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date: 28 November 2020

Tertullian, c. 160–c. 240 celocked

  • Eric Rebillard

Extract

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.

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