A bizarre passage in Tertullian

My friend Virgil Brower pointed out to me a bizarre passage in Tertullian’s Apology (Perseus link):

Minus autem et illi faciunt qui libidine fera humanis membris inhiant, quia vivos vorant? minus humano sanguine ad spurcitiam consecrantur, quia futurum sanguinem lambunt? Non edunt infantes plane, sed magis puberes.

The broader context is that Tertullian is defending Christians against a form of blood libel. The Loeb edition simply skips over these sentences in the translation. The ANF has the following:

And do those, who, with savage lust, seize on human bodies, do less because they devour the living? Have they less the pollution of human blood on them because they only lick up what is to turn into blood? They make meals, it is plain, not so much of infants, as of grown-up men.

What is going on here? Is it a veiled reference to oral sex?

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2 Responses to “A bizarre passage in Tertullian”

  1. Adam Kotsko Says:

    I guess it wasn’t as weird as I thought.


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