Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Christ's Birth of a Virgin Who Became a Wife: Flesh and Speech in Tertullian's De Carne Christi

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

image of Vigiliae Christianae

This article explores the powerful efficacy of Tertullian's theological discourse in his treatise De came Christi. Departing from the conventional wisdom of evaluating early Christian theological texts according to their adherence to formal rhetorical models, which makes them vulnerable to postmodern criticism, this article advocates an alternative approach. It analyzes Tertullian's arguments by relating them directly to his central topic of discussion: the flesh of Christ. Tertullian's insistence on the physical concreteness of Christ's flesh, which connects Christ's human birth inseparably with his death and resurrection, serves to underscore what he calls "the law for our resurrection" (ch. 1). The article demonstrates that the physical concreteness of Christ's flesh so dominates Tertullian's theological discourse that it underlies even his well-known use of paradox. An example is found when Tertullian makes the truth of Christ's resurrection following his crucifixion dependent on how it mocks wordly wisdom (ch. 5). The article reveals specifically how a view of Tertullian's discourse as pivoting on the concreteness of Christ's flesh sheds light on his arguments regarding Christ's birth of a virgin (chs. 17-23). For Tertullian, Christ's flesh can only lay down the law for humanity's bodily resurrection if the divine Word heeds the "law of the opened body" (ch. 23) by undergoing a fully human birth. In his logic Christ's exit into this world, which opened his mother's womb, caused Mary to change from virgin to wife. Since Christ's birth is thus itself a signum contradicibile, Tertullian's discourse is stripped of its former dependence on paradoxes to describe its salvific novelty, gaining a new-found accuracy instead.

Affiliations: 1: Dept. of Theology, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue, Chestnut Hill, MA 02167-3806 U.S.A.


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Vigiliae Christianae — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation