Tertullus, Tertulius

TERTULLUS, TERTULIUS (têr-tŭl'ŭs, Gr. Tertyllos). A diminutive of Tertius. It was the name of the professional advocate used by the Jews to state their case against Paul before Felix, procurator of Judea (Acts.24.1). Only a few words of Tertullus’s elaborate oration are given, but they are enough to reveal the nature of his rhetoric and the character of his accusation. He may have been a Roman, for there is a Latin ring to some of his phrases as they appear in Luke’s Greek, and his name is Latin, though this does not necessarily fix his nationality. He was obviously trained in the art of contemporary rhetoric, and what impressed Luke was his elaborate introduction, drawing positive attention toward Felix. (Calvin thought such a subterfuge “a sign of bad faith.”) It is rather a traditional courtesy; and the device, without the self-seeking flattery, is to be distinguished also in the opening phrases of Paul’s reply (Acts.24.10).