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"Besides, what is the thing which takes place in all men and women to produce marriage and fornication? Commixture of the flesh, of course; the concupiscence whereof the Lord put on the same footing with fornication." --"An Exhortation to Chastity" by Tertullian

"When a thing is hidden away with so much pains, merely to reveal it is to destroy it."


"Quod tanto impendio absconditur etiam solummodo demonstrare destruere est."

--Tertullian, epigraph

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Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian (b. ca. 150-160, d. ca. 220-240) is a highly ambivalent character in early Christianity.

On one hand, he was the first great writer of Latin Christianity. He was born, lived, wrote, and died in Carthage, in what is today Tunisia, and was one of the most notably grand and original writers of the early Church.

On the other hand, late in his life he left the orthodox catholic Church and joined the radical, millennialist cult of the Montanists, and was thus never declared a saint by any surviving Christian church.


Tertullian's writings are edited in volumes 1–2 of the Patrologia Latina, and modern texts exist in the Corpus Christianorum Latinorum. English translations by Sidney Thelwall and Philip Holmes can be found in volumes III and IV of the Ante-Nicene Fathers which are freely available online; more modern translations of some of the works have been made.

  • Apologeticus pro Christianis.
  • Dissertatio Mosheim in Apol.
  • Libri duo ad Nationes.
  • De Testimonio animae.
  • Ad Martyres.
  • De Spectaculis.
  • De Idololatria.
  • Accedit ad Scapulam liber.
  • Dissertatio D. Le Nourry in Apologet. libr. II ad Nat. et libr. ad Scapulam.
  • De Oratione.
  • De Baptismo.
  • De Poenitentia.
  • De Patientia.
  • Ad Uxorem libri duo.
  • De Cultu Feminarum lib. II.
  • De Corona Militis.
  • De Fuga in Persecutione.
  • Adversus Gnosticos Scorpiace.
  • Adversus Praxeam.
  • Adversus Hermogenem.
  • Adversus Marcionem libri V.
  • Adversus Valentinianos.
  • Adversus Judaeos.
  • De Anima.
  • De Carne Christi.
  • De Resurrectione Carnis.
On morality

Possible Chronology

The following chronological ordering was proposed by John Kaye, Bishop of Lincoln in the 19th C.:

Probably Catholic (Pre-Montanist):

  • 1. De Poenitentia (Of Repentance)
  • 2. De Oratione (Of Prayer)
  • 3. De Baptismo (Of Baptism)
  • 4.,5. Ad Uxorem, lib. I & II, (To His Wife),
  • 6. Ad Martyras (To the Martyrs),
  • 7. De Patientia (Of Patience)
  • 8. Adversus Judaeos (Reply to the Jews)
  • 9. De Praescriptione Haereticorum (Prescription against Heretics),


  • 10. Apologeticus pro Christianis (Apology for the Christians)
  • 11.,12. ad Nationes, lib. I & II (To the Nations)
  • 13. De Testimonio animae (On the Witness of the Soul)
  • 14. De Pallio (Of the Ascetic Mantle)
  • 15. Adversus Hermogenem (Against Hermogenes)

Probably Post-Montanist:

  • 16. Adversus Valentinianus (Against the Valentinians)
  • 17. ad Scapulam (To Scapula, Proconsul of Africa),
  • 18. De Spectaculis (Of the Games),
  • 19. De Idololatria (Of Idolatry)
  • 20., 21. De cultu Feminarum, lib. I & II (Of Women's Dress)

Definitely Post-Montanist:

  • 22. Adversus Marcionem, lib I (Against Marcion, Bk. I),
  • 23. Adversus Marcionem, lib II
  • 24. De Anima (Of the Soul),
  • 25. Adversus Marcionem, lib III
  • 26. Adversus Marcionem, lib IV
  • 27. De Carne Christi (Of the Flesh of Christ),
  • 28. De Resurrectione Carnis (Of the Resurrection of Flesh)
  • 29. Adversus Marcionem, lib V
  • 30. Adversus Praxean (Against Praxeas),
  • 31. Scorpiace (Antidote to Scorpion's Bite)
  • 32. De Corona Militis (Of the Soldier's Garland),
  • 33. De velandis Virginibus (Of Veiling Virgins),
  • 34. De Exhortatione Castitatis (Of Exhortation to Chastity),
  • 35. De Fuga in Persecutione (Of Flight in Persecution)
  • 36. De Monogamia (Of Monogamy)
  • 37. De Jejuniis, adversus psychicos (Of Fasting, against the materialists),
  • 38. De Puditicia (Of Modesty)

Spurious Works

There have been many works attributed to Tertullian in the past which have since been determined to be almost definitely written by others. Nonetheless, since their actual authors remain uncertain, they continue to be published together in collections of Tertullian's works.

  • 1. Adversus Omnes Haereses (Against all Heresies) - poss. Victorinus of Pettau
  • 2 De execrandis gentium diis (On the Execrable Gods of the Heathens)
  • 3 Carmen adversus Marcionem (Poem against Marcion)
  • 4 Carmen de Iona Propheta (Poem about the Prophet Jonas) - poss. Cyprianus Gallus
  • 5 Carmen de Sodoma (Poem about Sodom) - poss. Cyprianus Gallus
  • 6 Carmen de Genesi (Poem about Genesis)
  • 7 Carmen de Judicio Domini (Poem about the Judgment of the Lord)

The popular Passio SS. Perpetuae et Felicitatis (Martyrdom of SS. Perpetua and Felicitas), much of it the personal diary of St. Perpetua, was once assumed to have been edited by Tertullian. That view is no longer held, and it is usually published separately from Tertullian's works.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tertullian" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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