The Tertullian Project is edited by Roger PEARSE.
These pages are designed for the amateur interested in Tertullian. I hope you like them. In particular I hope they will encourage you to read the man himself, not as an academic exercise, but instead with the question in your mind ‘Is what he says true for me, today?’. Some material is intended for those who have perhaps only heard the name and would like to know more; other material is more scholarly, and there is also a growing archive of primary material and copies of (usually older) scholarly articles, particularly to do with the manuscript tradition.
Like most things on the internet, these pages are the product of amateur interest rather than original scholarship. I have little Latin and no Greek, and I already have a full-time career! This means that there is a limit to what I can put on these pages, and it is likely to focus on readily available material. Updates will be sporadic, depending on my access to the ‘net and my spare time. Currently I have a pile of related material, from journals, etc, which I would like to digitise, translate, and place on this site, subject to copyright.
The specialist will probably find little that he does not already know on these pages. Since I am working without supervision, errors of fact or misunderstandings are inevitable. So check your references!
Material will generally be patchy. It all depends what I’m looking into at any given moment. So some pages have lots of stuff, some are rather incoherent, some are minimal or non-existent. Consider these pages a work in progress, or a scrap-book, rather than a finished product.
Some of the material on these pages is derivative from the standard introductory handbooks – listed here. I am trying to indicate where I have read the backup articles. Luckily the French articles are reasonably easy to read, even if (like me) you only have schoolboy French.
Generally my own comments and queries have been highlighted the same way as this line, to distinguish them.
I’ve never met anyone else who was interested in Tertullian, so I have no idea whether anyone will read these pages. My own reason for writing them is that I couldn’t find anything useful on the web about him, and inevitably thought I’d better put something up, however basic. If a real scholar would like to take over, I’d be more than glad to relinquish it to him.
My own interest in Tertullian comes from my experience as a Christian of living in a culture in the United Kingdom in which Christians are a marginalised and unpopular minority group. Sometimes it seems as if almost anything may be said, or believed about Christians, provided it is derogatory! But this is an environment not unlike that in which the early church found itself, and the way that Tertullian responded towards this environment can be interesting to a modern Christian confronted with some of the same problems, albeit with the inevitable cultural differences. Fortunately in the UK martyrdom is as yet a remote possibility – fortunate for those like myself who have trouble at the dentist, never mind being burnt alive! But the works of the laughing African should still be good for a chuckle or two. Inevitably my own opinions will come through at various points, although I have tried to keep an generally gentle and accessible tone, and not to pass off my own opinions as fact. I apologise in advance to anyone I annoy.
The general approach is that I’m trying to avoid conjecture, and I want to provide references wherever I can get them, even I as a layman can’t always verify them. What I want to have is the actual, factual evidence available. For instance, what manuscripts exist, what comments in other writers, etc. I’d love to have some pictures of some of the manuscripts. I’ve now got some ideas on how to go about it. All you need is time…
I’m looking at the moment mainly at how the words got from Tertullian’s head to my bookshelves. I’m trying to do a proper catalogue of all the manuscripts. I’ve looked at all those in the United Kingdom. I now need to find the time to visit places like the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
I owe a particular debt of gratitude to Dr. T.D.Barnes’ book Tertullian: A historical and literary study, which re-awakened my dormant interest in Tertullian, and led me to create these pages. It is very unlikely anyone reading this has a copy. It is out of print, and very hard for a layman to obtain – it took me two years to get my copy. If you are interested in Tertullian, get it if you can. It’s the only real overview in English available. I commend in particular the wonderfully crisp and vivid descriptions of each treatise. Certainly the best introduction available in English.
A word about copyright; I don’t want to pick a fight with anyone over this. I have digitised some academic articles, and translated some, in the general interest of making the opinions of scholars available. (I myself remember looking at the footnotes in Barnes and wondering how on earth I could ever get to read any of them). As a rule these are old, and must be out of copyright, but are still of interest. From more modern stuff I have excerpted interesting bits. It’s not easy for me to find the right words on this. I want people to be able to read articles. I can’t imagine that people write them to be unread. But I don’t want to usurp anyone’s rights. So I have tried to ensure that I don’t violate any copyright, or have obtained the permission of the author where necessary, and where I know how to contact them. The way that emails to publishers are ignored makes this very difficult. Naturally I may have gone over the line sometimes. If anyone feels that I have infringed their copyright, please email me, and we’ll work something out. I would hope that no-one who is paid by the taxpayer to research and publish would really want to try to stop as large a public as possible reading the results! On the other hand, an official site would be a far better home for a scholarly article. Do remember that if I spent some of my time typing in your article, it’s because I’m a fan of your work! Errors of digitisation and translation are of course my responsibility, and the presence on this site of copies of material does not imply any endorsement by their authors – this is a site for enthusiasts, remember!
I hope you find something of interest on these pages. If you would like to make a constructive comment, correction, or supply material for them, I’d be glad to hear from you – please contact me. My own personal pages are at www.tertullian.org/rpearse.