Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus (CE160-CE 225) was the first significant Christian author to write in Latin, and one of the most prolific. As early church historian Jerome wrote:
Now finally Tertullian the presbyter is ranked first of the Latin writers after Victor and Apollonius.
A brilliant writer, he was known for his wit, his biting criticism of opposing viewpoints, and his sarcasm; aspects of his writing that transcend translation such that they are obvious even to the modern English reader. Jerome summed it up well when he said:
He possessed a sharp and violent talent, and flourished in the reigns of Severus and Caracalla. He wrote many volumes, which I shall omit because they are well-known. I myself saw a certain Paul, an old man of Concordia (which is a town in Italy): he told me that as a youth he had seen a man at Rome, who had been the secretary of the aged Cyprian, and who recalled that Cyprian would never let a day pass without reading Tertullian, and that he often said to him 'Give me my master', clearly meaning Tertullian.
Tertullian did the Church the service of crystalizing the concept of the Trinity (or at least the vocabulary used to describe the Trinity), elucidating the sin nature of man and the salvation purchased by Christ, defending the chain of custody as concerns the truth about Christ, and arguing for the literal second coming of Christ.
Like any human author, Tertullian was not without error. Some of his writings and formulations were later adapted to justify legalistic doctrines. But a circumspect examination of his writings is well worth the while of a dedicated student of the history of theology and the Church.