Tertullian was the first western Christian to write theology, defending Christians against the hostility of the Roman state, as well as arguing against Marcion, Praxeas and theosophical fantasy. A complex thinker, Tertullian has, in the modern era, been rejected by both liberal Christianity and its secular critics. But his ideas have become more accessible in our century, which has seen the destruction of Enlightenment beliefs that reason should lead to a quasi-mathematical system. The work of Goedel, Wittgenstein, Rorty and so many others has opened up the way for an understanding of Tertullian's passion for opposites, contingency and rational argument. For a long time misquoted and misused, Tertullian now calls for sustained analysis and interpretation. This book offers a major reappraisal of his theology and its influence on the shape of the western Christian tradition.
"Osborn has written what is quite simply the best introduction to the thought of Tertullian in any language." T. D. Barnes, Theological Studies "This highly readable and comprehensive work is a model of how historical theology should be done." Commonwealth "This is a book to be read, to ponder, and to order for college, university, and seminary library." David P. Efroymson, Journal of Early Christian Studies "With this work on Tertullian, E. Osborn makes a welcome addition to his earlier studies on Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria, as well as his others books on the development of early Christian theology, philosophy and moral thought." John Behr, St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly "...Osborn creates a welcome 'comic relief' from, and a very humane perspective upon, the high seriousness of his subject by a light but pervasive humor." Church History