Thursday, November 20, 2014

41. The surviving Latin texts of Tertullian inevitably go back to Greek originals or things written by other people

Theodor Zahn pointed out that Tertullian's Latin work Scorpiace (Σκορπιακή) has a Greek title. Oehler says that J. Pamelius, in his epistle dedicatory to Philip II. of Spain, makes mention of a Greek copy of Tertullian in the library of that king. We've mentioned the works derived from Irenaeus and Justin but one should also consider Against Hermogenes was certainly written by Theophilus of Antioch (which explains the odd start to the text where Tertullian is forced to imply that the same 'Hermogenes' whom Theophilus railed against in the previous century made his way down to Carthage cf. Vinzent Christ's Resurrection p. 124).  What a prudent observer should conclude from this continuous recycling of material in the late second and early third centuries is (a) that the early Church Fathers not only plagiarized the writings of those who proceeded them but (b) had no scruples about 'correcting' strange or outdated beliefs and practices referenced in those texts.  Hence when von Soden made the astonishing suggestion that "Fathers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen all used Diatessarons in addition to their (normative) text. All deviations from the (normative) text in the early Fathers were due to the (corrupting) influence of the Diatessaron" (Petersen p. 156) he was only recognizing the borrowing of these men from Patristic sources who lived before Irenaeus's introduction of the fourfold gospel.

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