On the Flesh of Christ - Tertullian
This was written by our author in confutation of certain heretics who denied
the reality of Christ's flesh, or at least its identity with human
flesh'fearing that, if they admitted the reality of Christ's flesh, they
must also admit his resurrection in the flesh; and, consequently, the
resurrection of the human body after death.
Translated by Dr. Holmes.
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I. The General Purport of This Work. The Heretics, Marcion, Apelles,
and Valentinus, Wishing to Impugn the Doctrine of the Resurrection, Deprive
Christ of All Capacity for Such a Change by Denying His Flesh.
They who are so anxious to shake that belief in the resurrection which was
firmly settled  before the appearance of our modern Sadducees, 
as even to deny that the expectation thereof has any relation whatever to
the flesh, have great cause for besetting the flesh of Christ also with
doubtful questions, as if it either had no existence at all, or possessed a
nature altogether different from human flesh. For they cannot but be
apprehensive that, if it be once determined that Christ's flesh was human, a
presumption would immediately arise in opposition to them, that that flesh
must by all means rise again, which has already risen in Christ. Therefore
we shall have to guard our belief in the resurrection  from the same
armoury, whence they get their weapons of destruction. Let us examine our
Lord's bodily substance, for about His spiritual nature all are agreed.
 It is His flesh that is in question. Its verity and quality are the
points in dispute. Did it ever exist? whence was it derived? and of what
kind was it? If we succeed in demonstrating it, we shall lay down a law for
our own resurrection. Marcion, in order that he might deny the flesh of
Christ, denied also His nativity, or else he denied His flesh in order that
he might deny His nativity; because, of course, he was afraid that His
nativity and His flesh bore mutual testimony to each other's reality, since
there is no nativity without flesh, and no flesh without nativity. As if
indeed, under the prompting of that licence which is ever the same in all
heresy, he too might not very well have either denied the nativity, although
admitting the flesh,'like Apelles, who was first a disciple of his, and
afterwards an apostate,'or, while admitting both the flesh and the nativity,
have interpreted them in a different sense, as did Valentinus, who resembled
Apelles both in his discipleship and desertion of Marcion. At all events, he
who represented the flesh of Christ to be imaginary was equally able to pass
off His nativity as a phantom; so that the virgin's conception, and
pregnancy, and child-bearing, and then the whole course  of her infant
too, would have to be regarded as putative.  These facts pertaining to
the nativity of Christ would escape the notice of the same eyes and the same
senses as failed to grasp the full idea  of His flesh.
Chapter II. Marcion, Who Would Blot Out the Record of Christ's Nativity, is
Rebuked for So Startling a Heresy.
Clearly enough is the nativity announced by Gabriel.  But what has he
to do with the Creator's angel?  The conception in the virgin's womb
is also set plainly before us. But what concern has he with the Creator's
prophet, Isaiah?  He  will not brook delay, since suddenly
(without any prophetic announcement) did he bring down Christ from heaven.
 "Away," says he, "with that eternal plaguey taxing of Cæsar, and the
scanty inn, and the squalid swaddling-clothes, and the hard stable. 
We do not care a jot for  that multitude of the heavenly host which
praised their Lord at night.  Let the shepherds take better care of
their flock,  and let the wise men spare their legs so long a
journey;  let them keep their gold to themselves.  Let
Herod, too, mend his manners, so that Jeremy may not glory over him.
 Spare also the babe from circumcision, that he may escape the pain
thereof; nor let him be brought into the temple, lest he burden his parents
with the expense of the offering;  nor let him be handed to Simeon,
lest the old man be saddened at the point of death.  Let that old
woman also hold her tongue, lest she should bewitch the child." 
After such a fashion as this, I suppose you have had, O Marcion, the
hardihood of blotting out the original records (of the history) of Christ,
that His flesh may lose the proofs of its reality. But, prithee, on what
grounds (do you do this)? Show me your authority. If you are a prophet,
foretell us a thing; if you are an apostle, open your message in public; if
a follower of apostles,  side with apostles in thought; if you are
only a (private) Christian, believe what has been handed down to us: if,
however, you are nothing of all this, then (as I have the best reason to
say) cease to live.  For indeed you are already dead, since you are
no Christian, because you do not believe that which by being believed makes
men Christian,'nay, you are the more dead, the more you are not a Christian;
having fallen away, after you had been one, by rejecting  what you
formerly believed, even as you yourself acknowledge in a certain letter of
yours, and as your followers do not deny, whilst our (brethren) can prove
it.  Rejecting, therefore, what you once believed, you have
completed the act of rejection, by now no longer believing: the fact,
however, of your having ceased to believe has not made your rejection of the
faith right and proper; nay, rather,  by your act of rejection you
prove that what you believed previous to the said act was of a different
character.  What you believed to be of a different character, had
been handed down just as you believed it. Now  that which had been
handed down was true, inasmuch as it had been transmitted by those whose
duty it was to hand it down. Therefore, when rejecting that which had been
handed down, you rejected that which was true. You had no authority for what
you did. However, we have already in another treatise availed ourselves more
fully of these prescriptive rules against all heresies. Our repetition of
them hereafter that large (treatise) is superfluous,  when we ask
the reason why you have formed the opinion that Christ was not born.
Chapter III. Christ's Nativity Both Possible and Becoming. The Heretical
Opinion of Christ's Apparent Flesh Deceptive and Dishonourable to God, Even
on Marcion's Principles.
Since  you think that this lay within the competency of your own
arbitrary choice, you must needs have supposed that being born  was
either impossible for God, or unbecoming to Him. With God, however, nothing
is impossible but what He does not will. Let us consider, then, whether He
willed to be born (for if He had the will, He also had the power, and was
born). I put the argument very briefly. If God had willed not to be born, it
matters not why, He would not have presented Himself in the likeness of man.
Now who, when he sees a man, would deny that he had been born? What God
therefore willed not to be, He would in no wise have willed the seeming to
be. When a thing is distasteful, the very notion  of it is scouted;
because it makes no difference whether a thing exist or do not exist, if,
when it does not exist, it is yet assumed to exist. It is of course of the
greatest importance that there should be nothing false (or pretended)
attributed to that which really does not exist.  But, say you, His
own consciousness (of the truth of His nature) was enough for Him. If any
supposed that He had been born, because they saw Him as a man, that was
their concern.  Yet with how much more dignity and consistency would
He have sustained the human character on the supposition that He was truly
born; for if He were not born, He could not have undertaken the said
character without injury to that consciousness of His which you on your side
attribute to His confidence of being able to sustain, although not born, the
character of having been born even against! His own consciousness! 
Why, I want to know,  was it of so much importance, that Christ
should, when perfectly aware what He really was, exhibit Himself as being
that which He was not? You cannot express any apprehension that,  if
He had been born and truly clothed Himself with man's nature, He would have
ceased to be God, losing what He was, while becoming what He was not. For
God is in no danger of losing His own state and condition. But, say you, I
deny that God was truly changed to man in such wise as to be born and endued
with a body of flesh, on this ground, that a being who is without end is
also of necessity incapable of change. For being changed into something else
puts an end to the former state. Change, therefore, is not possible to a
Being who cannot come to an end. Without doubt, the nature of things which
are subject to change is regulated by this law, that they have no permanence
in the state which is undergoing change in them, and that they come to an
end from thus wanting permanence, whilst they lose that in the process of
change which they previously were. But nothing is equal with God; His nature
is different  from the condition of all things. If, then, the things
which differ from God, and from which God differs, lose what existence they
had whilst they are undergoing change, wherein will consist the difference
of the Divine Being from all other things except in His possessing the
contrary faculty of theirs,'in other words, that God can be changed into all
conditions, and yet continue just as He is? On any other supposition, He
would be on the, same level with those things which, when changed, lose the
existence they had before; whose equal, of course, He is not in any other
respect, as He certainly is not in the changeful issues  of their
nature. You have sometimes read and believed that the Creator's angels have
been changed into human form, and have even borne about so veritable a body,
that Abraham even washed their feet,  and Lot was rescued from the
Sodomites by their hands;  an angel, moreover, wrestled with a man
so strenuously with his body, that the latter desired to be let loose, so
tightly was he held.  Has it, then, been permitted to angels, which
are inferior to God, after they have been changed into human bodily form,
 nevertheless to remain angels? and will you deprive God, their
superior, of this faculty, as if Christ could not continue to be God, after
His real assumption of the nature of man? Or else, did those angels appear
as phantoms of flesh? You will not, however, have the courage to say this;
for if it be so held in your belief, that the Creator's angels are in the
same condition as Christ, then Christ will belong to the same God as those
angels do, who are like Christ in their condition. If you had not purposely
rejected in some instances, and corrupter in others, the Scriptures which
are opposed to your opinion, you would have been confuted in this matter by
the Gospel of John, when it declares that the Spirit descended in the body
 of a dove, and sat upon the Lord.  When the said Spirit was
in this condition, He was as truly a dove as He was also a spirit; nor did
He destroy His own proper substance by the assumption of an extraneous
substance. But you ask what becomes of the dove's body, after the return of
the Spirit back to heaven, and similarly in the case of the angels. Their
withdrawal was effected in the same manner as their appearance had been. If
you had seen how their production out of nothing had been effected, you
would have known also the process of their return to nothing. If the initial
step was out of sight, so was also the final one. Still there was solidity
in their bodily substance, whatever may have been the force by which the
body became visible.What is written cannot but have been.
Chapter IV. God's Honour in the Incarnation of His Son Vindicated.
Marcion's Disparagement of Human Flesh Inconsistent as Well as Impious.
Christ Has Cleansed the Flesh. The Foolishness of God is Most Wise.
Since, therefore, you do not reject the assumption of a body  as
impossible or as hazardous to the character of God, it remains for you to
repudiate and censure it as unworthy of Him. Come now, beginning from the
nativity itself, declaim  against the uncleanness of the generative
elements within the womb, the filthy concretion of fluid and blood, of the
growth of the flesh for nine: months long out of that very mire. Describe
the womb as it enlarges  from day to day, heavy, troublesome,
restless even in sleep, changeful in its feelings of dislike and desire.
Inveigh now likewise against the shame itself of a woman in travail 
which, however, ought rather to be honoured in consideration of that peril,
or to be held sacred  in respect of (the mystery of) nature. Of
course you are horrified also at the infant, which is shed into life with
the embarrassments which accompany it from the womb;  you likewise,
of course, loathe it even after it is washed, when it is dressed out in its
swaddling-clothes, graced with repeated anointing,  smiled on with
nurse's fawns. This reverend course of nature,  you, O Marcion, (are
pleased to) spit upon; and yet, in what way were you born? You detest a
human being at his birth; then after what fashion do you love anybody?
Yourself, of course, you had no love of, when you departed from the Church
and the faith of Christ. But never mind,  if you are not on good
terms with yourself, or even if you were born in a way different from other
people. Christ, at any rate, has loved even that man who was condensed in
his mother's womb amidst all its uncleannesses, even that man who was
brought into life out of the said womb, even that man who was nursed amidst
the nurse's simpers.  For his sake He came down (from heaven), for
his sake He preached, for his sake "He humbled Himself even unto death'the
death of the cross."  He loved, of course, the being whom He
redeemed at so great a cost. If Christ is the Creator's Son, it was with
justice that He loved His own (creature); if He comes from another god, His
love was excessive, since He redeemed a being who belonged to another. Well,
then, loving man He loved his nativity also, and his flesh as well. Nothing
can be loved apart from that through which whatever exists has its
existence. Either take away nativity, and then show us your man; or else
withdraw the flesh, and then present to our view the being whom God has
redeemed'since it is these very conditions  which constitute the man
whom God has redeemed. And are you for turning these conditions into
occasions of blushing to the very creature whom He has redeemed, (censuring
them), too, us unworthy of Him who certainly would not have redeemed them
had He not loved them? Our birth He reforms from death by a second birth
from heaven;  our flesh He restores from every harassing malady;
when leprous, He cleanses it of the stain; when blind, He rekindles its
light; when palsied, He renews its strength; when possessed with devils, He
exorcises it; when dead, He reanimates it,'then shall we blush to own it?
If, to be sure,  He had chosen to be born of a mere animal, and were
to preach the kingdom of heaven invested with the body of a beast either
wild or tame, your censure (I imagine) would have instantly met Him with
this demurrer: "This is disgraceful for God, and this is unworthy of the Son
of God, and simply foolish." For no other reason than because one thus
judges. It is of course foolish, if we are to judge God by our own
conceptions. But, Marcion, consider well this Scripture, if indeed you have
not erased it: "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound
the wise."  Now what are those foolish things? Are they the
conversion of men to the worship of the true God, the rejection of error,
the whole training in righteousness, chastity, mercy, patience, and
innocence? These things certainly are not "foolish." Inquire again, then, of
what things he spoke, and when you imagine that you have discovered what
they are will you find anything to be so "foolish" as believing in a God
that has been born, and that of a virgin, and of a fleshly nature too, who
wallowed in all the before-mentioned humiliations of nature? But some one
may say, "These are not the foolish things; they must be other things which
God has chosen to confound the wisdom of the world." And yet, according to
the world's wisdom, it is more easy to believe that Jupiter became a bull or
a swan, if we listen to Marcion, than that Christ really became a man.
Chapter V. Christ Truly Lived and Died in Human Flesh. Incidents of His
Human Life on Earth, and Refutation of Marcion's Docetic Parody of the Same.
There are, to be sure, other things also quite as foolish (as the birth of
Christ), which have reference to the humiliations and sufferings of God. Or
else, let them call a crucified God "wisdom." But Marcion will apply the
knife  to this doctrine also, and even with greater reason. For
which Is more unworthy of God, which is more likely to raise a blush of
shame, that God should be born, or that He should die? that He should bear
the flesh, or the cross? be circumcised, or be crucified? be cradled, or be
coffined?  be laid in a manger, or in a tomb? Talk of "wisdom!" You
will show more of that if you refuse to believe this also. But, after all,
you will not be "wise" unless you become a "fool" to the world, by
believing" the foolish things of God." Have you, then, cut away  all
sufferings from Christ, on the ground that, as a mere phantom, He was
incapable of experiencing them? We have said above that He might possibly
have undergone the unreal mockeries  of an imaginary birth and
infancy. But answer me at once, you that murder truth: Was not God really
crucified? And, having been really crucified, did He not really die? And,
having indeed really died, did He not really rise again? Falsely did Paul
 "determine to know nothing amongst us but Jesus and Him crucified;
"  falsely has he impressed upon us that He was buried; falsely
inculcated that He rose again. False, therefore, is our faith also. And all
that we hope for from Christ will be a phantom. O thou most infamous of men,
who acquittest of all guilt  the murderers of God! For nothing did
Christ suffer from them, if He really suffered nothing at all. Spare the
whole world's one only hope, thou who art destroying the indispensable
dishonour of our faith  Whatsoever is unworthy of God, is of gain to
me. I am safe, if I am not ashamed of my Lord. "Whosoever," says He, "shall
be ashamed of me, of him will I also be ashamed."  Other matters for
shame find I none which can prove me to be shameless in a good sense, and
foolish in a happy one, by my own contempt of shame. The Son of God was
crucified; I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the
Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd.
 And He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is
impossible. But how will all this be true in Him, if He was not Himself
true'if He really had not in Himself that which might be crucified, might
die, might be buried, and might rise again? I mean this flesh suffused with
blood, built up with bones, interwoven with nerves, entwined with veins, a
flesh which knew how to be born, and how to die, human without doubt, as
born of a human being. It will therefore be mortal in Christ, because Christ
is man and the Son of man. Else why is Christ man and the Son of man, if he
has nothing of man, and nothing from man? Unless it be either that man is
anything else than flesh, or man's flesh comes from any other source than
man, or Mary is anything else than a human being, or Marcion's man is as
Marcion's god.  Otherwise Christ could not be described as being man
without flesh, nor the Son of man without any human parent; just as He is
not God without the Spirit of God, nor the Son of God without having God for
His father. Thus the nature  of the two substances displayed Him as
man and God,'in one respect born, in the other unborn; l in one respect
fleshly in the other spiritual; in one sense weak in the other exceeding
strong; in on sense dying, in the other living. This property of the two
states'the divine and the human'is distinctly asserted  with equal
truth of both natures alike, with the same belief both in respect of the
Spirit  and of the flesh. The powers of the Spirit,  proved
Him to be God, His sufferings attested the flesh of man. If His powers were
not without the Spirit  in like manner, were not His sufferings
without the flesh. if His flesh with its sufferings was fictitious, for the
same reason was the Spirit false with all its powers. Wherefore halve
 Christ with a lie? He was wholly the truth. Believe me, He chose
rather to be born, than in any part to pretend'and that indeed to His own
detriment'that He was bearing about a flesh hardened without bones, solid
without muscles, bloody without blood, clothed without the tunic of skin,
 hungry without appetite, eating without teeth, speaking without a
tongue, so that His word was a phantom to the ears through an imaginary
voice. A phantom, too, it was of course after the resurrection, when,
showing His hands and His feet for the disciples to examine, He said,
"Behold and see that it is I myself, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones,
as ye see me have; "  without doubt, hands, and feet, and bones are
not what a spirit possesses, but only the flesh. Howdo you interpret this
statement, Marcion, you who tell us that Jesus comes only from the most
excellent God, who is both simple and good? See how He rather cheats, and
deceives, and juggles the eyes of all, and the senses of all, as well as
their access to and contact with Him! You ought rather to have brought
Christ down, not from heaven, but from some troop of mountebanks, not as God
besides man, but simply as a man, a magician; not as the High Priest of our
salvation, but as the conjurer in a show; not as the raiser of the dead, but
as the misleader  of the living,'except that, if He were a magician,
He must have had a nativity!
Chapter VI. The Doctrine of Apelles Refuted, that Christ's Body Was of
Sidereal Substance, Not Born. Nativity and Mortality are Correlative
Circumstances, and in Christ's Case His Death Proves His Birth.
But certain disciples  of the heretic of Pontus, compelled to be
wiser than their teacher, concede to Christ real flesh, without effect,
however, on  their denial of His nativity. He might have had, they
say, a flesh which was not at all born. So we have found our way "out of a
frying-pan," as the proverb runs, "into the fire,"  'from Marcion to
Apelles. This man having first fallen from the principles of Marcion into
(intercourse with) a woman, in the flesh, and afterwards shipwrecked
himself, in the spirit, on the virgin Philumene,  proceeded from
that time  to preach that the body of Christ was of solid flesh, but
without having been born. To this angel, indeed, of Philumene, the apostle
will reply in tones like those in which he even then predicted him, saying,
"Although an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that
which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed."  To the
arguments, however, which have been indicated just above, we have now to
show our resistance. They allow that Christ really had a body. Whence was
the material of it, if not from the same sort of thing as  that in
which He appeared? Whence came His body, if His body were not flesh? Whence
came His flesh, if it were not born? Inasmuch as that which is born must
undergo this nativity in order to become flesh. He borrowed, they say, His
flesh from the stars, and from the substances of the higher world. And they
assert it for a certain principle, that a body without nativity is nothing
to be astonished at, because it has been submitted to angels to appear even
amongst ourselves in the flesh without the intervention of the womb. We
admit, of course, that such facts have been related. But then, how comes it
to pass that a faith which holds to a different rule borrows materials for
its own arguments from the faith which it impugns? What has it to do with
Moses, who has rejected the God of Moses? Since the God is a different one,
everything belonging to him must be different also. But let the heretics
always use the Scriptures of that God whose world they also enjoy. The fact
will certainly recoil on them as a witness to judge them, that they maintain
their own blasphemies from examples derived from Him.  But it is an
easy task for the truth to prevail without raising any such demurrer against
them. When, therefore, they set forth the flesh of Christ after the pattern
of the angels, declaring it to be not born, and yet flesh for all that, I
should wish them to compare the causes, both in Christ's case and that of
the angels, wherefore they came in the flesh. Never did any angel descend
for the purpose of being crucified, of tasting death, and of rising again
from the dead. Now, since there never was such a reason for angels becoming
embodied, you have the cause why they assumed flesh without undergoing
birth. They had not come to die, therefore they also (came not) to be born.
Christ, however, having been sent to die, had necessarily to be also born,
that He might be capable of death; for nothing is in the habit of dying but
that which is born. Between nativity and mortality there is a mutual
contrast. The law  which makes us die is the cause of our being
born. Now, since Christ died owing to the condition which undergoes death,
but that undergoes death which is also born, the consequence was'nay, it was
an antecedent necessity-that He must have been born also,  by reason
of the condition which undergoes birth; because He had to die in obedience
to that very condition which, because it begins with birth, ends in death.
 It was not fitting for Him not to be born under the pretence 
that it was fitting for Him to die. But the Lord Himself at that very time
appeared to Abraham amongst those angels without being born, and yet in the
flesh without doubt, in virtue of the before-mentioned diversity of cause.
You, however, cannot admit this, since you do not receive that Christ, who
was even then rehearsing  how to converse with, and liberate, and
judge the human race, in the habit of a flesh which as yet was not born,
because it did not yet mean to die until both its nativity and mortality
were previously (by prophecy) announced. Let them, then, prove to us that
those angels derived their flesh from the stars. If they do not prove it
because it is not written, neither will the flesh of Christ get its origin
therefrom, for which they borrowed the precedent of the angels. It is plain
that the angels bore a flesh which was not naturally their own; their nature
being of a spiritual substance, although in some sense peculiar to
themselves, corporeal; and yet they could be transfigured into human shape,
and for the time be able to appear and have intercourse with men. Since,
therefore, it has not been told us whence they obtained their flesh, it
remains for us not to doubt in our minds that a property of angelic power is
this, to assume to themselves bodily Shape out of no material substance. How
much more, you say, is it (within their competence to take a body) out of
some material substance? That is true enough. But there is no evidence of
this, because Scripture says nothing. Then, again,  how should they
who are able to form themselves into that which by nature they are not, be
unable to do this out of no material substance? If they become that which
they are not, why cannot they so become out of that which is not? But that
which has not existence when it comes into existence, is made out of
nothing. This is why it is unnecessary either to inquire or to demonstrate
what has subsequently become of their  bodies. What came out of
nothing, came to nothing. They, who were able to convert themselves into
flesh have it in their power to convert nothing itself into flesh. It is a
greater thing to change a nature than to make matter. But even if it were
necessary to suppose that angels derived their flesh from some material
substance, it is surely more credible that it was from some earthly matter
than from any kind of celestial substances, since it was composed of so
palpably terrene a quality that it fed on earthly ailments. Suppose that
even now a celestial flesh  had fed on earthly aliments, although
it was not itself earthly, in the same way that earthly flesh actually fed
on celestial aliments, although it had nothing of the celestial nature (for
we read of manna having been food for the people: "Man," says the Psalmist,
"did eat angels' bread,"  ) yet this does not once infringe the
separate condition of the Lord's flesh, because of His different
destination. For One who was to be truly a man, even unto death, it was
necessary that He should be clothed with that flesh to which death belongs.
Now that flesh to which death belongs is preceded by birth.
Chapter VII. Explanation of the Lord's Question About His Mother and His
Brethren. Answer to the Cavils of Apelles and Marcion, Who Support Their
Denial of Christ's Nativity by It.
But whenever a dispute arises about the nativity, all who reject it as
creating a presumption in favour of the reality of Christ's flesh, wilfully
deny that God Himself was born, on the ground that He asked, "Who is my
mother, and who are my brethren? "  Let, therefore, Apelles hear
what was our answer to Marcion in that little work, in which we challenged
his own (favourite) gospel to the proof, even that the material
circumstances of that remark (of the Lord's) should be considered. 
First of all, nobody would have told Him that His mother and brethren were
standing outside, if he were not certain both that He had a mother and
brethren, and that they were the very persons whom he was then
announcing,'who had either been known to him before, or were then and there
discovered by him; although heretics  have removed this passage
from the gospel, because those who were admiring His doctrine said that His
supposed father, Joseph the carpenter, and His mother Mary, and His
brethren, and His sisters, were very well known to them. But it was with the
view of tempting Him, that they had mentioned to Him a mother and brethren
which He did not possess. The Scripture says nothing of this, although it is
not in other instances silent when anything was done against Him by way of
temptation. "Behold," it says, "a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted
Him."  And in another passage: "The Pharisees also came unto Him,
tempting Him." Who  was to prevent its being in this place also
indicated that this was done with the view of tempting Him? I do not admit
what you advance of your own apart from Scripture. Then there ought to be
suggested  some occasion  for the temptation. What could
they have thought to be in Him which required temptation? The question, to
be sure, whether He had been born or not? For if this point were denied in
His answer, it might come out on the announcement of a temptation. And yet
no temptation, when aiming at the discovery of the point which prompts the
temptation by its doubtfulness, falls upon one so abruptly, as not to be
preceded by the question which compels the temptation whilst raising the
doubt. Now, since the nativity of Christ had never come into question, how
can you contend that they meant by their temptation to inquire about a point
on which they had never raised a doubt? Besides,  if He had to be
tempted about His birth, this of course was not the proper way of doing
it,'by announcing those persons who, even on the supposition of His birth,
might possibly not have been in existence. We have all been born, and yet
all of us have not either brothers or mother. He might with more probability
have had even a father than a mother, and uncles more likely than brothers.
Thus is the temptation about His birth unsuitable, for it might have been
contrived without any mention of either His mother or His brethren. It is
clearly more credible that, being certain that He had both a mother and
brothers, they tested His divinity rather than His nativity, whether, when
within, He knew what was without; being tried by the untrue announcement of
the presence of persons who were not present. But the artifice of a
temptation might have been thwarted thus: it might have happened that He
knew that those whom they were announcing to be "standing without," were in
fact absent by the stress either of sickness, or of business, or a journey
which He was at the time aware of. No one tempts (another) in a way in which
he knows that he may have himself to bear the shame of the temptation. There
being, then, no suitable occasion for a temptation, the announcement that
His mother and His brethren had actually turned up  recovers its
naturalness. But there is some ground for thinking that Christ's answer
denies His mother and brethren for the present, as even Apelles might learn.
"The Lord's brethren had not yet believed in Him."  So is it
contained in the Gospel which was published before Marcion's time; whilst
there is at the same time a want of evidence of His mother's adherence to
Him, although the Marthas and the other Marys were in constant attendance on
Him. In this very passage indeed, their unbelief is evident. Jesus was
teaching the way of life, preaching the kingdom of God and actively engaged
in healing infirmities of body and soul; but all the while, whilst strangers
were intent on Him, His very nearest relatives were absent. By and by they
turn up, and keep outside; but they do not go in, because, forsooth, they
set small store  on that which was doing within; nor do they even
wait,  as if they had something which they could contribute more
necessary than that which He was so earnestly doing; but they prefer to
interrupt Him, and wish to call Him away from His great work Now, I ask you,
Apelles, or will you Marcion, please (to tell me), if you happened to be at
a stage play, or had laid a wager  on a foot race or a chariot
race, and were called away by such a message, would you not have exclaimed,
"What are mother and brothers to me? "  And did not Christ, whilst
preaching and manifesting God, fulfilling the law and the prophets, and
scattering the darkness of the long preceding age, justly employ this same
form of words, in order to strike the unbelief of those who stood outside,
or to shake off the importunity of those who would call Him away from His
work? If, however, He had meant to deny His own nativity, He would have
found place, time, and means for expressing Himself very differently,
 and not in words which might be uttered by one who had both a mother
and brothers. When denying one's parents in indignation, one does not deny
their existence, but censures their faults. Besides, He gave Others the
preference; and since He shows their title to this favour'even because they
listened to the word (of God)'He points out in what sense He denied His
mother and His brethren. For in whatever sense He adopted as His own those
who adhered to Him, in that did He deny as His  those who kept
aloof from Him. Christ also is wont to do to the utmost that which He
enjoins on others. How strange, then, would it certainly  have
been, if, while he was teaching others not to esteem mother, or father, or
brothers, as highly as the word of God, He were Himself to leave the word of
God as soon as His mother and brethren were announced to Him! He denied His
parents, then, in the sense in which He has taught us to deny ours'for
God's work. But there is also another view of the case: in the abjured
mother there is a figure of the synagogue, as well as of the Jews in the
unbelieving brethren. In their person Isreal remained outside, whilst the
new disciples who kept close to Christ within, hearing and believing,
represented the Church, which He called mother in a preferable sense and a
worthier brotherhood, with the repudiation of the carnal relationship. It
was in just the same sense, indeed, that He also replied to that exclamation
(of a certain woman), not denying His mother's "womb and paps," but
designating those as more "blessed who hear the word of God." 
Chapter VIII. Apelles and His Followers, Displeased with Our Earthly Bodies,
Attributed to Christ a Body of a Purer Sort. How Christ Was Heavenly Even in
His Earthly Flesh.
These passages alone, in which Apelles and Marcion seem to place their chief
reliance when interpreted according to the truth of the entire uncorrupted
gospel, ought to have been sufficient for proving the human flesh of Christ
by a defence of His birth. But since Apelles' precious set  lay a
very great stress on the shameful condition  of the flesh, which
they will have to have been furnished with souls tampered with by the fiery
author of evil,  and so unworthy of Christ; and because they on
that account suppose that a sidereal substance is suitable for Him, I am
bound to refute them on their own ground. They mention a certain angel of
great renown as having created this world of ours, and as having, after the
creation, repented of his work. This indeed we have treated of in a passage
by itself; for we have written a little work in opposition to them, on the
question whether one who had the spirit, and will, and power of Christ for
such operations, could have done anything which required repentance, since
they describe the said angel by the figure of "the lost sheep." The world,
then, must be a wrong thing,  according to the evidence of its
Creator's repentance; for all repentance is the admission of fault, nor has
it indeed any existence except through fault. Now, if the world  is
a fault, as is the body, such must be its parts'faulty too; so in like
manner must be the heaven and its celestial (contents), and everything which
is conceived and produced out of it. And "a corrupt tree must needs bring
forth evil fruit."  The flesh of Christ, therefore, if composed of
celestial elements, consists of faulty materials, sinful by reason of its
sinful origin;  so that it must be a part of that substance which
they disdain to clothe Christ with, because of its sinfulness,'in other
words, our own. Then, as there is no difference in the point of ignominy,
let them either devise for Christ some substance of a purer stamp, since
they are displeased with our own, or else let them recognise this too, than
which even a heavenly substance could not have been better. We read in so
many words:  "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man
is the Lord from heaven."  This passage, however, has nothing to do
with any difference of substance; it only contrasts with the once 
"earthy" substance of the flesh of the first man, Adam, the "heavenly"
substance of the spirit of the second man, Christ. And so entirely does the
passage refer the celestial man to the spirit and not to the flesh, that
those whom it compares to Him evidently become celestial'by the Spirit, of
course'even in this "earthy flesh." Now, since Christ is heavenly even in
regard to the flesh, they could not be compared to Him, who are not heavenly
in reference to their flesh.  If, then, they who become heavenly,
as Christ also was, carry about an "earthy" substance of flesh, the
conclusion which is affirmed by this fact is, that Christ Himself also was
heavenly, but in an "earthy" flesh, even as they are who are put on a level
with Him. 
Chapter IX. Christ's Flesh Perfectly Natural, Like Our Own. None of the
Supernatural Features Which the Heretics Ascribed to It Discoverable, on a
We have thus far gone on the principle, that nothing which is derived from
some other thing, however different it may be from that from which it is
derived, is so different as not to suggest the source from which it comes.
No material substance is without the witness of its own original, however
great a change into new properties it may have undergone. There is this very
body of ours, the formation of which out of the dust of the ground is a
truth which has found its way into Gentile fables; it certainly testifies
its own origin from the two elements of earth and water,'from the former by
its flesh, from the latter by its blood. Now, although there is a difference
in the appearance of qualities (in other words, that which proceeds from
something else is in development  different), yet, after all, what
is blood but red fluid? what is flesh but earth in an especial 
form? Consider the respective qualities,'of the muscles as clods; of the
bones as stones; the mammillary glands as a kind of pebbles. Look upon the
close junctions of the nerves as propagations of roots, and the branching
courses of the veins as winding rivulets, and the down (which covers us) as
moss, and the hair as grass, and the very treasures of marrow within our
bones as ores  of flesh. All these marks of the earthy origin were
in Christ; and it is they which obscured Him as the Son of God, for He was
looked on as man, for no other reason whatever than because He existed in
the corporeal substance of a man. Or else, show us some celestial substance
in Him purloined from the Bear, and the Pleiades, and the Hyades. Well,
then, the characteristics which we have enumerated are so many proofs that
His was an earthy flesh, as ours is; but anything new or anything strange I
do not discover. Indeed it was from His words and actions only, from His
teaching and miracles solely, that men, though amazed, owned Christ to be
man.  But if there had been in Him any new kind of flesh
miraculously obtained (from the stars), it would have been certainly well
known.  As the case stood, however, it was actually the ordinary
 condition of His terrene flesh which made all things else about Him
wonderful, as when they said, "Whence hath this man this wisdom and these
mighty works? "  Thus spake even they who despised His outward
form. His body did not reach even to human beauty, to say nothing of
heavenly glory.  Had the prophets given us no information whatever
concerning His ignoble appearance, His very sufferings and the very
contumely He endured bespeak it all. The sufferings attested His human
flesh, the contumely proved its abject condition. Would any man have dared
to touch even with his little finger, the body of Christ, if it had been of
an unusual nature;  or to smear His face with spitting, if it had
not invited it  (by its abjectness)? Why talk of a heavenly flesh,
when you have no grounds to offer us for your celestial theory? 
Why deny it to be earthy, when you have the best of reasons for knowing it
to be earthy? He hungered under the devil's temptation; He thirsted with the
woman of Samaria; He wept over Lazarus; He trembles at death (for "the
flesh," as He says, "is weak "  ); at last, He pours out His blood.
These, I suppose, are celestial marks? But how, I ask, could He have
incurred contempt and suffering in the way I have described, if there had
beamed forth in that flesh of His aught of celestial excellence? From this,
therefore, we have a convincing proof that in it there was nothing of
heaven, because it must be capable of contempt and suffering.
Chapter X. Another Class of Heretics Refuted. They Alleged that Christ's
Flesh Was of a Finer Texture, Animalis, Composed of Soul.
I now turn to another class, who are equally wise in their own conceit. They
affirm that the flesh of Christ is composed of soul,  that His soul
became flesh, so that His flesh is soul; and as His flesh is of soul, so is
His soul of flesh. But here, again, I must have some reasons. If, in order
to save the soul, Christ took a soul within Himself, because it could not be
saved except by Him having, it within Himself, I see no reason why, in
clothing Himself with flesh, He should have made that flesh one of soul,
 as if He could not have saved the soul in any other way than by
making flesh of it. For while He saves our souls, which are not only not of
flesh,  but are even distinct from flesh, how much more able was He
to secure salvation to that soul which He took Himself, when it was also not
of flesh? Again, since they assume it as a main tenet,  that Christ
came forth not to deliver the flesh, but only our soul, how absurd it is, in
the first place, that, meaning to save only the soul, He yet made it into
just that sort of bodily substance which He had no intention of saving! And,
secondly, if He had undertaken deliver our souls by means of that which He
carried, He ought, in that soul which He carried to have carried our soul,
one (that is) of the same condition as ours; and whatever is the condition
of our soul in its secret nature, it is certainly not one of flesh. However,
it was not our soul which He saved, if His own was of flesh; for ours is not
of flesh. Now, if He did not save our soul on the ground, that it was a soul
of flesh which He saved, He is nothing to us, because He has not saved our
soul. Nor indeed did it need salvation, for it was not our soul really,
since it was, on the supposition,  a soul of flesh. But yet it is
evident that it has been saved. Of flesh, therefore, it was not composed,
and it was ours; for it was our soul that was saved, since that was in peril
of damnation. We therefore now conclude that as in Christ the soul was not
of flesh, so neither could His flesh have possibly been composed of soul.
Chapter XI. The Opposite Extravagance Exposed. That is Christ with a Soul
Composed of Flesh'Corporeal, Though Invisible. Christ's Soul, Like Ours,
Distinct from Flesh, Though Clothed in It.
But we meet another argument of theirs, when we raise the question why
Christ, in assuming a flesh composed of soul, should seem to have had a soul
that was made of flesh? For God, they say, desired to make the soul visible
to men, by enduing it with a bodily nature, although it was before
invisible; of its own nature, indeed, it was incapable of seeing anything,
even its own self, by reason of the obstacle of this flesh, so that it was
even a matter of doubt whether it was born or not. The soul, therefore (they
further say), was made corporeal in Christ, in order that we might see it
when undergoing birth, and death, and (what is more) resurrection. But yet,
how was this possible, that by means of the flesh the soul should
demonstrate itself  to itself or to us, when it could not possibly
be ascertained that it would offer this mode of exhibiting itself by the
flesh, until the thing came into existence to which it was unknown,
 that is to say, the flesh? It received darkness, forsooth, in order
to be able to shine! Now,  let us first turn our attention to this
point, whether it was requisite that the soul should exhibit itself in the
manner contended for;  and next consider whether their previous
position be  that the soul is wholly invisible (inquiring further)
whether this invisibility is the result of its incorporeality, or whether it
actually possesses some sort of body peculiar to itself. And yet, although
they say that it is invisible, they determine it to be corporeal, but having
somewhat that is invisible. For if it has nothing invisible how can it be
said to be invisible? But even its existence is an impossibility, unless it
has that which is instrumental to its existence.  Since, however,
it exists, it must needs have a something through which it exists. If it has
this something, it must be its body. Everything which exists is a bodily
existence sui generis. Nothing lacks bodily existence but that which is
non-existent. If, then, the soul has an invisible body, He who had proposed
to make it  visible would certainly have done His work better
 if He had made that part of it which was accounted invisible,
visible; because then there would have been no untruth or weakness in the
case, and neither of these flaws is suitable to God. (But as the case stands
in the hypothesis) there is untruth, since He has set forth the soul as
being a different thing from what it really is; and there is weakness, since
He was unable to make it appear  to be that which it is. No one who
wishes to exhibit a man covers him with a veil  or a mask. This,
however, is precisely what has been done to the soul, if it has been clothed
with a covering belonging to something else, by being converted into flesh.
But even if the soul is, on their hypothesis, supposed  to be
incorporeal, so that the soul, whatever it is, should by some mysterious
force of the reason  be quite unknown, only not be a body, then in
that case it were not beyond the power of God'indeed it would be more
consistent with His plan'if He displayed  the soul in some new sort
of body, different from that which we all have in common, one of which we
should have quite a different notion,  (being spared the idea
that)  He had set His mind on  making, without an adequate
cause, a visible soul instead of  an invisible one'a fit incentive,
no doubt, for such questions as they start,  by their maintenance
of a human flesh for it.  Christ, however, could not have appeared
among men except as a man. Restore, therefore, to Christ, His faith; believe
that He who willed to walk the earth as a man exhibited even a soul of a
thoroughly human condition, not making it of flesh, but clothing it with
Chapter XII. The True Functions of the Soul. Christ Assumed It in His
Perfect Human Nature, Not to Reveal and Explain It, But to Save It. Its
Resurrection with the Body Assured by Christ.
Well, now, let it be granted that the soul is made apparent by the flesh,
 on the assumption that it was evidently necessary  that it
should be made apparent in some way or other, that is, as being incognizable
to itself and to us: there is still an absurd distinction in this
hypothesis, which implies that we are ourselves separate from our soul, when
all that we are is soul. Indeed,  without the soul we are nothing;
there is not even the name of a human being, only that of a carcase. If,
then, we are ignorant of the soul, it is in fact the soul that is ignorant
of itself. Thus the only remaining question left for us to look into is,
whether the soul was in this matter so ignorant of itself that it became
known in any way it could.  The soul, in my opinion,  is
sensual.  Nothing, therefore, pertaining to the soul is unconnected
with sense,  nothing pertaining to sense is unconnected with the
soul.  And if I may use the expression for the sake of emphasis, I
would say, "Animæ anima sensus est"'"Sense is the soul's very soul." Now,
since it is the soul that imparts the faculty of perception  to all
(that have sense), and since it is itself that perceives the very senses,
not to say properties, of them all how is it likely that it did not itself
receive sense as its own natural constitution? Whence is it to know what is
necessary for itself under given circumstances, from the very necessity of
natural causes, if it knows not its own property, and what is necessary for
it? To recognise this indeed is within the competence of every soul; it has,
I mean, a practical knowledge of itself, without which knowledge of itself
no soul could possibly have exercised its own functions.  I
suppose, too, that it is especially suitable that man, the only rational
animal, should have been furnished with such a soul as would make him the
rational animal, itself being pre-eminently rational. Now, how can that soul
which makes man a rational animal be itself rational if it be itself
ignorant of its rationality, being ignorant of its own very self? So far,
however, is it from being ignorant, that it knows its own Author, its own
Master, and its own condition. Before it learns anything about God, it names
the name of God. Before it acquires any knowledge of His judgment, it
professes to commend itself to God. There is nothing one oftener hears of
than that there is no hope after death; and yet what imprecations or
deprecations does not the soul use according as the man dies after a well or
ill spent life! These reflections are more fully pursued in a short treatise
which we have written, "On the Testimony of the Soul."  Besides, if
the soul was ignorant of itself from the beginning, there is nothing it
could  have learnt of Christ except its own quality.  It
was not its own form that it learnt of Christ, but its salvation. For this
cause did the Son of God descend and take on Him a soul, not that the soul
might discover itself in Christ, but Christ in itself. For its salvation is
endangered, not by its being ignorant of itself, but of the word of God.
"The life," says He, "was manifested,"  not the soul. And again,
"I am come to save the soul." He did not say, "to explain"  it. We
could not know, of course,  that the soul, although an invisible
essence, is born and dies, unless it were exhibited corporeally. We
certainly were ignorant that it was to rise again with the flesh. This is
the truth which it will be found was manifested by Christ. But even this He
did not manifest in Himself in a different way than in some Lazarus, whose
flesh was no more composed of soul  than his soul was of flesh.
 What further knowledge, therefore, have we received of the
structure  of the soul which we were ignorant of before? What
invisible part was there belonging to it which wanted to be made visible by
Chapter XIII. Christ's Human Nature. The Flesh and the Soul Both Fully and
Un-Confusedly Contained in It.
The soul became flesh that the soul might become visible.  Well,
then, did the flesh likewise become soul that the flesh might be
manifested?  If the soul is flesh, it is no longer soul, but flesh.
If the flesh is soul, it is no longer flesh, but soul. Where, then, there is
flesh, and where there is soul, it has become both one and the other.
 Now, if they are neither in particular, although they become both one
and the other, it is, to say the least, very absurd, that we should
understand the soul when we name the flesh, and when we indicate the soul,
explain ourselves as meaning the flesh. All things will be in danger of
being taken in a sense different from their own proper sense, and, whilst
taken in that different sense, of losing their proper one, if they are
called by a name which differs from their natural designation. Fidelity in
names secures the safe appreciation of properties. When these properties
undergo a change, they are considered to possess such qualities as their
names indicate. Baked clay, for instance, receives the name of brick.
 It retains not the name which designated its former state, 
because it has no longer a share in that state. Therefore, also, the soul of
Christ having become flesh,  cannot be anything else than that
which it has become nor can it be any longer that which it once was, having
become indeed  something else. And since we have just had recourse
to an illustration, we will put it to further use. Our pitcher, then, which
was formed of the clay, is one body, and has one name indicative, of course,
of that one body; nor can the pitcher be also called clay, because what it
once was, it is no longer. Now that which is no longer (what it was) is also
not an inseparable property.  And the soul is not an inseparable
property. Since, therefore, it has become flesh, the soul is a uniform solid
body; it is also a wholly incomplex being,  and an indivisible
substance. But in Christ we find the soul and the flesh expressed in simple
un-figurative  terms; that is to say, the soul is called soul, and
the flesh, flesh; nowhere is the soul termed flesh, or the flesh, soul; and
yet they ought to have been thus (confusedly) named if such had been their
condition. The fact, however, is that even by Christ Himself each substance
has been separately mentioned by itself, conformably of course, to the
distinction which exists between the properties of both, the soul by itself,
and the flesh by itself." "My soul," says He, "is exceeding sorrowful, even
unto death; "  and "the bread that I will give is my flesh, (which
I will give) for the life  of the world."  Now, if the
soul had been flesh, there would have only been in Christ the soul composed
of flesh, or else the flesh composed of soul.  Since, however, He
keeps the species distinct, the flesh and the soul, He shows them to be two.
If two, then they are no longer one; if not one, then the soul is not
composed of flesh, nor the flesh of soul. For the soul-flesh, or the
flesh-soul, is but one; unless indeed He even had some other soul apart from
that which was flesh, and bare about another flesh besides that which was
soul. But since He had but one flesh and one soul,'that "soul which was
sorrowful, even unto death," and that flesh which was the "bread given for
the life of the world,"'the number is unimpaired  of two substances
distinct in kind, thus excluding the unique species of the flesh-comprised
Chapter XIV. Christ Took Not on Him an Angelic Nature, But the Human. It Was
Men, Not Angels, Whom He Came to Save.
But Christ, they say, bare  (the nature of) an angel. For what
reason? The same which induced Him to become man? Christ, then, was actuated
by the motive which led Him to take human nature. Man's salvation was the
motive, the restoration of that which had perished. Man had perished; his
recovery had become necessary. No such cause, however, existed for Christ's
taking on Him the nature of angels. For although there is assigned to angels
also perdition in "the fire prepared for the devil and his angels,"
 yet a restoration is never promised to them. No charge about the
salvation of angels did Christ ever receive from the Father; and that which
the Father neither promised nor commanded, Christ could not have undertaken.
For what object, therefore, did He bear the angelic nature, if it were not
(that He might have it) as a powerful helper  wherewithal to
execute the salvation of man? The Son of God, in sooth, was not competent
alone to deliver man, whom a solitary and single serpent had overthrown!
There is, then, no longer but one God, but one Saviour, if there be two to
contrive salvation, and one of them in need of the other. But was it His
object indeed to deliver man by an angel? Why, then, come down to do that
which He was about to expedite with an angel's help? If by an angel's aid,
why come Himself also? If He meant to do all by Himself, why have an angel
too? He has been, it is true, called "the Angel of great counsel," that is,
a messenger, by a term expressive of official function, not of nature. For
He had to announce to the world the mighty purpose of the Father, even that
which ordained the restoration of man. But He is not on this account to be
regarded as an angel, as a Gabriel or a Michael. For the Lord of the
Vineyard sends even His Son to the labourers require fruit, as well as His
servants. Yet the Son will not therefore be counted as one of the servants
because He undertook the office of a servant. I may, then, more easily say,
if such an expression is to be hazarded,  that the Son is actually
an angel, that is, a messenger, from the Father, than that there is an angel
in the Son. Forasmuch, however, as it has been declared concerning the Son
Himself, Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels"  how
will it appear that He put on the nature of angels if He was made lower than
the angels, having become man, with flesh and soul as the Son of man? As
"the Spirit  of God." however, and "the Power of the Highest,"
 can He be regarded as lower than the angels,'He who is verily God,
and the Son of God? Well, but as bearing human nature, He is so far made
inferior to the angels; but as bearing angelic nature, He to the same degree
loses that inferiority. This opinion will be very suitable for Ebion,
 who holds Jesus to be a mere man, and nothing more than a descendant
of David, and not also the Son of God; although He is, to be sure, 
in one respect more glorious than the prophets, inasmuch as he declares that
there was an angel in Him, just as there was in Zechariah. Only it was never
said by Christ, "And the angel, which spake within me, said unto me."
 Neither, indeed, was ever used by Christ that familiar phrase of all
the prophets, "Thus saith the Lord." For He was Himself the Lord, who openly
spake by His own authority, prefacing His words with the formula, "Verily,
verily, I say unto you." What need is there of further argument? Hear what
Isaiah says in emphatic words, "It was no angel, nor deputy, but the Lord
Himself who saved them." 
Chapter XV. The Valentinian Figment of Christ's Flesh Being of a Spiritual
Nature, Examined and Refuted Out of Scripture.
Valentinus, indeed, on the strength of his heretical system, might
consistently devise a spiritual flesh for Christ. Any one who refused to
believe that that flesh was human might pretend it to be anything he liked,
for'as much as (and this remark is applicable, to all heretics), if it was
not human, and was not born of man, I do not see of what substance Christ
Himself spoke when He called Himself man and the Son of man, saying: "But
now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth; "  and
"The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath-day."  For it is of Him that
Isaiah writes: "A man of suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of
weakness; "  and Jeremiah: "He is a man, and who hath known Him?
"  and Daniel: "Upon the clouds (He came) as the Son of man."
 The Apostle Paul likewise says: "The man Christ Jesus is the one
Mediator between God and man."  Also Peter, in the Acts of the
Apostles, speaks of Him as verily human (when he says), "Jesus Christ was a
man approved of God among you."  These passages alone ought to
suffice as a prescriptive  testimony in proof that Christ had human
flesh derived from man, and not spiritual, and that His flesh was not
composed. of soul,  nor of stellar substance, and that it was not
an imaginary flesh; (and no doubt they would be sufficient) if heretics
could only divest themselves of all their contentious warmth and artifice.
For, as I have read in some writer of Valentinus' wretched faction,
 they refuse at the outset to believe that a human and earthly
substance was created  for Christ, lest the Lord should be regarded
as inferior to the angels, who are not formed of earthly flesh; whence, too,
it would be necessary that, if His flesh were like ours, it should be
similarly born, not of the Spirit, nor of God, but of the will of man. Why,
moreover, should it be born, not of corruptible [seed], but of
incorruptible? Why, again, since His flesh has both risen and returned to
heaven, is not ours, being like His, also taken up at once? Or else, why
does not His flesh, since it is like ours, return in like manner to the
ground, and suffer dissolution? Such objections even the heathen used
constantly to bandy about.  Was the Son of God reduced to such a
depth of degradation Again, if He rose again as a precedent for our hope,
how is it that nothing like it has been thought desirable (to happen) to
ourselves?  Such views are not improper for heathens and they are
fit and natural for the heretics too. For, indeed, what difference is there
between them, except it be that the heathen, in not believing, do believe;
while the heretics, in believing, do not believe? Then, again, they read:
"Thou madest Him a little less than angels; "  and they deny the
lower nature of that Christ who declares Himself to be, "not a man, but a
worm; "  who also had "no form nor comeliness, but His form was
ignoble, despised more than all men, a man in suffering, and acquainted with
the bearing of weakness."  Here they discover a human being mingled
with a divine one and so they deny the manhood. They believe that He died,
and maintain that a being which has died was born of an incorruptible
substance;  as if, forsooth, corruptibility  were
something else than death! But our flesh, too, ought immediately to have
risen again. Wait a while. Christ has not yet subdued His enemies, so as to
be able to triumph over them in company with His friends.
Chapter XVI. Christ's Flesh in Nature, the Same as Ours, Only Sinless. The
Difference Between Carnem Peccati and Peccatum Carnis: It is the Latter
Which Christ Abolished. The Flesh of the First Adam, No Less Than that of
the Second Adam, Not Received from Human Seed, Although as Entirely Human as
Our Own, Which is Derived from It.
The famous Alexander,  too, instigated by his love of disputation
in the true fashion of heretical temper, has made himself conspicuous
against us; he will have us say that Christ put on flesh of an earthly
origin,  in order that He might in His own person abolish sinful
flesh.  Now, even if we did assert this as our opinion, we should
be able to defend it in such a way as completely to avoid the extravagant
folly which he ascribes to us in making us suppose that the very flesh of
Christ was in Himself abolished as being sinful; because we mention our
belief (in public),  that it is sitting at the right hand of the
Father in heaven; and we further declare that it will come again from thence
in all the pomp  of the Father's glory: it is therefore just as
impossible for us to say that it is abolished, as it is for us to maintain
that it is sinful, and so made void, since in it there has been no fault. We
maintain, moreover, that what has been abolished in Christ is not carnem
peccati, "sinful flesh," but peccatum carnis, "sin in the flesh,"'not the
material thing, but its condition;  not the substance, but its
flaw;  and (this we aver) on the authority of the apostle, who
says, "He abolished sin in the flesh."  Now in another sentence he
says that Christ was "in the likeness of sinful flesh,"  not,
however, as if He had taken on Him "the likeness of the flesh," in the sense
of a semblance of body instead of its reality; but he means us to understand
likeness to the flesh which sinned,  because the flesh of Christ,
which committed no sin itself, resembled that which had sinned,'resembled it
in its nature, but not in the corruption it received from Adam; whence we
also affirm that there was in Christ the same flesh as that whose nature in
man is sinful. In the flesh, therefore, we say that sin has been abolished,
because in Christ that same flesh is maintained without sin, which in than
was not maintained without sin. Now, it would not contribute to the purpose
of Christ's abolishing sin in the flesh, if He did not abolish it in that
flesh in which was the nature of sin, nor (would it conduce) to His glory.
For surely it would have been no strange thing if He had removed the stain
of sin in some better flesh, and one which should possess a different, even
a sinless, nature! Then, you say, if He took our flesh, Christ's was a
sinful one. Do not, however, fetter with mystery a sense which is quite
intelligible. For in putting on our flesh, He made it His own; in making it
His own, He made it sinless. A word of caution, however, must be addressed
to all who refuse to believe that our flesh was in Christ on the ground that
it came not of the seed of a human father,  let them remember that
Adam himself received this flesh of ours without the seed of a human father.
As earth was converted into this flesh of ours without the seed of a human
father, so also was it quite possible for the Son of God to take to
Himself  the substance of the selfsame flesh, without a human
father's agency. 
Chapter XVII. The Similarity of Circumstances Between the First and the
Second Adam, as to the Derivation of Their Flesh. An Analogy Also Pleasantly
Traced Between Eve and the Virgin Mary.
But, leaving Alexander with his syllogisms, which he so perversely applies
in his discussions, as well as with the hymns of Valentinus, which, with
consummate assurance, he interpolates as the production of some
respectable  author, let us confine our inquiry to a single
point'Whether Christ received flesh from the virgin?'that we may thus arrive
at a certain proof that His flesh was human, if He derived its substance
from His mother's womb, although we are at once furnished with clear
evidences of the human character of His flesh, from its name and description
as that of a man, and from the nature of its constitution, and from the
system of its sensations, and from its suffering of death. Now, it will
first by necessary to show what previous reason there was for the Son of
God's being born of a virgin. He who was going to consecrate a new order of
birth, must Himself be born after a novel fashion, concerning which Isaiah
foretold how that the Lord Himself would give the sign. What, then, is the
sign? "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son." 
Accordingly, a virgin did conceive and bear "Emmanuel, God with us."
 This is the new nativity; a man is born in God. And in this man God
was born, taking the flesh of an ancient race, without the help, however, of
the ancient seed, in order that He might reform it with a new seed, that is,
in a spiritual manner, and cleanse it by the re-moral of all its ancient
stains. But the whole of this new birth was prefigured, as was the case in
all other instances, in ancient type, the Lord being born as man by a
dispensation in which a virgin was the medium. The earth was still in a
virgin state, reduced as yet by no human labour, with no seed as yet cast
into its furrows, when, as we are told, God made man out of it into a living
soul.  As, then, the first Adam is thus introduced to us, it is a
just inference that the second Adam likewise, as the apostle has told us,
was formed by God into a quickening spirit out of the ground,'in other
words, out of a flesh which was unstained as yet by any human generation.
But that I may lose no opportunity of supporting my argument from the name
of Adam, why is Christ called Adam by the apostle, unless it be that, as
man, He was of that earthly origin? And even reason here maintains the same
conclusion, because it was by just the contrary  operation that God
recovered His own image and likeness, of which He had been robbed by the
devil. For it was while Eve was yet a virgin, that the ensnaring word had
crept into her ear which was to build the edifice of death. Into a virgin's
soul, in like manner, must be introduced that Word of God which was to raise
the fabric of life; so that what had been reduced to ruin by this sex, might
by the selfsame sex be recovered to salvation. As Eve had believed the
serpent, so Mary believed the angel.  The delinquency which the one
occasioned by believing, the other by believing effaced. But (it will be
said) Eve did not at the devil's word conceive in her womb. Well, she at all
events conceived; for the devil's word afterwards became as seed to her that
she should conceive as an outcast, and bring forth in sorrow. Indeed she
gave birth to a fratricidal devil; whilst Mary, on the contrary, bare one
who was one day to secure salvation to Isreal, His own brother after the
flesh, and the murderer of Himself. God therefore sent down into the
virgin's womb His Word, as the good Brother, who should blot out the memory
of the evil brother. Hence it was necessary that Christ should come forth
for the salvation of man, in that condition of flesh into which man had
entered ever since his condemnation.
Chapter XVIII. The Mystery of the Assumption of Our Perfect Human Nature by
the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He is Here Called, as Often
Elsewhere, the Spirit.
Now, that we may give a simpler answer, it was not fit that the Son of God
should be born of a human father's seed, lest, if He were wholly the Son of
a man, He should fail to be also the Son of God, and have nothing more than
"a Solomon" or "a Jonas,"  'as Ebion  thought we ought to
believe concerning Him. In order, therefore, that He who was already the Son
of God'of God the Father's seed, that is to say, the Spirit'might also be
the Son of man, He only wanted to assume flesh, of the flesh of man
 without the seed of a man;  for the seed of a man was
unnecessary  for One who had the seed of God. As, then, before His
birth of the virgin, He was able to have God for His Father without a human
mother, so likewise, after He was born of the virgin, He was able to have a
woman for His mother without a human father. He is thus man with God, in
short, since He is man's flesh with God's Spirit  'flesh (I say)
without seed from man, Spirit with seed from God. For as much, then, as the
dispensation of God's purpose  concerning His Son required that He
should be born  of a virgin, why should He not have received of the
virgin the body which He bore from the virgin? Because, (forsooth) it is
something else which He took from God, for "the Word "say they, "was made
flesh."  Now this very statement plainly shows what it was that was
made flesh; nor can it possibly be that  anything else than the
Word was made flesh. Now, whether it was of the flesh that the Word was made
flesh, or whether it was so made of the (divine) seed itself, the Scripture
must tell us. As, however, the Scripture is silent about everything except
what it was that was made (flesh), and says nothing of that from which it
was so made, it must be held to suggest that from something else, and not
from itself, was the Word made flesh. And if not from itself, but from
something else, from what can we more suitably suppose that the Word became
flesh than from that flesh in which it submitted to the dispensation?
 And (we have a proof of the same conclusion in the fact) that the
Lord Himself sententiously and distinctly pronounced, "that which is born of
the flesh is flesh,"  even because it is born of the flesh. But if
He here spoke of a human being simply, and not of Himself, (as you maintain)
then you must deny absolutely that Christ is man, and must maintain that
human nature was not suitable to Him. And then He adds, "That which is born
of the Spirit is spirit,"  because God is a Spirit, and He was born
of God. Now this description is certainly even more applicable to Him than
it is to those who believe in Him. But if this passage indeed apply to Him,
then why does not the preceding one also? For you cannot divide their
relation, and adapt this to Him, and the previous clause to all other men,
especially as you do not deny that Christ possesses the two substances, both
of the flesh and of the Spirit. Besides, as He was in possession both of
flesh and of Spirit, He cannot possibly, when speaking of the condition of
the two substances which He Himself bears, be supposed to have determined
that the Spirit indeed was His own, but that the flesh was not His own.
Forasmuch, therefore, as He is of the Spirit He is God the Spirit, and is
born of God; just as He is also born of the flesh of man, being generated in
the flesh as man. 
Chapter XIX. Christ, as to His Divine Nature, as the Word of God, Became
Flesh, Not by Carnal Conception, Nor by the Will of the Flesh and of Man,
But by the Will of God. Christ's Divine Nature, of Its Own Accord, Descended
into the Virgin's Womb.
What, then, is the meaning of this passage, "Born  not of blood,
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God? "
 I shall make more use of this passage after I have confuted those who
have tampered with it. They maintain that it was written thus (in the
plural)  " Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," as if designating those who were
before mentioned as "believing in His name," in order to point out the
existence of that mysterious seed of the elect and spiritual which they
appropriate to themselves.  But how can this be, when all who
believe in the name of the Lord are, by reason of the common principle of
the human race, born of blood, and of the will of the flesh, and of man, as
indeed is Valentinus himself? The expression is in the singular number, as
referring to the Lord, "He was born of God." And very properly, because
Christ is the Word of God, and with the Word the Spirit of God, and by the
Spirit the Power of God, and whatsoever else appertains to God. As flesh,
however, He is not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of man,
because it was by the will of God that the Word was made flesh. To the
flesh, indeed, and not to the Word, accrues the denial of the nativity which
is natural to us all as men,  because it was as flesh that He had
thus to be born, and not as the Word. Now, whilst the passage actually
denies that He was born of the will of the flesh, how is it that it did not
also deny (that He was born) of the substance of the flesh? For it did not
disavow the substance of the flesh when it denied His being "born of
blood" but only the matter of the seed, which, as all know, is the warm
blood as convected by ebullition  into the coagulum of the woman's
blood. In the cheese, it is from the coagulation that the milky substance
acquires that consistency,  which is condensed by infusing the
rennet.  We thus understand that what is denied is the Lord's birth
after sexual intercourse (as is suggested by the phrase, "the will of man
and of the flesh"), not His nativity from a woman's womb. Why, too, is it
insisted on with such an accumulation of emphasis that He was not born of
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor (of the will) of man, if it were
not that His flesh was such that no man could have any doubt on the point of
its being born from sexual intercourse? Again, although denying His birth
from such cohabitation, the passage did not deny that He was born of real
flesh; it rather affirmed this, by the very fact that it did not deny His
birth in the flesh in the same way that it denied His birth from sexual
intercourse. Pray, tell me, why the Spirit of God  descended into a
woman's womb at all, if He did not do so for the purpose of partaking of
flesh from the womb. For He could have become spiritual flesh 
without such a process,'much more simply, indeed, without the womb than in
it. He had no reason for enclosing Himself within one, if He was to bear
forth nothing from it. Not without reason, however, did He descend into a
womb. Therefore He received (flesh) therefrom; else, if He received nothing
therefrom, His descent into it would have been without a reason, especially
if He meant to become flesh of that sort which was not derived from a womb,
that is to say, a spiritual one. 
Chapter XX. Christ Born of a Virgin, of Her Substance. The Physiological
Facts of His Real and Exact Birth of a Human Mother, as Suggested by Certain
Passages of Scripture.
But to what shifts you resort, in your attempt to rob the syllable ex
(of)  of its proper force as a preposition, and to substitute
another for it in a sense not found throughout the Holy Scriptures! You say
that He was born through  a virgin, not of  a virgin, and
in a womb, not of a womb, because the angel in the dream said to Joseph,
"That which is born in her" (not of her) "is of the Holy Ghost." 
But the fact is, if he had meant "of her," he must have said "in her; "for
that which was of her, was also in her. The angel's expression, therefore,
"in her," has precisely the same meaning as the phrase "of her." It is,
however, a fortunate circumstance that Matthew also, when tracing down the
Lord's descent from Abraham to Mary, says, "Jacob begat Joseph the husband
of Mary, of whom was born Christ."  But Paul, too, silences these
critics  when he says, "God sent forth His Son, made of a
woman."  Does he mean through a woman, or in a woman? Nay more, for
the sake of greater emphasis, he uses the word "made" rather than born,
although the use of the latter expression would have been simpler. But by
saying "made," he not only confirmed the statement, "The Word was made
flesh,"  but he also asserted the reality of the flesh which was
made of a virgin We shall have also the support of the Psalms on this point,
not the "Psalms" indeed of Valentinus the apostate, and heretic, and
Platonist, but the Psalms of David, the most illustrious saint and
well-known prophet. He sings to us of Christ, and through his voice Christ
indeed also sang concerning Himself. Hear, then, Christ the Lord speaking to
God the Father: "Thou art He that didst draw  me out of my
mother's womb."  Here is the first point. "Thou art my hope from my
mother's breasts; upon Thee have I been cast from the womb."  Here
is another point. "Thou art my God from my mother's belly."  Here
is a third point. Now let us carefully attend to the sense of these
passages. "Thou didst draw me," He says, "out of the womb." Now what is it
which is drawn, if it be not that which adheres, that which is firmly
fastened to anything from which it is drawn in order to be sundered? If He
clove not to the womb, how could He have been drawn from it? If He who clove
thereto was drawn from it, how could He have adhered to it, if it were not
that, all the while He was in the womb, He was tied to it, as to His
origin,  by the umbilical cord, which communicated growth to Him
from the matrix? Even when one strange matter amalgamates with another, it
becomes so entirely incorporated  with that with which it
amalgamates, that when it is drawn off from it, it carries with it some part
of the body from which it is torn, as if in consequence of the severance of
the union and growth which the constituent pieces had communicated to each
other. But what were His "mother's breasts" which He mentions? No doubt they
were those which He sucked. Midwives, and doctors, and naturalists, can tell
us, from the nature of women's breasts, whether they usually flow at any
other time than when the womb is affected with pregnancy, when the veins
convey therefrom the blood of the lower parts  to the mammilla, and
in the act of transference convert the secretion into the nutritious
 substance of milk. Whence it comes to pass that during the period of
lactation the monthly issues are suspended. But if the Word was made flesh
of Himself without any communication with a womb, no mother's womb operating
upon Him with its usual function and support, how could the lacteal fountain
have been conveyed (from the womb) to the breasts, since (the womb) can only
effect the change by actual possession of the proper substance? But it could
not possibly have had blood for transformation into milk, unless it
possessed the causes of blood also, that is to say, the severance (by
birth)  of its own flesh from the mother's womb. Now it is easy to
see what was the novelty of Christ's being born of a virgin. It was simply
this, that (He was born) of a virgin in the real manner which we have
indicated, in order that our regeneration might have virginal
purity,'spiritually cleansed from all pollutions through Christ, who was
Himself a virgin, even in the flesh, in that He was born of a virgin's
Chapter XXI. The Word of God Did Not Become Flesh Except in the Virgin's
Womb and of Her Substance. Through His Mother He is Descended from Her Great
Ancestor David. He is Described Both in the Old and in the New Testament as
"The Fruit of David's Loins."
Whereas, then, they contend that the novelty (of Christ's birth) consisted
in this, that as the Word of God became flesh without the seed of a human
father, so there should be no flesh of the virgin mother (assisting in the
transaction), why should not the novelty rather be confined to this, that
His flesh, although not born of seed, should yet have proceeded from flesh?
I should like to go more closely into this discussion. "Behold," says he,
"a virgin shall conceive in the womb."  Conceive what? I ask. The
Word of God, of course, and not the seed of man, and in order, certainly, to
bring forth a son. "For," says he, "she shall bring forth a son." 
Therefore, as the act of conception was her own,  so also what she
brought forth was her own, also, although the cause of conception 
was not. If, on the other hand, the Word became flesh of Himself, then He
both conceived and brought forth Himself, and the prophecy is stultified.
For in that case a virgin did not conceive, and did not bring forth; since
whatever she brought forth from the conception of the Word, is not her own
flesh. But is this the only statement of prophecy which will be
frustrated?  Will not the angel's announcement also be subverted,
that the virgin should "conceive in her womb and bring forth a son? "
 And will not in fact every scripture which declares that Christ had a
mother? For how could she have been His mother, unless He had been in her
womb? But then He received nothing from her womb which could make her a
mother in whose womb He had been.  Such a name as this  a
strange flesh ought not to assume. No flesh can speak of a mother's womb but
that which is itself the offspring of that womb; nor can any be the
offspring of the said womb if itowe its birth solely to itself. Therefore
even Elisabeth must be silent although she is carrying in her womb the
prophetic babe, which was already conscious of his Lord, and is, moreover,
filled with the Holy Ghost.  For without reason does she say, "and
whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? "
 If it was not as her son, but only as a stranger that Mary carried
Jesus in her womb, how is it she says, "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb?
 What is this fruit of the womb, which received not its germ from the
womb, which had not its root in the womb, which belongs not to her whose is
the womb, and which is no doubt the real fruit of the womb'even Christ? Now,
since He is the blossom of the stem which sprouts from the root of Jesse;
since, moreover, the root of Jesse is the family of David, and the stem of
the root is Mary descended from David, and the blossom of the stem is
Mary's son, who is called Jesus Christ, will not He also be the fruit? For
the blossom is the fruit, because through the blossom and from the blossom
every product advances from its rudimental condition  to perfect
fruit. What then? They, deny to the fruit its blossom, and to the blossom
its stem, and to the stem its root; so that the root fails to secure
 for itself, by means of the stem, that special product which comes
from the stem, even the blossom and the fruit; for every step indeed in a
genealogy is traced from the latest up to the first, so that it is now a
well-known fact that the flesh of Christ is inseparable,  not
merely from Mary, but also from David through Mary, and from Jesse through
David. "This fruit," therefore, "of David's loins," that is to say, of his
posterity in the flesh, God swears to him that "He will raise up to sit upon
his throne."  If "of David's loins," how much rather is He of
Mary's loins, by virtue of whom He is in "the loins of David? "
Chapter XXII. Holy Scripture in the New Testament, Even in Its Very First
Verse, Testifies to Christ's True Flesh. In Virtue of Which He is
Incorporated in the Human Stock of David, and Abraham, and Adam.
They may, then, obliterate the testimony of the devils which proclaimed
Jesus the son of David; but whatever unworthiness there be in this
testimony, that of the apostles they will never be able to efface, There is,
first of all, Matthew, that most faithful chronicler  of the
Gospel, because the companion of the Lord; for no other reason in the world
than to show us clearly the fleshly original  of Christ, he thus
begins his Gospel: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of
David, the son of Abraham."  With a nature issuing from such
fountal sources, and an order gradually descending to the birth of Christ,
what else have we here described than the very flesh of Abraham and of David
conveying itself down, step after step, to the very virgin, and at last
introducing Christ,'nay, producing Christ Himself of the virgin? Then,
again, there is Paul, who was at once both a disciple, and a master, and a
witness of the selfsame Gospel; as an apostle of the same Christ, also, he
affirms that Christ "was made of the seed of David, according to the
flesh,"  'which, therefore, was His own likewise. Christ's flesh,
then, is of David's seed. Since He is of the seed of David in consequence of
Mary's flesh, He is therefore of Mary's flesh because of the seed of David.
In what way so ever you torture the statement, He is either of the flesh of
Mary because of the seed of David, or He is of the seed of David because of
the flesh of Mary. The whole discussion is terminated by the same apostle,
when he declares Christ to be "the seed of Abraham." And if of Abraham, how
much more, to be sure, of David, as a more recent progenitor! For, unfolding
the promised blessing upon all nations in the person  of Abraham,
"And in thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed," he adds, "He
saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which
is Christ."  When we read and believe these things, what sort of
flesh ought we, and can we, acknowledge in Christ? Surely none other than
Abraham's, since Christ is "the seed of Abraham; "none other than Jesse's,
since Christ is the blossom of "the stem of Jesse; "none other than David's,
since Christ is "the fruit of David's loins; "none other than Mary's, since
Christ came from Mary's womb; and, higher still, none other than Adam's,
since Christ is "the second Adam." The consequence, therefore, is that they
must either maintain, that those (ancestors) had a spiritual flesh, that so
there might be derived to Christ the same condition of substance, or else
allow that the flesh of Christ was not a spiritual one, since it is not
traced from the origin  of a spiritual stock.
Chapter XXIII. Simeon's "Sign that Should Be Contradicted," Applied to the
Heretical Gainsaying of the True Birth of Christ. One of the Heretics'
Paradoxes Turned in Support of Catholic Truth.
We acknowledge, however, that the prophetic declaration of Simeon is
fulfilled, which he spoke over the recently-born Saviour:  "Behold,
this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Isreal, and for a
sign that shall be spoken against."  The sign (here meant) is that
of the birth of Christ, according to Isaiah: "Therefore the Lord Himself
shall give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son."
 We discover, then, what the sign is which is to be spoken against'the
conception and the parturition of the Virgin Mary, concerning which these
sophists  say: "She a virgin and yet not a virgin bare, and yet did
not bear; "just as if such language, if indeed it must be uttered, would not
be more suitable even for ourselves to use! For "she bare," because she
produced offspring of her own flesh and "yet she did not bear," since she
produced Him not from a husband's seed; she was "a virgin," so far as
(abstinence) from a husband went, and "yet not a virgin," as regards her
bearing a child. There is not, however, that parity of reasoning which the
heretics affect: in other words it does not follow that for the reason "she
did not bear,"  she who was "not a virgin" was "yet a virgin," even
because she became a mother without any fruit of her own womb. But with us
there is no equivocation, nothing twisted into a double sense. 
Light is light; and darkness, darkness; yea is yea; and nay, nay;
"whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."  She who bare
(really) bare; and although she was a virgin when she conceived, she was a
wife  when she brought forth her son. Now, as a wife, she was under
the very law of "opening the womb,"  wherein it was quite
immaterial whether the birth of the male was by virtue of a husband's
co-operation or not;  it was the same sex  that opened her
womb. Indeed, hers is the womb on account of which it is written of others
also: "Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the
Lord."  For who is really holy but the Son of God? Who properly
opened the womb but He who opened a closed one?  But it is marriage
which opens the womb in all cases. The virgin's womb, therefore, was
especially  opened, because it was especially closed. Indeed
 she ought rather to be called not a virgin than a virgin, becoming a
mother at a leap, as it were, before she was a wife. And what must be said
more on this point? Since it was in this sense that the apostle declared
that the Son of God was born not of a virgin, but "of a woman," he in that
statement recognised the condition of the "opened womb" which ensues in
marriage.  We read in Ezekiel of "a heifer  which brought
forth, and still did not bring forth." Now, see whether it was not in view
of your own future contentions about the womb of Mary, that even then the
Holy Ghost set His mark upon you in this passage; otherwise  He
would not, contrary to His usual simplicity of style (in this prophet), have
uttered a sentence of such doubtful import, especially when Isaiah says,
"She shall conceive and bear a son." 
Chapter XXIV. Divine Strictures on Various Heretics Descried in Various
Passages of Prophetical Scripture. Those Who Assail the True Doctrine of the
One Lord Jesus Christ, Both God and Man, Thus Condemned.
For when Isaiah hurls denunciation against our very heretics, especially in
his "Woe to them that call evil good, and put darkness for light," 
he of course sets his mark upon those amongst you  who preserve not
in the words they employ the light of their true significance, (by taking
care) that the soul should mean only that which is so called, and the flesh
simply that which is confest to our view and God none other than the One who
is preached.  Having thus Marcion in his prophetic view, he says,
"I am God, and there is none else; there is no God beside me."  And
when in another passage he says, in like manner, "Before me there was no
God,"  he strikes at those inexplicable genealogies of the
Valentinian Æons. Again, there is an answer to Ebion in the Scripture:
"Born,  not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man, but of God." In like manner, in the passage, "If even an angel of
heaven preach unto you any other gospel than that which we have preached
unto you, let him be anathema,"  he calls attention to the artful
influence of Philumene,  the virgin friend of Apelles. Surely he is
antichrist who denies that Christ has come in the flesh.  By
declaring that His flesh is simply and absolutely true, and taken in the
plain sense of its own nature, the Scripture aims a blow at all who make
distinctions in it.  In the same way, also, when it defines the
very Christ to be but one, it shakes the fancies of those who exhibit a
multiform Christ, who make Christ to be one being and Jesus
another,'representing one as escaping out of the midst of the crowds, and
the other as detained by them; one as appearing on a solitary mountain to
three companions, clothed with glory in a cloud, the other as an ordinary
man holding intercourse with all,  one as magnanimous, but the
other as timid; lastly, one as suffering death, the other as risen again, by
means of which event they maintain a resurrection of their own also, only in
another flesh. Happily, however, He who suffered "will come again from
heaven,"  and by all shall He be seen, who rose again from the
dead. They too who crucified Him shall see and acknowledge Him; that is to
say, His very flesh, against which they spent their fury, and without which
it would be impossible for Himself either to exist or to be seen; so that
they must blush with shame who affirm that His flesh sits in heaven void of
sensation, like a sheath only, Christ being withdrawn from it; as well as
those who (maintain) that His flesh and soul are just the same thing,
 or else that His soul is all that exists,  but that His
flesh no longer lives.
Chapter XXV. Conclusion. This Treatise Forms a Preface to the Other Work,
"On the Resurrection of the Flesh," Proving the Reality of the Flesh Which
Was Truly Born, and Died, and Rose Again.
But let this suffice on our present subject; for I think that by this time
proof enough has been adduced of the flesh in Christ having both been born
of the virgin, and being human in its nature. And this discussion alone
might have been sufficient, without encountering the isolated opinions which
have been raised from different quarters. We have, however, challenged these
opinions to the test, both of the arguments which sustain them, and of the
Scriptures which are appealed to, and this we have done ex abundanti; so
that we have, by showing what the flesh of Christ was, and whence it was
derived, also predetermined the question, against all objectors, of what
that flesh was not. The resurrection, however, of our own flesh will have to
be maintained in another little treatise, and so bring to a close this
present one, which serves as a general preface, and which will pave the way
for the approaching subject now that it is plain what kind of body that was
which rose again in Christ.
In the body of a dove, cap. iii. p. 523.
The learned John Scott, in his invaluable work The Christian Life, 
identifies the glory shed upon the Saviour at his baptism, with that
mentioned by Ezekiel 43:2 and adds: "In this same glorious splendor was
Christ arrayed first at his Baptism and afterward at his Transfiguration.
By the Holy Ghost's descending like a Dove, it is not necessary we should
understand his descending in the shape or form of a Dove, but that in some
glorious form, or appearance, he descended in the same manner as a Dove
descends Came down from above just as a dove with his wings spread forth
is observed to do, and lighted upon our Saviour's head." I quote this as the
opinion of one of the most learned and orthodox of divines, but not as my
own, for I cannot reconcile it, as he strives to do, with Luke 3:22. Compare
Justin Martyr, vol. i. p. 243, and note 6, this series. Grotius observes,
says Dr. Scott, that in the apocryphal Gospel of the Nazarenes, it is said
that at the Baptism of our Lord "a great light shone round about the
His mother and His brethren, cap. vii. p. 527.
It is not possible that the author of this Chapter had ever conceived of the
Blessed Virgin otherwise than as "Blessed among women," indeed, but enjoying
no especial prerogative as the mother of our Lord. He speaks of "denying
her" and "putting her away" after He began His Ministry, as He requires His
ministers to do, after His example. How extraordinary this language'"the
repudiation of carnal relationship." According to our author, never charged
with heresy on this point, the high rewards of the holy Mary, in the world
to come will he those due to her faith, not to the blessing of "her breasts
and of her womb." Christ designates those as "more blessed," who hear His
word and keep it. This the Blessed Virgin did pre-eminently, and herein was
her own greater blessedness; that is, (our author shews) her crown of glory
depends chiefly, like that of other saints, on her faith and works, not on
her mere Maternity.
 In his work On the Resurrection of the Flesh (chap. ii.), Tertullian
refers to this tract, and calls it "De Carne Domini adversus quatuor
haereses": the four heresies being those of Marcion, Apelles, Basilides, and
Valentinus. Pamelius, indeed, designates the tract by this fuller title
instead of the usual one, "De Carne Christi." [This tract contains
references to works written while our author was Montanistic, but it
contains no positive Montanism. It should not be dated earlier than A.D.
 The allusion is to Matt. xxii. 23; comp. De Proescr. Hoeret. 33 (Fr.
 Tertullian's phrase is "carnis vota"'the future prospects of the
 Certum est.
 haberentur. This term gave name to the Docetic errors.
 Luke i. 26-38.
 This is said in opposition to Marcion, who held the Creator's
angel, and everything else pertaining to him, to be evil.
 A reference to Isa. vii. 14.
 See also our Anti-Marcion, iv. 7.
 Luke ii. 1-7.
 Luke ii. 13.
 Luke ii. 8.
 Matt. ii. 1.
 Matt. ii. 11.
 Matt. ii . 16-18, and Jer. xxxi. 15.
 Luke ii. 22-24.
 Luke ii. 25-35.
 Luke ii. 36-38.
 Compare our Anti-Marcion, i. 1, iv. 4 and de Proescr. Hoer. c.
 Aliter fuisse.
 Ex abundanti. [Dr. Holmes, in this sentence actually uses the word
lengthy, for which I have said large.]
 If Christ's flesh was not real, the pretence of it was wholly
 Viderint homines.
 It did not much matter (according to the view which Tertullian
attributes to Marcion) if God did practise deception in affecting the
assumption of a humanity which He knew to be unreal. Men took it to be rea,
and that asnwered every purpose. God kne better: and He was moreover, strong
enough to obviate all inconveniences of the deception by His unfaltering
fortitude, etc. All this, however, seemed to Tertullian to be simply
damaging and perilous to the character of God, even from Marcion's own point
 Non potes dicere ne, etc.
 In exitu conversionis.
 Gen. xviii.
 Gen. xix.
 Gen. xxxii.
 See below in chap. vi. and in the Anti-Marcion, iii. 9.
 Matt. iii. 16.
 Compaer similar passages in the Anti-Marcion, iii. I and iv. 21.
 Cum suis impedimentis profusum.
 Unctionibus formatur.
 Hanc venerationem naturae. Compare Tertullian's phrase, "Illa
sanctissima et reverenda opera naturae," in the Anti-Marcion, iii. 11.
 Per lidibria nutritum. Compare the phrase just before, "smiled on
with nurse's fawns"'"blanditiis deridetur." Oehler, however, compares the
phrase with Tertullian's expression ("puerperii spurcos, anxios, ludicros
exitus,") in the Anti-Marcion, iv. 21.
 Phil. ii. 8.
 Haec: i.e. man's nativity and his flesh.
 Literally, "by a heavenly regeneration."
 Revera. [I cannot let the words which follow, stand in the text;
they are sufficiently rendered.]
 1 Cor. i. 27.
 Aufer, Marcion. Literally, "Destroy this also, O Marcion."
 Educari an sepeliri.
 Vacua ludibria.
 Paul was of great authority in Marcion's school.
 1 Cor. ii. 2.
 The humiliation which God endured, so indispensable a part of the
 Matt. x. 22, Mark. viii. 38, and Luke ix. 26.
 That is, imaginary and unreal.
 Census: "the origin."
 Dispuncta est.
 This term is alsmot a technical designation of the divine nature
of Christ in Tertullian. (See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, p. 247,
note 7, Edin.)
 This term is alsmot a technical designation of the divine nature
of Christ in Tertullian. (See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, p. 247,
note 7, Edin.)
 This term is alsmot a technical designation of the divine nature
of Christ in Tertullian. (See our translation of the Anti-Marcion, p. 247,
note 7, Edin.)
 See his Adv. Valentin, chap. 25.
 Luke xxiv. 39.
 He has Appelles mainly in view.
 Sine praejudicio tamen. "Without prejudice to their denial,
 The Roman version of the proverb is "out of the lime-kiln into the
 See Tertullian, de Proescr. Hoeret. c. xxx.
 Ab eo: or, "from that event of the carnal contract." A good
reading, found in most of the old books, is ab ea, that is, Philumene.
 Gal. i. 8.
 Ex ea qualitate in qua.
 Ipsius: the Creator.
 Quod, quia nascitur, moritur.
 Ediscebat. Compare a fine passage of Tertullian on this subject in
our Anti-Marcion, note 10, p. 112, Edin.
 The angels'.
 Sidera. Drawn, as they thought, from the stars.
 Ps. lxxviii. 24.
 Matt. xii. 48; Luke viii. 20, 21.
 See our Anti-Marcion, iv. 19.
 Literally, "heresies."
 Luke x. 25.
 Literally, "nobody prevented its being, etc."
 Eo adicimus etiam.
 John vii. 5.
 Non computantes scilicet.
 Nec sustinent saltem.
 Contendens: "videlicet sponsionibus" (Oehler)
 Literally, "Who is my mother, and who are my brethren?"'Christ's
 The alius is a genitive, and must be taken with sermonis.
 Abnegavit: "repudiated."
 Force of the indicative quale erat.
 Luke xi. 27, 28. See also our Anti-Marcion, p. 292, Edin.
 Isti Apelleiaci.
 Ab igneo illo praeside mali: see Tertullian's de Anima. xxiii.;
de Resur. Carn. v.; Adv. Omnes Hoeres. vi.
 Mundus is here the universe of entire creation.
 Matt. vii. 17.
 1 Cor. xv. 47.
 Secundum carnem.
 Ei adaequantur.
 Christum hominem obstupescebant.
 Non mira.
 Matt. xiii. 54.
 Compare Isa. liii. 2. See also our Anti-Marcion, p. 153, Edin.
 Novum: made of the stars.
 Literally, "why do you suppose it to be celestial."
 Matt. xxvi. 41.
 Animalem: "etherialized; of a finer form, differing from gross,
earthy matter" (Neander).
 Non carneas.
 Demonstraretur: or, "should become apparent."
 Cui latebat.
 Isto modo.
 An retro allegent.
 Per quod sit.
 Eam: the soul.
 Dignius: i.e., "in a manner more worthy of Himself."
 Aliqua vi rationis: or, "by some power of its own condition."
 In illam: perhaps "in it," as if an ablative case, not an unusual
construction in Tertullian.
 Ostensa sit.
 Si constiterit.
 Quoquo modo.
 Sensualis: endowed with sense.
 Nihil animale sine sensu.
 Nihil sensuale sine anima.
 We should have been glad of a shorter phrase for sentire ("to use
sense"), had the whole course of the passage permitted it.
 Se ministrare.
 See especially chap. iv. supra.
 Nisi qualis esset.
 1 John i. 2.
 Ostendere; see Luke ix. 56.
 Ostenderetur: or, "that it might prove itself soul."
 Or, "that it might show itself flesh."
 Alterutrum: "no matter which."
 Testae: a pitcher, perhaps.
 Tertullian quotes his opponent's opinion here.
 Scilicet: in reference to the alleged doctrine.
 Non adhaeret.
 Singularitas tota.
 Matt. xxvi. 38. Tertullian's quotation is put interrogatively.
 "The salvation" (salute) is Tertullian's word.
 John vi. 51.
 Above, beginning of chap. x.
 Matt. xxv. 41.
 Si forte.
 Ps. viii. 5.
 For this designation of the divine nature in Christ, see our
Anti-Marcion, p. 247, note 7, Edin.
 Luke i. 35.
 Zech. i. 14.
 Isa. lxiii. 9.
 John viii. 40.
 Matt. xii. 8.
 Isa. liii. 3, Sept.
 Jer. xvii. 9, Sept.
 Dan. vii. 13.
 1 Tim. ii. 5.
 Acts ii. 22.
 Vice praescriptionis.
 Volutabant: see Lactantius, iv. 22.
 De nobis probatum est: or, perhaps, "has been proved to have
happened in our own case."
 Ps. viii. 6, Sept.
 Ps. xxii. 6.
 Isa. liii. 3, Sept.
 Ex incorruptela.
 Although Tertullian dignifies him with an ille, we have no
particulars of this man. [It may be that this is an epithet, rather than a
name, given to some enemy of truth like Zlexander the "Coppersmith" (2 Tim.
iv. 14) or like that (1 Tim. i. 20), blasphemer, whose character suits the
 So Bp. Kaye renders "carnem peccati." [See his valuable note, p.
 We take the meminerimus to refer "to the Creed."
 "Tertullian, referring to St. Paul, says of Christ: 'Evacuavit
peccatum in carne;_0' alluding, as I suppose, to Romans viii. 3. But the
corresponding Greek in the printed editions is ('He condemned sin in the flesh_0'). Had Tertullian a different
reading in his Greek mss., or did he confound Romans viii. 3 with Romans vi.
6, ('that the body of sin might
be destroyed_0')? Jerome translates the Greek by 'evacuo,_0' c.
xvi. See Adv. Marcionem, ver. 14. Dr. Neander has pointed out two passages
in which Tertullian has 'damnavit or damnaverit delinquentiam in carne._0'
See de Res. Carnis. 46; de Pudicitiâ. 17."'Bp. Kaye.
 Also in Rom. viii. 3.
 Peccatricis carnis.
 Transire in: "to pass into."
 Sine coagulo.
 Isa. vii. 14.
 Matt. i. 23.
 Gen. ii. 7.
 Literally, "Gabriel."
 Matt. xii. 41, 42.
 De Hebionis opinione.
 As we have often observed, the term Spiritus is used by
Tertullian to express the Divine Nature in Christ. Anti-Marcion, p. 375,
 Dispositio rationis.
 John i. 14.
 Nec periclitatus quasi.
 Literally, "in which it became flesh."
 John iii. 6.
 John iii. 6.
 [A very perspicuous statement of the Incarnation is set forth in
 Tertullian reads this in the singular number, "natus est."
 John i. 13.
 We need not say that the mass of critical authority is against
Tertullian, and with his opponents, in their reading of this passage.
 He refers to the Valentinians. See our translation of this tract
against them, chap. xxv., etc., p. 515, supra.
 Formalis nostrae nativitatis.
 Medicando. [This is based on Job x. 10, a favourite passage with
the Fathers in expounding the generative process.]
 i.e., The Son of God.
 Which is all that the heretics assign to Him.
 Such as Valentinus ascribed to Him. See above, c. xv. p. 511.
 Indicating the material or ingredient, "out of."
 Matt. i. 20.
 Matt. i. 16.
 Gal. iv. 4.
 John i. 14.
 Ps. xxii. 9.
 Vers. 9, 10.
 Ver. 10.
 i.e. of His flesh.
 Concarnatus et convisceratus: "united in flesh and internal
 Sentinam illam inferni sanguinis.
 Isa. vii. 14; Matt. i. 23.
 See the same passages.
 Quod concepit: or, "what she conceived."
 Luke i. 31.
 An objection.
 The rejoinder.
 Luke i. 41.
 Ver. 43.
 Ver. 42.
 Quominus vindicet.
 Ps. cxxxii. 11; also Acts ii. 30.
 Originis carnalis: i.e. "origin of the flesh of."
 Matt. i. 1.
 Rom. i. 3; 2 Tim. ii. 8.
 In nomine: or, "for the sake of."
 Gal. iii. 8, 16.
 Literally, "Lord."
 Luke ii. 34.
 Isa. vii. 14.
 Acedemici isti: "this school of theirs."
 i.e. "Because she produced not her son from her husband's
 Matt. v. 37.
 Nupsit ipsa patefacti corporis lege.
 De vi masculi admissi an emissi.
 i.e. "The male."
 Ex. xiii. 2; Luke ii. 23.
 Clausam: i.e. a virgin's.
 Nuptialem passionem.
 Epiphanius (Hoer. xxx. 30) quotes from the apocryphal Ezekiel
this passage: So Clem.
Alex. Stromata, vii. Oehler.
 Isa. vii. 14.
 Isa. v. 20.
 Isa. xlv. 5.
 Isa. xlvi. 9.
 John i. 13. Tertullian's quotation is, as usual, in the singular,
 Gal. i. 8.
 Comp. de Proescr. Hoeret. c. xxx. p. 257, supra.
 1 John iv. 3.
 Disceptatores ejus.
 Ceteris passivum.
 Acts i. 11.
 I quote the Ed. London, 1739, Vol. V., p. 249.
Also, see links to 3500 other Manuscripts:
E-mail to: BELIEVE
The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at:
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet