Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa 10 (1974) pp. 382-6. [Italian]

TERTULLIAN, Adversus Marcionem, edited and translated by ERNEST EVANS (« Early Christian Texts »), Oxford, 1971, 2 voll., pp. xxiii-658 compl., in 8°.

        Continuing the work begun more than twenty-five years ago, to place at the disposal of students a scientific commentary on the treatises of Tertullian - a very meritorious enterprise - Evans has published a new edition of Adversus Marcionem, with preface, notes and  translation. It must be confessed, however, that the reader who approaches this new effort of Evans remains in part disappointed. The introduction, dedicated to Marcion and to all the works of Tertullian, cannot in any way compete with that which the same critic prefaced to his Adversus Praxeam, which was a top-quality work of exegetical acuteness and brought an irreplaceable contribution to the exegesis of the  theology of Tertullian. The introduction to the Adversus Marcionem is little more than an exposition of the data preserved for us in the tradition, without useful contributions of note to the problems of Marcionism. The same criticism can be made on the notes that accompany the translation, much too few and dry, and which do not supply the background that would have been favorable to the numerous problems  which the text of Tertullian raises. Analogous is the character of the two appendices of which the first ("Some Technical Terms") repeats the same observations that Evans made i his Adversus Praxeam, the second ("Marcion' s Treatment of the New Testament") is frankly insufficient. The text of the work has been put together taking as base that of Oehler. This choice, which sounds like a condemnation of that of Kroymann, debatable for its arbitary changes by the critic of the text (it was published in the C.S.E.L. in 1906, not in 1942, as is written in error on p. xxi: in 1942 volume LXX of the C.S.E.L was printed, also the work of Kroymann, containing other works of Tertullian, but not Adversus Marcionem), is in accordance with the opinion of some scholars, but, overall, is unjust to Kroymann. It is true, however, that Evans has taken account, where it seemed opportune to him, of undoubted improvements brought to the text by Kroymann; a little neglected, however, is the Swedish school (an example: in IV, 33, 3, where the manuscript text is: " et creator enim dominus, quia deus, et utique magis dominus quam mammonas, magisque non observandus qua magis dominus", Evans expunges "non" from "non observandus", although Thörnell, Studia Tertullianea I, p. 68, has convincingly here demonstrated that the creator did not have to be venerated just in proportion to his power, greater than that of Mammon, the devil); equally the recent studies of V. Bulhart have not been taken into consideration either : so one must think that Evans did not intend to give us a true and original critical text.

While this edition cannot be considered as a real and original critical edition, Evans has brought numerous contributions, many worthy of note (many of which, however, are introduced with the annotation ' scribendum censebam', which were already in Kroymann: where is this explained?). Of these we will discuss some.

        In IV, 17, 2 ("et pignus ... reddes beati": so the mss.) Evans corrects to: "et pignus reddes debentis", following closely the reading of the Septuagint (o)fei/lontoj). The conjecture is a little far-fetched paleographically, for which reason I would prefer always to correct, with Oehler, "beati" to "dati"; one is but correction pregevole.

As may be seen, therefore, although it has been based much too readily on the text of Oehler, the edition of Evans is a remarkable effort for being independent and for not being satisfied with what was presented to him. Space prevents us from discussing more about the choice between the several readings adopted from the editors or the other conjectures that he proposed.

        The main merit, however, of this work by Evans -- and it is no small merit -- is to have accompanied the text with a new translation. The length and the difficulty of this work of Tertullian render such a job particularly substantial and are thus an obstacle to the exegesis of the Carthaginian writer. The translation is accurate and very precise, without falling into banality or pedantry; the adherence to the text is maintained scrupulously, although sometimes it becomes a little awkward. The author declares honestly, in the preface, that his translation owes much to that of P. Holmes, published in 1868, and also we take the occasion to very gladly declare our debt in the comparisons of Evans for our translation of Tertullian. We signal, therefore, to the English editor some points in which our interpretation diverges from his, or that perhaps he will believe opportune to correct when opportunity permits. 

    But these, we repeat, are not criticisms, but only our personal contribution to the exegesis of Adversus Marcionem, if Evans will have them. It only remains, therefore, to say that apart from our reservations on the decision to adopt the text of the Oehler (a total critical rework would have been much more useful) and on the schematics of the historical exegesis, to congratulate Evans on such a gigantic effort, which joins his previous ones, to the advantage of Tertullian, or, better still, of all those who have an interest in familiarising themselves with the work of the great Carthaginian writer.


(I apologise for the quality of this 'translation', which is truly terrible, as I don't know Italian at all.  The only excuse for it is that I think that something, however bad, is better than nothing.  Suggestions for improvement would be gratefully accepted.)

Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press
SPIonic font, free from

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