Rivista di Storia e Letteratura Religiosa 10 (1974) pp. 382-6.
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.
- The text at I, 10, 3 ("l'animae enim a primordio conscientia dei dos est") is rendered by Evans as: "the knowledge inherent in the soul since the beginning is God' s endowment". I would prefer, taking account also of the fact that at this point Tertullian speaks about the natural acquaintance of God, to render in this way: "the acquaintance of God is since the beginning the dowry of the soul".
- In II, 13, 1, the text of Evans has: "seposita libertate eius", that is rendered as: "God having set aside that liberality", which is according to the text of Kroymann,who corrects "libertate" to "liberalitate".
- In IV, 5, 2: "Marcionis vero plerisque nec notum (i.e. "evangelium"), nullis autem notum ut non eadem damnatum" is the text of Oehler, difficult of interpretation, I think (see the critical apparatus of Kroymann), the difficulty of which is not eliminated by the translation of Evans: "... and by those to whom it is known is also by the same reason condemned ".
- In IV, 16, 8 the Latin text: "... imperatam habes in Deuteronomio formam creatoris", I think that "form" is not as good as "example" i.e. 'the regular', 'the norm'.
- A little further on (IV, 16, 11), the Latin text ("quod si secundus gradus bonitatis est in extraneos qui in proximo primus est") to me seems rendered imperfectly: not "if the second degree of kindness, towards strangers, is the same as that first degree, towards one' s neighbours... ", but simply: "what the second degree of kindness is regarding strangers, likewise is the first regarding neighbours".
- In IV, 18, 4 in the text ("ipso iam domino virtutum sermone et spiritu Patris operante in terris") I think that "sermone et spiritu Patris " is simply an apposition of "Domino virtutum", and does not need to be rendered as: "when the Lord of hosts himself was by the Word and Spirit of the Father working and preaching upon earth... ".
- A little further on (IV, 18, 8), the text is uncertain: Evans reads: "... sed non ideo subiecto ei qui minor fuerit in regno dei" (i.e., the premonitory one), translating: "but the reason why is less than the least in the kingdom of God...". But in this case he had to adopt the correction "subiectus" of Leopoldus and Kroymann.
- Another corrupted text, I think, is that of IV, 21, 5 ("et quartam - i.e. Basiliarum - resolvas"), which is corrected to: "et quartam revolvas " (Ursinus); certainly the translation of Evans is only what the sense of the words demands: "if you also turn to the fourth".
- I think then that the translation of IV, 21, 12 is inexact: "plane pudere te debet quod illum ipse finxisti" ("clearly, of yourself he should be ashamed, for your having invented him"); and likewise that of IV, 42, 1, where the text: "Pilato quoque interroganti: tu es Christus?, proinde, Tu dicis, ne metu potestatis videretur amplius respondisse" should be rendered:. "... because it did not seem that he gave a more exhaustive answer ("amplius respondisse") for fear of the authority" (of Pilate), not: "I know that he might not seem, through fear of authority, to have refused to answer ".
- In V, 3, 5 the Latin text: "... ne ... ex censu eorum in nationes praedicandi munus subiret" (i.e. Paul), is translated thus: "before with their agreement he undertook the task of preaching, among the gentiles ", that is according to the correction of Kroymann, "ex consensa eorum".
- In V, 7, 6 it reads: "Marcion totum concubitum auferens fidelibus (viderint enim catechumeni eius)...", and the English translation of the parenthesis is: "I say nothing of his catechumens", which to me seems a little weak. I would propose: "they seem thus his catechumens", which is there will be few marcionites, if they must observe therefore rigorous chastity also after the wedding.
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
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