Seventeenth Century Polemic

Yesterday in one of the comments threads, Michael suggested naming a cat after the Manichees, and Jamie followed it up by observing (rightly) that Tertullian was a good name for a cat.

By complete coincidence, I was in the Bodleian later that afternoon reading about the early responses to Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan, and came across this passage from Alexander Rosse’s Leviathan Drawn Out With A Hook, which also mentions the Manichees and Tertullian side by side:

“Such and much more like stuff and smoke, doth this Leviathan send out of his nostrils. This is the spermacaetae or spawn which the whale casteth out… a whale that hath vomited up the condemned opinion of the hereticks, and chiefly the Anthropomorphits, Sabellians, Nestorians, Saduceans, Arabeans, Tacians or Eucratits, Manichies, Mahumetans, and others; for in holding life eternal to be only on earth, he is a Cerinthian and a Mahumetan; in giving God corporeity he is an Anthropomorphit, a Manichean, a Tertullianist and an Andean: in holding the Three Persons to be distinct names and essences… he is a Sabellian, a Montanist, an Aetian, and a Priscillianist. In saying that Christ personated God the Son, he is a Nestorian, giving him two personalities, and in denying spirits he is a Saducean: in making the soul to rest with the body till the resurrection he is an Arabian; in making the soul of man corporal he is a Luciferan, by putting a period to Hell he is an Origenist: in teaching dissimulation in religion he is a Tacian or Eucratit, in making God the cause of injustice or sin he is a Manichee; in slighting Christ’s miracles he is a Jew; and in making our natural reason the word of God he is a Socinian.”

I don’t think I know what a Priscillianist is, but I’m sure it’s not a good thing to be.

UPDATE [noon]: I’m reading Culverwell this morning, and he’s being rude about Priscillianists, too, grouping them with the Gnosticks and the Manichees. But this is helpful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *