De Fuga in Persecutione: background information.

Early Christian Writings

Title: De fuga in persecutione (On running away from persecution) 


From: (

Ante-Nicene Fathers

Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council

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By: Roger Pearse  

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Takes the line laid down by the New Prophecy and forbids running away from persecution, or paying off the police when bribes were demanded, rather than fleeing if possible, which was the general response of the church at that time.


Tertullian views the issue as being one of whether the Christian really knows God or not.  Someone who really knows that God is in charge is not afraid of the police, as he knows that God will silence them.  It amounts to apostasy to use expedient methods which the world itself knows are wrong, because we are not confident enough that God will do anything if we do not.  On who, then, are we relying?  — The world, God, or ourselves?  (Tertullian does not discuss the excesses that can result from a super-spiritual approach, but tries to stir up his hearers to think about what they are doing).

The work adopts the line preached by the Montanist prophets.  However Tertullian himself had earlier adopted a milder view in De Patientia.




Chapter 10 begins with a couple of Greek proverbs.

Chapter 13 details how the system of extortion from law-breakers worked, and the money obtained was referred to as de reatu, guilt-money.  Tertullian objects to Christians being classed with bandits and thieves.

Chapter 13, 2-3: Tertullian makes some points about how scripture should be — and should not be — used.


This text is found only in the members of the Cluny collection. (q.v.). 

The primary witnesses, therefore, are: 

• The 15th century Florence MS, Codex Florentinus BNC Conventi soppressi J.6.9 (N). (From the Alpha branch).  The text is not in P or M, the earlier codices.  (I don’t know if there are readings from D or G for this work).

• The 15th century Luxembourg MS, Codex Luxemburgensis 75 (X).

• The 15th century(1426) Florence MS, Codex Florentinus BNC Conventi soppressi J.6.10 (F).

• Rhenanus edition of 1521.  This is because his only source for this work was the now lost Hirsau MS (H), the ancestor of F and X.

Possibly also to be considered are:

• The Naples MS, Codex Neapolitanus, Mus. Naz. 55, portions of which were once in Vienna as Codex Vindobonensis 4194 (V).

• The BPL Leiden MS, Codex Leidensis latinus 2 (L) has been considered independent but is merely a copy of V.

which may or may not have some independent witness.  Many consider them simply copies of F, however.


Incipit Tertulliani de fuga Florentinus Magliebechianus,
. Conventi soppressi VI, 9 (N)
De fuga siue de persecutione In index prefixed to Florentinus Magliebechianus,
. Conventi soppressi VI, 9 (N)
Q. Septimii Florentis Tertuliani Incipit liber de fuga in persecutione Luxemburgensis 75 (X)
De persecutione All others


Unless otherwise indicated, details are from Quasten’s Patrology, 2 (1955). See also Editions page and Critical Editions page for more information.

[Note: I need to add some biblio, from l’Annee Phil. for the years 1954-1974 and from CTC after that].


J. J. THIERRY, Tertullianus, De fuga in persecutione, met vertaling en toel. Hilversum, 1941.

J. MARRA, Tertulliani De fuga in persecutione (Corpus script. lat. Paravianum 59). Turin, 1933. (1st edition 1932 – details by Dr. Andrea Nicolotti)

J. (Josephus = Giuseppe) MARRA, De spectaculis, De fuga in persecutione, De Pallio. Series: Corpus scriptorum Latinorum Paravianum. Torino Paravia (1954). 2nd ed. xviii+162p. 20cm. 800L. (Details APh26.p169 – extra details, Dr. Andrea Nicolotti).  With translation.

J. J. THIERRY, CCSL 2 (1954) 1133-1156. Checked.

V. BULHARTCSEL 76 (1957) 17-43Checked.  Online complete.  Also a copy without apparatus.



S. THELWALLANCL 11 (1869) pp.356-378; reprinted ANF 4 (1885), pp. 116-125.  Online.  Checked.

E. A. QUAIN, Fathers of the Church 40 (1959). pp.275-310. Checked. (Personal copy).


A. DE GENOUDEDe la Fuite pendant la persécution. Oeuvres de Tertullien2, Paris (1852). t. 2, pp. 423-447. (Personal photocopy).


K. A. H. KELLNERÜber das Fliehen in der Verfolgung, Tertullians sämtliche Schriften. Köln : DuMont-Schauberg (1882).  Vol. 1, pp.377-397. (Personal photocopy)


H. U. MEYBOOM, Over de vlucht in de vervolging (Oudchristel. geschriften, dl. 43). Leiden, 1932.


J. MARRAloc. cit., (1954).


László VANYÓ &c, Tertullianus muvei (The works of Tertullian), Budapest: Szent István Társulat (1986) 1100pp. (Ókeresztény frók 12). (Details CTC 2002.75).  The older translations of István Városi (Pat, Apol, Orat, Ux, Cult) and Marcell Mosolygó (Mart) have been recycled; the rest are new.


L. CASTIGLIONI, Ad Tertullianum adnotationes: Studi Ubaldi. Milan, 1937, 260 ff.

J. H. WASZINK, Museum 1 (1943) 168-170.



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