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  • Of the Prophecies of the Birth and Achievements of Christ.

    Chapter IX.—Of the Prophecies of the Birth and Achievements of Christ.

    Begin we, therefore, to prove that the Birth of Christ was announced by prophets; as Isaiah (e.g.,) foretells, “Hear ye, house of David; no petty contest have ye with men, since God is proposing a struggle. Therefore God Himself will give you a sign; Behold, the virgin1250

    1250 A virgin,” Eng. ver.; ἡ παρθένος, LXX.; “the virgin,” Lowth.

    shall conceive, and bear a son, and ye shall call his name Emmanuel1251

    1251 See Isa. vii. 13, 14.

    (which is, interpreted, “God with us”1252

    1252 See Matt. i. 23.

    ): “butter and honey shall he eat;”1253

    1253 See Isa vii. 15.

    : “since, ere the child learn to call father or mother, he shall receive the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, in opposition to the king of the Assyrians.”1254

    1254 See Isa. viii. 4. (All these passages should be read in the LXX.)

    Accordingly the Jews say: Let us challenge that prediction of Isaiah, and let us institute a comparison whether, in the case of the Christ who is already come, there be applicable to Him, firstly, the name which Isaiah foretold, and (secondly) the signs of it1255

    1255 i.e., of the predicted name. [Here compare Against Marcion, Book III. (vol. vii. Edin. series) Cap. xii. p. 142. See my note (1) on Chapter First; and also Kaye, p. xix.]

    which he announced of Him.

    Well, then, Isaiah foretells that it behoves Him to be called Emmanuel; and that subsequently He is to take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, in opposition to the king of the Assyrians. “Now,” say they, “that (Christ) of yours, who is come, neither was called by that name, nor engaged in warfare.” But we, on the contrary, have thought they ought to be admonished to recall to mind the context of this passage as well. For subjoined is withal the interpretation of Emmanuel—“God with us”1256

    1256 In Isa. viii. 8; 10, compared with vii. 14 in the Eng. ver. and the LXX., and also Lowth, introductory remarks on ch. viii.

    —in order that you may regard not the sound only of the name, but the sense too. For the Hebrew sound, which is Emmanuel, has an interpretation, which is, God with us. Inquire, then, whether this speech, “God with us” (which is Emmanuel), be commonly applied to Christ ever since Christ’s light has dawned, and I think you will not deny it. For they who out of Judaism believe in Christ, ever since their believing on Him, do, whenever they shall wish to say1257

    1257 Or, “to call him.”

    Emmanuel, signify that God is with us:  and thus it is agreed that He who was ever predicted as Emmanuel is already come, because that which Emmanuel signifies is come—that is, “God with us.” Equally are they led by the sound of the name when they so understand “the power of Damascus,” and “the spoils of Samaria,” and “the kingdom of the Assyrians,” as if they portended Christ as a warrior; not observing that Scripture premises, “since, ere the child learn to call father or mother, he shall receive the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, in opposition to the king of the Assyrians.” For the first step is to look at the demonstration of His age, to see whether the age there indicated can possibly exhibit the Christ as already a man, not to say a general. Forsooth, by His babyish cry the infant would summon men to arms, and would give the signal of war not with clarion, but with rattle, and point out the foe, not from His charger’s back or from a rampart, but from the back or neck of His suckler and nurse, and thus subdue Damascus and Samaria in place of the breast. (It is another matter if, among you, infants rush out into battle,—oiled first, I suppose, to dry in the sun, and then armed with satchels and rationed on butter,—who are to know how to lance sooner than how to lacerate the bosom!)1258

    1258 See adv. Marc. l. iii. c. xiii., which, with the preceding chapter, should be compared throughout with the chapter before us.

    Certainly, if nature nowhere allows this,—(namely,) to serve as a soldier before developing into manhood, to take “the power of Damascus” before knowing your father,—it follows that the pronouncement is visibly figurative.  “But again,” say they, “nature suffers not a ‘virgin’ to be a parent; and yet the prophet must be believed.”  And deservedly so; for he bespoke credit for a thing incredible, by saying that it was to be a sign. “Therefore,” he says, “shall a sign be given you. Behold, a virgin shall conceive in womb, and bear a son.” But a sign from God, unless it had consisted in some portentous novelty, would not have appeared a sign. In a word, if, when you are anxious to cast any down from (a belief in) this divine prediction, or to convert whoever are simple, you have the audacity to lie, as if the Scripture contained (the announcement), that not “a virgin,” but “a young female,” was to conceive and bring forth; you are refuted even by this fact, that a daily occurrence—the pregnancy and parturition of a young female, namely—cannot possibly seem anything of a sign. And the setting before us, then, of a virgin-mother is deservedly believed to be a sign; but not equally so a warrior-infant.  For there would not in this case again be involved the question of a sign; but, the sign of a novel birth having been awarded, the next step after the sign is, that there is enunciated a different ensuing ordering1259

    1259 Comp. Judg. xiii. 12; Eng. ver. “How shall we order the child?”

    of the infant, who is to eat “honey and butter.” Nor is this, of course, for a sign.  It is natural to infancy. But that he is to receive1260

    1260 Or, “accept.”

    “the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria in opposition to the king of the Assyrians,” this is a wondrous sign. Keep to the limit of (the infant’s) age, and inquire into the sense of the prediction; nay, rather, repay to truth what you are unwilling to credit her with, and the prophecy becomes intelligible by the relation of its fulfilment. Let those Eastern magi be believed, dowering with gold and incense the infancy of Christ as a king;1261

    1261 See Matt. ii. 1–12.

    and the infant has received “the power of Damascus” without battle and arms. For, besides the fact that it is known to all that the “power”—for that is the “strength”—of the East is wont to abound in gold and odours, certain it is that the divine Scriptures regard “gold” as constituting the “power” also of all other nations; as it says1262

    1262 Of course he ought to have said, “they say.”

    through Zechariah: “And Judah keepeth guard at Jerusalem, and shall amass all the vigour of the surrounding peoples, gold and silver.”1263

    1263 Zech. xiv. 14, omitting the last clause.

    For of this gift of “goldDavid likewise says, “And to Him shall be given of the gold of Arabia;”1264

    1264 Ps. lxxii. 15 (lxxi. 15 in LXX.): “Sheba” in Eng. ver.; “Arabia” in the “Great Bible” of 1539; and so the LXX.

    and again, “The kings of the Arabs and Saba shall bring Him gifts.”1265

    1265 Ps. lxxii. 10, in LXX, and “Great Bible;” “Sheba and Seba,” Eng. ver.

    For the East, on the one hand, generally held the magi (to be) kings; and Damascus, on the other hand, used formerly to be reckoned to Arabia before it was transferred into Syrophœnicia on the division of the Syrias: the “power” whereof Christ then “received” in receiving its ensigns,—gold, to wit, and odours. “The spoils,” moreover, “of Samaria” (He received in receiving) the magi themselves, who, on recognising Him, and honouring Him with gifts, and adoring Him on bended knee as Lord and King, on the evidence of the guiding and indicating star, became “the spoils of Samaria,” that is, of idolatry—by believing, namely, on Christ.  For (Scripture) denoted idolatry by the name of “Samaria,” Samaria being ignominious on the score of idolatry; for she had at that time revolted from God under King Jeroboam. For this, again, is no novelty to the Divine Scriptures, figuratively to use a transference of name grounded on parallelism of crimes. For it1266

    1266 Strictly, Tertullian ought to have said “they call,” having above said “Divine scriptures;” as above on the preceding page.

    calls your rulersrulers of Sodom,” and your people the “people of Gomorrha,”1267

    1267 Isa. i. 10.

    when those cities had already long been extinct.1268

    1268 See Gen. xix. 23–29.

    And elsewhere it says, through a prophet, to the people of Israel, “Thy father (was) an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite;”1269

    1269 Ezek. xvi. 3; 45.

    of whose race they were not begotten, but (were called their sons) by reason of their consimilarity in impiety, whom of old (God) had called His own sons through Isaiah the prophet: “I have generated and exalted sons.”1270

    1270 Isa. i. 2, as before.

    So, too, Egypt is sometimes understood to mean the whole world1271

    1271 Orbis.

    in that prophet, on the count of superstition and malediction.1272

    1272 Oehler refers to Isa. xix. 1. See, too, Isa. xxx. and xxxi.

    So, again, Babylon, in our own John, is a figure of the city Rome, as being equally great and proud of her sway, and triumphant over the saints.1273

    1273 See Rev. xvii., etc.

    On this wise, accordingly, (Scripture)1274

    1274 Or we may supply here [“Isaiah”].

    entitled the magi also with the appellation of “Samaritans,”—“despoiled” (of that) which they had had in common with the Samaritans, as we have said—idolatry in opposition to the Lord.  (It1275

    1275 Or, “he.”

    adds), “in opposition,” moreover, “to the king of the Assyrians,”—in opposition to the devil, who to this hour thinks himself to be reigning, if he detrudes the saints from the religion of God.

    Moreover, this our interpretation will be supported while (we find that) elsewhere as well the Scriptures designate Christ a warrior, as we gather from the names of certain weapons, and words of that kind. But by a comparison of the remaining senses the Jews shall be convicted.  “Gird thee,” says David, “the sword upon the thigh.”1276

    1276 Ps. xlv. 3, clause 1 (in LXX. Ps. xliv. 4).

    But what do you read above concerning the Christ? “Blooming in beauty above the sons of men; grace is outpoured in thy lips.”1277

    1277 See Ps. xlv. 2 (xliv. 3 in LXX.).

    But very absurd it is if he was complimenting on the bloom of his beauty and the grace of his lips, one whom he was girding for war with a sword; of whom he proceeds subjunctively to say, “Outstretch and prosper, advance and reign!” And he has added, “because of thy lenity and justice.”1278

    1278 Ps. xlv. 4 (xliv. 5 in LXX.).

    Who will ply the sword without practising the contraries to lenity and justice; that is, guile, and asperity, and injustice, proper (of course) to the business of battles?  See we, then, whether that which has another action be not another sword,—that is, the Divine word of God, doubly sharpened1279

    1279 Comp. Bible:Rev.19.21">Heb. iv. 12; Rev. i. 16; ii. 12; xix. 15, 21; also Eph. vi. 17.

    with the two Testaments of the ancient law and the new law; sharpened by the equity of its own wisdom; rendering to each one according to his own action.1280

    1280 Comp. Ps. lxii. 12 (lxi. 13 in LXX.); Rom. ii. 6.

    Lawful , then, it was for the Christ of God to be precinct, in the Psalms, without warlike achievements, with the figurative sword of the word of God; to which sword is congruous the predicated “bloom,” together with the “grace of the lips;” with which sword He was then “girt upon the thigh,” in the eye of David, when He was announced as about to come to earth in obedience to God the Father’s decree. “The greatness of thy right hand,” he says, “shall conduct thee”1281

    1281 See Ps. xlv. 5 (xliv. in LXX.).

    —the virtue to wit, of the spiritual grace from which the recognition of Christ is deduced. “Thine arrows,” he says, “are sharp,”1282

    1282 Ps. xlv. 5 (xliv. 6 in LXX.).

    God’s everywhere-flying precepts (arrows) threatening the exposure1283

    1283 Traductionem (comp. Heb. iv. 13).

    of every heart, and carrying compunction and transfixion to each conscience: “peoples shall fall beneath thee,”1284

    1284 Ps. xlv. 5.

    —of course, in adoration. Thus mighty in war and weapon-bearing is Christ; thus will He “receive the spoils,” not of “Samaria” alone, but of all nations as well.  Acknowledge that His “spoils” are figurative whose weapons you have learnt to be allegorical. And thus, so far, the Christ who is come was not a warrior, because He was not predicted as such by Isaiah.

    “But if the Christ,” say they, “who is believed to be coming is not called Jesus, why is he who is come called Jesus Christ?” Well, each name will meet in the Christ of God, in whom is found likewise the appellation1285

    1285 I can find no authority for “appellatus” as a substantive, but such forms are familiar with Tertullian. Or perhaps we may render: “in that He is found to have been likewise called Jesus.”

    Jesus. Learn the habitual character of your error. In the course of the appointing of a successor to Moses, Oshea1286

    1286 Auses; Αὐσή in LXX.

    the son of Nun1287

    1287 Nave; Ναυή in LXX.

    is certainly transferred from his pristine name, and begins to be called Jesus.1288

    1288 Jehoshua, Joshua, Jeshua, Jesus, are all forms of the same name.  But the change from Oshea or Hoshea to Jehoshua appears to have been made when he was sent to spy the land.  See Num. xiii. 16 (17 in LXX., who call it a surnaming).

    Certainly, you say. This we first assert to have been a figure of the future. For, because Jesus Christ was to introduce the second people (which is composed of us nations, lingering deserted in the world1289

    1289 If Oehler’s “in sæculo desertæ” is to be retained, this appears to be the construction. But this passage, like others above noted, is but a reproduction of parts of the third book in answer to Marcion; and there the reading is “in sæculi desertis”="in the desert places of the world,” or “of heathendom.”

    aforetime) into the land of promise, “flowing with milk and honey1290

    1290 See Ex. iii. 8, and the references there.

    (that is, into the possession of eternal life, than which nought is sweeter); and this had to come about, not through Moses (that is, not through the Law’s discipline), but through Joshua (that is, through the new law’s grace), after our circumcision with “a knife of rock1291

    1291 See Josh. v. 2–9, especially in LXX. Comp. the margin in the Eng. ver. in ver. 2, “flint knives,” and Wordsworth in loc., who refers to Ex. iv. 25, for which see ch. iii. above.

    (that is, with Christ’s precepts, for Christ is in many ways and figures predicted as a rock1292

    1292 See especially 1 Cor. x. 4.

    ); therefore the man who was being prepared to act as images of this sacrament was inaugurated under the figure of the Lord’s name, even so as to be named Jesus.1293

    1293 Or, “Joshua.”

    For He who ever spake to Moses was the Son of God Himself; who, too, was always seen.1294

    1294 Comp. Num. xii. 5–8.

    For God the Father none ever saw, and lived.1295

    1295 Comp. Bible:Heb.1.3">Ex. xxxiii. 20; John i. 18; xiv. 9; Col. i. 15; Heb. i. 3.

    And accordingly it is agreed that the Son of God Himself spake to Moses, and said to the people, “Behold, I send mine angel before thy”—that is, the people’s—“face, to guard thee on the march, and to introduce thee into the land which I have prepared thee: attend to him, and be not disobedient to him; for he hath not escaped1296

    1296 Oehler and others read “celavit”; but the correction of Fr. Junius and Rig., “celabit,” is certainly more agreeable to the LXX. and the Eng. ver.

    thy notice, since my name is upon him.”1297

    1297 Ex. xxiii. 20, 21.

    For Joshua was to introduce the people into the land of promise, not Moses. Now He called him an “angel,” on account of the magnitude of the mighty deeds which he was to achieve (which mighty deeds Joshua the son of Nun did, and you yourselves read), and on account of his office of prophet announcing (to wit) the divine will; just as withal the Spirit, speaking in the person of the Father, calls the forerunner of Christ, John, a future “angel,” through the prophet: “Behold, I send mine angel before Thy”—that is, Christ’s—“face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee.”1298

    1298 Mal. iii. 1: comp. Matt. xi. 10; Mark i. 2; Luke vii. 27.

    Nor is it a novel practice to the Holy Spirit to call those “angels” whom God has appointed as ministers of His power. For the same John is called not merely an “angel” of Christ, but withal a “lamp” shining before Christ: for David predicts, “I have prepared the lamp for my Christ;”1299

    1299 See Ps. cxxxii. 17 (cxxi. 17 in LXX.).

    and him Christ Himself, coming “to fulfil the prophets,”1300

    1300 Matt. v. 17, briefly; a very favourite reference with Tertullian.

    called so to the Jews. “He was,” He says, “the burning and shining lamp;”1301

    1301 John v. 35, ὁ λύχνος ὁ καιόμενος καὶ φαίνων.

    as being he who not merely “prepared His ways in the desert,”1302

    1302 Comp. reference 8, p. 232; and Isa. xl. 3; John i. 23.

    but withal, by pointing out “the Lamb of God,”1303

    1303 See John i. 29; 36.

    illumined the minds of men by his heralding, so that they understood Him to be that Lamb whom Moses was wont to announce as destined to suffer.  Thus, too, (was the son of Nun called) Joshua, on account of the future mystery1304

    1304 Sacramentum.

    of his name: for that name (He who spake with Moses) confirmed as His own which Himself had conferred on him, because He had bidden him thenceforth be called, not “angel” nor “Oshea,” but “Joshua.” Thus, therefore, each name is appropriate to the Christ of God—that He should be called Jesus as well (as Christ).

    And that the virgin of whom it behoved Christ to be born (as we have above mentioned) must derive her lineage of the seed of David, the prophet in subsequent passages evidently asserts. “And there shall be born,” he says, “a rod from the root of Jesse”—which rod is Mary—“and a flower shall ascend from his root: and there shall rest upon him the Spirit of God, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of discernment and piety, the spirit of counsel and truth; the spirit of God’s fear shall fill Him.”1305

    1305 See Isa. xi. 1, 2, especially in LXX.

    For to none of men was the universal aggregation of spiritual credentials appropriate, except to Christ; paralleled as He is to a “flower” by reason of glory, by reason of grace; but accounted “of the root of Jesse,” whence His origin is to be deduced,—to wit, through Mary.1306

    1306 See Luke i. 27.

    For He was from the native soil of Bethlehem, and from the house of David; as, among the Romans, Mary is described in the census, of whom is born Christ.1307

    1307 See Luke ii. 1–7.

    I demand, again—granting that He who was ever predicted by prophets as destined to come out of Jesse’s race, was withal to exhibit all humility, patience, and tranquillity—whether He be come? Equally so (in this case as in the former), the man who is shown to bear that character will be the very Christ who is come. For of Him the prophet says, “A man set in a plague, and knowing how to bear infirmity;” who “was led as a sheep for a victim; and, as a lamb before him who sheareth him, opened not His mouth.”1308

    1308 See Isa. liii. 3; 7, in LXX.; and comp. Ps. xxxviii. 17 (xxxvii. 18 in LXX.) in the “Great Bible” of 1539.

    If He “neither did contend nor shout, nor was His voice heard abroad,” who “crushed not the bruised reed”—Israel’s faith, who “quenched not the burning flax”1309

    1309 See Isa. xlii. 2, 3, and Matt. xii. 19, 20.

    —that is, the momentary glow of the Gentiles—but made it shine more by the rising of His own light,—He can be none other than He who was predicted. The action, therefore, of the Christ who is come must be examined by being placed side by side with the rule of the Scriptures. For, if I mistake not, we find Him distinguished by a twofold operation,—that of preaching and that of power. Now, let each count be disposed of summarily. Accordingly, let us work out the order we have set down, teaching that Christ was announced as a preacher; as, through Isaiah: “Cry out,” he says, “in vigour, and spare not; lift up, as with a trumpet, thy voice, and announce to my commonalty their crimes, and to the house of Jacob their sins.  Me from day to day they seek, and to learn my ways they covet, as a people which hath done righteousness, and hath not forsaken the judgment of God,” and so forth:1310

    1310 See Isa. lviii. 1, 2, especially in LXX.

    that, moreover, He was to do acts of power from the Father: “Behold, our God will deal retributive judgment; Himself will come and save us:  then shall the infirm be healed, and the eyes of the blind shall see, and the ears of the deaf shall hear, and the mutes’ tongues shall be loosed, and the lame shall leap as an hart,”1311

    1311 See Isa. xxxv. 4, 5, 6.

    and so on; which works not even you deny that Christ did, inasmuch as you were wont to say that, “on account of the works ye stoned Him not, but because He did them on the Sabbaths.”1312

    1312 See John v. 17, 18, compared with x. 31–; 33.


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