Tertullian, a ghost of the textual tradition

A quotation from my last post, When Chrestianity Began:

"Chrestianus, a word non-Christians used, referring to Christians, in the days of Tertullian (very late second century)."
As I later tried to explain to Leonard Angus Smith, I am sometimes forced to allow such a reference, even though I am sure how Tertullian does not exist in the historical record, nor the Christians appearing in works bearing his name. This post, then, is to explain how this is so (although a section of my main website treats the textual tradition in some detail).

The textual tradition is not historical, but mythological. It's authors are unknown; the manuscripts claim to be copies of earlier, historical works; they were produced in monastic scriptoria in the centuries following the foundation of the Holy Roman Empire.

[Again, on my use of the term 'original': I use it to describe the document being copied. A small point, maybe, but I have been attacked bitterly for using the term.]

Now, Tertullian:
"Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian c. 155 – c. 240 AD,[1] was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa.[2] He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and a polemicist against heresy, including contemporary Christian Gnosticism.[3] Tertullian has been called "the father of Latin Christianity"[4][5] and "the founder of Western theology."[6]"
Notes:
1. Robert Audi, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, p. 908, 1999
2. T. D. Barnes, Tertullian: a Historical and Literary Study (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1985), 58.
3. Arthur Versluis, "Magic and Mysticism", Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. p. 23
4. Benham, William (1887). The Dictionary of Religion. p. 1013.
5. Ekonomou 2007, Page 22 Google Books
6. Justo L. Gonz├íles, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Dawn of the Reformation (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2010), 91–93.
For all that, if you look at the cultural layer for 155 -240, you will find no artefact - textual or otherwise - for him. He is a ghost typical of the textual tradition - fabricated later and inserted fraudulently into the past.

Disproving this would be easy - look at the works bearing his name, examine them for provenance and date, and if any are in their proper context for this period, I would be proven wrong. So let us have a go.

First, we get a warning:
"He wrote his trinitarian formula after becoming a Montanist."
The term Montanist has largely be rejected by scholars in recent times. More importantly - from the viewpoint of my evidence-based history, the homeland of "Montanism" is Phrygia, where we find clear, Chrestian archaeology in the third century; I would go further and state with confidence that Montanism is a later, Christian term for Chrestianity (and Phrygia its home).

We therefore enter the textual tradition of Tertullian aware of pitfalls.
"Thirty-one works are extant, together with fragments of more. Some fifteen works in Latin or Greek are lost, some as recently as the 9th century (De Paradiso, De superstitione saeculi, De carne et anima were all extant in the now damaged Codex Agobardinus in 814 AD)."
15 lost; and now the admitted forgeries:
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."
Even the possible authors named are almost certainly wrong; for example:
"Cyprianus Gallus (fl. c. 397–430) was a fifth-century poet who wrote a Late Latin epic versification of the historical books of the Vetus Latina, though only the Heptateuch (Heptateuchos) has survived to the present day. He, along with his namesake Cyprian of Carthage and Tertullian, has been credited the authorship of the two poems Carmen de Sodoma and Carmen de Iona, but neither fits his style and language."
Then there is - as appears usual with these ghosts - another, historical person writing at this time:
"The writings of Tertullianus, a lawyer of the same cognomen, exist only in fragments and do not denote a Christian authorship. (Tertullianus was misidentified only much later with the Christian Tertullian by church historians.)[Barnes, pg. 23]"
Now let us look at the works regarded - wrongly - as historical.
"He wrote at least three books in Greek. In them he refers to himself, but none of these are extant."
That's unfortunate. This leaves just the Latin. Where are they all?
List of Lost Codices 
"This page is derived from Table II from Corpus Christianorum Latinorum I. The codices which only contain the Apologeticum are listed elsewhere.
"Lost codices are listed in red. However a lost codex is only listed if someone used it for an extant edition. The century in which the codex was written is noted, if known.
"The table also contains the De trinitate of Novatian and the Adversus omnes haereses, a spurious work, as these are found in certain of the collections of Tertullian's works, and therefore their presence or absence is indicative of the history of that particular manuscript."
Here is the hard fact:
"The works of Tertullian come down to us in various medieval manuscripts, none older than the late 8th century."
In short, there is nothing by or about "Tertullian" earlier than the late 8th century and thus no reason to believe in his existence. On the other hand, there is some reason to believe in a Chrestian lawyer of that name, who wrote something. Further, we may speculate that the historical was used as a basis for the fictional.

All the Latin are the product of Alquin of York's grand project in the (new) Carolingian monasteries for the Holy Roman Empire.

The textual tradition is a self-referencing fraud. There were no Christians previously, no Jesus Christ, or Christianity.

Share this: