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Tertullian - On the Flesh of Christ

The True Functions of the Soul. Christ Assumed It in His Perfect Human Nature, Not to Reveal and Explain It, But to Save It. Its Resurrection with the Body Assured by Christ.

Chapter XII.--The True Functions of the Soul. Christ Assumed It in His Perfect Human Nature, Not to Reveal and Explain It, But to Save It. Its Resurrection with the Body Assured by Christ.

Well, now, let it be granted that the soul is made apparent by the flesh, [7104] on the assumption that it was evidently necessary [7105] that it should be made apparent in some way or other, that is, as being incognizable to itself and to us: there is still an absurd distinction in this hypothesis, which implies that we are ourselves separate from our soul, when all that we are is soul. Indeed, [7106] without the soul we are nothing; there is not even the name of a human being, only that of a carcase. If, then, we are ignorant of the soul, it is in fact the soul that is ignorant of itself. Thus the only remaining question left for us to look into is, whether the soul was in this matter so ignorant of itself that it became known in any way it could. [7107] The soul, in my opinion, [7108] is sensual. [7109] Nothing, therefore, pertaining to the soul is unconnected with sense, [7110] nothing pertaining to sense is unconnected with the soul. [7111] And if I may use the expression for the sake of emphasis, I would say, "Animoe anima sensus est"--"Sense is the soul's very soul." Now, since it is the soul that imparts the faculty of perception [7112] to all (that have sense), and since it is itself that perceives the very senses, not to say properties, of them all, how is it likely that it did not itself receive sense as its own natural constitution? Whence is it to know what is necessary for itself under given circumstances, from the very necessity of natural causes, if it knows not its own property, and what is necessary for it? To recognise this indeed is within the competence of every soul; it has, I mean, a practical knowledge of itself, without which knowledge of itself no soul could possibly have exercised its own functions. [7113] I suppose, too, that it is especially suitable that man, the only rational animal, should have been furnished with such a soul as would make him the rational animal, itself being pre-eminently rational. Now, how can that soul which makes man a rational animal be itself rational if it be itself ignorant of its rationality, being ignorant of its own very self? So far, however, is it from being ignorant, that it knows its own Author, its own Master, and its own condition. Before it learns anything about God, it names the name of God. Before it acquires any knowledge of His judgment, it professes to commend itself to God. There is nothing one oftener hears of than that there is no hope after death; and yet what imprecations or deprecations does not the soul use according as the man dies after a well or ill spent life! These reflections are more fully pursued in a short treatise which we have written, "On the Testimony of the Soul." [7114] Besides, if the soul was ignorant of itself from the beginning, there is nothing it could [7115] have learnt of Christ except its own quality. [7116] It was not its own form that it learnt of Christ, but its salvation. For this cause did the Son of God descend and take on Him a soul, not that the soul might discover itself in Christ, but Christ in itself. For its salvation is endangered, not by its being ignorant of itself, but of the word of God. "The life," says He, "was manifested," [7117] not the soul. And again, "I am come to save the soul." He did not say, "to explain" [7118] it. We could not know, of course, [7119] that the soul, although an invisible essence, is born and dies, unless it were exhibited corporeally. We certainly were ignorant that it was to rise again with the flesh. This is the truth which it will be found was manifested by Christ. But even this He did not manifest in Himself in a different way than in some Lazarus, whose flesh was no more composed of soul [7120] than his soul was of flesh. [7121] What further knowledge, therefore, have we received of the structure [7122] of the soul which we were ignorant of before? What invisible part was there belonging to it which wanted to be made visible by the flesh?