Tertullian's law of paradise (adversus judaeos 2): Reflections on a shared motif in Jewish and Christian literature

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For both Jews and Christians, Genesis 2 is an important place for the discussion of natural law. The precept given at 2.16–17 was interpreted as a first manifestation of the divine law and its relationship to later forms of legislation was to be made explicit. One of the most influential theories was that of Augustine, who situated the law of nature in the pre-lapsarian age. But before Augustine, Tertullian of Carthage had proposed an important, albeit less influential, treatment of the question of the law of paradise. Indeed, in his Adversus Judaeos, Tertullian exploits Genesis 2.16–17 in the context of a Jewish-Christian polemics based on the question of the law. The originality of this treatment requires clarification because it may provide further insights not only into his view of paradise but also into his conception of the relationship between law and revelation, as well as on Jewish and Christian biblical exegesis. In this paper, I shall suggest that chapter 2 of Adversus Judaeos constitutes an original redeployment of Jewish traditions for polemic purposes. Tertullian's Adversus Judaeos has often been neglected in modern scholarship because of its doubtful authorship and poor literary quality. However, G. Dunn recently closed the gap by providing a rhetorical analysis of the treatise which supports its authenticity and textual integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationParadise in Antiquity
Subtitle of host publicationJewish and Christian Views
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9780511760648
ISBN (Print)9780521117869
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2010.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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