De monogamia
(On marrying only once)

[CPL 28]

Latin: Bulhart, 1957 --- English: Thelwall, 1870 --- Genoude, 1852 --- German: Kellner, 1882; Kellner, 1915

Summary Content Other points of interest Manuscripts Title variations Bibliography


The New Prophecy banned remarriage after being widowed, whereas Christians of Tertullian's day generally allowed it, although not liking it. Tertullian attacks this laxity.  The work is entirely from a Montanist perspective.






  1. Tertullian refers to the events of the gospels as being 160 years ago (3:10).

  2. In reviewing texts from scripture, he refers to 'the order of our canon' (7:1).

  3. "A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commit any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?" (9:5)

  4. The Romans did not legalise divorce until after 600 AUC, and now just commit adultery without bothering to divorce. (9:11)

  5. A widow and her dead husband: "Indeed, she prays for his soul, and requests refreshment for him meanwhile, and fellowship (with him) in the first resurrection; and she offers (her sacrifice) on the anniversaries of his falling asleep." (10:5)

  6. Tertullian uses aliquis (some) as an adjective of contempt here, of Epicurus (10:7) and Hermogenes (16:1).

  7. Married people will be together in heaven. (10:9)

  8. The word capitulum is used to refer to a passage of scripture. (11:8, 11:14, and others)

  9. Principles of biblical interpretation: "it is easier (of belief) that that one passage should have some explanation agreeable with the others, than that an apostle should seem to have taught (principles) mutually diverse." (11:8) and "This will be the interpretation of that passage, to be examined as to whether it be congruous with the time and the occasion, and with the examples and arguments preceding as well as with the sentences and senses succeeding, and primarily with the individual advice and practice of the apostle himself: for nothing is so much to be guarded as (the care) that no one be found self-contradictory." (11:19)

  10. Tertullian refers to the 'Greek original' of a text, and to a corruption in the version (Latin?) in circulation. (11:16)

  11. A psychical bishop who wasn't even ashamed to violate the Roman Scantinian law -- which condemned homosexuality -- is mentioned with disgust. (12:6)

  12. Hermogenes (from Adversus Hermogenem) is mentioned contemptuously; the authority for serial marriage must be "some Hermogenes----wont to marry more women than he paints." (16:1)

  13. Chapter 17 gives examples of pagan monogamy, such as Dido, and mentions that the Pontifex maximus and the Flamen's wife married only once, in order to shame Christians who have abandoned paganism for the superior morality of Christ.


The text of this work was transmitted to us in two collections:

1. The Corbie collection.  All MSS are lost, but copies were used for the 1545, 1550 and 1583/4 early editions.

2. It is also found in the Cluny collection. (q.v.).  The primary witnesses, therefore, are:

Possibly also to be considered are:

which may or may not have some independent witness.  Many consider them simply copies of F, however.


INCIPIT DE MONOGAMIA Florentinus Magliebechianus, Conventi soppressi VI, 9 (N)
Incipit liber de monogamia Luxemburgensis 75 (X)

Note the following in the margin of N:

lege (?) caute hunc librum quia damnat secundas et manifeste tenet errorem montani et priscille... 6o folio paraclitum abstulisse quod paulus indulserat


Unless otherwise indicated, details are from Quasten's Patrology, 2 (1955). See also Editions page and Critical Editions page for more information.

[Note: I need to add some biblio, from l'Annee Phil. for the years 1954-1974 and from CTC after that].


F. OEHLER, Q.S.F. Tertulliani opera omnia, ed. maior 1, Leipzig, 1853, 761-787. Checked.
E. DEKKERS, CCSL 2 (1954), 1227-1254. Checked.
V. BULHART, CSEL 76 (1957) 44-78. Checked.  Online complete.
Paul MATTEI, Le Marriage Unique. Sources Chrétiennes 343 (1988). 419pp. Checked. Introduction, critical text, translation & commentary.
Renato UGLIONE, Le uniche nozze; edizione critica con introduzione, traduzione, note e indici, Torino, Societŕ editrice internazionale, 1993 (Corona Patrum) Critical edition with intro, translation, notes and indexes. (Details by Dr. Andrea Nicolotti)


English: S. THELWALL, ANCL 18 (1870) pp.21-55; reprinted ANF 4 (1885), pp. 59-72.  Online.  Checked.
-- W. P. LE SAINT, Tertullian, Treatises on Marriage and Remarriage (Ancient Christian Writers 13). Westminster, Md., 1951, 70-108.
French: A. DE GENOUDE, De la Monogamie. Oeuvres de Tertullien2, Paris (1852). t. 2 (Details from BNF catalogue).
-- Paul MATTEI, loc. cit., 1988.
H. KELLNER-G. ESSER, Über die einmalige Ehe, BKV2 24 (1916), pp.473-518.  Online.
Dutch: H. U. MEYBOOM, Leiden, 1930.
Italian: C. MORESCHINI, Opere scelte di Quinto Settimo Florente Tertulliano. (Classici UTET). Turin, 1974. (Details from CTC 99, 5).
-- Pier Angelo GRAMAGLIA, Tertulliano, Il matrimonio nel cristianesimo preniceno. Roma : Borla, [1988]. 519 p. ; 21 cm. ( Cultura cristiana antica) Contiene, in trad. italiana: Ad uxorem, De exortatione castitatis, De monogamia. ISBN 88-263-0452-1 : L. 40000. (Details from BN Florence OPAC).
-- Renato UGLIONE, Q. S. F. Tertulliano, Le uniche nozze. Torino : Societŕ editrice internazionale (1993) 348 p. ; 23 cm. ( Corona Patrum ; 15.) ISBN 88-05-05333-3 : L. 45000. (Details from BN Florence OPAC). (Also includes critical text)
Hungarian: László VANYÓ &c, Tertullianus muvei (The works of Tertullian), Budapest: Szent István Társulat (1986) 1100pp. (Ókeresztény frók 12). (Details CTC 2002.75).  The older translations of István Városi (Pat, Apol, Orat, Ux, Cult) and Marcell Mosolygó (Mart) have been recycled; the rest are new.


J. KÖHNE, Über die Mischehen in den ersten christlichen Zeiten: ThGl 23 (1931) 333-350; 
Die kirchliche Eheschließungsformen in der Zeit Tertullians: ThGl 23 (1931) 645-654; 
Die Ehe zwischen Christen und Heiden in den ersten christlichen Jahrhunderten. Paderborn, 1931.
J. DELAZER, De insolubilitate matrimonii iuxta Tertullianum : Antonianum 7 (1932) 441-464.
J. C. PLUMPE, Some Recommendations Regarding the Text of Tertullians 'De monogamia': TS 12 (1950) 557-559.

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