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p. 477


Against Hermogenes.

Containing an Argument Against His Opinion that Matter is Eternal.

[Translated by Dr. Holmes.]


Chapter I.—The Opinions of Hermogenes, by the Prescriptive Rule of Antiquity Shown to Be Heretical. Not Derived from Christianity, But from Heathen Philosophy. Some of the Tenets Mentioned.

We are accustomed, for the purpose of shortening argument, 6129 to lay down the rule against heretics of the lateness of their date. 6130 For in as far as by our rule, priority is given to the truth, which also foretold that there would be heresies, in so far must all later opinions be prejudged as heresies, being such as were, by the more ancient rule of truth, predicted as (one day) to happen. Now, the doctrine of Hermogenes has this 6131 taint of novelty. He is, in short, 6132 a man living in the world at the present time; by his very nature a heretic, and turbulent withal, who mistakes loquacity for eloquence, and supposes impudence to be firmness, and judges it to be the duty of a good conscience to speak ill of individuals. 6133 Moreover, he despises God’s law in his painting, 6134 maintaining repeated marriages, 6135 alleges the law of God in defence of lust, 6136 and yet despises it in respect of his art. 6137 He falsifies by a twofold process—with his cautery and his pen. 6138 He is a thorough adulterer, both doctrinally and carnally, since he is rank indeed with the contagion of your marriage-hacks, 6139 and has also failed in cleaving to the rule of faith as much as the apostle’s own Hermogenes. 6140 However, never mind the man, when it is his doctrine which I question. He does not appear to acknowledge any other Christ as Lord, 6141 though he holds Him in a different way; but by this difference in his faith he really makes Him another being,—nay, he takes from Him everything which is God, since he will not have it that He made all things of nothing. For, turning away from Christians to the philosophers, from the Church to the Academy and the Porch, he learned there from the Stoics how to place Matter (on the same level) with the Lord, just as if it too had existed ever both unborn and unmade, having no beginning at all nor end, out of which, according to him, 6142 the Lord afterwards created all things.



Compendii gratia. [The reference here to the De Præscript. forbids us to date this tract earlier than 207 a.d. Of this Hermogenes, we only know that he was probably a Carthaginian, a painter, and of a versatile and clever mind.]


This is the criterion prescribed in the Præscript. Hæret.xxxi. xxxiv., and often applied by Tertullian.  See our Anti-Marcion, pp. 272, 345, 470, and passim.


The tam novella is a relative phrase, referring to the fore-mentioned rule.




Maldicere singuiis.


Probably by painting idols (Rigalt.; and so Neander).


It is uncertain whether Tertullian means to charge Hermogenes with defending polygamy, or only second marriages, in the phrase nubit assidue. Probably the latter, which was offensive to the rigorous Tertullian; and so Neander puts it.


Quoting Gen. i. 28, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Rigalt.).


Disregarding the law when it forbids the representation of idols.  (Rigalt.).


Et cauterio et stilo. The former instrument was used by the encaustic painters for burning in the wax colours into the ground of their pictures (Westropp’s Handbook of Archæology, p. 219).  Tertullian charges Hermogenes with using his encaustic art to the injury of the scriptures, by practically violating their precepts in his artistic works; and with using his pen (stilus) in corrupting the doctrine thereof by his heresy.


By the nubentium contagium, Tertullian, in his Montanist rigour, censures those who married more than once.


2 Tim. i. 15.


Thus differing from Marcion.


The force of the subjunctive, ex qua fecerit.

Next: Hermogenes, After a Perverse Induction from Mere Heretical Assumptions, Concludes that God Created All Things Out of Pre-Existing Matter.