On The Resurrection Of The Flesh by Tertullian
Chapter II.--The Jewish Sadducees a Link Between the Pagan Philosophers and the Heretics on This Doctrine. Its Fundamental Importance Asserted. The Soul Fares Better Than the Body, in Heretical Estimation, as to Its Future State. Its Extinction, However,
Since there is even within the confines of God's Church a sect which is more nearly allied to the Epicureans than to the prophets, an opportunity is afforded us of knowing what estimate Christ forms of the (said sect, even the) Sadducees. For to Christ was it reserved to lay bare everything which before was concealed: to impart certainty to doubtful points; to accomplish those of which men had had but a foretaste; to give present reality to the objects of prophecy; and to furnish not only by Himself, but actually in Himself, certain proofs of the resurrection of the dead. It is, however, against other Sadducees that we have now to prepare ourselves, but still partakers of their doctrine. For instance, they allow a moiety of the resurrection; that is, simply of the soul, despising the flesh, just as they also do the Lord of the flesh Himself. No other persons, indeed, refuse to concede to the substance of the body its recovery from death, heretical inventors of a second deity. Driven then, as they are, to give a different dispensation to Christ, so that He may not be accounted as belonging to the Creator, they have achieved their first error in the article of His very flesh; contending with Marcion and Basilides that it possessed no reality; or else holding, after the heretical tenets of Valentinus, and according to Apelles, that it had qualities peculiar to itself. And so it follows that they shut out from all recovery from death that substance of which they say that Christ did not partake, confidently assuming that it furnishes the strongest presumption against the resurrection, since the flesh is already risen in Christ. Hence it is that we have ourselves previously issued our volume On the flesh of Christ; in which we both furnish proofs of its reality, in opposition to the idea of its being a vain phantom; and claim for it a human nature without any peculiarity of condition -- such a nature as has marked out Christ to be both man and the Son of man. For when we prove Him to be invested with the flesh and in a bodily condition, we at the same time refute heresy, by establishing the rule that no other being than the Creator must be believed to be God, since we show that Christ, in whom God is plainly discerned, is precisely of such a nature as the Creator promised that He should be. Being thus refuted touching God as the Creator, and Christ as the Redeemer of the flesh, they will at once be defeated also on the resurrection of the flesh. No procedure, indeed, can be more reasonable. And we affirm that controversy with heretics should in most cases be conducted in this way. For due method requires that conclusions should always be drawn from the most important premises, in order that there be a prior agreement on the essential point, by means of which the particular question under review may be said to have been determined. Hence it is that the heretics, from their conscious weakness, never conduct discussion in an orderly manner. They are well aware how hard is their task in insinuating the existence of a second god, to the disparagement of the Creator of the world, who is known to all men naturally by the testimony of His works, who is before all others in the mysteries of His being, and is especially manifested in the prophets; then, under the pretence of considering a more urgent inquiry, namely man's own salvation -- a question which transcends all others in its importance -- they begin with doubts about the resurrection; for there is greater difficulty in believing the resurrection of the flesh than the oneness of the Deity. In this way, after they have deprived the discussion of the advantages of its logical order, and have embarrassed it with doubtful insinuations in disparagement of the flesh, they gradually draw their argument to the reception of a second god after destroying and changing the very ground of our hopes. For when once a man is fallen or removed from the sure hope which he had placed in the Creator, he is easily led away to the object of a different hope, whom however of his own accord he can hardly help suspecting. Now it is by a discrepancy in the promises that a difference of gods is insinuated. How many do we thus see drawn into the net vanquished on the resurrection of the flesh, before they could carry their point on the oneness of the Deity! In respect, then, of the heretics, we have shown with what weapons we ought to meet them. And indeed we have already encountered them in treatises severally directed against them: on the one only God and His Christ, in our work against Marcion, on the Lord's flesh, in our book against the four heresies, for the special purpose of opening the way to the present inquiry: so that we have now only to discuss the resurrection of the flesh, (treating it) just as if it were uncertain in regard to ourselves also, that is, in the system of the Creator. Because many persons are uneducated; still more are of faltering faith, and several are weak-minded: these will have to be instructed, directed, strengthened, inasmuch as the very oneness of the Godhead will be defended along with the maintenance of our doctrine. For if the resurrection of the flesh be denied, that prime article of the faith is shaken; if it be asserted, that is established. There is no need, I suppose, to treat of the soul's safety; for nearly all the heretics, in whatever way they conceive of it, certainly refrain from denying that. We may ignore a certain Lucan, who does not spare even this part of our nature, which he follows Aristotle in reducing to dissolution, and substitutes some other thing in lieu of it. Some third nature it is which, according to him, is to rise again, neither soul nor flesh; in other words, not man, but a bear perhaps -- for instance, Lucan himself. Even he has received from us a copious notice in our book on the entire condition of the soul, the especial immortality of which we there maintain, whilst we also both acknowledge the dissolution of the flesh alone, and emphatically assert its restitution. Into the body of that work were collected whatever points we elsewhere had to reserve from the pressure of incidental causes. For as it is my custom to touch some questions but lightly on their first occurrence, so I am obliged also to postpone the consideration of them, until the outline can be filled in with complete detail, and the deferred points be taken up on their own merits.