'''Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus''', more commonly known as '''Tertullian of Carthage''', was a prolific Christian writer, activist, and [[apologist]] of the late second century who took part in the issues of doctrine debated during the early years of Christianity. His works
provides us with some of the best witness in the West of Orthodox Christian thinking and practices of the times. He helped to establish Latin as an ecclesiastical language, paralleling that of Greek. During his early years he denounced doctrines considered [[heresy|heretical]] at the time, but in the latter apart of his life he began to adopt views that were considered [[schism]]atic if not heretical themselves. Thus, while having contributed much to defining Orthodoxy, he ended his life leading his own sect after have joining the [[Montanism|Montanist movement]].
What little is known of Tertullian's life is from references in his writings and from the writings of [[Eusebius of Caesarea]] and [[Jerome]], who wrote in the 4th century. Tertullian was born about the year 155 in Carthage in North Africa into a pagan family. His father is believed to have been a centurion or ''aide de camp'' in the Roman army in Africa. He was educated
in an environment in Carthage that was noted as a home of orators. He was knowledgeable in Greek as well as Latin. Although the works are no longer available today, he notes in his own writings his authorship of three books written in Greek. Being scholarly and in such an educated environment he received a very good education, studying mainly jurisprudence. By profession he appears to have been an advocate in the law courts of Rome. Apparently, he was a [[pagan]] until mid life. He was a married man, evidenced by letters to his wife. It was while in Rome that he became interested in Christianity, but became active after returning to Carthage. He apparently was impressed by Christian beliefs and attitudes such as the moral attitudes of Christians and strong belief in one God.
Tertullian became a Christian about 197 and soon became a leader in the church in
north Africa. It is believed his [[conversion]] was sudden. This belief is based on the images of Christian life that he presents in his writings. Some believe he became a [[priest]], probably about the year 200, in the church in Carthage.
About 207, he turned to Montanism, a schismatic sect, leaving the mainline Orthodox church. Apparently he was influenced by the sect's stringent moralism, and he was an active exponent of the schism, becoming a leader of the sect in Carthage. His secession from
the Orthodox is cloudy. Some view that his departure may have been forced after the Bishop of Rome disapproved of Montanism, resulting in the [[excommunication]] in Carthage of many of the most ardent Montanists.
Regardless of his schism, Tertullian continued to fight the heresies, particularly [[Gnosticism]]. His doctrinal works were influential on Cyprian. In time he found the Montanists not rigorous enough. So he founded his own group, the Tertullianists, which as group continued to exist in
north Africa until the 5th century. His latest writings date to no later than 220. The date of his death is not known, but [[Jerome]] noted that he lived to an old age.