On The Flesh Of Christ by Tertullian
Chapter VIII.--Apelles and His Followers, Displeased with Our Earthly Bodies, Attributed to Christ a Body of a Purer Sort. How Christ Was Heavenly Even in His Earthly Flesh.
These passages alone, in which Apelles and Marcion seem to place their chief reliance when interpreted according to the truth of the entire uncorrupted gospel, ought to have been sufficient for proving the human flesh of Christ by a defence of His birth. But since Apelles' precious set lay a very great stress on the shameful condition of the flesh, which they will have to have been furnished with souls tampered with by the fiery author of evil, and so unworthy of Christ; and because they on that account suppose that a sidereal substance is suitable for Him, I am bound to refute them on their own ground. They mention a certain angel of great renown as having created this world of ours, and as having, after the creation, repented of his work. This indeed we have treated of in a passage by itself; for we have written a little work in opposition to them, on the question whether one who had the spirit, and will, and power of Christ for such operations, could have done anything which required repentance, since they describe the said angel by the figure of |the lost sheep.| The world, then, must be a wrong thing, according to the evidence of its Creator's repentance; for all repentance is the admission of fault, nor has it indeed any existence except through fault. Now, if the world is a fault, as is the body, such must be its parts -- faulty too; so in like manner must be the heaven and its celestial (contents), and everything which is conceived and produced out of it. And |a corrupt tree must needs bring forth evil fruit.| The flesh of Christ, therefore, if composed of celestial elements, consists of faulty materials, sinful by reason of its sinful origin; so that it must be a part of that substance which they disdain to clothe Christ with, because of its sinfulness, -- in other words, our own. Then, as there is no difference in the point of ignominy, let them either devise for Christ some substance of a purer stamp, since they are displeased with our own, or else let them recognise this too, than which even a heavenly substance could not have been better. We read in so many words: |The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.| This passage, however, has nothing to do with any difference of substance; it only contrasts with the once |earthy| substance of the flesh of the first man, Adam, the |heavenly| substance of the spirit of the second man, Christ. And so entirely does the passage refer the celestial man to the spirit and not to the flesh, that those whom it compares to Him evidently become celestial -- by the Spirit, of course -- even in this |earthy flesh.| Now, since Christ is heavenly even in regard to the flesh, they could not be compared to Him, who are not heavenly in reference to their flesh. If, then, they who become heavenly, as Christ also was, carry about an |earthy| substance of flesh, the conclusion which is affirmed by this fact is, that Christ Himself also was heavenly, but in an |earthy| flesh, even as they are who are put on a level with Him.