TERTULLIAN AND PROPAGATION BY HOWARD JACOBSON Twice in his Adversus Marcionem Tertullian attacks the Marcionite opposition to marriage (1.29 and 4.23.6-7). In the course of his argu- ment, Tertullian notes that Marcion is even worse than the Biblical Pharaoh of Exodus: nam ille animas adimit, hic non dat; ille aufert de vita, hic non admittit in vitam (1.29.8) ; Pharao educari non sinebat infantes, iste nec nasci. (4.23.7). It appears that Tertullian's interesting and effective choice of Biblical example here was influenced by Jewish exegesis of the Exodus narrative. For it is a common midrashic elabora- tion that when Pharaoh decreed the casting of Jewish male-children into the Nile, Amram decreed that the Jewish men should divorce their wives and no longer engage in sexual intercourse, so as not to produce children who would inevitably be murdered. Upon hearing this, Amram's daughter Miriam approached him and said that he was even worse than Pharaoh, for Pharaoh only decreed against the male- children, while Amram's prohibition was directed against (potential) females as well; Pharaoh's decree deprived the children of only this world, Amram's of this and the next; and further, Pharaoh's decree might be somehow or in some measure thwarted, whereas Amram's was utterly final. As a consequence of her remarks, the men remarried their wives and so Moses was born (see e.g. Pesiqta Rabbati, ed. Friedmann, ch. 43 pp. 180a-b; Talmud Bavli, Sotah 12a). Tertullian has taken the essential argumentation of Miriam against the choice of celibacy and transferred the context to his theoretical argument against Marcion's views on marriage.' I University of Illinois, Urbana
Vigiliae Christianae – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1989
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