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12 Facts About Tertullian

The Roman Christian author named known as Tertullian, lived around between 160 and 220 AD. He is known as one of the early Christian authors who were quite prolific in his day. Tertullian was also rather influential , earning him nicknames, such as the “father of Latin Christianity” and the “founder of Western theology.” In this article, you will learn more about Tertullian, his life, work, and writings.

1.    Tertullian came from Cartage, which was a Roman province of Africa , becoming the first Christian author to create a wide-ranging amount of Latin Christian literature.

2.    Tertullian’s full name was Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus.

3.    Tertullian became noted for being one of the first Christian apologists and polemicist opposing heresy. Taking a conservative stance, he is known for advancing and starting some of the new theology in regards to the early Church.

4.    There isn’t that many reliable sources that speak on the life of Tertullian. The majority of historical information about the author comes from references found in his own writing.
5.    Tertullian is thought to have been the son of a Roman centurion, trained lawyer, or ordained priest. Some accounts place Tertullian’s father in a position referred to as of ‘centurio proconsularis’ (which translates into “aide-de-camp”). He is believed to have served the Roman army in Africa. Yet, it is not exactly concrete whether or not this position actually existed in the Roman military.

6.    The use of legal analogies leads some historians to believe that Tertullian was actually a lawyer himself. While he was knowledgeable in the ways of Roman law in his writings, it does not indicate that he received a Roman education on the subject.

7.    Tertullian came from Roman Africa, which had a reputation for producing great orators. His style reflects the influence of his environment with his attention to imagery and the passion he places in his texts. There is no doubt that the man was a scholar who received a grand education.

8.    Tertullian wrote at least three books in Greek. The publications make references to himself, but none of them have survived.

9.    Around 197 or 198, Tertullian underwent a conversion to Christianity. The supporting evidence of such a change is not known, but historians believe they have pinpointed its existence by analyzing his writings. His conversion is viewed as being a quick decision that changed his life forever.

10.    There are two books addressed to his wife that confirm that he took a Christian woman as his wife.

11.    A shift from the mainstream church is detected sometime in the middle of his life (around 207), as he became increasingly attracted to the “New Prophecy” of Montanism. There is some evidence that suggests the scholar may have founded his own group separate from the Montanists (possibly called the “Tertullianists”).

12.    Fragments of Tertullian’s work exists that represent 31 works. There are 15 works written in Latin or Greek that have been lost. Some of the subjects he touched upon as a writer included polemics, discipline, and morals.

Words of Wisdom

You can learn more about a person by the kinds of words he says and writes. Below are a few quotes attributed to Tertullian:

“You can judge the quality of their faith from the way they behave.”
“Discipline is an index to doctrine.”
“Arguments about Scripture achieve nothing but a stomachache and a headache.”
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
“Nothing that is God’s is obtainable by money.”
“He who lives only to benefit himself confers on the world a benefit when he dies.”