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Tertullian’s Use of the Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude


Mark A. Frisius

In Tertullian’s Use of the Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and Jude, Mark A. Frisius establishes that Tertullian (a third-century theologian) only used the Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, and 1 Peter, although he at least knew of Jude. It is further demonstrated that he had no knowledge of James or 2 Peter, which has a distinct bearing on the emergence of the New Testament canon. Tertullian interprets these five texts in various ways, but always with an eye toward confrontational discourse. The author assesses Tertullian’s varying interpretive principles and also considers the effects of Montanism on his interpretive procedures. In conclusion, Frisius demonstrates that the Pastoral Epistles, Hebrews, and 1 Peter provided Tertullian with significant material for his theological controversies. This book, in addition to being a resource for scholars, is also useful in senior level and graduate courses on ancient biblical interpretation.


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Part Three: Theological Development and Controversy 85


PART THREE Theological Development and Controversy Throughout his literary career, Tertullian would stand committed to what he understood as the correct understanding of Christianity, and would envision himself as a faithful exponent of the faith. For him, faithfulness to Christ would sometimes mean criticism of the church, and always meant criticism of heresy. It is within this context that Tertullian would develop his theology and launch into theological dispute. Although he was consumed with writing through the prism of confrontation, his theology would also enter into the wharp-and-woof of everyday life for the Christian in Carthage. Tertullian‘s theology would have a tremendous impact on the theological development of the Latin West.1 He arrived on the scene during a difficult period for the church in North Africa. There had been sporadic persecution, and the reign of Septimus Severus would not halt the trend. Moreover, there were no strong or prominent theological voices in the church within North Africa. There was strong commitment, but little theological leadership. Tertulli- an would help to fill this void through his writings. Tertullian‘s theology evidences at least two primary concerns. The first concern is in the area of practical theology. Tertullian was a rigorist in his approach to discipline. For him, discipline was not done for the sake of discipline, but rather was deeply connected to the theological life of the church. Correct behavior stemmed from a correct understanding of God, and later, was provided through the ministry of the Paraclete. Therefore, theology was...

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