My friend Virgil Brower pointed out to me a bizarre passage in Tertullian’s Apology (Perseus link):
Minus autem et illi faciunt qui libidine fera humanis membris inhiant, quia vivos vorant? minus humano sanguine ad spurcitiam consecrantur, quia futurum sanguinem lambunt? Non edunt infantes plane, sed magis puberes.
The broader context is that Tertullian is defending Christians against a form of blood libel. The Loeb edition simply skips over these sentences in the translation. The ANF has the following:
And do those, who, with savage lust, seize on human bodies, do less because they devour the living? Have they less the pollution of human blood on them because they only lick up what is to turn into blood? They make meals, it is plain, not so much of infants, as of grown-up men.
What is going on here? Is it a veiled reference to oral sex?
Those of us who do work on the patristic writers have the dubious privilege of easy access to the Ante-Nicene Fathers/Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translations online from multiple sources. I decided to take advantage of this by creating my own online anthology for my “Classical Christian Thought” course, a task that proved to be much more labor-intensive than I thought but that I hope will have the benefits of providing students with full texts (rather than the incredibly small excerpts one usually finds) and with common page numbers to aid discussion. I also tinkered somewhat with the formatting and antiquated language, but didn’t get as far with that as anticipated. In most cases, I included a link to my source for the text; sometimes I copied and pasted the footnotes, and sometimes I left the footnotes as hyperlinks that you can follow to the original website if desired.
In any case, in the interest of helping my colleagues in every possible way, I have posted the PDFs below. Of particular interest might be my selections from Against Heresies, which cuts the length to about a third and makes the text usable for class — and since I have somehow managed to read the text all the way through twice, compile detailed notes, and write a dissertation chapter on it, hopefully you will find me to be a trustworthy excerpter.
Continue reading “Patristic PDFs: A love story”