Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 2246
Presbyter Tertullian of Carthage (North Africa) is considered one of the most illustrious Latin Christian writers. Later in his life he started to follow the teachings of Montanus. Jerome, "On Illustrious Men", Betlehem, AD 392-393.
TERTULLIANUS presbyter nunc demum primus post Victorem et Apollonium Latinorum ponitur, prouinciae Africae, ciuitatis Carthaginiensis, patre centurione proconsulari. Hic acris et uehementis ingenii, sub Seuero principe et Antonino Caracalla maxime floruit, multa que scripsit uolumina, quae, quia nota sunt plurimis, praetermittimus. Vidi ego quendam Paulum Concordiae (oppidum Italiae) senem, qui se beati Cypriani iam grandis aetatis notarium, cum ipse admodum esset adulescens, Romae uidisse diceret referret que sibi, solitum numquam Cyprianum absque Tertulliani lectione unam praeterisse diem ac sibi crebro dicere, "Da magistrum"! Tertullianum uidelicet significans.
Hic usque ad mediam aetatem presbyter ecclesiae, inuidia postea et contumeliis clericorum Romanae ecclesiae ad Montani dogma delapsus, in multis libris nouae prophetiae meminit. Specialiter autem aduersum ecclesiam texuit uolumina De pudicitia, De persecutione, De ieiuniis, De monogamia, De exstasi libros sex, et septimum, quem Aduersus Apollonium conposuit, fertur que uixisse usque ad decrepitam aetatem et multa quae non extant opuscula edidisse.
(ed. Cushing Richardson 1896: 31-32)
Now finally Tertullian the presbyter is ranked first of the Latin writers after Victor [bishop of Rome] and Apollonius [the Apologist]. He was from the province of Africa, from the city of Carthage where his father was proconsular centurion [in the service of proconsule???].
A man of impetous temperament, he was in his prime in the reign of the emperor Severus and Antoninus Caracalla, and he wrote many works which I need not name since they are very widely known.
At Concordia, a town in Italy, I saw an old man named Paul, who said that, when he was still a very young man, he had seen in Rome a very old man who had been secretary of blessed Cyprian and had reported to him that Cyprian was accustomed never to pass a day without reading Tertullian and would frequently say to him, "Hand me the master," meaning, of course, Tertullian.
This one was a presbyter of the church until his middle years, but later, because of the envy and reproaches of the clerics of the Roman church, he had lapsed into Montanism, and he makes mention of the New Prophecy in many books.
In particular, he composed against the church the works
On Modesty;
On Persecution;
On Fasting;
On Monogamy;
six books On Ecstasy and a seventh [added] which he composed Against Apollonius.
He is said to have lived to a very old age and to have composed many works which are not extant.
(trans. Halton 1999: 74-75, slightly altered by J. Szafranowski)


This passage is the earliest evidence for Tertullian's presbyterate. It must be noted, however, that Jerome's account is generally considered far-fetched and the occupation of Tertullian's father, his own clerical and judical carreer, and even his "conversion" to Montanism are all being seriously questioned (Dunn 2004: 2).
It is impossible to establish the exact years of Tertullian's life. The majority of scholars, however, date his works with some precision to the period between the years 197 and 217, see Rankin 1995: xiv-xvii.

Place of event:

  • Latin North Africa
  • Carthage

About the source:

Author: Jerome of Stridon
Title: On Illustrious Men, De viris illustribus, De viris inlustribus De viris inlustribus, On the Lives of Famous Men
Origin: Bethlehem (East)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
At the beginning and end of his De viris illustribus, Jerome writes that he finished the book in the fourteenth year of Theodosius` reign, that is, between 19 January 392 and 18 January 393. The De viris illustribus contains short biographies of 135 Christian authors, with Jerome himself being the subject of the last. The goal of Jerome`s project was to manifest that Christian literature should be seen on a par with the pagan literature in terms of both the quantity of great writers and the quality of their work. The dedicatee of the De viris illustribus is Flavius Lucius Dexter, a Roman official in the service of Theodosius and son of Bishop Pacianus of Barcelona.
E. Cushing Richardson ed., Hieronymus liber De viris inlustribus; Gennadius liber De viris inlustribus, Leipzig 1896.
Jerome, On Illustrious Men, trans. Th.P. Halton, The Fathers of the Church 100, Washington 1999.
G.D. Dunn, Tertullian, London-New York 2004.
D. Rankin, Tertullian and the Church, Cambridge 1995.


Social origin or status - Soldiers
Religious grouping (other than Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian) - Montanist
Change of denomination
Functions within the Church - Urban presbyter
Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
Reverenced by
Writing activity
Education - Theological interest
Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: J. Szafranowski, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER2246,