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Did Tertullian read Marcion in Latin? Grammatical evidence from the Greek of Ephesians 3:9 in Marcion’s Apostolikon as presented in the Latin of Tertullian’s Adversus Marcionem

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In his landmark work on Marcion, Adolf von Harnack became the first modern scholar to propose that Tertullian only knew Marcion’s Gospel and Apostolikon in Latin translation. This proposition obtained early support but has been questioned in more recent years, the more common conjecture now being that Tertullian himself translated Marcion’s Greek into Latin as needed. In deciding this matter, scholars have compared the citations of Marcion reproduced in Tertullian’s Adversus Marcionem with corresponding Gospel and Pauline citations elsewhere in Tertullian’s writings and then other extant Latin traditions. This nexus of data is then evaluated in terms of vocabulary and stylistic variation. The results of such a method are largely a matter of how one is predisposed to read the evidence. A way forward in this debate is to attend more closely to potential argumentative implications of a Latin versus Greek Vorlage and, specifically, to instances where arguments presented in Tertullian’s Latin might unravel, or at least become differently interesting, if retrojected into Marcion’s Greek. Tertullian’s discussion in Adversus Marcionem 5,18,1 of Ephesians 3:9, a so-called locus classicus of Marcion’s theology, is one such text, and one that complicates quests for a single Latin or Greek source behind Tertullian’s usage.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-72
JournalZeitschrift für Antikes Christentum
Issue number1
Early online date25 May 2017
StatePublished - Jun 2017

    Research areas

  • Marcion, Apostolikon, Tertullian, Adversus Marcionem, Adolf von Harnack, Ephesians 3:9

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