Abstract

Tertullian is among the earliest Christians to argue that the sinful condition of human beings is transmitted from Adam’s semen to all his descendants. He makes this argument to explain the necessity of the virgin birth, insisting that Christ has not been contaminated with Adam’s semen, but has still inherited Adam’s flesh through Mary. Tertullian’s materialism holds that as Christians are reborn in Christ, Christ’s semen cleanses the stain of Adam’s semen. This essay situates Tertullian in ancient embryological discussions about inheritance and descent and argues that he deploys patrilineal kinship language, rejecting maternal alternatives.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3184
Print ISSN
1067-6341
Pages
pp. 343-372
Launched on MUSE
2014-09-03
Open Access
No
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