Tertullian - a little clarity

Hi every one,

Tertullian became a Christian and then a heretic … as a result I am a bit confused as to what writings were written during his conversion to Christianity and which ones did he write as a heretic. Can any one help me out here? Below is the list of his writings as they appear in www.newadvent.com




  • The Apology
  • On Idolatry
  • De Spectaculis (The Shows)
  • De Corona (The Chaplet)
  • To Scapula
  • Ad Nationes
  • (A Fragment)
  • An Answer to the Jews
  • The Soul’s Testimony
  • A Treatise on the Soul
  • The Prescription Against Heretics
  • Against Marcion
  • Against Hermogenes
  • Against the Valentinians
  • On the Flesh of Christ
  • On the Resurrection of the Flesh
  • Against Praxeas
  • Scorpiace
  • Appendix (Against All Heresies)
  • On Repentance
  • On Baptism
  • On Prayer
  • Ad Martyras
  • The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity (Sometimes attributed to Tertullian)
  • Of Patience
  • On the Pallium
  • On the Apparel of Women
  • On the Veiling of Virgins
  • To His Wife
  • On Exhortation to Chastity
  • On Monogamy
  • On Modesty
  • On Fasting
  • De Fuga in Persecutione

Good question, I was also wondering which of Tertullian’s writings we can more or less trust, and which not. It’s a little disconcerting that the “Father of the Latin Church” was also a heretic and a schismatic…

As much as I’d like to chorttle on the last part, St. Pope Victor, who introduced the Latin mass in Rome (it was in Greek before) can be a substitute for Father of the Latin Church.

As for what can be “trusted,” it depends on what you want. For instance, his writings when a montanist are still good, if for nothing else what he argues against (i.e. the Catholic Church) gives some witness to what we believed at the time.

Mm, good point.

See this link also from newadvent and it should give a bit of help deciding which could be safe:

could you clarify that Isa? I’m not treading in very familiar waters, but are you saying that “we” were Montanists “at that time?”

No. The Montanists died out. That settles who was the Catholic Church as regards them.

Let’s take Mormonism for instance (close enough to Montanism in its day for our purposes).

Read a Mormon attack against the Latin or Orthodox Church, and you can get an idea of what Latins and Orthodox believe today. Not a perfect picture, but one that could be useful to show continuty of the Orthodox, for instance, in the future.

Case in point, the Montanists claimed a new dispensation. The Catholic Church rejected that. Montanist writings can be used now to show that the Catholic Church, then and now, doesn’t believe in new dispensations (the mormons would claim this a sign of the great apostacy, but that’s their problem).

Thanks, Isa, for explaining that. I think I understand what you mean.


Hi all,

Thanks every one for your comments.


I had a quick read to your link and it seems it does give a bit of a guide as to what is what although it would be good if newadvent could produce a brief list that every one else could refer to.



Am I right in thinking the Montanists were a lot like Pentecostals (but more heretical still due to believe that Montanus was the Holy Spirit)?

I agree…it would be nice if they’d put just an indicator next to the writings that were from a period of their heresy for those who fell into such, but I guess that would make it too easy for us huh?:rolleyes:

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