|The Prodigal Son, Max Slevogt|
I found this image on a website in Russian (translated into English by Chrome, fortunately; "Orthodoxy and the World"). The web page collects a number of images of the Prodigal Son parable, and it includes this painting of the Prodigal Son by Max Slevogt that I had never seen before. Thought I'd use this painting for my last post on Tertullian.
As noted in a previous post (see part 6), Tertullian charges that the ingenious interpretations of the parables by the "heretics" are predetermined by their theological presuppositions: “Loosed as they are from the constraints of the rule of truth, they have had leisure, of course, to search into and put together those things of which the parables seem (to be symbolical).”
Instead of these "false interpretations," Tertullian wants to recover the meaning intended by Jesus: “our interpretation shall be simply governed with an eye to the object the Lord had in view.” Jesus came to save the perishing, so, as noted above, the younger brother signifies the “heathen” who could have recognized the wisdom of God but didn’t (cf. Rom. 1:21). Although they had received wisdom from God, they “squandered it” through their moral failings and handed themselves over to “the prince of this world.” Then, lacking the sustenance of “vital food,” they saw Christians engaged in God’s work, who had an “abundance of heavenly bread.” The heathen then “remember” that God is their Father and return to the father to receive “again” what they had lost through the transgression of Adam and to feed on the “‘fatness’ of the Lord’s body,—the Eucharist.” It is thus the “heathen” who return to God who become and objects of envy as noted by the text: “of course it is immediately over the first calling of the Christian that the Jew groans, not over his second restoration: for the former reflects its rays even upon the heathen; but the latter, which takes place in the churches, is not known even to the Jews.”
That ends the series of posts on Tertullian and the parables. I haven't decided yet where next to turn on the blog. Perhaps Origen.