Journal of Theological Studies, N.S. 9 (1958) pp. 150-151

Tertullien : Traité de la prescription contre les hérétiques. Edited and translated by R. F. REFOULÉ and P. DE LABRIOLLE. Pp. 167. (Sources Chrétiennes, 46.) Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1957.

De Praescriptione Haereticorum is one of the best-known and one of the least persuasive of Tertullian's works. Its argument is a complicated begging of the question----which is possibly why the book was so popular with post-reformation controversialists. The discussion of the heretical misuse of Quaerite et invenietis misses the obvious point that in its original context this sentence has no relevance either to their contention or to its refutation. Fortunately Tertullian proceeded ex abundanti to confute the heretics on other and more solid grounds.

The present edition will be found specially useful. The introduction, text, and notes by Refoulé are accompanied by a reprint (corrected where necessary) of the generally accurate and always lucid translation of de Labriolle. The introduction contains, among other useful matter, a discussion of the use and limitations of praescriptio and exceptio in Roman legal proceedings, as well as a welcome analysis of the conception of traditio (which, it is indicated, signifies delivery rather than transmission). The section on the manuscripts and editions is excellent, and the analysis of the argument is clear and conclusive. Text and translation, facing one another, are accompanied by three sets of notes, (1) critical, (2) on the Latin text and on Tertullian's terminology and syntactical usages, and (3) on the subject-matter. Throughout the book there are numerous quotations from both ancient and modern works, including some very recent English publications. There are some misprints, and occasionally in English quotations important words seem to be omitted. [p.151] 

On p. 22 read cognitio for cognatio, and on p. 106 (note d) read salutis for solutio. On pp. 93 and 110 πέρας is evidently a slip for πέραν (though ἐναντίου would be more usual). In chapter 9 certa re, in spite of the great names which support it, does not seem to have any very evident meaning, and the sentence remains unintelligible: I suspect that we ought to read expedit and that certare either means 'ascertain' or is a corruption of some other word which does mean that. In chapter 13 the note on in nomine dei misses the point that God the Son, when appearing to the patriarchs, is designated 'God' in the text of Genesis. In chapter 40 expositio delictorum is mistranslated 'l'expiation des fautes'. These, and a few others, are but slight faults in a work which should not only serve as a welcome introduction to the study of Tertullian but will also enable those whose knowledge is more advanced to benefit from the extent and variety of the editor's reading. 


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