Speculum 24 (1949) pp. 571-2


ERNEST EVANS, ed. and tr., Tertullian's Treatise against Praxeas. London: Society for Promotion of
Christian Knowledge, 1949. Pp. 335. 21s.

THE format and the remarkably low price at which this important work is issued
do infinite credit to the S.P.C.K.; probably no commercial firm could have
undertaken publication of a treatise necessarily restricted in its appeal at less
than twice or thrice this price. The Latin text occupies only thirty-one chapters
and the translation some fifty pages. The remainder of the book consists of an in-
troduction giving the historical and theological background, and copious notes
on points of reading, semantics, and technical points in syntax, doctrine and
vocabulary. Canon Evans, who is lexicographer, theologian and historian all in
one, has performed a difficult task with admirable success. He seems to have read
all the relevant Greek and Latin Fathers, from whose writings he quotes copi-
ously and appositely. Tertullian's Latin style is crabbed but crisp and condensed,
and he is perhaps the most difficult of all Latin Fathers to translate into any
language. There is no authoritative text for this treatise but it is extremely prob-
able that the one here printed will be regarded as the norm for a long time to come.
It is a great pity that Dr Evans has not ventured to suggest further emendations
of obviously false readings, but he has the modest diffidence of the expert and
rarely lets himself go. His notes on the technical terms persona, gradus, status,


forma, species, substantia and potestas, are examples of his skill as a lexicographer,
while his excursuses on Tertullian's theological antecedents, on the Incarnation,
the Trinity and Montanism, reveal the hand of the theologian ad unguem factus.
Though I have followed the Latin text in the English translation (which is literal
without being slavish) I have found very few places in which to differ from him.
Just before he died, Dr A. Souter, one of the greatest authorities on Patristic
Latin, brought out a monumental glossary of Latin words in use from A.D. 180
to the beginning of the seventh century, but probably had not seen Dr Evans'
work on Tertullian; otherwise he would undoubtedly have made use of its stores
of learning. Dr Evans says in his foreword that he has other works on Tertullian
in hand; it is to be hoped that they will soon appear.

AUSTIN H. BIRCH,
Newport (Mon.), Wales.


This page has been accessed by ****** people since 30th March 2001.


Return to the Tertullian Project About these pages