Tertullian, The Prescription Against the Heretics

Home / Tertullian, The Prescription Against the Heretics

Chapter 33. Present Heresies (Seedlings of the Tares Noted by the Sacred Writers) Already Condemned in Scripture. This Descent of Later Heresy from the Earlier Traced in Several Instances.

Besides all this, I add a review of the doctrines themselves, which, existing as they did in the days of the apostles, were both exposed and denounced by the said apostles. For by this method they will be more easily reprobated, when they are detected to have been even then in existence, or at any rate to have been seedlings of the (tares) which then were. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, sets his mark on certain who denied and doubted the resurrection. This opinion was the special property of the Sadducees. A part of it, however, is maintained by Marcion and Apelles and Valentinus, and all other impugners of the resurrection. Writing also to the Galatians, he inveighs against such men as observed and defend circumcision and the (Mosaic) law. Thus runs Hebion’s heresy. Such also as forbid to marry he reproaches in his instructions to Timothy. Now, this is the teaching of Marcionand his follower Apelles. (The apostle) directs a similar blow against those who said that the resurrection was past already.  Such an opinion did the Valentinians assert of themselves. When again he mentions endless genealogies, one also recognises Valentinus, in whose system a certain Æon, whosoever he be, of a new name, and that not one only, generates of his own grace Sense and Truth; and these in like manner produce of themselves Word and Life, while these again afterwards beget Man and the Church. From these primary eight ten other Æons after them spring, and then the twelve others arise with their wonderful names, to complete the mere story of the thirty Æons. The same apostle, when disapproving of those who are in bondage to elements, points us to some dogma of Hermogenes, who introduces matter as having no beginning, and then compares it with God, who has no beginning. By thus making the mother of the elements a goddess, he has it in his power to be in bondage to a being which he puts on a par with God. John, however, in the Apocalypse is charged to chastise those who eat things sacrificed to idols, and who commit fornication. There are even now another sort of Nicolaitans. Theirs is called the Gaian heresy. But in his epistle he especially designates those as Antichrists who denied that Christ had come in the flesh, and who refused to think that Jesus was the Son of God. The one dogma Marcion maintained; the other, Hebion. The doctrine, however, of Simon’s sorcery, which inculcated the worship of angels, was itself actually reckoned among idolatries and condemned by the Apostle Peter in Simon’s own person.