Against The Valentinians by Tertullian
Chapter VI.--Although Writing in Latin He Proposes to Retain the Greek Names of the Valentinian Emanations of Deity Not to Discuss the Heresy But Only to Expose It. This with the Raillery Which Its Absurdity Merits.
In order then, that no one may be blinded by so many outlandish names, collected together, and adjusted at pleasure, and of doubtful import, I mean in this little work, wherein we merely undertake to propound this (heretical) mystery, to explain in what manner we are to use them. Now the rendering of some of these names from the Greek so as to produce an equally obvious sense of the word, is by no means an easy process: in the case of some others, the genders are not suitable; while others, again, are more familiarly known in their Greek form. For the most part, therefore, we shall use the Greek names; their meanings will be seen on the margins of the pages. Nor will the Greek be unaccompanied with the Latin equivalents; only these will be marked in lines above, for the purpose of explaining the personal names, rendered necessary by the ambiguities of such of them as admit some different meaning. But although I must postpone all discussion, and be content at present with the mere exposition (of the heresy), still, wherever any scandalous feature shall seem to require a castigation, it must be attacked by all means, if only with a passing thrust. Let the reader regard it as the skirmish before the battle. It will be my drift to show how to wound rather than to inflict deep gashes. If in any instance mirth be excited, this will be quite as much as the subject deserves. There are many things which deserve refutation in such a way as to have no gravity expended on them. Vain and silly topics are met with especial fitness by laughter. Even the truth may indulge in ridicule, because it is jubilant; it may play with its enemies, because it is fearless. Only we must take care that its laughter be not unseemly, and so itself be laughed at; but wherever its mirth is decent, there it is a duty to indulge it. And so at last I enter on my task.