(The Five Books against Marcion, Vol III, ANF)
Chapter XXII.-The Same Conclusion Supported by the
Transfiguration. Marcion Inconsistent in Associating with Christ in
Glory Two Such Eminent Servants of the Creator as Moses and Elijah. St.
Peter's Ignorance Accounted for on Montanist Principle.
You ought to be very much ashamed of yourself on this account too, for
permitting him to appear on the retired mountain in the company of Moses and
whom he had come to destroy. This, to be sure,838
was what he wished to be understood as the meaning of that voice from
heaven: "This is my beloved Son, hear Him"839
-Him, that is, not Moses or Elias any longer. The voice alone,
therefore, was enough, without the display of Moses and Elias; for, by
expressly mentioning whom they were to hear, he must have forbidden all840
others from being heard. Or else, did he mean that Isaiah and Jeremiah and
the others whom he did not exhibit were to be heard, since he prohibited
those whom he did display? Now, even if their presence was necessary, they
surely should not be represented as conversing together, which is a sign of
familiarity; nor as associated in glory with him, for this indicates respect
and graciousness; but they should be shown in some slough841
as a sure token of their ruin, or even in that darkness of the Creator which
Christ was sent to disperse, far removed from the glory of Him who was about
to sever their words and writings from His gospel. This, then, is the way842
how he demonstrates them to be aliens,843
even by keeping them in his own company! This is how he shows they ought to
be relinquished: he associates them with himself instead! This is how he
destroys them: he irradiates them with his glory! How would their own Christ
act? I suppose He would have imitated the frowardness (of heresy),844
and revealed them just as Marcion's Christ was bound to do, or at least as
having with Him any others rather than His own prophets! But what could so
well befit the Creator's Christ, as to manifest Him in the company of His
-to let Him be seen with those to whom He had appeared in revelations?-to
let Him be speaking with those who had spoken of Him?-to share His glory
with those by whom He used to be called the Lord of glory; even with those
chief servants of His, one of whom was once the moulder846
of His people, the other afterwards the reformer847
thereof; one the initiator of the Old Testament, the other the consummator848
of the New? Well therefore does Peter, when recognizing the companions of
his Christ in their indissoluble connection with Him, suggest an expedient:
"It is good for us to be here" (good: that evidently means to be where Moses
and Elias are); "and let us make three tabernacles, one for Thee, and one
for Moses, and one for Elias. But he knew not what he said."849
How knew not? Was his ignorance the result of simple error? Or was it on the
principle which we maintain850
in the cause of the new prophecy,851
that to grace ecstasy or rapture852
is incident. For when a man is rapt in the Spirit, especially when he
beholds the glory of God, or when God speaks through him, he necessarily
loses his sensation,853
because he is overshadowed with the power of God,-a point concerning which
there is a question between us and the carnally-minded.854
Now, it is no difficult matter to prove the rapture855
of Peter. For how could he have known Moses and Elias, except (by being) in
the Spirit? People could not have had their images, or statues, or
likenesses; for that the law forbade. How, if it were not that he had seen
them in the Spirit? And therefore, because it was in the Spirit that he had
now spoken, and not in his natural senses, he could not know what he had
said. But if, on the other hand,856
he was thus ignorant, because he erroneously supposed that (Jesus) was their
Christ, it is then evident that Peter, when previously asked by Christ,
"Whom they thought Him to be," meant the Creator's Christ, when he answered,
"Thou art the Christ; "because if he had been then aware that He belonged to
the rival god, he would not have made a mistake here. But if he was in error
here because of his previous erroneous opinion,857
then you may be sure that up to that very day no new divinity had been
revealed by Christ, and that Peter had so far made no mistake, because
hitherto Christ had revealed nothing of the kind; and that Christ
accordingly was not to be regarded as belonging to any other than the
Creator, whose entire dispensation858
he, in fact, here described. He selects from His disciples three witnesses
of the impending vision and voice. And this is just the way of the Creator.
"In the mouth of three witnesses," says He, "shall every word be
He withdraws to a mountain. In the nature of the place I see much meaning.
For the Creator had originally formed His ancient people on a mountain both
with visible glory and His voice. It was only tight that the New Testament
should be attested860
on such an elevated spot861
as that whereon the Old Testament had been composed;862
under a like covering of cloud also, which nobody will doubt, was condensed
out of the Creator's air. Unless, indeed, he863
had brought down his own clouds thither, because he had himself forced his
way through the Creator's heaven;864
or else it was only a precarious cloud,865
as it were, of the Creator which he used. On the present (as also on the
occasion, therefore, the cloud was not silent; but there was the accustomed
voice from heaven, and the Father's testimony to the Son; precisely as in
the first Psalm He had said, "Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee."867
By the mouth of Isaiah also He had asked concerning Him, "Who is there among
you that feareth God? Let him hear the voice of His Son."868
When therefore He here presents Him with the words, "This is my (beloved)
Son," this clause is of course understood, "whom I have promised." For if He
once promised, and then afterwards says, "This is He," it is suitable
conduct for one who accomplishes His purpose869
that He should utter His voice in proof of the promise which He had formerly
made; but unsuitable in one who is amenable to the retort, Can you, indeed,
have a right to say, "This is my son," concerning whom you have given us no
any more than you have favoured us with a revelation about your own prior
existence? "Hear ye Him," therefore, whom from the beginning (the Creator)
had declared entitled to be heard in the name of a prophet, since it was as
a prophet that He had to be regarded by the people. "A prophet," says Moses,
"shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your sons" (that is, of
course, after a carnal descent871
); "unto Him shall ye hearken, as unto me."872
"Every one who will not hearken unto Him, his soul873
shall be cut off from amongst his people."874
, So also Isaiah: "Who is there among you that feareth God? Let him hear the
voice of His Son."875
This voice the Father was going Himself to recommend. For, says he,876
He establishes the words of His Son, when He says, "This is my beloved Son,
hear ye Him." Therefore, even if there be made a transfer of the obedient
"heating" from Moses and Elias to877
Christ, it is still not from878
another God, or to another Christ; but from" the Creator to His Christ, in
consequence of the departure of the old covenant and the supervening of the
new. "Not an ambassador, nor an angel, but He Himself," says Isaiah, "shall
save them; "879
for it is He Himself who is now declaring and fulfilling the law and the
prophets. The Father gave to the Son new disciples,880
after that Moses and Elias had been exhibited along with Him in the honour
of His glory, and had then been dismissed as having fully discharged their
duty and office, for the express purpose of affirming for Marcion's
information the fact that Moses and Elias had a share in even the glory of
Christ. But we have the entire structure881
of this same vision in Habakkuk also, where the Spirit in the person of some882
of the apostles says, "O Lord, I have heard Thy speech, and was afraid."
What speech was this, other than the words of the voice from heaven, This is
my beloved Son, hear ye, Him? "I considered thy works, and was astonished."
When could this have better happened than when Peter, on seeing His glory,
knew not what he was saying? "In the midst of the two Thou shalt be
known"-even Moses and Elias.883
These likewise did Zechariah see under the figure of the two olive trees and
For these are they of whom he says, "They are the two anointed ones, that
stand by the Lord of the whole earth." And again Habakkuk says, "His glory
covered the heavens" (that is, with that cloud), "and His splendour shall be
like the light-even the light, wherewith His very raiment glistened." And if
we would make mention of885
the promise to Moses, we shall find it accomplished here. For when Moses
desired to see the Lord, saying, "If therefore I have found grace in Thy
sight, manifest Thyself to me, that I may see Thee distinctly,"886
the sight which he desired to have was of that condition which he was to
assume as man, and which as a prophet he knew was to occur. Respecting the
face of God, however, he had already heard, "No man shall see me, and
live." "This thing," said He, "which thou hast spoken, will I do unto thee."
Then Moses said, "Show me Thy glory." And the Lord, with like reference to
the future, replied, "I will pass before thee in my glory," etc. Then at the
last He says, "And then thou shall see my back."887
Not loins, or calves of the legs, did he want to behold, but the glory which
was to be revealed in the latter days.888
He had promised that He would make Himself thus face to face visible to him,
when He said to Aaron, "If there shall be a prophet among you, I will make
myself known to him by vision, and by vision will I speak with him; but not
so is my manner to Moses; with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even
apparently" (that is to say, in the form of man which He was to assume),
"and not in dark speeches."889
Now, although Marcion has denied890
that he is here represented as speaking with the Lord, but only as standing,
yet, inasmuch as he stood "mouth to mouth," he must also have stood "face to
face" with him, to use his words,891
not far from him, in His very glory-not to say,892
in His presence. And with this glory he went away enlightened from Christ,
just as he used to do from the Creator; as then to dazzle the eyes of
the children of Israel, so now to smite those of the blinded Marcion,
who has failed to see how this argument also makes against him.
Luke ix. 28-36.
Scilicet, in ironical allusion to a Marcionite opinion.
Luke ix. 35.
In sordibus aliquibus.
To belong to another god.
Informator, Moses, as having organized the nation.
Reformator, Elias, the great prophet.
It was a primitive opinion in the Church that Elijah
was to come, with Enoch, at the end of the world. See De Anima, chap.
xxxv. and l.; also Irenaeus, De Hoeres. v. 5. [Vol. I. 530.]
Luke ix. 33.
This Tertullian seems to have done in his treatise
De Ecstasi, which is mentioned by St. Jerome-see his Catalogus
Scriptt. Eccles. (in Tertulliano); and by Nicephorus, Hist. Eccles.
iv. 22, 34. On this subject of ecstasy, Tertullian has some observations in
De Anima, chap. xxi. and xlv. (Rigalt. and Oehler.)
He calls those the carnally-minded ("psychicos") who
thought that ecstatic raptures and revelations had ceased in the church. The
term arises from a perverse application of 1 Cor. ii. 14:
yuxiko\j de\ a!nqrwpoj ou0 de/xetai ta\tou= Pneu/matoj
tou= Qeou=. In opposition to the wild fanaticism of Montanus, into
which Tertullian strangely fell, the Catholics believed that the true
prophets, who were filled with the Spirit of God, discharged their prophetic
functions with a quiet and tranquil mind. See the anonymous author,
Contra Cataphrygas, in Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. v. 17; Epiphanius,
Hoeres. 48. See also Routh, Rell. Sacrae, i. p. 100; and Bp.
Kaye, On the Writings of Tertullian, etc. 3. pp. 27-36. (Munter's
Primord. Eccles Afric. p. 138, quoted by Oehler.)
According to the hypothesis.
Totum ordinem, in the three periods represented by
Moses, and Elijah, and Christ.
Compare Deut. xix. 15 with Luke ix. 28.
In eo suggestu.
Compare above, book i. chap. 15, and book iv. chap. 7.
Precario. This word is used in book v. chap.xii. to
describe the transitoriness of the Creator's paradise and world.
Ps. ii. 7.
Isa. l. 10, according to the Septuagint.
Ejus est exhibentis.
Non praemisisti. Oehler suggests promisisti,
"have given us no promise."
Censum: Some read sensum, "sense."
Deut. xviii. 15.
Deut. xviii. 19.
Isa. l. 10.
Tertullian, by introducing this statement with an "inquit,"
seems to make a quotation of it; but it is only a comment on the actual
quotations. Tertullian's invariable object in this argument is to march some
event or word pertaining to the Christ of the New Testament with some
declaration of the Old Testament. In this instance the approving words of
God upon the mount are in Heb. i. 5 applied to the Son, while in Ps. ii. 7
the Son applies them to Himself. Compare the Adversus Praxean, chap.
xix. (Fr. Junius and Oehler.) It is, however, more likely that Tertullian
really means to quote Isa. xliv. 26, "that confirmeth the word of His
servant," which Tertullian reads, "Sistens verba filii sui," the Septuagint
being, Kai\ i0stw=n r9h=ma paido\j au0tou=.
In Christo. In with an ablative is often used by
our author for in with an accusative.
Or perhaps "by the Creator."
Isa. lxiii. 9, according to the Septuagint; only he
reads faciet for aorist e!swsen.
A Marcionite position.
Hab. iii. 2, according to the Septuagint. St. Augustine
similarly applied this passage, De Vicit. Dei, ii. 32.
Zech. iv. 3, 14.
Commemoremur: be reminded, or call to mind.
Cognoscenter: gnwstw=j, "so
as to know Thee."
See Ex. xxxiii. 13-23.
Posterioribus temporibus. [The awful ribaldry of
Voltaire upon this glorious revelation is based apon the Vulgate reading of
Exod. xxxiii. 23, needlessly transferred to our Version, but corrected by
the late Revisers.]
Num. xii. 6-8.
It is difficult to see what this inquit means.