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Image Map : Christian Books : Chapter VII.--Marcion Rejected the Preceding Portion of St. Luke's Gospel Therefore This Review Opens with an Examination of the Case of the Evil Spirit in the Synagogue of Capernaum. He Whom the Demon Acknowledged Was the Creator's Christ.

The Five Books Against Marcion by Tertullian

Chapter VII.--Marcion Rejected the Preceding Portion of St. Luke's Gospel Therefore This Review Opens with an Examination of the Case of the Evil Spirit in the Synagogue of Capernaum. He Whom the Demon Acknowledged Was the Creator's Christ.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius (for such is Marcion's proposition) he |came down to the Galilean city of Capernaum,| of course meaning from the heaven of the Creator, to which he had previously descended from his own. What then had been his course, for him to be described as first descending from his own heaven to the Creator's? For why should I abstain from censuring those parts of the statement which do not satisfy the requirement of an ordinary narrative, but always end in a falsehood? To be sure, our censure has been once for all expressed in the question, which we have already suggested: Whether, when descending through the Creator's domain, and indeed in hostility to him, he could possibly have been admitted by him, and by him been transmitted to the earth, which was equally his territory? Now, however, I want also to know the remainder of his course down, assuming that he came down. For we must not be too nice in inquiring whether it is supposed that he was seen in any place. To come into view indicates a sudden unexpected glance, which for a moment fixed the eye upon the object that passed before the view, without staying. But when it happens that a descent has been effected, it is apparent, and comes under the notice of the eyes. Moreover, it takes account of fact, and thus obliges one to examine in what condition with what preparation, with how much violence or moderation, and further, at what time of the day or night, the descent was made; who, again, saw the descent, who reported it, who seriously avouched the fact, which certainly was not easy to be believed, even after the asseveration. It is, in short, too bad that Romulus should have had in Proculus an avoucher of his ascent to heaven, when the Christ of (this) god could not find any one to announce his descent from heaven; just as if the ascent of the one and the descent of the other were not effected on one and the same ladder of falsehood! Then, what had he to do with Galilee, if he did not belong to the Creator by whom that region was destined (for His Christ) when about to enter on His ministry? As Isaiah says: |Drink in this first, and be prompt, O region of Zabulon and land of Nephthalim, and ye others who (inhabit) the sea-coast, and that of Jordan, Galilee of the nations, ye people who sit in darkness, behold a great light; upon you, who inhabit (that) land, sitting in the shadow of death, the light hath arisen.| It is, however, well that Marcion's god does claim to be the enlightener of the nations, that so he might have the better reason for coming down from heaven; only, if it must needs be, he should rather have made Pontus his place of descent than Galilee. But since both the place and the work of illumination according to the prophecy are compatible with Christ, we begin to discern that He is the subject of the prophecy, which shows that at the very outset of His ministry, He came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but rather to fulfil them; for Marcion has erased the passage as an interpolation. It will, however, be vain for him to deny that Christ uttered in word what He forthwith did partially indeed. For the prophecy about place He at once fulfilled. From heaven straight to the synagogue. As the adage runs: |The business on which we are come, do at once.| Marcion must even expunge from the Gospel, |I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel;| and, |It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs,| -- in order, forsooth, that Christ may not appear to be an Israelite. But facts will satisfy me instead of words. Withdraw all the sayings of my Christ, His acts shall speak. Lo, He enters the synagogue; surely (this is going) to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Behold, it is to Israelites first that He offers the |bread| of His doctrine; surely it is because they are |children| that He shows them this priority. Observe, He does not yet impart it to others; surely He passes them by as |dogs.| For to whom else could He better have imparted it, than to such as were strangers to the Creator, if He especially belonged not to the Creator? And yet how could He have been admitted into the synagogue -- one so abruptly appearing, so unknown; one, of whom no one had as yet been apprised of His tribe, His nation, His family, and lastly, His enrolment in the census of Augustus -- that most faithful witness of the Lord's nativity, kept in the archives of Rome? They certainly would have remembered, if they did not know Him to be circumcised, that He must not be admitted into their most holy places. And even if He had the general right of entering the synagogue (like other Jews), yet the function of giving instruction was allowed only to a man who was extremely well known, and examined and tried, and for some time invested with the privilege after experience duly attested elsewhere. But |they were all astonished at His doctrine.| Of course they were; |for, says (St. Luke), |His word was with power -- not because He taught in opposition to the law and the prophets. No doubt, His divine discourse gave forth both power and grace, building up rather than pulling down the substance of the law and the prophets. Otherwise, instead of |astonishment, they would feel horror. It would not be admiration, but aversion, prompt and sure, which they would bestow on one who was the destroyer of law and prophets, and the especial propounder as a natural consequence of a rival god; for he would have been unable to teach anything to the disparagement of the law and the prophets, and so far of the Creator also, without premising the doctrine of a different and rival divinity. Inasmuch, then, as the Scripture makes no other statement on the matter than that the simple force and power of His word produced astonishment, it more naturally shows that His teaching was in accordance with the Creator by not denying (that it was so), than that it was in opposition to the Creator, by not asserting (such a fact). And thus He will either have to be acknowledged as belonging to Him, in accordance with whom He taught; or else will have to be adjudged a deceiver since He taught in accordance with One whom He had come to oppose. In the same passage, |the spirit of an unclean devil| exclaims: |What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God.| I do not here raise the question whether this appellation was suitable to one who ought not to be called Christ, unless he were sent by the Creator. Elsewhere there has been already given a full consideration of His titles.

My present discussion is, how the evil spirit could have known that He was called by such a name, when there had never at any time been uttered about Him a single prophecy by a god who was unknown, and up to that time silent, of whom it was not possible for Him to be attested as |the Holy One,| as (of a god) unknown even to his own Creator. What similar event could he then have published of a new deity, whereby he might betoken for |the holy one| of the rival god? Simply that he went into the synagogue, and did nothing even in word against the Creator? As therefore he could not by any means acknowledge him, whom he was ignorant of, to be Jesus and the Holy One of God; so did he acknowledge Him whom he knew (to be both). For he remembered how that the prophet had prophesied of |the Holy One| of God, and how that God's name of |Jesus| was in the son of Nun. These facts he had also received from the angel, according to our Gospel: |Wherefore that which shall be born of thee shall be called the Holy One, the Son of God;| and, |Thou shalt call his name Jesus.| Thus he actually had (although only an evil spirit) some idea of the Lord's dispensation, rather than of any strange and heretofore imperfectly understood one. Because he also premised this question: |What have we to do with Thee?| -- not as if referring to a strange Jesus, to whom pertain the evil spirits of the Creator. Nor did he say, What hast Thou to do with us? but, |What have we to do with Thee?| as if deploring himself, and deprecating his own calamity; at the prospect of which he adds: |Art Thou come to destroy us?| So completely did he acknowledge in Jesus the Son of that God who was judicial and avenging, and (so to speak) severe, and not of him who was simply good, and knew not how to destroy or how to punish! Now for what purpose have we adduced his passage first? In order to show that Jesus was neither acknowledged by the evil spirit, nor affirmed by Himself, to be any other than the Creator's. Well, but Jesus rebuked him, you say. To be sure he did, as being an envious (spirit), and in his very confession only petulant, and evil in adulation -- just as if it had been Christ's highest glory to have come for the destruction of demons, and not for the salvation of mankind; whereas His wish really was that His disciples should not glory in the subjection of evil spirits but in the fair beauty of salvation. Why else did He rebuke him? If it was because he was entirely wrong (in his invocation), then He was neither Jesus nor the Holy One of God; if it was because he was partially wrong -- for having supposed him to be, rightly enough, Jesus and the Holy One of God, but also as belonging to the Creator -- most unjustly would He have rebuked him for thinking what he knew he ought to think (about Him), and for not supposing that of Him which he knew not that he ought to suppose -- that he was another Jesus, and the holy one of the other god. If, however, the rebuke has not a more probable meaning than that which we ascribe to it, it follows that the evil spirit made no mistake, and was not rebuked for lying; for it was Jesus Himself, besides whom it was impossible for the evil spirit to have acknowledged any other, whilst Jesus affirmed that He was He whom the evil spirit had acknowledged, by not rebuking him for uttering a lie.

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