Tertullian

Comparative Literary Analysis of the Articles of Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Tertullian vs. Clement of Alexandria

In the articles of Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria it is found that both men adhere to the Christian religion but disagree about the essence of Greek philosophy and learning in accordance to Christianity. Tertullian was a native to Carthage and therefore probably exposed to many Greek teachings. He became a Christian and openly opposed pagans and sophists (or “heretics”) as well as emphasized the “sacredness of life and the Christian abhorrence of violence.” He believed Greek philosophy was essentially nonsense and led people only to question the Christian religion. Clement of Alexandria was a Greek Christian theologian who combined Christianity with Platonism. He credited Greek teachings to be the foundation of Christianity, acting as a “schoolmaster” for the Greeks, preparing them for Christianity.

Tertullian was very familiar with Greek philosophy and teachings growing up in Carthage. When he became a Christian he was probably in the midst of Greek philosophers questioning all aspects of the faith, using their techniques to dissect it and make it logical. Tertullian was frustrated by this and felt that Greek philosophy held them back from believing and basically adhered to the “blind faith” approach. In the article he spoke of Aristotle who taught the “art of dialectic” and followed by saying, “the art which destroys as much as it builds.” Tertullian also followed with more condemnations of what he considered to be intellectual redundancy and nonsense of Greek philosophy. Tertullian was blatantly frustrated with the sophists for questioning and not blindly adhering to the Christian religion.

Conversely, Clement of Alexandria, who successfully combined Christianity with Platonism, defended Greek learning while remaining a Christian theologian. Clement says that philosophy is the “clear image of the truth” and that “philosophy acted as a schoolmaster to the Greeks, preparing them for Christ, as the laws of the Jews prepared them for Christ.” To him, Greek philosophy merely paved the way for God’s teachings, “molding character, and fitting him who believes in Providence for the reception of truth.” He further added that by studying Greek teachings, with their emphasis on geometry, music, grammar, and philosophy, Christians could wisely advocate their faith as well as protect it from assault. Unlike Tertullian, when Clement of Alexandria became a Christian he did not feel the need to renounce the Greek teachings and rather used them in support of the Christian religion.

This difference in thought and belief between Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria could have been due to their location and the time of which they wrote the articles. Tertullian may have been surrounded by patronizing and ominous philosophers at the time the article was written. Tertullian’s article seems like it was written in haste and frustration; frustration that was obviously provoked by the sophists. In the article Clement of Alexandria wrote, one gets the sense of comfort and wisdom. He seemed to have written this after much contemplation and observation. Clement may not have been surrounded by non-believing, overbearing sophists.

There could be numerous explanations as to why Tertullian rejected Greek teachings whereas Clement of Alexandria upheld them. They both, however, were believers in Christianity during a time when the religion was young and the doctrine of belief was still being shaped.

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Discovering the Main Debate Points and Issues of the Arminians and Calvinists

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

The debate between Arminians and Calvinists has been going on for over 400 years and has caused some numerous divisions in churches, friend-groups, and even families. At the center of this argument is the Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity, the initial letter of the famous acronym TULIP. This doctrine is seen by Arminians to have limited the grace of God and led many believers to a misconstrued view of God’s intentions. This steaming hot debate, however, should not be dealt with as it has been in the past, with anger and hostility, but should be handled with love and grace, so as to imitate the love and grace of the very God we are speaking of. While this discourse is a statement written by a fallen man and will, therefore, like any human work be biased, we are not to forget that we remain on the same team and serve the same and loving God.

As with any debate, both parties will always bring their own presuppositions to the table, which take part in forming their topical stance. Everyone is already biased prior to entering into a debate so it is important to establish these stances before things get heated. It is possible that both parties might agree on more than they think.

There are many presuppositions that Arminian’s hold that are important to their understanding of free will, grace, and their refutation of TULIP that play an important role in their doctrine of salvation. These assumptions are not solely tied to Armenian doctrine but they are those in which validity was placed during theological development. The first of many is that of God’s unending grace. Nobody with an orthodox theology is going to refute this statement but to the Arminian’s this phrase is a picture of the character of God that seems to suggest that Gods grace is willing to be stretched as far as it needs to be in order to reach all who proclaim their need and want for it. Just as it was stated in the previous paragraph the debate is not a disagreement with the presuppositions but more what they mean to their respective parties. Those in Calvinist circles could easily say, “yes, God’s grace is unending, but for those who He has predestined and elected according to His will and grace.” While on the other hand Arminian’s could say, “God’s unending grace is offered up for all of mankind and everyone who hears and believes can latch onto this grace.” Neither of these statements is inherently unbiblical and both make their points effectively. Even though this is a debate on a particular doctrine of salvation it is not a salvation issue, both groups are still saved and the opinion they hold does not determine whether or not they are. While personally the Arminian stance is more convincing that does not mean that there is not validity in each position.

It is quite obvious that Calvinists seem to have more blatant proof for their understandings of Salvation and election while the proof for Arminian’s is all in their understanding of the character of God. The number one argument on the Arminian side of things is that it is God’s will that all of mankind would be saved, however, because of free will that same mankind is able to resist His call to them and unfortunately live out eternity apart from Him, if they so choose. The Calvinist side begins with that of predestination, the almost curse word in some circles, and the election of Gods chosen ones. “He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Eph. 1:5). At first glance, this word does have a very Calvinist connotation to it and does seem to strongly state that God chose previously those who would be saved and named them His elect. Even Strong’s Concordance translates it to mean, “foreordain, predetermine, or to mark out beforehand”(Strong’s Greek), so it seems to be a strong place to start. Then moving on to Romans you have Paul saying, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy”(Rom. 9:16). With this, we move into the Calvinist view on Irresistible Grace, the belief that once the Holy Spirit ministers to you it is not possible to resist Him. Using the excerpt from Romans seems to be an easy way to back up this view but you could just as easily translate it to mean that man cannot save himself and therefore must rely on God to do so. As we move on to the biblical evidence for Arminianism we turn to the book of 2 Peter in which it states, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”(2 Peter 3:9). This seems to be the stronghold of the Arminian’s, the belief that God does not want anyone to perish and therefore would not predestine some to go to Hell. This would seem to contradict the will that He already made known. Other verses appear to suggest the same thing in different words, “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”(1 Tim. 2:4). The word “desires” suggests that even though God wants everyone to be saved He knows that some will not turn to Him. Lastly, we have an excerpt from John saying, “and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself”(Jn. 12:32). This verse seems to propose that Jesus will draw all of mankind to Himself and it will be up to them in their free will to choose to run after Him or not. There is a good bit of biblical evidence on both sides of the debate and therefore gives both validity as an acceptable option.

According to our textbook, speaking on the doctrine of salvation during the patristic era, “No ecumenical council dealt with disputes concerning salvation until the fifth century, so the patristic era displays a remarkable lack of clarity or consensus on the subject”(K. Keathley, p.551). While there is this lack of clarity, we are aware of some issues that arose during this time. One of the issues was that of Sacramentalism, the belief that you received grace by partaking of the Lords supper and by being baptized. Specifically on the area of predestination in the patristic period we look at Origen who believed that God’s foreknowledge was based on the persons merit, knowing how the person would turn out and therefore making a decision based on that knowledge. The medieval era was not much different except for the fact that they took this idea of Sacramentalism to its extreme. They “were viewed as concrete, visible means by which inward grace is received, further sanctifying the practicing believer”(K. Keathley, p.552). Also during this time, the view of double predestination arose with the monk Gottschalk of Orbais that stated that God chose both people to be saved and to go to Hell. In the reformation, the belief of salvation through grace alone launched back to the forefront of the Church with proponents such as Luther and Calvin. It was during this time when Calvin described the difference between Sanctification and Justification, most likely the paramount discovery of the reformation. It was also during this time in which Calvinism began and took a foothold as orthodox doctrine. The modern era has been one large debate when it comes to the Doctrine of Salvation; proponents of both sides have developed arguments based on both Calvinist and Arminian Doctrine. One of the most dramatic splits during this era was John Wesley breaking off from Calvinism and has resulted in most modern-day denominations that arose from Methodism holding to an Arminian set of beliefs.

Over the years, many types of Theological Methods have arisen bringing their own spark to the fire of Christian Theology. In the early church, they were very adamant about developing their theologies solely from the Holy Scriptures. The primary theologian who did this was Irenaeus. Ones like Tertullian, Clement, and Origen while also drew from scripture tended to draw from different pagan philosophies in order to refute the heresies as well. Augustine used a narrative framework for his method and stuck very close to the scriptures; however, he also drew from other areas such as law and poetry. The medieval period was fueled by the scholastic method which according to our textbook put “emphasis on biblical exposition, rigorous logical analysis, and careful linguistic distinctions) but later was influenced by mysticism”(B. Ashford, K. Whitfield, p.22). Theologians like Aquinas also used scripture as their main source of theology. He specifically is known for many things, one of which being his Summa Theologiae which was his attempt to write a “disputed question” form of theology. Martin Luther and John Calvin, being the two most influential theologians of the Reformation both used scripture as their main source for their theology but also tended to venture back to the ideas and understandings of the church fathers in an attempt to latch on to their understandings of God. Out of this very limited list of methods the method that looks to be most, biblical would be that of Martin Luther and John Calvin. The most important thing in the search for Theological understanding is knowledge of the scriptures. While many other Theologians used this as their main source as well, the area of research that stuck out was that of journeying back to the fathers of the church and dissecting what they believed. The combination of eyewitness beliefs systems and inspired scripture is by far the most reliable Theological Method presented.

With any theological presentation the aspect of practical application must be held to importance because if we as believers are not applying what we learn and discuss to our daily lives we are learning in vain. In the debate on salvation we should strive to find middle ground with one another, living in such an argument divides the body of Christ and therefore should be discouraged if at all possible. I believe this debate has gone on for far to long and we as the current generation of Pastors, Evangelists, and Theologians should do our best to peaceably find the middle ground in which we can both agree on a biblical stance. As of right now, there is no correct party, no one is completely right. Aspects of Calvinism are at fault as well as some Arminian Doctrine, and the trick is to use the previously stated theological method to sift through the grey in which the answer probably lies. “Jesus’ life was not black and white, it met people in the gray of their lives”(M. Rumppe). Let us discover the middle ground so that we can join this body together again and continue to fulfill the great commission and partner with God for the reconciliation and renewal of all things.

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Critical Overview of the Life and Work the Christian Theologian Tertullian

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Tertullian

Tertullian was a Christian theologian and a foremost critic of Rome’s efforts to persecute Christians. Tertullian lived in a time where Christians were commonly persecuted by the Romans simply for not conforming to the “norms” of the empire. Tertullian believes Christians should denounce Greek and Roman traditions because; he views Roman leaders as tyrannical, a Roman law exists that forces gods to be “approved” by the senate, and he believes the Romans allow their women to behave in an unfit manner.

One reason why Tertullian believes Christians should denounce Greek and Roman tradition is he views Roman leaders as tyrannical. One example of this from the text is when he states “your sentences, “It is not lawful for you to exist,” and with unhesitating rigour you enjoin this to be carried out, you exhibit the violence and unjust domination of mere tyranny”. (Tertullian 3) This shows how appalled Tertullian was by the actions of the Romans towards his fellow Christians. Tertullian also goes on to say “Nay, a law lies under strong suspicions which does not care to have itself tried and approved: it is a positively wicked law, if, unproved, it tyrannizes over men.” (Tertullian 3) Speaking about the Roman law which disallows Christians from appealing the crimes levied against them. These examples show how Tertullian believed the Roman leaders to be tyrannical and therefore not something to emulate.

Another reason for Tertullian’s belief that Christians should denounce Roman tradition is the roman law that no god should be consecrated by the emperor till first approved by the senate. Tertullian finds this unsatisfactory because he believes it takes away from the divinity of a god for it to have to be “approved”. He even goes as far as to say “among you divinity is allotted at the judgment of human beings. Unless gods give satisfaction to men, there will be no deification for them”. (Tertullian 4) This statement shows how appalled Tertullian is by this idea that a god should have to be “approved” by certain people. This law is one example of how Tertullian believes Christians should denounce Roman traditions.

The third reason why Tertullian believes Christians should denounce rather than adopt Greek and Roman tradition is that he believes the Romans allow their women to behave in a manner in which he deems inappropriate. For example in Tertullian’s Apology, he states “Now, women have every member of the body heavy laden with gold; wine-bibbing is so common among them, that the kiss is never offered with their will; and as for divorce, they long for it as though it were the natural consequence of marriage”. (Tertullian 6) Obviously as a Christian, Tertullian would view these actions by any women but especially married women to be extremely offensive. Another example of Tertullian’s distaste on this matter is when he states “I see now no difference between the dress of matrons and prostitutes”. (Tertullian 6). By Tertullian calling “respectable” Roman women prostitutes he is showing his absolute disdain for the Roman people and therefore showing his resistance to the Christians adopting their traditions. These are the reasons why Tertullian believes the Christians should denounce Greek and Roman traditions.

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The Influences Of Plato, Tertullian, Saint Augustine And Constantine On Christianity

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, then he became the dominant person to spread Christianity. However, the higher class of Jewish criticized the idea of Jesus and treated him badly. After the death of Jesus, his apostles continued spreading Christianity. In conception of Christianity, Christianity was influenced by Platonic ideas of afterlife and eternal life, though the early fundamentalist perspective of Tertullian reflected the fear of heresy and life of Christians, while the open-mindedness of Saint Augustine, who embraced Greek contributions, stemmed from Christianity’s widespread dominance after the rule of Constantine.

Before Jesus died, in 427 BC, the Greek philosopher, Plato states that the division of heaven and hell, and the punishment and reward among unjust and just people. When Plato tells Socrates a story about Alcinous, he uses the experiences of this strong man who comes back from the underworld to show the existence of heaven and hell. Plato illustrates that “there were two openings in the earth next to one another, and, again, two in the heaven, above and opposite the others. Between them sat judges who, when they passed judgment, told them just to continue their journey to the right and upward, through the heaven” (Plato, The Republic 614c). When Alcinous sees the condition of dead people and their stories, he says that “if some men were causes of the death of many, either by betraying cities or amies and they received for each of these things tenfold sufferings; and again, if they had done good deeds and had proved just and holy, in the same measure did they receive reward”. In addition to the idea of Plato, he points out the theory of forms that the physical world is not a real one, instead, the perfect world is behind people. Plato uses the cave of three men to show the theory, he states that people spent a lot of time to see the actual world. If they see it and find it, they will know the truth of right and good. This real-world is eternal and perfect that God knows its existence. Plato’s ideas about heaven and hell determine the afterlife of good people and bad people, and his ideas also reflect the perfect form of God and the perfect form of the world is heaven which contains good and right. Plato’s idea is important because his early thought is the verification of Christianity about the afterlife of Christians and the existence of God.

After Jesus died, in 155 AD, Tertullian is a philosopher and an early Christian writer comes from the Carthage of Tunisia. Tertullian hates the heresy because he believes the heresy is “the greater evil, showing that it was in view of the greater evil that he readily believed in the lesser ones”. Tertullian also against the two philosophers, Zeno and Plato. He calls the philosophers are “worldly wisdom” that are foolish to God, and philosophers explain the interpretation of God’s nature and purpose to supply heresies. Tertullian believes that religion shouldn’t be affected by philosophies, So Christians should cut and separate from their influences. And the Bible is the central book to believe and read for ignorant Christians. He mentions the meaning of “‘seek, and ye shall find.’” is to seek Christ with reading the Bible and if people doubt the truth which they find, he says, “to establish that Christ’ teaching is to be found with us”. Additionally, Eve is misled by the snake to eat a forbidden apple and she leads Adam to eat it, too. Her mistakes make human loss their eternal life. So Tertullian condemns women are “The devil of the gateway; it was you who first violated the forbidden tree and broke God’s law”. He believes the human bodies are sinful when they are born in this world because of the fault of Eve. Tertullian’s ideas spread the life of Christians to read the Bible and follow the words of God. Christians should avoid to touch heresies or believe other people’s authority. Tertullian’s idea is important because his thought influences how Christians live in the world and how Christians educate themselves.

In 293 AD, the Roman king, Diocletian split the Roman Empire into the west and east to be easier to control the Empire. Then in 303 AD, Diocletian published the law to persecute Christians. He forced Christians left from the military and gave up their beliefs, he also burned their Christians’books. Until 311 AD, Constantinus published the law, “Edict of Milan” to give back the rights of Christians, and accept Christianity as a legal religion. After this year, Constantinus fought with Maxentius to form the battle called “Battle of Milvian Bridge”. This outcome of the battle became the turning point of the fate of Christians and the Roman Empire. Constantinus took control of Rome that Christians could spread and practice their religion, they also could build their Chrisitan Church and publish books.

After Christianity became the major religion, the Roman African, Saint Aurelius Augustine believes that not only studying the Bible, rather, studying the words of the philosophers. Because he says, “We rank such thinkers above all others and acknowledge them as representing the closest approximation to our Christian position”. Philosophers study the truth about God has the same agreements with Christians. Also, Augustine mentions that people are educated by the Bible with charity and people live in a unity society. He says, “The Bible contained everything a Christian needed to know to recognize what to avoid and what to embrace: ‘scripture teaches nothing but charity, nor condemns anything except cupidity’”. Augustine mentions that people only have own belief are not enough; instead, they need to find the truth of God. He claims that how we find the truth, “Rather, every good and true Christian should understand that wherever he may find the truth, it is his Lord’s”. Augustine believes that eternal love is God’s and learning the Bible can learn everything about God and the truth. However, he points out a Christian should seek and find the truth of God, not only having own belief. Augustine’s idea is important because his thought influences the community of Christians and how Christians close to God.

Plato’s afterlife and the form of God make the foundation of later Christianity, Tertullian and Augustine affect the basic life and rule of Christians, and Constantinus pushes Christianity into a legal and popular religion. All change Christianity from weaker religion into a stronger Christan community and move Christianity into the society of the world and affect medieval culture with the modern world.

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Plato’s, Tertullian’s and Augustine’s Influence on Christianity

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, then he became the dominant person to spread Christianity. However, the higher class of Jewish criticized the idea of Jesus and treated him badly. After the death of Jesus, his apostles continued spreading Christianity. In conception of Christianity, Christianity was influenced by Platonic ideas of afterlife and eternal life, though the early fundamentalist perspective of Tertullian reflected the fear of heresy and life of Christians, while the open-mindedness of Saint Augustine, who embraced Greek contributions, stemmed from Christianity’s widespread dominance after the rule of Constantine.

Before Jesus died, in 427 BC, the Greek philosopher, Plato states that the division of heaven and hell, and the punishment and reward among unjust and just people. When Plato tells Socrates a story about Alcinous, he uses the experiences of this strong man who comes back from the underworld to show the existence of heaven and hell. Plato illustrates that ” there were two openings in the earth next to one another, and, again, two in the heaven, above and opposite the others. Between them sat judges who, when they passed judgment, told them just to continue their journey to the right and upward, through the heaven” (Plato, The Republic 614c). When Alcinous sees the condition of dead people and their stories, he says that “if some men were causes of the death of many, either by betraying cities or amies and they received for each of these things tenfold sufferings; and again, if they had done good deeds and had proved just and holy, in the same measure did they receive reward”(Plato, The Republic 615b). In addition to the idea of Plato, he points out the theory of forms that the physical world is not a real one, instead, the perfect world is behind people. Plato uses the cave of three men to show the theory, he states that people spent a lot of time to see the actual world. If they see it and find it, they will know the truth of right and good. This real-world is eternal and perfect that God knows its existence. Plato’s ideas about heaven and hell determine the afterlife of good people and bad people, and his ideas also reflect the perfect form of God and the perfect form of the world is heaven which contains good and right. Plato’s idea is important because his early thought is the verification of Christianity about the afterlife of Christians and the existence of God.

After Jesus died, in 155 AD, Tertullian is a philosopher and an early Christian writer comes from the Carthage of Tunisia. Tertullian hates the heresy because he believes the heresy is “the greater evil, showing that it was in view of the greater evil that he readily believed in the lesser ones”(Enduring Legacies, 214). Tertullian also against the two philosophers, Zeno and Plato. He calls the philosophers are “worldly wisdom” (Enduring Legacies, 214) that are foolish to God, and philosophers explain the interpretation of God’s nature and purpose to supply heresies. Tertullian believes that religion shouldn’t be affected by philosophies, So Christians should cut and separate from their influences. And the Bible is the central book to believe and read for ignorant Christians. He mentions the meaning of ” ‘seek, and ye shall find.’ “(Enduring Legacies, 215) is to seek Christ with reading the Bible and if people doubt the truth which they find, he says, ” to establish that Christ’ teaching is to be found with us”(Enduring Legacies, 216). Additionally, Eve is misled by the snake to eat a forbidden apple and she leads Adam to eat it, too. Her mistakes make human loss their eternal life. So Tertullian condemns women are ” The devil of the gateway; it was you who first violated the forbidden tree and broke God’s law”(Enduring Legacies, 213). He believes the human bodies are sinful when they are born in this world because of the fault of Eve. Tertullian’s ideas spread the life of Christians to read the Bible and follow the words of God. Christians should avoid to touch heresies or believe other people’s authority. Tertullian’s idea is important because his thought influences how Christians live in the world and how Christians educate themselves.

In 293 AD, the Roman king, Diocletian split the Roman Empire into the west and east to be easier to control the Empire. Then in 303 AD, Diocletian published the law to persecute Christians. He forced Christians left from the military and gave up their beliefs, he also burned their Christians’books. Until 311 AD, Constantinus published the law, “Edict of Milan” to give back the rights of Christians, and accept Christianity as a legal religion. After this year, Constantinus fought with Maxentius to form the battle called “Battle of Milvian Bridge”. This outcome of the battle became the turning point of the fate of Christians and the Roman Empire. Constantinus took control of Rome that Christians could spread and practice their religion, they also could build their Chrisitan Church and publish books.

After Christianity became the major religion, the Roman African, Saint Aurelius Augustine believes that not only studying the Bible, rather, studying the words of the philosophers. Because he says, ” We rank such thinkers above all others and acknowledge them as representing the closest approximation to our Christian position”(Enduring Legacy, 220). Philosophers study the truth about God have the same agreements with Christians. Also, Augustine mentions that people are educated by the Bible with charity and people live in a unity society. He says, “The Bible contained everything a Christian needed to know to recognize what to avoid and what to embrace: ‘scripture teaches nothing but charity, nor condemns anything except cupidity’ “(Enduring Legacy, 217). Augustine mentions that people only have own belief are not enough; instead, they need to find the truth of God. He claims that how we find the truth, “Rather, every good and true Christian should understand that wherever he may find the truth, it is his Lord’s”(Enduring Legacy, 222). Augustine believes that eternal love is God’s and learning the Bible can learn everything about God and the truth. However, he points out a Christian should seek and find the truth of God, not only having own belief. Augustine’s idea is important because his thought influences the community of Christians and how Christians close to God.

Plato’s afterlife and the form of God make the foundation of later Christianity, Tertullian and Augustine affect the basic life and rule of Christians, and Constantinus pushes Christianity into a legal and popular religion. All change Christianity from weaker religion into a stronger Christan community and move Christianity into the society of the world and affect medieval culture with the modern world.

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The Involvement of Syncretism in the Formation of Christianity

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Topic: Syncretism and how it was involved in the formulation of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism

Syncretism is the practice of mixing elements from different religions. The Roman Empire made use of syncretism as a means to create unity among the empire and to pacify citizens. Syncretism often combined religions of the people with emperor worship to create a stronger sense of allegiance to the empire and to create harmony by promoting a religion that is in agreement with the beliefs of many. Early on, followers of Christianity tried their best to overcome the pressures of syncretism, but eventually, the religion was greatly influenced by syncretism. However, before one can fully comprehend the ways in which the church was impacted by this force, it is necessary to understand the origins of Christianity.

The earliest Christians were converts from Judaism—actually it is not entirely accurate to label these early members of the Way as converts, because these individuals saw their faith as consistent with their Jewish beliefs and heritage. An important tenet of Judaism is the eschatological hope in a Messiah that would eventually come and bring salvation. After the crucifixion of Jesus, many Jews came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah (the Christ). These new Christians did not abandon their faith, but rather, they recognized that the hope their ancestors had looked forward to for centuries had finally been realized.

It was not until Gentiles began to embrace the faith that the first glimpses of supersessionism could be seen. The church especially began to divorce itself from its Jewish origins as apologists started to formulate the language of their faith. Apologists felt the need to defend their faith to the pagans, and individuals such as Justin Martyr found that the best way to explain Christianity to citizens of the Roman empire was to use the more familiar language of Greco-Roman philosophy. Though early Christians took pride in their Jewish background, and their Jewish sense of eschatological hope aided in their understanding of the Christian faith, they found that it was more effective to explain their faith to the pagans using language that was more familiar to the empire, rather than trying to explain Jewish customs.

For example, the Platonists believed that there existed a supreme being, and that this being possessed knowledge of the reason and ration behind nature. They believed that the “Logos”—literally “word” or “reason”—was the active agent that brings this reason of the supreme being to mankind. Early apologists explained that the Platonists were correct about this, but that they were missing a piece of the argument. From the Christian perspective, it is clear that God the Father is the supreme being, and that Christ is the Logos, the agent who actively brings God’s truth to mankind. Christians had always believed that God gave the Jewish people the Law of Moses in preparation for the realization of their eschatological hope, but eventually, apologists came to believe that God also prepared the Gentiles for the coming of the Messiah by giving them philosophy. The apologists realized that Jewish faith and Greco-Roman philosophy were not in contradiction with one another, but rather, they coincided quite nicely when considering the coming of Christ, who was the Messiah for the Jews and the Logos for the Gentiles. Thus, the expression of Christianity in the Roman Empire was at its core a syncretism of Jewish faith and Greco-Roman philosophy. So, as much as Christians would like to believe that their faith is pure, it is undeniable that syncretism played a significant role in the definition of orthodoxy.

This syncretic practice inevitably started the process of supersessionism by separating the rationale of the faith from Judaism. Take Marcion for example. He believed that, in bringing salvation through Christ to the Gentiles, God made the Old Testament and thus the Jewish faith obsolete. Tertullian spoke out against Marcion; for he believed that the Old Testament was still perfectly relevant, but in his Prescription Against the Heretics, he argued that neither pagans nor Jews have the rights to this scripture. He said that the chosen people are now the followers of Christ, and in denying Him, the Jews gave up their chosen nature, thus leaving the church as the sole proprietor of the faith. Such beliefs were more and more common amongst Christian thinkers, and eventually, Christians got to the point where they saw Judaism as heresy.

Obviously, Christians living in the Roman empire had been brought very far from their Jewish roots. The followers of the Way went from living out both their Jewish heritage and the new identity in Christ in harmony to proclaiming Jewish scriptures as evil and even condemning Judaism as heresy.

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Reading Tertullian’s on the Apparel of Women in the 21st Century

May 6, 2021 by Essay Writer

Truth and opinion is sometimes blurred when engaging historical text. It is difficult to know with absolute certainty that there is a true or right interpretation of a given text. The engagement of theology requires that there is a diversity of opinion when engaging text. This allows for multiple theological interpretations to develop that reveals the diversity of human experience. It is important when engaging different opinions to also engage diverse backgrounds and experiences that inform such opinions. Practicing this creates a sensitivity and openness to divergent interpretations. Ultimately, allowing for the individual to remain open to the possible truth in diverse ideas. It is through this lens where I will analyze Tertullian of Carthage’s On the Apparel of Women and offer suggestions as to how Christian readers in the 21st century may reinterpret, restate, and rethink this text for a new medium and a new time.

It is likely for some Christians, that Turtullian’s On the Apparel of Women possesses a sanctity that modern readers feel they should not seek to question ancient text. Though texts by authors like Tertullian should be recognized for their cultural and religious importance, Christian readers should question if such writings are responsible in the 21st century. Turtullian states “women have not the same causes for appearing in public”. He also argues that women who dress luxuriously are immodest and thus, “not lawful”. This thinking takes away a woman’s individual autonomy and makes her an object. It also perpetuates dangerous precedents for sexist action toward women based off of ancient Christian texts and further fosters unequal power dynamic in Christian communities. Christian’s have a responsibility to break the cyclical and habitual relationships that are justified by historical Christian texts, which creates a hardened heart that is normalized by justifying discrimination through ancient Christian text.

To work toward this, Christians need to recognize the numerous miscellaneous phenomena that each individual person experiences in life, which culminate in the development of a unique identity, belief system, and faith structure. It is crucial for Christians to seek to understand the context behind such backgrounds and experiences, not only in our time, but also from the past. This makes it possible to see the tension that exists between past and present conceptions of what it means to be a Christian. Engaging tension head on allows for Christians to effectively represent those in need and become a voice for those who do not otherwise have one. Tension allows for one to broaden the depth and scope of their understanding of what it means to live through Jesus Christ. Ultimately, leading toward a benevolent self-awareness that pushes back against normalizing discrimination through ancient Christian test like that of Turtullian’s writings.

Self-awareness necessitates taking the individual responsibility too see the human author behind the text. For all of Turtullian’s sexist writings, he is one person articulating his conception of what it means to be a Christian. It is likely that previous Christian works; biblical texts, and biblical traditions inform Turtullian’s conception of what it means to be a Christian, just as our own experiences inform our own understanding of Christianity. Individual responsibility places the expectation on each Christian to be held responsible for their own discriminatory actions and any appeal to authority by means of writers like Turtullian is nothing but an argumentative fallacy. This is not to say that 21st century Christians should forget the bad in Turtullian’s On the Discourse of Women. Responsibility calls for the creation of a healthier relationship between the individual, community, and Christ.

To create a healthier relationship, one must rethink, reinterpret, and restate a given context in order for the past to remain relevant for the present. One option is for the individual Christian to look for the shared religious values in Turtullian’s writings that are still in practice today. For example, Turtullian’s understanding of Christian modesty states “it is not enough to be modest, but to seem so too”. This study links past and present understandings of modesty together and allows for one to trace the successive understandings of modesty up until the present. The ability to see how context informs creed is then brought to the light.

Next, the individual may begin the work of rethinking Turtullian’s understanding of modesty into one that is not discriminatory and counteracts normalizing discrimination through Turtullian’s writings. Turtullian uses his interpretation of modesty to justify the incarceration of a woman’s identity and autonomy. For Turtullian, the outward expression of finer garments or jewelry makes him question the internal fortitude of a woman. In his words, “I know not whether the leg that has rejoiced in the anklet will suffer itself to be squeezed into the shackle”. Turtullian’s understanding of modesty is one that appears to be intrusive into the sovereignty of another’s life. Christian modesty through Tertullian’s lens has the possibility to overwhelm and submit life. Tertullian’s interpretation is still one that exists in Christian society today. However, the 21st century, unlike Tertullian’s time and at least in the United States, is far more progressive and recognizes, at least to some extent, that behavior that harms life is unjust. Current societal context is less accepting of Christian values that seek to harm. Thus, an individual, who seeks to carry out such harm, in present western context, would likely have an internal fortitude that is dubious at best.

Tertullian’s work On The Apparel of Women shows how truth is synonymous with human interpretation. One issue has numerous truths. Responsibility asks Christian communities to pursue a truth that supports the growth of equity. Thus, there is never an end to the work of sympathy and the necessary expansion of the moral imagination.

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