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.

Read more