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ANF03. Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian
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Chapter XXXIII.—So Much for the Prophetic Scriptures.  In the Gospels, Christ’s Parables, as Explained by Himself, Have a Clear Reference to the Resurrection of the Flesh.

This is evidence enough from the prophetic Scriptures. I now appeal to the Gospels. But here also I must first meet the same sophistry as advanced by those who contend that the Lord, like (the prophets), said everything in the way of allegory, because it is written: “All these things spake Jesus in parables, and without a parable spake He not unto them,”74967496    Matt. xiii. 34. that is, to the Jews. Now the disciples also asked Him, “Why speakest Thou in parables?”74977497    Ver. 10. And the Lord gave them this answer: “Therefore I speak unto them in parables: because they seeing, see not; and hearing, they hear not, according to the prophecy of Esaias.”74987498    Matt. xiii. 13; comp. Isa. vi. 9. But since it was to the Jews that He spoke in parables, it was not then to all men; and if not to all, it follows that it was not always and in all things parables with Him, but only in certain things, and when addressing a particular class. But He addressed a particular class when He spoke to the Jews. It is true that He spoke sometimes even to the disciples in parables. But observe how the Scripture relates such a fact:  “And He spake a parable unto them.”74997499    See Luke vi. 39; comp. with ver. 20, and other places, especially in this Gospel. It follows, then, that He did not usually address them in parables; because if He always did so, special mention would not be made of His resorting to this mode of address. Besides, there is not a parable which you will not find to be either explained by the Lord Himself, as that of the sower, (which He interprets) of the management of the word of God;75007500    See Luke viii. 11. or else cleared by a preface from the writer of the Gospel, as in the parable of the arrogant judge and the importunate widow, which is expressly applied to earnestness in prayer;75017501    See Luke xviii. 1. or capable of being spontaneously understood,75027502    Such cases of obvious meaning, which required no explanation, are referred to in Matt. xxi. 45 and Luke xx. 19. as in the parable of the fig-tree, which was spared a while in hopes of improvement—an emblem of Jewish sterility.  Now, if even parables obscure not the light of the gospel, how unlikely it is that plain sentences and declarations, which have an unmistakeable meaning, should signify any other thing than their literal sense! But it is by such declarations and sentences that the Lord sets forth either the last judgment, or the kingdom, or the resurrection: “It shall be more tolerable,” He says, “for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.”75037503    Matt. xi. 22. And “Tell them that the kingdom of God is at hand.”75047504    Matt. x. 7. And again, “It shall be recompensed to you at the resurrection of the just.”75057505    Luke xiv. 14. Now, if the mention of these events (I mean the judgment-day, and the kingdom of God, and the resurrection) has a plain and absolute sense, so that nothing about them can be pressed into an allegory, neither should those statements be forced into parables which describe the arrangement, and the process, and the experience of the kingdom of God, and of the judgment, and of the resurrection. On the contrary, things which are destined for the body should be carefully understood in a bodily sense,—not in a spiritual sense, as having nothing figurative in their nature. This is the reason why we have laid it down as a preliminary consideration, that the bodily substance both of the soul and of the flesh is liable to the recompense, which will have to be awarded in return for the co-operation of the two natures, that so the corporeality of the soul may not exclude the bodily nature of the flesh by suggesting a recourse to figurative descriptions, since both of them must needs be regarded as destined to take part in the kingdom, and the judgment, and the resurrection. And now we proceed to the special proof of this proposition, that the bodily character of the flesh is indicated by our Lord whenever He mentions the resurrection, at the same time without disparagement to the corporeal nature of the soul,—a point which has been actually admitted but by a few.


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