The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian
Chapter XXI.--Christ's Connection with the Creator Shown from Several Incidents in the Old Testament, Compared with St. Luke's Narrative of the Mission of the Disciples. The Feeding of the Multitude. The Confession of St. Peter. Being Ashamed of Christ. T
He sends forth His disciples to preach the kingdom of God. Does He here say of what God? He forbids their taking anything for their journey, by way of either food or raiment. Who would have given such a commandment as this, but He who feeds the ravens and clothes the flowers of the field? Who anciently enjoined for the treading ox an unmuzzled mouth, that he might be at liberty to gather his fodder from his labour, on the principle that the worker is worthy of his hire? Marcion may expunge such precepts, but no matter, provided the sense of them survives. But when He charges them to shake off the dust of their feet against such as should refuse to receive them, He also bids that this be done as a witness. Now no one bears witness except in a case which is decided by judicial process; and whoever orders inhuman conduct to be submitted to the trial by testimony, does really threaten as a judge. Again, that it was no new god which recommended by Christ, was clearly attested by the opinion of all men, because some maintained to Herod that Jesus was the Christ; others, that He was John; some, that He was Elias; and others, that He was one of the old prophets. Now, whosoever of all these He might have been, He certainly was not raised up for the purpose of announcing another god after His resurrection. He feeds the multitude in the desert place; this, you must know was after the manner of the Old Testament. Or else, if there was not the same grandeur, it follows that He is now inferior to the Creator. For He, not for one day, but during forty years, not on the inferior aliment of bread and fish, but with the manna of heaven, supported the lives of not five thousand, but of six hundred thousand human beings. However, such was the greatness of His miracle, that He willed the slender supply of food, not only to be enough, but even to prove superabundant; and herein He followed the ancient precedent. For in like manner, during the famine in Elijah's time, the scanty and final meal of the widow of Sarepta was multiplied by the blessing of the prophet throughout the period of the famine. You have the third book of the Kings. If you also turn to the fourth book, you will discover all this conduct of Christ pursued by that man of God, who ordered ten barley loaves which had been given him to be distributed among the people; and when his servitor, after contrasting the large number of the persons with the small supply of the food, answered, |What, shall I set this before a hundred men?| he said again, |Give them, and they shall eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof, according to the word of the Lord.| O Christ, even in Thy novelties Thou art old! Accordingly, when Peter, who had been an eye-witness of the miracle, and had compared it with the ancient precedents, and had discovered in them prophetic intimations of what should one day come to pass, answered (as the mouthpiece of them all) the Lord's inquiry, |Whom say ye that I am?| in the words, |Thou art the Christ,| he could not but have perceived that He was that Christ, beside whom he knew of none else in the Scriptures, and whom he was now surveying in His wonderful deeds. This conclusion He even Himself confirms by thus far bearing with it, nay, even enjoining silence respecting it. For if Peter was unable to acknowledge Him to be any other than the Creator's Christ, while He commanded them |to tell no man that saying,| surely He was unwilling to have the conclusion promulged which Peter had drawn. No doubt of that, you say; but as Peter's conclusion was a wrong one, therefore He was unwilling to have a lie disseminated. It was, however, a different reason which He assigned for the silence, even because |the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and scribes, and priests, and be slain, and be raised again the third day.| Now, inasmuch as these sufferings were actually foretold for the Creator's Christ (as we shall fully show in the proper place ), so by this application of them to His own case does He prove that it is He Himself of whom they were predicted. At all events, even if they had not been predicted, the reason which He alleged for imposing silence (on the disciples) was such as made it clear enough that Peter had made no mistake, that reason being the necessity of His undergoing these sufferings. |Whosoever,| says He, |will save his life, shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.| Surely it is the Son of man who uttered this sentence. Look carefully, then, along with the king of Babylon, into his burning fiery furnace, and there you will discover one |like the Son of man| (for He was not yet really Son of man, because not yet born of man), even as early as then appointing issues such as these. He saved the lives of the three brethren, who had agreed to lose them for God's sake; but He destroyed those of the Chaldæans, when they had preferred to save them by the means of their idolatry. Where is that novelty, which you pretend in a doctrine which possesses these ancient proofs? But all the predictions have been fulfilled concerning martyrdoms which were to happen, and were to receive the recompenses of their reward from God. |See,| says Isaiah, |how the righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and just men are taken away, and no man considereth.| When does this more frequently happen than in the persecution of His saints? This, indeed, is no ordinary matter, no common casualty of the law of nature; but it is that illustrious devotion, that fighting for the faith, wherein whosoever loses his life for God saves it, so that you may here again recognize the Judge who recompenses the evil gain of life with its destruction, and the good loss thereof with its salvation. It is, however, a jealous God whom He here presents to me; one who returns evil for evil. |For whosoever,| says He, |shall be ashamed of me, of him will I also be ashamed.| Now to none but my Christ can be assigned the occasion of such a shame as this. His whole course was so exposed to shame as to open a way for even the taunts of heretics, declaiming with all the bitterness in their power against the utter disgrace of His birth and bringing-up, and the unworthiness of His very flesh. But how can that Christ of yours be liable to a shame, which it is impossible for him to experience? Since he was never condensed into human flesh in the womb of a woman, although a virgin; never grew from human seed, although only after the law of corporeal substance, from the fluids of a woman; was never deemed flesh before shaped in the womb; never called foetus after such shaping; was never delivered from a ten months' writhing in the womb; was never shed forth upon the ground, amidst the sudden pains of parturition, with the unclean issue which flows at such a time through the sewerage of the body, forthwith to inaugurate the light of life with tears, and with that primal wound which severs the child from her who bears him; never received the copious ablution, nor the meditation of salt and honey; nor did he initiate a shroud with swaddling clothes; nor afterwards did he ever wallow in his own uncleanness, in his mother's lap; nibbling at her breast; long an infant; gradually a boy; by slow degrees a man. But he was revealed from heaven, full-grown at once, at once complete; immediately Christ; simply spirit, and power, and god. But as withal he was not true, because not visible; therefore he was no object to be ashamed of from the curse of the cross, the real endurance of which he escaped, because wanting in bodily substance. Never, therefore, could he have said, |Whosoever shall be ashamed of me.| But as for our Christ, He could do no otherwise than make such a declaration; |made| by the Father |a little lower than the angels,| |a worm and no man, a reproach of men, and despised of the people;| seeing that it was His will that |with His stripes we should be healed,| that by His humiliation our salvation should be established. And justly did He humble Himself for His own creature man, for the image and likeness of Himself, and not of another, in order that man, since he had not felt ashamed when bowing down to a stone or a stock, might with similar courage give satisfaction to God for the shamelessness of his idolatry, by displaying an equal degree of shamelessness in his faith, in not being ashamed of Christ. Now, Marcion, which of these courses is better suited to your Christ, in respect of a meritorious shame? Plainly, you ought yourself to blush with shame for having given him a fictitious existence.