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|Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus|
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We, however, have but one God, and but one earth too, which in the beginning God made. The Scripture, which at its very outset proposes to run through the order thereof tells us as its first information that it was created; it next proceeds to set forth what sort of earth it was. In like manner with respect to the heaven, it informs us first of its creation "In the beginning God made the heaven:" it then goes on to introduce its arrangement; how that God both separated "the water which was below the firmament from that which was above the firmament," and called the firmament heaven, the very thing He had created in the beginning. Similarly it (afterwards) treats of man: "And God created man, in the image of God made He him." It next reveals how He made him: "And (the Lord) God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Now this is undoubtedly the correct and fitting mode for the narrative. First comes a prefatory statement, then follow the details in full; first the subject is named, then it is described. How absurd is the other view of the account, when even before he had premised any mention of his subject, i.e. Matter, without even giving us its name, he all on a sudden promulged its form and condition, describing to us its quality before mentioning its existence, pointing out the figure of the thing formed, but concealing its name! But how much more credible is our opinion, which holds that Scripture has only subjoined the arrangement of the subject after it has first duly described its formation and mentioned its name! Indeed, how full and complete is the meaning of these words: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; but the earth was without form, and void," the very same earth, no doubt, which God made, and of which the Scripture had been speaking at that very moment. For that very "but" is inserted into the narrative like a clasp, (in its function) of a conjunctive particle, to connect the two sentences indissolubly together: "But the earth." This word carries back the mind to that earth of which mention had just been made, and binds the sense thereunto. Take away this "but," and the tie is loosened; so much so that the passage, "But the earth was without form, and void," may then seem to have been meant for any other earth.