Tertullian’s Disturbing View of Women

I found this quote to be disturbing both in the nature of its content and in the mere fact that a man is jointly capable of wonderful reflection on the nature of God and terrible bigotry towards women. Perhaps there is a lesson in this for those of us who dare to interpret the scriptures and produce from this interpretation that potent drug called theology.

I,1,2 God’s judgment on this sex[that is women] lives on in our age; the guilt necessarily lives on as well. You are the Devil’s gateway; you are the unsealer of that tree; you are the first foresaker of the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the Devil was not brave enough to approach; you so lightly crushed the image of God, the man Adam; because of your punishment, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die. And you think to adorn yourself beyond your “tunics of skins”? (CSEL 70.59 as cited in Clark Women in the Early Church 39)

  2 comments for “Tertullian’s Disturbing View of Women

  1. September 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Wow…Tert should have read Romans 5 more carefully. Or Genesis 3.

    • Da Nu
      December 28, 2010 at 9:58 am

      You would compare a renowned thinker who related a treatise based solely on scripture with human philosophy? Human philosophy which has shown itself to be flawed in so many other areas?

      Romans 5 – sin through one man, free gift of life for all
      – written by Paul, so he is not such a ‘misogynist after all, surely if he was he would have taken this opportunity to blame woman, Eve, for everything.
      – sin through one man, yes, however how does this contradict what Tertullian wrote, his statements and conclusion?

      The emotion is strong, unapologetic and it disturbs you, well, be disturbed, then be placated by the knowledge that this quote rests solidly on Scripture, or will you be like the kings of Egypt, Israel and Babylon, the Pharisees of old?

      You call it bigotry, what is this word? It signifies hate and intolerance does it not? However Tertullian, here only expresses a series of facts zealously. Not once does he claim to hate, does he propose un-scriptural restraints.

      If you have a problem, it would seem that it is because you value too highly (over the Biblical) modern philosophies of gender equality and political correctness. Do not be surprised, true rather than pop Christianity has always been unpopular and so it should be.

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