Five Books in Reply to Marcion Book III, Of the Harmony of the Fathers of the Old and New Testaments.

Early Christian Writings

Title: Tertullian: The Five Books against Marcion Book III

Subheading: Of the Harmony of the Fathers of the Old and New Testaments.

From: (CCEL Part Fourth. – Appendix)

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: 167.12.4.T00

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Book III.

Of the Harmony of the Fathers of the Old and New Testaments.

Now hath the mother, formerly surnamed
Barren, giv’n birth: now a new people, born
From the free woman, joys: (the slave expelled,
Deservedly, with her proud progeny;

5 Who also leaves ungratefully behind
The waters of the living fount, and drinks—
Errant on heated plains—’neath glowing star: )
Now can the Gentiles as their parent claim
Abraham; who, the Lord’s voice following,

10 Like him, have all things left, life’s pilgrimage
To enter. “Be glad, barren one;” conceive
The promised people; “break thou out, and cry,”
Who with no progeny wert blest; of whom
Spake, through the seers, the Spirit of old time:

15 She hath borne, out of many nations, one;
With whose beginning are her pious limbs
Ever in labour.
Hers “just Abel” was,
A pastor and a cattle—master he;
Whom violence of brother’s right hand slew

20 Of old. Her Enoch, signal ornament,
Limb from her body sprung, by counsel strove
To recall peoples gone astray from God
And following misdeed, (while raves on earth
The horde of robber-renegades,) to flee

25 The giants’sacrilegious cruel race;
Faithful in all himself. With groaning deep
Did he please God, and by deserved toil
Translated is reserved as a pledge,
With honour high. Perfect in praise, and found

30 Faultless, and just—God witnessing the fact—
In an adulterous people, Noah (he
Who in twice fifty years the ark did weave)
By deeds and voice the coming ruin told.
Favour he won, snatched out of so great waves

35 Of death, and, with his progeny, preserved.
Then, in the generation following,
Is Abraham, whose sons ye do deny
Yourselves to be; who first—race, country, sire,
All left behind—at suasion of God’s voice

40 Withdrew to realms extern: such honours he
At God’s sublime hand worthily deserved
As to be father to believing tribes
And peoples. Jacob with the patriarchs
(Himself their patriarch) through all his own

45 Life’s space the gladdest times of Christ foresang
By words, act, virtue, toil.
Him follows—free
From foul youth’s stain—Joseph, by slander feigned,
Doomed to hard penalty and gaol: his groans
Glory succeeds, and the realm’s second crown, so

50 And in dearth’s time large power of furnishing
Bread: so appropriate a type of Christ,
So lightsome type of Light, is manifest
To all whose mind hath eyes, that they may see
In a face-mirror their sure hope.

55 The patriarch Judah, see; the origin 152
Of royal line, whence leaders rose, nor kings
Failed ever from his seed, until the Power
To come, by Gentiles looked for, promised long,
Moses, leader of the People, (he

60 Who, spurning briefly—blooming riches, left
The royal thresholds,) rather chose to bear
His people’s toils, afflicted, with bowed neck,
By no threats daunted, than to gain himself
Enjoyments, and of many penalties

65 Remission: admirable for such faith
And love, he, with God’s virtue armed, achieved
Great exploits: smote the nation through with plagues;
And left their land behind, and their hard king
Confounds, and leads the People back; trod waves;

70 Sunk the foes down in waters; through a “tree”
Made ever-bitter waters sweet; spake much
(Manifestly to the People) with the Christ,
From whose face light and brilliance in his own
Reflected shone; dashed on the ground the law

75 Accepted through some few, —implicit type,
And sure, of his own toils!—smote through the rock;
And, being bidden, shed forth streams; and stretched
His hands that, by a sign, he vanquish might
The foe; of Christ all severally, all

80 Combined through Christ, do speak. Great and approved,
He rests with praise and peace.
But Joshua,
The son of Nun, erst called Oshea—this man
The Holy Spirit to Himself did join
As partner in His name: hence did he cleave

85 The flood; constrained the People to pass o’er;
Freely distributed the land—the prize
Promised the fathers!—stayed both sun and moon
While vanquishing the foe; races extern
And giants’ progeny outdrave; razed groves;

90 Altars and temples levelled; and with mind
Loyal performed all due solemnities:
Type of Christ’s name; his virtue’s image.
Touching the People’s Judges shall I say
Singly? whose virtues, if unitedly

95 Recorded, fill whole volumes numerous
With space of words. But yet the order due
Of filling out the body of my words,
Demands that, out of many, I should tell
The life of few.
Of whom when Gideon, guide

100 Of martial band, keen to attack the foe,
(Not keen to gain for his own family,
By virtue, tutelary dignity,)
And needing to be strengthened in the faith
Excited in his mind, seeks for a sign

105 Whereby he either could not, or could, wage
Victorious war; to wit, that with the dew
A fleece, exposèd for the night, should be
Moistened, and all the ground lie dry around
(By this to show that, with the world, should dry

110 The enemies’ palm); and then again, the fleece
Alone remaining dry, the earth by night
Should with the self-same moisture be bedewed: 153
For by this sign he prostrated the heaps
Of bandits; with Christ’s People ’countering them

115 Without much soldiery, with cavalry
Three hundred—the Greek letter Tau, in truth,
That number is —with torches armed, and horns
Of blowers with the mouth: then was the fleece,
The people of Christ’s sheep, from holy seed

120 Born (for the earth means nations various,
And scattered through the orb), which fleece the word
Nourishes; night death’s image; Tau the sign
Of the dear cross; the horn the heraldings
Of life; the torches shining in their stand

125 The glowing Spirit: and this testing, too,
Forsooth, an image of Christ’s virtue was:
To teach that death’s fierce battles should not be
By trump angelic vanquished before
Th’ indocile People be deservedly

130 By their own fault left desolate behind,
And Gentiles, flourishing in faith, received
In praise.
Yea, Deborah, a woman far
Above all fame, appears; who, having braced
Herself for warlike toil, for country’s sake,

135 Beneath the palm-tree sang how victory
Had crowned her People; thanks to whom it was
That the foes, vanquisht, turned at once their backs,
And Sisera their leader fled; whose flight
No man, nor any band, arrested: him,

140 Suddenly renegade, a woman’s hand—
Jael’s —with wooden weapon vanquished quite,
For token of Christ’s victory.
With firm faith
Jephthah appears, who a deep-wounding vow
Dared make—to promise God a grand reward

145 Of war: him then, because he senselessly
Had promised what the Lord not wills, first meets
The pledge dear to his heart; who suddenly
Fell by a lot unhoped by any. He,
To keep his promise, broke the sacred laws

150 Of parenthood: the shade of mighty fear
Did in his violent mind cover his vow
Of sin: as solace of his widowed life
For wickedness, renown, and, for crime, praise,
He won.
Nor Samson’s strength, all corporal might

155 Passing, must we forget; the Spirit’s gift
Was this; the power was granted to his head.
Alone he for his People, daggerless,
Armless, an ass-jaw grasping, prostrated
A thousand corpses; and no bonds could keep

160 The hero bound: but after his shorn pride
Forsook him thralled, he fell, and, by his death,—
Though vanquisht,—bought his foes back ’neath his power.
Marvellous Samuel, who first received
The precept to anoint kings, to give chrism

165 And show men-Christs, so acted laudably
In life’s space as, e’en after his repose,
To keep prophetic rights.
David, great king and prophet, with a voice
Submiss was wont Christ’s future suffering

170 To sing: which prophecy spontaneously
His thankless lawless People did perform:
Whom God had promised that in time to come,
Fruit of his womb, a holy progeny,
He would on his sublime throne set: the Lord’s

175 Fixt faith did all that He had promised.
Corrector of an inert People rose
Emulous Hezekiah; who restored
Iniquitous forgetful men the Law:
All these God’s mandates of old time he first

180 Bade men observe, who ended war by prayers,
Not by steel’s point: he, dying, had a grant
Of years and times of life made to his tears:
Deservedly such honour his career
With zeal immense, Josiah, prince

185 Himself withal, in like wise acted: none
So much, before or after!—Idols he
Dethroned; destroyed unhallowed temples; burned 154
With fire priests on their altars; all the bones
Of prophets false updug; the altars burned,

190 The carcases to be consumed did serve
For fuel!
To the praise of signal faith,
Noble Elijah, (memorable fact!)
Was rapt; who hath not tasted yet death’s dues;
Since to the orb he is to come again.

195 His faith unbroken, then, chastening with stripes
People and frenzied king, (who did desert
The Lord’s best service), and with bitter flames
The foes, shut up the stars; kept in the clouds
The rain; showed all collectively that God

200 Is; made their error patent;—for a flame,
Coming with force from heaven at his prayers,
Ate up the victim’s parts, dripping with flood,
Upon the altar: —often as he willed,
So often from on high rushed fire; the stream

205 Dividing, he made pathless passable;
And, in a chariot raised aloft, was borne
To paradise’s hall.
Disciple his
Elisha was, succeeding to his lot:
Who begged to take to him Elijah’s lot

210 In double measure; so, with forceful stripe,
The People to chastise: such and so great
A love for the Lord’s cause he breathed. He smote
Through Jordan; made his feet a way, and crossed
Again; raised with a twig the axe down—sunk

215 Beneath the stream; changed into vital meat
The deathful food; detained a second time,
Double in length, the rains; cleansed leprosies;
Entangled foes in darkness; and when one
Offcast and dead, by bandits’slaughter slain

220 His limbs, after his death, already hid
In sepulchre, did touch, he—light recalled—
Isaiah, wealthy seer, to whom
The fount was oped,—so manifest his faith!
Poured from his mouth God’s word forth. Promised was

225 The Father’s will, bounteous through Christ; through him
It testified before the way of life,
And was approved: but him, though stainless found,
And undeserving, the mad People cut
With wooden saw in twain, and took away

230 With cruel death.
The holy Jeremy
Followed; whom the Eternal’s Virtue bade
Be prophet to the Gentiles, and him told
The future: who, because he brooded o’er
His People’s deeds illaudable, and said

235 (Speaking with voice presaging) that, unless
They had repented of betaking them
To deeds iniquitous against their slaves,
They should be captived, bore hard bonds, shut up
In squalid gaol; and, in the miry pit,

240 Hunger exhausted his decaying limbs.
But, after he did prove what they to hear
Had been unwilling, and the foes did lead
The People bound in their triumphal trains,
Hardly at length his wrinkled right hand lost

245 Its chains: it is agreed that by no death
Nor slaughter was the hero ta’en away.
Faithful Ezekiel, to whom granted was
Rich grace of speech, saw sinners’ secrets; wailed
His own afflictions; prayed for pardon; saw

250 The vengeance of the saints, which is to be
By slaughter; and, in Spirit wrapt, the place
Of the saints’ realm, its steps and accesses,
And the salvation of the flesh, he saw.
Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, too,

255 With Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, come;
Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai,
And Zechariah who did violence
Suffer, and Malachi—angel himself!
Are here: these are the Lord’s seers; and their choir,

260 As still they sing, is heard; and equally
Their proper wreath of praise they all have earned.
How great was Daniel! What a man!
What power!
Who by their own mouth did false witnesses
Bewray, and saved a soul on a false charge

265 Condemned; and, before that, by mouth resolved 155
The king’s so secret dreams; foresaw how Christ
Dissolves the limbs of kingdoms; was accused
For his Lord’s was made the lions’ prey;
And, openly preserved before all eyes,

270 Rested in peace.
His Three Companions, scarce
With due praise to be sung, did piously
Contemn the king’s iniquitous decree,
Out of so great a number: to the flames
Their bodies given were; but they preferred,

275 For the Great Name, to yield to penalties
Themselves, than to an image stretch their palms
On bended knees. Now their o’erbrilliant faith,
Now hope outshining all things, the wild fires
Hath quencht, and vanquisht the iniquitous!

280 Ezra the seer, doctor of Law, and priest
Himself (who, after full times, back did lead
The captive People), with the Spirit filled
Of memory, restored by word of mouth
All the seers’ volumes, by the fires and mould

285 Consumèd.
Great above all born from seed
Is John whose praises hardly shall we skill
To tell: the washer of the flesh: the Lord’s
Open forerunner; washer, too, of Christ,
Himself first born again from Him: the first

290 Of the new convenant, last of the old,
Was he; and for the True Way’s sake he died,
The first slain victim.
See God-Christ! behold
Alike, His Twelve-Fold Warrior-Youth! in all
One faith, one dove, one power; the flower of men;

295 Lightening the world with light; comrades of Christ
And apostolic men; who, speaking truth,
Heard with their ears Salvation, with their eyes
Saw It, and handled with their hand the late
From death recovered body, and partook

300 As fellow-guests of food therewith, as they
Themselves bear witness.
Him did Paul as well
(Forechosen apostle, and in due time sent),
When rapt into the heavens, behold: and sent
By Him, he, with his comrade Barnabas,

305 And with the earlier associates
Joined in one league together, everywhere
Among the Gentiles hands the doctrine down
That Christ is Head, whose members are the Church,
He the salvation of the body, He

310 The members’ life perennial;
He, made flesh, He, ta’en away for all, Himself first rose
Again, salvation’s only hope; and gave
The norm to His disciples: they at once
All variously suffered, for His Name,

315 Unworthy penalties.
Such members bears
With beauteous body the free mother, since
She never her Lord’s precepts left behind,
And in His home hath grown old, to her Lord
Ever most choice, having for His Name’s sake

320 Penalties suffered. For since, barren once,
Not yet secure of her futurity,
She hath outgiven a people born of seed
Celestial, and been spurned, and borne the spleen
Of her own handmaid; now ’tis time to see

325 This former-barren mother have a son
The heir of her own liberty; not like
The handmaid’s heir, yoked in estate to her,
Although she bare him from celestial seed
Conceived. Far be it that ye should with words

330 Unlawful, with rash voice, collectively
Without distinction, give men exemplary
(Heaven’s glowing constellations, to the mass
Of men conjoined by seed alone or blood),
The rugged bondman’s name; or that one think

335 That he may speak in servile style about
A People who the mandates followèd
Of the Lord’s Law. No: but we mean the troop
Of sinners, empty, mindless, who have placed
God’s promises in a mistrustful heart; 156

340 Men vanquisht by the miserable sweet
Of present life: that troop would have been bound
Capital slavery to undergo,
By their own fault, if sin’s cause shall impose
Law’s yoke upon the mass. For to serve God,

345 And be whole-heartedly intent thereon,
Untainted faith, and freedom, is thereto
Prepared spontaneous.
The just fathers, then,
And holy stainless prophets, many, sang
The future advent of the Lord; and they

350 Faithfully testify what Heaven bids
To men profane: with them the giants, men
With Christ’s own glory satiated, made
The consorts of His virtue, filling up
The hallowed words, have stablished our faith;

355 By facts predictions proving.
Of these men
Disciples who succeeded them throughout
The orb, men wholly filled with virtue’s breath,
And our own masters, have assigned to us
Honours conjoined with works.
Of whom the first

360 Whom Peter bade to take his place and sit
Upon this chair in mightiest Rome where he
Himself had sat, was Linus, great, elect,
And by the mass approved. And after him
Cletus himself the fold’s flock undertook;

365 As his successor Anacletus was
By lot located: Clement follows him;
Well known was he to apostolic men:
Next Evaristus ruled without a crime
The law. To Sixtus Sextus Alexander

370 Commends the fold: who, after he had filled
His lustral times up, to Telesphorus
Hands it in order: excellent was he,
And martyr faithful. After him succeeds
A comrade in the law, and master sure:

375 When lo! the comrade of your wickedness,
Its author and forerunner—Cerdo hight—
Arrived at Rome, smarting with recent wounds:
Detected, for that he was scattering
Voices and words of venom stealthily:

380 For which cause, driven from the band, he bore
This sacrilegious brood, the dragon’s breath
Engendering it. Blooming in piety
United stood the Church of Rome, compact
By Peter: whose successor, too, himself,

385 And now in the ninth place, Hyginus was,
The burden undertaking of his chair.
After him followed Pius—Hermas his
Own brother was; angelic “Pastor” he,
Because he spake the words delivered him:

390 And Anicetus the allotted post
In pious order undertook. ’Neath whom
Marcion here coming, the new Pontic pest,
(The secret daring deed in his own heart
Not yet disclosed,) went, speaking commonly,

395 In all directions, in his perfidy,
With lurking art. But after he began
His deadly arrows to produce, cast off
Deservedly (as author of a crime
So savage), reprobated by the saints,

400 He burst, a wondrous monster! on our view.

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