Tertullian

Topics: Tertullian, Christian terms, Montanism Pages: 3 (1704 words) Published: May 24, 2014
The traditional account of Tertullian’s life is based upon Jerome’s Lives of Illustrious Men and Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History. According to this tradition, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian (c. 155-c.225) was a native of Carthage where his father served as a centurion of the proconsular cohort (centurion proconsularis). Educated in literature, rhetoric, and jurisprudence, Tertullian went to Rome where he practiced law. Some historians equate him with a jurist, Tertullianus, whose opinions are recorded in two Roman legal digests. Tertullian converted to Christianity before 197, perhaps inspired by the heroism of Christian martyrs, and then returned to Carthage where he engaged his considerable talents on behalf of the church. His marriage to a Christian is obvious from his treatise addressed To My Wife. His ordination as a priest is less certain: although Jerome referred to him as “presbyter of the church until middle life,” Tertullian classified himself as a layperson. Tertullian was the most prolific Latin writer until Augustine and composed works that are apologetic, polemical, and ethical in nature. After years of defending orthodox Christianity, however, he turned to Montanism, a Spirit-based movement, which Tertullian called “the New Prophecy” and which emphasized prophecy, ecstatic utterances and glossolalia, women in ministry, rigorous morality, and eschatological expectations. According to Augustine, Tertullian withdrew from the Montanists to found his own congregation of Tertullianists, creating yet another schism. The year and manner of his death are unknown, but Jerome reported that he “lived to an advanced age.” Recent scholarship has called into question much of what Jerome reported about Tertullian. Timothy David Barnes, in particular, dismantled Jerome’s life history of Tertullian and reconstructed a brief biographical sketch based solely on Tertullian’s own revelations. According to Barnes, Tertullian’s extant works covered a brief period...
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