Lost Works


We have references to 15 (possibly 18) works of which we have no texts. These references are either in other works of his own, other writers, or in the table of contents in old manuscripts. We have no reason to suppose this to be a comprehensive list. Even in the time of Jerome, some works were no longer extant (De viris illustribus ch. 53). Use of the lost works by the early writers can also be seen on the page of witnesses. More details of fragments may be seen on the fragments page. Initial source of information was Quasten. The dates of some of these works can be guessed from the works which refer to them, and so appear on the Chronology page.

Ad amicum philosophum / De virginitate
Adversus Apelleiacos
Apologeticum - Greek
De Aaron vestibus
De animae submissione
De baptismo - Greek
De carne et anima
De censu animae
De circumcisione *

* Possibly spurious works

De ecstasi
De fato
De mundis atque immundis animalibus *
De paradiso
De spectaculis - Greek
De spe fidelium
De superstitione saeculi
De Trinitate *
De virginibus velandis - Greek

Latin Works

Ad amicum philosophum (To a philosophical friend) 
/ De virginitate (On virginity)

[CPL 31d]

In the works of Jerome there are references to a treatise that Tertullian wrote as a young man on the difficulties of married life (De nuptiarum angustiis) to a philosophical friend.

From Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum I, 13:

Non est hujus loci nuptiarum angustias describere, et quasi in communibus locis rhetorico exsultare sermone. Plenius super hac re contra Helvidium, et in eo libro quem ad Eustochium scripsi, arbitror absolutum. Certe et Tertullianus cum adhuc esset adolescens lusit in hac materia. Et praeceptor meus Gregorius Nazianzenus virginitatem et nuptias disserens, Graecis versibus explicavit. [PL23,  col. 230 C-D]

This is not the place to describe the difficulties of marriage, and to revel in rhetorical commonplaces. I think I delivered myself fully as regards this point in my argument against Helvidius, and in the book which I addressed to Eustochium. At all events Tertullian, while still a young man, gave himself full play with this subject. And my teacher, Gregory of Nazianzus, discussed virginity and marriage in some Greek verses. (NPNF II, vol 6).

From Jerome, Letter 22, (To Eustochium), para 22:

At, si tibi placet scire, quot molestiis virgo libera, quot uxor adstricta sit, lege Tertulliani ad amicum philosophum et de virginitate alios libellos et beati Cypriani volumen egregium et papae Damasi super hac re versu prosaque composita et Ambrosii nostri quae nuper ad sororem scripsit opuscula.

'If you want to know from how many vexations a virgin is free and by how many a wife is fettered you should read Tertullian "To a philosophic friend," and his other treatises on virginity, the blessed Cyprian's noble volume, the writings of Pope Damasus in prose and verse, and the treatises recently written for his sister by our own Ambrose'.(LCL)

The title De virginitate is mentioned in the list of lost works in the contents page of Junius' edition (I've seen it), and Migne tells us (vol I, column 41) that in Pamelius' edition, this is given as an alternative name for Ad amicum philosophum.

A possible fragment of this work is extant.

Studies: Barnes (app. 8, p.251) suggests that much of Adversus Jovinianum is taken, unacknowledged, from Ad amicum philosophicum. See also C. Tibiletti, Un opusculo perduto di Tertulliano: Ad amicum philosophum, AAT XCV, 1960/61, 122-166 Checked

Adversus Apelleiacos (Against the followers of Apelles)

[CPL 31a]

Tertullian refers to a work he has written against the followers of Apelles:

From De carne Christi, ch 8:

"These passages alone, in which Apelles and Marcion seem to place their chief reliance when interpreted according to the truth of the entire uncorrupted gospel, ought to have been sufficient for proving the human flesh of Christ by a defence of His birth. But since Apelles' precious set lay a very great stress on the shameful condition of the flesh, which they will have to have been furnished with souls tampered with by the fiery author of evil, and so unworthy of Christ; and because they on that account suppose that a sidereal substance is suitable for Him, I am bound to refute them on their own ground. They mention a certain angel of great renown as having created this world of ours, and as having, after the creation, repented of his work. This indeed we have treated of in a passage by itself; for we have written a little work in opposition to them, on the question whether one who had the spirit, and will, and power of Christ for such operations, could have done anything which required repentance, since they describe the said angel by the figure of 'the lost sheep.' "

The title of the work is unknown, and so is designated as Adversus Apelleiacos for convenience. Apelles was a disciple of Marcion who added some ideas of his own. The work was intended to refute their contention that not God, but a prominent angel, having the spirit, the power and the will of Christ, created this world, only to regret it afterwards.

Two fragments of this work are extant.


J.P.MAHÉ, Le traité perdu de Terullien Adversus Apelleiacos et la chronologie de sa triade anti-gnostique: REAug 16 (1970), pp.3-24. (Details from APh41, 1972).

De Aaron vestibus (On the vestments of Aaron)

[No CPL reference]

Known to Jerome only from a list of Tertullian's writings (Epist. 64 Ad Fabiolam, 23):

23. Jam sermo finitur, et ad superiora retrahor. Tanta debet esse scientia et eruditio Pontificis Dei, ut et gressus ejus, et motus, et universa vocalia sint. Veritatem mente concipiat, et toto eam habitu resonet et ornatu: ut quidquid agit, quidquid loquitur, sit doctrina populorum. Absque tintinnabulis enim et diversis coloribus, et gemmis floribusque virtutum, nec Sancta ingredi potest, nec nomen Antistitis possidere. Haec ad unam lucubratiunculam cum jam funis solveretur a littore, et nautae crebrius inclamarent, propero sermone dictavi, quae memoria tenere poteram, et quae diuturna in Rationali pectoris mei lectione congesseram: satis intelligens magis me loquendi impetu, quam judicio scribentis fluere, et more torrentis turbidum proferre sermonem. Fertur in indice Septimii Tertulliani liber de Aaron vestibus, qui interim usque ad hanc diem a me non est repertus. Si a vobis propter celebritatem Urbis fuerit inventus, quaeso ne meam stillam illius flumini comparetis. Non enim magnorum virorum ingeniis, sed meis sum viribus aestimandus. (PL 22, col. 622)

It discussed the liturgical garments of the High Priest in the Old Testament.

De animae submissione (The submission of the soul)

[No CPL reference]

The latter portion of the 9th century Codex Agobardinus is missing. However it has a table of contents at the front, which lists the missing works. This name appears as one of three missing works, of which nothing else is known.

De carne et anima (On the body and the soul)

[No CPL reference]

The latter portion of the 9th century Codex Agobardinus is missing. However it has a table of contents at the front, which lists the missing works. This name appears as one of three missing works, of which nothing else is known.

De censu animae (On the origin of the soul)

[CPL 31c]

This work is known to us as Tertullian refers to it in De anima. The title also appears in the Codex Agobardinus although the work so titled is in fact De anima. In this work he refuted the teaching of Hermogenes that the soul originated from matter, and that there was in man no such thing as free will.

From De anima ch 1:

"Having discussed with Hermogenes the single point of the origin of the soul, so far as his assumption led me, that the soul consisted rather in an adaptation of matter than of the inspiration of God, I now turn to the other questions incidental to the subject; and in my treatment of these I shall evidently have mostly to contend with the philosophers. In the very prison of Socrates they skirmished about the state of the soul. I have my doubts at once whether the time was an opportune one for their great master - to say nothing of the place, although that perhaps does not much matter."(ANF)

ch. 3:

We have already decided one point in our controversy with Hermogenes, as we said at the beginning of this treatise, when we claimed the soul to be formed by the breathing of God, and not out of matter. We relied even there on the clear direction of the inspired statement which informs us how that "the Lord God breathed on man's face the breath of life, so that man became a living soul" -by that inspiration of God, of course. On this point, therefore, nothing further need be investigated or advanced by us. It has its own treatise, and its own heretic. I shall regard it as my introduction to the other branches of the subject.

IV. After settling the origin of the soul, its condition or state comes up next. (ANF)

ch. 22:

XXII. Hermogenes has already heard from us what are the other natural faculties of the soul, as well as their vindication and proof; whence it may be seen that the soul is rather the offspring of God than of matter. The names of these faculties shall here be simply repeated, that they may not seem to be forgotten and passed out of sight. We have assigned, then, to the soul both that freedom of the will which we just now mentioned, and its dominion over the works of nature, and its occasional gift of divination, independently of that endowment of prophecy which accrues to it expressly from the grace of God. We shall therefore now quit this subject of the soul's disposition, in order to set out fully in order its various qualities. The soul, then, we define to be sprung from the breath of God, immortal, possessing body, having form, simple in its substance, intelligent in its own nature, developing its power in various ways, free in its determinations, subject to be changes of accident, in its faculties mutable, rational, supreme, endued with an instinct of presentiment, evolved out of one (archetypal soul). It remains for us now to consider how it is developed out of this one original source; in other words, whence, and when, and how it is produced. (ANF)

ch. 24:

We, however, who allow no appendage to God (in the sense of equality), by this very fact reckon the soul as very far below God: for we suppose it to be born, and hereby to possess something of a diluted divinity and an attenuated felicity, as the breath (of God), though not His spirit; and although immortal, as this is an attribute of divinity, yet for all that passible, since this is an incident of a born condition, and consequently from the first capable of deviation from perfection and right, and by consequence susceptible of a failure in memory. This point I have discussed sufficiently with Hermogenes. (ANF)

A possible fragment is extant of this work.


J. H. WASZINK (ed.), Über die Seele (De anima), Das Zeugnis der Seele (De testimonio animae), Vom Ursprung der Seele (De censu animae), Artemis-Verlag, Zürich (1980), 317p.  German and Latin.  Reviewed by R. Braun in Revue des Études Augustiniennes XXVII 1981 p.314 (all from DCB v.2)

De circumcisione (On circumcision)

[No CPL reference]

Jerome refers to this in Epist. 36: AD DAMASUM, 1, but in such terms that it is unclear whether it is by Tertullian.  It may in fact be a work by Novatian of that name. (Not checked - details from Quasten)

Beatissimo Papae Damaso HIERONYMUS.

1. Postquam epistolam tuae Sanctitatis accepi, confestim accito notario, ut exciperet imperavi: quo ad officium praeparato, quod eram voce prompturus, ante mihi cogitatione pingebam. Interim jam et ego linguam, et ille articulum movebamus, cum subito Hebraeus intervenit, deferens non pauca volumina, quae de Synagoga quasi lecturus acceperat. Et illico habes, inquit, quod postulaveras: meque dubium, et quid facerem nescientem, ita festinus exterruit, ut omnibus praetermissis ad scribendum transvolarem: quod quidem usque ad praesens facio. Verum quia heri diacono ad me misso, ut tu putas Epistolam, ut ego sentio, Commentarium te expectare dixisti, brevem responsionem ad ea desiderans, quae singula magnorum voluminum prolixitate indigent, ......., duabus tantum Quaestiunculis praetermissis: non quo non potuerim ad illas aliquid respondere, sed quod ab eloquentissimis viris, Tertulliano nostro scilicet, et Novatiano, latino sermone sint editae; et si nova voluerimus afferre, sit latius disputandum. Certe exspecto quid placeat: utrumne epistolari brevitate sententias tibi velis digeri aut singulorum libros confici. Nam et Origenes in quarto Pauli ad Romanos ....  tomo de circumcisione magnifice disputavit: et de mundis atque immundis animalibus in Levitico plura disseruit: ut si ipse invenire nihil possem, de ejus tamen fontibus mutuarer. Et ut verius loquar, Didymi de Spiritu sancto librum in manibus habeo, quem translatum tibi cupio dedicare: ne me existimes tantummodo dormitare, qui lectionem sine stilo somnum putas. Antelatis itaque problematibus, quae epistolae tuae subjeceras, quid mihi videretur annexui, veniam postulans, et festinationis pariter et morarum: festinationis, quia ad unam lucubratiunculam dictare voluerim multorum opus dierum; tarditatis, quia alio opere detentus, non statim ad interrogata rescripsi. (PL 22, col.453)

De fato (On fate)

[CPL 31]

This was written against the teachings of the philosophers concerning fate and chance.

This work was announced in De anima ch. 20. It was to talk about fate and necessity, Fortune and free-will, of the Lord God and the devil, in their influence on the human intellect:

"Now these are the supreme powers: according to our (Christian) notions, they are the Lord God and His adversary the devil; but according to men's general opinion about providence, they are fate and necessity; and about fortune, it is man's freedom of will. Even the philosophers allow these distinctions; whilst on our part we have already undertaken to treat of them, on the principles of the (Christian) faith, in a separate work."

That it was actually written, we know from the quotation in the African writer Fabius Planciades Fulgentius (Expositio sermonum antiquorum 16).

It seems also to have been used by the author (Ambrosiaster) of the tract Quaestiones Veteris et Novi Testamenti in Quaestio 115 (De fato) (318-349 ed. A Souter).(Detail from Quasten, but I have been unable to find it in the reference given.  Tertullian's name does not appear).[PL.35, col.2347]

Jerome refers in De viris illustribus 58 to a book of this title circulating under the name of Minucius Felix, clearly not by the same author as the Octavius but by a good writer.  Pamelius thought this must in fact be the work of Tertullian.

De mundis atque immundis animalibus (On animals clean and unclean)

[No CPL reference]

Jerome refers to this in Epist. 36, 1, but in such terms that it is unclear whether it is by Tertullian. (Not checked - details from Quasten)

[See De circumcisione above for Latin text.]

De paradiso (On Paradise)

[CPL 31e]

This work is not extant although its title appears in one of the oldest mss. of Tertullian, the Codex Agobardinus.PL(Col 33) It discussed many questions concerning the afterlife.

From Adversus Marcionem V ch 12:

"On Paradise is the title of a treatise of ours, in which is discussed all that the subject admits of."

He also maintained in it that all departed souls except those of the martyrs will remain in the under-world "until the day of the Lord" arrives.

From De anima ch 55:

"The sole key to unlock Paradise is your own life's blood. You have a treatise by us, (on Paradise), in which we have established the position that every soul is detained in safe keeping in Hades until the day of the Lord."

A possible fragment is extant of this work.


Charles E. HILL, Hippolytus and Hades. The authorship of the fragment 'De universo', Studia Patristica 21 (1989), p.254-259. Not checked.  Same subject as 'Hades of Hippolytus'.

Charles E. HILL, "Hades of Hippolytus or Tartarus of Tertullian? The Authorship of the Fragment De Universo," Vigiliae Christianae 43 (1989), 105-126. Not checked. The fragment 'De universo' found in John Damascene's Sacra Parallela and attributed there to Josephus (cf. CPG 1898) in the opinion of most scholars should be attributed instead to Hippolytus of Rome.  However Hill shows that this fragment teaches that there is an intermediate state after death and before the resurrection of the body, which is not the teaching of Hippolytus, where the just go straight to heaven on death.  Instead it corresponds to the ideas of Tertullian.  By relating various parallels -- corporeality of souls; the triumph of Christ over Minos and Rhadamanthos; the connection of Adam and Hades -- Hill suggests that the text was written under the influence of Tertullian, and perhaps even by Tertullian himself (in Greek?).  Is this perhaps a fragment of De paradiso?  However in CTC 89, §51, Pierre Petitmengin suggests that the negative assertion that Hippolytus cannot be the author is better established than the positive attribution to Tertullian, where others may also share the supposed parallels.  In particular, is the idea of the corporeality of the soul really limited to Tertullian and Vincentius Victor? The "most exact" exegetes, following Origen (cited by Methodius, De resurrectione, 17:3; GCS 27, 414, 6-7) explain all these ideas: Καὶ τάχα τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ἅμα τῇ ἀπαλλαγῇ σχῆμα ὁμοειδὲς ὂν τῷ παχεῖ καὶ γηί̈νῳ σώματι δύναται οὕτως λαμβάνεσθαι : "It may perhaps be that the soul receives in the change a form similar in appearance to its gross and earthly body" (ANF) "... the soul's appearance upon (its) release [scil. from the body] looks just like the material and earthly body." (Stephen Carlson) Translated and abbreviated from CTC; see the ANF translation, just after footnote 114.  

De spe fidelium (On the hope of the faithful)

[No CPL reference]

This work is not extant although its title appears in one of the oldest mss. of Tertullian, the Codex Agobardinus, and it is referred to by a 9th century writer, Hrabanus Maurus, abbot of Fulda.

It demonstrated that the Old Testament prophecies regarding the restoration of Judaea must be interpreted allegorically of Christ and the Church (Adversus Marcionem III ch 24):

"As for the restoration of Judaea, however, which even the Jews themselves, induced by the names of places and countries, hope for just as it is described, it would be tedious to state at length how the figurative interpretation is spiritually applicable to Christ and His church, and to the character and fruits thereof; besides, the subject has been regularly treated in another work, which we entitle De Spe Fidelium."(ANF)

It looked forward to the millenium, when Christ will rule with the saints. (Jerome: De viris illustribus 18 on Papias of Hierapolis):

"He {Papias} is said to have published a Second coming of Our Lord or Millennium. Irenaeus and Apollinaris and others who say that after the resurrection the Lord will reign in the flesh with the saints, follow him. Tertullian also in his work On the hope of the faithful, Victorinus of Petau and Lactantius follow this view".(ANF)

Other references in Jerome: (In Ez. comm.(Commentary on Ezekiel) ch 36, 1 ff; 

« Neque enim iuxta Iudaicas fabulas, quas illi deuteroseis appellant, gemmatam et auream de caelo exspectamus Ierusalem, nec rursum passuri eircumcisionis iniuriam, nec oblaturi taurorum et arietum uictimas, nec sabbati otio dormiemus. Quod et multi nostrorum et praecipue Tertulliani liber, qui inscribitur 'De spe fidelium' ... pollicetur » (Comm. in Ezechiel. XI, XXXVI, 1 - Patr. Lat. xxv [ed. 1884], col. 339 B). (CCSL II)

Jerome, In Is. comm. (Commentary on Isaiah) book 18 praef.):

Duo devicesimus in Isaiam, immo extremus liber, tuo, o filia Eustochium, et sanctae matris tuae Paulae nomini dedicatur, ut quas pari honore suspexi, aequa commemoratione nunc recolam: praesertim cum et illa dum viveret, hoc opus tecum crebrius postularit, et vir eruditissimus frater tuus Pammachius et tunc et postea frequentibus scriptis cogere non destiterit: mihique et praesentium amicorum et absentium, virorumque ac feminarum in Christo dormientium eadem religio sit, id est, animorum charitas, non corporum. Nec ignoro quanta inter homines sententiarum diversitas sit. Non dico de mysterio Trinitatis, cujus recta confessio est ignoratio scientiae: sed de aliis Ecclesiasticis dogmatibus, de Resurrectione scilicet, et de animarum et humanae carnis statu, de Repromissionibus futurorum, quomodo debeant accipi, et qua ratione intelligenda sit Apocalypsis Joannis, quam si juxta litteram accipimus, judaizandum est; si spiritualiter, ut scripta est, disserimus, multorum veterum videbimur opinionibus contraire: Latinorum, Tertulliani, Victorini, Lactantii: Graecorum, ut caeteros praetermittam, Irenaei tantum Lugdunensis episcopi faciam mentionem, adversum quem vir eloquentissimus Dionysius Alexandrinae Ecclesiae pontifex elegantem scribit librum, irridens mille annorum fabulam, et auream atque gemmatam in terris Jerusalem, instaurationem Templi, hostiarum sanguinem, otium sabbati, circumcisionis injuriam, nuptias, partus, liberorum educationem, epularum delicias, et cunctarum gentium servitutem: rursusque bella, exercitus, ac triumphos et superatorum neces, mortemque centenarii peccatoris. Cui duobus voluminibus respondit Apollinarius, quem non solum suae sectae homines, sed et nostrorum in hac parte dumtaxat plurima sequitur multitudo, ut praesaga mente jam cernam quantorum in me rabies concitanda sit.  (PL col. 627]

There is also a reference to it by Gennadius of Marseilles, De Ecclesiae dogmatibus, c.55 (detail from ANF III p13). Not checked

LV. In divinis promissionibus nihil terrenum vel transitorium exspectemus, sicut Melitani sperant. Non nuptiarum copulam, sicut Cerinthus et Marcion delirant. Non quod ad cibum vel ad potum pertinet, sicut, Papia auctore, Irenaeus, et Tertullianus, et  Lactantius acquiescunt. Neque post mille annos post resurrectionem regnum Christi in terra futurum, et sanctos cum illo in deliciis regnaturos speremus, sicut Nepos docuit, qui primam justorum resurrectionem, et secundam impiorum confinxit. Et  inter has duas mortuorum resurrectiones, gentes ignorantes Deum in angulis terrarum in carne servanda. Quae post mille annos regni in terra justorum, instigante diabolo movendae sunt ad pugnam contra justos regnantes; et Domino pro justis pugnante imbre igneo compescendas, atque ita mortuas, cum caeteris in impietate ante mortuis, ad aeterna supplicia in incorruptibili carne resuscitandas. (PL.58 cols. 994-5).

There is a reference given by Lehmann (Tertullian im Mittelalters) to Liber Tertulliani qui inscribitur De Spe Fidelium. in Hrabanus Maurus (PL 110, 853 – see also Hablitzel, J.B., Hrabanus Maurus : Ein Beitrag zur mittelalterlichen Exegese, Freiburg i. Br, 1906). Hrabanus Maurus Checked, rest Not checked

A possible fragment of this work is extant.

De superstitione saeculi (On the superstition of this age)

[No CPL reference]

The latter portion of the 9th century Codex Agobardinus is missing. However it has a table of contents at the front, which lists the missing works. This name appears as one of three missing works, of which nothing else is known.

Recently (2001), however, it has been proposed that the spurious work De execrandis gentium diis is in fact a collection of extracts from this work.  See the notes on that page for details!

De Trinitate (On the Trinity)

[No CPL reference]

Jerome says in his biography of Novatian (De viris illustribus ch. 70):

"Novatian wrote ... a large volume on the Trinity, as if making an epitome of a work of Tertullian's, which most men not knowing regard it as Cyprian's".

But whether this means that Tertullian wrote a work of that title, or whether this is a reference to Adv. Praxean, is hard to say.

Greek Works

The following extracts make clear that Tertullian also wrote in Greek, and that Greek versions sometimes preceded the Latin ones, and were different from them. All the Greek works are lost. In a discussion of De ecstasi, Barnes argued that all the Greek works were produced purely for use in Carthage and were unknown in the East.B (app 9, p253).

From ANF III, p.14:

Oehler adds that J.Pamelius, in his epistle dedicatory to Philip II. of Spain, makes mention of a Greek copy of Tertullian in the library of that king.   This report, however, since nothing has ever been seen or heard of the said copy from that time, Oehler judges to be erroneous.

And in the footnote:

"mendacem" is his word.  I know not whether he intends to charge Pamelius with wilful fraud.

CTC 86, §2, reviewing the Sources Chrétiennes edition of De Spectaculis, discusses a reference in the edition (p.44 n.3 cites an 'interesting document') to Greek works in the Library of the Escurial in the 18th century.  The statement is found unlikely, as Tertullian is not listed in the current catalogue of Greek MSS  (Revilla, A., de Andrés, G., 1936-1957) nor in the list of 645 mss destroyed in the fire of 1671 (de Andrés, G., Catálogo de los códices griegos desaparecidos de la Real Biblioteca de El Escorial, El Escorial, 1968), even though the rumours described by Pamelius are acknowledged.

Recently (December 2000) I found a catalogue of the Escurial online in Denmark, at the Arnamagnæanske Institut (see http://www.hum.ku.dk/ami/spain/, where a page is online:

4. AM 376 fol. Paper, 32 x 22.5 cm. 199 leaves. C. 1600. Latin.
Catalogus bibliothecæ Escurialensis.
On the spine is the remains of a title and the number 418.
Image: f. 4r

The webmaster, Dr. M.J.Driscoll, kindly examined the catalogue and confirmed that there are no entries for Tertullian.  There is a substantial section of anonymous works, but no obvious Tertullianea among the titles listed.

Apologeticum - Greek

Eusebius quotes a Greek text of this work in his Historia Ecclesiastica, II, 2, 4-6. It is the only work of Tertullian with which he is familiar. Eusebius says that a translation was made. The NPNF footnote to II,2,4 describes it as a poor quality translation - for instance, the translator did not understand the Latin idiom 'cum maxime' (=especially). It was probably made in Palestine, soon after the work appeared, and not by Eusebius. It is now lost.

HE II, 2:

4 These things are recorded by Tertullian, a man well versed in the laws of the Romans, and in other respects of high repute, and one of those especially distinguished in Rome. In his apology for the Christians, which was written by him in the Latin language, and has been translated into Greek, he writes as follows:

5 "But in order that we may give an account of these laws from their origin, it was an ancient decree that no one should be consecrated a God by the emperor until the Senate had expressed its approval. Marcus Aurelius did thus concerning a certain idol, Alburnus. And this is a point in favor of our doctrine, that among you divine dignity is conferred by human decree. If a God does not please a man he is not made a God. Thus, according to this custom, it is necessary for man to be gracious to God.

6 Tiberius, therefore, under whom the name of Christ made its entry into the world, when this doctrine was reported to him from Palestine, where it first began, communicated with the Senate, making it clear to them that he was pleased with the doctrine. But the Senate, since it had not itself proved the matter, rejected it. But Tiberius continued to hold his own opinion, and threatened death to the accusers of the Christians." Heavenly providence had wisely instilled this into his mind in order that the doctrine of the Gospel, unhindered at its beginning, might spread in all directions throughout the world. (NPNF; = Apol. ch. 5)

HE II, 25, 4:

4 The Roman Tertullian is likewise a witness of this. He writes as follows: "Examine your records. There you will find that Nero was the first that persecuted this doctrine, particularly then when after subduing all the east, he exercised his cruelty against all at Rome308. We glory in having such a man the leader in our punishment. For whoever knows him can understand that nothing was condemned by Nero unless it was something of great excellence." (NPNF; =Apol. ch. 5. NPNF note 308 indicates that the Greek translator did not understand the Latin here)

HE III, 20, 9:

9 Tertullian also has mentioned Domitian in the following words: "Domitian also, who possessed a share of Nero's cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished." (NPNF; =Apol. ch. 5)

HE III, 33, 3-4:

3 We have taken our account from the Latin Apology of Tertullian which we mentioned above. The translation runs as follows: "And indeed we have found that search for us has been forbidden. For when Plinius Secundus, the governor of a province, had condemned certain Christians and deprived them of their dignity, he was confounded by the multitude, and was uncertain what further course to pursue. He therefore communicated with Trajan the emperor, informing him that, aside from their unwillingness to sacrifice, he had found no impiety in them.

4 And he reported this also, that the Christians arose early in the morning and sang hymns unto Christ as a God, and for the purpose of preserving their discipline forbade murder, adultery, avarice, robbery, and the like. In reply to this Trajan wrote that the race of Christians should not be sought after, but when found should be punished." Such were the events which took place at that time. (NPNF; =Apol. ch. 2)

HE V, 5, 5-7:

5 Tertullian is a trustworthy witness of these things. In the Apology for the Faith, which he addressed to the Roman Senate, and which work we have already mentioned, he confirms the history with greater and stronger proofs.

6 He writes that there are still extant letters of the most intelligent Emperor Marcus in which he testifies that his army, being on the point of perishing with thirst in Germany, was saved by the prayers of the Christians. And he says also that this emperor threatened death to those who brought accusation against us.

7 He adds further:

"What kind of laws are those which impious, unjust, and cruel persons use against us alone? which Vespasian, though he had conquered the Jews, did not regard; which Trajan partially annulled, forbidding Christians to be sought after; which neither Adrian, though inquisitive in all matters, nor he who was called Pius sanctioned." But let any one treat these things as he chooses; we must pass on to what followed. (NPNF; = Apol. ch. 5)

It is worth noting that the Greek text of Eusebius has evidently not been 'corrected' from the Latin text (as the footnotes of the NPNF make clear), and so preserves the errors of the translation.

Studies: Adolf Harnack, Die griechischen Übersetzungen des Apologeticus Tertullians, TU 8, 4 (1892), p. 1-36. (Not checked)

De baptismo - Greek

From De baptismo, ch 15:

"But it must be admitted that the question, 'What rules are to be observed with regard to heretics? ' is worthy of being treated. For it is to us that that assertion refers. Heretics, however, have no fellowship in our discipline, whom the mere fact of their excommunication testifies to be outsiders. I am not bound to recognize in them a thing which is enjoined on me, because they and we have not the same God, nor one-that is, the same-Christ. And therefore their baptism is not one with ours either, because it is not the same; a baptism which, since they have it not duly, doubtless they have not at all; nor is that capable of being counted which is not had. Thus they cannot receive it either, because they have it not. But this point has already received a fuller discussion from us in Greek. "

Adhémar d'Alès, Tertullien Hélleniste, Revue des Études Grecques 50 (1937), pp.329-351 checked, on p. 349 makes the following interesting statement:

Le style grec de Tertullien, representé pour nous seulement par quelques lambeaux d'un traité grec sur le baptême, enchasés au IVe siècle par Didyme l'Aveugle dans son ouvrage trinitaire, échappe à nos investigations.  La confrontation avec le traité latin posterior De Baptismo a permis d'identifier ces lambeaux avec certitude; vouloir les isoler serait une tâche délicate et ingrate(3).

(3).  On ne saurait ajouter rien d'intéressant aux indications précises de l'abbe G. Bardy, Didyme l'Aveugle, p. 234, Paris 1910.

The Greek style of Tertullian, represented for us only by some scraps
of a Greek treatise on baptism, embedded in the 4th century by Didymus
the Blind in his trinitarian work, escapes our investigations.
Confrontation with the later Latin treatise De Baptismo made it
possible to identify these scraps with certainty; to want to isolate
them would be a delicate and ungrateful task(3). 

(3). I can add nothing interesting to the precise indications of the abbe G. Bardy, Didymus the Blind, p. 234, Paris 1910.(RP)

[I hope to obtain this article by G.Bardy]

De spectaculis - Greek

From De corona, ch 6:

"It is thus, accordingly, in the pleasures of the shows, that the creature is dishonoured by those who by nature indeed perceive that all the materials of which shows are got up belong to God, but lack the knowledge to perceive as well that they have all been changed by the devil. But with this topic we have, for the sake of our own play-lovers, sufficiently dealt, and that, too, in a work in Greek."


A. PUECH, Julien et Tertullien, Didaskaleion 1 (1912)

De virginibus velandis - Greek

From De virginibus velandis, ch 1:

"Having already undergone the trouble peculiar to my opinion, I will show in Latin also that it behoves our virgins to be veiled from the time that they have passed the turning-point of their age: that this observance is exacted by truth, on which no one can impose prescription-no space of times, no influence of persons, no privilege of regions."

Uncertain - Latin or Greek?

De ecstasi

[CPL 31b]

This work is known to us from Jerome, who mentions this work in his biography of Tertullian, De viris illustribus, ch53.

Jerome, De viris illustribus, ch24 on Melito of Asia, Bishop of Sardis:

"Of his fine oratorical genius, Tertullian, in the seven books which he wrote against the church on behalf of Montanus, satirically says that he was considered a prophet by many of us."

Jerome, De viris illustribus, ch40 on Apollonius, is as follows:

'Apollonius, an exceedingly talented man, wrote against Montanus, Prisca and Maximilla a notable and lengthy volume, in which he asserts that Montanus and his mad prophetesses died by hanging, and many other things, among which are the following concerning Prisca and Maximilla, "if they denied that they have accepted gifts, let them confess that those who do accept are not prophets and I will prove by a thousand witnesses that they have received gifts, for it is by other fruits that prophets are shown to be prophets indeed. Tell me, does a prophet dye his hair? Does a prophet stain her eyelids with antimony? Is a prophet adorned with fine garments and precious stones? Does a prophet play with dice and tables? Does he accept usury? Let them respond whether this ought to be permitted or not, it will be my task to prove that they do these things." He says in the same book, that the time when he wrote the work was the fortieth year after the beginning of the heresy of the Cataphrygians. Tertullian added to the six volumes which he wrote On ecstasy against the church a seventh, directed especially against Apollonius, in which he attempts to defend all which Apollonius refuted. Apollonius flourished in the reigns of Commodus and Severus.'

Jerome gives a Greek title for this book. However it has been argued B (app 9, p253) that only a Latin version ever existed, written around 210AD, and that 'Praedestinatus' quotes from it, and quotes in Latin (De haer. I. 26).

Trithemius lists the works of Tertullian known to him. Writing around 1492, he says he has seen ('vidi') those listed - and includes De extasi. A page from the book with a discussion is online here.

It was in defence of Montanism, or perhaps of the prophecy of the Montanist prophets.

A possible fragment of this work is extant.


This page has been accessed by ****** people since 10th December 1999.
Return to the Tertullian Home Page / About these pages