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Eric Rebillard

Tertullian (Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus) was born in a pagan family and grew up in Carthage. Nothing is known about his conversion, but it happened in his youth or at least before he got married (ux. 1.1). Because Eusebius says he was well versed in the laws of the Romans (HE 2.2.4), some scholars proposed to identify him with the jurist Tertullianus mentioned in the Digest. There is no evidence, however, that Tertullian ever provided legal advice for a living, and though he displays a good knowledge of Roman law, this is in par with a rhetorical education.1 According to Jerome (vir ill. 53), Tertullian was the son of a “proconsular centurion” and a presbyter. The first information raises many historical difficulties; the second is still debated.2 At the time of Jerome, it is unlikely that a writer would address so many issues of pastoral and disciplinary matters without some clerical status. In the 3rd century, his standing as a “sophisticated literate” likely conferred to him enough authority for it.


Bishop Damasus of Rome was the builder of Christian Rome and papal power in the 4th century. Following a double election, Damasus succesfully fought the schism instigated by his rival Ursinus. Damasus established the cult of the martyrs in the Roman catacombs and commissioned Jerome to revise the Latin translation of the Bible. A great promoter of the preeminence of Rome (“primacy of Peter”) among the churches, Damasus enjoyed the support of Emperor Theodosius I, but his relations with the East were strained.Damasus came from a clerical family. His parents Antonius and Laurentia may have moved from Spain to Rome, where his father served as a priest and his sister Irene was a consecrated virgin. Laurentia remained a widow for sixty years after her husband’s death. Born in Rome around 305, Damasus personally witnessed the restoration of rights to Christians after Diocletian’s Persecution, the ushering in of the new Constantinian ecclesiastical policy, and the struggle of the pro-Nicene Churches with those who opposed the Council (see .