Tertullian the Apologist

here is a man I have myself have trouble understanding. About the time of Polycarps’ martyrdom, Tertullian began to speak against the “Heretical forms of Christianity”. What forms of Heretical Christianity existed back then? This is what 2 or maybe 3 generations from Christ? I know of the Schism or Schisms and the Protestant Reformation. But back then what was there? I believe Gnosticism has been brought up. To my understanding there was the Catholic Gnostic Church in Egypt, and the Eastern Gnostic Church of Egypt. Wasn’t the Church in Egypt founded by Mark? To teach what was to be taught?

Tertullian actually ended up leaving the Church because he disagreed with Pope St. Victor I on the question of widows & widowers remarrying. He believed that marriage was forever in the sense that even if the husband/wife dies, the other is still married because Christ has one Spouse and that is the Church (Eph. 5) when St. Paul actually said that widows could remarry provided that they married “in the Lord”, i.e. in the Catholic Faith (1 Cor. I think).

He died outside the Church so he should NOT be considered a Father of the Church.

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I’m afraid there were heresies while the New Testament was still being written. Paul and John, at least, both warn against false teachers and teachings. Gnosticism was a big one, definitely. It gets a snarky shout-out in Scripture with the phrase “Knowledge falsely so called.”

And yes, Tertullian himself fell into schism if not heresy at the end (becoming more rigorous than the Church about certain matters), but he has some good writings from before that.


OK I thought Mark started these Churches in Egypt. Their “Pope”
so to speak.

He is supposed to have been the first bishop of Alexandria, yes. That doesn’t mean all of Egypt was immune to heresy thereafter.

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Did he begin the Catholic Gnostic Church in Egypt?There is a
Catholic church in Egypt isn’t there.

He definitely wrote against Christian Gnosticism. He was the first to use the term Trinity.

I’m not super familiar with all of Tertullian’s writings but I know he wrote works attacking Marcionism (“Against Marcion”) and Monarchianism (“Against Praxeas”). If you’re unfamiliar with those, Marcionism is a belief system that asserted that the God of the Old Testament was a different God from the one in the New Testament–though some classify it as a form of Gnosticism. Monarchianism, as I understand it, was a form of Unitarianism.

In its article on “Heresy,” the Catholic Encyclopedia mentions a number of heresies by name in different periods of church history, including, “in the Apostolic Age, the Judeo-Christians, Judeo-Gnostics, Nicolaites, Docetae, Cerinthians, Ebionites, Nazarenes, followed, in the next two centuries, by a variety of Syrian and Alexandrian Gnostics, by Ophites, Marcionites, Encratites, Montanists, Manichæans, and others.”

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I’m sure St. Mark didn’t found anything with Gnostic in its name, no.

Are you sure you’re not confusing “Gnostic” and “Coptic”? Coptic is a language derived from ancient Egyptian and Greek that is used as a liturgical language by the Christians of Egypt. There’s a Coptic Orthodox Church, headquartered in Alexandria, that claims Apostolic descent from St. Mark. As with most Orthodox Churches, there is a related, smaller Coptic Catholic Church that is in communion with our Pope.

There IS the Coptic Catholic Church which was started by St. Mark in Egypt. The ones the OP mentioned are NOT “Churches” - they’re sects.

That might be what I am doing. Yes, there is a Coptic church. Are
they valid then? Orthodox and Catholic was there a schism there?
And the Catholics are in communion? Is mark their Pope?


Sects? I am not familiar with that term. Are they then parts of
the Churches?

The “Nazarenes” mentioned, would that be also the modern
Nazarenes ? And their origin. I heard they and 2 others came
together to form modern Pentecostals.

Sects: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13674a.htm

The Coptic Catholic Church IS in communion with Rome; the Coptic Orthodox Church is NOT.

The heads of the Coptic Catholic Church is also called “Pope”. Idk about the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Thanks so much. So they are in communion with Rome, but their
heard is a different pope? From the lineage of St. Mark?

No. Apparently, the Nazarenes mentioned in the article were a sect of Judaizers, Jewish Christians who thought it was still necessary for them to observe the Law of Moses (circumcision, Sabbath, Jewish festivals, kosher food laws, etc.) They disappeared by the middle of the fifth century.

Modern Nazarenes, as far as I know, do not think it necessary that Jewish converts continue to observe the Law of Moses.

Not quite sure where you get the term “Catholic gnostic” from.

The Coptic Catholic Church IS in communion with Rome. The “Pope” of the Coptic Catholic Church is the head of that particular Church, while Pope Francis is the Successor of St. Peter over the whole Catholic Church.

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