Five Books in Reply to Marcion Book V. General Reply to Sundry of Marcion’s Heresies.

Early Christian Writings

Title: The Five Books in Reply to Marcion Book V.

Subheading: General Reply to Sundry of Marcion’s Heresies.

From: (CCEL Tertullian: 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: 167.12.6.T00

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of religious, environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material; the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. For purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Book V.

General Reply to Sundry of Marcion’s Heresies.

The first Book did the enemy’s words recall
In order, which the senseless renegade
Composed and put forth lawlessly; hence, too,
Touched briefly flesh’s hope, Christ’s victory,

5 And false ways’ speciousness. The next doth teach
The Law’s conjoined mysteries, and what
In the new covenant the one God hath
Delivered. The third shows the race, create
From freeborn mother, to be ministers

10 Sacred to seers and patriarchs; whom Thou,
O Christ, in number twice six out of all,
Chosest; and, with their names, the lustral times
Of our own elders noted, (times preserved
On record,) showing in whose days appeared

15 The author of this wickedness, unknown,
Lawless, and roaming, cast forth with his brood.
The fourth, too, the piacular rites recalls
Of the old Law themselves, and shows them types
In which the Victim True appeared, by saints

20 Expected long since, with the holy Seed.
This fifth doth many twists and knots untie,
Rolls wholly into sight what ills soe’er
Were lurking; drawing arguments, but not
Without attesting prophet.
And although

25 With strong arms fortified we vanquish foes,
Yet hath the serpent mingled so at once
All things polluted, impious, unallowed,
Commaculate,—the blind’s path without light!
A voice contaminant!—that, all the while

30 We are contending the world’s Maker is
Himself sole God, who also spake by voice
Of seers, and proving that there is none else
Unknown; and, while pursuing Him with praise,
Who is by various endearment known,

35 Are blaming—among other fallacies—
The Unknown’s tardy times: our subject’s fault
Will scarce keep pure our tongue. Yet, for all that,
Guile’s many hidden venoms us enforce
(Although with double risk) to ope our words.

40 Who, then, the God whom ye say is the true,
Unknown to peoples, alien, in a word,
To all the world? Him whom none knew before?
Came he from high? If ’tis his own he seeks,
Why seek so late? If not his own, why rob

45 Bandit-like? and why ply with words unknown
So oft throughout Law’s rein a People still
Lingering ’neath the Law? If, too, he comes
To pity and to succour all combined,
And to re-elevate men vanquisht quite

50 By death’s funereal weight, and to release
Spirit from flesh’s bond obscene, whereby
The inner man (iniquitously dwarfed)
Is held in check; why, then, so late appear
His ever-kindness, duteous vigilance?

55 How comes it that he ne’er at all before
Offered himself to any, but let slip
Poor souls in numbers? and then with his mouth
Seeks to regain another’s subjects: ne’er
Expected; not known; sent into the orb.

60 Seeking the “ewe” he had not lost before,
The Shepherd ought to have disrobed himself
Of flesh, as if his victor-self withal
Had ever been a spirit, and as such
Willed to rescue all expelled souls,


65 Without a body, everywhere, and leave
The spoiled flesh to earth; wholly to fill
The world on one day equally with corpses
To leave the orb void; and to raise the souls
To heaven. Then would human progeny

70 At once have ceased to be born; nor had
Thereafter any scion of your kith
Been born, or spread a new pest o’er the orb.
Or (since at that time none of all these things
Is shown to have been done) he should have set

75 A bound to future race; with solid heart
Nuptial embraces would he, in that case
Have sated quite; made men grow torpid, reft
Of fruitful seed; made irksome intercourse
With female sex; and closed up inwardly

80 The flesh’s organs genital: our mind
Had had no will, no potent faculty
Our body: after this the “inner man”
Could withal, joined with blood, have been infused
And cleaved to flesh, and would have ever been

85 Perishing. Ever perishes the “ewe:”
And is there then no power of saving her?
Since man is ever being born beneath
Death’s doom, what is the Shepherd’s work, if thus
The “ewe” is stated to be found? Unsought

90 In that case, but not rescued, she is proved.
But now choice is allowed of entering
Wedlock, as hath been ever; and that choice
Sure progeny hath yoked: nations are born
And folk scarce numerable, at whose birth

95 Their souls by living bodies are received;
Nor was it meet that Paul (though, for the time,
He did exhort some few, discerning well
The many pressures of a straitened time)
To counsel men in like case to abide

100 As he himself: for elsewhere he has bidden
The tender ages marry, nor defraud
Each other, but their compact’s dues discharge.
But say, whose suasion hath, with fraud astute,
Made you “abide,” and in divided love

105 Of offspring live secure, and commit crime
Adulterous, and lose your life? and, though
’Tis perishing, belie (by verbal name)
That fact. For which cause all the so sweet sounds
Of his voice pours he forth, that “you must do,

110 Undaunted, whatsoever pleases you;”
Outwardly chaste, stealthily stained with crime!
Of honourable wedlock, by this plea,
He hath deprived you. But why more? ’Tis well
(Forsooth) to be disjoined! for the world, too,

115 Expedient ’tis! lest any of your seed
Be born! Then will death’s organs cease at length!
The while you hope salvation to retain,
Your “total man” quite loses part of man,
With mind profane: but neither is man said

120 To be sole spirit, nor the flesh is called
“The old man;” nor unfriendly are the flesh
And spirit, the true man combined in one,
The inner, and he whom you call “old foe;”
Nor are they seen to have each his own set

125 Of senses. One is ruled; the other rules,
Groans, joys, grieves, loves; himself to his own flesh
Most dear, too; through which his humanity
Is visible, with which commixt he is
Held ever: to its wounds he care applies;

130 And pours forth tears; and nutriments of food
Takes, through its limbs, often and eagerly:
This hopes he to have ever with himself
Immortal; o’er its fracture doth he groan;
And grieves to quit it limb by limb: fixt time

135 Death lords it o’er the unhappy flesh; that so
From light dust it may be renewed, and death
Unfriendly fail at length, when flesh, released,
Rises again. This will that victory be
Supreme and long expected, wrought by Him,

140 The aye-to-be-revered, who did become
True man; and by His Father’s virtue won:
Who man’s redeemed limbs unto the heavens
Hath raised, and richly opened access up
Thither in hope, first to His nation; then

145 To those among all tongues in whom His work
Is ever doing: Minister imbued
With His Sire’s parent-care, seen by the eye
Of the Illimitable, He performed,
By suffering, His missions.
What say now

150 The impious voices? what th’ abandoned crew?
If He Himself, God the Creator’s self,
Gave not the Law, He who from Egypt’s vale
Paved in the waves a path, and freely gave
The seats which He had said of old, why comes

155 He in that very People and that land
Aforesaid? and why rather sought He not
Some other peoples or some rival realms?
Why, further, did He teach that, through the seers,
(With Name foretold in full, yet not His own,)

160 He had been often sung of? Whence, again,
Could He have issued baptism’s kindly gifts,
Promised by some one else, as His own works?
These gifts men who God’s mandates had transgressed,
And hence were found polluted, longed for,

165 And begged a pardoning rescue from fierce death.
Expected long, they came: but that to those
Who recognised them when erst heard, and now
Have recognised them, when in due time found,
Christ’s true hand is to give them, this, with voice

170 Paternal, the Creator-Sire Himself
Warns ever from eternity, and claims;
And thus the work of virtue which He framed,
And still frames, arms, and fosters, and doth now
Victorious look down on and reclothe

175 With His own light, should with perennial praise
What hath the Living Power done
To make men recognise what God can give
And man can suffer, and thus live? But since
Neither predictions earlier nor facts

180 The latest can suede senseless frantic men
That God became a man, and (after He
Had suffered and been buried) rose; that they
May credit those so many witnesses
Harmonious, who of old did cry aloud

185 With heavenly word, let them both learn to trust
At least terrestrial reason.
When the Lord
Christ came to be, as flesh, born into the orb
In time of king Augustus’ reign at Rome,
First, by decree, the nations numbered are

190 By census everywhere: this measure, then,
This same king chanced to pass, because the
Supreme, in whose high reigning hand doth lie
The king’s heart, had impelled him: he was first
To do it, and the enrolment was reduced

195 To orderly arrangement. Joseph then
Likewise, with his but just delivered wife
Mary, with her celestial Son alike,
Themselves withal are numbered. Let, then, such
As trust to instruments of human skill,

200 Who may (approving of applying them
As attestators of the holy word)
Inquire into this census, if it be
But found so as we say, then afterwards
Repent they and seek pardon while time still

205 Is had
The Jews, who own to having wrought
A grave crime, while in our disparagement
They glow, and do resist us, neither call
Christ’s family unknown, nor can affirm
They hanged a man, who spake truth, on a tree:

210 Ignorant that the Lord’s flesh which they bound
Was not seed-gendered. But, while partially
They keep a reticence, so partially
They triumph; for they strive to represent
God to the peoples commonly as man.

215 Behold the error which o’ercomes you both!
This error will our cause assist, the while,
We prove to you those things which certain are.
They do deny Him God; you falsely call
Him man, a body bodiless! and ah!

220 A various insanity of mind
Sinks you; which him who hath presumed to hint
You both do, sinking, sprinkle: for His deeds
Will then approve Him man alike and God
Commingled, and the world will furnish signs

225 No few.
While then the Son Himself of God
Is seeking to regain the flesh’s limbs,
Already robed as King, He doth sustain
Blows from rude palms; with spitting covered is
His face; a thorn-inwoven crown His head

230 Pierces all round; and to the tree Himself
Is fixed; wine drugged with myrrh, is drunk, and gall
Is mixt with vinegar; parted His robe,
And in it lots are cast; what for himself
Each one hath seized he keeps; in murky gloom,

235 As God from fleshly body silently
Outbreathes His soul, in darkness trembling day
Took refuge with the sun; twice dawned one day;
Its centre black night covered: from their base
Mounts move in circle, wholly moved was earth,

240 Saints’ sepulchres stood ope, and all things joined
In fear to see His passion whom they knew!
His lifeless side a soldier with bare spear
Pierces, and forth flows blood, nor water less
Thence followed. These facts they agree to hide,

245 And are unwilling the misdeed to own,
Willing to blink the crime.
Can spirit, then,
Without a body wear a robe? or is’t
Susceptible of penalty? the wound
Of violence does it bear? or die? or rise?

250 Is blood thence poured? from what flesh. since ye say
He had none? or else, rather, feigned He? if
’Tis safe for you to say so; though you do
(Headlong) so say, by passing over more
In silence. Is not, then, faith manifest?

255 And are not all things fixed? The day before
He then should suffer, keeping Passover,
And handing down a memorable rite
To His disciples, taking bread alike
And the vine’s juice, “My body, and My blood

260 Which is poured for you, this is,” did He say;
And bade it ever afterward be done.
Of what created elements were made,
Think ye, the bread and wine which were (He said)
His body with its blood? and what must be

265 Confessed? Proved He not Himself the world’s
Maker, through deeds? and that He bore at once
A body formed from flesh and blood?
This God
This true Man, too, the Father’s Virtue ’neath
An Image, with the Father ever was,

270 United both in glory and in age;1686
Because alone He ministers the words
Of the All-Holder; whom He upon earth
Accepts; through whom He all things did create:
God’s Son, God’s dearest Minister, is He!

275 Hence hath He generation, hence Name too,
Hence, finally, a kingdom; Lord from Lord;
Stream from perennial Fount! He, He it was
Who to the holy fathers (whosoe’er
Among them doth profess to have “seen God”)—

280 God is our witness—since the origin
Of this our world, appearing, opened up
The Father’s words of promise and of charge
From heaven high: He led the People out;
Smote through th’iniquitous nation; was Himself

285 The column both of light and of cloud’s shade;
And dried the sea; and bids the People go
Right through the waves, the foe therein involved
And covered with the flood and surge: a way
Through deserts made He for the followers

290 Of His high biddings; sent down bread in showers
From heaven for the People; brake the rock;
Bedewed with wave the thirsty; and from God
The mandate of the Law to Moses spake
With thunder, trumpet-sound, and flamey column

295 Terrible to the sight, while men’s hearts shook.
After twice twenty years, with months complete,
Jordan was parted; a way oped; the wave
Stood in a mass; and the tribes shared the land,
Their fathers’ promised boons! The Father’s word,

300 Speaking Himself by prophets’ mouth, that He
Would come to earth and be a man, He did
Predict; Christ manifestly to the earth
Then, expected for our aid,
Life’s only Hope, the Cleanser of our flesh,

305 Death’s Router, from th’ Almighty Sire’s empire
At length He came, and with our human limbs
He clothed Him. Adam—virgin—dragon—tree,
The cause of ruin, and the way whereby
Rash death us all had vanquisht! by the same

310 Our Shepherd treading, seeking to regain
His sheep—with angel—virgin—His own flesh—
And the “tree’s” remedy; whence vanquisht man
And doomed to perish was aye wont to go
To meet his vanquisht peers; hence, interposed,

315 One in all captives’ room, He did sustain
In body the unfriendly penalty
With patience; by His own death spoiling death;
Becomes salvation’s cause; and, having paid
Throughly our debts by throughly suffering

320 On earth, in holy body, everything,
Seeks the infern! here souls, bound for their crime,
Which shut up all together by Law’s weight,
Without a guard, were asking for the boons
Promised of old, hoped for, and tardy, He

325 To the saints’rest admitted, and, with light,
Brought back. For on the third day mounting up,
A victor, with His body by His Sire’s
Virtue immense, (salvation’s pathway made,)
And bearing God and man is form create,

330 He clomb the heavens, leading back with Him
Captivity’s first-fruits (a welcome gift
And a dear figure to the Lord), and took
His seat beside light’s Father, and resumed
The virtue and the glory of which, while

335 He was engaged in vanquishing the foe
He had been stripped; conjoined with Spirit; bound
With flesh, on our part. Him, Lord, Christ, King, God,
Judgment and kingdom given to His hand,
The father is to send unto the orb.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *