Of Patience background information.

Early Christian Writings

Title: De patientia (On patience) 


From: (tertullian.org)

Ante-Nicene Fathers

Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council

Related Link:   

By: Roger Pearse  

Our Ref:
ECST: 167.25.1.T77

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Tertullian admits he isn’t a patient man himself, and asks for your tolerance while he shows why it is so important.  This lovely little work can be read with profit by every believer.




Chapter 8 discusses how a Christian should take abuse and violence, and why.  The chapter is particularly suitable to those Christians who venture onto the ‘net and get trolled or abused.  Tertullian recognises the motives of these people, and discusses how to handle it, giving examples of ‘the utility and pleasure of patience.’

Note that the Latin text of Fredouille moves the chapter boundary between 6 and 7 — in Oehler, chapter 7 began ‘In this principal precept…’ whereas Fredouille places the division a sentence later.

» 13:7 refers to martyrdom as the ‘second baptism.’

In 16:3 he refers to the evil ‘patience’, the devil’s counterfeit, ‘which makes the slaves of the belly submit to contumelious patronage, in the subjection of their liberty to their gullet.’   This sounds to me (RP) like a memory of the dreadful dinner of the clients in Juvenal, Satire 5.


The work is present in two different collections of the works of Tertullian.

1.  It is contained in the members of the Cluny collection. (q.v.).  The primary witnesses, therefore, are:

• The 11th century Montpellier MS, Codex Montepessulanus H54 (M)

• The 11th century Payerne MS, Codex Paterniacensis 439, now at Selestat.

• The 15th century Florence MS, Codex Florentinus BNC Conventi soppressi J.6.9 (N). (From the Alpha branch).  The text is not in the remaining portion of M, the earlier codex from which N was copied.  [I don’t know if there are readings from D 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.

• Rhenanus edition of 1539, citing the Codex Gorziensis.

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.

2. Long extracts are contained in the 14th century Codex Vaticanus Ottobonianus 25 (O).

TITLE VARIATIONS[1]http://www.tertullian.org/manuscripts/title_variations.htm

INCIP DE PACIENTIA Montepessulanus H54 (M)
Incipit Liber Q. Septimii Florentis Tertulliani Luxemburgensis 75 (X)
p(re)sbiteri Carthaginensis De pacientia dei floruit ano CCo .
(Nothing) Ottobonianus Lat. 25 (O)

Note: The MSS have the overscore above the letter, but you need a modern browser (N4+/IE4+) to see it. It signifies an abbreviation.


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].


A. KROYMANN, CSEL 47 (1906) 1-24. Checked.

J. W. Ph. BORLEFFS, Libri De patientia, De baptismo, De paenitentia (Scriptores christiani primaevi 4). The Hague, 1948.

J. W. Ph. BORLEFFS, CCSL 1 (1954) 297-318. Checked.

Jean-Claude FREDOUILLE, De la Patience.  Sources Chrétiennes 310 (1999).  With French introduction, translation and copious notes.  Checked.  (Personal copy).  Text only online.


Henri QUELLET, Concordance verbale du “De patientia” de Tertullien. Hildesheim 1988 (Olms), 360 S. ISBN: 3-487-07994-1



C. DODGSON, Library of Fathers 10. Oxford, 1842, 327-348.

S. THELWALLANCL 11 (1869) pp.205-230; reprinted ANF 3 (1885), pp. 707-717.  Online.  Checked.

E. J. DALY, Fathers of the Church 40 (1959), pp.193-224. Checked. (Personal copy)


Mathieu CAUBÈRETraités de Tertulien sur l’ornement des femmes, les spectacles, le batême & la patience : avec une lettre aux martirs ; traduits en francois. Paris: Jacques Rollin (1733).  XVIII, [4], 377 [i.d. 397], [13] p. : 12º ; 17 cm (Details Biblioteca de Catalunya).

M. CHARPENTIEROeuvres de Tertullien: Apologétique. Prescriptions contre les gentils. Du Baptême. De l’Ornement des femmes. [Contre les spectacles. De la Patience. De la Couronne du soldat. Contre Marcion, extrait. De la Chair de Jésus-Christ. De la Résurrection de la chair. Aux nations. – listed in table of contents but not on title page] Paris : Ed. M. Charpentier, 1844. 12o, III-504 p.  Another title page has the address:”A. Delahays, 1845″. “Oeuvres de Tertullien traduites en français” Checked (Details from BNF catalogue and personal copy).  De Patientia is pp. 210-235. Online.

A. DE GENOUDEDe la Patience. Oeuvres de Tertullien2, Paris (1852). t. 2, pp.173-195. Checked. Online.

J.-C. FREDOUILLEloc. cit., 1999. Checked.


H. KELLNER, BKV7 (1912).  Online.


H. U. MEYBOOM, Over het geduld (Oudchristel. geschriften, dl. 46). Leiden, 1931.

Christine MOHRMANN, MC 1, 3. Utrecht, 1951, 301-328.


J. PELLICER DE OSSAU, Barcelona, 1639.

Pedro MANERO, TERTULIANO, Q. Septimio F., Apología contra los gentiles en defensa de los Cristianos. Madrid: Libr. Vda. de Hernando y Cia (1889). Series: Biblioteca Clasica 125. 18×12. 377p:-  1-130: Preface, 131-329: Apologeticum, 331-344: De exhortatione castitatis ch 1-4 only, 345-377: De Patientia.  Checked. (Personal copy)

Juan LEAL & Gerardo Lara SANTAELLA, Tertuliano: De la paciencia y exhortación a los mártires, Descripción: Introducción, traducción y notas por los padres Juan Leal y Gerardo Lara Santaella. Colección Excelsa. ediciones Aspas 1947. 129 páginas. (Details from a bookseller)

Arsenio SEAGE, Tertulliano: Tratado de la paciencia y exhortación a los mártires. Prólogo, traducción y notas de Arsenio Seage, Sevilla: Apostolado Mariano (1992), 70 p.  Series: Los Santos Padres vol. 4.  (Details from CTC C88).

Alfonso ROPERO, Lo Mejor de Tertuliano ; compilado por: Alfonso Ropero. Terrassa : Clie (2001). 335 p. : il. ; 24 cm. ISBN: 84-8267-206-1(cart.). Series: Grandes autores de la fe Patrística 4.  Contains: Apología contra los gentiles (Apol.); Exhortación a los mártires (Exort); La virtud de la paciencia (Pat); La oración (Orat); La respuesta a los judíos (Jud). (Details Biblioteca de Catalunya, personal copy).  pp.189-222.  Checked.


Selvaggia BORGHINIOpere di Tertulliano tradotte in Toscano. Rome (1756). p.321-350.  Personal copy. Checked.

Francesco SCIUTO, Tertulliano , Tre opere parenetiche : Ad Martyras, De Patientia, De Paenitentia : stralcio provvisorio ; testo e traduzione a cura di F. Sciuto. Catania : La Nuovagrafica di A. Tringali (1960) 113 p. ; 21 cm. (Details from BN Florence OPAC)

Francesco SCIUTO, Tertulliano , Tre opere parenetiche : Ad Martyras, De Patientia, De Paenitentia, Catania, Centro di studi sull’antico cristianesimo, Università di Catania, 1961, CXXIX, 115 p.; 24 cm., with Latin text. (Details from Dr. Andrea Niccolotti – this was the full version of the ‘provisional’ 1960 edition)

Danish: 1830 :

Tertullianus om Taalmodighed. Fordansket af Johannes Ferdinand Fen­ger. i: Nyt theologisk Bibliotek 16 (udg. af Jens Møller, Kbh. 1830), 63-102. (Details from Holger Villadsen)

1866 : Tertullian: Om Taalmodighed. Ved Vict. Heise. Sorø 1866. [2. udg. Kbh. 1884: Gudel. Smaaskr.] (Details from Holger Villadsen)


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.


R. KADERSCHAFKA, Quae ratio et rerum materiae et generis dicendi intercedere videatur inter Cypriani libellum ‘De bono patientiae’ et Tertulliani librum ‘De patientia’. Progr. Gymn. Pilsen, 1913.

M. L. CARLSON, Pagan Examples of Fortitude in the Latin Christian Apologists: CPh 43 (1948) 93-104.

J. W. PH. BORLEFFS, Een nieuw handschrift van Tertullianus : Handelingen van het 21e Nederl. Philologencongres. Groningen, 1950, 27.


1 http://www.tertullian.org/manuscripts/title_variations.htm

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