The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian
Chapter XXXVI.--The Parables of the Importunate Widow, and of the Pharisee and the Publican Christ's Answer to the Rich Ruler, the Cure of the Blind Man. His Salutation--Son of David. All Proofs of Christ's Relation to the Creator, Marcion's Antithesis Be
When He recommends perseverance and earnestness in prayer, He sets before us the parable of the judge who was compelled to listen to the widow, owing to the earnestness and importunity of her requests. He show us that it is God the judge whom we must importune with prayer, and not Himself, if He is not Himself the judge. But He added, that |God would avenge His own elect.| Since, then, He who judges will also Himself be the avenger, He proved that the Creator is on that account the specially good God, whom He represented as the avenger of His own elect, who cry day and night to Him. And yet, when He introduces to our view the Creator's temple, and describes two men worshipping therein with diverse feelings -- the Pharisee in pride, the publican in humility -- and shows us how they accordingly went down to their homes, one rejected, the other justified, He surely, by thus teaching us the proper discipline of prayer, has determined that that God must be prayed to from whom men were to receive this discipline of prayer -- whether condemnatory of pride, or justifying in humility. I do not find from Christ any temple, any suppliants, any sentence (of approval or condemnation) belonging to any other god than the Creator. Him does He enjoin us to worship in humility, as the lifter-up of the humble, not in pride, because He brings down the proud. What other god has He manifested to me to receive my supplications? With what formula of worship, with what hope (shall I approach him?) I trow, none. For the prayer which He has taught us suits, as we have proved, none but the Creator. It is, of course, another matter if He does not wish to be prayed to, because He is the supremely and spontaneously good God! But who is this good God? There is, He says, |none but one.| It is not as if He had shown us that one of two gods was the supremely good; but He expressly asserts that there is one only good God, who is the only good, because He is the only God. Now, undoubtedly, He is the good God who |sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, and maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good;| sustaining and nourishing and assisting even Marcionites themselves! When afterwards |a certain man asked him, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?'| (Jesus) inquired whether he knew (that is, in other words, whether he kept) the commandments of the Creator, in order to testify that it was by the Creator's precepts that eternal life is acquired. Then, when he affirmed that from his youth up he had kept all the principal commandments, (Jesus) said to him: |One thing thou yet lackest: sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.| Well now, Marcion, and all ye who are companions in misery, and associates in hatred with that heretic, what will you dare say to this? Did Christ rescind the forementioned commandments: |Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother?| Or did He both keep them, and then add what was wanting to them? This very precept, however, about giving to the poor, was very largely diffused through the pages of the law and the prophets. This vainglorious observer of the commandments was therefore convicted of holding money in much higher estimation (than charity). This verity of the gospel then stands unimpaired: |I am not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them.| He also dissipated other doubts, when He declared that the name of God and of the Good belonged to one and the same being, at whose disposal were also the everlasting life and the treasure in heaven and Himself too -- whose commandments He both maintained and augmented with His own supplementary precepts. He may likewise be discovered in the following passage of Micah, saying: |He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to be ready to follow the Lord thy God?| Now Christ is the man who tells us what is good, even the knowledge of the law. |Thou knowest,| says He, |the commandments.| |To do justly| -- |Sell all that thou hast;| |to love mercy| -- |Give to the poor:| |and to be ready to walk with God| -- |And come,| says He, |follow me.| The Jewish nation was from its beginning so carefully divided into tribes and clans, and families and houses, that no man could very well have been ignorant of his descent -- even from the recent assessments of Augustus, which were still probably extant at this time. But the Jesus of Marcion (although there could be no doubt of a person's having been born, who was seen to be a man), as being unborn, could not, of course, have possessed any public testimonial of his descent, but was to be regarded as one of that obscure class of whom nothing was in any way known. Why then did the blind man, on hearing that He was passing by, exclaim, |Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on me?| unless he was considered, in no uncertain manner, to be the Son of David (in other words, to belong to David's family) through his mother and his brethren, who at some time or other had been made known to him by public notoriety? |Those, however, who went before rebuked the blind man, that he should hold his peace.| And properly enough; because he was very noisy, not because he was wrong about the son of David. Else you must show me, that those who rebuked him were aware that Jesus was not the Son of David, in order that they may be supposed to have had this reason for imposing silence on the blind man. But even if you could show me this, still (the blind man) would more readily have presumed that they were ignorant, than that the Lord could possibly have permitted an untrue exclamation about Himself. But the Lord |stood patient.| Yes; but not as confirming the error, for, on the contrary, He rather displayed the Creator. Surely He could not have first removed this man's blindness, in order that he might afterwards cease to regard Him as the Son of David! However, that you may not slander His patience, nor fasten on Him any charge of dissimulation, nor deny Him to be the Son of David, He very pointedly confirmed the exclamation of the blind man -- both by the actual gift of healing, and by bearing testimony to his faith: |Thy faith,| say Christ, |hath made thee whole.| What would you have the blind man's faith to have been? That Jesus was descended from that (alien) god (of Marcion), to subvert the Creator and overthrow the law and the prophets? That He was not the destined offshoot from the root of Jesse, and the fruit of David's loins, the restorer also of the blind? But I apprehend there were at that time no such stone-blind persons as Marcion, that an opinion like this could have constituted the faith of the blind man, and have induced him to confide in the mere name, of Jesus, the Son of David. He, who knew all this of Himself, and wished others to know it also, endowed the faith of this man -- although it was already gifted with a better sight, and although it was in possession of the true light -- with the external vision likewise, in order that we too might learn the rule of faith, and at the same time find its recompense. Whosoever wishes to see Jesus the Son of David must believe in Him; through the Virgin's birth. He who will not believe this will not hear from Him the salutation, |Thy faith hath saved thee.| And so he will remain blind, falling into Antithesis after Antithesis, which mutually destroy each other, just as |the blind man leads the blind down into the ditch.| For (here is one of Marcion's Antitheses): whereas David in old time, in the capture of Sion, was offended by the blind who opposed his admission (into the stronghold) -- in which respect (I should rather say) that they were a type of people equally blind, who in after-times would not admit Christ to be the son of David -- so, on the contrary, Christ succoured the blind man, to show by this act that He was not David's son, and how different in disposition He was, kind to the blind, while David ordered them to be slain. If all this were so, why did Marcion allege that the blind man's faith was of so worthless a stamp? The fact is, the Son of David so acted, that the Antithesis must lose its point by its own absurdity. Those persons who offended David were blind, and the man who now presents himself as a suppliant to David's son is afflicted with the same infirmity. Therefore the Son of David was appeased with some sort of satisfaction by the blind man when He restored him to sight, and added His approval of the faith which had led him to believe the very truth, that he must win to his help the Son of David by earnest entreaty. But, after all, I suspect that it was the audacity (of the old Jebusites) which offended David, and not their malady.