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Tertullian's series of theological tractates appears to have been
systematically planned, with the intention of discussing disputed
points of Christian doctrine in their natural order. Adversus
and De Anima are later additions, the former called for by
a new form of heresy, the latter the expression of a new development, 
not so much of Tertullian's thought, as of the importance he
attached to this particular aspect of it. The series begins with De
Praescriptione Haereticorum,
which makes the general claim against
all heresies that they stand condemned by the fact of their recent
emergence, since the truth must of necessity be that which is
taught by the apostolic churches and those in agreement with
them----a discreetly veiled and competently argued begging of the
question, which has proved to be of much controversial value in
both ancient and modern times. Although in his judgement this
argument is of itself sufficient to silence all opposition, Tertullian
proceeds to take the more influential heresies one by one, confuting 
them on the stronger ground of their failure to conform with
Scripture and with natural reason. The five books Adversus
are a reply to the dangerous theory (which reappeared
in a slightly different form, and acquired great popularity, in the
third and fourth decades of the present century) that the God of
the Old Testament, the Creator of the world, is in moral character
as in substantive reality different from the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ. There appears to be no direct evidence of the immediate
effect of this highly competent work: but as there are some indications 
that in the third century and afterwards Marcionism, though
still troublesome, had lost most of its expansive power, it may well
be that Tertullian's refutation was not without effect in checking
the growth of that heresy.

Marcion had tried to solve the problem of the evil that is in the


world by the postulate of a malevolent or incompetent creator.
The treatise Adversus Hermogenem is a reply to a different attempt
to answer this question, this time on the supposition that the
Creator had to use a pre-existent matter which was too intractable
for him to bring to perfection. This theory, of vaguely Platonic
origin, though not it seems derived directly from Plato, reappears
in various disguises, and evidently became in some quarters an
acceptable solution of what is, after all, a real difficulty. It at least
has the honesty of not denying that the problem exists, though the
trouble with all these theorists is that they forget that evil is not
primarily a matter of chemistry or physics but of morals: they
shelve the real problem, while pretending to solve it by the introduction 
of the dangerous and offensive suggestion that material
things (including the human body) are of necessity either totally
evil or so contaminated with evil as to be beneath God's interest
and beyond his saving power.

The gnostic sects attacked the same problem, with a similar
result. Their theories are complicated and abstruse, there being
almost as many doctrines as teachers, and it appears that the more
involved an explanation was, and the more it was wrapped up in
great swelling words, the more likely it was to find acceptance.
But the sects had this in common, that they treated the creation of
the world as a conscious or unconscious act of rebellion against the
unknown and unknowable god, and, regarding all created things
as evil, envisaged redemption not as the destruction of evil but as
the disengagement from it of any sparks of good which may by
accident have got entangled in it: they also made individual
salvation dependent on knowledge of the secret passwords for the
many stages of the upward ascent. The treatise Adversus Valentinianos 
is an account, translated from St Irenaeus, of some of these
theories: the church writers thought that the mere setting forth of
such pretentious nonsense would be the best refutation of it.

Concerning the two treatises De Carne Christi and De Resurrectione 
Tertullian several times observes that the former is
designed to serve as praestructio or scaffolding for the latter. The
former indeed has an importance of its own, since it is on the truth
of Christ's human nature that the divine scheme for man's salvation


depends, and any further aspect of Christian doctrine must be
subsidiary to this. But in practice the lesser doctrine was turned
back upon the greater. Doubts about the feasibility or necessity or
desirability of the resurrection of the flesh of all mankind were easy
enough to suggest: there are manifest difficulties, which it is easier
to admit than to resolve. Once it was accepted that the so-called
resurrection is of the soul alone, and that the body is to have no
share in it, it seemed to follow that there was no need for the
resurrection of Christ's body, and indeed that there was no need
for him to have had a real body at all, but only such a phantasm of
a body as should make him for a time visible to those he met.
Also, since it now seemed to be proved by default that human
flesh has no part in the life to come, being unworthy of God's
interest and attention, it was thought to follow that the whole
material creation must be the work either of a second god or of a
rebellious or misguided angel. Thus the simple and unlearned
(who are always, Tertullian remarks, the larger proportion of
Christians), being ignorant of the Scriptures and of the power of
God, were by virtue of a defective eschatology easily led on to
deny the objective truth of the Incarnation, and beyond that to a
doctrine of God which is no more than a thinly disguised


Throughout this series of works, on which he had been engaged
for more than a decade, Tertullian had put first things first, the
doctrine of God before the doctrine of man, the doctrine of creation 
before the doctrine of the last things: and now, the doctrine of
the Incarnation having been clearly set forth against four heresies,
he was in a position to maintain, as regards man's own destiny,
that neither is any part of human nature unworthy or incapable of
redemption, nor does God lack the power or the skill to redeem it.
He might not have understood our terms, but he would have been
at one with us and with the Scriptures in representing Christianity
in its authentic form as a thoroughly (though not exclusively)
materialistic religion, and in affirming that this present life is not a


mere period of soul-making but is a preparation for the conservation 
and sublimation of the whole of manhood, body, soul, and
spirit, in the life to come.

Along with other aspects of Christian teaching, this doctrine
had been set forth in clear terms, though in summary form, in one
of the earliest works, the Apologeticus, from which it appears that
even in non-Christian circles it was well known that this is an
essential article of Christian belief. And not only so, but it is clear
from the works of previous apologists that however original are
some of Tertullian's expressions and however characteristic his
vigorous speech, the essentials of this doctrine and the main lines of
its defence were not invented by him but were an inheritance from
his predecessors in the faith: as likewise the cavils raised against the
doctrine were no new thing, but had been canvassed here and there
for at least half a century.

Some twelve or more years, then, before writing this monograph 
On the Resurrection of the Flesh,
Tertullian had expressed
himself as follows:1

If some philosopher states (Laberius suggests that Pythagoras thought
so) that a mule is changed into a human being or a woman turns into a
snake, and into support of that view distorts all manner of arguments
by persuasive eloquence, he will certainly move some to assent and will
establish this as a dogma. Thus some person will be convinced that he
ought to abstain from flesh-meat, for fear of feasting on his great-
grandfather when he thinks he is eating beef. Yet if a Christian puts it
on record that a man will return to life as a man, John Doe as John Doe,
he will be hounded, or even stoned, out of the company.

If there is some principle which demands that the souls of men must
be brought back again into bodies, why should they not return into their
own identity? For restoration means precisely this, that that which
used to be, again is. Otherwise they will not be the same souls as they
were: for in becoming what they were not they have to cease to be
what they were. It would require many examples, and abundance of

1 Apologeticus 48: on which there are valuable notes by J. E. B. Mayor. The
translation here given is from Becker's text, which is substantially the same as
that of Hoppe. The meaning of Tertullian's Latin is for the most part perfectly
clear: but there probably does not exist another piece of Latin which it is so
difficult to turn into satisfactory English.


leisure, if we were disposed to spread ourselves on the question which
man would seem to be converted into which animal. But it has a closer
bearing on our position when we postulate that it is much more dignified
to suppose that human person will return to life as human person----
anyone as anyone, provided he is human----so that the soul may regain
its true nature by being restored to the same characteristics, even if not
the same face and figure. And yet, seeing that the reason for this
restoration is the judgement which God has appointed, it follows of
necessity that the very same person who was before, will have to be
brought into court to receive from God judgement upon his merits or
demerits. For that reason men's bodies also will be restored again,
because soul alone without that solid matter, the flesh, is not capable of
sensation,1 and because whatsoever the souls have to suffer by the judgement 
of God, they have deserved it in association with the flesh: for they
were enclosed within the flesh when they did all that they have done.

But how, you ask, can matter which has been dispersed be brought
together again for judgement? Look at yourself: in your own person
you will find the evidence of it. Consider what you were before you
were. Nothing. For if you had been anything you would remember it.
As you were nothing before you were something, why, when you have
become nothing by ceasing to be anything, should you not be able
again to come into being out of nothing, by the will of that same
Creator who has already out of nothing brought you into being?
Nothing new will happen to you. You did not exist, yet were brought
into existence. Describe, if you can, how you have come to exist: then
you may ask how you will again come to exist. Moreover, it will be
easier for you to be made once more what you have already been, in
that equally without difficulty have you already been made what once
you never were.

Doubts will be entertained, perhaps, of the power of God. Yet by
him this great mass which is the world has been constituted out of that
which was not, as it were out of the death of vacuity and nonentity, and
has been animated with that spirit which gives life to all souls: it is itself
a signed portrait of the resurrection of mankind, for a testimony to you.
Daily the light is slain, and shines anew: darkness by the same sequence
departs and returns: constellations which have died come to life again:
seasons end and begin: fruits ripen and return: certainly grain rises in
greater fertility only after it has decayed away and dispersed: all things

1 Tertullian was still of this opinion when he wrote De Testimonio Animae 4:
at De Resurrectione Carnis 17 he is seen to have changed his mind.


are preserved by being destroyed, all are brought into shape again out of
perdition. If you have learned, at least from the Delphic inscription, to
understand yourself, you know how noble is the name of man: and are
you, the lord of all things that die and that rise again, to die only so as to
perish? Whatever you are dissolved into, whichever of the four elements 
brings you to destruction, sucks you in, wipes you out, reduces
you to nothing, that will give you back again: nothingness itself is
subject to you to whom everything is subject.

In that case, you object, we shall for ever have to be dying and rising
again. If the Lord of all things had so decreed, you would have obeyed
the law of your being whether you would or not. But in fact he has
decreed no otherwise than he has declared. That divine Reason which
composed the universe out of things diverse, to the intent that out of
opposing entities all things should stand together in unity----out of
emptiness and fullness, animate and inanimate, comprehensible and
incomprehensible, light and darkness, and even life and death----that
same Reason has compacted time itself in such determinate and ordered
sequence, that this first part of it, in which we have been living since the
beginning of creation, should by limitation of time flow down to an
end, but that that other part, which we stand in expectation of, should
pass forward into endless eternity. So when it has reached that boundary, 
that gulf which gapes between, the fashion of this world, no less
limited in time, which now is spread out like a curtain to cover that
other eternal order, will itself suffer change: and thereupon will ensue a
restoration of the whole human race, for the reckoning up of what of
good or evil it has merited in this present age, and thereafter the paying
up of what is owed, right on into the unmeasurable timelessness of

And so there will be no more death, nor any resurrection often
repeated. We shall be the same persons as we now are, nor ever again
shall we be other: the worshippers of God always in his presence,
clothed upon with substance proper to eternity: but the profane, and
such as are not perfect towards God, in the penalty of no less perpetual
fire, receiving from the very nature of that fire, which is from God, a
supplement of indestructibility. Even philosophers know the difference
between mystic and natural fire. Far different is that which serves men's
use from that which serves the judgement of God, whether it is hurled
as lightning from heaven or belches forth from the earth at the mountain-
tops: for this does not consume what it burns up, but restores while it
destroys. Consequently the mountains remain, for ever burning: and


one struck by lightning is safe for ever from again being burnt to ashes
by fire. This then may stand for a token of the everlasting fire, an
example of perennial judgement feeding its own penalty. Mountains
burn up and yet endure: why not evil-doers and the enemies of God?

Here we have in summary form the doctrine, and the arguments 
in support of it, which Tertullian was to develop at greater
length some ten or twelve years later. It is a doctrine of the continued 
life of the soul after death, and of the final reconstitution of
the body, with the restoration of the complete personality of body
and soul at the end of the world, at Christ's appearing. Neither in
this summary nor in the larger treatise does Tertullian complicate
matters by insistence on the millennial reign of Christ: though he
was acquainted with the Apocalypse of John, and cannot, when
writing the treatise, have been ignorant of Montanist expectations.

Of themes afterwards developed at greater length, we have
here a reference to those of the philosophers who postulate the
soul's survival and even, in some cases, its reincarnation. We have
the claim that for purposes of divine judgement personal identity
is required, and that this can only be ensured if each soul is returned
to its own body. In reply to suggested or presumed difficulties in
the reconstitution of bodies buried and decayed, we have the
argument that God, who has once already brought things into
existence out of nothing, evidently has power, and must find it
easier, to reconstitute those same things out of dissolution.
Examples, not entirely persuasive, but evidently a commonplace
in such discussions, are given of phenomena akin to or suggesting
resurrection in the natural order of the world: and, along with
them, we find here a fair enough argument (which is not reproduced 
in the longer treatise) that as the world was made for man's
sake it would be a strange thing if the world itself rises again while
man who is its lord does not: for eius est nihilum ipsum cuius et
Unencumbered, as already remarked, by the millenary
interval which others take over from the Apocalypse, we have the
distinction between this age and the age to come, the present age
falling like a curtain over that other eternal order----quae illi dispositioni 
aeternitatis aulaei vice oppansa est----
so that the resurrection once
accomplished becomes a permanent fact, not an event to be often


repeated. It follows that there is no more death: and as neither
Tertullian nor his contemporaries, nor the New Testament itself,
is afraid of hard facts and hard sayings, there is a reference here, not
repeated in this precise form in the treatise, to that penal fire which
makes indestructible that which it even destroys.


Tertullian's original intention appears to have been to cast De
Carne Christi
and De Resurrectione Carnis into the form of controversiae, 
as if they had been the actio prima and actio secunda of a
case argued in court. The earlier work has all the marks of the
actual speech which it certainly never was. It fits into the conventional 
framework of principium, followed by narratio and reprehensio, 
with amplificatio and conclusio; it abounds in such asides as
might have been supposed to embarrass an adversary, while moving 
the court to sympathetic amusement: and it answers, as it were
in passing, pretended interjections by the opponent party. The
later work retains very few traces of this. Certainly there is ordered
arrangement of subject-matter: but it is that of a treatise rather
than a speech. There are no asides, no hint of an adversary present
in court, and no suggestion of an audience. In fact, the work is
addressed to readers rather than listeners, or at least to such listeners
as at a private reading can ask for abstruse and closely argued
passages to be repeated once and again.

The argument is worked out in five stages. The first (§§1-4),
which almost serves the usual purpose of an exordium, relates the
heretical half-beliefs with which Tertullian is in conflict, to the
opinions of philosophers and to the prejudices of the general non-
Christian public. In part two (§§5-17) are set out the general
principles which are to govern the interpretation of the relevant
passages of Scripture: namely, the dignity of the flesh, the power of
God, and the necessary requirements of divine judgement. Parts
three (§§18-39) and four (§§40-56) take up the testimony of the
Scriptures, first expounding their positive teaching, and then
rescuing from perverse misunderstanding or misinterpretation a
number of apostolic texts of which the adversaries have claimed


the support. Part five (§§57-62) is a reply to a further set of difficulties 
and objections. The concluding chapter (§63) may be
regarded as a sort of peroration: it summarizes the argument, and
claims the support and enlightenment of the new prophecy.
Within this framework the details are worked out as follows:

(i) Preliminary observations: the pagan origin of doubts about the faith

The general public, which dishonours its dead by cremating them,
and honours them by sacrificing to them, is inconsistent with itself.
Philosophers also are not in agreement, some saying that death is
the end of all things, while others allege that the soul survives, and
even enters again into other bodies either animal or human (§1).
Such heretics as deny the resurrection of the flesh are forced to deny
both the verity of the flesh of Christ and the unity of God. On
these matters we have already answered them: our present task is
to maintain the completeness of man's salvation. Among such as
profess to be Christians there seems to be no overt denial of the
survival of the soul (§2). It is not always safe to base theological
argument on popular opinions: this ought only to be done for
affirmation, not for denial: and in any case divine truth does not
always consist of what is obvious (§3): so it is without good
warrant that heretics have borrowed from the heathen the whole
fabric of the attack they make on the flesh (§4).

(ii) General principles concerning the dignity of the flesh:
the power of God: the rationale of divine judgement

(a) The dignity of the flesh derives from the fact that it is God's
handiwork, and that the clay shaped by God's hand was called
'man' even before God gave it a soul (§5). While the clay was
taking shape under God's hand, his thought was of the manhood
which Christ was to assume: for it says that man was made in the
image of God, and 'God' here means Christ who was to take
manhood upon him. In such a way as this can a thing become more
honourable than what it is made of (§6). The suggestion that the
coats of skins with which God clothed fallen man signify flesh
(and thus that man's flesh is a consequence of his sin) cannot stand:


Adam already possessed flesh when Eve was formed out of him.
Also if flesh is the servant of the soul, it is even more honourable
on that account, since soul is the breeze of the breath of God,
which yet without the flesh can bring nothing to effect (§7). The
soul cannot obtain salvation unless while in the flesh it has become
a believer, through the flesh as intermediary has received the
divine mysteries, and by the flesh as agent has suffered for
Christ's sake: and as soul and flesh are so closely united in act, it is
inconceivable that they should be divided in reward (§8). These
being the dignities of the flesh, it is not possible that God should
abandon it to destruction (§9). Such reproaches against the flesh
as are to be found in Scripture are really directed against the soul
which has misused the flesh for lower purposes: and as there are
other places where the flesh is spoken well of, we must think it
more consistent with God's goodness to save that which he sometimes 
praises than to condemn it because he has at times expressed
disapproval of it (§10).

(b) If there is any question whether God is competent to restore
to existence flesh which has decayed, we answer that as it is easier
to remake than to make, God is certainly able to recover what has
been dispersed (§11). Nature itself, with its perpetual dying and
coming to life again, is a standing example of God's power to
bring life out of death (§12): and so is that strange bird the
phoenix (§13).

(c) As the purpose of the resurrection is that mankind should
appear before God's judgement-seat, evidently that judgement
cannot be complete unless every man is presented entire (§14).
The soul has never acted without the flesh: even its thoughts are
mediated either by brain or by heart, and these are part of the
flesh: also since God as judge is neither unjust nor negligent he has
to treat the flesh as the soul's associate whether in penalty or in
reward (§15). The quibble that the flesh, as a mere instrument of
the soul, has no moral responsibility, is of no value: for if it is
innocent it ought to be rewarded: and in practice even instruments 
are not exempt from praise or blame. Moreover the flesh
is not an instrument of the soul, but its associate, as the apostle
indicates when he enjoins us to glorify God in our bodies (§16).


Simple people suppose that the flesh will have to rise again
because soul without flesh has no sensation, and thus can neither be
punished nor rewarded. But in fact the soul, having a certain substantiality 
of its own, is not devoid of sensation. So it can before
the resurrection be paying the penalty of its own misdeeds; but it
needs also the resurrection of the flesh, so that it may pay its debts
in full by the agency of the same flesh which has been the agent of
its activities (§17).

(iii) The evidence of Scripture: (i) its positive content

(a) Since the Christian hope is of the resurrection of the dead, it
follows that that which is to rise again must be that which has died,
namely the flesh: for the soul does not die at death any more than
it dies in sleep (§18). Consequently we cannot agree with such as
desire to interpret the resurrection in an allegorical sense, alleging
that those are already risen again who have put on Christ in
baptism (§19). For, in the first place, it is not true that the
prophets did all their preaching by allegory (§20): quite often
they spoke in plain terms: and, as that is so, we must assume that
so fundamental an article of faith as this would not just be darkly
hinted at (§21). Secondly, the evidence of Scripture itself is that
the resurrection has not yet taken place, its times being fixed at the
second coming of Christ, the signs of which are not yet in evidence
(§22). Again, it is true that the apostle, in saying that we have
been buried with Christ and have been raised up again in him,
refers to a spiritual resurrection: but he does so without any appearance 
of denying a physical one (§23): and the times of our Lord's
coming and the signs of its approach are clearly set forth to the
Thessalonians (§24) and in the Apocalypse of John (§25).

(b) Figurative speech, when it does occur, is rather in our
favour. For example, since it was said, Earth thou art, anything of
divine wrath or divine grace which the Scriptures threaten or
promise to the earth, may be interpreted as referring to man's
flesh (§26): so also references to clothing that did not wear out,
and certain similar texts, can be allegories of the hope of the flesh
27). We may also apply to the flesh anything the Scriptures say
about blood (§28).


(c) If allegorical speech is in our favour, how much more is this
true of prophecies which describe in set terms the resurrection of
the flesh, as does Ezekiel's vision of the valley of the dry bones
(§29). Attempts are made to convert this into an allegory of the
restoration of the Jewish state after its dispersion: but we answer
that nothing could be an allegory of anything unless it first represented 
a literal fact (§30): so that this parable, like a number of
other prophecies, does not refer to the present state of Jewry but to
the future hope of all mankind (§31). When it is written that the
fishes of the sea and the beasts of the earth will give back the
bodies they have devoured, this too must be taken literally: for it is
remarkable that heretics never attempt to allegorize away any
references to the soul, whereas whatever is written with reference
to the flesh, or any part of it, they interpret as meaning anything or
everything but what it says (§32).

(d) It is not true to say that our Lord spoke all things in parables:
he spoke some things plainly, and must be taken to have meant
what he said (§33). For example, he came to save that which was
lost: and this means the whole man. When he says that of all
that the Father has given him he will lose nothing, by 'all' he
means complete manhood, combined of flesh and soul (§34).
When he speaks of the possibility of soul and body being destroyed
in hell, he cannot be referring to any but the natural body (§35).
In his answer to the Sadducees he evidently affirms the resurrection 
in the sense in which they denied it, namely of both soul and
body (§36). When he says that the flesh profiteth nothing he does
not mean that it is incapable of receiving profit: it can receive
profit from the Spirit which giveth life, that is, from the Word who
was made flesh. And when he says that all who are in the tombs
will hear the voice of the Son of God, and will live, he must be
referring to the flesh: for souls are not buried in tombs (§37). His
deeds also are in agreement with his words: when he raises the
dead, he raises them entire (§38).

(e) The apostle, both before the Sanhédrin and in the presence
of Festus, professed the same manner of resurrection as the
prophets had spoken of: and the men of Athens understood him to
the same effect (§39).


(iv) The evidence of Scripture: (2) correction of misunderstandings

(a) The outer and the inner man (2 Cor. 4.16-5.10). By the inner
man the apostle means not (as some allege) the soul itself, but
mind and spirit, which are functions of soul: and when he says
that the outer man is being dissolved he means not that the flesh
suffers destruction after death but that even now it is being worn
down by toils and torments (§40). In the same sense, and in the
same context, he refers to the earthly house of our tabernacle
being dissolved, and to the building which we have from God,
eternal in the heavens (§41): and when he says here that we desire
not to be unclothed but to be clothed upon, he means the same as
when he says elsewhere that the flesh when it has risen again will be
changed by the addition of an angelic quality (§42). When he says
that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the
Lord, by absence from the Lord he means not the fact of being in
the flesh, but that meanwhile we have to walk by faith and not by
sight: and as he says (in the same connection) that we must all
stand before the judgement-seat of Christ, evidently by 'all' he
means the whole of each of us (§43). He has previously spoken of
our having treasure in earthen vessels, not meaning that the vessels
will be destroyed because of their earthly origin, but that they will
be preserved because they contain divine treasure: for he adds
that the life of Christ will be manifested in our body: and this can
only be when we rise again, as Christ has already risen (§44).

(b) The old man and the new man (Eph. 4. 22; Rom. 8. 8, 6. 6;
i Thess. 5. 23). We maintain that this distinction indicates a dif-
ference not of substance but of moral character (§45): for we
frequently find the apostle condemning the works of the flesh in
such terms as appear to involve a condemnation of the flesh itself,
yet by the context of each of these expressions guarding against
this misunderstanding: as, for example, when he says that those
who are in the flesh cannot please God, and immediately adds, Ye
are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, though physically they were
still in the flesh (§46). So also the old man, crucified together
with Christ, is shown by the context to indicate a worldly and sinful 
life: for it is not in fact true that in a physical sense we have been


crucified with Christ. When writing to the Thessalonians, the
apostle prays that their spirit, soul, and body may be made perfect:
and that is to take place at the coming of our Lord, which will
open the door for the resurrection (§47).

(c) 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' (1 Cor.
15. 50
). The answer to the doubt suggested by this sentence is to be
found in the argument of the whole chapter. The apostle begins
by insisting on the fact of Christ's resurrection, and argues that if
there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ cannot have risen
and the whole Christian faith falls to the ground (§48). When he
distinguishes between the first man, from the earth, earthy, and
the second Man who is from heaven, he indicates a difference of
character, and consequently of dignity, though not of substance:
for both alike have the name and attributes of man (§49). It is
true that flesh and blood by their own power are incapable of
inheriting the kingdom, or of anything else: but the Spirit both
quickens them and makes them capable of inheriting (§50). It is
inconceivable that the apostle should have so peremptorily
excluded flesh and blood from heaven, when Jesus is already there
in the flesh and blood in which he ascended and in which he will
come again (§51). The parable of the seed which is buried in the
ground, and decays and comes to life again, indicates that the same
flesh will rise which is buried, but in greater fullness: so also the
reference to different kinds of flesh, and of bodies celestial and
terrestrial, envisages different degrees of glory, but the same 
substance (§52). By 'natural' (or soul-informed) body the apostle
does not mean the soul: for soul is not soul-informed but soul-
informing: so that 'natural body' means soul-informed flesh. Also
soul is not buried but flesh is: and it is that which is buried which is
to rise again. The flesh is at present natural or soul-informed, and
not yet spiritual or spirit-informed: for it has as yet received its
full equipment of soul but only the earnest of the Spirit (§53).
When the mortal thing is swallowed up of life it will not thereby
perish. It is death which will perish, for death is not capable of
immortality: the mortal thing, by the destruction of death, is so
capable (§54). The apostle says, We shall be changed. Change is
by no means the same thing as abolition: various examples prove


that a thing or person can be changed, and yet remain the same
(§55). Finally, it would be inconsistent with God's righteousness
that one thing should do the works, and another thing substituted
for it should receive the reward: so that any suggestion of a
'resurrection body', specially created for the purpose, is bound to
fail (§56).

(v) Answers to further cavils

(a) The unbelieving ask whether the blind, the lame, and the
diseased are to rise again to a renewal of their disabilities. These are
wilfully ignorant that God is able, by the change the apostle
speaks of, to confer both immortality and incorruption: and this
implies the restoration of both health and integrity (§57). After
the resurrection there is to be everlasting joy, with neither sorrow
nor sighing: and how could this be, unless the causes of sorrow
were removed (§58)? The apostle says that all things are ours,
both things present and things to come. Thus the world to come is
for man's sake, and there is no room for doubt that our earthly
substance is capable of being brought into possession of things
eternal (§59).

(b) The question is also asked, what need there is for the
restoration of those members of the body for which in the life to
come there will be no use. Our answer is, first, that even if their
functions cease, they must at least be retained for judgement: also,
their functions could not have ceased unless they themselves were
still existent: and thirdly, that in God's sight none of our members
will be without its function (§60): for when terrestrial functions
cease, celestial functions take their place (§61). Angels are known
to have assumed human substance while retaining their own:
what is to prevent men from retaining their own substance while
assuming the attributes of angels (§62)?

(vi) Conclusion

The flesh will rise again, the whole of it, in its own identity and in
its full perfection. Any doubts there can have been on this matter,
suggested by obscure places of Scripture, are now set at rest by the
removal of all obscurities through the revelations of the new
prophecy (§63).



The doctrine in its main lines is proved by Tertullian to be based
on New Testament and other scriptural authority. The extracts
which follow will show that both it and the forms of its defence
are the subject of a continuous Christian tradition. The apologists
indicate that even unbelievers were aware that this was a fundamental 
Christian doctrine, foolish enough in appearance to merit
no less scorn than that other strange doctrine that there is one only
God. Their remarks on this subject make it clear that they are
aware of at least some of the arguments which Irenaeus and
Tertullian were to set out in systematic form. Irenaeus, in controversy 
with heretics and not with pagans, can make more
abundant use of scriptural evidence: there can be no doubt that
Tertullian here as elsewhere knew and used his work.

At the same time it appears that in addition to heretics who have
found dogmatic reasons for denying the resurrection, there are
recurrent objections on what may be called practical grounds,
which repeatedly call for an answer. It would hardly be true to
say that there is evidence of a concurrent negative, or semi-
negative, tradition: rather is it that, in the second century as in the
twentieth, there are some who, influenced by the communis sensus
(as Tertullian remarks) of their non-Christian neighbours, are
moved by manifest difficulties of a physiological nature to a denial
of this part of the Christian hope. The difficulties, we have to
admit, are real ones: to second-century minds influenced by the
bastard Platonism of the gnostics, as to twentieth-century minds
fed on the bastard hinduism of theosophy and popular journalism,
they seem insuperable, and it is possible that the solutions of them
offered by orthodox apologists both then and now are calculated
to persuade only such as are already disposed to be persuaded.
Probably the most effective argument, and the one least often
used, is the moral one that nemo tam carnaliter vivit quam qui negant
carnis resurrectionem: negantes enim et poenam despiciunt et disciplinant:
a fact of which the present age provides evidence enough. In
any case the strength of the Christian conviction that the body is to

1 Tertullian, De Res. Carn. 11.


rise again is shown by the fact that Origen, who stands almost
outside all tradition, the founder of a tradition of his own, is,
unless Rufinus seriously misrepresents him, both aware of the
difficulties, and insistent that the doctrine is what it is and that the
Scriptures mean what they say.

Justin Martyr

At Apology i. 8 Justin observes that Christians could, if they would,
deny the faith and escape persecution: but they are in haste to be in
God's presence, and have in mind the judgement of Christ. It
appears from this that Justin was of the same mind as Tertullian,
that only the martyrs pass on at death straight to Paradise.1 Justin
says that Plato speaks of judgement by Rhadamanthys and Minos,
that they will punish the unjust who are brought before them: he
continues 'We also affirm that this will be done, but by Christ, while
men with their souls return into the same bodies to be chastised with
eternal chastisement, not merely a period of a thousand years,
which was all that Plato spoke of.'2 By this last observation Justin
should not be thought to dissociate himself from Christian
millenarism: he had in fact learned that doctrine from the
Apocalypse of John.3 He adds that if we are in error in this we
hurt no one but ourselves, and are not deserving of punishment: a
sentiment echoed by Athenagoras.

At Apology i. 18 and 19 Justin says that the survival of souls is
proved by well-attested records of possession, haunting, and so
forth, and is vouched for by philosophers and poets. 'You would
do well', he suggests, 'to give us no less acceptance than you give
them, seeing we trust God not less than they, but more, since we
expect to receive back again even our bodies which have died and

1 Tertullian however, De Anima 55, gives the impression that this was a new
doctrine recently revealed to Perpetua near the day of her martyrdom.

2 Apol. i. 8: h(mei=j de\ to_ au)to_ pra~gma& famen genh&sesqai, a)ll' u(po_ tou~ Xristou~,
ka)n toi=j au)toi=j sw&masi meta_ tw~n yuxw~n ginome/nwn kai\ a0wni/an ko&lasin
kolasqhsome/nwn, a)ll' ou)xi\ xiliontaeth~ peri/odon w(j e0kei=noj e1fh mo&non
. The
Greek syntax is at fault, but its sense is clear.

3 So Dial 80, 81, quoted below.


been laid in the earth: for we say that nothing is impossible to
God.' Resurrection, he adds, is no more inconceivable than, if we
had never existed, would be the statement that it is possible that
out of a small drop of moisture, human seed, bones and sinews
and flesh should be built up, as we see they are.1 He then quotes
Luke 18. 27, Things impossible with men are possible with God:
as do Athenagoras and Theophilus in connection with the same

At Apology i. 52 and 53 he observes that the prophets have
spoken of two comings of Christ, the one as a dishonoured and
passible man, and the other when, coming with great glory, he will
raise up the bodies of all men that have been: the bodies of those
who are worthy he will clothe with incorruption, while those of
the unrighteous he will in eternal sentiency send with the evil
demons into the eternal fire. Justin quotes here Ezek. 37. 7,
'Joint to joint and bone to bone'. It would be possible, he proceeds, 
to produce other prophecies to the same effect: on such our
faith is built: 'For by what reasoning should we have believed a
crucified Man, that he is the first-begotten of the unbegotten
God, and himself will conduct the judgement of the whole human
race, unless before he came, and became Man, we had found
testimonies published concerning him, and now saw them

At Apology II. 9, addressing the Senate, Justin argues that if there
is no judgement, either there is no god, or else, if there is a god, he
cares not for man, and there is no such thing as morality.

Dialogue 69. Here Justin says that our Lord's miracles were a
challenge to the men of that day to acknowledge him: instead of
which they called him a magician and a deceiver. 'Also he did
these things to persuade those who should in the future believe on
him that even though a man have some defect of body, but is a
keeper of the doctrines delivered by him, he will at his second
coming raise him up again and will also make him entire and

1 Apol. I. 18, e0k mikra~j tinoj r(ani/doj th~j tou~ a)nqrwpei/ou spe/rmatoj dunato_n
o)ste/a te kai\ neu~ra kai\ sa&rkaj ei0konopoihqe/nta oi}a o(rw~men gene/sqai

2 Apol. i. 53. The last clause runs eu#romen kai\ ou#twj geno&mena o(rw~men.
Perhaps read o(rw|~men: 'we had found . . .and now saw'.


immortal and incorruptible and incapable of grief.'1 With this we
may compare what Tertullian writes, §§57, 58.

At Dialogue 80, 81 Justin warns Trypho that he may meet with
some so-called Christians who deny the God of Abraham, of
Isaac and of Jacob, and allege that there is no resurrection of the
dead, claiming that immediately they die their souls are taken up
into heaven.2 These, says Justin, are not to be reckoned as Christians,
any more than you Jews would acknowledge as Jews people such
as the Sadducees and a number of other sects. I, he continues, and
all who are thoroughly orthodox Christians,3 are assured that
there will be a resurrection of the flesh, followed by a thousand
years in Jerusalem, rebuilt, adorned, and enlarged: with a quotation
of Isa. 65. 17-25, and, 'There was among us a man named John,
who in a revelation which came to him prophesied that those who
believed in our Christ would be in Jerusalem for a thousand years,
and after that would come the catholic and (to speak briefly)
eternal general resurrection of all men, and also the judgement: as
our Lord also said, They will neither marry nor be given in
marriage but will be equal to angels, being children of God and of
the resurrection'. Here Justin professes the millenarism which at
Apology i. 8 he has passed over. The expression 'catholic resurrection' 
is repeated by Theophilus.4

1 The last sentence is, o(lo&klhron au)to_n e0n th|~ deute/ra| au)tou~ parousi/a| meta_
tou~ kai\ a)qa&naton kai\ a!fqarton kai\ a)lu&phton poih~sai a)nasth&sei

2 These could be Marcionites, and this would be one of the earliest references
to them. The final claim has among modern non-practising professing
Christians been expanded into the belief that all men go to heaven when they
die: it would be undemocratic of God to make any distinction.

3 o)rqognw&monej kata_ pa&nta Xristianoi/.

4 Concerning the authenticity of the fragments of a treatise On the Resurrection, 
attributed by John of Damascus to St Justin, philosopher and martyr
(Otto, vol. II, pp. 208-45), there seems to be some doubt. Bardenhewer is non-
committal, though inclined towards acceptance. In fact these are rather more
than fragments, being a well argued and well arranged discussion of the entire
question. They contain practically nothing which is not met with elsewhere,
and probably no ideas which could not have occurred to Justin. What is unlikely
is that he could have reduced his usual discursive style to such precise and logical
order, or that he could to this extent, in arguing against Christians, have abstained



Supplicatio 36. At the conclusion of his disproof of the accusation
of ritual cannibalism Athenagoras claims that persons who believe
there will be a resurrection could by no means be given to such a
practice. It is ridiculous, he says, to suppose that while the earth
will give up its dead, men would not give up the dead they had
swallowed. It is more likely that persons who think they will
have no account to give, will abstain from no sort of atrocity:
whereas such as are persuaded that no act will be left unexamined
before God, and that the body which has ministered to the irrational 
impulses of the soul will share in its punishment, will avoid
even the slightest sin. If this seems like nonsense, it is at least not
wicked: for by the arguments with which we delude ourselves, we
injure nobody. Some of the philosophers think as we do: but the
present is not the place for philosophical arguments, or for us to
claim the support of Pythagoras and Plato.

The treatise On the Resurrection of the Dead, which in the manuscripts 
follows the Supplicatio and is commonly attributed to
Athenagoras, is of doubtful authenticity.1 It is much more discursive 
than either Irenaeus or Tertullian, its argument being for
the most part based on natural reason. There are very few scriptural 
quotations----about three altogether, which is far fewer than
Justin introduces in his addresses to the Emperors and the Senate.
There is a freshness about this work similar to that of the treatise
on this subject ascribed to Justin, a freshness which suggests that it
is hardly beholden to anyone in particular, though it is true that
many of the points of its argument appear also in other writers
and seem to have become Christian commonplace. Such are the
suggestion (§2) that it would only be possible for the adversaries

from scriptural quotations. Another extract from the same work by Methodius
of Olympus (Otto, p. 250) may be either the original or a reflection of Irenaeus'
and Tertullian's remarks on I Cor. 15. 50: klhronomei=sqai me\n to_ a)poqnh~skon,
klhronomei=n de\ to_ zw~n le/gei, kai\ a)poqnh&skein me\n sa&rka, zh~n de\ th_n basilei/an
tw~n ou)ranw~n

1 For a critical discussion of the ascription to Athenagoras see R. M. Grant
in Harvard Theological Review (January 1954).


to disprove the resurrection if they could show that God would
either find it impossible or think it undesirable to unify and collect
into their previous human identities such bodies as had died and
been entirely dissolved:1 and with this its corollary that if God
should think it undesirable this must be either because injustice
would be involved in his doing of it, or because it would be
beneath his dignity to do it:2 with a further argument based upon
this In §3 we have a reference to the undue respect of the wise for
the doubts of the vulgar. In §12 a description of the changes which
the human body experiences during the present life concludes with
the remark that the resurrection, as well as the change for the
better in the condition of those still alive at that time, is itself a sort
of metabolism, the last and final one.3 In several places the author
insists on the joint activity and the inseparable responsibility of
soul and body, as in the eloquent passage (§15) which begins with
the postulate that 'all human nature in general is composed of
immortal soul and the body which at birth was compacted with
it', and reaches the conclusion that 'he who has had conferred
upon him mind and reason is not soul by itself, but man: so that it
is man, who is composed of both soul and body, who must abide
for ever'.4 So again (§20) he repeats that the actor in all matters
which come under divine judgement has been the man, not his
soul alone: and (§21) that the body will suffer injustice if, having
joined with the soul in the righteous acts, it does not share in the

Although addressed to Christians this work is strangely sparing
of scriptural quotations: and these, about three in number, are
introduced not as the basis of a proof, but in illustration of a point
already made. Such are the combined reference5 to I Cor. 15. 53

1 Athenagoras, De Res. Mort. 2, e0a_n dei=cai dunhqw~sin h2 a)du&naton o2n tw~| qew|~
h2 a)bou&lhton ta_ nekrwqe/nta tw~n swma&twn h2 kai\ pa&nth dialuqe/nta e9nw~sai
kai\ sunagagei=n pro_j th_n tw~n au)tw~n a)nqrw&pwn su&stasin

2 Ibid.: to_ ga_r a)bou&lhton h2 w(j a!dikon au)tw~| e0stin a)bou&lhton h2 w(j a)na&cion.

3 Ibid. 12: ei]do&j ti metabolh~j kai\ pa&ntwn u#staton.

4 So also ibid. 23: ou) ga_r yuxai\ yuxa_j gennw~sai th_n tou~ patro_j h2 th~j
mhte/roj oi0keiou~ntai proshgori/an, a)ll' a)nqrw&pouj a!nqrwpoi

5 Ibid. 18.


and 2 Cor. 5.10: 'It is clear to all that according to the apostle this
corruptible must put on incorruption, so that... each one may
justly receive the things which he has done by his body, whether
good things or evil': which answers in advance Tertullian's
question1 about hyperbaton. In the following chapter we have a
reference to 'Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die', as a
common dogma and single law highly in favour with the
lecherous and gluttonous: which also is commented on by

There are two themes which in this work are treated more fully
than elsewhere at that early date. In sections 4 to 8 we have a
curious argument addressed to those who wonder what will
happen at the resurrection to those parts of one man's body which
have become parts of another man's either by cannibalism or by
their being consumed by animals and thus transferred to other
men. The author replies that for each animal God has provided its
proper food, from which alone it receives true nourishment: whatever 
does not satisfy these conditions is either rejected and ejected,
or else is used for the building up of those corporal elements (such
as the four humours) which will not be required at the resurrection. 
Thus the question, At the resurrection, to which body will
this or that portion of matter belong? could only arise if it were
first proved that the natural food of human beings is human flesh:
which is impossible. The other side of this problem has already
been touched upon in the Supplicatio, where the claim is made that
persons who believe in the resurrection could not possibly be
given to the cannibalistic practices of which Christians are
accused. The suggestion that the blood and the other humours will
not be required at the resurrection would not have met with
Tertullian's approval.3

Much more significant is the emphasis laid on the teleological
argument, which runs like a thread through the whole. So we
have (§12): 'To those who bear in themselves the very image of
their Creator, who are possessed of a mind and are endowed with
rational judgement, their Creator has allotted continuity without

1 De Res. Carn. 43. 

2 Ibid. 49.

3 De Res. Carn. 28.


end, so that they might come to know their own Creator, his
power and wisdom, and while following law and justice might
without labour spend the life to come in the company of these
virtues with which they had fortified their previous life, although
they were then in corruptible and earthly bodies.'1 This argument,
Aristotelian in principle and method, but reaching a far from
Aristotelian conclusion, shows the author of this work to have
been a not unworthy student of the master of those who know.


Since Theophilus addresses his work to a single person, a friend or
acquaintance, he is in a position to use the more personal argument
of an appeal to the faith which can make unnecessary the more
objective kind of argument. So he says,2 'Faith is a precondition
of all acts and facts', and asks why his acquaintance cannot entrust
himself to God who has given such manifest tokens of himself
by having formed man out of almost negligibly small material:3
'Why not then believe that God, who has already made you, is
able also to make you again?'4 There is also5 the standard argument 
about the decline and return of seasons, of days and nights,
of seed and fruit, etc., with quotation of John 12. 24 and I Cor. 15.
36, 37: to which is added a further instance of a tree which grew on
a mountain from a seed dropped in a bird's excrement. All these,
Theophilus remarks, are works of God's wisdom, designed to
show that God is able also to accomplish the catholic resurrection
of all mankind. Again he observes6 that the works of the third
day of Creation, the replenishment of the seas, and so forth,

1 Athenagoras, De Res. Mort. 12: toi=j de\ au)to_n e0n e9autoi=j a)galmatoforou~si
to_n poihth&n, nou~n te sumperiferome/noij kai\ logikh~j kri/sewj memoirame/noij, th_n
ei0j a)ei\ diamonh_n a)peklh&rwsen o( poihth&j, i3na ginw&skontej to_n e(autw~n poihth_n
kai\ th_n tou&tou du&nami/n te kai\ sofi/an, no&mw| te sunepo&menoi kai\ di/kh|, tou&toij
sundiaiwni/zwsin a)po&nwj oi[j th_n prolabou~san e0kra&tunan zwh&n, kai/per e0n
fqartoij kai ghi/noij o!ntej sw&masin\

2 Theophilus, Ad Autol. i. 8, a(pa&ntwn pragma&twn h( pi/stij prohgei=tai.

3 Ibid. e0c u(gra~j ou)si/aj mikra~j kai\ e0laxi/sthj r(ani/doj h#tij ou)de\ au)th_ h{n pote.

4 This seems to be the meaning of the strange expression metacu_ poih~sai.

5 Ibid. I. 13. 

6 Ibid. II. 14.


illustrate the resurrection. But his first mention of the matter most
clearly states his position:1 'Before all things let there prevail in
your heart faith and the fear of God, and so you will understand
these things. When you put off mortality and put on incorruption
you will see God as you ought: for he will raise up your flesh
immortal along with your soul, and then, having been made
immortal, you will see the Immortal, if you now believe him: and
so you will know that you have unjustly spoken against him.' This,
it is to be observed, is not part of a formal defence of the resurrection, 
but of a general appeal to faith. Theophilus seems to have
been acquainted with the work of Justin: but he had, none the less,
a mind of his own.

St Irenaeus

The foregoing excerpts are evidence of a continuous tradition in
expectation of a corporal resurrection, as well as of repeated need
to defend it against heathen incredulity, heretical denial, and
simple-minded doubt. There is no sufficient evidence that Tertullian 
was indebted to the apologists to the extent of copying their
words or their arguments: the most that can be said is that he was
not unacquainted with Justin and Theophilus, and that some of
the themes and expressions used by the apologists had become
common Christian property. With Irenaeus and Tertullian the
case is different: the African was well acquainted with the work of
the bishop of Lyons: and it seems likely that if he had not a copy
of it before him as he wrote, he had committed its general argument 
and some of its expressions to a very retentive memory.

Besides casual references elsewhere, Irenaeus treats systematically
of this subject in the first fifteen chapters of his fifth book Against
the Heresies.
With him, as with Tertullian, this question, or rather
the defence of this doctrine, is intimately bound up with the truth
of the Incarnation, and both these with the doctrine of creation
and the unity of God. To recount here in detail Tertullian's
borrowings from St Irenaeus would be tedious and would serve
little purpose: in what follows only the most remarkable parallels
will be noted.

1 Theophilus, Ad Autol. i. 7.


Most of Tertullian's references to Scripture had already been
made by Irenaeus. It is of some significance that the longest continuous 
quotations by both authors are of Ezek. 37. 1-14 (Irenaeus
V.15. 1, Tertullian 29) and 1 Cor. 15. 12-18 (Irenaeus v. 13. 4,
Tertullian 48). But no less significant are the differences. In
Ezekiel Irenaeus quotes the Septuagint with only three slight
variants: Tertullian seems to have made, or procured, an independent 
translation from a faulty Hebrew text. Both agree that the
last verb in verse 14 is future, as in LXX kai\ poh&sw, where the
Latin vulgate and the English versions (wrongly, as it appears)
have the perfect. In 1 Corinthians again Irenaeus gives, as far as
the Latin version shows, an accurate transcript of the Greek: while
Tertullian to some extent abbreviates, evidently quoting from
memory. Both writers pay particular attention to 1 Cor. 15,
examining the whole chapter, with intent to place in its proper
perspective the apostolic admission that flesh and blood cannot
inherit the kingdom of God. They agree in the suggestion that
flesh and blood, while incapable of inheriting anything, are not
incapable of being inherited, and that the operation of the Spirit
can even make them competent to inherit: and here Tertullian,
while reducing to logical order the somewhat discursive argument
of Irenaeus, deprives it of its impressive emphasis on the effect of
sacramental grace. The conjunction at 'For this I say', which is not
in the Greek, but on which Tertullian bases a small argument, is
also found without special comment in Irenaeus. Galatians 5.19 ff.,
quoted in full by Irenaeus (v. 11. 1) in illustration of his interpretation 
of 1 Cor. 15. 50, is barely referred to by Tertullian (§45) in
connection with something else.

Irenaeus (V. 5. 1, 2) cites Enoch and Elijah as evidence that
natural human flesh is capable of being taken into heaven: and in
answer to a doubt whether it can be supposed to have continued so
long undecayed, he instances Jonah whose flesh remained undigested, 
and the three children whose flesh was unhurt by
Babylonian fire. Tertullian (§58) reduces this to one sentence,
placing Jonah and the three children first. Lazarus, and the
daughter of Jairus, with the young man at Nain, are discussed at
some length by Irenaeus (V. 13. 1): Tertullian mentions Lazarus at


§53, and refers to all three without naming them in one sentence
of §38.

The apostolic prayer, 1 Thess. v. 23, is cited as conclusive by
both authors, but with a significant difference of emphasis:
Tertullian treats it as clinching an argument already completed
(§47), whereas Irenaeus makes it the basis of further and greater
expectations and of an appeal to faith and righteousness.

The following details are worth recording. Irenaeus (v. 3.2),
in a description of the parts of the body, says that the blood is
copulatio animae et corporis, a remark which Tertullian does not
repeat. Irenaeus (v. 4. 1) makes the point, repeated by Tertullian,
that if there is no resurrection the reason is either that God could
not or that he would not do it: and that in the former case God is
subservient to material things, or in the latter case is less beneficent
than we have been taught to expect. At v. 6. 1 Irenaeus openly
says that the Son and the Holy Spirit are manus patris, a proposition 
on which Tertullian will only use the indefinite quaecumque
(§6). At v. 7. 1 Irenaeus remarks that spirit cannot rightly be
called mortale corpus: which perhaps suggested Tertullian's insistence 
that soul cannot be corpus animale or corpus animatum, but
must be corpus animans. At v. 8. 1 Irenaeus, quoting Eph. i. 13,
explains pignus as pars eius honoris qui a deo nobis promissus est, with
much more of great pastoral interest: Tertullian (§53), keeping
the Greek word arrabo, drops most of the comment. At §51 he
uses the same word in a noble statement of the consequence of
Christ's ascension for all humanity. Irenaeus (v. 10. 3), no less
than Tertullian, insists that 'Those who are in the flesh cannot
please God' has a moral, not a physical, implication; etenim ipse in
carne cum esset scribebat eis.
Both writers several times quote the
LXX mistranslation of Isa. 25. 8, kate/pien o( qa&natoj i0sxu&saj,
usually in a context where its omission would involve no great
loss to the argument. Finally, one may ask whether Tertullian's
question (§56) Quomodo canam illi novum canticum, nesciens me esse
qui gratiam debeam?
was suggested by Irenaeus v. 13. 3, Absorbetur
autem mortale a vita quando et caro iam non mortua sea viva et incorrupta 
perseveraverit, hymnum dicens deo qui in hoc ipsum perficit nos.



[The information here given is for the most part adapted, with this
ateful acknowledgement, from the Preface to Tertullian's works
in Corpus Christianorum (Turnholt, 1953) and from the Monitum prefixed 
to Dr Borleffs' edition of the text in the second volume of that

This work, under the title De Carnis Resurrectione or De Resurrectione 
was preserved in three of the four collections in
which Tertullian's works have come down to us. It is not, and
apparently never was, contained in the ninth-century codex
now at Paris (B.N. 1622), though its companion De
Carne Christi
is in part contained there. The text as now constructed
depends on these groups of authorities:

I      Codex Trecensis [T], formerly at Clairvaux and now at Troyes
(523), the only extant representative of a collection of five
treatises made apparently in the fifth century, perhaps (it is
suggested) by Vincent of Lérins. This manuscript has comparatively 
recently come to light, having been discovered by
Dom Wilmart in 1916. It is of the highest value, though not
an unimpeachable witness, for the reconstruction of the text,
frequently differing in detail (as was to be expected) from
manuscripts of a different tradition. It was, however, carelessly 
written, many sentences and clauses being omitted by

II      A group of manuscripts, apparently derived at first or second
hand from a codex (now lost) which was at Cluny in the
eleventh century, and seems itself to have been derived from a
collection of twenty-one treatises, made in Spain, perhaps
under the direction of St Isidore, bishop of Seville (600-36).
Its most important representatives are

Codex Montepessulanus [M] (Montpellier H 54), of the
eleventh century.

Codex Paterniacensis [P] (Schlettstadt 439), also of the
eleventh century.


Codex Magliabechianus [F] (Florence, conv. soppr. I. vi. 9),
dated 1426.

Codex Magliabechianus [N] (Florence, conv. soppr. I. vi. 10),
also of the fifteenth century.

The last two appear to be copies of two now lost manuscripts
of the Cluny group, both of which were known to Beatus
Rhenanus and were used by him in his first and third editions
(1521, 1539).

III         A group of manuscripts once existed, derived from a codex
formerly at Corbey, containing five treatises of Tertullian
and Novatian, De Trinitate, works collected apparently in the
fifth century by some Montanist or Novatianist. No manuscripts 
of this group survive: but it appears that copies of it,
which were formerly at Corbey and Cologne, were known to
the Englishman John Clements, who communicated their
readings to Pamelius. Mesnart also and Gelenius had access to
codices of this family.

The present edition of the text follows that of Dr Borleffs as
closely as possible, and its apparatus criticus is abbreviated from the
very full information given by him concerning the manuscripts
T, M, and P (already mentioned) and

Codex Luxemburgensis [X] (Luxemburg 75), a fifteenth-century
manuscript of composite origin containing twenty-one
treatises. It usually agrees with M and P.

Dr Borleffs has himself collated or scrutinized these four manuscripts. 
Rightly, as it appears, he does not quote the readings of the
two Florentine manuscripts, judging that they are well enough
represented by Rhenanus, who used the books they were copied
from. Like other modern editors, Dr Borleffs prefers the testimony 
of T except where it is manifestly impossible: in the present
edition the same course is followed, but with some reserve. A list
of manuscripts and editions appears at the head of the Latin text.


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Ernest Evans(ed), Tertullian's Treatise on the Resurrection. © S.P.C.K. 1960.  Reproduced by permission of SPCK.

Edited and translated by Canon Ernest Evans, 1960.  Transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2003.   Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

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