Five Books in Reply to Marcion Book I. Part I. Of the Divine Unity.

Early Christian Writings

Title: The Five Books in Reply to Marcion Book I. Part I.


Book I. Wherein is described the god of Marcion.  He is shown to be utterly wanting in all the attributes of the true God.

Part I.—Of the Divine Unity.

From: Tertullian: Part Fourth. Appendix: (CCEL Part I. and Part II.)

Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol IV. (Part.IV)

Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council

Original Source: CCEL ANF03 X


Translated by: Rev. S. Thelwall

By: Author Uncertain

Published: 197-220 A.D.

(PDF File Size: xx mb) xx pages

Our Ref:
ECST: 167.12.2.T00

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Book I.—Of the Divine Unity, and the Resurrection of the Flesh.

Part I.—Of the Divine Unity.

After the Evil One’s impiety
Profound, and his life-grudging mind, entrapped
Seducèd men with empty hope, it laid
Them bare, by impious suasion to false trust

5 In him,—not with impunity, indeed;
For he forthwith, as guilty of the deed,
And author rash of such a wickedness,
Received deserved maledictions. Thus,
Thereafter, maddened, he, most desperate foe,

10 Did more assail and instigate men’s minds
In darkness sunk. He taught them to forget
The Lord, and leave sure hope, and idols vain
Follow, and shape themselves a crowd of gods,
Lots, auguries, false names of stars, the show

15 Of being able to o’errule the births
Of embryos by inspecting entrails, and
Expecting things to come, by hardihood
Of dreadful magic’s renegadoes led,
Wondering at a mass of feigned lore;

20 And he impelled them headlong to spurn life,
Sunk in a criminal insanity;
To joy in blood; to threaten murders fell;
To love the wound, then, in their neighbour’s flesh;
Or, burning, and by pleasure’s heat entrapped,

25 To transgress nature’s covenants, and stain
Pure bodies, manly sex, with an embrace
Unnameable, and uses feminine
Mingled in common contact lawlessly;
Urging embraces chaste, and dedicate

30 To generative duties, to be held
For intercourse obscene for passion’s sake.
Such in time past his deeds, assaulting men,
Through the soul’s lurking-places, with a flow
Of scorpion-venom,—not that men would blame

35 Him, for they followed of their own accord:
His suasion was in guile; in freedom man
Performed it.
Whileas the perfidious one
Continuously through the centuries
Is breathing such ill fumes, and into hearts

40 Seduced injecting his own counselling
And hoping in his folly (alas!) to find
Forgiveness of his wickedness, unware
What sentence on his deed is waiting him;
With words of wisdom’s weaving, and a voice

45 Presaging from God’s Spirit, speak a host
Of prophets. Publicly he does not dare
Nakedly to speak evil of the Lord,
Hoping by secret ingenuity
He possibly may lurk unseen. At length

50 The soul’s Light as the thrall of flesh is held;
The hope of the despairing, mightier
Than foe, enters the lists; the Fashioner,
The Renovator, of the body He;
True Glory of the Father; Son of God;

55 Author unique; a Judge and Lord He came,
The orb’s renowned King; to the opprest
Prompt to give pardon, and to loose the bound;
Whose friendly aid and penal suffering
Blend God and renewed man in one. With child

60 Is holy virgin: life’s new gate opes; words
Of prophets find their proof, fulfilled by facts;
Priests leave their temples, and—a star their guide—
Wonder the Lord so mean a birth should choose.
Waters—sight memorable!—turn to wine;

65 Eyes are restored to blind; fiends trembling cry,
Outdriven by His bidding, and own Christ!
All limbs, already rotting, by a word
Are healed; now walks the lame; the deaf forthwith
Hears hope; the maimed extends his hand; the dumb

70 Speaks mighty words: sea at His bidding calms,
Winds drop; and all things recognise the Lord:
Confounded is the foe, and yields, though fierce,
Now triumphed over, to unequal arms!
When all his enterprises now revoked

75 He sees; the flesh, once into ruin sunk, 143
Now rising; man—death vanquisht quite—to heavens
Soaring; the peoples sealed with holy pledge
Outpoured; the work and envied deeds of might
Marvellous; and hears, too, of penalties

80 Extreme, and of perpetual dark, prepared
For himself by the Lord by God’s decree
Irrevocable; naked and unarmed,
Damned, vanquisht, doomed to perish in a death
Perennial, guilty now, and sure that he

85 No pardon has, a last impiety
Forthwith he dares,—to scatter everywhere
A word for ears to shudder at, nor meet
For voice to speak. Accosting men cast off
From God’s community, men wandering

90 Without the light, found mindless, following
Things earthly, them he teaches to become
Depraved teachers of depravity.
By them he preaches that there are two Sires,
And realms divided: ill’s cause is the Lord

95 Who built the orb, fashioned breath-quickened flesh,
And gave the law, and by the seers’ voice spake.
Him he affirms not good, but owns Him just;
Hard, cruel, taking pleasure fell in war;
In judgment dreadful, pliant to no prayers.

100 His suasion tells of other one, to none
E’er known, who nowhere is, a deity
False, nameless, constituting nought, and who
Hath spoken precepts none. Him he calls good;
Who judges none, but spares all equally,

105 And grudges life to none. No judgment waits
The guilty; so he says, bearing about
A gory poison with sweet honey mixt
For wretched men. That flesh can rise—to which
Himself was cause of ruin, which he spoiled

110 Iniquitously with contempt (whence, cursed,
He hath grief without end), its ever-foe,—
He doth deny; because with various wound
Life to expel and the salvation whence
He fell he strives: and therefore says that Christ

115 Came suddenly to earth, but was not made,
By any compact, partner of the flesh;
But Spirit-form, and body feigned beneath
A shape imaginary, seeks to mock
Men with a semblance that what is not is.

120 Does this, then, become God, to sport with men
By darkness led? to act an impious lie?
Or falsely call Himself a man? He walks,
Is carried, clothed, takes due rest, handled is,
Suffers, is hung and buried: man’s are all

125 Deeds which, in holy body conversant,
But sent by God the Father, who hath all
Created, He did perfect properly,
Reclaiming not another’s but His own;
Discernible to peoples who of old

130 Were hoping for Him by His very work,
And through the prophets’ voice to the round world
Best known: and now they seek an unknown Lord,
Wandering in death’s threshold manifest,
And leave behind the known. False is their faith,

135 False is their God, deceptive their reward,
False is their resurrection, death’s defeat
False, vain their martyrdoms, and e’en Christ’s name
An empty sound: whom, teaching that He came
Like magic mist, they (quite demented) own

140 To be the actor of a lie, and make
His passion bootless, and the populace
(A feigned one!) without crime! Is God thus true?
Are such the honours rendered to the Lord?
Ah! wretched men! gratuitously lost

145 In death ungrateful! Who, by blind guide led,
Have headlong rushed into the ditch! and as
In dreams the fancied rich man in his store
Of treasure doth exult, and with his hands
Grasps it, the sport of empty hope, so ye, so

150 Deceived, are hoping for a shadow vain
Of guerdon!
Ah! ye silent laughingstocks,
Or doomed prey, of the dragon, do ye hope, 144
Stern men, for death in room of gentle peace?
Dare ye blame God, who hath works

155 So great? in whose earth, ’mid profuse displays
Of His exceeding parent-care, His gifts
(Unmindful of Himself!) ye largely praise,
Rushing to ruin! do ye reprobate—
Approving of the works—the Maker’s self,

160 The world’s Artificer, whose work withal
Ye are yourselves? Who gave those little selves
Great honours; sowed your crops; made all the brutes
Your subjects; makes the seasons of the year
Fruitful with stated months; grants sweetnesses,

165 Drinks various, rich odours, jocund flowers,
And the groves’ grateful bowers; to growing herbs
Grants wondrous juices; founts and streams dispreads
With sweet waves, and illumes with stars the sky
And the whole orb: the infinite sole Lord,

170 Both Just and Good; known by His work; to none
By aspect known; whom nations, flourishing
In wealth, but foolish, wrapped in error’s shroud,
(Albeit ’tis beneath an alien name
They praise Him, yet) their Maker knowing! dread

175 To blame: nor e’en one —save you, hell’s new gate!—
Thankless, ye choose to speak ill of your Lord!
These cruel deadly gifts the Renegade
Terrible has bestowed, through Marcion—thanks
To Cerdo’s mastership—on you; nor comes

180 The thought into your mind that, from Christ’s name
Seduced, Marcion’s name has carried you
To lowest depths. Say of His many acts
What one displeases you? or what hath God
Done which is not to be extolled with praise?

185 Is it that He permits you, all too long,
(Unworthy of His patience large,) to see
Sweet light? you, who read truths, and, docking them,
Teach these your falsehoods, and approve as past
Things which are yet to be? What hinders, else,

190 That we believe your God incredible?
Nor marvel is’t if, practiced as he is,
He captived you unarmed, persuading you
There are two Fathers (being damned by One),
And all, whom he had erst seduced, are gods;

195 And after that dispread a pest, which ran
With multiplying wound, and cureless crime,
To many. Men unworthy to be named,
Full of all magic’s madness, he induced
To call themselves “Virtue Supreme;” and feign

200 (With harlot comrade) fresh impiety;
To roam, to fly. He is the insane god
Of Valentine, and to his Æonage
Assigned heavens thirty, and Profundity
Their sire. He taught two baptisms, and led

205 The body through the flame. That there are gods
So many as the year hath days, he bade
A Basilides to believe, and worlds
As many. Marcus, shrewdly arguing
Through numbers, taught to violate chaste form

210 ’Mid magic’s arts; taught, too, that the Lord’s cup
Is an oblation, and by prayers is turned
To blood. His suasion prompted Hebion
To teach that Christ was born from human seed; 145
He taught, too, circumcision, and that room

215 Is still left for the Law, and, though Law’s founts
Are lost, its elements must be resumed.
Unwilling am I to protract in words
His last atrocity, or to tell all
The causes, or the names at length. Enough

220 It is to note his many cruelties
Briefly, and the unmentionable men,
The dragon’s organs fell, through whom he now,
Speaking so much profaneness, ever toils
To blame the Maker of the world. But come;

225 Recall your foot from savage Bandit’s cave,
While space is granted, and to wretched men
God, patient in perennial parent-love,
Condones all deeds through error done! Believe
Truly in the true Sire, who built the orb;

230 Who, on behalf of men incapable
To bear the law, sunk in sin’s whirlpool, sent
The true Lord to repair the ruin wrought,
And bring them the salvation promised
Of old through seers. He who the mandates gave

235 Remits sins too. Somewhat, deservedly,
Doth He exact, because He formerly
Entrusted somewhat; or else bounteously,
As Lord, condones as it were debts to slaves:
Finally, peoples shut up ’neath the curse,

240 And meriting the penalty, Himself
Deleting the indictment, bids be washed!

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