Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Legal writing tip of the day

From Tertullian, who turns out to have his own website (h/t Larison - who else?):
Est sapor et in paucis.

There is power also in brevity.
... I am tempted to use the following in a statutory-interpretation context sometime, but probably won't:
But this is the usual way with perverse and ignorant heretics; yes, and by this time even with Psychics universally: to arm themselves with the opportune support of some one ambiguous passage, in opposition to the disciplined host of sentences of the entire document.
"The Secretary, like the 'perverse and ignorant heretics' whom Tertullian correctly criticized, ...."

(I am not sure who these "Psychics" were, but I think they may have been those who tolerated divorce and whose sexual morality was not up to Tertullian's gold standard, at least after he became a Montanist; the New Advent Encyclopedia simply equates the term with "catholics.")

... I am proud to report that, at least as of the evening of November 29, 2011, this humble site is the top Google hit for "perverse and ignorant heretics."


  1. I think the term was also used to describe certain variations of Gnosticism.

  2. That was my first thought too, but only a guess. And it does seem, from the worktime glance I gave T's screed, that it was one of his Montanist polemics against dirty filthy sluts who get divorced or otherwise compromise themselves, and are yet forgiven by the dirty filthy Catholic Church.

    ... Poor Augustine doesn't get enough credit for his big-tent approach to Christianity. Peter Brown's bio of him was an eye-opener.