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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter I.--Introductory The Apostle Paul Himself Not the Preacher of a New God. Called by Jesus Christ, Although After the Other Apostles, His Mission Was from the Creator. States How. The Argument, as in the Case of the Gospel, Confining Proofs to Such

The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian

Chapter I.--Introductory The Apostle Paul Himself Not the Preacher of a New God. Called by Jesus Christ, Although After the Other Apostles, His Mission Was from the Creator. States How. The Argument, as in the Case of the Gospel, Confining Proofs to Such

There is nothing without a beginning but God alone. Now, inasmuch as the beginning occupies the first place in the condition of all things, so it must necessarily take precedence in the treatment of them, if a clear knowledge is to be arrived at concerning their condition; for you could not find the means of examining even the quality of anything, unless you were certain of its existence, and that after discovering its origin. Since therefore I am brought, in the course of my little work, to this point, I require to know of Marcion the origin of his apostle even -- I, who am to some degree a new disciple, the follower of no other master; who at the same time can believe nothing, except that nothing ought to be believed hastily (and that I may further say is hastily believed, which is believed without any examination of its beginning); in short, I who have the best reason possible for bringing this inquiry to a most careful solution, since a man is affirmed to me to be an apostle whom I do not find mentioned in the Gospel in the catalogue of the apostles. Indeed, when I hear that this man was chosen by the Lord after He had attained His rest in heaven, I feel that a kind of improvidence is imputable to Christ, for not knowing before that this man was necessary to Him; and because He thought that he must be added to the apostolic body in the way of a fortuitous encounter rather than a deliberate selection; by necessity (so to speak), and not voluntary choice, although the members of the apostolate had been duly ordained, and were now dismissed to their several missions. Wherefore, O shipmaster of Pontus, if you have never taken on board your small craft any contraband goods or smuggler's cargo, if you have never thrown overboard or tampered with a freight, you are still more careful and conscientious, I doubt not, in divine things; and so I should be glad if you would inform us under what bill of lading you admitted the Apostle Paul on board, who ticketed him, what owner forwarded him, who handed him to you, that so you may land him without any misgiving, lest he should turn out to belong to him, who can substantiate his claim to him by producing all his apostolic writings. He professes himself to be |an apostle| -- to use his own, words -- |not of men, nor by man, but by Jesus Christ.| Of course, any one may make a profession concerning himself; but his profession is only rendered valid by the authority of a second person. One man signs, another countersigns; one man appends his seal, another registers in the public records. No one is at once a proposer and a seconder to himself. Besides, you have read, no doubt, that |many shall come, saying, I am Christ.| Now if any one can pretend that he is Christ, how much more might a man profess to be an apostle of Christ! But still, for my own part, I appear in the character of a disciple and an inquirer; that so I may even thus both refute your belief, who have nothing to support it, and confound your shamelessness, who make claims without possessing the means of establishing them. Let there be a Christ, let there be an apostle, although of another god; but what matter? since they are only to draw their proofs out of the Testament of the Creator. Because even the book of Genesis so long ago promised me the Apostle Paul. For among the types and prophetic blessings which he pronounced over his sons, Jacob, when he turned his attention to Benjamin, exclaimed, |Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall impart nourishment.| He foresaw that Paul would arise out of the tribe of Benjamin, a voracious wolf, devouring his prey in the morning: in order words, in the early period of his life he would devastate the Lord's sheep, as a persecutor of the churches; but in the evening he would give them nourishment, which means that in his declining years he would educate the fold of Christ, as the teacher of the Gentiles. Then, again, in Saul's conduct towards David, exhibited first in violent persecution of him, and then in remorse and reparation, on his receiving from him good for evil, we have nothing else than an anticipation of Paul in Saul -- belonging, too, as they did, to the same tribe -- and of Jesus in David, from whom He descended according to the Virgin's genealogy. Should you, however, disapprove of these types, the Acts of the Apostles, at all events, have handed down to me this career of Paul, which you must not refuse to accept. Thence I demonstrate that from a persecutor he became |an apostle, not of men, neither by man;| thence am I led to believe the Apostle himself; thence do I find reason for rejecting your defence of him, and for bearing fearlessly your taunt. |Then you deny the Apostle Paul.| I do not calumniate him whom I defend. I deny him, to compel you to the proof of him. I deny him, to convince you that he is mine. If you have regard to our belief you should admit the particulars which comprise it. If you challenge us to your belief, (pray) tell us what things constitute its basis. Either prove the truth of what you believe, or failing in your proof, (tell us) how you believe. Else what conduct is yours, believing in opposition to Him from whom alone comes the proof of that which you believe? Take now from my point of view the apostle, in the same manner as you have received the Christ -- the apostle shown to be as much mine as the Christ is. And here, too, we will fight within the same lines, and challenge our adversary on the mere ground of a simple rule, that even an apostle who is said not to belong to the Creator -- nay, is displayed as in actual hostility to the Creator -- can be fairly regarded as teaching nothing, knowing nothing, wishing nothing in favour of the Creator whilst it would be a first principle with him to set forth another god with as much eagerness as he would use in withdrawing us from the law of the Creator. It is not at all likely that he would call men away from Judaism without showing them at the same time what was the god in whom he invited them to believe; because nobody could possibly pass from allegiance to the Creator without knowing to whom he had to cross over. For either Christ had already revealed another god -- in which case the apostle's testimony would also follow to the same effect, for fear of his not being else regarded as an apostle of the god whom Christ had revealed, and because of the impropriety of his being concealed by the apostle who had been already revealed by Christ -- or Christ had made no such revelation concerning God; then there was all the greater need why the apostle should reveal a God who could now be made known by no one else, and who would undoubtedly be left without any belief at all, if he were revealed not even by an apostle. We have laid down this as our first principle, because we wish at once to profess that we shall pursue the same method here in the apostle's case as we adopted before in Christ's case, to prove that he proclaimed no new god; that is, we shall draw our evidence from the epistles of St. Paul himself. Now, the garbled form in which we have found the heretic's Gospel will have already prepared us to expect to find the epistles also mutilated by him with like perverseness -- and that even as respects their number.
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