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Tertullus

TERTULLUS

ter-tul'-us, ter- (Tertullos, diminutive of Latin tertius, "third"):, An orator who descended with Ananias the high priest and elders from Jerusalem to Caesarea to accuse Paul before Felix the Roman governor (Acts 24:1). Tertullus was a hired pleader whose services were necessary that the case for the Jews might be stated in proper form. Although he bore a Roman name, he was not necessarily a Roman; Roman names were common both among Greeks and Jews, and most orators were at this time of eastern extraction. Nor is it definitely to be concluded from the manner of his speech (Acts 24:2-8) that he was a Jew; it has always been customary for lawyers to identify themselves in their pleading with their clients. His speech before Felix is marked by considerable ingenuity. It begins with an adulation of the governorship of Felix that was little in accord with history (see FELIX); and the subsequent argument is an example of how a strong case may apparently be made out by the skillful manipulation of half-truths. Thus the riot at Jerusalem was ascribed to the sedition-mongering of Paul, who thereby proved himself an enemy of Roman rule and Jewish religion, both of which Felix was pledged to uphold. Again, the arrest of Paul was not an act of mob violence, but was legally carried out by the high priests and elders in the interests of peace; and but for the unwarranted interference of Lysias (see LYSIAS), they would have dealt with the prisoner in their own courts and thus have avoided trespassing on the time of Felix. They were, however, perfectly willing to submit the whole case to his jurisdiction. It is interesting to compare this speech of Tertullus with the true account, as given in Acts 21:27-35, and also with the letter of Lysias (Acts 23:26-30).

C. M. Kerr


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'TERTULLUS'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.