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Tertullian and “Traditio”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 July 2017

Johannes Quasten*
Affiliation:
The Catholic University of America

Extract

There are quite a number of passages in Tertullian's writings which deal with traditio. One of the most important is found in chapters 3 and 4 of De corona. Here Tertullian answers those of his opponents who always demand first “Where is it written?” Being a Jurist he discusses the question whether law must be written to be recognized as such. He points to the law of custom which flows from tradition. He strongly denies that in pleading tradition written authority must be demanded.

Type
Miscellany
Copyright
Copyright © 1944 by Cosmopolitan Science & Art Service Co., Inc. 

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References

1 De corona 2 (I, 420 Oehler): “Expostulantes enim scripturae patrocinium in parte diversa praeiudicant suae quoque parti scripturae patrocinium adesse debere.”

2 For Tertullian as a jurist cf. Vitton, P., I concetti giuridici nelle opere di Tertulliano , 1924. Beck, A., Römisches Recht bei Tertullian und Cyprian, 1930.

3 De corona 3 (I, 420 Oehler): “Hanc si nulla scriptura determinavit, certe consuetudo corroboravit, quae sine dubio de traditione manavit.”

4 De corona 3 (421-423 Oehler).

5 Tertullian mentions the same custom in Adversus Marcionem 1, 14 (II, 62 Oehler): “mellis et lactis societatem qua suos infantat (Christus).” Cf. also the third Council of Carthage, c. 24: “Ut in sacramentis corporis et sanguinis domini nihil amplius offeratur quam ispe dominus tradidit h. e. panis et vinum aqua mixtum. primitiae vero seu mel et lac, quod uno die sollemnissimo pro infantis mysterio solet offerri, quamvis in altari offeratur, suam tamen habent propriam benedictionem, ut a sacramento dominici corporis aut sanguinis distinguantur.” The same liturgical rite was known in Rome. Cf. Hippolytus, , Traditio Apostolica 74 (Hauler): “lac et melle mixta simul ad plenitudinem promissionis, quae ad patres fuit, quam dixit terram fluentem lac et mel, quam et dedit carnem suam Christus, per quam sicut parvuli nutriuntur, qui credunt….” Jerome, , Adversus Luciferianos 1, 8 (PL 23, 164): “Nam et multa alia quae per traditionem in ecclesiis observantur, auctoritatem sibi scriptae legis usurpant, vel in lavacro ter caput mergitare, deinde egressos lactis et mollis praegustare concordiam ad infantiae significationem.” It is interesting that Jerome derives here this custom from unwritten tradition in the same way as Tertullian. The Sacramentarium Leonianum (25 Feltoe) contains (In Pentecosten ascendentibus a fonte) the following blessing of water, milk and honey after the Communicantes: “Benedic Domine et has tuas creaturas fontis, mellis and lactis et pota famulos tuos ex hoc fonte aquae vitae perennis, qui est Spiritus veritatis, et enutri eos de hoc lacte et melle.” For the Orient see the arabio version of the Canones Hippolyti, 19 (100 Achelis): “Et presbyteri portant alios calices lactis et mellis, ut doceant eos, qui communicant, iterum se natos esse ut parvuli, quia parvuli communicant lac et mel … Postea sumant lac et mel in memoriam saeculi futuri et dulcedinis bonorum, quae sunt studium eius, qui non redit in amaritudinem neque dissipentur.” For an explanation of this custom see Usener, H., “Milch und Honig”, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie. Neue Folge 57 (1902), 177-195; Schermann, Th., “Die Abendsmahlliturgie der Neophyten nach ägyptischen Quellen vom 2.-6. Jahrhundert”, Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 36 (1912), 464-488; Browe, P., “Melk en honing in den Doopritus”, Allgemeen Nederlandsch Eucharistisch Tijdschrift 10 (1931), 11-17.

6 Cf. Tertullian, , De monogamia 10 (I, 776 Oehler): “Enim vero et pro anima eius orat, et refrigerium interim adpostulat ei, et in prima resurrectione consortium, et offert annuis diebus dormitionis eius.”

7 Similar warnings to be careful in receiving the Eucharist are found in Roman and Oriental sources. For Rome see Hippolytus, , Traditio Apostolica (117 Hauler): “Omnis autem festinet, ut non infidelis gustet de eucharistia aut ne sorix aut animal aliud aut ne quid cadat et pereat de eo. Corpus enim est Christi edendum credentibus et non contemnendum. Calicem in nomine enim Dei benedicens accepisti quasi antitypum sanguinis Christi. Quapropter nolito effundere, ut non spiritus alienus velut the contemnente illud delingat.” Jerome, , Tractatus de psalmo 147 (Anecdota Maredsolana 3, 2 [1897], 302 Morin): “Si quando imus ad mysterium—qui fidelis est intelligit—si micula ceciderit, periclitamur.” For the Orient see Origen, , In Exodum Homilia 13, 3 (GCS Orig. 6, 274 Baehrens): “Volo vos admonere religionis exemplis; nostis, qui divinis mysteriis interesse consuestis, quomodo, cum suscipitis corpus Domini, cum omni cautela et veneratione servatis, ne ex eo parum quid decidat, ne consecrati muneris aliquid dilabatur. Reos enim vos creditis, et recte creditis, si quid inde per negligentiam decidat.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catecheses mystagogicae 5, 21 (41 Quasten): .

8 Cf. Augustine, , Epistula 55, 28 (CSEL 34, 2, 202 Goldbacher): “ieiuniae relaxantur et stantes oramus, quod est signum resurrectionis.” Quaestiones ad orthodoxos 115 (PG 6, 1634): “Si genuflectere in precibus Deo magis precantes commendat quam stantes precari ac magis divinam misericordiam conciliat, cur dominicis diebus et a Pascha usque ad Pentecosten genu non flectunt … qui precantur? Unde autem et haec in ecclesia ingres-sum habuit consuetudo? … ab apostolis autem temporibus initium habuit eiusmodi consuetudo, quemadmodum ait beatus Irenaeus, martyr et episcopus Lugdunensis in libro de Paschate, in quo et Pentecostes meminit, in qua non flectimus genu, quia eiusdem momenti est ac dies dominica.” Hilarius, , Praefatio in psalmum 12 (PL9, 239): “Haec sabbata sabbatorum ea ab Apostolis religione celebrata sunt, ut his quinquagesimae diebus, nullus in terram strato corpore adoraret, neque ieiunio festivitatem spiritalis huius beatitudinis impediret.” Cassianus, , Conlationes Patrum 21, 20 (CSEL 13, 594, 25-595, 5 Petschenig): “Ideo namque in ipsis diebus nec genua in oratione curvantur, quia inflexio genuum velut paenitentiae ac luctus indicium est. Unde etiam per omnia eandem in illis solemnitatem, quam die dominica custodimus, in qua maiores nostri nec ieiunium agendum, nec genu flectendum ob reverentiam resurrectionis dominicae tradiderunt.” Maximus of Turin, Sermo in Pentecost. 3 (PL 57, 633): “Istorum quinquaginta dierum numero sit nobis iugis et continuata festivitas, ita ut hoc omni tempore neque ad observandum indicamus ieiunia, neque ad exorandum Deum genibus succidamus; sed sicut dominica solemus facere, erecti et feriati resurrectionem Domini celebramus.” Cf. Canon 20 of the Council of Nicaea (I, 1, 618 Hefele-Leclercq).

9 Schermann, Th., Die allgemeine Kirchenordnung, frühchristliche Liturgien und kirchliche Ueberlieferung (Studien zur Geschichte und Kultur des Altertums, 3. Ergänzungsband, Teil 1-3) Paderborn, 1914, p. 613.

10 Schermann, Th., l.c. 614.

11 Schwartz, E., Ueber die pseudoapostolischen Kirchenordnungen (Schriften der Wissenschaftlichen Gesellschaft in Strassburg 6) Strassburg, 1910.

12 Connolly, R. H., The so-called Egyptian Church Order and derived documents (Texts and Studies 8, 4) Cambridge, 1916.

13 De oratione 16 (CSEL 20, 190 Reifferscheid-Wissowa).

14 De corona 4 (I, 424 Oehler).

15 De corona 4 (I, 425 Oehler).

16 De corona 4 (I, 425 Oehler).

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