustine,
Enchiridion 62, instaurantur quippe quae in caelis sunt cum id quod
inde in angelis lapsum est in hominibus redditur.
This theme provides
a large section of the argument of St Anselm, Cur Deus Homo?

CHAPTER IV

5 nos sumus caelum et terra. Cf. Augustine, Enchiridion 115,
sicut in caelo et in terra, quod non absurde quidam intellexerunt, in
spiritu et in corpore.

9 substantiam et facultatem, 'substance and possession'. In
later legal Latin substantia means property, for which facultas is the
classical term.

21 substantia passionis, 'by the suffering of the passion'.
'Suffer' is a well authenticated sense of the Greek verb u(fi/stasqai,
and is a conceivable meaning of the derived substantive u(po&stasij
and its Latin equivalent. The editors, not observing this, or not
admitting it, are disposed to follow Ursinus in writing sub


|48

instantiam passionis, which is supposed to mean 'at the imminence
of the passion'— though it is somewhat doubtful whether it does.
Oehler retains substantia, but is wrong in his suggestion that it
means nature, quality, and mode. If substantia is used in a metaphysical 
sense, 'nature' or 'quality' is not its meaning, for
neither passion nor action nor any other function or attribute can
be described as 'substance'.

CHAPTER V

6 protractum quendam saeculo. This, the reading of A,
appears to give the required sense. Pertractum (5) occurs nowhere
else, and could only mean forcible arrest. Protractus means
extension or prolongation: quendam marks it as the actual word
they used. Their prayer, however, was not that they should be
allowed an extension of their time in this world (in saeculo, B),
but that a longer existence should by granted to the world itself
(saeculo, A). According to Tertullian (Apol. 39) Christians prayed
pro mora finis, 'for the end to be delayed', so as to give unbelievers
a longer space for repentance. The better authenticated prayer was
'Thy kingdom come', i.e. Let this world pass away, and the
kingdom of God be established by Christ's appearing. See the last
sentence of this chapter.

11 clamant ad dominum invidia, 'cry to the Lord in reproach'.
The reference is to Rev. 6. 10, where there is a kind of suppressed
undertone of reproach in the appeal 'How long?' Hartel's ad
domini iudicia
is therefore unnecessary: it is in keeping with
'Wilt thou not judge and avenge?', but would require not
clamant but provocant. Too many of the editors' readings sap the
vigour of Tertullian's language.

CHAPTER VI

4 edixerat, 'had stated the principle': Gelenius' correction of
the MS. ei dixerat. The word suggests the praetor's edict by which,
at the beginning of his year of office, he announced the principles
on which justice would be administered in his court.


|49

9 corpus eius in pane censetur. This sentence has been both
the subject and the weapon of much controversy. It has been
supposed to have a bearing on the question of the Real Presence of
Christ in the Eucharist, and the verb censetur (taken as meaning 'is
thought') has been seized upon by those who claim that there is
merely a putative presence. But censeri in Tertullian never means
'to be thought to be', but always has in view the Roman census,
the purpose of which was (a) to count numbers, (b) to estimate
a citizen's rank in view of his birth, wealth, or the offices he has
held, and (c) to assign to him a new rank from now on: and all
this not as a matter of opinion or appearance or repute, but of
objective authoritative fact. The second case is in point here, the
dominical words 'This is my body' being equivalent to the
censorial aestimatio and constituting an authoritative declaration
that the Lord's body is in the rank or class of bread, i.e. is a species
of food. A parallel phrase would be in quattuordecim censetur,
a person is listed in the rank of eques. Moreover the present sentence 
has not, as far as Tertullian's immediate intention goes, any
direct bearing on the theology of the Eucharist. He does not say
that the Lord's body is either reputed to be, or officially declared to
be, in the bread of the Eucharist—indeed either of these statements
would seem to have more affinity with Lutheran than with
catholic theology. What he does say is that the Lord's natural body
is in some sense a kind of food, in view of such a text as 'My flesh
is meat indeed' and others in John 6, and that the words of the
Institution of the Eucharist are the authoritative official declaration
of this. The reading vitae panis (Semler, Reifferscheid) is uncalled
for, and spoils the argument, which is a syllogism in the third
figure (darapti).

23 ea ipsa nocte moriturus. This concluding sentence is
evidently faulty in the MS. The pronoun is is redundant and the
clause has no link with what precedes. My reading seems to solve
both these difficulties and to make an ending quite in Tertullian's
style.


|50

CHAPTER VII

1 Consequens erat etc., literally, 'it logically followed'.
Precari more naturally takes an accusative of the person addressed
than of the thing desired: so possibly we may suppose that the
divine clemency is to some degree personified as the hearer of
the prayer: almost 'address ourselves to his clemency'.

5 exomologesis. This Greek word was apparently in such
common use among African Christians as to be intelligible even
to the hearers of a sermon.

6 delictum confitetur, literally 'confesses the tort'. On this
its second appearance in this passage, the term seems to be used in
its legal sense, with a general application to all cases where a defendant 
asks pardon of the plaintiff or seeks the indulgence of the
court. In the succeeding sentences its sense is restricted to offences
against God, and it means 'sin', as commonly in ecclesiastical
writers. A tort, delictum, is a wrong done not to the state or to
society, but to a person: which makes it an appropriate word for
offences against God, who is personal in himself and condescends
to enter into personal relations with men. Peccatum, often a self-
excusing word, looks at the sin from the standpoint of the one
who fell into the error.

16 hac specie orationis, 'this clause of the prayer', But
possibly the sense is more general, 'this type of petition'.

CHAPTER VIII

1 tam expeditae orationis, a metaphor based on the convenience 
and quick movement of light-armed troops.

4 ne nos patiaris etc. According to Cyprian (De Orat. Dom.
25), the Ambrosian De Sacram. v. 4, and Augustine (De Serm. in
Monte
ii. 19), some churches actually did recite the clause in this
form. Much of its difficulty disappears when we observe that
usually in the New Testament, and perhaps here in the prayer,
'temptation' means not what we commonly understand by the


|51

term, but persecution, which is still (among men and boys who
work with their fellows) a real temptation to apostasy.

6 infirmitas: 'weakness', i.e. ignorance, which is a form of
weakness. Tertullian's audience are not the only people who have
been disturbed by Gen. 22. 1, 'God did tempt (i.e. test)
Abraham.'

7 iusserat. The point of the pluperfect is that, according to
common patristic doctrine, the God of the theophanies is God the
Son. He who had commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son was
the same divine Person who afterwards said, 'He that loveth son
or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.'

13 respondet clausula. It would be too much to suppose that
the custom had already grown up of using the last two clauses of
the prayer as a versicle and response. Cyprian, and Cyril of
Jerusalem, mention no such custom. The Ambrosian De
Sacramentis
passes over the last clause, which may conceivably at
Milan have become detached from the prayer by being made into
a response.

CHAPTER IX

3 expunguntur, 'are summed up', a term of accountancy. The
verb occurs again in §11 meaning 'give effect to', and in §1 we
have expunctor, 'fulfiller'.

8 religio orationis, 'the sanctity of the prayer'. Religio has
something of the meaning involved in the modern word
'numinosity', though with much more of conscious intelligence
than this term usually implies. In § 6 it occurs in the complementary 
subjective sense of 'reverence'.

CHAPTER X

5 accedentium desiderioram. Whatever the position of ius
est
(see the critical note) it is more natural to take these genitives
as dependent on petitiones, 'petitions concerned with additional
desires'. It is, however, just possible, reading with D, to take
them with fundamento, 'as a foundation of additional desires'.


|52

6 ne quantum etc. Diercks rightly, as it appears, joins this
clause with what precedes. Other editors make it the beginning
of §11.

CHAPTER XI

8 ne irascamini: Gen. 45. 24. This, Driver observes, is the
correct meaning of the Hebrew expression which the English
versions represent by 'fall not out', a phrase which apparently
had the same colloquial meaning in the sixteenth century as it
had in the late nineteenth, 'quarrel'.

9 disciplina nostratum: Diercks' brilliant correction of the
MSS. and editors' nostra tum. At Scorpiace 10, nostrates homines, in
the mouth of Valentinians, means 'men as we know them', as
distinguished from certain supposed ideal or transcendental men:
Adv. Marc. v. 16, nostratem deum is a God such as Christians believe
in, as opposed to the merely amiable god of Marcion. Neither of
these is strictly parallel with the present: but unless Diercks'
suggestion is accepted, tum is redundant and makes no sense.
Disciplina, 'doctrine', perhaps means 'school', as we say 'school of
thought' or 'school of philosophy'. The reference is to Acts 9. 2 
and similar texts.

11 superponit, 'equates'. What Tertullian means, as Muratorius
observes, is that whereas anger was not condemned in the Law but
homicide was, our Lord adds (which is the actual meaning of
superponit) his own condemnation of anger to the Mosaic condemnation 
of homicide.

CHAPTER XII

2 tali spiritu. 'Holy Spirit' throughout this passage, as often
in Tertullian, means God, without distinction of Persons: see
a note on § 1. The insertion of the preposition before spiritu sancto
seems justified by its occurrence later in the sentence. In any case
we should have wondered at its omission, for 'spirit' to Tertullian
is never less than personal.


|53

CHAPTER XIII

1 quae ratio est,' what sense is there?' Cf. Adv. Prax. 18 where
habet rationem means 'the scripture is right', as in the modern
French idiom.

1 spiritus in this passage is used almost in the modern sense of
the English word 'soul'. In Greek and in Latin 'soul' (yuxh&,
anima) has no necessary moral or religious connotation, being the
life-principle in plants and animals as well as men. Tertullian and
the church writers attach the moral and religious connotation to
'spirit', as does St Paul. But it is through 'soul' that 'spirit'
influences the whole personality, and thus in a secondary sense
'soul' obtains a moral content.

3 a falso etc. These are not a series of vaguely apprehended
misdoings or misthinkings, but each of the words refers to some
definite crime which is condemned by the legal code or by the
laws of Christian morality, and in which the hands play some part.
Veneficia, sorcery, is the making of charms and philtres: idololatria
would include the fabrication, as well as the worship, of idols.

7 aquam sumere appears to be a standing phrase for partial
washings or rinsings: it occurs several times in Ovid. 'A bath of
the whole body' seems not to refer (as some commentators think)
to Baptism, though there is such a reference at the end of this
chapter. Contrary to common opinion, the early Christians, like
their heathen neighbours, did quite frequently wash themselves:
it was among the ascetics of the fourth century, and in the Middle
Ages, that dirt became a sign of godliness.

9 Pilati: manus abluisse. The express reference to Pilate is
omitted in two of the three primary authorities, which read 'to be
a recollection to the Lord's deliverance'. The sentence however
reads lamely without the additional words, and they should
almost certainly be retained, but punctuated as in my text. The
omission of the subject of the infinitive is not unparalleled, and is
in this case a stylistic improvement.


|54

11 nisi ob aliquoti etc. The text here is doubtful. An alternative
pair of readings would give 'unless some defilement of human
conversation become a matter of conscience'. This would involve
taking nisi quod from AB and omitting lavemus with AD. The
meaning seems to be that ceremonial washings for the sake of
ceremony are to be deprecated, but that a rinsing of the hands is
permissible if it expresses a desire to cleanse the conscience of some
fault lately contracted. Conversatio is 'conversation' in the English
New Testament sense of that word, for which there is no satisfactory 
modern equivalent: it means both the circumstances in
which a person lives, his attitude in regard to them, and his conduct 
in view of them: 'behaviour' by no means meets the case.

CHAPTER XIV

3 conscientia patrum, 'through consciousness of their fathers'
guilt'. The expression combines the ideas of consciousness, self-
consciousness, cognizance, and conscience. They feel themselves
to be sinners because they acknowledge that their fathers were.

6 dominica passione modulantes. The text is difficult, and
the editors have made many suggestions for its improvement,
none of them very plausible. I read as in the text, taking manus as
the object of the participle. Modulari means to express by
mimicry, as in ancient dancing: cf. Pliny, H.N. ii. 95 [insulae]
saltuares dictae quoniam in symphoniae cantu ad ictus modulantium
pedum moventur.
The supine (as in AD) without a verb of motion
is not impossible, though unusual, but would require dominicam
passionem:
conceivably this is the correct reading. The sense is the
same in either case.

CHAPTER XV

9 de habitu orandi, 'of demeanour during prayer'. Habitus,
e3cij, means one's general attitude of mind, of body, of posture,
though both here and in § 20 dress is intended, and little more.


|55

CHAPTER XVI

1 assignata oratione,' at the sealing of the prayer'. From what
follows it appears that this does not mean the bidding or announcement 
of the prayer, but 'when the prayer is ended'. Assignare
then must refer to some act which marked the conclusion of the
prayer, e.g. the pax or the sign of the cross: cf. § 18, 'the kiss of
peace, which is the seal of the prayer'.

3 Hermas and his book were held in high regard by popular
Christian opinion, and in some quarters The Shepherd was almost
reckoned as canonical scripture—a view against which the compiler 
of the Muratorian Canon thought it necessary to protest.
Tertullian by no means agreed with the common judgement, and
his belittling expressions here reflect his general attitude. Cf.
De Pud. 20, illo apocrypho Pastore moechorum, which only means
that Hermas professed to have received divine pardon for one
mildly lascivious thought, on condition that it was never
repeated.

5 ad observationem is equivalent to ad observandum: Tertullian
not infrequently uses the verbal substantive for the gerund. More
commonly, as observare is to keep a rule, observatio is a rule that
ought to be kept.

9 cathedra, the chair, is the bishop's throne: subsellium, the
bench, is the seats for the presbyters.

16 angelo orationis adstante. There may be a reference to
Tobit 12. 12, though more probably to Luke 1. 11 or Rev. 8. 3, 4.
Tertullian ascribes much to the holy angels: e.g. De Bapt. 6, he
says that the heavenly minister present at Baptism is an angel who
by the remission of sins prepares the way for the Holy Spirit in
confirmation, as the Baptist did by the baptism of water prepare
the way for Christ to baptize with the Spirit and with fire. In
truth, of course, our Lord is the Minister of every sacrament.


|56

CHAPTER XVII

13 qui clarius adorant. The Latin indicates, as the translation is
intended to indicate, that there were people then present in the
congregation who were at that moment praying, or had recently
been praying, in a loud voice. The habit of listening to the sermon
quietly had not at that date been evolved: generally speaking it is
a post-reformation practice.

CHAPTER XVIII

1 ieiunantes etc. The fasts here referred to are evidently of
private devotion, not those prescribed by custom or imposed by
authority. The regular fasting days were Wednesdays and Fridays
(known as station days), on which also there was a church service,
either the Eucharist entire or the earher part of it, consisting of
psalms, scripture reading, instruction, and prayers. The kiss of
peace (often referred to briefly as pax, 'the peace') was exchanged
at the end of the prayers. At Rome in the second century (as
Justin Martyr relates, and Hippolytus in the third century agrees)
the pax followed those earlier prayers which preceded the offertory. 
A relic of those prayers still stands in the Latin Mass in the
Oremus which follows the Gospel or the Creed, though apparently
no prayers are said at that point except on Good Friday. At Rome
since the fourth century the pax has come after the Canon. When
the change took place is not clear, but it may even have been
made by the reforming popes Zephyrinus and Callistus, against
whose policy Hippolytus' Church Order is in some sort a protest.

3 nisi cum oratio etc. The text here is doubtful, and the MS.
testimony in some confusion. Diercks' brilliant cum oratio
operatione
makes sense of the beginning of the sentence. I take
maduerint from D, but have written qui where D has qua. Madere
for 'break the fast' is obvious, since fasting in Greek is chrofagi/a,
'dry eating'. The end of the sentence is more difficult, transigendus,
-o, -um
being meaningless. I am not very pleased with my
suggestion, but have ventured to write transferendo, with the
meaning indicated in the translation. De sua pace is equivalent to


|57

a sort of partitive genitive, though with a retained sense of
ablative of origin. The last five words of the sentence must be
construed with participent, not with qui maduerint. The meaning
seems to be that the brethren who are not fasting will, by 
communicating their peace to the brother who is, receive in exchange
some of the merit of his 'good work'.

15 die paschae. Good Friday was observed as a forty hours'
fast, beginning at sunset on Thursday and ending on Saturday.
In the Roman rite the pax is still omitted on Good Friday.

CHAPTER XIX

1 sacrificiorum orationes are the consecration prayer of the
Eucharist, i.e. all that follows the Offertory. The primitive Church
knew nothing of what is now known as non-communicating
attendance, and the proposal to which Tertullian here takes
exception was that, as these people did not intend to communicate,
they should retire from the service before the Offertory. Ara is
a most unusual word for a Christian (or the Jewish) altar, the
usual word being altare. If classical analogy is any guide, in Christian 
usage altare would mean the Lord's Table (as in fact it often
does) while ara would mean the place on which it stands, and the
space surrounding it. On the practice of private reservation see
the Introduction, p. xv.

CHAPTER XX

1 De habitu etc. The reference is to one or both of the two books
De Cultu Feminarum, of which the former, beginning with
a reminiscence of the opening line of Juvenal's sixth satire, surpasses 
in offensiveness even that notorious work. The second is
somewhat less objectionable. In the present passage Tertullian
in the one word operositatem sums up a whole sentence of St Peter.
The variant reading morositatem, 'nicety', 'punctiliousness',
would mean much the same thing, but with reference to the state
of the lady's mind rather than the skill of her maid's hands. At
De Cult. Fem. ii. 7 we have ordinandi crinis operositas.


|58

CHAPTER XXI

1 Sed, quod promisee etc. There is a double anacoluthon in
this sentence, as indicated in the translation: quasi incertum cannot
be attached to observatur, for an observatio is a rule which ought to
be, and in general is being, kept, and there is nothing uncertain
about it. Those who wished to disregard the rule were a very small
group, and Tertullian seems, if not to have persuaded them, at
least to have made them conform.

CHAPTER XXII

5 feminam... specialiter. This clause, 'female in respect of the
sex generically, woman in respect of the rank of the sex specifically', 
seems to contradict the whole tenor of Tertullian's
argument, and should almost certainly be omitted, though the
editors (except Diercks) retain it.

22 et virgo contingitur. Some editors suggest continetur, 'is
included', but wrongly, for in Latin 'sex' is not (as it used to be
in English) a collective noun, but a noun of quality.

27 nec viri non velandi:' so too of the man, who must not have
his head covered'. This is the best I can make of this group of
words, which in the MS. are quite unintelligible.

50 defendit, 'makes immune', could conceivably mean 'protects
from masculine attentions and the risks consequent upon them'.
This, however, does not seem to have occurred to the editors,
and it may perhaps be more safe to interpret, 'protects from the
Pauline law regarding dress', though in that case one would have
expected excusat. Elsewhere defendere means to repel, to defend,
to avenge, or to maintain in argument: for which last see the
following sentence.

53 excusetur mine aetas. I had anticipated Diercks in making
a period after velamentum. Excusetur is concessive, 'though it
should be excused'. Privilegium, a privilege, is a private law,
applying to a few named individuals or a specific group or class.


|59

Tertullian insists that the fact that Eve and Adam covered themselves 
on the loss of their innocency is a precedent for his ruling
that when innocency passes away at puberty, so does its private
exemption from the general law.

58 resignantur, 'are carried forward', a term of accountancy:
an ante-classical use, vouched for by the grammarians. The
classical term is rescribere.

6l totum virginis praestet, 'show herself in every respect
a virgin'. So the MS. and the editors. But this is not in keeping
with Tertullian's argument, and I suggest we should read totum
mulieris,
'in every respect a woman'. He surely means that a dedicated 
virgin admits her adult status by putting her hair up and
lengthening her skirts and wearing the strophium: so let her complete 
the process by wearing the head-covering. In so doing she
will keep her profession a secret between herself and God.

63 quod dei gratia exerceat. Some editors apparently object to
the idea that God's grace is itself an operative agent, and read
exerceamus or exerceatur, so that the meaning may be 'the works
performed for God's sake'. But above § 3 and De Bapt. 20 we
have quos gratia dei exspectat: if God's grace attends, why should it
not operate? An author must be allowed to develop his own
theological concepts.

78 ne compellantur etc. The translation given is the best I can
make of this very confused sentence, which editorial attempts at
emendation have not succeeded in improving.

83 expaverint. 'Bashfully experience' is a substantial softening
of the meaning of the Latin. The ancient practice of marrying
girls of thirteen to men whom they hardly knew and for whom
they could have no possible affection continued in Christian
Europe during many centuries. The fact that even a Christian
teacher could use this word without condemning the practice
which justified it, is the strongest ancient testimony I know to
the natural hardness of the human heart.


|60

CHAPTER XXIII

2 quae dissensio etc. Cum maxime commonly means 'at this
present moment': but here cum must be a conjunction, or the
following clause will be out of connexion. There was of course
at that date no formal trial of, or judgement on, these trivial
but apparently important matters of dissension. They settled
themselves in due course, by the common sense of the churches.

8 spatium pentecostes is the fifty days between Easter and
Whitsunday, during which every day is a holy day. The 'day
of the Lord's resurrection 'means every Sunday, not Easter only.

CHAPTER XXIV

6 aut a Paulo seems a necessary correction of the MS. reading
apud Paulum, though there is still some awkwardness, seeing that
St Paul was one of the two already referred to as praying in the
hearing of the guards. At Acts 27. 3 5 the Greek has eu)xari/sthsen.
Whether the food taken on the ship was intended by the apostle,
or understood by the writer of the Acts, to be a Eucharist, may
be a matter of doubt: Tertullian evidently thought, or wished to
give the impression that he thought, that it was.

CHAPTER XXV

1 extrinsecus observatio, 'observance from external sources'.
The verbal nouns are to Tertullian quite as much verbs as
substantives and naturally enough take a qualifying adverb. See
a note on § 16.

3 sollemniores, 'in established use'. This is what Diercks says
the word means, and (after some hesitation) I agree. But cf.
§ 23, eadem sollemnitate dispungitur, which suggests that the meaning
here may be 'of rather greater solemnity'.

5 communitatis omnis, 'everything common'. Tertullian's
summary phrase for the unclean meats mentioned at Acts 10. 12,
with a forward reference to 'common or unclean' in vv. 14


|61

and 28. But as St Peter's vision was a parable of the ingathering
of the gentiles, 'the whole Christian community' is also meant.
Tertullian's intention was to suggest both.

CHAPTER XXVI

2 Vidisti fratrem etc. seems to be quoted as though it were
scripture. Its source has not been identified.

CHAPTER XXVII

3 omne of the MS. must either be corrected to omni or read as
equivalent to it.

CHAPTER XXVIII

10 hanc de toto corde etc. The participles in this sentence indicate 
successive stages in the ritual preparation of the victim for
sacrifice: the qualifying ablatives specify the manner in which, in
spiritual terms, these ritual requirements are met.

CHAPTER XXIX

14 aquas caelestes extorquere, 'squeeze out', as from a sponge.
This may refer to the story, alluded to Apol. 5, that an army
perishing of thirst on the German frontier (an unlikely enough
contingency) was saved by rain which fell in answer to the prayers
of some Christian soldiers. In that case, by contrast, the fire will
be that which Elijah called down to consume the captains and
their fifties. Or conceivably the rain is that which fell after the
sacrifice at Carmel: in which case the fire will be that which had
consumed the sacrifice.

31 aves nunc exsurgentes, 'the birds at this moment arising'.
Nunc cannot mean iam: it refers strictly to the time when it is used.
Tertullian's homily, if delivered during the eucharistic service,
will have begun before daybreak. As he reaches this point the
chatter of the early birds is heard along with the preacher's voice.
The alterations nido and mane, the latter certainly rather flat, are
therefore unnecessary.


Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Ernest Evans(ed), Tertullian's Tract on the Prayer. © S.P.C.K. 1953.  Reproduced by permission of SPCK.

Edited and translated by Canon Ernest Evans, 1953.  Transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2002.   Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.


This page has been accessed by ****** people since 13th December 2002.


Return to the Tertullian Project Index of De Oratione About these pages