An Essential Bibliography: Tertullian

Over the course of writing my Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit (TTS), I have had the opportunity (pleasure? trouble?) of reading almost everything under the sun related to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. As a service to others embarking on their own research into these ante-Nicene Fathers, I’ve made a list of what I have found to be the most helpful works for each of these figures. Please note that this is NOT by any means meant to be a comprehensive bibliography; I’ve only selected works that I think would be a good place for other researchers to start from (accordingly, I’ve focused almost exclusively on English-language monographs in this and previous bibliographies). Happy researching!



Timothy David BarnesTertullian: A Literary and Historical Study (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971). More recent surveys include Zilling (2004) and Henne (2011). This extremely influential book deconstructed the traditional biography of Tertullian (based on the writings of Eusebius and Jerome) and has thus been enormously important for subsequent researchers on Tertullian, although you will still find the pre-critical biography in many general works. Barnes’ proposed chronology of Tertullian’s writings is also most helpful.

J. Patout Burns, Jr., and Robin M. JensenChristianity in Roman Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014). See also Decret (2009). These are helpful overviews of the distinctive beliefs and rituals of early African Christianity that situate Tertullian in his historical context.

Eric OsbornTertullian: First Theologian of the West (Cambridge: CUP, 1997). This is probably the best single volume introduction to Tertullian’s theology on the market, covering all of the most significant themes across Tertullian’s writings.

David RankinTertullian and the Church (Cambridge: CUP, 1995). Rankin challenges the traditional view of Tertullian, which held that he formally left the orthodox church in order to join with a separate Montanist faction in Carthage.

Christine TrevettMontanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy (Cambridge: CUP, 1996). Trevett’s intriguing thesis is that the condemnation of Montanism likely stemmed from controversy over the nature of authority, with Montanism’s promotion of direct revelation threatening established church leadership. For other important works on the New Prophecy, see Heine (1989) and Tabbernee (1997).

David WilhiteTertullian the African: An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian’s Identities (Millennium-Studien 14; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2007). Wilhite also focuses on Tertullian’s African context, utilizing an anthropological perspective that some researchers will probably find more or less helpful than others.

**A word on texts and translations: most of Tertullan’s works can be found in either CCEL, FC, or SC, but note for Against Praxeas the most recent critical edition is that of Sieben (FC 34; 2001), based on the edition of Scarpat (1985), though the most recent English translation, with commentary, remains that of Evans (1948).


About krhughes14

Smyrna, Georgia
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