Disciplinary, Moral, and Ascetical Works
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
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This volume contains seven of Tertullian's works which deal with disciplinary, moral, and ascetical questions.1 The first five (To the Martyrs, Spectacles, The Apparel of Women, Prayer, and Patience) belong to the author's Catholic period; the two remaining (The Chaplet; Flight in Time of Persecution) were written after he had broken with the Church and given his intellectual adhesion to Montanism. ...
To the Martyrs
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THE REIGN OF the African Septimius Severus (193- 211) was not a time of peace for the Church in his native land where popular hatred intermittently led to sudden and violent outbursts against the Christians. The crises which persecution brought on for the Church called forth the remarkable pieces of apologetical literature which Tertullian, a recent convert to the faith, wrote in defense of his harassed brethren. From 197 he threw...
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BLESSED MARTYRS ELECT1 along with the nourishment for the body which our Lady Mother the Church2 from her breast, as well as individual brethren from their private resources, furnish you in prison,3 accept also from me some offering that will contribute to the sustenance of the spirit. For it is not good that the flesh be feasted while the spirit goes hungry. Indeed, if care is bestowed on that which is weak, there is all the more reason...
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IN THE TIME of the emperors the Roman world knew and enjoyed especially four kinds of public amusement: the chariot-races of the circus; the gladiatorial combats and hunting spectacles of the amphitheater; the performance of farces, such as mimes and pantomimes, in the theater; and the athletic contests of the stadium. The omnipotent rulers saw in these amusements the best means for purchasing popular favor, keeping the masses contented...
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LEARN, O YOU SERVANTS of God who are just now entering upon His service, and you who have already solemnly sworn allegiance to Him recall1 what principle of faith, what reason inherent in truth, what rule in our way of life2 forbid, along with the other errors of the world, also the pleasures of the spectacles, lest by ignorance or self-deception anyone fall into sin.3 (2) For so strong is the appeal of pleasure that it can bring about a prolongation of ignorance with a resulting facility for...
The Apparel of Women
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IN WRITING HIS TWO BOOKS on The Apparel of Women (De' cultu feminarum) Tertullian addresses himself especially to women who have lately become converts to the Christian faith.1 With solemn sternness, and often with caustic wit, he castigates the luxury and extravagance of dress and adornment which fashion and convention have imposed on the fair sex of his day. He describes these eccentricities of feminine vanity as fitting only for harlots and...
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IF THERE EXISTED upon earth a faith in proportion to the reward that faith will receive in heaven, no one of you, my beloved sisters, from the time when you came to know the living God and recognized your own state, that is, the condition of being a woman, would have desired a too attractive garb, and much less anything that seemed too ostentatious. I think, rather, that you would have dressed in mourning garments and even neglected your exterior, acting...
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HANDMAIDENS OF THE LORD, my fellow servants and sisters, on the strength of the right of fellow servantship and brother—the right by which I, the very last of you, am counted as one of you—I am emboldened to address to you some words,1 not, of course, of affection, but paving the way for affection in the cause of your salvation. Salvation, however, and not of women only, but also of men, is especially to be procured in the observance of modesty. ...
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WITH NO DIMINUTION of zeal but with considerably less intensity and aggressiveness than appear in most of his writings, Tertullian sets forth to the catechumens, presumably in his native city of Carthage, his instructions on Prayer. No traces of unorthodoxy are present to detract from these inspiring exhortations. Consequently, it may be concluded that the composition of this work falls within the early years of Tertullian's conversion (about 198-200). ...
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JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD—the Spirit of God and the Word of God and the ,Reason of God—the Word [which expresses] the Reason, and the Reason [which possesses] the Word, and the Spirit of both1—has prescribed for His new disciples of the New Testament a new form of prayer. For in this matter, also, it was fitting that new wine be stored in new wine skins and that a new patch be sewed upon a new garment.2 Whatever had prevailed in days...
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IN CONTRAST TO the impassioned rhetoric which stamps so distinctively the bulk of Tertullian's writings, the homily on Patiencepresents an urgent, but gentle, exhortation to the practice of this truly Christian virtue. 'I confess,' he begins, 'to the Lord my God that I certainly have courage, not to say presumption, to have dared to write on patience, a virtue which I am utterly unfit to practise, being as I am, a man of no account.' Such a disarming admission, followed by a humble acknowledgment of the need of divine...
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I CONFESS TO THE LORD my God that I certainly have courage, not to say presumption, to have dared to write on patience, a virtue which I am utterly unfit to practise, being, as I am, a man of no account. For, those who undertake to set forth and recommend any virtue should first give some evidence of practising this virtue, and they should give proper direction to their constant admonition by the example of their own conduct, lest they be put to the...
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THE TREATISE on The Chaplet is an occasional writing, . prompted by an incident which is briefly described in the introductory chapter. On the death of Emperor Septimius Severus on February 4, 211, his two sons and co-rulers Caracalla and Geta followed the time-honored custom of bestowing on each soldier of the army a gift of money (the so-called donativum). When the gift was distributed in the camp, the soldiers wore, according to the...
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A SHORT TIME AGO a largess, granted by our most excellent emperors, was distributed in the camp.1 As the roll was called, the soldiers came forward crowned with laurel. One of them, a truer soldier of God and more steadfast than the rest of his comrades who imagined that they could serve two masters,2 was nobly conspicuous when his name was called. For he was the only one whose head was bare; holding the useless crown in his hand, by this...
Flight in Time of Persecution
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IN AN EARLIER WORK, The Chaplet (1.5), Tertullian had touched upon a question which, in those uncertain times, was a matter of grave concern for every fervent Christian: Is the Christian allowed to take refuge in flight under the crucial test of persecution? The promise Tertullian had given on that occasion, namely, to give a detailed answer to this vexing question, he made good by writing a special treatise, Flight in Time of Persecution. ...
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A SHORT TIME AGO, my brother Fabius,1 on the occasion of some news or other, you asked me whether flight was justified in time of persecution. On that occasion, I offered some arguments against it—arguments that did justice to the place and the time, and satisfied the earnest requests of certain people—and took the rough draft along with me. Now I intend to take up my pen and to resume my discussion of the topic in fuller detail. For, you see, your request...
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Page Count: 323
Publication Year: 2010