|31. Origen, Against Celsus, 1, 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.8, 1.9, 1.10, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15, 1.16, 1.17, 1.19, 1.20, 1.21, 1.22, 1.23, 1.24, 1.25, 1.26, 1.27, 1.28, 1.28-2.79, 1.32, 1.34, 1.38, 1.39, 1.50, 1.57, 1.62, 1.66, 1.67, 1.68, 1.69, 2, 2.1, 2.4, 2.5, 2.9, 2.11, 2.13, 2.14, 2.16, 2.22, 2.24, 2.26, 2.27, 2.28, 2.34, 2.42, 2.48, 2.49, 2.55, 2.56, 2.58, 2.60, 2.68, 3.1, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.13, 3.14, 3.16, 3.17, 3.18, 3.19, 3.22, 3.23, 3.24, 3.26, 3.27, 3.28, 3.29, 3.30, 3.31, 3.32, 3.34, 3.35, 3.37, 3.38, 3.39, 3.41, 3.42, 3.50, 3.52, 3.55, 3.59, 3.60, 3.75, 3.80, 3.80.1, 3.80.26, 3.80.27, 4.1, 4.2, 4.4, 4.10, 4.11, 4.14, 4.21, 4.23, 4.31, 4.32, 4.33, 4.34, 4.35, 4.36, 4.38, 4.39, 4.41, 4.43, 4.45, 4.47, 4.48, 4.49, 4.50, 4.51, 4.52, 4.54, 4.73, 4.74, 4.75, 4.78, 4.79, 4.81, 4.83, 4.84, 4.86, 4.87, 4.88, 5.3, 5.6, 5.14, 5.25, 5.26, 5.33, 5.34, 5.35, 5.41, 5.45, 5.46, 5.50, 5.52, 5.54, 5.55, 5.59, 5.61, 5.62, 5.63, 5.64, 6.1, 6.2, 6.6, 6.7, 6.9, 6.10, 6.12, 6.16, 6.17, 6.18, 6.19, 6.20, 6.21, 6.22, 6.23, 6.24, 6.25, 6.26, 6.27, 6.28, 6.29, 6.30, 6.31, 6.32, 6.33, 6.34, 6.35, 6.36, 6.37, 6.38, 6.40, 6.42, 6.47, 6.49, 6.50, 6.59, 6.60, 6.61, 6.63, 6.74, 6.78, 7, 7.3, 7.9, 7.10, 7.11, 7.18, 7.20, 7.28, 7.32, 7.33, 7.34, 7.40, 7.42, 7.43, 7.45, 7.53, 7.58, 7.62, 7.68, 7.69, 8.2, 8.11, 8.12, 8.14, 8.17, 8.40, 8.45, 8.48, 8.49, 8.62, 8.63, 8.66, 8.68, 8.69, 8.71, 8.75 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)
Tagged with subjects: • Alexander of Aphrodisias, and Celsus • Celsus • Celsus (Platonic philosopher), • Celsus on • Celsus, • Celsus, Logos Alethes • Celsus, Lot’s daughters • Celsus, against the superiority of humans over animals • Celsus, and Alexander of Aphrodisias • Celsus, and Epicureanism • Celsus, and Origen • Celsus, and Platonism • Celsus, and Stoicism • Celsus, criticism of creation sequence • Celsus, criticism of scripture • Celsus, knowledge of Bible • Celsus, legacy • Celsus, life • Celsus, moral critique of bible • Celsus, on God • Celsus, on Jesus • Celsus, on Jesus's appearance before Mary Magdalene, • Celsus, on fate (εἱμαρμένη) • Celsus, on providence (πρόνοια) • Celsus, on resurrection • Celsus, serpent • Christianity, relationship to Rome according to Celsus • Egyptian religion, Celsus on • Epicurus/Epicureans/Epicureanism, and Celsus • God, according to Celsus • Jesus, according to Celsus • Jews and Judaism, Christianity compared by Celsus to • Origen, Celsus on generational punishment • Origen, and Celsus • Platonists/Platonism/Plato, and Celsus • Stoics/Stoicism, and Celsus • Tatian and Celsus • Tatian and Celsus,, Middle Platonism of • Tatian and Celsus,, ancient/barbarian wisdom, development of interest in • Tatian and Celsus,, biographical information • Tatian and Celsus,, education of Christians and • Tatian and Celsus,, mystery religions, Celsus on • Tatian and Celsus,, philosophical history and Christian deviance, Celsus on • Tatian and Celsus,, universalism, Hellenic, versus Christian exclusivism • True Discourse, of Celsus, Christians and the Roman empire • True Discourse, of Celsus, God • True Discourse, of Celsus, Jesus • True Discourse, of Celsus, Jesus’s followers • True Discourse, of Celsus, eschatology • True Discourse, of Celsus, general characteristics • True Discourse, of Celsus, prophecy • True Discourse, of Celsus, superiority of Greek culture • True Discourse, of Celsus, themes • True Doctrine (Celsus) • biblical interpretation, Celsus’ attack on allegorical interpretation • culture, superiority of Greek culture according to Celsus • demons, Celsus on • eschatology, according to Celsus • fate (εἱμαρμένη), Celsus on • gods, Celsus on • non-literal interpretation, Celsus • predestination (προόρισις), Celsus on
Found in books: Ayres and Ward (2021), The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual, 3, 49, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 76, 110; Berglund Crostini and Kelhoffer (2022), Why We Sing: Music, Word, and Liturgy in Early Christianity, 396; Bloch (2022), Ancient Jewish Diaspora: Essays on Hellenism, 43, 156, 293, 294; Boulluec (2022), The Notion of Heresy in Greek Literature in the Second and Third Centuries, 383, 469, 470, 471, 472, 473, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 479, 480, 481, 482, 483, 484, 485; Bowersock (1997), Fiction as History: Nero to Julian, 95, 96, 118; Bremmer (2017), Magic and Martyrs in Early Christianity: Collected Essays, 15; Brenk and Lanzillotta (2023), Plutarch on Literature, Graeco-Roman Religion, Jews and Christians, 139; Brouwer and Vimercati (2020), Fate, Providence and Free Will: Philosophy and Religion in Dialogue in the Early Imperial Age, 275, 276, 277, 279, 280, 281, 285, 289; Bryan (2018), Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy, 207; Corrigan and Rasimus (2013), Gnosticism, Platonism and the Late Ancient World, 200, 294, 388; Damm (2018), Religions and Education in Antiquity, 163; Dawson (2001), Christian Figural Reading and the Fashioning of Identity, 77; Dieleman (2005), Priests, Tongues, and Rites: The London-Leiden Magical Manuscripts and Translation in Egyptian Ritual (100–300 CE), 5; Dijkstra (2020), The Early Reception and Appropriation of the Apostle Peter (60-800 CE): The Anchors of the Fisherman, 108; Erler et al. (2021), Authority and Authoritative Texts in the Platonist Tradition, 150; Esler (2000), The Early Christian World, 844, 845, 846, 847, 851, 852, 853, 854, 855, 856, 857, 858, 859, 860; Fowler (2014), Plato in the Third Sophistic, 21, 172, 177, 178, 188, 213, 214; Grypeou and Spurling (2009), The Exegetical Encounter between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity, 248; Gunderson (2022), The Social Worlds of Ancient Jews and Christians: Essays in Honor of L. Michael White, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 198; Harkins and Maier (2022), Experiencing the Shepherd of Hermas, 45; Hirsch-Luipold (2022), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts, 118; Huttner (2013), Early Christianity in the Lycus Valley, 204, 205, 255; James (2021), Learning the Language of Scripture: Origen, Wisdom, and the Logic of Interpretation, 53, 158; Janowitz (2002), Magic in the Roman World: Pagans, Jews and Christians, 19, 25, 27; Janowitz (2002b), Icons of Power: Ritual Practices in Late Antiquity, 34, 35, 98; Joosse (2021), Olympiodorus of Alexandria: Exegete, Teacher, Platonic Philosopher, 231; Keith (2020), The Gospel as Manuscript: An Early History of the Jesus Tradition as Material Artifact, 187; Lampe (2003), Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries: From Paul to Valentinus, 202; Lieu (2004), Christian Identity in the Jewish and Graeco-Roman World, 84, 294; Malherbe et al. (2014), Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J, 214, 670, 792, 863; McGowan (1999), Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals, 62; Neusner Green and Avery-Peck (2022), Judaism from Moses to Muhammad: An Interpretation: Turning Points and Focal Points, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 172, 173, 174, 175, 176, 177; Penniman (2017), Raised on Christian Milk: Food and the Formation of the Soul in Early Christianity, 129; Pomeroy (2021), Chrysostom as Exegete: Scholarly Traditions and Rhetorical Aims in the Homilies on Genesis, 29, 104, 136, 179, 264; Poorthuis and Schwartz (2014), Saints and role models in Judaism and Christianity, 114; Rasimus (2009), Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking: Rethinking Sethianism in Light of the Ophite Evidence, 10, 15, 16, 17, 19, 68, 69, 75, 96, 111, 112, 113, 226, 227, 241, 245, 246, 248; Reed (2005), Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity: The Reception of Enochic Literature. 148; Schliesser et al. (2021), Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World. 285, 383, 384, 490; Stroumsa (1996), Hidden Widsom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism. 32, 34, 95, 101, 102, 103, 126, 165; Tomson (2019), Studies on Jews and Christians in the First and Second Centuries. 634; Van der Horst (2014), Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, 90, 198; Wardy and Warren (2018), Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy, 207; Xenophontos and Marmodoro (2021), The Reception of Greek Ethics in Late Antiquity and Byzantium, 108; deJauregui (2010), Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity, 80, 84, 99, 124, 173, 213, 214, 234, 235, 236, 237, 240, 242, 243, 247, 248, 252, 264, 277, 282, 324, 330, 333, 342, 343, 345, 359, 372
1. When false witnesses testified against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, He remained silent; and when unfounded charges were brought against Him, He returned no answer, believing that His whole life and conduct among the Jews were a better refutation than any answer to the false testimony, or than any formal defense against the accusations. And I know not, my pious Ambrosius, why you wished me to write a reply to the false charges brought by Celsus against the Christians, and to his accusations directed against the faith of the Churches in his treatise; as if the facts themselves did not furnish a manifest refutation, and the doctrine a better answer than any writing, seeing it both disposes of the false statements, and does not leave to the accusations any credibility or validity. Now, with respect to our Lord's silence when false witness was borne against Him, it is sufficient at present to quote the words of Matthew, for the testimony of Mark is to the same effect. And the words of Matthew are as follow: And the high priest and the council sought false witness against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none, although many false witnesses came forward. At last two false witnesses came and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and after three days to build it up. And the high priest arose, and said to Him, Do you answer nothing to what these witness against you? But Jesus held His peace. And that He returned no answer when falsely accused, the following is the statement: And Jesus stood before the governor; and he asked Him, saying, Are You the King of the Jews? And Jesus said to him, You say. And when He was accused of the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto Him, Do you not hear how many things they witness against You? And He answered him to never a word, insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
2. It was, indeed, matter of surprise to men even of ordinary intelligence, that one who was accused and assailed by false testimony, but who was able to defend Himself, and to show that He was guilty of none of the charges (alleged), and who might have enumerated the praiseworthy deeds of His own life, and His miracles wrought by divine power, so as to give the judge an opportunity of delivering a more honourable judgment regarding Him, should not have done this, but should have disdained such a procedure, and in the nobleness of His nature have contemned His accusers. That the judge would, without any hesitation, have set Him at liberty if He had offered a defense, is clear from what is related of him when he said, Which of the two do you wish that I should release unto you, Barabbas or Jesus, who is called Christ? and from what the Scripture adds, For he knew that for envy they had delivered Him. Jesus, however, is at all times assailed by false witnesses, and, while wickedness remains in the world, is ever exposed to accusation. And yet even now He continues silent before these things, and makes no audible answer, but places His defense in the lives of His genuine disciples, which are a pre-eminent testimony, and one that rises superior to all false witness, and refutes and overthrows all unfounded accusations and charges. 3. I venture, then, to say that this apology which you require me to compose will somewhat weaken that defense (of Christianity) which rests on facts, and that power of Jesus which is manifest to those who are not altogether devoid of perception. Notwithstanding, that we may not have the appearance of being reluctant to undertake the task which you have enjoined, we have endeavoured, to the best of our ability, to suggest, by way of answer to each of the statements advanced by Celsus, what seemed to us adapted to refute them, although his arguments have no power to shake the faith of any (true) believer. And forbid, indeed, that any one should be found who, after having been a partaker in such a love of God as was (displayed) in Christ Jesus, could be shaken in his purpose by the arguments of Celsus, or of any such as he. For Paul, when enumerating the innumerable causes which generally separate men from the love of Christ and from the love of God in Christ Jesus (to all of which, the love that was in himself rose superior), did not set down argument among the grounds of separation. For observe that he says, firstly: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (as it is written, For Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. And secondly, when laying down another series of causes which naturally tend to separate those who are not firmly grounded in their religion, he says: For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 4. Now, truly, it is proper that we should feel elated because afflictions, or those other causes enumerated by Paul, do not separate us (from Christ); but not that Paul and the other apostles, and any other resembling them, (should entertain that feeling), because they were far exalted above such things when they said, In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us, which is a stronger statement than that they are simply conquerors. But if it be proper for apostles to entertain a feeling of elation in not being separated from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord, that feeling will be entertained by them, because neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor any of the things that follow, can separate them from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. And therefore I do not congratulate that believer in Christ whose faith can be shaken by Celsus- who no longer shares the common life of men, but has long since departed - or by any apparent plausibility of argument. For I do not know in what rank to place him who has need of arguments written in books in answer to the charges of Celsus against the Christians, in order to prevent him from being shaken in his faith, and confirm him in it. But nevertheless, since in the multitude of those who are considered believers some such persons might be found as would have their faith shaken and overthrown by the writings of Celsus, but who might be preserved by a reply to them of such a nature as to refute his statements and to exhibit the truth, we have deemed it right to yield to your injunction, and to furnish an answer to the treatise which you sent us, but which I do not think that any one, although only a short way advanced in philosophy, will allow to be a True Discourse, as Celsus has entitled it. 5. Paul, indeed, observing that there are in Greek philosophy certain things not to be lightly esteemed, which are plausible in the eyes of the many, but which represent falsehood as truth, says with regard to such: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. And seeing that there was a kind of greatness manifest in the words of the world's wisdom, he said that the words of the philosophers were according to the rudiments of the world. No man of sense, however, would say that those of Celsus were according to the rudiments of the world. Now those words, which contained some element of deceitfulness, the apostle named vain deceit, probably by way of distinction from a deceit that was not vain; and the prophet Jeremiah observing this, ventured to say to God, O Lord, You have deceived me, and I was deceived; You are stronger than I, and hast prevailed. But in the language of Celsus there seems to me to be no deceitfulness at all, not even that which is vain; such deceitfulness, viz., as is found in the language of those who have founded philosophical sects, and who have been endowed with no ordinary talent for such pursuits. And as no one would say that any ordinary error in geometrical demonstrations was intended to deceive, or would describe it for the sake of exercise in such matters; so those opinions which are to be styled vain deceit, and the tradition of men, and according to the rudiments of the world, must have some resemblance to the views of those who have been the founders of philosophical sects, (if such titles are to be appropriately applied to them). 6. After proceeding with this work as far as the place where Celsus introduces the Jew disputing with Jesus, I resolved to prefix this preface to the beginning (of the treatise), in order that the reader of our reply to Celsus might fall in with it first, and see that this book has been composed not for those who are thorough believers, but for such as are either wholly unacquainted with the Christian faith, or for those who, as the apostle terms them, are weak in the faith; regarding whom he says, Receive him that is weak in the faith. And this preface must be my apology for beginning my answer to Celsus on one plan, and carrying it on on another. For my first intention was to indicate his principal objections, and then briefly the answers that were returned to them, and subsequently to make a systematic treatise of the whole discourse. But afterwards, circumstances themselves suggested to me that I should be economical of my time, and that, satisfied with what I had already stated at the commencement, I should in the following part grapple closely, to the best of my ability, with the charges of Celsus. I have therefore to ask indulgence for those portions which follow the preface towards the beginning of the book. And if you are not impressed by the powerful arguments which succeed, then, asking similar indulgence also with respect to them, I refer you, if you still desire an argumentative solution of the objections of Celsus, to those men who are wiser than myself, and who are able by words and treatises to overthrow the charges which he brings against us. But better is the man who, although meeting with the work of Celsus, needs no answer to it at all, but who despises all its contents, since they are contemned, and with good reason, by every believer in Christ, through the Spirit that is in him. " 1.
1 The first point which Celsus brings forward, in his desire to throw discredit upon Christianity, is, that the Christians entered into secret associations with each other contrary to law, saying, that of associations some are public, and that these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws. And his wish is to bring into disrepute what are termed the love-feasts of the Christians, as if they had their origin in the common danger, and were more binding than any oaths. Since, then, he babbles about the public law, alleging that the associations of the Christians are in violation of it, we have to reply, that if a man were placed among Scythians, whose laws were unholy, and having no opportunity of escape, were compelled to live among them, such an one would with good reason, for the sake of the law of truth, which the Scythians would regard as wickedness, enter into associations contrary to their laws, with those like-minded with himself; so, if truth is to decide, the laws of the heathens which relate to images, and an atheistical polytheism, are Scythian laws, or more impious even than these, if there be any such. It is not irrational, then, to form associations in opposition to existing laws, if done for the sake of the truth. For as those persons would do well who should enter into a secret association in order to put to death a tyrant who had seized upon the liberties of a state, so Christians also, when tyrannized over by him who is called the devil, and by falsehood, form leagues contrary to the laws of the devil, against his power, and for the safety of those others whom they may succeed in persuading to revolt from a government which is, as it were, Scythian, and despotic.
2 Celsus next proceeds to say, that the system of doctrine, viz., Judaism, upon which Christianity depends, was barbarous in its origin. And with an appearance of fairness, he does not reproach Christianity because of its origin among barbarians, but gives the latter credit for their ability in discovering (such) doctrines. To this, however, he adds the statement, that the Greeks are more skilful than any others in judging, establishing, and reducing to practice the discoveries of barbarous nations. Now this is our answer to his allegations, and our defense of the truths contained in Christianity, that if any one were to come from the study of Grecian opinions and usages to the Gospel, he would not only decide that its doctrines were true, but would by practice establish their truth, and supply whatever seemed wanting, from a Grecian point of view, to their demonstration, and thus confirm the truth of Christianity. We have to say, moreover, that the Gospel has a demonstration of its own, more divine than any established by Grecian dialectics. And this diviner method is called by the apostle the manifestation of the Spirit and of power: of the Spirit, on account of the prophecies, which are sufficient to produce faith in any one who reads them, especially in those things which relate to Christ; and of power, because of the signs and wonders which we must believe to have been performed, both on many other grounds, and on this, that traces of them are still preserved among those who regulate their lives by the precepts of the Gospel.
1.4 Let us notice also how he thinks to cast discredit upon our system of morals, alleging that it is only common to us with other philosophers, and no venerable or new branch of instruction. In reply to which we have to say, that unless all men had naturally impressed upon their minds sound ideas of morality, the doctrine of the punishment of sinners would have been excluded by those who bring upon themselves the righteous judgments of God. It is not therefore matter of surprise that the same God should have sown in the hearts of all men those truths which He taught by the prophets and the Saviour, in order that at the divine judgment every man may be without excuse, having the requirements of the law written upon his heart,- a truth obscurely alluded to by the Bible in what the Greeks regard as a myth, where it represents God as having with His own finger written down the commandments, and given them to Moses, and which the wickedness of the worshippers of the calf made him break in pieces, as if the flood of wickedness, so to speak, had swept them away. But Moses having again hewn tables of stone, God wrote the commandments a second time, and gave them to him; the prophetic word preparing the soul, as it were, after the first transgression, for the writing of God a second time.
1.5 Treating of the regulations respecting idolatry as being peculiar to Christianity, Celsus establishes their correctness, saying that the Christians do not consider those to be gods that are made with hands, on the ground that it is not in conformity with right reason (to suppose) that images, fashioned by the most worthless and depraved of workmen, and in many instances also provided by wicked men, can be (regarded as) gods. In what follows, however, wishing to show that this is a common opinion, and one not first discovered by Christianity, he quotes a saying of Heraclitus to this effect: That those who draw near to lifeless images, as if they were gods, act in a similar manner to those who would enter into conversation with houses. Respecting this, then, we have to say, that ideas were implanted in the minds of men like the principles of morality, from which not only Heraclitus, but any other Greek or barbarian, might by reflection have deduced the same conclusion; for he states that the Persians also were of the same opinion, quoting Herodotus as his authority. We also can add to these Zeno of Citium, who in his Polity, says: And there will be no need to build temples, for nothing ought to be regarded as sacred, or of much value, or holy, which is the work of builders and of mean men. It is evident, then, with respect to this opinion (as well as others), that there has been engraven upon the hearts of men by the finger of God a sense of the duty that is required.
1.6 After this, through the influence of some motive which is unknown to me, Celsus asserts that it is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of (miraculous) power; hinting, I suppose, at the practices of those who expel evil spirits by incantations. And here he manifestly appears to malign the Gospel. For it is not by incantations that Christians seem to prevail (over evil spirits), but by the name of Jesus, accompanied by the announcement of the narratives which relate to Him; for the repetition of these has frequently been the means of driving demons out of men, especially when those who repeated them did so in a sound and genuinely believing spirit. Such power, indeed, does the name of Jesus possess over evil spirits, that there have been instances where it was effectual, when it was pronounced even by bad men, which Jesus Himself taught (would be the case), when He said: Many shall say to Me in that day, In Your name we have cast out devils, and done many wonderful works. Whether Celsus omitted this from intentional malignity, or from ignorance, I do not know. And he next proceeds to bring a charge against the Saviour Himself, alleging that it was by means of sorcery that He was able to accomplish the wonders which He performed; and that foreseeing that others would attain the same knowledge, and do the same things, making a boast of doing them by help of the power of God, He excludes such from His kingdom. And his accusation is, that if they are justly excluded, while He Himself is guilty of the same practices, He is a wicked man; but if He is not guilty of wickedness in doing such things, neither are they who do the same as He. But even if it be impossible to show by what power Jesus wrought these miracles, it is clear that Christians employ no spells or incantations, but the simple name of Jesus, and certain other words in which they repose faith, according to the holy Scriptures. ' "
1.8 It is with a certain eloquence, indeed, that he appears to advocate the cause of those who bear witness to the truth of Christianity by their death, in the following words: And I do not maintain that if a man, who has adopted a system of good doctrine, is to incur danger from men on that account, he should either apostatize, or feign apostasy, or openly deny his opinions. And he condemns those who, while holding the Christian views, either pretend that they do not, or deny them, saying that he who holds a certain opinion ought not to feign recantation, or publicly disown it. And here Celsus must be convicted of self-contradiction. For from other treatises of his it is ascertained that he was an Epicurean; but here, because he thought that he could assail Christianity with better effect by not professing the opinions of Epicurus, he pretends that there is a something better in man than the earthly part of his nature, which is akin to God, and says that they in whom this element, viz., the soul, is in a healthy condition, are ever seeking after their kindred nature, meaning God, and are ever desiring to hear something about Him, and to call it to remembrance. Observe now the insincerity of his character! Having said a little before, that the man who had embraced a system of good doctrine ought not, even if exposed to danger on that account from men, to disavow it, or pretend that he had done so, nor yet openly disown it, he now involves himself in all manner of contradictions. For he knew that if he acknowledged himself an Epicurean, he would not obtain any credit when accusing those who, in any degree, introduce the doctrine of Providence, and who place a God over the world. And we have heard that there were two individuals of the name of Celsus, both of whom were Epicureans; the earlier of the two having lived in the time of Nero, but this one in that of Adrian, and later.
1.9 He next proceeds to recommend, that in adopting opinions we should follow reason and a rational guide, since he who assents to opinions without following this course is very liable to be deceived. And he compares inconsiderate believers to Metragyrt, and soothsayers, and Mithr, and Sabbadians, and to anything else that one may fall in with, and to the phantoms of Hecate, or any other demon or demons. For as among such persons are frequently to be found wicked men, who, taking advantage of the ignorance of those who are easily deceived, lead them away whither they will, so also, he says, is the case among Christians. And he asserts that certain persons who do not wish either to give or receive a reason for their belief, keep repeating, Do not examine, but believe! and, Your faith will save you! And he alleges that such also say, The wisdom of this life is bad, but that foolishness is a good thing! To which we have to answer, that if it were possible for all to leave the business of life, and devote themselves to philosophy, no other method ought to be adopted by any one, but this alone. For in the Christian system also it will be found that there is, not to speak at all arrogantly, at least as much of investigation into articles of belief, and of explanation of dark sayings, occurring in the prophetical writings, and of the parables in the Gospels, and of countless other things, which either were narrated or enacted with a symbolic signification, (as is the case with other systems). But since the course alluded to is impossible, partly on account of the necessities of life, partly on account of the weakness of men, as only a very few individuals devote themselves earnestly to study, what better method could be devised with a view of assisting the multitude, than that which was delivered by Jesus to the heathen? And let us inquire, with respect to the great multitude of believers, who have washed away the mire of wickedness in which they formerly wallowed, whether it were better for them to believe without a reason, and (so) to have become reformed and improved in their habits, through the belief that men are chastised for sins, and honoured for good works or not to have allowed themselves to be converted on the strength of mere faith, but (to have waited) until they could give themselves to a thorough examination of the (necessary) reasons. For it is manifest that, (on such a plan), all men, with very few exceptions, would not obtain this (amelioration of conduct) which they have obtained through a simple faith, but would continue to remain in the practice of a wicked life. Now, whatever other evidence can be furnished of the fact, that it was not without divine intervention that the philanthropic scheme of Christianity was introduced among men, this also must be added. For a pious man will not believe that even a physician of the body, who restores the sick to better health, could take up his abode in any city or country without divine permission, since no good happens to men without the help of God. And if he who has cured the bodies of many, or restored them to better health, does not effect his cures without the help of God, how much more He who has healed the souls of many, and has turned them (to virtue), and improved their nature, and attached them to God who is over all things, and taught them to refer every action to His good pleasure, and to shun all that is displeasing to Him, even to the least of their words or deeds, or even of the thoughts of their hearts?
10 In the next place, since our opponents keep repeating those statements about faith, we must say that, considering it as a useful thing for the multitude, we admit that we teach those men to believe without reasons, who are unable to abandon all other employments, and give themselves to an examination of arguments; and our opponents, although they do not acknowledge it, yet practically do the same. For who is there that, on betaking himself to the study of philosophy, and throwing himself into the ranks of some sect, either by chance, or because he is provided with a teacher of that school, adopts such a course for any other reason, except that he believes his particular sect to be superior to any other? For, not waiting to hear the arguments of all the other philosophers, and of all the different sects, and the reasons for condemning one system and for supporting another, he in this way elects to become a Stoic, e.g., or a Platonist, or a Peripatetic, or an Epicurean, or a follower of some other school, and is thus borne, although they will not admit it, by a kind of irrational impulse to the practice, say of Stoicism, to the disregard of the others; despising either Platonism, as being marked by greater humility than the others; or Peripateticism, as more human, and as admitting with more fairness than other systems the blessings of human life. And some also, alarmed at first sight about the doctrine of providence, from seeing what happens in the world to the vicious and to the virtuous, have rashly concluded that there is no divine providence at all, and have adopted the views of Epicurus and Celsus.
13 But since Celsus has declared it to be a saying of many Christians, that the wisdom of this life is a bad thing, but that foolishness is good, we have to answer that he slanders the Gospel, not giving the words as they actually occur in the writings of Paul, where they run as follow: If any one among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. The apostle, therefore, does not say simply that wisdom is foolishness with God, but the wisdom of this world. And again, not, If any one among you seems to be wise, let him become a fool universally; but, let him become a fool in this world, that he may become wise. We term, then, the wisdom of this world, every false system of philosophy, which, according to the Scriptures, is brought to nought; and we call foolishness good, not without restriction, but when a man becomes foolish as to this world. As if we were to say that the Platonist, who believes in the immortality of the soul, and in the doctrine of its metempsychosis, incurs the charge of folly with the Stoics, who discard this opinion; and with the Peripatetics, who babble about the subtleties of Plato; and with the Epicureans, who call it superstition to introduce a providence, and to place a God over all things. Moreover, that it is in agreement with the spirit of Christianity, of much more importance to give our assent to doctrines upon grounds of reason and wisdom than on that of faith merely, and that it was only in certain circumstances that the latter course was desired by Christianity, in order not to leave men altogether without help, is shown by that genuine disciple of Jesus, Paul, when he says: For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Now by these words it is clearly shown that it is by the wisdom of God that God ought to be known. But as this result did not follow, it pleased God a second time to save them that believe, not by folly universally, but by such foolishness as depended on preaching. For the preaching of Jesus Christ as crucified is the foolishness of preaching, as Paul also perceived, when he said, But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and wisdom of God.
14 Celsus, being of opinion that there is to be found among many nations a general relationship of doctrine, enumerates all the nations which gave rise to such and such opinions; but for some reason, unknown to me, he casts a slight upon the Jews, not including them among the others, as having either laboured along with them, and arrived at the same conclusions, or as having entertained similar opinions on many subjects. It is proper, therefore, to ask him why he gives credence to the histories of Barbarians and Greeks respecting the antiquity of those nations of whom he speaks, but stamps the histories of this nation alone as false. For if the respective writers related the events which are found in these works in the spirit of truth, why should we distrust the prophets of the Jews alone? And if Moses and the prophets have recorded many things in their history from a desire to favour their own system, why should we not say the same of the historians of other countries? Or, when the Egyptians or their histories speak evil of the Jews, are they to be believed on that point; but the Jews, when saying the same things of the Egyptians, and declaring that they had suffered great injustice at their hands, and that on this account they had been punished by God, are to be charged with falsehood? And this applies not to the Egyptians alone, but to others; for we shall find that there was a connection between the Assyrians and the Jews, and that this is recorded in the ancient histories of the Assyrians. And so also the Jewish historians (I avoid using the word prophets, that I may not appear to prejudge the case) have related that the Assyrians were enemies of the Jews. Observe at once, then, the arbitrary procedure of this individual, who believes the histories of these nations on the ground of their being learned, and condemns others as being wholly ignorant. For listen to the statement of Celsus: There is, he says, an authoritative account from the very beginning, respecting which there is a constant agreement among all the most learned nations, and cities, and men. And yet he will not call the Jews a learned nation in the same way in which he does the Egyptians, and Assyrians, and Indians, and Persians, and Odrysians, and Samothracians, and Eleusinians.
15 How much more impartial than Celsus is Numenius the Pythagorean, who has given many proofs of being a very eloquent man, and who has carefully tested many opinions, and collected together from many sources what had the appearance of truth; for, in the first book of his treatise On the Good, speaking of those nations who have adopted the opinion that God is incorporeal, he enumerates the Jews also among those who hold this view; not showing any reluctance to use even the language of their prophets in his treatise, and to give it a metaphorical signification. It is said, moreover, that Hermippus has recorded in his first book, On Lawgivers, that it was from the Jewish people that Pythagoras derived the philosophy which he introduced among the Greeks. And there is extant a work by the historian Hecat us, treating of the Jews, in which so high a character is bestowed upon that nation for its learning, that Herennius Philo, in his treatise on the Jews, has doubts in the first place, whether it is really the composition of the historian; and says, in the second place, that if really his, it is probable that he was carried away by the plausible nature of the Jewish history, and so yielded his assent to their system.
16 I must express my surprise that Celsus should class the Odrysians, and Samothracians, and Eleusinians, and Hyperboreans among the most ancient and learned nations, and should not deem the Jews worthy of a place among such, either for their learning or their antiquity, although there are many treatises in circulation among the Egyptians, and Phœnicians, and Greeks, which testify to their existence as an ancient people, but which I have considered it unnecessary to quote. For any one who chooses may read what Flavius Josephus has recorded in his two books, On the Antiquity of the Jews, where he brings together a great collection of writers, who bear witness to the antiquity of the Jewish people; and there exists the Discourse to the Greeks of Tatian the younger, in which with very great learning he enumerates those historians who have treated of the antiquity of the Jewish nation and of Moses. It seems, then, to be not from a love of truth, but from a spirit of hatred, that Celsus makes these statements, his object being to asperse the origin of Christianity, which is connected with Judaism. Nay, he styles the Galactophagi of Homer, and the Druids of the Gauls, and the Get, most learned and ancient tribes, on account of the resemblance between their traditions and those of the Jews, although I know not whether any of their histories survive; but the Hebrews alone, as far as in him lies, he deprives of the honour both of antiquity and learning. And again, when making a list of ancient and learned men who have conferred benefits upon their contemporaries (by their deeds), and upon posterity by their writings, he excluded Moses from the number; while of Linus, to whom Celsus assigns a foremost place in his list, there exists neither laws nor discourses which produced a change for the better among any tribes; whereas a whole nation, dispersed throughout the entire world, obey the laws of Moses. Consider, then, whether it is not from open malevolence that he has expelled Moses from his catalogue of learned men, while asserting that Linus, and Mus us, and Orpheus, and Pherecydes, and the Persian Zoroaster, and Pythagoras, discussed these topics, and that their opinions were deposited in books, and have thus been preserved down to the present time. And it is intentionally also that he has omitted to take notice of the myth, embellished chiefly by Orpheus, in which the gods are described as affected by human weaknesses and passions.
7 In what follows, Celsus, assailing the Mosaic history, finds fault with those who give it a tropical and allegorical signification. And here one might say to this great man, who inscribed upon his own work the title of a True Discourse, Why, good sir, do you make it a boast to have it recorded that the gods should engage in such adventures as are described by your learned poets and philosophers, and be guilty of abominable intrigues, and of engaging in wars against their own fathers, and of cutting off their secret parts, and should dare to commit and to suffer such enormities; while Moses, who gives no such accounts respecting God, nor even regarding the holy angels, and who relates deeds of far less atrocity regarding men (for in his writings no one ever ventured to commit such crimes as Kronos did against Uranus, or Zeus against his father, or that of the father of men and gods, who had intercourse with his own daughter), should be considered as having deceived those who were placed under his laws, and to have led them into error? And here Celsus seems to me to act somewhat as Thrasymachus the Platonic philosopher did, when he would not allow Socrates to answer regarding justice, as he wished, but said, Take care not to say that utility is justice, or duty, or anything of that kind. For in like manner Celsus assails (as he thinks) the Mosaic histories, and finds fault with those who understand them allegorically, at the same time bestowing also some praise upon those who do so, to the effect that they are more impartial (than those who do not); and thus, as it were, he prevents by his cavils those who are able to show the true state of the case from offering such a defense as they would wish to offer.
19 After these statements, Celsus, from a secret desire to cast discredit upon the Mosaic account of the creation, which teaches that the world is not yet ten thousand years old, but very much under that, while concealing his wish, intimates his agreement with those who hold that the world is uncreated. For, maintaining that there have been, from all eternity, many conflagrations and many deluges, and that the flood which lately took place in the time of Deucalion is comparatively modern, he clearly demonstrates to those who are able to understand him, that, in his opinion, the world was uncreated. But let this assailant of the Christian faith tell us by what arguments he was compelled to accept the statement that there have been many conflagrations and many cataclysms, and that the flood which occurred in the time of Deucalion, and the conflagration in that of Ph thon, were more recent than any others. And if he should put forward the dialogues of Plato (as evidence) on these subjects, we shall say to him that it is allowable for us also to believe that there resided in the pure and pious soul of Moses, who ascended above all created things, and united himself to the Creator of the universe, and who made known divine things with far greater clearness than Plato, or those other wise men (who lived) among the Greeks and Romans, a spirit which was divine. And if he demands of us our reasons for such a belief, let him first give grounds for his own unsupported assertions, and then we shall show that this view of ours is the correct one.
20 And yet, against his will, Celsus is entangled into testifying that the world is comparatively modern, and not yet ten thousand years old, when he says that the Greeks consider those things as ancient, because, owing to the deluges and conflagrations, they have not beheld or received any memorials of older events. But let Celsus have, as his authorities for the myth regarding the conflagrations and inundations, those persons who, in his opinion, are the most learned of the Egyptians, traces of whose wisdom are to be found in the worship of irrational animals, and in arguments which prove that such a worship of God is in conformity with reason, and of a secret and mysterious character. The Egyptians, then, when they boastfully give their own account of the divinity of animals, are to be considered wise; but if any Jew, who has signified his adherence to the law and the lawgiver, refer everything to the Creator of the universe, and the only God, he is, in the opinion of Celsus and those like him, deemed inferior to him who degrades the Divinity not only to the level of rational and mortal animals, but even to that of irrational also!- a view which goes far beyond the mythical doctrine of transmigration, according to which the soul falls down from the summit of heaven, and enters into the body of brute beasts, both tame and savage! And if the Egyptians related fables of this kind, they are believed to convey a philosophical meaning by their enigmas and mysteries; but if Moses compose and leave behind him histories and laws for an entire nation, they are to be considered as empty fables, the language of which admits of no allegorical meaning!
1 The following is the view of Celsus and the Epicureans: Moses having, he says, learned the doctrine which is to be found existing among wise nations and eloquent men, obtained the reputation of divinity. Now, in answer to this we have to say, that it may be allowed him that Moses did indeed hear a somewhat ancient doctrine, and transmitted the same to the Hebrews; that if the doctrine which he heard was false, and neither pious nor venerable, and if notwithstanding, he received it and handed it down to those under his authority, he is liable to censure; but if, as you assert, he gave his adherence to opinions that were wise and true, and educated his people by means of them, what, pray, has he done deserving of condemnation? Would, indeed, that not only Epicurus, but Aristotle, whose sentiments regarding providence are not so impious (as those of the former), and the Stoics, who assert that God is a body, had heard such a doctrine! Then the world would not have been filled with opinions which either disallow or enfeeble the action of providence, or introduce a corrupt corporeal principle, according to which the god of the Stoics is a body, with respect to whom they are not afraid to say that he is capable of change, and may be altered and transformed in all his parts, and, generally, that he is capable of corruption, if there be any one to corrupt him, but that he has the good fortune to escape corruption, because there is none to corrupt. Whereas the doctrine of the Jews and Christians, which preserves the immutability and unalterableness of the divine nature, is stigmatized as impious, because it does not partake of the profanity of those whose notions of God are marked by impiety, but because it says in the supplication addressed to the Divinity, You are the same, it being, moreover, an article of faith that God has said, I change not.
2 After this, Celsus, without condemning circumcision as practised by the Jews, asserts that this usage was derived from the Egyptians; thus believing the Egyptians rather than Moses, who says that Abraham was the first among men who practised the rite. And it is not Moses alone who mentions the name of Abraham, assigning to him great intimacy with God; but many also of those who give themselves to the practice of the conjuration of evil spirits, employ in their spells the expression God of Abraham, pointing out by the very name the friendship (that existed) between that just man and God. And yet, while making use of the phrase God of Abraham, they do not know who Abraham is! And the same remark applies to Isaac, and Jacob, and Israel; which names, although confessedly Hebrew, are frequently introduced by those Egyptians who profess to produce some wonderful result by means of their knowledge. The rite of circumcision, however, which began with Abraham, and was discontinued by Jesus, who desired that His disciples should not practise it, is not before us for explanation; for the present occasion does not lead us to speak of such things, but to make an effort to refute the charges brought against the doctrine of the Jews by Celsus, who thinks that he will be able the more easily to establish the falsity of Christianity, if, by assailing its origin in Judaism, he can show that the latter also is untrue.
23 After this, Celsus next asserts that Those herdsmen and shepherds who followed Moses as their leader, had their minds deluded by vulgar deceits, and so supposed that there was one God. Let him show, then, how, after this irrational departure, as he regards it, of the herdsmen and shepherds from the worship of many gods, he himself is able to establish the multiplicity of deities that are found among the Greeks, or among those other nations that are called Barbarian. Let him establish, therefore, the existence of Mnemosyne, the mother of the Muses by Zeus; or of Themis, the parent of the Hours; or let him prove that the ever naked Graces can have a real, substantial existence. But he will not be able to show, from any actions of theirs, that these fictitious representations of the Greeks, which have the appearance of being invested with bodies, are (really) gods. And why should the fables of the Greeks regarding the gods be true, any more than those of the Egyptians for example, who in their language know nothing of a Mnemosyne, mother of the nine Muses; nor of a Themis, parent of the Hours; nor of a Euphrosyne, one of the Graces; nor of any other of these names? How much more manifest (and how much better than all these inventions!) is it that, convinced by what we see, in the admirable order of the world, we should worship the Maker of it as the one Author of one effect, and which, as being wholly in harmony with itself, cannot on that account have been the work of many makers; and that we should believe that the whole heaven is not held together by the movements of many souls, for one is enough, which bears the whole of the non-wandering sphere from east to west, and embraces within it all things which the world requires, and which are not self-existing! For all are parts of the world, while God is no part of the whole. But God cannot be imperfect, as a part is imperfect. And perhaps profounder consideration will show, that as God is not a part, so neither is He properly the whole, since the whole is composed of parts; and reason will not allow us to believe that the God who is over all is composed of parts, each one of which cannot do what all the other parts can.
24 After this he continues: These herdsmen and shepherds concluded that there was but one God, named either the Highest, or Adonai, or the Heavenly, or Sabaoth, or called by some other of those names which they delight to give this world; and they knew nothing beyond that. And in a subsequent part of his work he says, that It makes no difference whether the God who is over all things be called by the name of Zeus, which is current among the Greeks, or by that, e.g., which is in use among the Indians or Egyptians. Now, in answer to this, we have to remark that this involves a deep and mysterious subject - that, viz., respecting the nature of names: it being a question whether, as Aristotle thinks, names were bestowed by arrangement, or, as the Stoics hold, by nature; the first words being imitations of things, agreeably to which the names were formed, and in conformity with which they introduce certain principles of etymology; or whether, as Epicurus teaches (differing in this from the Stoics), names were given by nature, - the first men having uttered certain words varying with the circumstances in which they found themselves. If, then, we shall be able to establish, in reference to the preceding statement, the nature of powerful names, some of which are used by the learned among the Egyptians, or by the Magi among the Persians, and by the Indian philosophers called Brahmans, or by the Saman ans, and others in different countries; and shall be able to make out that the so-called magic is not, as the followers of Epicurus and Aristotle suppose, an altogether uncertain thing, but is, as those skilled in it prove, a consistent system, having words which are known to exceedingly few; then we say that the name Sabaoth, and Adonai, and the other names treated with so much reverence among the Hebrews, are not applicable to any ordinary created things, but belong to a secret theology which refers to the Framer of all things. These names, accordingly, when pronounced with that attendant train of circumstances which is appropriate to their nature, are possessed of great power; and other names, again, current in the Egyptian tongue, are efficacious against certain demons who can only do certain things; and other names in the Persian language have corresponding power over other spirits; and so on in every individual nation, for different purposes. And thus it will be found that, of the various demons upon the earth, to whom different localities have been assigned, each one bears a name appropriate to the several dialects of place and country. He, therefore, who has a nobler idea, however small, of these matters, will be careful not to apply differing names to different things; lest he should resemble those who mistakenly apply the name of God to lifeless matter, or who drag down the title of the Good from the First Cause, or from virtue and excellence, and apply it to blind Plutus, and to a healthy and well-proportioned mixture of flesh and blood and bones, or to what is considered to be noble birth.
25 And perhaps there is a danger as great as that which degrades the name of God, or of the Good, to improper objects, in changing the name of God according to a secret system, and applying those which belong to inferior beings to greater, and vice versa. And I do not dwell on this, that when the name of Zeus is uttered, there is heard at the same time that of the son of Kronos and Rhea, and the husband of Hera, and brother of Poseidon, and father of Athene, and Artemis, who was guilty of incest with his own daughter Persephone; or that Apollo immediately suggests the son of Leto and Zeus, and the brother of Artemis, and half-brother of Hermes; and so with all the other names invented by these wise men of Celsus, who are the parents of these opinions, and the ancient theologians of the Greeks. For what are the grounds for deciding that he should on the one hand be properly called Zeus, and yet on the other should not have Kronos for his father and Rhea for his mother? And the same argument applies to all the others that are called gods. But this charge does not at all apply to those who, for some mysterious reason, refer the word Sabaoth, or Adonai, or any of the other names to the (true) God. And when one is able to philosophize about the mystery of names, he will find much to say respecting the titles of the angels of God, of whom one is called Michael, and another Gabriel, and another Raphael, appropriately to the duties which they discharge in the world, according to the will of the God of all things. And a similar philosophy of names applies also to our Jesus, whose name has already been seen, in an unmistakeable manner, to have expelled myriads of evil spirits from the souls and bodies (of men), so great was the power which it exerted upon those from whom the spirits were driven out. And while still upon the subject of names, we have to mention that those who are skilled in the use of incantations, relate that the utterance of the same incantation in its proper language can accomplish what the spell professes to do; but when translated into any other tongue, it is observed to become inefficacious and feeble. And thus it is not the things signified, but the qualities and peculiarities of words, which possess a certain power for this or that purpose. And so on such grounds as these we defend the conduct of the Christians, when they struggle even to death to avoid calling God by the name of Zeus, or to give Him a name from any other language. For they either use the common name - God - indefinitely, or with some such addition as that of the Maker of all things, the Creator of heaven and earth - He who sent down to the human race those good men, to whose names that of God being added, certain mighty works are wrought among men. And much more besides might be said on the subject of names, against those who think that we ought to be indifferent as to our use of them. And if the remark of Plato in the Philebus should surprise us, when he says, My fear, O Protagoras, about the names of the gods is no small one, seeing Philebus in his discussion with Socrates had called pleasure a god, how shall we not rather approve the piety of the Christians, who apply none of the names used in the mythologies to the Creator of the world? And now enough on this subject for the present.
26 But let us see the manner in which this Celsus, who professes to know everything, brings a false accusation against the Jews, when he alleges that they worship angels, and are addicted to sorcery, in which Moses was their instructor. Now, in what part of the writings of Moses he found the lawgiver laying down the worship of angels, let him tell, who professes to know all about Christianity and Judaism; and let him show also how sorcery can exist among those who have accepted the Mosaic law, and read the injunction, Neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them. Moreover, he promises to show afterwards how it was through ignorance that the Jews were deceived and led into error. Now, if he had discovered that the ignorance of the Jews regarding Christ was the effect of their not having heard the prophecies about Him, he would show with truth how the Jews fell into error. But without any wish whatever that this should appear, he views as Jewish errors what are no errors at all. And Celsus having promised to make us acquainted, in a subsequent part of his work, with the doctrines of Judaism, proceeds in the first place to speak of our Saviour as having been the leader of our generation, in so far as we are Christians, and says that a few years ago he began to teach this doctrine, being regarded by Christians as the Son of God. Now, with respect to this point - His prior existence a few years ago - we have to remark as follows. Could it have come to pass without divine assistance, that Jesus, desiring during these years to spread abroad His words and teaching, should have been so successful, that everywhere throughout the world, not a few persons, Greeks as well as Barbarians, learned as well as ignorant, adopted His doctrine, so that they struggled, even to death in its defense, rather than deny it, which no one is ever related to have done for any other system? I indeed, from no wish to flatter Christianity, but from a desire thoroughly to examine the facts, would say that even those who are engaged in the healing of numbers of sick persons, do not attain their object - the cure of the body - without divine help; and if one were to succeed in delivering souls from a flood of wickedness, and excesses, and acts of injustice, and from a contempt of God, and were to show, as evidence of such a result, one hundred persons improved in their natures (let us suppose the number to be so large), no one would reasonably say that it was without divine assistance that he had implanted in those hundred individuals a doctrine capable of removing so many evils. And if any one, on a candid consideration of these things, shall admit that no improvement ever takes place among men without divine help, how much more confidently shall he make the same assertion regarding Jesus, when he compares the former lives of many converts to His doctrine with their after conduct, and reflects in what acts of licentiousness and injustice and covetousness they formerly indulged, until, as Celsus, and they who think with him, allege, they were deceived, and accepted a doctrine which, as these individuals assert, is destructive of the life of men; but who, from the time that they adopted it, have become in some way meeker, and more religious, and more consistent, so that certain among them, from a desire of exceeding chastity, and a wish to worship God with greater purity, abstain even from the permitted indulgences of (lawful) love.
7 Any one who examines the subject will see that Jesus attempted and successfully accomplished works beyond the reach of human power. For although, from the very beginning, all things opposed the spread of His doctrine in the world, - both the princes of the times, and their chief captains and generals, and all, to speak generally, who were possessed of the smallest influence, and in addition to these, the rulers of the different cities, and the soldiers, and the people - yet it proved victorious, as being the Word of God, the nature of which is such that it cannot be hindered; and becoming more powerful than all such adversaries, it made itself master of the whole of Greece, and a considerable portion of Barbarian lands, and convened countless numbers of souls to His religion. And although, among the multitude of converts to Christianity, the simple and ignorant necessarily outnumbered the more intelligent, as the former class always does the latter, yet Celsus, unwilling to take note of this, thinks that this philanthropic doctrine, which reaches to every soul under the sun, is vulgar, and on account of its vulgarity and its want of reasoning power, obtained a hold only over the ignorant. And yet he himself admits that it was not the simple alone who were led by the doctrine of Jesus to adopt His religion; for he acknowledges that there were among them some persons of moderate intelligence, and gentle disposition, and possessed of understanding, and capable of comprehending allegories.
28 And since, in imitation of a rhetorician training a pupil, he introduces a Jew, who enters into a personal discussion with Jesus, and speaks in a very childish manner, altogether unworthy of the grey hairs of a philosopher, let me endeavour, to the best of my ability, to examine his statements, and show that he does not maintain, throughout the discussion, the consistency due to the character of a Jew. For he represents him disputing with Jesus, and confuting Him, as he thinks, on many points; and in the first place, he accuses Him of having invented his birth from a virgin, and upbraids Him with being born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God. Now, as I cannot allow anything said by unbelievers to remain unexamined, but must investigate everything from the beginning, I give it as my opinion that all these things worthily harmonize with the predictions that Jesus is the Son of God.
2 But let us now return to where the Jew is introduced, speaking of the mother of Jesus, and saying that when she was pregt she was turned out of doors by the carpenter to whom she had been betrothed, as having been guilty of adultery, and that she bore a child to a certain soldier named Panthera; and let us see whether those who have blindly concocted these fables about the adultery of the Virgin with Panthera, and her rejection by the carpenter, did not invent these stories to overturn His miraculous conception by the Holy Ghost: for they could have falsified the history in a different manner, on account of its extremely miraculous character, and not have admitted, as it were against their will, that Jesus was born of no ordinary human marriage. It was to be expected, indeed, that those who would not believe the miraculous birth of Jesus would invent some falsehood. And their not doing this in a credible manner, but (their) preserving the fact that it was not by Joseph that the Virgin conceived Jesus, rendered the falsehood very palpable to those who can understand and detect such inventions. Is it at all agreeable to reason, that he who dared to do so much for the human race, in order that, as far as in him lay, all the Greeks and Barbarians, who were looking for divine condemnation, might depart from evil, and regulate their entire conduct in a manner pleasing to the Creator of the world, should not have had a miraculous birth, but one the vilest and most disgraceful of all? And I will ask of them as Greeks, and particularly of Celsus, who either holds or not the sentiments of Plato, and at any rate quotes them, whether He who sends souls down into the bodies of men, degraded Him who was to dare such mighty acts, and to teach so many men, and to reform so many from the mass of wickedness in the world, to a birth more disgraceful than any other, and did not rather introduce Him into the world through a lawful marriage? Or is it not more in conformity with reason, that every soul, for certain mysterious reasons (I speak now according to the opinion of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Empedocles, whom Celsus frequently names), is introduced into a body, and introduced according to its deserts and former actions? It is probable, therefore, that this soul also, which conferred more benefit by its residence in the flesh than that of many men (to avoid prejudice, I do not say all), stood in need of a body not only superior to others, but invested with all excellent qualities. ' "
1.34 But it was, as the prophets also predicted, from a virgin that there was to be born, according to the promised sign, one who was to give His name to the fact, showing that at His birth God was to be with man. Now it seems to me appropriate to the character of a Jew to have quoted the prophecy of Isaiah, which says that Immanuel was to be born of a virgin. This, however, Celsus, who professes to know everything, has not done, either from ignorance or from an unwillingness (if he had read it and voluntarily passed it by in silence) to furnish an argument which might defeat his purpose. And the prediction runs thus: And the Lord spoke again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask you a sign of the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord . And he said, Hear now, O house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel, which is, being interpreted, God with us. And that it was from intentional malice that Celsus did not quote this prophecy, is clear to me from this, that although he makes numerous quotations from the Gospel according to Matthew, as of the star that appeared at the birth of Christ, and other miraculous occurrences, he has made no mention at all of this. Now, if a Jew should split words, and say that the words are not, Lo, a virgin, but, Lo, a young woman, we reply that the word Olmah- which the Septuagint have rendered by a virgin, and others by a young woman- occurs, as they say, in Deuteronomy, as applied to a virgin, in the following connection: If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then you shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and you shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he humbled his neighbour's wife. And again: But if a man find a betrothed damsel in a field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: but unto the damsel you shall do nothing; there is in her no sin worthy of death. " "
1.38 But, moreover, taking the history, contained in the Gospel according to Matthew, of our Lord's descent into Egypt, he refuses to believe the miraculous circumstances attending it, viz., either that the angel gave the divine intimation, or that our Lord's quitting Judea and residing in Egypt was an event of any significance; but he invents something altogether different, admitting somehow the miraculous works done by Jesus, by means of which He induced the multitude to follow Him as the Christ. And yet he desires to throw discredit on them, as being done by help of magic and not by divine power; for he asserts that he (Jesus), having been brought up as an illegitimate child, and having served for hire in Egypt, and then coming to the knowledge of certain miraculous powers, returned from thence to his own country, and by means of those powers proclaimed himself a god. Now I do not understand how a magician should exert himself to teach a doctrine which persuades us always to act as if God were to judge every man for his deeds; and should have trained his disciples, whom he was to employ as the ministers of his doctrine, in the same belief. For did the latter make an impression upon their hearers, after they had been so taught to work miracles; or was it without the aid of these? The assertion, therefore, that they did no miracles at all, but that, after yielding their belief to arguments which were not at all convincing, like the wisdom of Grecian dialectics, they gave themselves up to the task of teaching the new doctrine to those persons among whom they happened to take up their abode, is altogether absurd. For in what did they place their confidence when they taught the doctrine and disseminated the new opinions? But if they indeed wrought miracles, then how can it be believed that magicians exposed themselves to such hazards to introduce a doctrine which forbade the practice of magic? "
1.50 In the next place, as if the only event predicted were this, that He was to be the Judge of the righteous and the Punisher of the wicked, and as if neither the place of His birth, nor the sufferings which He was to endure at the hands of the Jews, nor His resurrection, nor the wonderful works which He was to perform, had been made the subject of prophecy, he continues: Why should it be you alone, rather than innumerable others, who existed after the prophecies were published, to whom these predictions are applicable? And desiring, I know not how, to suggest to others the possibility of the notion that they themselves were the persons referred to by the prophets, he says that some, carried away by enthusiasm, and others having gathered a multitude of followers, give out that the Son of God has come down from heaven. Now we have not ascertained that such occurrences are admitted to have taken place among the Jews. We have to remark then, in the first place, that many of the prophets have uttered predictions in all kinds of ways regarding Christ; some by means of dark sayings, others in allegories or in some other manner, and some also in express words. And as in what follows he says, in the character of the Jew addressing the converts from his own nation, and repeating emphatically and malevolently, that the prophecies referred to the events of his life may also suit other events as well, we shall state a few of them out of a greater number; and with respect to these, any one who chooses may say what he thinks fitted to ensure a refutation of them, and which may turn away intelligent believers from the faith.
7 The Jew, moreover, in the treatise, addresses the Saviour thus: If you say that every man, born according to the decree of Divine Providence, is a son of God, in what respect should you differ from another? In reply to whom we say, that every man who, as Paul expresses it, is no longer under fear, as a schoolmaster, but who chooses good for its own sake, is a son of God; but this man is distinguished far and wide above every man who is called, on account of his virtues, a son of God, seeing He is, as it were, a kind of source and beginning of all such. The words of Paul are as follow: For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. But, according to the Jew of Celsus, countless individuals will convict Jesus of falsehood, alleging that those predictions which were spoken of him were intended of them. We are not aware, indeed, whether Celsus knew of any who, after coming into this world, and having desired to act as Jesus did, declared themselves to be also the sons of God, or the power of God. But since it is in the spirit of truth that we examine each passage, we shall mention that there was a certain Theudas among the Jews before the birth of Christ, who gave himself out as some great one, after whose death his deluded followers were completely dispersed. And after him, in the days of the census, when Jesus appears to have been born, one Judas, a Galilean, gathered around him many of the Jewish people, saying he was a wise man, and a teacher of certain new doctrines. And when he also had paid the penalty of his rebellion, his doctrine was overturned, having taken hold of very few persons indeed, and these of the very humblest condition. And after the times of Jesus, Dositheus the Samaritan also wished to persuade the Samaritans that he was the Christ predicted by Moses; and he appears to have gained over some to his views. But it is not absurd, in quoting the extremely wise observation of that Gamaliel named in the book of Acts, to show how those persons above mentioned were strangers to the promise, being neither sons of God nor powers of God, whereas Christ Jesus was truly the Son of God. Now Gamaliel, in the passage referred to, said: If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought (as also did the designs of those men already mentioned after their death); but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow this doctrine, lest haply you be found even to fight against God. There was also Simon the Samaritan magician, who wished to draw away certain by his magical arts. And on that occasion he was successful; but now-a-days it is impossible to find, I suppose, thirty of his followers in the entire world, and probably I have even overstated the number. There are exceedingly few in Palestine; while in the rest of the world, through which he desired to spread the glory of his name, you find it nowhere mentioned. And where it is found, it is found quoted from the Acts of the Apostles; so that it is to Christians that he owes this mention of himself, the unmistakeable result having proved that Simon was in no respect divine.
2 And after such statements, showing his ignorance even of the number of the apostles, he proceeds thus: Jesus having gathered around him ten or eleven persons of notorious character, the very wickedest of tax-gatherers and sailors, fled in company with them from place to place, and obtained his living in a shameful and importunate manner. Let us to the best of our power see what truth there is in such a statement. It is manifest to us all who possess the Gospel narratives, which Celsus does not appear even to have read, that Jesus selected twelve apostles, and that of these Matthew alone was a tax-gatherer; that when he calls them indiscriminately sailors, he probably means James and John, because they left their ship and their father Zebedee, and followed Jesus; for Peter and his brother Andrew, who employed a net to gain their necessary subsistence, must be classed not as sailors, but as the Scripture describes them, as fishermen. The Lebes also, who was a follower of Jesus, may have been a tax-gatherer; but he was not of the number of the apostles, except according to a statement in one of the copies of Mark's Gospel. And we have not ascertained the employments of the remaining disciples, by which they earned their livelihood before becoming disciples of Jesus. I assert, therefore, in answer to such statements as the above, that it is clear to all who are able to institute an intelligent and candid examination into the history of the apostles of Jesus, that it was by help of a divine power that these men taught Christianity, and succeeded in leading others to embrace the word of God. For it was not any power of speaking, or any orderly arrangement of their message, according to the arts of Grecian dialectics or rhetoric, which was in them the effective cause of converting their hearers. Nay, I am of opinion that if Jesus had selected some individuals who were wise according to the apprehension of the multitude, and who were fitted both to think and speak so as to please them, and had used such as the ministers of His doctrine, He would most justly have been suspected of employing artifices, like those philosophers who are the leaders of certain sects, and consequently the promise respecting the divinity of His doctrine would not have manifested itself; for had the doctrine and the preaching consisted in the persuasive utterance and arrangement of words, then faith also, like that of the philosophers of the world in their opinions, would have been through the wisdom of men, and not through the power of God. Now, who is there on seeing fishermen and tax-gatherers, who had not acquired even the merest elements of learning (as the Gospel relates of them, and in respect to which Celsus believes that they speak the truth, inasmuch as it is their own ignorance which they record), discoursing boldly not only among the Jews of faith in Jesus, but also preaching Him with success among other nations, would not inquire whence they derived this power of persuasion, as theirs was certainly not the common method followed by the multitude? And who would not say that the promise, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men, had been accomplished by Jesus in the history of His apostles by a sort of divine power? And to this also, Paul, referring in terms of commendation, as we have stated a little above, says: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. For, according to the predictions in the prophets, foretelling the preaching of the Gospel, the Lord gave the word in great power to them who preached it, even the King of the powers of the Beloved, in order that the prophecy might be fulfilled which said, His words shall run very swiftly. And we see that the voice of the apostles of Jesus has gone forth into all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. On this account are they who hear the word powerfully proclaimed filled with power, which they manifest both by their dispositions and their lives, and by struggling even to death on behalf of the truth; while some are altogether empty, although they profess to believe in God through Jesus, inasmuch as, not possessing any divine power, they have the appearance only of being converted to the word of God. And although I have previously mentioned a Gospel declaration uttered by the Saviour, I shall nevertheless quote it again, as appropriate to the present occasion, as it confirms both the divine manifestation of our Saviour's foreknowledge regarding the preaching of His Gospel, and the power of His word, which without the aid of teachers gains the mastery over those who yield their assent to persuasion accompanied with divine power; and the words of Jesus referred to are, The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth labourers into His harvest. "
1.66 And in addition to the above, this Jew of Celsus afterwards addresses Jesus: What need, moreover, was there that you, while still an infant, should be conveyed into Egypt? Was it to escape being murdered? But then it was not likely that a God should be afraid of death; and yet an angel came down from heaven, commanding you and your friends to flee, lest you should be captured and put to death! And was not the great God, who had already sent two angels on your account, able to keep you, His only Son, there in safety? From these words Celsus seems to think that there was no element of divinity in the human body and soul of Jesus, but that His body was not even such as is described in the fables of Homer; and with a taunt also at the blood of Jesus which was shed upon the cross, he adds that it was not Ichor, such as flows in the veins of the blessed gods. We now, believing Jesus Himself, when He says respecting His divinity, I am the way, and the truth, and the life, and employs other terms of similar import; and when He says respecting His being clothed with a human body, And now you seek to kill Me, a man that has told you the truth, conclude that He was a kind of compound being. And so it became Him who was making provision for His sojourning in the world as a human being, not to expose Himself unseasonably to the danger of death. And in like manner it was necessary that He should be taken away by His parents, acting under the instructions of an angel from heaven, who communicated to them the divine will, saying on the first occasion, Joseph, you son of David, fear not to take unto you Mary your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost; and on the second, Arise, and take the young Child, and His mother, and flee into Egypt; and be there until I bring you word: for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him. Now, what is recorded in these words appears to me to be not at all marvellous. For in either passage of Scripture it is stated that it was in a dream that the angel spoke these words; and that in a dream certain persons may have certain things pointed out to them to do, is an event of frequent occurrence to many individuals, - the impression on the mind being produced either by an angel or by some other thing. Where, then, is the absurdity in believing that He who had once become incarnate, should be led also by human guidance to keep out of the way of dangers? Not indeed from any impossibility that it should be otherwise, but from the moral fitness that ways and means should be made use of to ensure the safety of Jesus. And it was certainly better that the Child Jesus should escape the snare of Herod, and should reside with His parents in Egypt until the death of the conspirator, than that Divine Providence should hinder the free-will of Herod in his wish to put the Child to death, or that the fabled poetic helmet of Hades should have been employed, or anything of a similar kind done with respect to Jesus, or that they who came to destroy Him should have been smitten with blindness like the people of Sodom. For the sending of help to Him in a very miraculous and unnecessarily public manner, would not have been of any service to Him who wished to show that as a man, to whom witness was borne by God, He possessed within that form which was seen by the eyes of men some higher element of divinity, - that which was properly the Son of God- God the Word- the power of God, and the wisdom of God - He who is called the Christ. But this is not a suitable occasion for discussing the composite nature of the incarnate Jesus; the investigation into such a subject being for believers, so to speak, a sort of private question.
7 After the above, this Jew of Celsus, as if he were a Greek who loved learning, and were well instructed in Greek literature, continues: The old mythological fables, which attributed a divine origin to Perseus, and Amphion, and Æacus, and Minos, were not believed by us. Nevertheless, that they might not appear unworthy of credit, they represented the deeds of these personages as great and wonderful, and truly beyond the power of man; but what have you done that is noble or wonderful either in deed or in word? You have made no manifestation to us, although they challenged you in the temple to exhibit some unmistakeable sign that you were the Son of God. In reply to which we have to say: Let the Greeks show to us, among those who have been enumerated, any one whose deeds have been marked by a utility and splendour extending to after generations, and which have been so great as to produce a belief in the fables which represented them as of divine descent. But these Greeks can show us nothing regarding those men of whom they speak, which is even inferior by a great degree to what Jesus did; unless they take us back to their fables and histories, wishing us to believe them without any reasonable grounds, and to discredit the Gospel accounts even after the clearest evidence. For we assert that the whole habitable world contains evidence of the works of Jesus, in the existence of those Churches of God which have been founded through Him by those who have been converted from the practice of innumerable sins. And the name of Jesus can still remove distractions from the minds of men, and expel demons, and also take away diseases; and produce a marvellous meekness of spirit and complete change of character, and a humanity, and goodness, and gentleness in those individuals who do not feign themselves to be Christians for the sake of subsistence or the supply of any mortal wants, but who have honestly accepted the doctrine concerning God and Christ, and the judgment to come. ' "
1.68 But after this, Celsus, having a suspicion that the great works performed by Jesus, of which we have named a few out of a great number, would be brought forward to view, affects to grant that those statements may be true which are made regarding His cures, or His resurrection, or the feeding of a multitude with a few loaves, from which many fragments remained over, or those other stories which Celsus thinks the disciples have recorded as of a marvellous nature; and he adds: Well, let us believe that these were actually wrought by you. But then he immediately compares them to the tricks of jugglers, who profess to do more wonderful things, and to the feats performed by those who have been taught by Egyptians, who in the middle of the market-place, in return for a few obols, will impart the knowledge of their most venerated arts, and will expel demons from men, and dispel diseases, and invoke the souls of heroes, and exhibit expensive banquets, and tables, and dishes, and dainties having no real existence, and who will put in motion, as if alive, what are not really living animals, but which have only the appearance of life. And he asks, Since, then, these persons can perform such feats, shall we of necessity conclude that they are 'sons of God,' or must we admit that they are the proceedings of wicked men under the influence of an evil spirit? You see that by these expressions he allows, as it were, the existence of magic. I do not know, however, if he is the same who wrote several books against it. But, as it helped his purpose, he compares the (miracles) related of Jesus to the results produced by magic. There would indeed be a resemblance between them, if Jesus, like the dealers in magical arts, had performed His works only for show; but now there is not a single juggler who, by means of his proceedings, invites his spectators to reform their manners, or trains those to the fear of God who are amazed at what they see, nor who tries to persuade them so to live as men who are to be justified by God. And jugglers do none of these things, because they have neither the power nor the will, nor any desire to busy themselves about the reformation of men, inasmuch as their own lives are full of the grossest and most notorious sins. But how should not He who, by the miracles which He did, induced those who beheld the excellent results to undertake the reformation of their characters, manifest Himself not only to His genuine disciples, but also to others, as a pattern of most virtuous life, in order that His disciples might devote themselves to the work of instructing men in the will of God, and that the others, after being more fully instructed by His word and character than by His miracles, as to how they were to direct their lives, might in all their conduct have a constant reference to the good pleasure of the universal God? And if such were the life of Jesus, how could any one with reason compare Him with the sect of impostors, and not, on the contrary, believe, according to the promise, that He was God, who appeared in human form to do good to our race? " "
1.69 After this, Celsus, confusing together the Christian doctrine and the opinions of some heretical sect, and bringing them forward as charges that were applicable to all who believe in the divine word, says: Such a body as yours could not have belonged to God. Now, in answer to this, we have to say that Jesus, on entering into the world, assumed, as one born of a woman, a human body, and one which was capable of suffering a natural death. For which reason, in addition to others, we say that He was also a great wrestler; having, on account of His human body, been tempted in all respects like other men, but no longer as men, with sin as a consequence, but being altogether without sin. For it is distinctly clear to us that He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; and as one who knew no sin, God delivered Him up as pure for all who had sinned. Then Celsus says: The body of god would not have been so generated as you, O Jesus, were. He saw, besides, that if, as it is written, it had been born, His body somehow might be even more divine than that of the multitude, and in a certain sense a body of god. But he disbelieves the accounts of His conception by the Holy Ghost, and believes that He was begotten by one Panthera, who corrupted the Virgin, because a god's body would not have been so generated as you were. But we have spoken of these matters at greater length in the preceding pages. " 2.
1 The first book of our answer to the treatise of Celsus, entitled A True Discourse, which concluded with the representation of the Jew addressing Jesus, having now extended to a sufficient length, we intend the present part as a reply to the charges brought by him against those who have been converted from Judaism to Christianity. And we call attention, in the first place, to this special question, viz., why Celsus, when he had once resolved upon the introduction of individuals upon the stage of his book, did not represent the Jew as addressing the converts from heathenism rather than those from Judaism, seeing that his discourse, if directed to us, would have appeared more likely to produce an impression. But probably this claimant to universal knowledge does not know what is appropriate in the matter of such representations; and therefore let us proceed to consider what he has to say to the converts from Judaism. He asserts that they have forsaken the law of their fathers, in consequence of their minds being led captive by Jesus; that they have been most ridiculously deceived, and that they have become deserters to another name and to another mode of life. Here he has not observed that the Jewish converts have not deserted the law of their fathers, inasmuch as they live according to its prescriptions, receiving their very name from the poverty of the law, according to the literal acceptation of the word; for Ebion signifies poor among the Jews, and those Jews who have received Jesus as Christ are called by the name of Ebionites. Nay, Peter himself seems to have observed for a considerable time the Jewish observances enjoined by the law of Moses, not having yet learned from Jesus to ascend from the law that is regulated according to the letter, to that which is interpreted according to the spirit, - a fact which we learn from the Acts of the Apostles. For on the day after the angel of God appeared to Cornelius, suggesting to him to send to Joppa, to Simon surnamed Peter, Peter went up into the upper room to pray about the sixth hour. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts, and creeping things of the earth, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean. And the voice spoke unto him again the second time, What God has cleansed, call not common. Now observe how, by this instance, Peter is represented as still observing the Jewish customs respecting clean and unclean animals. And from the narrative that follows, it is manifest that he, as being yet a Jew, and living according to their traditions, and despising those who were beyond the pale of Judaism, stood in need of a vision to lead him to communicate to Cornelius (who was not an Israelite according to the flesh), and to those who were with him, the word of faith. Moreover, in the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul states that Peter, still from fear of the Jews, ceased upon the arrival of James to eat with the Gentiles, and separated himself from them, fearing them that were of the circumcision; and the rest of the Jews, and Barnabas also, followed the same course. And certainly it was quite consistent that those should not abstain from the observance of Jewish usages who were sent to minister to the circumcision, when they who seemed to be pillars gave the right hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas, in order that, while devoting themselves to the circumcision, the latter might preach to the Gentiles. And why do I mention that they who preached to the circumcision withdrew and separated themselves from the heathen, when even Paul himself became as a Jew to the Jews, that he might gain the Jews? Wherefore also in the Acts of the Apostles it is related that he even brought an offering to the altar, that he might satisfy the Jews that he was no apostate from their law. Now, if Celsus had been acquainted with all these circumstances, he would not have represented the Jew holding such language as this to the converts from Judaism: What induced you, my fellow citizens, to abandon the law of your fathers, and to allow your minds to be led captive by him with whom we have just conversed, and thus be most ridiculously deluded, so as to become deserters from us to another name, and to the practices of another life?
2.4 The Jew, then, continues his address to converts from his own nation thus: Yesterday and the day before, when we visited with punishment the man who deluded you, you became apostates from the law of your fathers; showing by such statements (as we have just demonstrated) anything but an exact knowledge of the truth. But what he advances afterwards seems to have some force, when he says: How is it that you take the beginning of your system from our worship, and when you have made some progress you treat it with disrespect, although you have no other foundation to show for your doctrines than our law? Now, certainly the introduction to Christianity is through the Mosaic worship and the prophetic writings; and after the introduction, it is in the interpretation and explanation of these that progress takes place, while those who are introduced prosecute their investigations into the mystery according to revelation, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest in the Scriptures of the prophets, and by the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ. But they who advance in the knowledge of Christianity do not, as you allege, treat the things written in the law with disrespect. On the contrary, they bestow upon them greater honour, showing what a depth of wise and mysterious reasons is contained in these writings, which are not fully comprehended by the Jews, who treat them superficially, and as if they were in some degree even fabulous. And what absurdity should there be in our system - that is, the Gospel- having the law for its foundation, when even the Lord Jesus Himself said to those who would not believe upon Him: If you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My words? Nay, even one of the evangelists- Mark - says: The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as it is written in the prophet Isaiah, Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You, which shows that the beginning of the Gospel is connected with the Jewish writings. What force, then, is there in the objection of the Jew of Celsus, that if any one predicted to us that the Son of God was to visit mankind, he was one of our prophets, and the prophet of our God? Or how is it a charge against Christianity, that John, who baptized Jesus, was a Jew? For although He was a Jew, it does not follow that every believer, whether a convert from heathenism or from Judaism, must yield a literal obedience to the law of Moses.
2.5 After these matters, although Celsus becomes tautological in his statements about Jesus, repeating for the second time that he was punished by the Jews for his crimes, we shall not again take up the defense, being satisfied with what we have already said. But, in the next place, as this Jew of his disparages the doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead, and the divine judgment, and of the rewards to be bestowed upon the just, and of the fire which is to devour the wicked, as being stale opinions, and thinks that he will overthrow Christianity by asserting that there is nothing new in its teaching upon these points, we have to say to him, that our Lord, seeing the conduct of the Jews not to be at all in keeping with the teaching of the prophets, inculcated by a parable that the kingdom of God would be taken from them, and given to the converts from heathenism. For which reason, now, we may also see of a truth that all the doctrines of the Jews of the present day are mere trifles and fables, since they have not the light that proceeds from the knowledge of the Scriptures; whereas those of the Christians are the truth, having power to raise and elevate the soul and understanding of man, and to persuade him to seek a citizenship, not like the earthly Jews here below, but in heaven. And this result shows itself among those who are able to see the grandeur of the ideas contained in the law and the prophets, and who are able to commend them to others.
2.9 The Jew continues his discourse thus: How should we deem him to be a God, who not only in other respects, as was currently reported, performed none of his promises, but who also, after we had convicted him, and condemned him as deserving of punishment, was found attempting to conceal himself, and endeavouring to escape in a most disgraceful manner, and who was betrayed by those whom he called disciples? And yet, he continues, he who was a God could neither flee nor be led away a prisoner; and least of all could he be deserted and delivered up by those who had been his associates, and had shared all things in common, and had had him for their teacher, who was deemed to be a Saviour, and a son of the greatest God, and an angel. To which we reply, that even we do not suppose the body of Jesus, which was then an object of sight and perception, to have been God. And why do I say His body? Nay, not even His soul, of which it is related, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. But as, according to the Jewish manner of speaking, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh, and, Before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me, God is believed to be He who employs the soul and body of the prophet as an instrument; and as, according to the Greeks, he who says, I know both the number of the sand, and the measures of the sea, And I understand a dumb man, and hear him who does not speak, is considered to be a god when speaking, and making himself heard through the Pythian priestess; so, according to our view, it was the Logos God, and Son of the God of all things, who spoke in Jesus these words, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; and these, I am the door; and these, I am the living bread that came down from heaven; and other expressions similar to these. We therefore charge the Jews with not acknowledging Him to be God, to whom testimony was borne in many passages by the prophets, to the effect that He was a mighty power, and a God next to the God and Father of all things. For we assert that it was to Him the Father gave the command, when in the Mosaic account of the creation He uttered the words, Let there be light, and Let there be a firmament, and gave the injunctions with regard to those other creative acts which were performed; and that to Him also were addressed the words, Let Us make man in Our own image and likeness; and that the Logos, when commanded, obeyed all the Father's will. And we make these statements not from our own conjectures, but because we believe the prophecies circulated among the Jews, in which it is said of God, and of the works of creation, in express words, as follows: He spoke, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. Now if God gave the command, and the creatures were formed, who, according to the view of the spirit of prophecy, could He be that was able to carry out such commands of the Father, save Him who, so to speak, is the living Logos and the Truth? And that the Gospels do not consider him who in Jesus said these words, I am the way, and the truth, and the life, to have been of so circumscribed a nature as to have an existence nowhere out of the soul and body of Jesus, is evident both from many considerations, and from a few instances of the following kind which we shall quote. John the Baptist, when predicting that the Son of God was to appear immediately, not in that body and soul, but as manifesting Himself everywhere, says regarding Him: There stands in the midst of you One whom you know not, who comes after me. For if he had thought that the Son of God was only there, where was the visible body of Jesus, how could he have said, There stands in the midst of you One whom you know not? And Jesus Himself, in raising the minds of His disciples to higher thoughts of the Son of God, says: Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of you. And of the same nature is His promise to His disciples: Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. And we quote these passages, making no distinction between the Son of God and Jesus. For the soul and body of Jesus formed, after the &
1 In the next place, that He was betrayed by those whom He called His disciples, is a circumstance which the Jew of Celsus learned from the Gospels; calling the one Judas, however, many disciples, that he might seem to add force to the accusation. Nor did he trouble himself to take note of all that is related concerning Judas; how this Judas, having come to entertain opposite and conflicting opinions regarding his Master neither opposed Him with his whole soul, nor yet with his whole soul preserved the respect due by a pupil to his teacher. For he that betrayed Him gave to the multitude that came to apprehend Jesus, a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, it is he; seize him,- retaining still some element of respect for his Master: for unless he had done so, he would have betrayed Him, even publicly, without any pretence of affection. This circumstance, therefore, will satisfy all with regard to the purpose of Judas, that along with his covetous disposition, and his wicked design to betray his Master, he had still a feeling of a mixed character in his mind, produced in him by the words of Jesus, which had the appearance (so to speak) of some remt of good. For it is related that, when Judas, who betrayed Him, knew that He was condemned, he repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the high priest and elders, saying, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. But they said, What is that to us? You see to that; - and that, having thrown the money down in the temple, he departed, and went and hanged himself. But if this covetous Judas, who also stole the money placed in the bag for the relief of the poor, repented, and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, it is clear that the instructions of Jesus had been able to produce some feeling of repentance in his mind, and were not altogether despised and loathed by this traitor. Nay, the declaration, I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood, was a public acknowledgment of his crime. Observe, also, how exceedingly passionate was the sorrow for his sins that proceeded from that repentance, and which would not allow him any longer to live; and how, after he had cast the money down in the temple, he withdrew, and went away and hanged himself: for he passed sentence upon himself, showing what a power the teaching of Jesus had over this sinner Judas, this thief and traitor, who could not always treat with contempt what he had learned from Jesus. Will Celsus and his friends now say that those proofs which show that the apostasy of Judas was not a complete apostasy, even after his attempts against his Master, are inventions, and that this alone is true, viz., that one of His disciples betrayed Him; and will they add to the Scriptural account that he betrayed Him also with his whole heart? To act in this spirit of hostility with the same writings, both as to what we are to believe and what we are not to believe, is absurd. And if we must make a statement regarding Judas which may overwhelm our opponents with shame, we would say that, in the book of Psalms, the whole of the
108th contains a prophecy about Judas, the beginning of which is this: O God, hold not Your peace before my praise; for the mouth of the sinner, and the mouth of the crafty man, are opened against me. And it is predicted in this psalm, both that Judas separated himself from the number of the apostles on account of his sins, and that another was selected in his place; and this is shown by the words: And his bishopric let another take. But suppose now that He had been betrayed by some one of His disciples, who was possessed by a worse spirit than Judas, and who had completely poured out, as it were, all the words which he had heard from Jesus, what would this contribute to an accusation against Jesus or the Christian religion? And how will this demonstrate its doctrine to be false? We have replied in the preceding chapter to the statements which follow this, showing that Jesus was not taken prisoner when attempting to flee, but that He gave Himself up voluntarily for the sake of us all. Whence it follows, that even if He were bound, He was bound agreeably to His own will; thus teaching us the lesson that we should undertake similar things for the sake of religion in no spirit of unwillingness.
13 This Jew of Celsus continues, after the above, in the following fashion: Although he could state many things regarding the events of the life of Jesus which are true, and not like those which are recorded by the disciples, he willingly omits them. What, then, are those true statements, unlike the accounts in the Gospels, which the Jew of Celsus passes by without mention? Or is he only employing what appears to be a figure of speech, in pretending to have something to say, while in reality he had nothing to produce beyond the Gospel narrative which could impress the hearer with a feeling of its truth, and furnish a clear ground of accusation against Jesus and His doctrine? And he charges the disciples with having invented the statement that Jesus foreknew and foretold all that happened to Him; but the truth of this statement we shall establish, although Celsus may not like it, by means of many other predictions uttered by the Saviour, in which He foretold what would befall the Christians in after generations. And who is there who would not be astonished at this prediction: You shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles; and at any others which He may have delivered respecting the future persecution of His disciples? For what system of opinions ever existed among men on account of which others are punished, so that any one of the accusers of Jesus could say that, foreseeing the impiety or falsity of his opinions to be the ground of an accusation against them he thought that this would redound to his credit, that he had so predicted regarding it long before? Now if any deserve to be brought, on account of their opinions, before governors and kings, what others are they, save the Epicureans, who altogether deny the existence of providence? And also the Peripatetics, who say that prayers are of no avail, and sacrifices offered as to the Divinity? But some one will say that the Samaritans suffer persecution because of their religion. In answer to whom we shall state that the Sicarians, on account of the practice of circumcision, as mutilating themselves contrary to the established laws and the customs permitted to the Jews alone, are put to death. And you never hear a judge inquiring whether a Sicarian who strives to live according to this established religion of his will be released from punishment if he apostatizes, but will be led away to death if he continues firm; for the evidence of the circumcision is sufficient to ensure the death of him who has undergone it. But Christians alone, according to the prediction of their Saviour, You shall be brought before governors and kings for My sake, are urged up to their last breath by their judges to deny Christianity, and to sacrifice according to the public customs; and after the oath of abjuration, to return to their homes, and to live in safety. And observe whether it is not with great authority that this declaration is uttered: Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father who is in heaven. And whosoever shall deny Me before men, etc. And go back with me in thought to Jesus when He uttered these words, and see His predictions not yet accomplished. Perhaps you will say, in a spirit of incredulity, that he is talking folly, and speaking to no purpose, for his words will have no fulfilment; or, being in doubt about assenting to his words, you will say, that if these predictions be fulfilled, and the doctrine of Jesus be established, so that governors and kings think of destroying those who acknowledge Jesus, then we shall believe that he utters these prophecies as one who has received great power from God to implant this doctrine among the human race, and as believing that it will prevail. And who will not be filled with wonder, when he goes back in thought to Him who then taught and said, This Gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles, and beholds, agreeably to His words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached in the whole world under heaven to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and foolish alike? For the word, spoken with power, has gained the mastery over men of all sorts of nature, and it is impossible to see any race of men which has escaped accepting the teaching of Jesus. But let this Jew of Celsus, who does not believe that He foreknew all that happened to Him, consider how, while Jerusalem was still standing, and the whole Jewish worship celebrated in it, Jesus foretold what would befall it from the hand of the Romans. For they will not maintain that the acquaintances and pupils of Jesus Himself handed down His teaching contained in the Gospels without committing it to writing, and left His disciples without the memoirs of Jesus contained in their works. Now in these it is recorded, that when you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with armies, then shall you know that the desolation thereof is near. But at that time there were no armies around Jerusalem, encompassing and enclosing and besieging it; for the siege began in the reign of Nero, and lasted till the government of Vespasian, whose son Titus destroyed Jerusalem, on account, as Josephus says, of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was called Christ, but in reality, as the truth makes clear, on account of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
14 Celsus, however, accepting or granting that Jesus foreknew what would befall Him, might think to make light of the admission, as he did in the case of the miracles, when he alleged that they were wrought by means of sorcery; for he might say that many persons by means of divination, either by auspices, or auguries, or sacrifices, or nativities, have come to the knowledge of what was to happen. But this concession he would not make, as being too great a one; and although he somehow granted that Jesus worked miracles, he thought to weaken the force of this by the charge of sorcery. Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events (although falling into confusion about some things which refer to Peter, as if they referred to Jesus), but also testified that the result corresponded to His predictions. So that he also, by these very admissions regarding foreknowledge, as if against his will, expressed his opinion that the doctrines taught by the fathers of our system were not devoid of divine power. ' "
16 Exceedingly weak is his assertion, that the disciples of Jesus wrote such accounts regarding him, by way of extenuating the charges that told against him: as if, he says, any one were to say that a certain person was a just man, and yet were to show that he was guilty of injustice; or that he was pious, and yet had committed murder; or that he was immortal, and yet was dead; subjoining to all these statements the remark that he had foretold all these things. Now his illustrations are at once seen to be inappropriate; for there is no absurdity in Him who had resolved that He would become a living pattern to men, as to the manner in which they were to regulate their lives, showing also how they ought to die for the sake of their religion, apart altogether from the fact that His death on behalf of men was a benefit to the whole world, as we proved in the preceding book. He imagines, moreover, that the whole of the confession of the Saviour's sufferings confirms his objection instead of weakening it. For he is not acquainted either with the philosophical remarks of Paul, or the statements of the prophets, on this subject. And it escaped him that certain heretics have declared that Jesus underwent His sufferings in appearance, not in reality. For had he known, he would not have said: For you do not even allege this, that he seemed to wicked men to suffer this punishment, though not undergoing it in reality; but, on the contrary, you acknowledge that he openly suffered. But we do not view His sufferings as having been merely in appearance, in order that His resurrection also may not be a false, but a real event. For he who really died, actually arose, if he did arise; whereas he who appeared only to have died, did not in reality arise. But since the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a subject of mockery to unbelievers, we shall quote the words of Plato, that Erus the son of Armenius rose from the funeral pile twelve days after he had been laid upon it, and gave an account of what he had seen in Hades; and as we are replying to unbelievers, it will not be altogether useless to refer in this place to what Heraclides relates respecting the woman who was deprived of life. And many persons are recorded to have risen from their tombs, not only on the day of their burial, but also on the day following. What wonder is it, then, if in the case of One who performed many marvellous things, both beyond the power of man and with such fullness of evidence, that he who could not deny their performance, endeavoured to calumniate them by comparing them to acts of sorcery, should have manifested also in His death some greater display of divine power, so that His soul, if it pleased, might leave its body, and having performed certain offices out of it, might return again at pleasure? And such a declaration is Jesus said to have made in the Gospel of John, when He said: No man takes My life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. And perhaps it was on this account that He hastened His departure from the body, that He might preserve it, and that His legs might not be broken, as were those of the robbers who were crucified with Him. For the soldiers broke the legs of the first, and of the other who was crucified with Him; but when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead, they broke not His legs. We have accordingly answered the question, How is it credible that Jesus could have predicted these things? And with respect to this, How could the dead man be immortal? let him who wishes to understand know, that it is not the dead man who is immortal, but He who rose from the dead. So far, indeed, was the dead man from being immortal, that even the Jesus before His decease - the compound being, who was to suffer death - was not immortal. For no one is immortal who is destined to die; but he is immortal when he shall no longer be subject to death. But Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more: death has no more dominion over Him; although those may be unwilling to admit this who cannot understand how such things should be said. " 2.
2 He adds to this, as if he had brought together an argument with conclusive demonstrations and consequences, the following: And, which is still more absurd, God himself conspired against those who sat at his table, by converting them into traitors and impious men. But how Jesus could either conspire or convert His disciples into traitors or impious men, it would be impossible for him to prove, save by means of such a deduction as any one could refute with the greatest ease. ' "
24 After this, wishing to prove that the occurrences which befell Him were painful and distressing, and that it was impossible for Him, had He wished, to render them otherwise, he proceeds: Why does he mourn, and lament, and pray to escape the fear of death, expressing himself in terms like these: 'O Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me?' Now in these words observe the malignity of Celsus, how not accepting the love of truth which actuates the writers of the Gospels (who might have passed over in silence those points which, as Celsus thinks, are censurable, but who did not omit them for many reasons, which any one, in expounding the Gospel, can give in their proper place), he brings an accusation against the Gospel statement, grossly exaggerating the facts, and quoting what is not written in the Gospels, seeing it is nowhere found that Jesus lamented. And he changes the words in the expression, Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, and does not give what follows immediately after, which manifests at once the ready obedience of Jesus to His Father, and His greatness of mind, and which runs thus: Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. Nay, even the cheerful obedience of Jesus to the will of His Father in those things which He was condemned to suffer, exhibited in the declaration, If this cup cannot pass from Me except I drink it, Your will be done, he pretends not to have observed, acting here like those wicked individuals who listen to the Holy Scriptures in a maligt spirit, and who talk wickedness with lofty head. For they appear to have heard the declaration, I kill, and they often make it to us a subject of reproach; but the words, I will make alive, they do not remember - the whole sentence showing that those who live amid public wickedness, and who work wickedly, are put to death by God, and that a better life is infused into them instead, even one which God will give to those who have died to sin. And so also these men have heard the words, I will smite; but they do not see these, and I will heal, which are like the words of a physician, who cuts bodies asunder, and inflicts severe wounds, in order to extract from them substances that are injurious and prejudicial to health, and who does not terminate his work with pains and lacerations, but by his treatment restores the body to that state of soundness which he has in view. Moreover, they have not heard the whole of the announcement, For He makes sore, and again binds up; but only this part, He makes sore. So in like manner acts this Jew of Celsus who quotes the words, O Father, would that this cup might pass from Me; but who does not add what follows, and which exhibits the firmness of Jesus, and His preparedness for suffering. But these matters, which afford great room for explanation from the wisdom of God, and which may reasonably be pondered over by those whom Paul calls perfect when he said, We speak wisdom among them who are perfect, we pass by for the present, and shall speak for a little of those matters which are useful for our present purpose. " 2.
26 This Jew of Celsus still accuses the disciples of Jesus of having invented these statements, saying to them: Even although guilty of falsehood, you have not been able to give a color of credibility to your inventions. In answer to which we have to say, that there was an easy method of concealing these occurrences - that, viz., of not recording them at all. For if the Gospels had not contained the accounts of these things, who could have reproached us with Jesus having spoken such words during His stay upon the earth? Celsus, indeed, did not see that it was an inconsistency for the same persons both to be deceived regarding Jesus, believing Him to be God, and the subject of prophecy, and to invent fictions about Him, knowing manifestly that these statements were false. of a truth, therefore, they were not guilty of inventing untruths, but such were their real impressions, and they recorded them truly; or else they were guilty of falsifying the histories, and did not entertain these views, and were not deceived when they acknowledged Him to be God.
7 After this he says, that certain of the Christian believers, like persons who in a fit of drunkenness lay violent hands upon themselves, have corrupted the Gospel from its original integrity, to a threefold, and fourfold, and many-fold degree, and have remodelled it, so that they might be able to answer objections. Now I know of no others who have altered the Gospel, save the followers of Marcion, and those of Valentinus, and, I think, also those of Lucian. But such an allegation is no charge against the Christian system, but against those who dared so to trifle with the Gospels. And as it is no ground of accusation against philosophy, that there exist Sophists, or Epicureans, or Peripatetics, or any others, whoever they may be, who hold false opinions; so neither is it against genuine Christianity that there are some who corrupt the Gospel histories, and who introduce heresies opposed to the meaning of the doctrine of Jesus. ' "
28 And since this Jew of Celsus makes it a subject of reproach that Christians should make use of the prophets, who predicted the events of Christ's life, we have to say, in addition to what we have already advanced upon this head, that it became him to spare individuals, as he says, and to expound the prophecies themselves, and after admitting the probability of the Christian interpretation of them, to show how the use which they make of them may be overturned. For in this way he would not appear hastily to assume so important a position on small grounds, and particularly when he asserts that the prophecies agree with ten thousand other things more credibly than with Jesus. And he ought to have carefully met this powerful argument of the Christians, as being the strongest which they adduce, and to have demonstrated with regard to each particular prophecy, that it can apply to other events with greater probability than to Jesus. He did not, however, perceive that this was a plausible argument to be advanced against the Christians only by one who was an opponent of the prophetic writings; but Celsus has here put in the mouth of a Jew an objection which a Jew would not have made. For a Jew will not admit that the prophecies may be applied to countless other things with greater probability than to Jesus; but he will endeavour, after giving what appears to him the meaning of each, to oppose the Christian interpretation, not indeed by any means adducing convincing reasons, but only attempting to do so. " "
2.34 This Jew of Celsus, ridiculing Jesus, as he imagines, is described as being acquainted with the Bacch of Euripides, in which Dionysus says:- The divinity himself will liberate me whenever I wish. Now the Jews are not much acquainted with Greek literature; but suppose that there was a Jew so well versed in it (as to make such a quotation on his part appropriate), how (does it follow) that Jesus could not liberate Himself, because He did not do so? For let him believe from our own Scriptures that Peter obtained his freedom after having been bound in prison, an angel having loosed his chains; and that Paul, having been bound in the stocks along with Silas in Philippi of Macedonia, was liberated by divine power, when the gates of the prison were opened. But it is probable that Celsus treats these accounts with ridicule, or that he never read them; for he would probably say in reply, that there are certain sorcerers who are able by incantations to unloose chains and to open doors, so that he would liken the events related in our histories to the doings of sorcerers. But, he continues, no calamity happened even to him who condemned him, as there did to Pentheus, viz., madness or discerption. And yet he does not know that it was not so much Pilate that condemned Him (who knew that for envy the Jews had delivered Him), as the Jewish nation, which has been condemned by God, and rent in pieces, and dispersed over the whole earth, in a degree far beyond what happened to Pentheus. Moreover, why did he intentionally omit what is related of Pilate's wife, who beheld a vision, and who was so moved by it as to send a message to her husband, saying: Have nothing to do with that just man; for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of Him? And again, passing by in silence the proofs of the divinity of Jesus, Celsus endeavours to cast reproach upon Him from the narratives in the Gospel, referring to those who mocked Jesus, and put on Him the purple robe, and the crown of thorns, and placed the reed in His hand. From what source now, Celsus, did you derive these statements, save from the Gospel narratives? And did you, accordingly, see that they were fit matters for reproach; while they who recorded them did not think that you, and such as you, would turn them into ridicule; but that others would receive from them an example how to despise those who ridiculed and mocked Him on account of His religion, who appropriately laid down His life for its sake? Admire rather their love of truth, and that of the Being who bore these things voluntarily for the sake of men, and who endured them with all constancy and long-suffering. For it is not recorded that He uttered any lamentation, or that after His condemnation He either did or uttered anything unbecoming. "
2 But further, since Celsus will have it that Jesus was not irreproachable, let him instance any one of those who adhere to His doctrine, who has recorded anything that could truly furnish ground of reproach against Jesus; or if it be not from these that he derives his matter of accusation against Him, let him say from what quarter he has learned that which has induced him to say that He is not free from reproach. Jesus, however, performed all that He promised to do, and by which He conferred benefits upon his adherents. And we, continually seeing fulfilled all that was predicted by Him before it happened, viz., that this Gospel of His should be preached throughout the whole world, and that His disciples should go among all nations and announce His doctrine; and, moreover, that they should be brought before governors and kings on no other account than because of His teaching; we are lost in wonder at Him, and have our faith in Him daily confirmed. And I know not by what greater or more convincing proofs Celsus would have Him confirm His predictions; unless, indeed, as seems to be the case, not understanding that the Logos had become the man Jesus, he would have Him to be subject to no human weakness, nor to become an illustrious pattern to men of the manner in which they ought to bear the calamities of life, although these appear to Celsus to be most lamentable and disgraceful occurrences, seeing that he regards labour to be the greatest of evils, and pleasure the perfect good - a view accepted by none of those philosophers who admit the doctrine of providence, and who allow that courage, and fortitude, and magimity are virtues. Jesus, therefore, by His sufferings cast no discredit upon the faith of which He was the object; but rather confirmed the same among those who would approve of manly courage, and among those who were taught by Him that what was truly and properly the happy life was not here below, but was to be found in that which was called, according to His own words, the coming world; whereas in what is called the present world life is a calamity, or at least the first and greatest struggle of the soul.
2.48 Celsus, moreover, unable to resist the miracles which Jesus is recorded to have performed, has already on several occasions spoken of them slanderously as works of sorcery; and we also on several occasions have, to the best of our ability, replied to his statements. And now he represents us as saying that we deemed Jesus to be the Son of God, because he healed the lame and the blind. And he adds: Moreover, as you assert, he raised the dead. That He healed the lame and the blind, and that therefore we hold Him to be the Christ and the Son of God, is manifest to us from what is contained in the prophecies: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear; then shall the lame man leap as an hart. And that He also raised the dead, and that it is no fiction of those who composed the Gospels, is shown by this, that if it had been a fiction, many individuals would have been represented as having risen from the dead, and these, too, such as had been many years in their graves. But as it is no fiction, they are very easily counted of whom this is related to have happened; viz., the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue (of whom I know not why He said, She is not dead, but sleeps, stating regarding her something which does not apply to all who die); and the only son of the widow, on whom He took compassion and raised him up, making the bearers of the corpse to stand still; and the third instance, that of Lazarus, who had been four days in the grave. Now, regarding these cases we would say to all persons of candid mind, and especially to the Jew, that as there were many lepers in the days of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was healed save Naaman the Syrian, and many widows in the days of Elijah the prophet, to none of whom was Elijah sent save to Sarepta in Sidonia (for the widow there had been deemed worthy by a divine decree of the miracle which was wrought by the prophet in the matter of the bread); so also there were many dead in the days of Jesus, but those only rose from the grave whom the Logos knew to be fitted for a resurrection, in order that the works done by the Lord might not be merely symbols of certain things, but that by the very acts themselves He might gain over many to the marvellous doctrine of the Gospel. I would say, moreover, that, agreeably to the promise of Jesus, His disciples performed even greater works than these miracles of Jesus, which were perceptible only to the senses. For the eyes of those who are blind in soul are ever opened; and the ears of those who were deaf to virtuous words, listen readily to the doctrine of God, and of the blessed life with Him; and many, too, who were lame in the feet of the inner man, as Scripture calls it, having now been healed by the word, do not simply leap, but leap as the hart, which is an animal hostile to serpents, and stronger than all the poison of vipers. And these lame who have been healed, receive from Jesus power to trample, with those feet in which they were formerly lame, upon the serpents and scorpions of wickedness, and generally upon all the power of the enemy; and though they tread upon it, they sustain no injury, for they also have become stronger than the poison of all evil and of demons. ' "
2.49 Jesus, accordingly, in turning away the minds of His disciples, not merely from giving heed to sorcerers in general, and those who profess in any other manner to work miracles- for His disciples did not need to be so warned - but from such as gave themselves out as the Christ of God, and who tried by certain apparent miracles to gain over to them the disciples of Jesus, said in a certain passage: Then, if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert, go not forth; behold, he is in the secret chambers, believe it not. For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even to the west, so also shall the coming of the Son of man be. And in another passage: Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Your name, and by Your name have cast out demons, and done many wonderful works? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, because you are workers of iniquity. But Celsus, wishing to assimilate the miracles of Jesus to the works of human sorcery, says in express terms as follows: O light and truth! He distinctly declares, with his own voice, as you yourselves have recorded, that there will come to you even others, employing miracles of a similar kind, who are wicked men, and sorcerers; and he calls him who makes use of such devices, one Satan. So that Jesus himself does not deny that these works at least are not at all divine, but are the acts of wicked men; and being compelled by the force of truth, he at the same time not only laid open the doings of others, but convicted himself of the same acts. Is it not, then, a miserable inference, to conclude from the same works that the one is God and the other sorcerers? Why ought the others, because of these acts, to be accounted wicked rather than this man, seeing they have him as their witness against himself? For he has himself acknowledged that these are not the works of a divine nature, but the inventions of certain deceivers, and of thoroughly wicked men. Observe, now, whether Celsus is not clearly convicted of slandering the Gospel by such statements, since what Jesus says regarding those who are to work signs and wonders is different from what this Jew of Celsus alleges it to be. For if Jesus had simply told His disciples to be on their guard against those who professed to work miracles, without declaring what they would give themselves out to be, then perhaps there would have been some ground for his suspicion. But since those against whom Jesus would have us to be on our guard give themselves out as the Christ - which is not a claim put forth by sorcerers - and since He says that even some who lead wicked lives will perform miracles in the name of Jesus, and expel demons out of men, sorcery in the case of these individuals, or any suspicion of such, is rather, if we may so speak, altogether banished, and the divinity of Christ established, as well as the divine mission of His disciples; seeing that it is possible that one who makes use of His name, and who is wrought upon by some power, in some way unknown, to make the pretence that he is the Christ, should seem to perform miracles like those of Jesus, while others through His name should do works resembling those of His genuine disciples. Paul, moreover, in the second Epistle to the Thessalonians, shows in what manner there will one day be revealed the man of sin, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. And again he says to the Thessalonians: And now you know what withholds that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now lets will let, until he be taken out of the way: and then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: even him, whose cunning is after the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish. And in assigning the reason why the man of sin is permitted to continue in existence, he says: Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. Let any one now say whether any of the statements in the Gospel, or in the writings of the apostle, could give occasion for the suspicion that there is therein contained any prediction of sorcery. Any one, moreover, who likes may find the prophecy in Daniel respecting antichrist. But Celsus falsities the words of Jesus, since He did not say that others would come working similar miracles to Himself, but who are wicked men and sorcerers, although Celsus asserts that He uttered such words. For as the power of the Egyptian magicians was not similar to the divinely-bestowed grace of Moses, but the issue clearly proved that the acts of the former were the effect of magic, while those of Moses were wrought by divine power; so the proceedings of the antichrists, and of those who feign that they can work miracles as being the disciples of Christ, are said to be lying signs and wonders, prevailing with all deceivableness of unrighteousness among them that perish; whereas the works of Christ and His disciples had for their fruit, not deceit, but the salvation of human souls. And who would rationally maintain that an improved moral life, which daily lessened the number of a man's offenses, could proceed from a system of deceit? "
2.55 The Jew continues his address to those of his countrymen who are converts, as follows: Come now, let us grant to you that the prediction was actually uttered. Yet how many others are there who practise such juggling tricks, in order to deceive their simple hearers, and who make gain by their deception?- as was the case, they say, with Zamolxis in Scythia, the slave of Pythagoras; and with Pythagoras himself in Italy; and with Rhampsinitus in Egypt (the latter of whom, they say, played at dice with Demeter in Hades, and returned to the upper world with a golden napkin which he had received from her as a gift); and also with Orpheus among the Odrysians, and Protesilaus in Thessaly, and Hercules at Cape T narus, and Theseus. But the question is, whether any one who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body. Or do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross, when he breathed his last, and in the earthquake and the darkness? That while alive he was of no assistance to himself, but that when dead he rose again, and showed the marks of his punishment, and how his hands were pierced with nails: who beheld this? A half-frantic woman, as you state, and some other one, perhaps, of those who were engaged in the same system of delusion, who had either dreamed so, owing to a peculiar state of mind, or under the influence of a wandering imagination had formed to himself an appearance according to his own wishes, which has been the case with numberless individuals; or, which is most probable, one who desired to impress others with this portent, and by such a falsehood to furnish an occasion to impostors like himself. Now, since it is a Jew who makes these statements, we shall conduct the defense of our Jesus as if we were replying to a Jew, still continuing the comparison derived from the accounts regarding Moses, and saying to him: How many others are there who practise similar juggling tricks to those of Moses, in order to deceive their silly hearers, and who make gain by their deception? Now this objection would be more appropriate in the mouth of one who did not believe in Moses (as we might quote the instances of Zamolxis and Pythagoras, who were engaged in such juggling tricks) than in that of a Jew, who is not very learned in the histories of the Greeks. An Egyptian, moreover, who did not believe the miracles of Moses, might credibly adduce the instance of Rhampsinitus, saying that it was far more credible that he had descended to Hades, and had played at dice with Demeter, and that after stealing from her a golden napkin he exhibited it as a sign of his having been in Hades, and of his having returned thence, than that Moses should have recorded that he entered into the darkness, where God was, and that he alone, above all others, drew near to God. For the following is his statement: Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the rest shall not come near. We, then, who are the disciples of Jesus, say to the Jew who urges these objections: While assailing our belief in Jesus, defend yourself, and answer the Egyptian and the Greek objectors: what will you say to those charges which you brought against our Jesus, but which also might be brought against Moses first? And if you should make a vigorous effort to defend Moses, as indeed his history does admit of a clear and powerful defense, you will unconsciously, in your support of Moses, be an unwilling assistant in establishing the greater divinity of Jesus. ' "
2.56 But since the Jew says that these histories of the alleged descent of heroes to Hades, and of their return thence, are juggling impositions, maintaining that these heroes disappeared for a certain time, and secretly withdrew themselves from the sight of all men, and gave themselves out afterwards as having returned from Hades, - for such is the meaning which his words seem to convey respecting the Odrysian Orpheus, and the Thessalian Protesilaus, and the T narian Hercules, and Theseus also - let us endeavour to show that the account of Jesus being raised from the dead cannot possibly be compared to these. For each one of the heroes respectively mentioned might, had he wished, have secretly withdrawn himself from the sight of men, and returned again, if so determined, to those whom he had left; but seeing that Jesus was crucified before all the Jews, and His body slain in the presence of His nation, how can they bring themselves to say that He practised a similar deception with those heroes who are related to have gone down to Hades, and to have returned thence? But we say that the following consideration might be adduced, perhaps, as a defense of the public crucifixion of Jesus, especially in connection with the existence of those stories of heroes who are supposed to have been compelled to descend to Hades: that if we were to suppose Jesus to have died an obscure death, so that the fact of His decease was not patent to the whole nation of the Jews, and afterwards to have actually risen from the dead, there would, in such a case, have been ground for the same suspicion entertained regarding the heroes being also entertained regarding Himself. Probably, then, in addition to other causes for the crucifixion of Jesus, this also may have contributed to His dying a conspicuous death upon the cross, that no one might have it in his power to say that He voluntarily withdrew from the sight of men, and seemed only to die, without really doing so; but, appearing again, made a juggler's trick of the resurrection from the dead. But a clear and unmistakeable proof of the fact I hold to be the undertaking of His disciples, who devoted themselves to the teaching of a doctrine which was attended with danger to human life - a doctrine which they would not have taught with such courage had they invented the resurrection of Jesus from the dead; and who also, at the same time, not only prepared others to despise death, but were themselves the first to manifest their disregard for its terrors. "
2.58 Further, after these Greek stories which the Jew adduced respecting those who were guilty of juggling practices, and who pretended to have risen from the dead, he says to those Jews who are converts to Christianity: Do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross, when he breathed his last? We reply to the Jew: What you adduce as myths, we regard also as such; but the statements of the Scriptures which are common to us both, in which not you only, but we also, take pride, we do not at all regard as myths. And therefore we accord our belief to those who have therein related that some rose from the dead, as not being guilty of imposition; and to Him especially there mentioned as having risen, who both predicted the event Himself, and was the subject of prediction by others. And His resurrection is more miraculous than that of the others in this respect, that they were raised by the prophets Elijah and Elisha, while He was raised by none of the prophets, but by His Father in heaven. And therefore His resurrection also produced greater results than theirs. For what great good has accrued to the world from the resurrection of the children through the instrumentality of Elijah and Elisha, such as has resulted from the preaching of the resurrection of Jesus, accepted as an article of belief, and as effected through the agency of divine power?
2.60 In the next place, as if this were possible, viz., that the image of a man who was dead could appear to another as if he were still living, he adopts this opinion as an Epicurean, and says, That some one having so dreamed owing to a peculiar state of mind, or having, under the influence of a perverted imagination, formed such an appearance as he himself desired, reported that such had been seen; and this, he continues, has been the case with numberless individuals. But even if this statement of his seems to have a considerable degree of force, it is nevertheless only fitted to confirm a necessary doctrine, that the soul of the dead exists in a separate state (from the body); and he who adopts such an opinion does not believe without good reason in the immortality, or at least continued existence, of the soul, as even Plato says in his treatise on the Soul that shadowy phantoms of persons already dead have appeared to some around their sepulchres. Now the phantoms which exist about the soul of the dead are produced by some substance, and this substance is in the soul, which exists apart in a body said to be of splendid appearance. But Celsus, unwilling to admit any such view, will have it that some dreamed a waking dream, and, under the influence of a perverted imagination, formed to themselves such an image as they desired. Now it is not irrational to believe that a dream may take place while one is asleep; but to suppose a waking vision in the case of those who are not altogether out of their senses, and under the influence of delirium or hypochondria, is incredible. And Celsus, seeing this, called the woman half-mad,- a statement which is not made by the history recording the fact, but from which he took occasion to charge the occurrences with being untrue. ' "
2.68 But let us observe how this Jew of Celsus asserts that, if this at least would have helped to manifest his divinity, he ought accordingly to have at once disappeared from the cross. Now this seems to me to be like the argument of those who oppose the doctrine of providence, and who arrange things differently from what they are, and allege that the world would be better if it were as they arrange it. Now, in those instances in which their arrangement is a possible one, they are proved to make the world, so far as depends upon them, worse by their arrangement than it actually is; while in those cases in which they do not portray things worse than they really are, they are shown to desire impossibilities; so that in either case they are deserving of ridicule. And here, accordingly, that there was no impossibility in His coming, as a being of diviner nature, in order to disappear when He chose, is clear from the very nature of the case; and is certain, moreover, from what is recorded of Him, in the judgment of those who do not adopt certain portions merely of the narrative that they may have ground for accusing Christianity, and who consider other portions to be fiction. For it is related in St. Luke's Gospel, that Jesus after His resurrection took bread, and blessed it, and breaking it, distributed it to Simon and Cleopas; and when they had received the bread, their eyes were opened, and they knew Him, and He vanished out of their sight. " "3.
1 In the first book of our answer to the work of Celsus, who had boastfully entitled the treatise which he had composed against us A True Discourse, we have gone through, as you enjoined, my faithful Ambrosius, to the best of our ability, his preface, and the parts immediately following it, testing each one of his assertions as we went along, until we finished with the tirade of this Jew of his, feigned to have been delivered against Jesus. And in the second book we met, as we best could, all the charges contained in the invective of the said Jew, which were levelled at us who are believers in God through Christ; and now we enter upon this third division of our discourse, in which our object is to refute the allegations which he makes in his own person. He gives it as his opinion, that the controversy between Jews and Christians is a most foolish one, and asserts that the discussions which we have with each other regarding Christ differ in no respect from what is called in the proverb, 'a fight about the shadow of an ass.' and thinks that there is nothing of importance in the investigations of the Jews and Christians: for both believe that it was predicted by the Divine Spirit that one was to come as a Saviour to the human race, but do not yet agree on the point whether the person predicted has actually come or not. For we Christians, indeed, have believed in Jesus, as He who came according to the predictions of the prophets. But the majority of the Jews are so far from believing in Him, that those of them who lived at the time of His coming conspired against Him; and those of the present day, approving of what the Jews of former times dared to do against Him, speak evil of Him, asserting that it was by means of sorcery that he passed himself off for Him who was predicted by the prophets as the One who was to come, and who was called, agreeably to the traditions of the Jews, the Christ. " "
3.5 Immediately after these points, Celsus, imagining that the Jews are Egyptians by descent, and had abandoned Egypt, after revolting against the Egyptian state, and despising the customs of that people in matters of worship, says that they suffered from the adherents of Jesus, who believed in Him as the Christ, the same treatment which they had inflicted upon the Egyptians; and that the cause which led to the new state of things in either instance was rebellion against the state. Now let us observe what Celsus has here done. The ancient Egyptians, after inflicting many cruelties upon the Hebrew race, who had settled in Egypt owing to a famine which had broken out in Judea, suffered, in consequence of their injustice to strangers and suppliants, that punishment which divine Providence had decreed was to fall on the whole nation for having combined against an entire people, who had been their guests, and who had done them no harm; and after being smitten by plagues from God, they allowed them, with difficulty, and after a brief period, to go wherever they liked, as being unjustly detained in slavery. Because, then, they were a selfish people, who honoured those who were in any degree related to them far more than they did strangers of better lives, there is not an accusation which they have omitted to bring against Moses and the Hebrews, - not altogether denying, indeed, the miracles and wonders done by him, but alleging that they were wrought by sorcery, and not by divine power. Moses, however, not as a magician, but as a devout man, and one devoted to the God of all things, and a partaker in the divine Spirit, both enacted laws for the Hebrews, according to the suggestions of the Divinity, and recorded events as they happened with perfect fidelity.
3.6 Celsus, therefore, not investigating in a spirit of impartiality the facts, which are related by the Egyptians in one way, and by the Hebrews in another, but being bewitched, as it were, in favour of the former, accepted as true the statements of those who had oppressed the strangers, and declared that the Hebrews, who had been unjustly treated, had departed from Egypt after revolting against the Egyptians, - not observing how impossible it was for so great a multitude of rebellious Egyptians to become a nation, which, dating its origin from the said revolt, should change its language at the time of its rebellion, so that those who up to that time made use of the Egyptian tongue, should completely adopt, all at once, the language of the Hebrews! Let it be granted, however, according to his supposition, that on abandoning Egypt they did conceive a hatred also of their mother tongue, how did it happen that after so doing they did not rather adopt the Syrian or Phœnician language, instead of preferring the Hebrew, which is different from both? But reason seems to me to demonstrate that the statement is false, which makes those who were Egyptians by race to have revolted against Egyptians, and to have left the country, and to have proceeded to Palestine, and occupied the land now called Judea. For Hebrew was the language of their fathers before their descent into Egypt; and the Hebrew letters, employed by Moses in writing those five books which are deemed sacred by the Jews, were different from those of the Egyptians.
7 In like manner, as the statement is false that the Hebrews, being (originally) Egyptians, dated the commencement (of their political existence) from the time of their rebellion, so also is this, that in the days of Jesus others who were Jews rebelled against the Jewish state, and became His followers; for neither Celsus nor they who think with him are able to point out any act on the part of Christians which savours of rebellion. And yet, if a revolt had led to the formation of the Christian commonwealth, so that it derived its existence in this way from that of the Jews, who were permitted to take up arms in defense of the members of their families, and to slay their enemies, the Christian Lawgiver would not have altogether forbidden the putting of men to death; and yet He nowhere teaches that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to any one, however wicked. For He did not deem it in keeping with such laws as His, which were derived from a divine source, to allow the killing of any individual whatever. Nor would the Christians, had they owed their origin to a rebellion, have adopted laws of so exceedingly mild a character as not to allow them, when it was their fate to be slain as sheep, on any occasion to resist their persecutors. And truly, if we look a little deeper into things, we may say regarding the exodus from Egypt, that it is a miracle if a whole nation at once adopted the language called Hebrew, as if it had been a gift from heaven, when one of their own prophets said, As they went forth from Egypt, they heard a language which they did not understand. 3.
13 Now, if these arguments hold good, why should we not defend, in the same way, the existence of heresies in Christianity? And respecting these, Paul appears to me to speak in a very striking manner when he says, For there must be heresies among you, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you. For as that man is approved in medicine who, on account of his experience in various (medical) heresies, and his honest examination of the majority of them, has selected the preferable system - and as the great proficient in philosophy is he who, after acquainting himself experimentally with the various views, has given in his adhesion to the best, - so I would say that the wisest Christian was he who had carefully studied the heresies both of Judaism and Christianity. Whereas he who finds fault with Christianity because of its heresies would find fault also with the teaching of Socrates, from whose school have issued many others of discordant views. Nay, the opinions of Plato might be chargeable with error, on account of Aristotle's having separated from his school, and founded a new one - on which subject we have remarked in the preceding book. But it appears to me that Celsus has become acquainted with certain heresies which do not possess even the name of Jesus in common with us. Perhaps he had heard of the sects called Ophites and Cainites, or some others of a similar nature, which had departed in all points from the teaching of Jesus. And yet surely this furnishes no ground for a charge against the Christian doctrine. " "3.
14 After this he continues: Their union is the more wonderful, the more it can be shown to be based on no substantial reason. And yet rebellion is a substantial reason, as well as the advantages which accrue from it, and the fear of external enemies. Such are the causes which give stability to their faith. To this we answer, that our union does thus rest upon a reason, or rather not upon a reason, but upon the divine working, so that its commencement was God's teaching men, in the prophetical writings, to expect the advent of Christ, who was to be the Saviour of mankind. For in so far as this point is not really refuted (although it may seem to be by unbelievers), in the same proportion is the doctrine commended as the doctrine of God, and Jesus shown to be the Son of God both before and after His incarnation. I maintain, moreover, that even after His incarnation, He is always found by those who possess the acutest spiritual vision to be most God-like, and to have really come down to us from God, and to have derived His origin or subsequent development not from human wisdom, but from the manifestation of God within Him, who by His manifold wisdom and miracles established Judaism first, and Christianity afterwards; and the assertion that rebellion, and the advantages attending it, were the originating causes of a doctrine which has converted and improved so many men was effectually refuted. " '3.
16 But what the legends are of every kind which we gather together, or the terrors which we invent, as Celsus without proof asserts, he who likes may show. I know not, indeed, what he means by inventing terrors, unless it be our doctrine of God as Judge, and of the condemnation of men for their deeds, with the various proofs derived partly from Scripture, partly from probable reason. And yet - for truth is precious - Celsus says, at the close, Forbid that either I, or these, or any other individual should ever reject the doctrine respecting the future punishment of the wicked and the reward of the good! What terrors, then, if you except the doctrine of punishment, do we invent and impose upon mankind? And if he should reply that we weave together erroneous opinions drawn from ancient sources, and trumpet them aloud, and sound them before men, as the priests of Cybele clash their cymbals in the ears of those who are being initiated in their mysteries; we shall ask him in reply, Erroneous opinions from what ancient sources? For, whether he refers to Grecian accounts, which taught the existence of courts of justice under the earth, or Jewish, which, among other things, predicted the life that follows the present one; he will be unable to show that we who, striving to believe in grounds of reason, regulate our lives in conformity with such doctrines, have failed correctly to ascertain the truth. 3.
7 He wishes, indeed, to compare the articles of our faith to those of the Egyptians; among whom, as you approach their sacred edifices, are to be seen splendid enclosures, and groves, and large and beautiful gateways, and wonderful temples, and magnificent tents around them, and ceremonies of worship full of superstition and mystery; but when you have entered, and passed within, the object of worship is seen to be a cat, or an ape, or a crocodile, or a goat, or a dog! Now, what is the resemblance between us and the splendours of Egyptian worship which are seen by those who draw near their temples? And where is the resemblance to those irrational animals which are worshipped within, after you pass through the splendid gateways? Are our prophecies, and the God of all things, and the injunctions against images, objects of reverence in the view of Celsus also, and Jesus Christ crucified, the analogue to the worship of the irrational animal? But if he should assert this - and I do not think that he will maintain anything else - we shall reply that we have spoken in the preceding pages at greater length in defense of those charges affecting Jesus, showing that what appeared to have happened to Him in the capacity of His human nature, was fraught with benefit to all men, and with salvation to the whole world. 3.
18 In the next place, referring to the statements of the Egyptians, who talk loftily about irrational animals, and who assert that they are a sort of symbols of God, or anything else which their prophets, so termed, are accustomed to call them, Celsus says that an impression is produced in the minds of those who have learned these things; that they have not been initiated in vain; while with regard to the truths which are taught in our writings to those who have made progress in the study of Christianity (through that which is called by Paul the gift consisting in the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and in the word of knowledge according to the Spirit), Celsus does not seem even to have formed an idea, judging not only from what he has already said, but from what he subsequently adds in his attack upon the Christian system, when he asserts that Christians repel every wise man from the doctrine of their faith, and invite only the ignorant and the vulgar; on which assertions we shall remark in due time, when we come to the proper place. ' "3.
19 He says, indeed, that we ridicule the Egyptians, although they present many by no means contemptible mysteries for our consideration, when they teach us that such rites are acts of worship offered to eternal ideas, and not, as the multitude think, to ephemeral animals; and that we are silly, because we introduce nothing nobler than the goats and dogs of the Egyptian worship in our narratives about Jesus. Now to this we reply, Good sir, (suppose that) you are right in eulogizing the fact that the Egyptians present to view many by no means contemptible mysteries, and obscure explanations about the animals (worshipped) among them, you nevertheless do not act consistently in accusing us as if you believed that we had nothing to state which was worthy of consideration, but that all our doctrines were contemptible and of no account, seeing we unfold the narratives concerning Jesus according to the 'wisdom of the word' to those who are 'perfect' in Christianity. Regarding whom, as being competent to understand the wisdom that is in Christianity, Paul says: 'We speak wisdom among them that are perfect; yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who come to nought, but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; which none of the princes of this world knew.' " "3.
2 But this low jester Celsus, omitting no species of mockery and ridicule which can be employed against us, mentions in his treatise the Dioscuri, and Hercules, and Æsculapius, and Dionysus, who are believed by the Greeks to have become gods after being men, and says that we cannot bear to call such beings gods, because they were at first men, and yet they manifested many noble qualifies, which were displayed for the benefit of mankind, while we assert that Jesus was seen after His death by His own followers; and he brings against us an additional charge, as if we said that He was seen indeed, but was only a shadow! Now to this we reply, that it was very artful of Celsus not here clearly to indicate that he did not regard these beings as gods, for he was afraid of the opinion of those who might peruse his treatise, and who might suppose him to be an atheist; whereas, if he had paid respect to what appeared to him to be the truth, he would not have feigned to regard them as gods. Now to either of the allegations we are ready with an answer. Let us, accordingly, to those who do not regard them as gods reply as follows: These beings, then, are not gods at all; but agreeably to the view of those who think that the soul of man perishes immediately (after death), the souls of these men also perished; or according to the opinion of those who say that the soul continues to subsist or is immortal, these men continue to exist or are immortal, and they are not gods but heroes, - or not even heroes, but simply souls. If, then, on the one hand, you suppose them not to exist, we shall have to prove the doctrine of the soul's immortality, which is to us a doctrine of pre-eminent importance; if, on the other hand, they do exist, we have still to prove the doctrine of immortality, not only by what the Greeks have so well said regarding it, but also in a manner agreeable to the teaching of Holy Scripture. And we shall demonstrate that it is impossible for those who were polytheists during their lives to obtain a better country and position after their departure from this world, by quoting the histories that are related of them, in which is recorded the great dissoluteness of Hercules, and his effeminate bondage with Omphale, together with the statements regarding Æsculapius, that their Zeus struck him dead by a thunderbolt. And of the Dioscuri, it will be said that they die often - At one time live on alternate days, and at anotherDie, and obtain honour equally with the gods. How, then, can they reasonably imagine that one of these is to be regarded as a god or a hero? " '3.
23 But we, in proving the facts related of our Jesus from the prophetic Scriptures, and comparing afterwards His history with them, demonstrate that no dissoluteness on His part is recorded. For even they who conspired against Him, and who sought false witnesses to aid them, did not find even any plausible grounds for advancing a false charge against Him, so as to accuse Him of licentiousness; but His death was indeed the result of a conspiracy, and bore no resemblance to the death of Æsculapius by lightning. And what is there that is venerable in the madman Dionysus, and his female garments, that he should be worshipped as a god? And if they who would defend such beings betake themselves to allegorical interpretations, we must examine each individual instance, and ascertain whether it is well founded, and also in each particular case, whether those beings can have a real existence, and are deserving of respect and worship who were torn by the Titans, and cast down from their heavenly throne. Whereas our Jesus, who appeared to the members of His own troop - for I will take the word that Celsus employs - did really appear, and Celsus makes a false accusation against the Gospel in saying that what appeared was a shadow. And let the statements of their histories and that of Jesus be carefully compared together. Will Celsus have the former to be true, but the latter, although recorded by eye-witnesses who showed by their acts that they clearly understood the nature of what they had seen, and who manifested their state of mind by what they cheerfully underwent for the sake of His Gospel, to be inventions? Now, who is there that, desiring to act always in conformity with right reason, would yield his assent at random to what is related of the one, but would rush to the history of Jesus, and without examination refuse to believe what is recorded of Him? 3.
24 And again, when it is said of Æsculapius that a great multitude both of Greeks and Barbarians acknowledge that they have frequently seen, and still see, no mere phantom, but Æsculapius himself, healing and doing good, and foretelling the future; Celsus requires us to believe this, and finds no fault with the believers in Jesus, when we express our belief in such stories, but when we give our assent to the disciples, and eye-witnesses of the miracles of Jesus, who clearly manifest the honesty of their convictions (because we see their guilelessness, as far as it is possible to see the conscience revealed in writing), we are called by him a set of silly individuals, although he cannot demonstrate that an incalculable number, as he asserts, of Greeks and Barbarians acknowledge the existence of Æsculapius; while we, if we deem this a matter of importance, can clearly show a countless multitude of Greeks and Barbarians who acknowledge the existence of Jesus. And some give evidence of their having received through this faith a marvellous power by the cures which they perform, revoking no other name over those who need their help than that of the God of all things, and of Jesus, along with a mention of His history. For by these means we too have seen many persons freed from grievous calamities, and from distractions of mind, and madness, and countless other ills, which could be cured neither by men nor devils. ' "3.
26 Let us see what Celsus says next, when he adduces from history marvellous occurrences, which in themselves seem to be incredible, but which are not discredited by him, so far at least as appears from his words. And, in the first place, regarding Aristeas of Proconnesus, of whom he speaks as follows: Then, with respect to Aristeas of Proconnesus, who disappeared from among men in a manner so indicative of divine intervention, and who showed himself again in so unmistakeable a fashion, and on many subsequent occasions visited many parts of the world, and announced marvellous events, and whom Apollo enjoined the inhabitants of Metapontium to regard as a god, no one considers him to be a god. This account he appears to have taken from Pindar and Herodotus. It will be sufficient, however, at present to quote the statement of the latter writer from the fourth book of his histories, which is to the following effect: of what country Aristeas, who made these verses, was, has already been mentioned, and I shall now relate the account I heard of him in Proconnesus and Cyzicus. They say that Aristeas, who was inferior to none of the citizens by birth, entering into a fuller's shop in Proconnesus, died suddenly, and that the fuller, having closed his workshop, went to acquaint the relatives of the deceased. When the report had spread through the city that Aristeas was dead, a certain Cyzicenian, arriving from Artace, fell into a dispute with those who made the report, affirming that he had met and conversed with him on his way to Cyzicus, and he vehemently disputed the truth of the report; but the relations of the deceased went to the fuller's shop, taking with them what was necessary for the purpose of carrying the body away; but when the house was opened, Aristeas was not to be seen, either dead or alive. They say that afterwards, in the seventh year, he appeared in Proconnesus, composed those verses which by the Greeks are now called Arimaspian, and having composed them, disappeared a second time. Such is the story current in these cities. But these things I know happened to the Metapontines in Italy 340 years after the second disappearance of Aristeas, as I discovered by computation in Proconnesus and Metapontium. The Metapontines say that Aristeas himself, having appeared in their country, exhorted them to erect an altar to Apollo, and to place near it a statue bearing the name of Aristeas the Proconnesian; for he said that Apollo had visited their country only of all the Italians, and that he himself, who was now Aristeas, accompanied him; and that when he accompanied the god he was a crow; and after saying this he vanished. And the Metapontines say they sent to Delphi to inquire of the god what the apparition of the man meant; but the Pythian bade them obey the apparition, and if they obeyed it would conduce to their benefit. They accordingly, having received this answer, fulfilled the injunctions. And now, a statue bearing the name of Aristeas is placed near the image of Apollo, and around it laurels are planted: the image is placed in the public square. Thus much concerning Aristeas. " '3.
7 Now, in answer to this account of Aristeas, we have to say, that if Celsus had adduced it as history, without signifying his own assent to its truth, it is in a different way that we should have met his argument. But since he asserts that he disappeared through the intervention of the divinity, and showed himself again in an unmistakeable manner, and visited many parts of the world, and made marvellous announcements; and, moreover, that there was an oracle of Apollo, enjoining the Metapontines to treat Aristeas as a god, he gives the accounts relating to him as upon his own authority, and with his full assent. And (this being the case), we ask, How is it possible that, while supposing the marvels related by the disciples of Jesus regarding their Master to be wholly fictitious, and finding fault with those who believe them, you, O Celsus, do not regard these stories of yours to be either products of jugglery or inventions? And how, while charging others with an irrational belief in the marvels recorded of Jesus, can you show yourself justified in giving credence to such statement as the above, without producing some proof or evidence of the alleged occurrences having taken place? Or do Herodotus and Pindar appear to you to speak the truth, while they who have made it their concern to die for the doctrine of Jesus, and who have left to their successors writings so remarkable on the truths which they believed, entered for the sake of fictions (as you consider them), and myths, and juggleries, upon a struggle which entails a life of danger and a death of violence? Place yourself, then, as a neutral party, between what is related of Aristeas and what is recorded of Jesus, and see whether, from the result, and from the benefits which have accrued from the reformation of morals, and to the worship of the God who is over all things, it is not allowable to conclude that we must believe the events recorded of Jesus not to have happened without the divine intervention, but that this was not the case with the story of Aristeas the Proconnesian. 3.
28 For with what purpose in view did Providence accomplish the marvels related of Aristeas? And to confer what benefit upon the human race did such remarkable events, as you regard them, take place? You cannot answer. But we, when we relate the events of the history of Jesus, have no ordinary defense to offer for their occurrence - this, viz., that God desired to commend the doctrine of Jesus as a doctrine which was to save mankind, and which was based, indeed, upon the apostles as foundations of the rising edifice of Christianity, but which increased in magnitude also in the succeeding ages, in which not a few cures are wrought in the name of Jesus, and certain other manifestations of no small moment have taken place. Now what sort of person is Apollo, who enjoined the Metapontines to treat Aristeas as a god? And with what object does he do this? And what advantage was he procuring to the Metapontines from this divine worship, if they were to regard him as a god, who a little ago was a mortal? And yet the recommendations of Apollo (viewed by us as a demon who has obtained the honour of libation and sacrificial odours ) regarding this Aristeas appear to you to be worthy of consideration; while those of the God of all things, and of His holy angels, made known beforehand through the prophets- not after the birth of Jesus, but before He appeared among men- do not stir you up to admiration, not merely of the prophets who received the Divine Spirit, but of Him also who was the object of their predictions, whose entrance into life was so clearly predicted many years beforehand by numerous prophets, that the whole Jewish people who were hanging in expectation of the coming of Him who was looked for, did, after the advent of Jesus, fall into a keen dispute with each other; and that a great multitude of them acknowledged Christ, and believed Him to be the object of prophecy, while others did not believe in Him, but, despising the meekness of those who, on account of the teaching of Jesus, were unwilling to cause even the most trifling sedition, dared to inflict on Jesus those cruelties which His disciples have so truthfully and candidly recorded, without secretly omitting from their marvellous history of Him what seems to the multitude to bring disgrace upon the doctrine of Christianity. But both Jesus Himself and His disciples desired that His followers should believe not merely in His Godhead and miracles, as if He had not also been a partaker of human nature, and had assumed the human flesh which lusts against the Spirit; but they saw also that the power which had descended into human nature, and into the midst of human miseries, and which had assumed a human soul and body, contributed through faith, along with its divine elements, to the salvation of believers, when they see that from Him there began the union of the divine with the human nature, in order that the human, by communion with the divine, might rise to be divine, not in Jesus alone, but in all those who not only believe, but enter upon the life which Jesus taught, and which elevates to friendship with God and communion with Him every one who lives according to the precepts of Jesus. 3.
29 According to Celsus, then, Apollo wished the Metapontines to treat Aristeas as a god. But as the Metapontines considered the evidence in favour of Aristeas being a man - and probably not a virtuous one - to be stronger than the declaration of the oracle to the effect that he was a god or worthy of divine honours, they for that reason would not obey Apollo, and consequently no one regarded Aristeas as a god. But with respect to Jesus we would say that, as it was of advantage to the human race to accept him as the Son of God- God come in a human soul and body - and as this did not seem to be advantageous to the gluttonous appetites of the demons which love bodies, and to those who deem them to be gods on that account, the demons that are on earth (which are supposed to be gods by those who are not instructed in the nature of demons), and also their worshippers, were desirous to prevent the spread of the doctrine of Jesus; for they saw that the libations and odours in which they greedily delighted were being swept away by the prevalence of the instructions of Jesus. But the God who sent Jesus dissipated all the conspiracies of the demons, and made the Gospel of Jesus to prevail throughout the whole world for the conversion and reformation of men, and caused Churches to be everywhere established in opposition to those of superstitious and licentious and wicked men; for such is the character of the multitudes who constitute the citizens in the assemblies of the various cities. Whereas the Churches of God which are instructed by Christ, when carefully contrasted with the assemblies of the districts in which they are situated, are as beacons in the world; for who would not admit that even the inferior members of the Church, and those who in comparison with the better are less worthy, are nevertheless more excellent than many of those who belong to the assemblies in the different districts?
3.30 For the Church of God, e.g., which is at Athens, is a meek and stable body, as being one which desires to please God, who is over all things; whereas the assembly of the Athenians is given to sedition, and is not at all to be compared to the Church of God in that city. And you may say the same thing of the Church of God at Corinth, and of the assembly of the Corinthian people; and also of the Church of God at Alexandria, and of the assembly of the people of Alexandria. And if he who hears this be a candid man, and one who investigates things with a desire to ascertain the truth, he will be filled with admiration of Him who not only conceived the design, but also was able to secure in all places the establishment of Churches of God alongside of the assemblies of the people in each city. In like manner, also, in comparing the council of the Church of God with the council in any city, you would find that certain councillors of the Church are worthy to rule in the city of God, if there be any such city in the whole world; whereas the councillors in all other places exhibit in their characters no quality worthy of the conventional superiority which they appear to enjoy over their fellow citizens. And so, too, you must compare the ruler of the Church in each city with the ruler of the people of the city, in order to observe that even among those councillors and rulers of the Church of God who come very far short of their duty, and who lead more indolent lives than others who are more energetic, it is nevertheless possible to discover a general superiority in what relates to the progress of virtue over the characters of the councillors and rulers in the various cities. 3.3
1 Now if these things be so, why should it not be consistent with reason to hold with regard to Jesus, who was able to effect results so great, that there dwelt in Him no ordinary divinity? While this was not the case either with the Proconnesian Aristeas (although Apollo would have him regarded as a god), or with the other individuals enumerated by Celsus when he says, No one regards Abaris the Hyperborean as a god, who was possessed of such power as to be borne along like an arrow from a bow. For with what object did the deity who bestowed upon this Hyperborean Abaris the power of being carried along like an arrow, confer upon him such a gift? Was it that the human race might be benefited thereby, or did he himself obtain any advantage from the possession of such a power?- always supposing it to be conceded that these statements are not wholly inventions, but that the thing actually happened through the co-operation of some demon. But if it be recorded that my Jesus was received up into glory, I perceive the divine arrangement in such an act, viz., because God, who brought this to pass, commends in this way the Teacher to those who witnessed it, in order that as men who are contending not for human doctrine, but for divine teaching, they may devote themselves as far as possible to the God who is over all, and may do all things in order to please Him, as those who are to receive in the divine judgment the reward of the good or evil which they have wrought in this life. 3.3
2 But as Celsus next mentions the case of the Clazomenian, subjoining to the story about him this remark, Do they not report that his soul frequently quitted his body, and flitted about in an incorporeal form? And yet men did not regard him as a god, we have to answer that probably certain wicked demons contrived that such statements should be committed to writing (for I do not believe that they contrived that such a thing should actually take place), in order that the predictions regarding Jesus, and the discourses uttered by Him, might either be evil spoken of, as inventions like these, or might excite no surprise, as not being more remarkable than other occurrences. But my Jesus said regarding His own soul (which was separated from the body, not by virtue of any human necessity, but by the miraculous power which was given Him also for this purpose): No one takes my life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. For as He had power to lay it down, He laid it down when He said, Father, why have You forsaken Me? And when He had cried with a loud voice, He gave up the ghost, anticipating the public executioners of the crucified, who break the legs of the victims, and who do so in order that their punishment may not be further prolonged. And He took His life, when He manifested Himself to His disciples, having in their presence foretold to the unbelieving Jews, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again, and He spoke this of the temple of His body; the prophets, moreover, having predicted such a result in many other passages of their writings, and in this, My flesh also shall rest in hope: for You will not leave my soul in hell, neither will You suffer Your Holy One to see corruption.
3.34 I am, however, of opinion that these individuals are the only instances with which Celsus was acquainted. And yet, that he might appear voluntarily to pass by other similar cases, he says, And one might name many others of the same kind. Let it be granted, then, that many such persons have existed who conferred no benefit upon the human race: what would each one of their acts be found to amount to in comparison with the work of Jesus, and the miracles related of Him, of which we have already spoken at considerable length? He next imagines that, in worshipping him who, as he says, was taken prisoner and put to death, we are acting like the Get who worship Zamolxis, and the Cilicians who worship Mopsus, and the Acarians who pay divine honours to Amphilochus, and like the Thebans who do the same to Amphiaraus, and the Lebadians to Trophonius. Now in these instances we shall prove that he has compared us to the foregoing without good grounds. For these different tribes erected temples and statues to those individuals above enumerated, whereas we have refrained from offering to the Divinity honour by any such means (seeing they are adapted rather to demons, which are somehow fixed in a certain place which they prefer to any other, or which take up their dwelling, as it were, after being removed (from one place to another) by certain rites and incantations), and are lost in reverential wonder at Jesus, who has recalled our minds from all sensible things, as being not only corruptible, but destined to corruption, and elevated them to honour the God who is over all with prayers and a righteous life, which we offer to Him as being intermediate between the nature of the uncreated and that of all created things, and who bestows upon us the benefits which come from the Father, and who as High Priest conveys our prayers to the supreme God.
3.35 But I should like, in answer to him who for some unknown reason advances such statements as the above, to make in a conversational way some such remarks as the following, which seem not inappropriate to him. Are then those persons whom you have mentioned nonentities, and is there no power in Lebadea connected with Trophonius, nor in Thebes with the temple of Amphiaraus, nor in Acaria with Amphilochus, nor in Cilicia with Mopsus? Or is there in such persons some being, either a demon, or a hero, or even a god, working works which are beyond the reach of man? For if he answer that there is nothing either demoniacal or divine about these individuals more than others, then let him at once make known his own opinion, as being that of an Epicurean, and of one who does not hold the same views with the Greeks, and who neither recognises demons nor worships gods as do the Greeks; and let it be shown that it was to no purpose that he adduced the instances previously enumerated (as if he believed them to be true), together with those which he adds in the following pages. But if he will assert that the persons spoken of are either demons, or heroes, or even gods, let him notice that he will establish by what he has admitted a result which he does not desire, viz., that Jesus also was some such being; for which reason, too, he was able to demonstrate to not a few that He had come down from God to visit the human race. And if he once admit this, see whether he will not be forced to confess that He is mightier than those individuals with whom he classed Him, seeing none of the latter forbids the offering of honour to the others; while He, having confidence in Himself, because He is more powerful than all those others, forbids them to be received as divine because they are wicked demons, who have taken possession of places on earth, through inability to rise to the purer and diviner region, whither the grossnesses of earth and its countless evils cannot reach.
7 The Egyptians, then, having been taught to worship Antinous, will, if you compare him with Apollo or Zeus, endure such a comparison, Antinous being magnified in their estimation through being classed with these deities; for Celsus is clearly convicted of falsehood when he says, that they will not endure his being compared with Apollo or Zeus. Whereas Christians (who have learned that their eternal life consists in knowing the only true God, who is over all, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent; and who have learned also that all the gods of the heathen are greedy demons, which flit around sacrifices and blood, and other sacrificial accompaniments, in order to deceive those who have not taken refuge with the God who is over all, but that the divine and holy angels of God are of a different nature and will from all the demons on earth, and that they are known to those exceedingly few persons who have carefully and intelligently investigated these matters) will not endure a comparison to be made between them and Apollo or Zeus, or any being worshipped with odour and blood and sacrifices; some of them, so acting from their extreme simplicity, not being able to give a reason for their conduct, but sincerely observing the precepts which they have received; others, again, for reasons not to be lightly regarded, nay, even of a profound description, and (as a Greek would say) drawn from the inner nature of things; and among the latter of these God is a frequent subject of conversation, and those who are honoured by God, through His only-begotten Word, with participation in His divinity, and therefore also in His name. They speak much, too, both regarding the angels of God and those who are opposed to the truth, but have been deceived; and who, in consequence of being deceived, call them gods or angels of God, or good demons, or heroes who have become such by the transference into them of a good human soul. And such Christians will also show, that as in philosophy there are many who appear to be in possession of the truth, who have yet either deceived themselves by plausible arguments, or by rashly assenting to what was brought forward and discovered by others; so also, among those souls which exist apart from bodies, both angels and demons, there are some which have been induced by plausible reasons to declare themselves gods. And because it was impossible that the reasons of such things could be discovered by men with perfect exactness, it was deemed safe that no mortal should entrust himself to any being as to God, with the exception of Jesus Christ, who is, as it were, the Ruler over all things, and who both beheld these weighty secrets, and made them known to a few.
3.38 The belief, then, in Antinous, or any other such person, whether among the Egyptians or the Greeks, is, so to speak, unfortunate; while the belief in Jesus would seem to be either a fortunate one, or the result of thorough investigation, having the appearance of the former to the multitude, and of the latter to exceedingly few. And when I speak of a certain belief being, as the multitude would call it, unfortunate, I in such a case refer the cause to God, who knows the reasons of the various fates allotted to each one who enters human life. The Greeks, moreover, will admit that even among those who are considered to be most largely endowed with wisdom, good fortune has had much to do, as in the choice of teachers of one kind rather than another, and in meeting with a better class of instructors (there being teachers who taught the most opposite doctrines), and in being brought up in better circumstances; for the bringing up of many has been amid surroundings of such a kind, that they were prevented from ever receiving any idea of better things, but constantly passed their life, from their earliest youth, either as the favourites of licentious men or of tyrants, or in some other wretched condition which forbade the soul to look upwards. And the causes of these varied fortunes, according to all probability, are to be found in the reasons of providence, though it is not easy for men to ascertain these; but I have said what I have done by way of digression from the main body of my subject, on account of the proverb, that such is the power of faith, because it seizes that which first presents itself. For it was necessary, owing to the different methods of education, to speak of the differences of belief among men, some of whom are more, others less fortunate in their belief; and from this to proceed to show that what is termed good or bad fortune would appear to contribute even in the case of the most talented, to their appearing to be more fully endowed with reason and to give their assent on grounds of reason to the majority of human opinions. But enough on these points.
3.39 We must notice the remarks which Celsus next makes, when he says to us, that faith, having taken possession of our minds, makes us yield the assent which we give to the doctrine of Jesus; for of a truth it is faith which does produce such an assent. Observe, however, whether that faith does not of itself exhibit what is worthy of praise, seeing we entrust ourselves to the God who is over all, acknowledging our gratitude to Him who has led us to such a faith, and declaring that He could not have attempted or accomplished such a result without the divine assistance. And we have confidence also in the intentions of the writers of the Gospels, observing their piety and conscientiousness, manifested in their writings, which contain nothing that is spurious, or deceptive, or false, or cunning; for it is evident to us that souls unacquainted with those artifices which are taught by the cunning sophistry of the Greeks (which is characterized by great plausibility and acuteness), and by the kind of rhetoric in vogue in the courts of justice, would not have been able thus to invent occurrences which are fitted of themselves to conduct to faith, and to a life in keeping with faith. And I am of opinion that it was on this account that Jesus wished to employ such persons as teachers of His doctrines, viz., that there might be no ground for any suspicion of plausible sophistry, but that it might clearly appear to all who were capable of understanding, that the guileless purpose of the writers being, so to speak, marked with great simplicity, was deemed worthy of being accompanied by a diviner power, which accomplished far more than it seemed possible could be accomplished by a periphrasis of words, and a weaving of sentences, accompanied by all the distinctions of Grecian art. 3.4
1 But since he has charged us, I know not how often already, with regarding this Jesus, who was but a mortal body, as a God, and with supposing that we act piously in so doing, it is superfluous to say any more in answer to this, as a great deal has been said in the preceding pages. And yet let those who make this charge understand that He whom we regard and believe to have been from the beginning God, and the Son of God, is the very Logos, and the very Wisdom, and the very Truth; and with respect to His mortal body, and the human soul which it contained, we assert that not by their communion merely with Him, but by their unity and intermixture, they received the highest powers, and after participating in His divinity, were changed into God. And if any one should feel a difficulty at our saying this regarding His body, let him attend to what is said by the Greeks regarding matter, which, properly speaking, being without qualities, receives such as the Creator desires to invest it with, and which frequently divests itself of those which it formerly possessed, and assumes others of a different and higher kind. And if these opinions be correct, what is there wonderful in this, that the mortal quality of the body of Jesus, if the providence of God has so willed it, should have been changed into one that was ethereal and divine? 3.4
2 Celsus, then, does not speak as a good reasoner, when he compares the mortal flesh of Jesus to gold, and silver, and stone, asserting that the former is more liable to corruption than the latter. For, to speak correctly, that which is incorruptible is not more free from corruption than another thing which is incorruptible, nor that which is corruptible more liable to corruption than another corruptible thing. But, admitting that there are degrees of corruptibility, we can say in answer, that if it is possible for the matter which underlies all qualities to exchange some of them, how should it be impossible for the flesh of Jesus also to exchange qualities, and to become such as it was proper for a body to be which had its abode in the ether and the regions above it, and possessing no longer the infirmities belonging to the flesh, and those properties which Celsus terms impurities, and in so terming them, speaks unlike a philosopher? For that which is properly impure, is so because of its wickedness. Now the nature of body is not impure; for in so far as it is bodily nature, it does not possess vice, which is the generative principle of impurity. But, as he had a suspicion of the answer which we would return, he says with respect to the change of the body of Jesus, Well, after he has laid aside these qualities, he will be a God: (and if so), why not rather Æsculapius, and Dionysus, and Hercules? To which we reply, What great deed has Æsculapius, or Dionysus, or Hercules wrought? And what individuals will they be able to point out as having been improved in character, and made better by their words and lives, so that they may make good their claim to be gods? For let us peruse the many narratives regarding them, and see whether they were free from licentiousness or injustice, or folly, or cowardice. And if nothing of that kind be found in them, the argument of Celsus might have force, which places the forenamed individuals upon an equality with Jesus. But if it is certain that, although some things are reported of them as reputable, they are recorded, nevertheless, to have done innumerable things which are contrary to right reason, how could you any longer say, with any show of reason, that these men, on putting aside their mortal body, became gods rather than Jesus?
3.50 But let us see what those statements of his are which follow next in these words: Nay, we see, indeed, that even those individuals, who in the market-places perform the most disgraceful tricks, and who gather crowds around them, would never approach an assembly of wise men, nor dare to exhibit their arts among them; but wherever they see young men, and a mob of slaves, and a gathering of unintelligent persons, there they thrust themselves in, and show themselves off. Observe, now, how he slanders us in these words, comparing us to those who in the market-places perform the most disreputable tricks, and gather crowds around them! What disreputable tricks, pray, do we perform? Or what is there in our conduct that resembles theirs, seeing that by means of readings, and explanations of the things read, we lead men to the worship of the God of the universe, and to the cognate virtues, and turn them away from contemning Deity, and from all things contrary to right reason? Philosophers verily would wish to collect together such hearers of their discourses as exhort men to virtue - a practice which certain of the Cynics especially have followed, who converse publicly with those whom they happen to meet. Will they maintain, then, that these who do not gather together persons who are considered to have been educated, but who invite and assemble hearers from the public street, resemble those who in the market-places perform the most disreputable tricks, and gather crowds around them? Neither Celsus, however, nor any one who holds the same opinions, will blame those who, agreeably to what they regard as a feeling of philanthropy, address their arguments to the ignorant populace.
2 Observe now with regard to the following statement of Celsus, We see also those persons who in the market-places perform most disreputable tricks, and collect crowds around them, whether a manifest falsehood has not been uttered, and things compared which have no resemblance. He says that these individuals, to whom he compares us, who perform the most disreputable tricks in the market-places and collect crowds, would never approach an assembly of wise men, nor dare to show off their tricks before them; but wherever they see young men, and a mob of slaves, and a gathering of foolish people, there do they thrust themselves in and make a display. Now, in speaking thus he does nothing else than simply load us with abuse, like the women upon the public streets, whose object is to slander one another; for we do everything in our power to secure that our meetings should be composed of wise men, and those things among us which are especially excellent and divine we then venture to bring forward publicly in our discussions when we have an abundance of intelligent hearers, while we conceal and pass by in silence the truths of deeper import when we see that our audience is composed of simpler minds, which need such instruction as is figuratively termed milk. ' "
3.55 But as Celsus delights to heap up calumnies against us, and, in addition to those which he has already uttered, has added others, let us examine these also, and see whether it be the Christians or Celsus who have reason to be ashamed of what is said. He asserts, We see, indeed, in private houses workers in wool and leather, and fullers, and persons of the most uninstructed and rustic character, not venturing to utter a word in the presence of their elders and wiser masters; but when they get hold of the children privately, and certain women as ignorant as themselves, they pour forth wonderful statements, to the effect that they ought not to give heed to their father and to their teachers, but should obey them; that the former are foolish and stupid, and neither know nor can perform anything that is really good, being preoccupied with empty trifles; that they alone know how men ought to live, and that, if the children obey them, they will both be happy themselves, and will make their home happy also. And while thus speaking, if they see one of the instructors of youth approaching, or one of the more intelligent class, or even the father himself, the more timid among them become afraid, while the more forward incite the children to throw off the yoke, whispering that in the presence of father and teachers they neither will nor can explain to them any good thing, seeing they turn away with aversion from the silliness and stupidity of such persons as being altogether corrupt, and far advanced in wickedness, and such as would inflict punishment upon them; but that if they wish (to avail themselves of their aid) they must leave their father and their instructors, and go with the women and their playfellows to the women's apartments, or to the leather shop, or to the fuller's shop, that they may attain to perfection;- and by words like these they gain them over. " "
3.59 Immediately after this, Celsus, perceiving that he has slandered us with too great bitterness, as if by way of defense expresses himself as follows: That I bring no heavier charge than what the truth compels me, any one may see from the following remarks. Those who invite to participation in other mysteries, make proclamation as follows: 'Every one who has clean hands, and a prudent tongue;' others again thus: 'He who is pure from all pollution, and whose soul is conscious of no evil, and who has lived well and justly.' Such is the proclamation made by those who promise purification from sins. But let us hear what kind of persons these Christians invite. Every one, they say, who is a sinner, who is devoid of understanding, who is a child, and, to speak generally, whoever is unfortunate, him will the kingdom of God receive. Do you not call him a sinner, then, who is unjust, and a thief, and a housebreaker, and a poisoner, and a committer of sacrilege, and a robber of the dead? What others would a man invite if he were issuing a proclamation for an assembly of robbers? Now, in answer to such statements, we say that it is not the same thing to invite those who are sick in soul to be cured, and those who are in health to the knowledge and study of divine things. We, however, keeping both these things in view, at first invite all men to be healed, and exhort those who are sinners to come to the consideration of the doctrines which teach men not to sin, and those who are devoid of understanding to those which beget wisdom, and those who are children to rise in their thoughts to manhood, and those who are simply unfortunate to good fortune, or - which is the more appropriate term to use - to blessedness. And when those who have been turned towards virtue have made progress, and have shown that they have been purified by the word, and have led as far as they can a better life, then and not before do we invite them to participation in our mysteries. For we speak wisdom among them that are perfect. "
3.60 And as we teach, moreover, that wisdom will not enter into the soul of a base man, nor dwell in a body that is involved in sin, Wisdom
1:4 we say, Whoever has clean hands, and therefore lifts up holy hands to God, and by reason of being occupied with elevated and heavenly things, can say, The lifting up of my hands is as the evening sacrifice, let him come to us; and whoever has a wise tongue through meditating on the law of the Lord day and night, and by reason of habit has his senses exercised to discern between good and evil, let him have no reluctance in coming to the strong and rational sustece which is adapted to those who are athletes in piety and every virtue. And since the grace of God is with all those who love with a pure affection the teacher of the doctrines of immortality, whoever is pure not only from all defilement, but from what are regarded as lesser transgressions, let him be boldly initiated in the mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only to the holy and the pure. The initiated of Celsus accordingly says, Let him whose soul is conscious of no evil come. But he who acts as initiator, according to the precepts of Jesus, will say to those who have been purified in heart, He whose soul has, for a long time, been conscious of no evil, and especially since he yielded himself to the healing of the word, let such an one hear the doctrines which were spoken in private by Jesus to His genuine disciples. Therefore in the comparison which he institutes between the procedure of the initiators into the Grecian mysteries, and the teachers of the doctrine of Jesus, he does not know the difference between inviting the wicked to be healed, and initiating those already purified into the sacred mysteries!
75 But as he afterwards says that the teacher of Christianity acts like a person who promises to restore patients to bodily health, but who prevents them from consulting skilled physicians, by whom his ignorance would be exposed, we shall inquire in reply, What are the physicians to whom you refer, from whom we turn away ignorant individuals? For you do not suppose that we exhort those to embrace the Gospel who are devoted to philosophy, so that you would regard the latter as the physicians from whom we keep away such as we invite to come to the word of God. He indeed will make no answer, because he cannot name the physicians; or else he will be obliged to betake himself to those of them who are ignorant, and who of their own accord servilely yield themselves to the worship of many gods, and to whatever other opinions are entertained by ignorant individuals. In either case, then, he will be shown to have employed to no purpose in his argument the illustration of one who keeps others away from skilled physicians. But if, in order to preserve from the philosophy of Epicurus, and from such as are considered physicians after his system, those who are deceived by them, why should we not be acting most reasonably in keeping such away from a dangerous disease caused by the physicians of Celsus, - that, viz., which leads to the annihilation of providence, and the introduction of pleasure as a good? But let it be conceded that we do keep away those whom we encourage to become our disciples from other philosopher-physicians - from the Peripatetics, for example, who deny the existence of providence and the relation of Deity to man - why shall we not piously train and heal those who have been thus encouraged, persuading them to devote themselves to the God of all things, and free those who yield obedience to us from the great wounds inflicted by the words of such as are deemed to be philosophers? Nay, let it also be admitted that we turn away from physicians of the sect of the Stoics, who introduce a corruptible god, and assert that his essence consists of a body, which is capable of being changed and altered in all its parts, and who also maintain that all things will one day perish, and that God alone will be left; why shall we not even thus emancipate our subjects from evils, and bring them by pious arguments to devote themselves to the Creator, and to admire the Father of the Christian system, who has so arranged that instruction of the most benevolent kind, and fitted for the conversion of souls, should be distributed throughout the whole human race? Nay, if we should cure those who have fallen into the folly of believing in the transmigration of souls through the teaching of physicians, who will have it that the rational nature descends sometimes into all kinds of irrational animals, and sometimes into that state of being which is incapable of using the imagination, why should we not improve the souls of our subjects by means of a doctrine which does not teach that a state of insensibility or irrationalism is produced in the wicked instead of punishment, but which shows that the labours and chastisements inflicted upon the wicked by God are a kind of medicines leading to conversion? For those who are intelligent Christians, keeping this in view, deal with the simple-minded, as parents do with very young children. We do not betake ourselves then to young persons and silly rustics, saying to them, Flee from physicians. Nor do we say, See that none of you lay hold of knowledge; nor do we assert that knowledge is an evil; nor are we mad enough to say that knowledge causes men to lose their soundness of mind. We would not even say that any one ever perished through wisdom; and although we give instruction, we never say, Give heed to me, but Give heed to the God of all things, and to Jesus, the giver of instruction concerning Him. And none of us is so great a braggart as to say what Celsus put in the mouth of one of our teachers to his acquaintances, I alone will save you. Observe here the lies which he utters against us! Moreover, we do not assert that true physicians destroy those whom they promise to cure.
3.80 Seeing, however, that Celsus alleges that Christians are won over by us through vain hopes, we thus reply to him when he finds fault with our doctrine of the blessed life, and of communion with God: As for you, good sir, they also are won over by vain hopes who have accepted the doctrine of Pythagoras and Plato regarding the soul, that it is its nature to ascend to the vault of heaven, and in the super-celestial space to behold the sights which are seen by the blessed spectators above. According to you, O Celsus, they also who have accepted the doctrine of the duration of the soul (after death), and who lead a life through which they become heroes, and make their abodes with the gods, are won over by vain hopes. Probably also they who are persuaded that the soul comes (into the body) from without, and that it will be withdrawn from the power of death, would be said by Celsus to be won over by empty hopes. Let him then come forth to the contest, no longer concealing the sect to which he belongs, but confessing himself to be an Epicurean, and let him meet the arguments, which are not lightly advanced among Greeks and Barbarians, regarding the immortality of the soul, or its duration (after death), or the immortality of the thinking principle; and let him prove that these are words which deceive with empty hopes those who give their assent to them; but that the adherents of his philosophical system are pure from empty hopes, and that they indeed lead to hopes of good, or - what is more in keeping with his opinions - give birth to no hope at all, on account of the immediate and complete destruction of the soul (after death). Unless, perhaps, Celsus and the Epicureans will deny that it is a vain hope which they entertain regarding their end - pleasure - which, according to them, is the supreme good, and which consists in the permanent health of the body, and the hope regarding it which is entertained by Epicurus. 4.
2 But that certain Christians and (all) Jews should maintain, the former that there has already descended, the latter that there will descend, upon the earth a certain God, or Son of a God, who will make the inhabitants of the earth righteous, is a most shameless assertion, and one the refutation of which does not need many words. Now here he appears to pronounce correctly regarding not certain of the Jews, but all of them, that they imagine that there is a certain (God) who will descend upon the earth; and with regard to Christians, that certain of them say that He has already come down. For he means those who prove from the Jewish Scriptures that the advent of Christ has already taken place, and he seems to know that there are certain heretical sects which deny that Christ Jesus was predicted by the prophets. In the preceding pages, however, we have already discussed, to the best of our ability, the question of Christ having been the subject of prophecy, and therefore, to avoid tautology, we do not repeat much that might be advanced upon this head. Observe, now, that if he had wished with a kind of apparent force to subvert faith in the prophetic writings, either with regard to the future or past advent of Christ, he ought to have set forth the prophecies themselves which we Christians and Jews quote in our discussions with each other. For in this way he would have appeared to turn aside those who are carried away by the plausible character of the prophetic statements, as he regards it, from assenting to their truth, and from believing, on account of these prophecies, that Jesus is the Christ; whereas now, being unable to answer the prophecies relating to Christ, or else not knowing at all what are the prophecies relating to Him, he brings forward no prophetic declaration, although there are countless numbers which refer to Christ; but he thinks that he prefers an accusation against the prophetic Scriptures, while he does not even state what he himself would call their plausible character! He is not, however, aware that it is not at all the Jews who say that Christ will descend as a God, or the Son of a God, as we have shown in the foregoing pages. And when he asserts that he is said by us to have already come, but by the Jews that his advent as Messiah is still future, he appears by the very charge to censure our statement as one that is most shameless, and which needs no lengthened refutation. ' "
4.4 The argument which Celsus employs against us and the Jews will be turned against himself thus: My good sir, does the God who is over all things know what takes place among men, or does He not know? Now if you admit the existence of a God and of providence, as your treatise indicates, He must of necessity know. And if He does know, why does He not make (men) better? Is it obligatory, then, on us to defend God's procedure in not making men better, although He knows their state, but not equally binding on you, who do not distinctly show by your treatise that you are an Epicurean, but pretend to recognise a providence, to explain why God, although knowing all that takes place among men, does not make them better, nor by divine power liberate all men from evil? We are not ashamed, however, to say that God is constantly sending (instructors) in order to make men better; for there are to be found among men reasons given by God which exhort them to enter on a better life. But there are many diversities among those who serve God, and they are few in number who are perfect and pure ambassadors of the truth, and who produce a complete reformation, as did Moses and the prophets. But above all these, great was the reformation effected by Jesus, who desired to heal not only those who lived in one corner of the world, but as far as in Him lay, men in every country, for He came as the Saviour of all men. " '4.
10 In the next place, Celsus, as is his custom, having neither proved nor established anything, proceeds to say, as if we talked of God in a manner that was neither holy nor pious, that it is perfectly manifest that they babble about God in a way that is neither holy nor reverential; and he imagines that we do these things to excite the astonishment of the ignorant, and that we do not speak the truth regarding the necessity of punishments for those who have sinned. And accordingly he likens us to those who in the Bacchic mysteries introduce phantoms and objects of terror. With respect to the mysteries of Bacchus, whether there is any trustworthy account of them, or none that is such, let the Greeks tell, and let Celsus and his boon-companions listen. But we defend our own procedure, when we say that our object is to reform the human race, either by the threats of punishments which we are persuaded are necessary for the whole world, and which perhaps are not without use to those who are to endure them; or by the promises made to those who have lived virtuous lives, and in which are contained the statements regarding the blessed termination which is to be found in the kingdom of God, reserved for those who are worthy of becoming His subjects. 4.
1 After this, being desirous to show that it is nothing either wonderful or new which we state regarding floods or conflagrations, but that, from misunderstanding the accounts of these things which are current among Greeks or barbarous nations, we have accorded our belief to our own Scriptures when treating of them, he writes as follows: The belief has spread among them, from a misunderstanding of the accounts of these occurrences, that after lengthened cycles of time, and the returns and conjunctions of planets, conflagrations and floods are wont to happen, and because after the last flood, which took place in the time of Deucalion, the lapse of time, agreeably to the vicissitude of all things, requires a conflagration and this made them give utterance to the erroneous opinion that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer. Now in answer to this we say, that I do not understand how Celsus, who has read a great deal, and who shows that he has perused many histories, had not his attention arrested by the antiquity of Moses, who is related by certain Greek historians to have lived about the time of Inachus the son of Phoroneus, and is acknowledged by the Egyptians to be a man of great antiquity, as well as by those who have studied the history of the Phœnicians. And any one who likes may peruse the two books of Flavius Josephus on the antiquities of the Jews, in order that he may see in what way Moses was more ancient than those who asserted that floods and conflagrations take place in the world after long intervals of time; which statement Celsus alleges the Jews and Christians to have misunderstood, and, not comprehending what was said about a conflagration, to have declared that God will descend, bringing fire like a torturer. 4.
14 But let us look at what Celsus next with great ostentation announces in the following fashion: And again, he says, let us resume the subject from the beginning, with a larger array of proofs. And I make no new statement, but say what has been long settled. God is good, and beautiful, and blessed, and that in the best and most beautiful degree. But if he come down among men, he must undergo a change, and a change from good to evil, from virtue to vice, from happiness to misery, and from best to worst. Who, then, would make choice of such a change? It is the nature of a mortal, indeed, to undergo change and remoulding, but of an immortal to remain the same and unaltered. God, then, could not admit of such a change. Now it appears to me that the fitting answer has been returned to these objections, when I have related what is called in Scripture the condescension of God to human affairs; for which purpose He did not need to undergo a transformation, as Celsus thinks we assert, nor a change from good to evil, nor from virtue to vice, nor from happiness to misery, nor from best to worst. For, continuing unchangeable in His essence, He condescends to human affairs by the economy of His providence. We show, accordingly, that the holy Scriptures represent God as unchangeable, both by such words as You are the same, and I change not; whereas the gods of Epicurus, being composed of atoms, and, so far as their structure is concerned, capable of dissolution, endeavour to throw off the atoms which contain the elements of destruction. Nay, even the god of the Stoics, as being corporeal, at one time has his whole essence composed of the guiding principle when the conflagration (of the world) takes place; and at another, when a rearrangement of things occurs, he again becomes partly material. For even the Stoics were unable distinctly to comprehend the natural idea of God, as of a being altogether incorruptible and simple, and uncompounded and indivisible. 4.
1 But I do not understand how he can imagine the overturning of the tower (of Babel) to have happened with a similar object to that of the deluge, which effected a purification of the earth, according to the accounts both of Jews and Christians. For, in order that the narrative contained in Genesis respecting the tower may be held to convey no secret meaning, but, as Celsus supposes, may be taken as true to the letter, the event does not on such a view appear to have taken place for the purpose of purifying the earth; unless, indeed, he imagines that the so-called confusion of tongues is such a purificatory process. But on this point, he who has the opportunity will treat more seasonably when his object is to show not only what is the meaning of the narrative in its historical connection, but what metaphorical meaning may be deduced from it. Seeing that he imagines, however, that Moses, who wrote the account of the tower, and the confusion of tongues, has perverted the story of the sons of Aloeus, and referred it to the tower, we must remark that I do not think any one prior to the time of Homer has mentioned the sons of Aloeus, while I am persuaded that what is related about the tower has been recorded by Moses as being much older not only than Homer, but even than the invention of letters among the Greeks. Who, then, are the perverters of each other's narratives? Whether do they who relate the story of the Aload pervert the history of the time, or he who wrote the account of the tower and the confusion of tongues the story of the Aload ? Now to impartial hearers Moses appears to be more ancient than Homer. The destruction by fire, moreover, of Sodom and Gomorrha on account of their sins, related by Moses in Genesis, is compared by Celsus to the story of Ph thon - all these statements of his resulting from one blunder, viz., his not attending to the (greater) antiquity of Moses. For they who relate the story of Ph thon seem to be younger even than Homer, who, again, is much younger than Moses. We do not deny, then, that the purificatory fire and the destruction of the world took place in order that evil might be swept away, and all things be renewed; for we assert that we have learned these things from the sacred books of the prophets. But since, as we have said in the preceding pages, the prophets, in uttering many predictions regarding future events, show that they have spoken the truth concerning many things that are past, and thus give evidence of the indwelling of the Divine Spirit, it is manifest that, with respect to things still future, we should repose faith in them, or rather in the Divine Spirit that is in them. " '4.
23 In the next place, ridiculing after his usual style the race of Jews and Christians, he compares them all to a flight of bats or to a swarm of ants issuing out of their nest, or to frogs holding council in a marsh, or to worms crawling together in the corner of a dunghill, and quarrelling with one another as to which of them were the greater sinners, and asserting that God shows and announces to us all things beforehand; and that, abandoning the whole world, and the regions of heaven, and this great earth, he becomes a citizen among us alone, and to us alone makes his intimations, and does not cease sending and inquiring, in what way we may be associated with him forever. And in his fictitious representation, he compares us to worms which assert that there is a God, and that immediately after him, we who are made by him are altogether like God, and that all things have been made subject to us - earth, and water, and air, and stars - and that all things exist for our sake, and are ordained to be subject to us. And, according to his representation, the worms - that is, we ourselves - say that now, since certain among us commit sin, God will come or will send his Son to consume the wicked with fire, that the rest of us may have eternal life with him. And to all this he subjoins the remark, that such wranglings would be more endurable among worms and frogs than between Jews and Christians. 4.3
1 After this, wishing to prove that there is no difference between Jews and Christians, and those animals previously enumerated by him, he asserts that the Jews were fugitives from Egypt, who never performed anything worthy of note, and never were held in any reputation or account. Now, on the point of their not being fugitives, nor Egyptians, but Hebrews who settled in Egypt, we have spoken in the preceding pages. But if he thinks his statement, that they were never held in any reputation or account, to be proved, because no remarkable event in their history is found recorded by the Greeks, we would answer, that if one will examine their polity from its first beginning, and the arrangement of their laws, he will find that they were men who represented upon earth the shadow of a heavenly life, and that among them God is recognised as nothing else, save He who is over all things, and that among them no maker of images was permitted to enjoy the rights of citizenship. For neither painter nor image-maker existed in their state, the law expelling all such from it; that there might be no pretext for the construction of images - an art which attracts the attention of foolish men, and which drags down the eyes of the soul from God to earth. There was, accordingly, among them a law to the following effect: Do not transgress the law, and make to yourselves a graven image, any likeness of male or female; either a likeness of any one of the creatures that are upon the earth, or a likeness of any winged fowl that flies under the heaven, or a likeness of any creeping thing that creeps upon the earth, or a likeness of any of the fishes which are in the waters under the earth. The law, indeed, wished them to have regard to the truth of each individual thing, and not to form representations of things contrary to reality, feigning the appearance merely of what was really male or really female, or the nature of animals, or of birds, or of creeping things, or of fishes. Venerable, too, and grand was this prohibition of theirs: Lift not up your eyes unto heaven, lest, when you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and all the host of heaven, you should be led astray to worship them, and serve them. And what a régime was that under which the whole nation was placed, and which rendered it impossible for any effeminate person to appear in public; and worthy of admiration, too, was the arrangement by which harlots were removed out of the state, those incentives to the passions of the youth! Their courts of justice also were composed of men of the strictest integrity, who, after having for a lengthened period set the example of an unstained life, were entrusted with the duty of presiding over the tribunals, and who, on account of the superhuman purity of their character, were said to be gods, in conformity with an ancient Jewish usage of speech. Here was the spectacle of a whole nation devoted to philosophy; and in order that there might be leisure to listen to their sacred laws, the days termed Sabbath, and the other festivals which existed among them, were instituted. And why need I speak of the orders of their priests and sacrifices, which contain innumerable indications (of deeper truths) to those who wish to ascertain the signification of things? 4.3
2 But since nothing belonging to human nature is permanent, this polity also must gradually be corrupted and changed. And Providence, having remodelled their venerable system where it needed to be changed, so as to adapt it to men of all countries, gave to believers of all nations, in place of the Jews, the venerable religion of Jesus, who, being adorned not only with understanding, but also with a share of divinity, and having overthrown the doctrine regarding earthly demons, who delight in frankincense, and blood, and in the exhalations of sacrificial odours, and who, like the fabled Titans or Giants, drag down men from thoughts of God; and having Himself disregarded their plots, directed chiefly against the better class of men, enacted laws which ensure happiness to those who live according to them, and who do not flatter the demons by means of sacrifices, but altogether despise them, through help of the word of God, which aids those who look upwards to Him. And as it was the will of God that the doctrine of Jesus should prevail among men, the demons could effect nothing, although straining every nerve to accomplish the destruction of Christians; for they stirred up both princes, and senates, and rulers in every place - nay, even nations themselves, who did not perceive the irrational and wicked procedure of the demons - against the word, and those who believed in it; yet, notwithstanding, the word of God, which is more powerful than all other things, even when meeting with opposition, deriving from the opposition, as it were, a means of increase, advanced onwards, and won many souls, such being the will of God. And we have offered these remarks by way of a necessary digression. For we wished to answer the assertion of Celsus concerning the Jews, that they were fugitives from Egypt, and that these men, beloved by God, never accomplished anything worthy of note. And further, in answer to the statement that they were never held in any reputation or account, we say, that living apart as a chosen nation and a royal priesthood, and shunning intercourse with the many nations around them, in order that their morals might escape corruption, they enjoyed the protection of the divine power, neither coveting like the most of mankind the acquisition of other kingdoms, nor yet being abandoned so as to become, on account of their smallness, an easy object of attack to others, and thus be altogether destroyed; and this lasted so long as they were worthy of the divine protection. But when it became necessary for them, as a nation wholly given to sin, to be brought back by their sufferings to their God, they were abandoned (by Him), sometimes for a longer, sometimes for a shorter period, until in the time of the Romans, having committed the greatest of sins in putting Jesus to death, they were completely deserted.
4.33 Immediately after this, Celsus, assailing the contents of the first book of Moses, which is entitled Genesis, asserts that the Jews accordingly endeavoured to derive their origin from the first race of jugglers and deceivers, appealing to the testimony of dark and ambiguous words, whose meaning was veiled in obscurity, and which they misinterpreted to the unlearned and ignorant, and that, too, when such a point had never been called in question during the long preceding period. Now Celsus appears to me in these words to have expressed very obscurely the meaning which he intended to convey. It is probable, indeed, that his obscurity on this subject is intentional, inasmuch as he saw the strength of the argument which establishes the descent of the Jews from their ancestors; while again, on the other hand, he wished not to appear ignorant that the question regarding the Jews and their descent was one that could not be lightly disposed of. It is certain, however, that the Jews trace their genealogy back to the three fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And the names of these individuals possess such efficacy, when united with the name of God, that not only do those belonging to the nation employ in their prayers to God, and in the exorcising of demons, the words, God of Abraham, and God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, but so also do almost all those who occupy themselves with incantations and magical rites. For there is found in treatises on magic in many countries such an invocation of God, and assumption of the divine name, as implies a familiar use of it by these men in their dealings with demons. These facts, then - adduced by Jews and Christians to prove the sacred character of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, the fathers of the Jewish race - appear to me not to have been altogether unknown to Celsus, but not to have been distinctly set forth by him, because he was unable to answer the argument which might be founded on them.
4.34 For we inquire of all those who employ such invocations of God, saying: Tell us, friends, who was Abraham, and what sort of person was Isaac, and what power did Jacob possess, that the appellation God, when joined with their name, could effect such wonders? And from whom have you learned, or can you learn, the facts relating to these individuals? And who has occupied himself with writing a history about them, either directly magnifying these men by ascribing to them mysterious powers, or hinting obscurely at their possession of certain great and marvellous qualities, patent to those who are qualified to see them? And when, in answer to our inquiry, no one can show from what history - whether Greek or Barbarian - or, if not a history, yet at least from what mystical narrative, the accounts of these men are derived, we shall bring forward the book entitled Genesis, which contains the acts of these men, and the divine oracles addressed to them, and will say, Does not the use by you of the names of these three ancestors of the race, establishing in the clearest manner that effects not to be lightly regarded are produced by the invocation of them, evidence the divinity of the men? And yet we know them from no other source than the sacred books of the Jews! Moreover, the phrases, the God of Israel, and the God of the Hebrews, and the God who drowned in the Red Sea the king of Egypt and the Egyptians, are formul frequently employed against demons and certain wicked powers. And we learn the history of the names and their interpretation from those Hebrews, who in their national literature and national tongue dwell with pride upon these things, and explain their meaning. How, then, should the Jews attempt to derive their origin from the first race of those whom Celsus supposed to be jugglers and deceivers, and shamelessly endeavour to trace themselves and their beginning back to these?- whose names, being Hebrew, are an evidence to the Hebrews, who have their sacred books written in the Hebrew language and letters, that their nation is akin to these men. For up to the present time, the Jewish names belonging to the Hebrew language were either taken from their writings, or generally from words the meaning of which was made known by the Hebrew language.
4.35 And let any one who peruses the treatise of Celsus observe whether it does not convey some such insinuation as the above, when he says: And they attempted to derive their origin from the first race of jugglers and deceivers, appealing to the testimony of dark and ambiguous words, whose meaning was veiled in obscurity. For these names are indeed obscure, and not within the comprehension and knowledge of many, though not in our opinion of doubtful meaning, even although assumed by those who are aliens to our religion; but as, according to Celsus, they do not convey any ambiguity, I am at a loss to know why he has rejected them. And yet, if he had wished honestly to overturn the genealogy which he deemed the Jews to have so shamelessly arrogated, in boasting of Abraham and his descendants (as their progenitors), he ought to have quoted all the passages bearing on the subject; and, in the first place, to have advocated his cause with such arguments as he thought likely to be convincing, and in the next to have bravely refuted, by means of what appeared to him to be the true meaning, and by arguments in its favour, the errors existing on the subject. But neither Celsus nor any one else will be able, by their discussions regarding the nature of names employed for miraculous purposes, to lay down the correct doctrine regarding them, and to demonstrate that those men were to be lightly esteemed whose names merely, not among their countrymen alone, but also among foreigners, could accomplish (such results). He ought to have shown, moreover, how we, in misinterpreting the passages in which these names are found, deceive our hearers, as he imagines, while he himself, who boasts that he is not ignorant or unintelligent, gives the true interpretation of them. And he hazarded the assertion, in speaking of those names, from which the Jews deduce their genealogies, that never, during the long antecedent period, has there been any dispute about these names, but that at the present time the Jews dispute about them with certain others, whom he does not mention. Now, let him who chooses show who these are that dispute with the Jews, and who adduce even probable arguments to show that Jews and Christians do not decide correctly on the points relating to these names, but that there are others who have discussed these questions with the greatest learning and accuracy. But we are well assured that none can establish anything of the sort, it being manifest that these names are derived from the Hebrew language, which is found only among the Jews. ' "
4.36 Celsus in the next place, producing from history other than that of the divine record, those passages which bear upon the claims to great antiquity put forth by many nations, as the Athenians, and Egyptians, and Arcadians, and Phrygians, who assert that certain individuals have existed among them who sprang from the earth, and who each adduce proofs of these assertions, says: The Jews, then, leading a grovelling life in some corner of Palestine, and being a wholly uneducated people, who had not heard that these matters had been committed to verse long ago by Hesiod and innumerable other inspired men, wove together some most incredible and insipid stories, viz., that a certain man was formed by the hands of God, and had breathed into him the breath of life, and that a woman was taken from his side, and that God issued certain commands, and that a serpent opposed these, and gained a victory over the commandments of God; thus relating certain old wives' fables, and most impiously representing God as weak at the very beginning (of things), and unable to convince even a single human being whom He Himself had formed. By these instances, indeed, this deeply read and learned Celsus, who accuses Jews and Christians of ignorance and want of instruction, clearly evinces the accuracy of his knowledge of the chronology of the respective historians, whether Greek or Barbarian, since he imagines that Hesiod and the innumerable others, whom he styles inspired men, are older than Moses and his writings - that very Moses who is shown to be much older than the time of the Trojan War! It is not the Jews, then, who have composed incredible and insipid stories regarding the birth of man from the earth, but these inspired men of Celsus, Hesiod and his other innumerable companions, who, having neither learned nor heard of the far older and most venerable accounts existing in Palestine, have written such histories as their Theogonies, attributing, so far as in their power, generation to their deities, and innumerable other absurdities. And these are the writers whom Plato expels from his State as being corrupters of the youth, - Homer, viz., and those who have composed poems of a similar description! Now it is evident that Plato did not regard as inspired those men who had left behind them such works. But perhaps it was from a desire to cast reproach upon us, that this Epicurean Celsus, who is better able to judge than Plato (if it be the same Celsus who composed two other books against the Christians), called those individuals inspired whom he did not in reality regard as such. " "
4.38 In the next place, as it is his object to slander our Scriptures, he ridicules the following statement: And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which He had taken from the man, made He a woman, and so on; without quoting the words, which would give the hearer the impression that they are spoken with a figurative meaning. He would not even have it appear that the words were used allegorically, although he says afterwards, that the more modest among Jews and Christians are ashamed of these things, and endeavour to give them somehow an allegorical signification. Now we might say to him, Are the statements of your inspired Hesiod, which he makes regarding the woman in the form of a myth, to be explained allegorically, in the sense that she was given by Jove to men as an evil thing, and as a retribution for the theft of the fire; while that regarding the woman who was taken from the side of the man (after he had been buried in deep slumber), and was formed by God, appears to you to be related without any rational meaning and secret signification? But is it not uncandid, not to ridicule the former as myths, but to admire them as philosophical ideas in a mythical dress, and to treat with contempt the latter, as offending the understanding, and to declare that they are of no account? For if, because of the mere phraseology, we are to find fault with what is intended to have a secret meaning, see whether the following lines of Hesiod, a man, as you say, inspired, are not better fitted to excite laughter:- 'Son of Iapetus!' with wrathful heart Spoke the cloud-gatherer: 'Oh, unmatched in art! Exult in this the flame retrieved, And do you triumph in the god deceived? But you, with the posterity of man, Shall rue the fraud whence mightier ills began; I will send evil for your stealthy fire, While all embrace it, and their bane desire.' The sire, who rules the earth, and sways the pole, Had said, and laughter fill'd his secret soul. He bade the artist-god his hest obey, And mould with tempering waters ductile clay: Infuse, as breathing life and form began, The supple vigour, and the voice of man: Her aspect fair as goddesses above, A virgin's likeness, with the brows of love. He bade Minerva teach the skill that dyes The web with colors, as the shuttle flies; He called the magic of Love's Queen to shed A nameless grace around her courteous head; Instil the wish that longs with restless aim, And cares of dress that feed upon the frame: Bade Hermes last implant the craft refined of artful manners, and a shameless mind. He said; their king th' inferior powers obeyed: The fictile likeness of a bashful maid Rose from the temper'd earth, by Jove's behest, Under the forming god; the zone and vest Were clasp'd and folded by Minerva's hand: The heaven-born graces, and persuasion bland Deck'd her round limbs with chains of gold: the hours of loose locks twined her temples with spring flowers. The whole attire Minerva's curious care Form'd to her shape, and fitted to her air. But in her breast the herald from above, Full of the counsels of deep thundering Jove, Wrought artful manners, wrought perfidious lies, And speech that thrills the blood, and lulls the wise. Her did th' interpreter of gods proclaim, And named the woman with Pandora's name; Since all the gods conferr'd their gifts, to charm, For man's inventive race, this beauteous harm. Moreover, what is said also about the casket is fitted of itself to excite laughter; for example:- Whilome on earth the sons of men abode From ills apart, and labour's irksome load, And sore diseases, bringing age to man; Now the sad life of mortals is a span. The woman's hands a mighty casket bear; She lifts the lid; she scatters griefs in air: Alone, beneath the vessel's rims detained, Hope still within th' unbroken cell remained, Nor fled abroad; so will'd cloud-gatherer Jove: The woman's hand had dropp'd the lid above. Now, to him who would give to these lines a grave allegorical meaning (whether any such meaning be contained in them or not), we would say: Are the Greeks alone at liberty to convey a philosophic meaning in a secret covering? Or perhaps also the Egyptians, and those of the Barbarians who pride themselves upon their mysteries and the truth (which is concealed within them); while the Jews alone, with their lawgiver and historians, appear to you the most unintelligent of men? And is this the only nation which has not received a share of divine power, and which yet was so grandly instructed how to rise upwards to the uncreated nature of God, and to gaze on Him alone, and to expect from Him alone (the fulfilment of) their hopes? " "
4.39 But as Celsus makes a jest also of the serpent, as counteracting the injunctions given by God to the man, taking the narrative to be an old wife's fable, and has purposely neither mentioned the paradise of God, nor stated that God is said to have planted it in Eden towards the east, and that there afterwards sprang up from the earth every tree that was beautiful to the sight, and good for food, and the tree of life in the midst of the paradise, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the other statements which follow, which might of themselves lead a candid reader to see that all these things had not inappropriately an allegorical meaning, let us contrast with this the words of Socrates regarding Eros in the Symposium of Plato, and which are put in the mouth of Socrates as being more appropriate than what was said regarding him by all the others at the Symposium. The words of Plato are as follow: When Aphrodite was born, the gods held a banquet, and there was present, along with the others, Porus the son of Metis. And after they had dined, Penia came to beg for something (seeing there was an entertainment), and she stood at the gate. Porus meantime, having become intoxicated with the nectar (for there was then no wine), went into the garden of Zeus, and, being heavy with liquor, lay down to sleep. Penia accordingly formed a secret plot, with a view of freeing herself from her condition of poverty, to get a child by Porus, and accordingly lay down beside him, and became pregt with Eros. And on this account Eros has become the follower and attendant of Aphrodite, having been begotten on her birthday feast, and being at the same time by nature a lover of the beautiful, because Aphrodite too is beautiful. Seeing, then, that Eros is the son of Porus and Penia, the following is his condition. In the first place, he is always poor, and far from being delicate and beautiful, as most persons imagine; but is withered, and sunburnt, and unshod, and without a home, sleeping always upon the ground, and without a covering; lying in the open air beside gates, and on public roads; possessing the nature of his mother, and dwelling continually with indigence. But, on the other hand, in conformity with the character of his father, he is given to plotting against the beautiful and the good, being courageous, and hasty, and vehement; a keen hunter, perpetually devising contrivances; both much given to forethought, and also fertile in resources; acting like a philosopher throughout the whole of his life; a terrible sorcerer, and dealer in drugs, and a sophist as well; neither immortal by nature nor yet mortal, but on the same day, at one time he flourishes and lives when he has plenty, and again at another time dies, and once more is recalled to life through possessing the nature of his father. But the supplies furnished to him are always gradually disappearing, so that he is never at any time in want, nor yet rich; and, on the other hand, he occupies an intermediate position between wisdom and ignorance. Now, if those who read these words were to imitate the malignity of Celsus - which be it far from Christians to do!- they would ridicule the myth, and would turn this great Plato into a subject of jest; but if, on investigating in a philosophic spirit what is conveyed in the dress of a myth, they should be able to discover the meaning of Plato, (they will admire) the manner in which he was able to conceal, on account of the multitude, in the form of this myth, the great ideas which presented themselves to him, and to speak in a befitting manner to those who know how to ascertain from the myths the true meaning of him who wove them together. Now I have brought forward this myth occurring in the writings of Plato, because of the mention in it of the garden of Zeus, which appears to bear some resemblance to the paradise of God, and of the comparison between Penia and the serpent, and the plot against Porus by Penia, which may be compared with the plot of the serpent against the man. It is not very clear, indeed, whether Plato fell in with these stories by chance, or whether, as some think, meeting during his visit to Egypt with certain individuals who philosophized on the Jewish mysteries, and learning some things from them, he may have preserved a few of their ideas, and thrown others aside, being careful not to offend the Greeks by a complete adoption of all the points of the philosophy of the Jews, who were in bad repute with the multitude, on account of the foreign character of their laws and their peculiar polity. The present, however, is not the proper time for explaining either the myth of Plato, or the story of the serpent and the paradise of God, and all that is related to have taken place in it, as in our exposition of the book of Genesis we have especially occupied ourselves as we best could with these matters. " "
1 After this he continues as follows: They speak, in the next place, of a deluge, and of a monstrous ark, having within it all things, and of a dove and a crow as messengers, falsifying and recklessly altering the story of Deucalion; not expecting, I suppose, that these things would come to light, but imagining that they were inventing stories merely for young children. Now in these remarks observe the hostility - so unbecoming a philosopher- displayed by this man towards this very ancient Jewish narrative. For, not being able to say anything against the history of the deluge, and not perceiving what he might have urged against the ark and its dimensions - viz., that, according to the general opinion, which accepted the statements that it was three hundred cubits in length, and fifty in breadth, and thirty in height, it was impossible to maintain that it contained (all) the animals that were upon the earth, fourteen specimens of every clean and four of every unclean beast - he merely termed it monstrous, containing all things within it. Now wherein was its monstrous character, seeing it is related to have been a hundred years in building, and to have had the three hundred cubits of its length and the fifty of its breadth contracted, until the thirty cubits of its height terminated in a top one cubit long and one cubit broad? Why should we not rather admire a structure which resembled an extensive city, if its measurements be taken to mean what they are capable of meaning, so that it was nine myriads of cubits long in the base, and two thousand five hundred in breadth? And why should we not admire the design evinced in having it so compactly built, and rendered capable of sustaining a tempest which caused a deluge? For it was not daubed with pitch, or any material of that kind, but was securely coated with bitumen. And is it not a subject of admiration, that by the providential arrangement of God, the elements of all the races were brought into it, that the earth might receive again the seeds of all living things, while God made use of a most righteous man to be the progenitor of those who were to be born after the deluge? ' "
4.43 Altogether absurd, and out of season, he continues, is the (account of the) begetting of children, where, although he has mentioned no names, it is evident that he is referring to the history of Abraham and Sarah. Cavilling also at the conspiracies of the brothers, he allies either to the story of Cain plotting against Abel, or, in addition, to that of Esau against Jacob; and (speaking) of a father's sorrow, he probably refers to that of Isaac on account of the absence of Jacob, and perhaps also to that of Jacob because of Joseph having been sold into Egypt. And when relating the crafty procedure of mothers, I suppose he means the conduct of Rebecca, who contrived that the blessing of Isaac should descend, not upon Esau, but upon Jacob. Now if we assert that in all these cases God interposed in a very marked degree, what absurdity do we commit, seeing we are persuaded that He never withdraws His providence from those who devote themselves to Him in an honourable and vigorous life? He ridicules, moreover, the acquisition of property made by Jacob while living with Laban, not understanding to what these words refer: And those which had no spots were Laban's, and those which were spotted were Jacob's; and he says that God presented his sons with asses, and sheep, and camels, and did not see that all these things happened unto them for ensamples, and were written for our sake, upon whom the ends of the world have come. The varying customs (prevailing among the different nations) becoming famous, are regulated by the word of God, being given as a possession to him who is figuratively termed Jacob. For those who become converts to Christ from among the heathen, are indicated by the history of Laban and Jacob. " "
7 Celsus next, for form's sake, and with great want of precision, speaks of the dreams of the chief butler and chief baker, and of Pharaoh, and of the explanation of them, in consequence of which Joseph was taken out of prison in order to be entrusted by Pharaoh with the second place in Egypt. What absurdity, then, did the history contain, looked at even in itself, that it should be adduced as matter of accusation by this Celsus, who gave the title of True Discourse to a treatise not containing doctrines, but full of charges against Jews and Christians? He adds: He who had been sold behaved kindly to his brethren (who had sold him), when they were suffering from hunger, and had been sent with their asses to purchase (provisions); although he has not related these occurrences (in his treatise). But he does mention the circumstance of Joseph making himself known to his brethren, although I know not with what view, or what absurdity he can point out in such an occurrence; since it is impossible for Momus himself, we might say, to find any reasonable fault with events which, apart from their figurative meaning, present so much that is attractive. He relates, further, that Joseph, who had been sold as a slave, was restored to liberty, and went up with a solemn procession to his father's funeral, and thinks that the narrative furnishes matter of accusation against us, as he makes the following remark: By whom (Joseph, namely) the illustrious and divine nation of the Jews, after growing up in Egypt to be a multitude of people, was commanded to sojourn somewhere beyond the limits of the kingdom, and to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute. Now the words, that they were commanded to pasture their flocks in districts of no repute, are an addition, proceeding from his own feelings of hatred; for he has not shown that Goshen, the district of Egypt, is a place of no repute. The exodus of the people from Egypt he calls a flight, not at all remembering what is written in the book of Exodus regarding the departure of the Hebrews from the land of Egypt. We have enumerated these instances to show that what, literally considered, might appear to furnish ground of accusation, Celsus has not succeeded in proving to be either objectionable or foolish, having utterly failed to establish the evil character, as he regards it, of our Scriptures. "
4.48 In the next place, as if he had devoted himself solely to the manifestation of his hatred and dislike of the Jewish and Christian doctrine, he says: The more modest of Jewish and Christian writers give all these things an allegorical meaning; and, Because they are ashamed of these things, they take refuge in allegory. Now one might say to him, that if we must admit fables and fictions, whether written with a concealed meaning or with any other object, to be shameful narratives when taken in their literal acceptation, of what histories can this be said more truly than of the Grecian? In these histories, gods who are sons castrate the gods who are their fathers, and gods who are parents devour their own children, and a goddess-mother gives to the father of gods and men a stone to swallow instead of his own son, and a father has intercourse with his daughter, and a wife binds her own husband, having as her allies in the work the brother of the fettered god and his own daughter! But why should I enumerate these absurd stories of the Greeks regarding their gods, which are most shameful in themselves, even though invested with an allegorical meaning? (Take the instance) where Chrysippus of Soli, who is considered to be an ornament of the Stoic sect, on account of his numerous and learned treatises, explains a picture at Samos, in which Juno was represented as committing unspeakable abominations with Jupiter. This reverend philosopher says in his treatises, that matter receives the spermatic words of the god, and retains them within herself, in order to ornament the universe. For in the picture at Samos Juno represents matter, and Jupiter god. Now it is on account of these, and of countless other similar fables, that we would not even in word call the God of all things Jupiter, or the sun Apollo, or the moon Diana. But we offer to the Creator a worship which is pure, and speak with religious respect of His noble works of creation, not contaminating even in word the things of God; approving of the language of Plato in the Philebus, who would not admit that pleasure was a goddess, so great is my reverence, Protarchus, he says, for the very names of the gods. We verily entertain such reverence for the name of God, and for His noble works of creation, that we would not, even under pretext of an allegorical meaning, admit any fable which might do injury to the young.
4.49 If Celsus had read the Scriptures in an impartial spirit, he would not have said that our writings are incapable of admitting an allegorical meaning. For from the prophetic Scriptures, in which historical events are recorded (not from the historical), it is possible to be convinced that the historical portions also were written with an allegorical purpose, and were most skilfully adapted not only to the multitude of the simpler believers, but also to the few who are able or willing to investigate matters in an intelligent spirit. If, indeed, those writers at the present day who are deemed by Celsus the more modest of the Jews and Christians were the (first) allegorical interpreters of our Scriptures, he would have the appearance, perhaps, of making a plausible allegation. But since the very fathers and authors of the doctrines themselves give them an allegorical signification, what other inference can be drawn than that they were composed so as to be allegorically understood in their chief signification? And we shall adduce a few instances out of very many to show that Celsus brings an empty charge against the Scriptures, when he says that they are incapable of admitting an allegorical meaning. Paul, the apostle of Jesus, says: It is written in the law, You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the grain. Does God take care for oxen? Or says He it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written, that he that ploughs should plough in hope, and he that threshes in hope of partaking. And in another passage the same Paul says: For it is written, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. And again, in another place: We know that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud, and in the sea. Then, explaining the history relating to the manna, and that referring to the miraculous issue of the water from the rock, he continues as follows: And they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. Asaph, moreover, who, in showing the histories in Exodus and Numbers to be full of difficulties and parables, begins in the following manner, as recorded in the book of Psalms, where he is about to make mention of these things: Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.
4.50 Moreover, if the law of Moses had contained nothing which was to be understood as having a secret meaning, the prophet would not have said in his prayer to God, Open my eyes, and I will behold wondrous things out of Your law; whereas he knew that there was a veil of ignorance lying upon the heart of those who read but do not understand the figurative meaning, which veil is taken away by the gift of God, when He hears him who has done all that he can, and who by reason of habit has his senses exercised to distinguish between good and evil, and who continually utters the prayer, Open my eyes, and I will behold wondrous things out of Your law. And who is there that, on reading of the dragon that lives in the Egyptian river, and of the fishes which lurk in his scales, or of the excrement of Pharaoh which fills the mountains of Egypt, is not led at once to inquire who he is that fills the Egyptian mountains with his stinking excrement, and what the Egyptian mountains are; and what the rivers in Egypt are, of which the aforesaid Pharaoh boastfully says, The rivers are mine, and I have made them; and who the dragon is, and the fishes in its scales - and this so as to harmonize with the interpretation to be given of the rivers? But why establish at greater length what needs no demonstration? For to these things applies the saying: Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? Or who is prudent, and he shall know them? Now I have gone at some length into the subject, because I wished to show the unsoundness of the assertion of Celsus, that the more modest among the Jews and Christians endeavour somehow to give these stories an allegorical signification, although some of them do not admit of this, but on the contrary are exceedingly silly inventions. Much rather are the stories of the Greeks not only very silly, but very impious inventions. For our narratives keep expressly in view the multitude of simpler believers, which was not done by those who invented the Grecian fables. And therefore not without propriety does Plato expel from his state all fables and poems of such a nature as those of which we have been speaking. 4.5
1 Celsus appears to me to have heard that there are treatises in existence which contain allegorical explanations of the law of Moses. These however, he could not have read; for if he had he would not have said: The allegorical explanations, however, which have been devised are much more shameful and absurd than the fables themselves, inasmuch as they endeavour to unite with marvellous and altogether insensate folly things which cannot at all be made to harmonize. He seems to refer in these words to the works of Philo, or to those of still older writers, such as Aristobulus. But I conjecture that Celsus has not read their books, since it appears to me that in many passages they have so successfully hit the meaning (of the sacred writers), that even Grecian philosophers would have been captivated by their explanations; for in their writings we find not only a polished style, but exquisite thoughts and doctrines, and a rational use of what Celsus imagines to be fables in the sacred writings. I know, moreover, that Numenius the Pythagorean- a surpassingly excellent expounder of Plato, and who held a foremost place as a teacher of the doctrines of Pythagoras - in many of his works quotes from the writings of Moses and the prophets, and applies to the passages in question a not improbable allegorical meaning, as in his work called Epops, and in those which treat of Numbers and of Place. And in the third book of his dissertation on The Good, he quotes also a narrative regarding Jesus - without, however, mentioning His name - and gives it an allegorical signification, whether successfully or the reverse I may state on another occasion. He relates also the account respecting Moses, and Jannes, and Jambres. But we are not elated on account of this instance, though we express our approval of Numenius, rather than of Celsus and other Greeks, because he was willing to investigate our histories from a desire to acquire knowledge, and was (duly) affected by them as narratives which were to be allegorically understood, and which did not belong to the category of foolish compositions.
4.54 But as in the words which I quoted from Celsus, which are a paraphrase from the Tim us, certain expressions occur, such as, God made nothing mortal, but immortal things alone, while mortal things are the works of others, and the soul is a work of God, but the nature of the body is different, and there is no difference between the body of a man and that of a bat, or of a worm, or of a frog; for the matter is the same, and their corruptible part alike,- let us discuss these points for a little; and let us show that Celsus either does not disclose his Epicurean opinions, or, as might be said by one person, has exchanged them for better, or, as another might say, has nothing in common save the name, with Celsus, the Epicurean. For he ought, in giving expression to such opinions, and in proposing to contradict not only us, but the by no means obscure sect of philosophers who are the adherents of Zeno of Citium, to have proved that the bodies of animals are not the work of God, and that the great skill displayed in their construction did not proceed from the highest intelligence. And he ought also, with regard to the countless diversities of plants, which are regulated by an inherent, incomprehensible nature, and which have been created for the by no means despicable use of man in general, and of the animals which minister to man, whatever other reasons may be adduced for their existence, not only to have stated his opinion, but also to have shown us that it was no perfect intelligence which impressed these qualities upon the matter of plants. And when he had once represented (various) divinities as the creators of all the bodies, the soul alone being the work of God, why did not he, who separated these great acts of creation, and apportioned them among a plurality of creators, next demonstrate by some convincing reason the existence of these diversities among divinities, some of which construct the bodies of men, and others - those, say, of beasts of burden, and others - those of wild animals? And he who saw that some divinities were the creators of dragons, and of asps, and of basilisks, and others of each plant and herb according to its species, ought to have explained the causes of these diversities. For probably, had he given himself carefully to the investigation of each particular point, he would either have observed that it was one God who was the creator of all, and who made each thing with a certain object and for a certain reason; or if he had failed to observe this, he would have discovered the answer which he ought to return to those who assert that corruptibility is a thing indifferent in its nature; and that there was no absurdity in a world which consists of diverse materials, being formed by one architect, who constructed the different kinds of things so as to secure the good of the whole. Or, finally, he ought to have expressed no opinion at all on so important a doctrine, since he did not intend to prove what he professed to demonstrate; unless, indeed, he who censures others for professing a simple faith, would have us to believe his mere assertions, although he gave out that he would not merely assert, but would prove his assertions.
73 And as a sequel to his non-understanding of the statements regarding the wrath of God, he continues: Is it not ridiculous to suppose that, whereas a man, who became angry with the Jews, slew them all from the youth upwards, and burned their city (so powerless were they to resist him), the mighty God, as they say, being angry, and indigt, and uttering threats, should, (instead of punishing them) send His own Son, who endured the sufferings which He did? If the Jews, then, after the treatment which they dared to inflict upon Jesus, perished with all their youth, and had their city consumed by fire, they suffered this punishment in consequence of no other wrath than that which they treasured up for themselves; for the judgment of God against them, which was determined by the divine appointment, is termed wrath agreeably to a traditional usage of the Hebrews. And what the Son of the mighty God suffered, He suffered voluntarily for the salvation of men, as has been stated to the best of my ability in the preceding pages. He then continues: But that I may speak not of the Jews alone (for that is not my object), but of the whole of nature, as I promised, I will bring out more clearly what has been already stated. Now what modest man, on reading these words, and knowing the weakness of humanity, would not be indigt at the offensive nature of the promise to give an account of the whole of nature, and at an arrogance like that which prompted him to inscribe upon his book the title which he ventured to give it (of a True Discourse)? But let us see what he has to say regarding the whole of nature, and what he is to place in a clearer light.
74 He next, in many words, blames us for asserting that God made all things for the sake of man. Because from the history of animals, and from the sagacity manifested by them, he would show that all things came into existence not more for the sake of man than of the irrational animals. And here he seems to me to speak in a similar manner to those who, through dislike of their enemies, accuse them of the same things for which their own friends are commended. For as, in the instance referred to, hatred blinds these persons from seeing that they are accusing their very dearest friends by the means through which they think they are slandering their enemies; so in the same way, Celsus also, becoming confused in his argument, does not see that he is bringing a charge against the philosophers of the Porch, who, not amiss, place man in the foremost rank, and rational nature in general before irrational animals, and who maintain that Providence created all things mainly on account of rational nature. Rational beings, then, as being the principal ones, occupy the place, as it were, of children in the womb, while irrational and soulless beings hold that of the envelope which is created along with the child. I think, too, that as in cities the superintendents of the goods and market discharge their duties for the sake of no other than human beings, while dogs and other irrational animals have the benefit of the superabundance; so Providence provides in a special manner for rational creatures; while this also follows, that irrational creatures likewise enjoy the benefit of what is done for the sake of man. And as he is in error who alleges that the superintendents of the markets make provision in no greater degree for men than for dogs, because dogs also get their share of the goods; so in a far greater degree are Celsus and they who think with him guilty of impiety towards the God who makes provision for rational beings, in asserting that His arrangements are made in no greater degree for the sustece of human beings than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns. ' "
75 For, in the first place, he is of opinion that thunders, and lightnings, and rains are not the works of God,- thus showing more clearly at last his Epicurean leanings; and in the second place, that even if one were to grant that these were the works of God, they are brought into existence not more for the support of us who are human beings, than for that of plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns,- maintaining, like a true Epicurean, that these things are the product of chance, and not the work of Providence. For if these things are of no more use to us than to plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, it is evident either that they do not proceed from Providence at all, or from a providence which does not provide for us in a greater degree than for trees, and herbs, and thorns. Now, either of these suppositions is impious in itself, and it would be foolish to refute such statements by answering any one who brought against us the charge of impiety; for it is manifest to every one, from what has been said, who is the person guilty of impiety. In the next place, he adds: Although you may say that these things, viz., plants, and trees, and herbs, and thorns, grow for the use of men, why will you maintain that they grow for the use of men rather than for that of the most savage of irrational animals? Let Celsus then say distinctly that the great diversity among the products of the earth is not the work of Providence, but that a certain fortuitous concurrence of atoms gave birth to qualities so diverse, and that it was owing to chance that so many kinds of plants, and trees, and herbs resemble one another, and that no disposing reason gave existence to them, and that they do not derive their origin from an understanding that is beyond all admiration. We Christians, however, who are devoted to the worship of the only God, who created these things, feel grateful for them to Him who made them, because not only for us, but also (on our account) for the animals which are subject to us, He has prepared such a home, seeing He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man, that He may bring forth food out of the earth, and wine that makes glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthens man's heart. But that He should have provided food even for the most savage animals is not matter of surprise, for these very animals are said by some who have philosophized (upon the subject) to have been created for the purpose of affording exercise to the rational creature. And one of our own wise men says somewhere: Do not say, What is this? Or Wherefore is that? For all things have been made for their uses. And do not say, What is this? Or Wherefore is that? For everything shall be sought out in its season. " 4.
78 He next proceeds further to object against himself what is said on behalf of man, viz., that the irrational animals were created on his account, saying: If one were to call us the lords of the animal creation because we hunt the other animals and live upon their flesh, we would say, Why were not we rather created on their account, since they hunt and devour us? Nay, we require nets and weapons, and the assistance of many persons, along with dogs, when engaged in the chase; while they are immediately and spontaneously provided by nature with weapons which easily bring us under their power. And here we may observe, that the gift of understanding has been bestowed upon us as a mighty aid, far superior to any weapon which wild beasts may seem to possess. We, indeed, who are far weaker in bodily strength than the beasts, and shorter in stature than some of them, yet by means of our understanding obtain the mastery, and capture the huge elephants. We subdue by our gentle treatment those animals whose nature it is to be tamed, while with those whose nature is different, or which do not appear likely to be of use to us when tamed, we take such precautionary measures, that when we desire it, we keep such wild beasts shut up; and when we need the flesh of their bodies for food, we slaughter them, as we do those beasts which are not of a savage nature. The Creator, then, has constituted all things the servants of the rational being and of his natural understanding. For some purposes we require dogs, say as guardians of our sheep-folds, or of our cattle-yards, or goat-pastures, or of our dwellings; and for other purposes we need oxen, as for agriculture; and for others, again, we make use of those which bear the yoke, or beasts of burden. And so it may be said that the race of lions, and bears, and leopards, and wild boars, and such like, has been given to us in order to call into exercise the elements of the manly character that exists within us.
79 In the next place, in answer to the human race, who perceive their own superiority, which far exceeds that of the irrational animals, he says: With respect to your assertion, that God gave you the power to capture wild beasts, and to make your own use of them, we would say that, in all probability, before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed, and weapons and nets employed, men were generally caught and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were very seldom captured by men. Now, in reference to this, observe that although men catch wild beasts, and wild beasts make prey of men, there is a great difference between the case of such as by means of their understanding obtain the mastery over those whose superiority consists in their savage and cruel nature, and that of those who do not make use of their understanding to secure their safety from injury by wild beasts. But when Celsus says, before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed, he appears to have forgotten what he had before said, that the world was uncreated and incorruptible, and that it was only the things on earth which underwent deluges and conflagrations, and that all these things did not happen at the same time. Now let it be granted that these admissions on his part are entirely in harmony with our views, though not at all with him and his statements made above; yet what does it all avail to prove that in the beginning men were mostly captured and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were never caught by men? For, since the world was created in conformity with the will of Providence, and God presided over the universe of things, it was necessary that the elements of the human race should at the commencement of its existence be placed under some protection of the higher powers, so that there might be formed from the beginning a union of the divine nature with that of men. And the poet of Ascra, perceiving this, sings:- For common then were banquets, and common were seats, Alike to immortal gods and mortal men. 4.8
1 Our noble opponent, however, not observing how many philosophers there are who admit the existence of Providence, and who hold that Providence created all things for the sake of rational beings, overturns as far as he can those doctrines which are of use in showing the harmony that prevails in these matters between Christianity and philosophy; nor does he see how great is the injury done to religion from accepting the statement that before God there is no difference between a man and an ant or a bee, but proceeds to add, that if men appear to be superior to irrational animals on this account, that they have built cities, and make use of a political constitution, and forms of government, and sovereignties, this is to say nothing to the purpose, for ants and bees do the same. Bees, indeed, have a sovereign, who has followers and attendants; and there occur among them wars and victories, and slaughterings of the vanquished, and cities and suburbs, and a succession of labours, and judgments passed upon the idle and the wicked; for the drones are driven away and punished. Now here he did not observe the difference that exists between what is done after reason and consideration, and what is the result of an irrational nature, and is purely mechanical. For the origin of these things is not explained by the existence of any rational principle in those who make them, because they do not possess any such principle; but the most ancient Being, who is also the Son of God, and the King of all things that exist, has created an irrational nature, which, as being irrational, acts as a help to those who are deemed worthy of reason. Cities, accordingly, were established among men, with many arts and well-arranged laws; while constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties among men are either such as are properly so termed, and which exemplify certain virtuous tendencies and workings, or they are those which are improperly so called, and which were devised, so far as could be done, in imitation of the former: for it was by contemplating these that the most successful legislators established the best constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties. None of these things, however, can be found among irrational animals, although Celsus may transfer rational names, and arrangements which belong to rational beings, as cities and constitutions, and rulers and sovereignties, even to ants and bees; in respect to which matters, however, ants and bees merit no approval, because they do not act from reflection. But we ought to admire the divine nature, which extended even to irrational animals the capacity, as it were, of imitating rational beings, perhaps with a view of putting rational beings to shame; so that by looking upon ants, for instance, they might become more industrious and more thrifty in the management of their goods; while, by considering the bees, they might place themselves in subjection to their Ruler, and take their respective parts in those constitutional duties which are of use in ensuring the safety of cities.
4.83 After Celsus has finished speaking of the bees, in order to depreciate (as far as he can) the cities, and constitutions, and governments, and sovereignties not only of us Christians, but of all mankind, as well as the wars which men undertake on behalf of their native countries, he proceeds, by way of digression, to pass a eulogy upon the ants, in order that, while praising them, he may compare the measures which men take to secure their subsistence with those adopted by these insects, and so evince his contempt for the forethought which makes provision for winter, as being nothing higher than the irrational providence of the ants, as he regards it. Now might not some of the more simple-minded, and such as know not how to look into the nature of all things, be turned away (so far, at least, as Celsus could accomplish it) from helping those who are weighed down with the burdens (of life), and from sharing their toils, when he says of the ants, that they help one another with their loads, when they see one of their number toiling under them? For he who needs to be disciplined by the word, but who does not at all understand its voice, will say: Since, then, there is no difference between us and the ants, even when we help those who are weary with bearing their heavy burdens, why should we continue to do so to no purpose? And would not the ants, as being irrational creature, be greatly puffed up, and think highly of themselves, because their works were compared to those of men? While men, on the other hand, who by means of their reason are enabled to hear how their philanthropy towards others is contemned, would be injured, so far as could be effected by Celsus and his arguments: for he does not perceive that, while he wishes to turn away from Christianity those who read his treatise, he turns away also the sympathy of those who are not Christians from those who bear the heaviest burdens (of life). Whereas, had he been a philosopher, who was capable of perceiving the good which men may do each other, he ought, in addition to not removing along with Christianity the blessings which are found among men, to have lent his aid to co-operate (if he had it in his power) with those principles of excellence which are common to Christianity and the rest of mankind. Moreover, even if the ants set apart in a place by themselves those grains which sprout forth, that they may not swell into bud, but may continue throughout the year as their food, this is not to be deemed as evidence of the existence of reason among ants, but as the work of the universal mother, Nature, which adorned even irrational animals, so that even the most insignificant is not omitted, but bears traces of the reason implanted in it by nature. Unless, indeed, by these assertions Celsus means obscurely to intimate (for in many instances he would like to adopt Platonic ideas) that all souls are of the same species, and that there is no difference between that of a man and those of ants and bees, which is the act of one who would bring down the soul from the vault of heaven, and cause it to enter not only a human body, but that of an animal. Christians, however, will not yield their assent to such opinions: for they have been instructed before now that the human soul was created in the image of God; and they see that it is impossible for a nature fashioned in the divine image to have its (original) features altogether obliterated, and to assume others, formed after I know not what likeness of irrational animals.
4.84 And since he asserts that, when ants die, the survivors set apart a special place (for their interment), and that their ancestral sepulchres such a place is, we have to answer, that the greater the laudations which he heaps upon irrational animals, so much the more does he magnify (although against his will) the work of that reason which arranged all things in order, and points out the skill which exists among men, and which is capable of adorning by its reason even the gifts which are bestowed by nature on the irrational creation. But why do I say irrational, since Celsus is of opinion that these animals, which, agreeably to the common ideas of all men, are termed irrational, are not really so? Nor does he regard the ants as devoid of reason, who professed to speak of universal nature, and who boasted of his truthfulness in the inscription of his book. For, speaking of the ants conversing with one another, he uses the following language: And when they meet one another they enter into conversation, for which reason they never mistake their way; consequently they possess a full endowment of reason, and some common ideas on certain general subjects, and a voice by which they express themselves regarding accidental things. Now conversation between one man and another is carried on by means of a voice, which gives expression to the meaning intended, and which also gives utterances concerning what are called accidental things; but to say that this was the case with ants would be a most ridiculous assertion.
4.86 Immediately after this, as if doing his utmost to reduce the human race to a still lower position, and to bring them to the level of the irrational animals, and desiring to omit not a single circumstance related of the latter which manifests their greatness, he declares that in certain individuals among the irrational creation there exists the power of sorcery; so that even in this particular men cannot specially pride themselves, nor wish to arrogate a superiority over irrational creatures. And the following are his words: If, however, men entertain lofty notions because of their possessing the power of sorcery, yet even in that respect are serpents and eagles their superiors in wisdom; for they are acquainted with many prophylactics against persons and diseases, and also with the virtues of certain stones which help to preserve their young. If men, however, fall in with these, they think that they have gained a wonderful possession. Now, in the first place, I know not why he should designate as sorcery the knowledge of natural prophylactics displayed by animals - whether that knowledge be the result of experience, or of some natural power of apprehension; for the term sorcery has by usage been assigned to something else. Perhaps, indeed, he wishes quietly, as an Epicurean, to censure the entire use of such arts, as resting only on the professions of sorcerers. However, let it be granted him that men do pride themselves greatly upon the knowledge of such arts, whether they are sorcerers or not: how can serpents be in this respect wiser than men, when they make use of the well-known fennel to sharpen their power of vision and to produce rapidity of movement, having obtained this natural power not from the exercise of reflection, but from the constitution of their body, while men do not, like serpents, arrive at such knowledge merely by nature, but partly by experiment, partly by reason, and sometimes by reflection and knowledge? So, if eagles, too, in order to preserve their young in the nest, carry there the eagle-stone when they have discovered it, how does it appear that they are wise, and more intelligent than men, who find out by the exercise of their reflective powers and of their understanding what has been bestowed by nature upon eagles as a gift? ' "
7 Let it be granted, however, that there are other prophylactics against poisons known to animals: what does that avail to prove that it is not nature, but reason, which leads to the discovery of such things among them? For if reason were the discoverer, this one thing (or, if you will, one or two more things) would not be (exclusive of all others) the sole discovery made by serpents, and some other thing the sole discovery of the eagle, and so on with the rest of the animals; but as many discoveries would have been made among them as among men. But now it is manifest from the determinate inclination of the nature of each animal towards certain kinds of help, that they possess neither wisdom nor reason, but a natural constitutional tendency implanted by the Logos towards such things in order to ensure the preservation of the animal. And, indeed, if I wished to join issue with Celsus in these matters, I might quote the words of Solomon from the book of Proverbs, which run thus: There be four things which are little upon the earth, but these are wiser than the wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; the conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth in order at one command; and the spotted lizard, though leaning upon its hands, and being easily captured, dwells in kings' fortresses. I do not quote these words, however, as taking them in their literal signification, but, agreeably to the title of the book (for it is inscribed Proverbs), I investigate them as containing a secret meaning. For it is the custom of these writers (of Scripture) to distribute into many classes those writings which express one sense when taken literally, but which convey a different signification as their hidden meaning; and one of these kinds of writing is Proverbs. And for this reason, in our Gospels too, is our Saviour described as saying: These things have I spoken to you in proverbs, but the time comes when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs. It is not, then, the visible ants which are wiser even than the wise, but they who are indicated as such under the proverbial style of expression. And such must be our conclusion regarding the rest of the animal creation, although Celsus regards the books of the Jews and Christians as exceedingly simple and commonplace, and imagines that those who give them an allegorical interpretation do violence to the meaning of the writers. By what we have said, then, let it appear that Celsus calumniates us in vain, and let his assertions that serpents and eagles are wiser than men also receive their refutation. " 4.88 And wishing to show at greater length that even the thoughts of God entertained by the human race are not superior to those of all other mortal creatures, but that certain of the irrational animals are capable of thinking about Him regarding whom opinions so discordant have existed among the most acute of mankind- Greeks and Barbarians - he continues: If, because man has been able to grasp the idea of God, he is deemed superior to the other animals, let those who hold this opinion know that this capacity will be claimed by many of the other animals; and with good reason: for what would any one maintain to be more divine than the power of foreknowing and predicting future events? Men accordingly acquire the art from the other animals, and especially from birds. And those who listen to the indications furnished by them, become possessed of the gift of prophecy. If, then, birds, and the other prophetic animals, which are enabled by the gift of God to foreknow events, instruct us by means of signs, so much the nearer do they seem to be to the society of God, and to be endowed with greater wisdom, and to be more beloved by Him. The more intelligent of men, moreover, say that the animals hold meetings which are more sacred than our assemblies, and that they know what is said at these meetings, and show that in reality they possess this knowledge, when, having previously stated that the birds have declared their intention of departing to some particular place, and of doing this thing or the other, the truth of their assertions is established by the departure of the birds to the place in question, and by their doing what was foretold. And no race of animals appears to be more observant of oaths than the elephants are, or to show greater devotion to divine things; and this, I presume, solely because they have some knowledge of God. See here now how he at once lays hold of, and brings forward as acknowledged facts, questions which are the subject of dispute among those philosophers, not only among the Greeks, but also among the Barbarians, who have either discovered or learned from certain demons some things about birds of augury and other animals, by which certain prophetic intimations are said to be made to men. For, in the first place, it has been disputed whether there is an art of augury, and, in general, a method of divination by animals, or not. And, in the second place, they who admit that there is an art of divination by birds, are not agreed about the manner of the divination; since some maintain that it is from certain demons or gods of divination that the animals receive their impulses to action - the birds to flights and sounds of different kinds, and the other animals to movements of one sort or another. Others, again, believe that their souls are more divine in their nature, and fitted to operations of that kind, which is a most incredible supposition.
5.3 But observe how, in his desire to subvert our opinions, he who never acknowledged himself throughout his whole treatise to be an Epicurean, is convicted of being a deserter to that sect. And now is the time for you, (reader), who peruse the works of Celsus, and give your assent to what has been advanced, either to overturn the belief in a God who visits the human race, and exercises a providence over each individual man, or to grant this, and prove the falsity of the assertions of Celsus. If you, then, wholly annihilate providence, you will falsify those assertions of his in which he grants the existence of God and a providence, in order that you may maintain the truth of your own position; but if, on the other hand, you still admit the existence of providence, because you do not assent to the dictum of Celsus, that neither has a God nor the son of a God come down nor is to come down to mankind, why not rather carefully ascertain from the statements made regarding Jesus, and the prophecies uttered concerning Him, who it is that we are to consider as having come down to the human race as God, and the Son of God?- whether that Jesus who said and ministered so much, or those who under pretence of oracles and divinations, do not reform the morals of their worshippers, but who have besides apostatized from the pure and holy worship and honour due to the Maker of all things, and who tear away the souls of those who give heed to them from the one only visible and true God, under a pretence of paying honour to a multitude of deities? ' "
5.6 He next proceeds to make the following statement about the Jews:- The first point relating to the Jews which is fitted to excite wonder, is that they should worship the heaven and the angels who dwell therein, and yet pass by and neglect its most venerable and powerful parts, as the sun, the moon, and the other heavenly bodies, both fixed stars and planets, as if it were possible that 'the whole' could be God, and yet its parts not divine; or (as if it were reasonable) to treat with the greatest respect those who are said to appear to such as are in darkness somewhere, blinded by some crooked sorcery, or dreaming dreams through the influence of shadowy spectres, while those who prophesy so clearly and strikingly to all men, by means of whom rain, and heat, and clouds, and thunder (to which they offer worship), and lightnings, and fruits, and all kinds of productiveness, are brought about - by means of whom God is revealed to them - the most prominent heralds among those beings that are above - those that are truly heavenly angels - are to be regarded as of no account! In making these statements, Celsus appears to have fallen into confusion, and to have penned them from false ideas of things which he did not understand; for it is patent to all who investigate the practices of the Jews, and compare them with those of the Christians, that the Jews who follow the law, which, speaking in the person of God, says, You shall have no other gods before Me: you shall not make unto you an image, nor a likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth; you shall not bow down to them, nor serve them, worship nothing else than the Supreme God, who made the heavens, and all things besides. Now it is evident that those who live according to the law, and worship the Maker of heaven, will not worship the heaven at the same time with God. Moreover, no one who obeys the law of Moses will bow down to the angels who are in heaven; and, in like manner, as they do not bow down to sun, moon, and stars, the host of heaven, they refrain from doing obeisance to heaven and its angels, obeying the law which declares: Lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, should be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord your God has divided unto all nations. " '5.
14 The following, then, are his words: It is folly on their part to suppose that when God, as if He were a cook, introduces the fire (which is to consume the world), all the rest of the human race will be burnt up, while they alone will remain, not only such of them as are then alive, but also those who are long since dead, which latter will arise from the earth clothed with the self-same flesh (as during life); for such a hope is simply one which might be cherished by worms. For what sort of human soul is that which would still long for a body that had been subject to corruption? Whence, also, this opinion of yours is not shared by some of the Christians, and they pronounce it to be exceedingly vile, and loathsome, and impossible; for what kind of body is that which, after being completely corrupted, can return to its original nature, and to that self-same first condition out of which it fell into dissolution? Being unable to return any answer, they betake themselves to a most absurd refuge, viz., that all things are possible to God. And yet God cannot do things that are disgraceful, nor does He wish to do things that are contrary to His nature; nor, if (in accordance with the wickedness of your own heart) you desired anything that was evil, would God accomplish it; nor must you believe at once that it will be done. For God does not rule the world in order to satisfy inordinate desires, or to allow disorder and confusion, but to govern a nature that is upright and just. For the soul, indeed, He might be able to provide an everlasting life; while dead bodies, on the contrary, are, as Heraclitus observes, more worthless than dung. God, however, neither can nor will declare, contrary to all reason, that the flesh, which is full of those things which it is not even honourable to mention, is to exist forever. For He is the reason of all things that exist, and therefore can do nothing either contrary to reason or contrary to Himself. 5.
25 Let us next notice the statements of Celsus, which follow the preceding, and which are as follow: As the Jews, then, became a peculiar people, and enacted laws in keeping with the customs of their country, and maintain them up to the present time, and observe a mode of worship which, whatever be its nature, is yet derived from their fathers, they act in these respects like other men, because each nation retains its ancestral customs, whatever they are, if they happen to be established among them. And such an arrangement appears to be advantageous, not only because it has occurred to the mind of other nations to decide some things differently, but also because it is a duty to protect what has been established for the public advantage; and also because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were thus distributed among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on. And whatever is done among each nation in this way would be rightly done, wherever it was agreeable to the wishes (of the superintending powers), while it would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places. By these words Celsus shows that the Jews, who were formerly Egyptians, subsequently became a peculiar people, and enacted laws which they carefully preserve. And not to repeat his statements, which have been already before us, he says that it is advantageous to the Jews to observe their ancestral worship, as other nations carefully attend to theirs. And he further states a deeper reason why it is of advantage to the Jews to cultivate their ancestral customs, in hinting dimly that those to whom was allotted the office of superintending the country which was being legislated for, enacted the laws of each land in co-operation with its legislators. He appears, then, to indicate that both the country of the Jews, and the nation which inhabits it, are superintended by one or more beings, who, whether they were one or more, co-operated with Moses, and enacted the laws of the Jews. 5.
26 We must, he says, observe the laws, not only because it has occurred to the mind of others to decide some things differently, but because it is a duty to protect what has been enacted for the public advantage, and also because, in all probability, the various quarters of the earth were from the beginning allotted to different superintending spirits, and were distributed among certain governing powers, and in this manner the administration of the world is carried on. Thus Celsus, as if he had forgotten what he had said against the Jews, now includes them in the general eulogy which he passes upon all who observe their ancestral customs, remarking: And whatever is done among each nation in this way, would be rightly done whenever agreeable to the wishes (of the superintendents). And observe here, whether he does not openly, so far as he can, express a wish that the Jew should live in the observance of his own laws, and not depart from them, because he would commit an act of impiety if he apostatized; for his words are: It would be an act of impiety to get rid of the institutions established from the beginning in the various places. Now I should like to ask him, and those who entertain his views, who it was that distributed the various quarters of the earth from the beginning among the different superintending spirits; and especially, who gave the country of the Jews, and the Jewish people themselves, to the one or more superintendents to whom it was allotted? Was it, as Celsus would say, Jupiter who assigned the Jewish people and their country to a certain spirit or spirits? And was it his wish, to whom they were thus assigned, to enact among them the laws which prevail, or was it against his will that it was done? You will observe that, whatever be his answer, he is in a strait. But if the various quarters of the earth were not allotted by some one being to the various superintending spirits, then each one at random, and without the superintendence of a higher power, divided the earth according to chance; and yet such a view is absurd, and destructive in no small degree of the providence of the God who presides over all things.
5.33 The remarks which we have made not only answer the statements of Celsus regarding the superintending spirits, but anticipate in some measure what he afterwards brings forward, when he says: Let the second party come forward; and I shall ask them whence they come, and whom they regard as the originator of their ancestral customs. They will reply, No one, because they spring from the same source as the Jews themselves, and derive their instruction and superintendence from no other quarter, and notwithstanding they have revolted from the Jews. Each one of us, then, has come in the last days, when one Jesus has visited us, to the visible mountain of the Lord, the Word that is above every word, and to the house of God, which is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And we notice how it is built upon the tops of the mountains, i.e., the predictions of all the prophets, which are its foundations. And this house is exalted above the hills, i.e., those individuals among men who make a profession of superior attainments in wisdom and truth; and all the nations come to it, and the many nations go forth, and say to one another, turning to the religion which in the last days has shone forth through Jesus Christ: Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in them. For the law came forth from the dwellers in Sion, and settled among us as a spiritual law. Moreover, the word of the Lord came forth from that very Jerusalem, that it might be disseminated through all places, and might judge in the midst of the heathen, selecting those whom it sees to be submissive, and rejecting the disobedient, who are many in number. And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our founder, we reply that we have come, agreeably to the counsels of Jesus, to cut down our hostile and insolent 'wordy' swords into ploughshares, and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in war. For we no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of those whom our fathers followed, among whom we were strangers to the covet, and having received a law, for which we give thanks to Him that rescued us from the error (of our ways), saying, Our fathers honoured lying idols, and there is not among them one that causes it to rain. Our Superintendent, then, and Teacher, having come forth from the Jews, regulates the whole world by the word of His teaching. And having made these remarks by way of anticipation, we have refuted as well as we could the untrue statements of Celsus, by subjoining the appropriate answer. " "
5.34 But, that we may not pass without notice what Celsus has said between these and the preceding paragraphs, let us quote his words: We might adduce Herodotus as a witness on this point, for he expresses himself as follows: 'For the people of the cities Marea and Apis, who inhabit those parts of Egypt that are adjacent to Libya, and who look upon themselves as Libyans, and not as Egyptians, finding their sacrificial worship oppressive, and wishing not to be excluded from the use of cows' flesh, sent to the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, saying that there was no relationship between them and the Egyptians, that they dwelt outside the Delta, that there was no community of sentiment between them and the Egyptians, and that they wished to be allowed to partake of all kinds of food. But the god would not allow them to do as they desired, saying that that country was a part of Egypt, which was watered by the inundation of the Nile, and that those were Egyptians who dwell to the south of the city of Elephantine, and drink of the river Nile.' Such is the narrative of Herodotus. But, continues Celsus, Ammon in divine things would not make a worse ambassador than the angels of the Jews, so that there is nothing wrong in each nation observing its established method of worship. of a truth, we shall find very great differences prevailing among the nations, and yet each seems to deem its own by far the best. Those inhabitants of Ethiopia who dwell in Meroe worship Jupiter and Bacchus alone; the Arabians, Urania and Bacchus only; all the Egyptians, Osiris and Isis; the Saïtes, Minerva; while the Naucratites have recently classed Serapis among their deities, and the rest according to their respective laws. And some abstain from the flesh of sheep, and others from that of crocodiles; others, again, from that of cows, while they regard swine's flesh with loathing. The Scythians, indeed, regard it as a noble act to banquet upon human beings. Among the Indians, too, there are some who deem themselves discharging a holy duty in eating their fathers, and this is mentioned in a certain passage by Herodotus. For the sake of credibility, I shall again quote his very words, for he writes as follows: 'For if any one were to make this proposal to all men, viz., to bid him select out of all existing laws the best, each would choose, after examination, those of his own country. Men each consider their own laws much the best, and therefore it is not likely than any other than a madman would make these things a subject of ridicule. But that such are the conclusions of all men regarding the laws, may be determined by many other evidences, and especially by the following illustration. Darius, during his reign, having summoned before him those Greeks who happened to be present at the time, inquired of them for how much they would be willing to eat their deceased fathers? Their answer was, that for no consideration would they do such a thing. After this, Darius summoned those Indians who are called Callatians, who are in the habit of eating their parents, and asked of them in the presence of these Greeks, who learned what passed through an interpreter, for what amount of money they would undertake to burn their deceased fathers with fire? On which they raised a loud shout, and bade the king say no more.' Such is the way, then, in which these matters are regarded. And Pindar appears to me to be right in saying that 'law' is the king of all things. " "
5.35 The argument of Celsus appears to point by these illustrations to this conclusion: that it is an obligation incumbent on all men to live according to their country's customs, in which case they will escape censure; whereas the Christians, who have abandoned their native usages, and who are not one nation like the Jews, are to be blamed for giving their adherence to the teaching of Jesus. Let him then tell us whether it is a becoming thing for philosophers, and those who have been taught not to yield to superstition, to abandon their country's customs, so as to eat of those articles of food which are prohibited in their respective cities? Or whether this proceeding of theirs is opposed to what is becoming? For if, on account of their philosophy, and the instructions which they have received against superstition, they should eat, in disregard of their native laws, what was interdicted by their fathers, why should the Christians (since the Gospel requires them not to busy themselves about statues and images, or even about any of the created works of God but to ascend on high, and present the soul to the Creator); when acting in a similar manner to the philosophers, be censured for so doing? But if, for the sake of defending the thesis which he has proposed to himself, Celsus, or those who think with him, should say, that even one who had studied philosophy would keep his country's laws, then philosophers in Egypt, for example, would act most ridiculously in avoiding the eating of onions, in order to observe their country's laws, or certain parts of the body, as the head and shoulders, in order not to transgress the traditions of their fathers. And I do not speak of those Egyptians who shudder with fear at the discharge of wind from the body, because if any one of these were to become a philosopher, and still observe the laws of his country, he would be a ridiculous philosopher, acting very unphilosophically. In the same way, then, he who has been led by the Gospel to worship the God of all things, and, from regard to his country's laws, lingers here below among images and statues of men, and does not desire to ascend to the Creator, will resemble those who have indeed learned philosophy, but who are afraid of things which ought to inspire no terrors, and who regard it as an act of impiety to eat of those things which have been enumerated. " "5.4
1 Let us notice the charges which are next advanced by Celsus, in which there is exceedingly little that has reference to the Christians, as most of them refer to the Jews. His words are: If, then, in these respects the Jews were carefully to preserve their own law, they are not to be blamed for so doing, but those persons rather who have forsaken their own usages, and adopted those of the Jews. And if they pride themselves on it, as being possessed of superior wisdom, and keep aloof from intercourse with others, as not being equally pure with themselves, they have already heard that their doctrine concerning heaven is not peculiar to them, but, to pass by all others, is one which has long ago been received by the Persians, as Herodotus somewhere mentions. 'For they have a custom,' he says, 'of going up to the tops of the mountains, and of offering sacrifices to Jupiter, giving the name of Jupiter to the whole circle of the heavens.' And I think, continues Celsus, that it makes no difference whether you call the highest being Zeus, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth, or Ammoun like the Egyptians, or Papp us like the Scythians. Nor would they be deemed at all holier than others in this respect, that they observe the rite of circumcision, for this was done by the Egyptians and Colchians before them; nor because they abstain from swine's flesh, for the Egyptians practised abstinence not only from it, but from the flesh of goats, and sheep, and oxen, and fishes as well; while Pythagoras and his disciples do not eat beans, nor anything that contains life. It is not probable, however, that they enjoy God's favour, or are loved by Him differently from others, or that angels were sent from heaven to them alone, as if they had had allotted to them 'some region of the blessed,' for we see both themselves and the country of which they were deemed worthy. Let this band, then, take its departure, after paying the penalty of its vaunting, not having a knowledge of the great God, but being led away and deceived by the artifices of Moses, having become his pupil to no good end. " 5.45 As Celsus, however, is of opinion that it matters nothing whether the highest being be called Jupiter, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth, or Ammoun (as the Egyptians term him), or Papp us (as the Scythians entitle him), let us discuss the point for a little, reminding the reader at the same time of what has been said above upon this question, when the language of Celsus led us to consider the subject. And now we maintain that the nature of names is not, as Aristotle supposes, an enactment of those who impose them. For the languages which are prevalent among men do not derive their origin from men, as is evident to those who are able to ascertain the nature of the charms which are appropriated by the inventors of the languages differently, according to the various tongues, and to the varying pronunciations of the names, on which we have spoken briefly in the preceding pages, remarking that when those names which in a certain language were possessed of a natural power were translated into another, they were no longer able to accomplish what they did before when uttered in their native tongues. And the same peculiarity is found to apply to men; for if we were to translate the name of one who was called from his birth by a certain appellation in the Greek language into the Egyptian or Roman, or any other tongue, we could not make him do or suffer the same things which he would have done or suffered under the appellation first bestowed upon him. Nay, even if we translated into the Greek language the name of an individual who had been originally invoked in the Roman tongue, we could not produce the result which the incantation professed itself capable of accomplishing had it preserved the name first conferred upon him. And if these statements are true when spoken of the names of men, what are we to think of those which are transferred, for any cause whatever, to the Deity? For example, something is transferred from the name Abraham when translated into Greek, and something is signified by that of Isaac, and also by that of Jacob; and accordingly, if any one, either in an invocation or in swearing an oath, were to use the expression, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, he would produce certain effects, either owing to the nature of these names or to their powers, since even demons are vanquished and become submissive to him who pronounces these names; whereas if we say, the god of the chosen father of the echo, and the god of laughter, and the god of him who strikes with the heel, the mention of the name is attended with no result, as is the case with other names possessed of no power. And in the same way, if we translate the word Israel into Greek or any other language, we shall produce no result; but if we retain it as it is, and join it to those expressions to which such as are skilled in these matters think it ought to be united, there would then follow some result from the pronunciation of the word which would accord with the professions of those who employ such invocations. And we may say the same also of the pronunciation of Sabaoth, a word which is frequently employed in incantations; for if we translate the term into Lord of hosts, or Lord of armies, or Almighty (different acceptation of it having been proposed by the interpreters), we shall accomplish nothing; whereas if we retain the original pronunciation, we shall, as those who are skilled in such matters maintain, produce some effect. And the same observation holds good of Adonai. If, then, neither Sabaoth nor Adonai, when rendered into what appears to be their meaning in the Greek tongue, can accomplish anything, how much less would be the result among those who regard it as a matter of indifference whether the highest being be called Jupiter, or Zen, or Adonai, or Sabaoth!
5.46 It was for these and similar mysterious reasons, with which Moses and the prophets were acquainted, that they forbade the name of other gods to be pronounced by him who bethought himself of praying to the one Supreme God alone, or to be remembered by a heart which had been taught to be pure from all foolish thoughts and words. And for these reasons we should prefer to endure all manner of suffering rather than acknowledge Jupiter to be God. For we do not consider Jupiter and Sabaoth to be the same, nor Jupiter to be at all divine, but that some demon, unfriendly to men and to the true God, rejoices under this title. And although the Egyptians were to hold Ammon before us under threat of death, we would rather die than address him as God, it being a name used in all probability in certain Egyptian incantations in which this demon is invoked. And although the Scythians may call Papp us the supreme God, yet we will not yield our assent to this; granting, indeed, that there is a Supreme Deity, although we do not give the name Papp us to Him as His proper title, but regard it as one which is agreeable to the demon to whom was allotted the desert of Scythia, with its people and its language. He, however, who gives God His title in the Scythian tongue, or in the Egyptian or in any language in which he has been brought up, will not be guilty of sin. ' "
5.50 Celsus, still expressing his opinion regarding the Jews, says: It is not probable that they are in great favour with God, or are regarded by Him with more affection than others, or that angels are sent by Him to them alone, as if to them had been allotted some region of the blessed. For we may see both the people themselves, and the country of which they were deemed worthy. We shall refute this, by remarking that it is evident that this nation was in great favour with God, from the fact that the God who presides over all things was called the God of the Hebrews, even by those who were aliens to our faith. And because they were in favour with God, they were not abandoned by Him; but although few in number, they continued to enjoy the protection of the divine power, so that in the reign of Alexander of Macedon they sustained no injury from him, although they refused, on account of certain covets and oaths, to take up arms against Darius. They say that on that occasion the Jewish high priest, clothed in his sacred robe, received obeisance from Alexander, who declared that he had beheld an individual arrayed in this fashion, who announced to him in his sleep that he was to be the subjugator of the whole of Asia. Accordingly, we Christians maintain that it was the fortune of that people in a remarkable degree to enjoy God's favour, and to be loved by Him in a way different from others; but that this economy of things and this divine favour were transferred to us, after Jesus had conveyed the power which had been manifested among the Jews to those who had become converts to Him from among the heathen. And for this reason, although the Romans desired to perpetrate many atrocities against the Christians, in order to ensure their extermination, they were unsuccessful; for there was a divine hand which fought on their behalf, and whose desire it was that the word of God should spread from one corner of the land of Judea throughout the whole human race. " '5.5
2 But the statement of Celsus which we wish to examine at present is the following: Let us then pass over the refutations which might be adduced against the claims of their teacher, and let him be regarded as really an angel. But is he the first and only one who came (to men), or were there others before him? If they should say that he is the only one, they would be convicted of telling lies against themselves. For they assert that on many occasions others came, and sixty or seventy of them together, and that these became wicked, and were cast under the earth and punished with chains, and that from this source originate the warm springs, which are their tears; and, moreover, that there came an angel to the tomb of this said being - according to some, indeed, one, but according to others, two - who answered the women that he had arisen. For the Son of God could not himself, as it seems, open the tomb, but needed the help of another to roll away the stone. And again, on account of the pregcy of Mary, there came an angel to the carpenter, and once more another angel, in order that they might take up the young Child and flee away (into Egypt). But what need is there to particularize everything, or to count up the number of angels said to have been sent to Moses, and others among them? If, then, others were sent, it is manifest that he also came from the same God. But he may be supposed to have the appearance of announcing something of greater importance (than those who preceded him), as if the Jews had been committing sin, or corrupting their religion, or doing deeds of impiety; for these things are obscurely hinted at.
5.54 In the next place, he proceeds to answer himself as he thinks fit in the following terms: And so he is not the only one who is recorded to have visited the human race, as even those who, under pretext of teaching in the name of Jesus, have apostatized from the Creator as an inferior being, and have given in their adherence to one who is a superior God and father of him who visited (the world), assert that before him certain beings came from the Creator to visit the human race. Now, as it is in the spirit of truth that we investigate all that relates to the subject, we shall remark that it is asserted by Apelles, the celebrated disciple of Marcion, who became the founder of a certain sect, and who treated the writings of the Jews as fabulous, that Jesus is the only one that came to visit the human race. Even against him, then, who maintained that Jesus was the only one that came from God to men, it would be in vain for Celsus to quote the statements regarding the descent of other angels, seeing Apelles discredits, as we have already mentioned, the miraculous narratives of the Jewish Scriptures; and much more will he decline to admit what Celsus has adduced, from not understanding the contents of the Book of Enoch. No one, then, convicts us of falsehood, or of making contradictory assertions, as if we maintained both that our Saviour was the only being that ever came to men, and yet that many others came on different occasions. And in a most confused manner, moreover, does he adduce, when examining the subject of the visits of angels to men, what he has derived, without seeing its meaning, from the contents of the Book of Enoch; for he does not appear to have read the passages in question, nor to have been aware that the books which bear the name Enoch do not at all circulate in the Churches as divine, although it is from this source that he might be supposed to have obtained the statement, that sixty or seventy angels descended at the same time, who fell into a state of wickedness.
5.59 Celsus then continues: The Jews accordingly, and these (clearly meaning the Christians), have the same God; and as if advancing a proposition which would not be conceded, he proceeds to make the following assertion: It is certain, indeed, that the members of the great Church admit this, and adopt as true the accounts regarding the creation of the world which are current among the Jews, viz., concerning the six days and the seventh; on which day, as the Scripture says, God ceased from His works, retiring into the contemplation of Himself, but on which, as Celsus says (who does not abide by the letter of the history, and who does not understand its meaning), God rested, - a term which is not found in the record. With respect, however, to the creation of the world, and the rest which is reserved after it for the people of God, the subject is extensive, and mystical, and profound, and difficult of explanation. In the next place, as it appears to me, from a desire to fill up his book, and to give it an appearance of importance, he recklessly adds certain statements, such as the following, relating to the first man, of whom he says: We give the same account as do the Jews, and deduce the same genealogy from him as they do. However, as regards the conspiracies of brothers against one another, we know of none such, save that Cain conspired against Abel, and Esau against Jacob; but not Abel against Cain, nor Jacob against Esau: for if this had been the case, Celsus would have been correct in saying that we give the same accounts as do the Jews of the conspiracies of brothers against one another. Let it be granted, however, that we speak of the same descent into Egypt as they, and of their return thence, which was not a flight, as Celsus considers it to have been, what does that avail towards founding an accusation against us or against the Jews? Here, indeed, he thought to cast ridicule upon us, when, in speaking of the Hebrew people, he termed their exodus a flight; but when it was his business to investigate the account of the punishments inflicted by God upon Egypt, that topic he purposely passed by in silence. ' "
1 After the above remarks he proceeds as follows: Let no one suppose that I am ignorant that some of them will concede that their God is the same as that of the Jews, while others will maintain that he is a different one, to whom the latter is in opposition, and that it was from the former that the Son came. Now, if he imagine that the existence of numerous heresies among the Christians is a ground of accusation against Christianity, why, in a similar way, should it not be a ground of accusation against philosophy, that the various sects of philosophers differ from each other, not on small and indifferent points, but upon those of the highest importance? Nay, medicine also ought to be a subject of attack, on account of its many conflicting schools. Let it be admitted, then, that there are among us some who deny that our God is the same as that of the Jews: nevertheless, on that account those are not to be blamed who prove from the same Scriptures that one and the same Deity is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles alike, as Paul, too, distinctly says, who was a convert from Judaism to Christianity, I thank my God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience. And let it be admitted also, that there is a third class who call certain persons carnal, and others spiritual,- I think he here means the followers of Valentinus - yet what does this avail against us, who belong to the Church, and who make it an accusation against such as hold that certain natures are saved, and that others perish in consequence of their natural constitution? And let it be admitted further, that there are some who give themselves out as Gnostics, in the same way as those Epicureans who call themselves philosophers: yet neither will they who annihilate the doctrine of providence be deemed true philosophers, nor those true Christians who introduce monstrous inventions, which are disapproved of by those who are the disciples of Jesus. Let it be admitted, moreover, that there are some who accept Jesus, and who boast on that account of being Christians, and yet would regulate their lives, like the Jewish multitude, in accordance with the Jewish law - and these are the twofold sect of Ebionites, who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin, or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings - what does that avail by way of charge against such as belong to the Church, and whom Celsus has styled those of the multitude? He adds, also, that certain of the Christians are believers in the Sibyl, having probably misunderstood some who blamed such as believed in the existence of a prophetic Sibyl, and termed those who held this belief Sibyllists.
2 He next pours down upon us a heap of names, saying that he knows of the existence of certain Simonians who worship Helene, or Helenus, as their teacher, and are called Helenians. But it has escaped the notice of Celsus that the Simonians do not at all acknowledge Jesus to be the Son of God, but term Simon the power of God, regarding whom they relate certain marvellous stories, saying that he imagined that if he could become possessed of similar powers to those with which be believed Jesus to be endowed, he too would become as powerful among men as Jesus was among the multitude. But neither Celsus nor Simon could comprehend how Jesus, like a good husbandman of the word of God, was able to sow the greater part of Greece, and of barbarian lands, with His doctrine, and to fill these countries with words which transform the soul from all that is evil, and bring it back to the Creator of all things. Celsus knows, moreover, certain Marcellians, so called from Marcellina, and Harpocratians from Salome, and others who derive their name from Mariamme, and others again from Martha. We, however, who from a love of learning examine to the utmost of our ability not only the contents of Scripture, and the differences to which they give rise, but have also, from love to the truth, investigated as far as we could the opinions of philosophers, have never at any time met with these sects. He makes mention also of the Marcionites, whose leader was Marcion.
5.63 In the next place, that he may have the appearance of knowing still more than he has yet mentioned, he says, agreeably to his usual custom, that there are others who have wickedly invented some being as their teacher and demon, and who wallow about in a great darkness, more unholy and accursed than that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous. And he seems to me, indeed, in touching on these matters, to say with a certain degree of truth, that there are certain others who have wickedly invented another demon, and who have found him to be their lord, as they wallow about in the great darkness of their ignorance. With respect, however, to Antinous, who is compared with our Jesus, we shall not repeat what we have already said in the preceding pages. Moreover, he continues, these persons utter against one another dreadful blasphemies, saying all manner of things shameful to be spoken; nor will they yield in the slightest point for the sake of harmony, hating each other with a perfect hatred. Now, in answer to this, we have already said that in philosophy and medicine sects are to be found warring against sects. We, however, who are followers of the word of Jesus, and have exercised ourselves in thinking, and saying, and doing what is in harmony with His words, when reviled, bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat; and we would not utter all manner of things shameful to be spoken against those who have adopted different opinions from ours, but, if possible, use every exertion to raise them to a better condition through adherence to the Creator alone, and lead them to perform every act as those who will (one day) be judged. And if those who hold different opinions will not be convinced, we observe the injunction laid down for the treatment of such: A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sins, being condemned of himself. Moreover, we who know the maxim, Blessed are the peacemakers, and this also, Blessed are the meek, would not regard with hatred the corrupters of Christianity, nor term those who had fallen into error Circes and flattering deceivers. ' "
5.64 Celsus appears to me to have misunderstood the statement of the apostle, which declares that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God has created to be received with thanksgiving of them who believe; and to have misunderstood also those who employed these declarations of the apostle against such as had corrupted the doctrines of Christianity. And it is owing to this cause that Celsus has said that certain among the Christians are called 'cauterized in the ears;' and also that some are termed enigmas, - a term which we have never met. The expression stumbling-block is, indeed, of frequent occurrence in these writings - an appellation which we are accustomed to apply to those who turn away simple persons, and those who are easily deceived, from sound doctrine. But neither we, nor, I imagine, any other, whether Christian or heretic, know of any who are styled Sirens, who betray and deceive, and stop their ears, and change into swine those whom they delude. And yet this man, who affects to know everything, uses such language as the following: You may hear, he says, all those who differ so widely, and who assail each other in their disputes with the most shameless language, uttering the words, 'The world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.' And this is the only phrase which, it appears, Celsus could remember out of Paul's writings; and yet why should we not also employ innumerable other quotations from the Scriptures, such as, For though we do walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh; (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God? " '6.
1 In beginning this our sixth book, we desire, my reverend Ambrosius, to answer in it those accusations which Celsus brings against the Christians, not, as might be supposed, those objections which he has adduced from writers on philosophy. For he has quoted a considerable number of passages, chiefly from Plato, and has placed alongside of these such declarations of holy Scripture as are fitted to impress even the intelligent mind; subjoining the assertion that these things are stated much better among the Greeks (than in the Scriptures), and in a manner which is free from all exaggerations and promises on the part of God, or the Son of God. Now we maintain, that if it is the object of the ambassadors of the truth to confer benefits upon the greatest possible number, and, so far as they can, to win over to its side, through their love to men, every one without exception - intelligent as well as simple - not Greeks only, but also Barbarians (and great, indeed, is the humanity which should succeed in converting the rustic and the ignorant ), it is manifest that they must adopt a style of address fitted to do good to all, and to gain over to them men of every sort. Those, on the other hand, who turn away from the ignorant as being mere slaves, and unable to understand the flowing periods of a polished and logical discourse, and so devote their attention solely to such as have been brought up among literary pursuits, confine their views of the public good within very strait and narrow limits. ' "6.
2 I have made these remarks in reply to the charges which Celsus and others bring against the simplicity of the language of Scripture, which appears to be thrown into the shade by the splendour of polished discourse. For our prophets, and Jesus Himself, and His apostles, were careful to adopt a style of address which should not merely convey the truth, but which should be fitted to gain over the multitude, until each one, attracted and led onwards, should ascend as far as he could towards the comprehension of those mysteries which are contained in these apparently simple words. For, if I may venture to say so, few have been benefited (if they have indeed been benefited at all) by the beautiful and polished style of Plato, and those who have written like him; while, on the contrary, many have received advantage from those who wrote and taught in a simple and practical manner, and with a view to the wants of the multitude. It is easy, indeed, to observe that Plato is found only in the hands of those who profess to be literary men; while Epictetus is admired by persons of ordinary capacity, who have a desire to be benefited, and who perceive the improvement which may be derived from his writings. Now we make these remarks, not to disparage Plato (for the great world of men has found even him useful), but to point out the aim of those who said: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that our faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. For the word of God declares that the preaching (although in itself true and most worthy of belief) is not sufficient to reach the human heart, unless a certain power be imparted to the speaker from God, and a grace appear upon his words; and it is only by the divine agency that this takes place in those who speak effectually. The prophet says in the sixty-seventh Psalm, that the Lord will give a word with great power to them who preach. If, then, it should be granted with respect to certain points, that the same doctrines are found among the Greeks as in our own Scriptures, yet they do not possess the same power of attracting and disposing the souls of men to follow them. And therefore the disciples of Jesus, men ignorant so far as regards Grecian philosophy, yet traversed many countries of the world, impressing, agreeably to the desire of the Logos, each one of their hearers according to his deserts, so that they received a moral amelioration in proportion to the inclination of their will to accept of that which is good. " 6.
7 There might also be found in the writings of Moses and of the prophets, who are older not only than Plato, but even than Homer and the invention of letters among the Greeks, passages worthy of the grace of God bestowed upon them, and filled with great thoughts, to which they gave utterance, but not because they understood Plato imperfectly, as Celsus imagines. For how was it possible that they should have heard one who was not yet born? And if any one should apply the words of Celsus to the apostles of Jesus, who were younger than Plato, say whether it is not on the very face of it an incredible assertion, that Paul the tentmaker, and Peter the fisherman, and John who left his father's nets, should, through misunderstanding the language of Plato in his Epistles, have expressed themselves as they have done regarding God? But as Celsus now, after having often required of us immediate assent (to his views), as if he were babbling forth something new in addition to what he has already advanced, only repeats himself, what we have said in reply may suffice. Seeing, however, he produces another quotation from Plato, in which he asserts that the employment of the method of question and answer sheds light on the thoughts of those who philosophize like him, let us show from the holy Scriptures that the word of God also encourages us to the practice of dialectics: Solomon, e.g., declaring in one passage, that instruction unquestioned goes astray; and Jesus the son of Sirach, who has left us the treatise called Wisdom, declaring in another, that the knowledge of the unwise is as words that will not stand investigation. Our methods of discussion, however, are rather of a gentle kind; for we have learned that he who presides over the preaching of the word ought to be able to confute gainsayers. But if some continue indolent, and do not train themselves so as to attend to the reading of the word, and to search the Scriptures, and, agreeably to the command of Jesus, to investigate the meaning of the sacred writings, and to ask of God concerning them, and to keep knocking at what may be closed within them, the Scripture is not on that account to be regarded as devoid of wisdom. " "
6.9 Celsus quotes another saying of Plato to the following effect: It has occurred to me to speak once more upon these subjects at greater length, as perhaps I might express myself about them more clearly than I have already done for there is a certain 'real' cause, which proves a hindrance in the way of him who has ventured, even to a slight extent, to write on such topics; and as this has been frequently mentioned by me on former occasions, it appears to me that it ought to be stated now. In each of existing things, which are necessarily employed in the acquisition of knowledge, there are three elements; knowledge itself is the fourth; and that ought to be laid down as the fifth which is both capable of being known and is true. of these, one is 'name;' the second is 'word;' the third, 'image;' the fourth, 'knowledge.' Now, according to this division, John is introduced before Jesus as the voice of one crying in the wilderness, so as to correspond with the name of Plato; and the second after John, who is pointed out by him, is Jesus, with whom agrees the statement, The Word became flesh; and that corresponds to the word of Plato. Plato terms the third image; but we, who apply the expression image to something different, would say with greater precision, that the mark of the wounds which is made in the soul by the word is the Christ which is in each one of us and this mark is impressed by Christ the Word. And whether Christ, the wisdom which is in those of us who are perfect, correspond to the fourth element - knowledge- will become known to him who has the capacity to ascertain it. " '6.
10 He next continues: You see how Plato, although maintaining that (the chief good) cannot be described in words, yet, to avoid the appearance of retreating to an irrefutable position, subjoins a reason in explanation of this difficulty, as even 'nothing' might perhaps be explained in words. But as Celsus adduces this to prove that we ought not to yield a simple assent, but to furnish a reason for our belief, we shall quote also the words of Paul, where he says, in censuring the hasty believer, unless you have believed inconsiderately. Now, through his practice of repeating himself, Celsus, so far as he can, forces us to be guilty of tautology, reiterating, after the boastful language which has been quoted, that Plato is not guilty of boasting and falsehood, giving out that he has made some new discovery, or that he has come down from heaven to announce it, but acknowledges whence these statements are derived. Now, if one wished to reply to Celsus, one might say in answer to such assertions, that even Plato is guilty of boasting, when in the Tim us he puts the following language in the month of Zeus: Gods of gods, whose creator and father I am, and so on. And if any one will defend such language on account of the meaning which is conveyed under the name of Zeus, thus speaking in the dialogue of Plato, why should not he who investigates the meaning of the words of the Son of God, or those of the Creator in the prophets, express a profounder meaning than any conveyed by the words of Zeus in the Tim us? For the characteristic of divinity is the announcement of future events, predicted not by human power, but shown by the result to be due to a divine spirit in him who made the announcement. Accordingly, we do not say to each of our hearers, Believe, first of all, that He whom I introduce to you is the Son of God; but we put the Gospel before each one, as his character and disposition may fit him to receive it, inasmuch as we have learned to know how we ought to answer every man. And there are some who are capable of receiving nothing more than an exhortation to believe, and to these we address that alone; while we approach others, again, as far as possible, in the way of demonstration, by means of question and answer. Nor do we at all say, as Celsus scoffingly alleges, Believe that he whom I introduce to you is the Son of God, although he was shamefully bound, and disgracefully punished, and very recently was most contumeliously treated before the eyes of all men; neither do we add, Believe it even the more (on that account). For it is our endeavour to state, on each individual point, arguments more numerous even than we have brought forward in the preceding pages. " "6.
2 Accordingly, let us pass on to another charge made by Celsus, who is not even acquainted with the words (of our sacred books), but who, from misunderstanding them, has said that we declare the wisdom that is among men to be foolishness with God; Paul having said that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. Celsus says that the reason of this has been stated long ago. And the reason he imagines to be, our desire to win over by means of this saying the ignorant and foolish alone. But, as he himself has intimated, he has said the same thing before; and we, to the best of our ability, replied to it. Notwithstanding this, however, he wished to show that this statement was an invention of ours, and borrowed from the Grecian sages, who declare that human wisdom is of one kind, and divine of another. And he quotes the words of Heraclitus, where he says in one passage, that man's method of action is not regulated by fixed principles, but that of God is; and in another, that a foolish man listens to a demon, as a boy does to a man. He quotes, moreover, the following from the Apology of Socrates, of which Plato was the author: For I, O men of Athens, have obtained this name by no other means than by my wisdom. And of what sort is this wisdom? Such, probably, as is human; for in that respect I venture to think that I am in reality wise. Such are the passages adduced by Celsus. But I shall subjoin also the following from Plato's letter to Hermeas, and Erastus, and Coriscus: To Erastus and Coriscus I say, although I am an old man, that, in addition to this noble knowledge of 'forms' (which they possess), they need a wisdom, with regard to the class of wicked and unjust persons, which may serve as a protective and repelling force against them. For they are inexperienced, in consequence of having passed a large portion of their lives with us, who are moderate individuals, and not wicked. I have accordingly said that they need these things, in order that they may not be compelled to neglect the true wisdom, and to apply themselves in a greater degree than is proper to that which is necessary and human. " '6.
16 In the next place, with regard to the declaration of Jesus against rich men, when He said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, Celsus alleges that this saying manifestly proceeded from Plato, and that Jesus perverted the words of the philosopher, which were, that it was impossible to be distinguished for goodness, and at the same time for riches. Now who is there that is capable of giving even moderate attention to affairs - not merely among the believers on Jesus, but among the rest of mankind- that would not laugh at Celsus, on hearing that Jesus, who was born and brought up among the Jews, and was supposed to be the son of Joseph the carpenter, and who had not studied literature - not merely that of the Greeks, but not even that of the Hebrews - as the truth-loving Scriptures testify regarding Him, had read Plato, and being pleased with the opinion he expressed regarding rich men, to the effect that it was impossible to be distinguished for goodness and riches at the same time, had perverted this, and changed it into, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God! Now, if Celsus had not perused the Gospels in a spirit of hatred and dislike, but had been imbued with a love of truth, he would have turned his attention to the point why a camel - that one of animals which, as regards its physical structure, is crooked - was chosen as an object of comparison with a rich man, and what signification the narrow eye of a needle had for him who saw that strait and narrow was the way that leads unto life; and to this point also, that this animal. according to the law, is described as unclean, having one element of acceptability, viz. that it ruminates, but one of condemnation, viz., that it does not divide the hoof. He would have inquired, moreover, how often the camel was adduced as an object of comparison in the sacred Scriptures, and in reference to what objects, that he might thus ascertain the meaning of the Logos concerning the rich men. Nor would he have left without examination the fact that the poor are termed blessed by Jesus, while the rich are designated as miserable; and whether these words refer to the rich and poor who are visible to the senses, or whether there is any kind of poverty known to the Logos which is to be deemed altogether blessed, and any rich man who is to be wholly condemned. For even a common individual would not thus indiscriminately have praised the poor, many of whom lead most wicked lives. But on this point we have said enough. 6.
7 Since Celsus, moreover, from a desire to depreciate the accounts which our Scriptures give of the kingdom of God, has quoted none of them, as if they were unworthy of being recorded by him (or perhaps because he was unacquainted with them), while, on the other hand, he quotes the sayings of Plato, both from his Epistles and the Ph drus, as if these were divinely inspired, but our Scriptures were not, let us set forth a few points, for the sake of comparison with these plausible declarations of Plato, which did not however, dispose the philosopher to worship in a manner worthy of him the Maker of all things. For he ought not to have adulterated or polluted this worship with what we call idolatry, but what the many would describe by the term superstition. Now, according to a Hebrew figure of speech, it is said of God in the eighteenth Psalm, that He made darkness His secret place, to signify that those notions which should be worthily entertained of God are invisible and unknowable, because God conceals Himself in darkness, as it were, from those who cannot endure the splendours of His knowledge, or are incapable of looking at them, partly owing to the pollution of their understanding, which is clothed with the body of mortal lowliness, and partly owing to its feebler power of comprehending God. And in order that it may appear that the knowledge of God has rarely been vouchsafed to men, and has been found in very few individuals, Moses is related to have entered into the darkness where God was. And again, with regard to Moses it is said: Moses alone shall come near the Lord, but the rest shall not come near. And again, that the prophet may show the depth of the doctrines which relate to God, and which is unattainable by those who do not possess the Spirit which searches all things, even the deep things of God, he added: The abyss like a garment is His covering. Nay, our Lord and Saviour, the Logos of God, manifesting that the greatness of the knowledge of the Father is appropriately comprehended and known pre-eminently by Him alone, and in the second place by those whose minds are enlightened by the Logos Himself and God, declares: No man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him. For no one can worthily know the uncreated and first-born of all created nature like the Father who begot Him, nor any one the Father like the living Logos, and His Wisdom and Truth. By sharing in Him who takes away from the Father what is called darkness, which He made His secret place, and the abyss, which is called His covering, and in this way unveiling the Father, every one knows the Father who is capable of knowing Him. 6.
18 I thought it right to quote these few instances from a much larger number of passages, in which our sacred writers express their ideas regarding God, in order to show that, to those who have eyes to behold the venerable character of Scripture, the sacred writings of the prophets contain things more worthy of reverence than those sayings of Plato which Celsus admires. Now the declaration of Plato, quoted by Celsus, runs as follows: All things are around the King of all, and all things exist for his sake, and he is the cause of all good things. With things of the second rank he is second, and with those of the third rank he is third. The human soul, accordingly, is eager to learn what these things are, looking to such things as are kindred to itself, none of which is perfect. But as regards the King and those things which I mentioned, there is nothing which resembles them. I might have mentioned, moreover, what is said of those beings which are called seraphim by the Hebrews, and described in Isaiah, who cover the face and feet of God, and of those called cherubim, whom Ezekiel has described, and the postures of these, and of the manner in which God is said to be borne upon the cherubim. But since they are mentioned in a very mysterious manner, on account of the unworthy and the indecent, who are unable to enter into the great thoughts and venerable nature of theology, I have not deemed it becoming to discourse of them in this treatise. ' "6.
19 Celsus in the next place alleges, that certain Christians, having misunderstood the words of Plato, loudly boast of a 'super-celestial' God, thus ascending beyond the heaven of the Jews. By these words, indeed, he does not make it clear whether they also ascend beyond the God of the Jews, or only beyond the heaven by which they swear. It is not our purpose at present, however, to speak of those who acknowledge another god than the one worshipped by the Jews, but to defend ourselves, and to show that it was impossible for the prophets of the Jews, whose writings are reckoned among ours, to have borrowed anything from Plato, because they were older than he. They did not then borrow from him the declaration, that all things are around the King of all, and that all exist on account of him; for we have learned that nobler thoughts than these have been uttered by the prophets, by Jesus Himself and His disciples, who have clearly indicated the meaning of the spirit that was in them, which was none other than the spirit of Christ. Nor was the philosopher the first to present to view the super-celestial place; for David long ago brought to view the profundity and multitude of the thoughts concerning God entertained by those who have ascended above visible things, when he said in the book of Psalms: Praise God, you heaven of heavens and you waters that be above the heavens, let them praise the name of the Lord . I do not, indeed, deny that Plato learned from certain Hebrews the words quoted from the Ph drus, or even, as some have recorded, that he quoted them from a perusal of our prophetic writings, when he said: No poet here below has ever sung of the super-celestial place, or ever will sing in a becoming manner, and so on. And in the same passage is the following: For the essence, which is both colorless and formless, and which cannot be touched, which really exists, is the pilot of the soul, and is beheld by the understanding alone; and around it the genus of true knowledge holds this place. Our Paul, moreover, educated by these words, and longing after things supra-mundane and super-celestial, and doing his utmost for their sake to attain them, says in the second Epistle to the Corinthians: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are unseen are eternal. " "6.
20 Now, to those who are capable of understanding him, the apostle manifestly presents to view things which are the objects of perception, calling them things seen; while he terms unseen, things which are the object of the understanding, and cognisable by it alone. He knows, also, that things seen and visible are temporal, but that things cognisable by the mind, and not seen, are eternal; and desiring to remain in the contemplation of these, and being assisted by his earnest longing for them, he deemed all affliction as light and as nothing, and during the season of afflictions and troubles was not at all bowed down by them, but by his contemplation of (divine) things deemed every calamity a light thing, seeing we also have a great High Priest, who by the greatness of His power and understanding has passed through the heavens, even Jesus the Son of God, who has promised to all that have truly learned divine things, and have lived lives in harmony with them, to go before them to the things that are supra-mundane; for His words are: That where I go, you may be also. And therefore we hope, after the troubles and struggles which we suffer here, to reach the highest heavens, and receiving, agreeably to the teaching of Jesus, the fountains of water that spring up unto eternal life, and being filled with the rivers of knowledge, shall be united with those waters that are said to be above the heavens, and which praise His name. And as many of us as praise Him shall not be carried about by the revolution of the heaven, but shall be ever engaged in the contemplation of the invisible things of God, which are no longer understood by us through the things which He has made from the creation of the world, but seeing, as it was expressed by the true disciple of Jesus in these words, then face to face; and in these, When that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. 6.
1 The Scriptures which are current in the Churches of God do not speak of seven heavens, or of any definite number at all, but they do appear to teach the existence of heavens, whether that means the spheres of those bodies which the Greeks call planets, or something more mysterious. Celsus, too, agreeably to the opinion of Plato, asserts that souls can make their way to and from the earth through the planets; while Moses, our most ancient prophet, says that a divine vision was presented to the view of our prophet Jacob, - a ladder stretching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it, and the Lord supported upon its top - obscurely pointing, by this matter of the ladder, either to the same truths which Plato had in view, or to something greater than these. On this subject Philo has composed a treatise which deserves the thoughtful and intelligent investigation of all lovers of truth. ' "6.
2 After this, Celsus, desiring to exhibit his learning in his treatise against us, quotes also certain Persian mysteries, where he says: These things are obscurely hinted at in the accounts of the Persians, and especially in the mysteries of Mithras, which are celebrated among them. For in the latter there is a representation of the two heavenly revolutions - of the movement, viz., of the fixed stars, and of that which take place among the planets, and of the passage of the soul through these. The representation is of the following nature: There is a ladder with lofty gates, and on the top of it an eighth gate. The first gate consists of lead, the second of tin, the third of copper, the fourth of iron, the fifth of a mixture of metals, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of gold. The first gate they assign to Saturn, indicating by the 'lead' the slowness of this star; the second to Venus, comparing her to the splendour and softness of tin; the third to Jupiter, being firm and solid; the fourth to Mercury, for both Mercury and iron are fit to endure all things, and are money-making and laborious; the fifth to Mars, because, being composed of a mixture of metals, it is varied and unequal; the sixth, of silver, to the Moon; the seventh, of gold, to the Sun - thus imitating the different colors of the two latter. He next proceeds to examine the reason of the stars being arranged in this order, which is symbolized by the names of the rest of matter. Musical reasons, moreover, are added or quoted by the Persian theology; and to these, again, he strives to add a second explanation, connected also with musical considerations. But it seems to me, that to quote the language of Celsus upon these matters would be absurd, and similar to what he himself has done, when, in his accusations against Christians and Jews, he quoted, most inappropriately, not only the words of Plato; but, dissatisfied even with these, he adduced in addition the mysteries of the Persian Mithras, and the explanation of them. Now, whatever be the case with regard to these - whether the Persians and those who conduct the mysteries of Mithras give false or true accounts regarding them - why did he select these for quotation, rather than some of the other mysteries, with the explanation of them? For the mysteries of Mithras do not appear to be more famous among the Greeks than those of Eleusis, or than those in Ægina, where individuals are initiated in the rites of Hecate. But if he must introduce barbarian mysteries with their explanation, why not rather those of the Egyptians, which are highly regarded by many, or those of the Cappadocians regarding the Comanian Diana, or those of the Thracians, or even those of the Romans themselves, who initiate the noblest members of their senate? But if he deemed it inappropriate to institute a comparison with any of these, because they furnished no aid in the way of accusing Jews or Christians, why did it not also appear to him inappropriate to adduce the instance of the mysteries of Mithras? " "6.
23 If one wished to obtain means for a profounder contemplation of the entrance of souls into divine things, not from the statements of that very insignificant sect from which he quoted, but from books - partly those of the Jews, which are read in their synagogues, and adopted by Christians, and partly from those of Christians alone - let him peruse, at the end of Ezekiel's prophecies, the visions beheld by the prophet, in which gates of different kinds are enumerated, which obscurely refer to the different modes in which divine souls enter into a better world; and let him peruse also, from the Apocalypse of John, what is related of the city of God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and of its foundations and gates. And if he is capable of finding out also the road, which is indicated by symbols, of those who will march on to divine things, let him read the book of Moses entitled Numbers, and let him seek the help of one who is capable of initiating him into the meaning of the narratives concerning the encampments of the children of Israel; viz., of what sort those were which were arranged towards the east, as was the case with the first; and what those towards the south-west and south; and what towards the sea; and what the last were, which were stationed towards the north. For he will see that there is in the respective places a meaning not to be lightly treated, nor, as Celsus imagines, such as calls only for silly and servile listeners: but he will distinguish in the encampments certain things relating to the numbers that are enumerated, and which are specially adapted to each tribe, of which the present does not appear to us to be the proper time to speak. Let Celsus know, moreover, as well as those who read his book, that in no part of the genuine and divinely accredited Scriptures are seven heavens mentioned; neither do our prophets, nor the apostles of Jesus, nor the Son of God Himself, repeat anything which they borrowed from the Persians or the Cabiri. " '6.
24 After the instance borrowed from the Mithraic mysteries, Celsus declares that he who would investigate the Christian mysteries, along with the aforesaid Persian, will, on comparing the two together, and on unveiling the rites of the Christians, see in this way the difference between them. Now, wherever he was able to give the names of the various sects, he was nothing loth to quote those with which he thought himself acquainted; but when he ought most of all to have done this, if they were really known to him, and to have informed us which was the sect that makes use of the diagram he has drawn, he has not done so. It seems to me, however, that it is from some statements of a very insignificant sect called Ophites, which he has misunderstood, that, in my opinion, he has partly borrowed what he says about the diagram. Now, as we have always been animated by a love of learning, we have fallen in with this diagram, and we have found in it the representations of men who, as Paul says, creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with various lusts; ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. The diagram was, however, so destitute of all credibility, that neither these easily deceived women, nor the most rustic class of men, nor those who were ready to be led away by any plausible pretender whatever, ever gave their assent to the diagram. Nor, indeed, have we ever met any individual, although we have visited many parts of the earth, and have sought out all those who anywhere made profession of knowledge, that placed any faith in this diagram. ' "6.
25 In this diagram were described ten circles, distinct from each other, but united by one circle, which was said to be the soul of all things, and was called Leviathan. This Leviathan, the Jewish Scriptures say, whatever they mean by the expression, was created by God for a plaything; for we find in the Psalms: In wisdom have You made all things: the earth is full of Your creatures; so is this great and wide sea. There go the ships; small animals with great; there is this dragon, which You have formed to play therein. Instead of the word dragon, the term leviathan is in the Hebrew. This impious diagram, then, said of this leviathan, which is so clearly depreciated by the Psalmist, that it was the soul which had travelled through all things! We observed, also, in the diagram, the being named Behemoth, placed as it were under the lowest circle. The inventor of this accursed diagram had inscribed this leviathan at its circumference and centre, thus placing its name in two separate places. Moreover, Celsus says that the diagram was divided by a thick black line, and this line he asserted was called Gehenna, which is Tartarus. Now as we found that Gehenna was mentioned in the Gospel as a place of punishment, we searched to see whether it is mentioned anywhere in the ancient Scriptures, and especially because the Jews too use the word. And we ascertained that where the valley of the son of Ennom was named in Scripture in the Hebrew, instead of valley, with fundamentally the same meaning, it was termed both the valley of Ennom and also Geenna. And continuing our researches, we find that what was termed Geenna, or the valley of Ennom, was included in the lot of the tribe of Benjamin, in which Jerusalem also was situated. And seeking to ascertain what might be the inference from the heavenly Jerusalem belonging to the lot of Benjamin and the valley of Ennom, we find a certain confirmation of what is said regarding the place of punishment, intended for the purification of such souls as are to be purified by torments, agreeably to the saying: The Lord comes like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and of gold. " '6.
26 It is in the precincts of Jerusalem, then, that punishments will be inflicted upon those who undergo the process of purification, who have received into the substance of their soul the elements of wickedness, which in a certain place is figuratively termed lead, and on that account iniquity is represented in Zechariah as sitting upon a talent of lead. But the remarks which might be made on this topic are neither to be made to all, nor to be uttered on the present occasion; for it is not unattended with danger to commit to writing the explanation of such subjects, seeing the multitude need no further instruction than that which relates to the punishment of sinners; while to ascend beyond this is not expedient, for the sake of those who are with difficulty restrained, even by fear of eternal punishment, from plunging into any degree of wickedness, and into the flood of evils which result from sin. The doctrine of Geenna, then, is unknown both to the diagram and to Celsus: for had it been otherwise, the framers of the former would not have boasted of their pictures of animals and diagrams, as if the truth were represented by these; nor would Celsus, in his treatise against the Christians, have introduced among the charges directed against them statements which they never uttered instead of what was spoken by some who perhaps are no longer in existence, but have altogether disappeared, or been reduced to a very few individuals, and these easily counted. And as it does not beseem those who profess the doctrines of Plato to offer a defense of Epicurus and his impious opinions, so neither is it for us to defend the diagram, or to refute the accusations brought against it by Celsus. We may therefore allow his charges on these points to pass as superfluous and useless, for we would censure more severely than Celsus any who should be carried away by such opinions. ' "6.
7 After the matter of the diagram, he brings forward certain monstrous statements, in the form of question and answer, regarding what is called by ecclesiastical writers the seal, statements which did not arise from imperfect information; such as that he who impresses the seal is called father, and he who is sealed is called young man and son; and who answers, I have been anointed with white ointment from the tree of life,- things which we never heard to have occurred even among the heretics. In the next place, he determines even the number mentioned by those who deliver over the seal, as that of seven angels, who attach themselves to both sides of the soul of the dying body; the one party being named angels of light, the others 'archontics;' and he asserts that the ruler of those named 'archontics' is termed the 'accursed' god. Then, laying hold of the expression, he assails, not without reason, those who venture to use such language; and on that account we entertain a similar feeling of indignation with those who censure such individuals, if indeed there exist any who call the God of the Jews- who sends rain and thunder, and who is the Creator of this world, and the God of Moses, and of the cosmogony which he records - an accursed divinity. Celsus, however, appears to have had in view in employing these expressions, not a rational object, but one of a most irrational kind, arising out of his hatred towards us, which is so unlike a philosopher. For his aim was, that those who are unacquainted with our customs should, on perusing his treatise, at once assail us as if we called the noble Creator of this world an accursed divinity. He appears to me, indeed, to have acted like those Jews who, when Christianity began to be first preached, scattered abroad false reports of the Gospel, such as that Christians offered up an infant in sacrifice, and partook of its flesh; and again, that the professors of Christianity, wishing to do the 'works of darkness,' used to extinguish the lights (in their meetings), and each one to have sexual intercourse with any woman whom he chanced to meet. These calumnies have long exercised, although unreasonably, an influence over the minds of very many, leading those who are aliens to the Gospel to believe that Christians are men of such a character; and even at the present day they mislead some, and prevent them from entering even into the simple intercourse of conversation with those who are Christians. " '6.
28 With some such object as this in view does Celsus seem to have been actuated, when he alleged that Christians term the Creator an accursed divinity; in order that he who believes these charges of his against us, should, if possible, arise and exterminate the Christians as the most impious of mankind. Confusing, moreover, things that are distinct, he states also the reason why the God of the Mosaic cosmogony is termed accursed, asserting that such is his character, and worthy of execration in the opinion of those who so regard him, inasmuch as he pronounced a curse upon the serpent, who introduced the first human beings to the knowledge of good and evil. Now he ought to have known that those who have espoused the cause of the serpent, because he gave good advice to the first human beings, and who go far beyond the Titans and Giants of fable, and are on this account called Ophites, are so far from being Christians, that they bring accusations against Jesus to as great a degree as Celsus himself; and they do not admit any one into their assembly until he has uttered maledictions against Jesus. See, then, how irrational is the procedure of Celsus, who, in his discourse against the Christians, represents as such those who will not even listen to the name of Jesus, or omit even that He was a wise man, or a person of virtuous character! What, then, could evince greater folly or madness, not only on the part of those who wish to derive their name from the serpent as the author of good, but also on the part of Celsus, who thinks that the accusations with which the Ophites are charged, are chargeable also against the Christians! Long ago, indeed, that Greek philosopher who preferred a state of poverty, and who exhibited the pattern of a happy life, showing that he was not excluded from happiness although he was possessed of nothing, termed himself a Cynic; while these impious wretches, as not being human beings, whose enemy the serpent is, but as being serpents, pride themselves upon being called Ophites from the serpent, which is an animal most hostile to and greatly dreaded by man, and boast of one Euphrates as the introducer of these unhallowed opinions. 6.
29 In the next place, as if it were the Christians whom he was calumniating, he continues his accusations against those who termed the God of Moses and of his law an accursed divinity; and imagining that it is the Christians who so speak, he expresses himself thus: What could be more foolish or insane than such senseless wisdom? For what blunder has the Jewish lawgiver committed? And why do you accept, by means, as you say, of a certain allegorical and typical method of interpretation, the cosmogony which he gives, and the law of the Jews, while it is with unwillingness, O most impious man, that you give praise to the Creator of the world, who promised to give them all things; who promised to multiply their race to the ends of the earth, and to raise them up from the dead with the same flesh and blood, and who gave inspiration to their prophets; and, again, you slander Him! When you feel the force of such considerations, indeed, you acknowledge that you worship the same God; but when your teacher Jesus and the Jewish Moses give contradictory decisions, you seek another God, instead of Him, and the Father! Now, by such statements, this illustrious philosopher Celsus distinctly slanders the Christians, asserting that, when the Jews press them hard, they acknowledge the same God as they do; but that when Jesus legislates differently from Moses, they seek another god instead of Him. Now, whether we are conversing with the Jews, or are alone with ourselves, we know of only one and the same God, whom the Jews also worshipped of old time, and still profess to worship as God, and we are guilty of no impiety towards Him. We do not assert, however, that God will raise men from the dead with the same flesh and blood, as has been shown in the preceding pages; for we do not maintain that the natural body, which is sown in corruption, and in dishonour, and in weakness, will rise again such as it was sown. On such subjects, however, we have spoken at adequate length in the foregoing pages.
6.30 He next returns to the subject of the Seven ruling Demons, whose names are not found among Christians, but who, I think, are accepted by the Ophites. We found, indeed, that in the diagram, which on their account we procured a sight of, the same order was laid down as that which Celsus has given. Celsus says that the goat was shaped like a lion, not mentioning the name given him by those who are truly the most impious of individuals; whereas we discovered that He who is honoured in holy Scripture as the angel of the Creator is called by this accursed diagram Michael the Lion-like. Again, Celsus says that the second in order is a bull; whereas the diagram which we possessed made him to be Suriel, the bull-like. Further, Celsus termed the third an amphibious sort of animal, and one that hissed frightfully; while the diagram described the third as Raphael, the serpent-like. Moreover, Celsus asserted that the fourth had the form of an eagle; the diagram representing him as Gabriel, the eagle-like. Again, the fifth, according to Celsus, had the countece of a bear; and this, according to the diagram, was Thauthabaoth, the bear-like. Celsus continues his account, that the sixth was described as having the face of a dog; and him the diagram called Erataoth. The seventh, he adds, had the countece of an ass, and was named Thaphabaoth or Onoel; whereas we discovered that in the diagram he is called Onoel, or Thartharaoth, being somewhat asinine in appearance. We have thought it proper to be exact in stating these matters, that we might not appear to be ignorant of those things which Celsus professed to know, but that we Christians, knowing them better than he, may demonstrate that these are not the words of Christians, but of those who are altogether alienated from salvation, and who neither acknowledge Jesus as Saviour, nor God, nor Teacher, nor Son of God. 6.3
1 Moreover, if any one would wish to become acquainted with the artifices of those sorcerers, through which they desire to lead men away by their teaching (as if they possessed the knowledge of certain secret rites), but are not at all successful in so doing, let him listen to the instruction which they receive after passing through what is termed the fence of wickedness, - gates which are subjected to the world of ruling spirits. (The following, then, is the manner in which they proceed): I salute the one-formed king, the bond of blindness, complete oblivion, the first power, preserved by the spirit of providence and by wisdom, from whom I am sent forth pure, being already part of the light of the son and of the father: grace be with me; yea, O father, let it be with me. They say also that the beginnings of the Ogdoad are derived from this. In the next place, they are taught to say as follows, while passing through what they call Ialdabaoth: You, O first and seventh, who art born to command with confidence, you, O Ialdabaoth, who art the rational ruler of a pure mind, and a perfect work to son and father, bearing the symbol of life in the character of a type, and opening to the world the gate which you closed against your kingdom, I pass again in freedom through your realm. Let grace be with me; yea, O father, let it be with me. They say, moreover, that the star Ph non is in sympathy with the lion-like ruler. They next imagine that he who has passed through Ialdabaoth and arrived at Iao ought thus to speak: You, O second Iao, who shines by night, who art the ruler of the secret mysteries of son and father, first prince of death, and portion of the innocent, bearing now my own beard as symbol, I am ready to pass through your realm, having strengthened him who is born of you by the living word. Grace be with me; father, let it be with me. They next come to Sabaoth, to whom they think the following should be addressed: O governor of the fifth realm, powerful Sabaoth, defender of the law of your creatures, who are liberated by your grace through the help of a more powerful Pentad, admit me, seeing the faultless symbol of their art, preserved by the stamp of an image, a body liberated by a Pentad. Let grace be with me, O father, let grace be with me. And after Sabaoth they come to Astaph us, to whom they believe the following prayer should be offered: O Astaph us, ruler of the third gate, overseer of the first principle of water, look upon me as one of your initiated, admit me who am purified with the spirit of a virgin, you who sees the essence of the world. Let grace be with me, O father, let grace be with me. After him comes Alo us, who is to be thus addressed: O Alo us, governor of the second gate, let me pass, seeing I bring to you the symbol of your mother, a grace which is hidden by the powers of the realms. Let grace be with me, O father, let it be with me. And last of all they name Hor us, and think that the following prayer ought to be offered to him: You who fearlessly leaped over the rampart of fire, O Hor us, who obtained the government of the first gate, let me pass, seeing you behold the symbol of your own power, sculptured on the figure of the tree of life, and formed after this image, in the likeness of innocence. Let grace be with me, O father, let grace be with me. 6.3
2 The supposed great learning of Celsus, which is composed, however, rather of curious trifles and silly talk than anything else, has made us touch upon these topics, from a wish to show to every one who peruses his treatise and our reply, that we have no lack of information on those subjects, from which he takes occasion to calumniate the Christians, who neither are acquainted with, nor concern themselves about, such matters. For we, too, desired both to learn and set forth these things, in order that sorcerers might not, under pretext of knowing more than we, delude those who are easily carried away by the glitter of names. And I could have given many more illustrations to show that we are acquainted with the opinions of these deluders, and that we disown them, as being alien to ours, and impious, and not in harmony with the doctrines of true Christians, of which we are ready to make confession even to the death. It must be noticed, too, that those who have drawn up this array of fictions, have, from neither understanding magic, nor discriminating the meaning of holy Scripture, thrown everything into confusion; seeing that they have borrowed from magic the names of Ialdabaoth, and Astaph us, and Hor us, and from the Hebrew Scriptures him who is termed in Hebrew Iao or Jah, and Sabaoth, and Adon us, and Elo us. Now the names taken from the Scriptures are names of one and the same God; which, not being understood by the enemies of God, as even themselves acknowledge, led to their imagining that Iao was a different God, and Sabaoth another, and Adon us, whom the Scriptures term Adonai, a third besides, and that Elo us, whom the prophets name in Hebrew Eloi, was also different
6.33 Celsus next relates other fables, to the effect that certain persons return to the shapes of the archontics, so that some are called lions, others bulls, others dragons, or eagles, or bears, or dogs. We found also in the diagram which we possessed, and which Celsus called the square pattern, the statements made by these unhappy beings concerning the gates of Paradise. The flaming sword was depicted as the diameter of a flaming circle, and as if mounting guard over the tree of knowledge and of life. Celsus, however, either would not or could not repeat the harangues which, according to the fables of these impious individuals, are represented as spoken at each of the gates by those who pass through them; but this we have done in order to show to Celsus and those who read his treatise, that we know the depth of these unhallowed mysteries, and that they are far removed from the worship which Christians offer up to God. ' "
6.34 After finishing the foregoing, and those analogous matters which we ourselves have added, Celsus continues as follows: They continue to heap together one thing after another - discourses of prophets, and circles upon circles, and effluents from an earthly church, and from circumcision; and a power flowing from one Prunicos, a virgin and a living soul; and a heaven slain in order to live, and an earth slaughtered by the sword, and many put to death that they may live, and death ceasing in the world, when the sin of the world is dead; and, again, a narrow way, and gates that open spontaneously. And in all their writings (is mention made) of the tree of life, and a resurrection of the flesh by means of the 'tree,' because, I imagine, their teacher was nailed to a cross, and was a carpenter by craft; so that if he had chanced to have been cast from a precipice, or thrust into a pit, or suffocated by hanging, or had been a leather-cutter, or stone-cutter, or worker in iron, there would have been (invented) a precipice of life beyond the heavens, or a pit of resurrection, or a cord of immortality, or a blessed stone, or an iron of love, or a sacred leather! Now what old woman would not be ashamed to utter such things in a whisper, even when making stories to lull an infant to sleep? In using such language as this, Celsus appears to me to confuse together matters which he has imperfectly heard. For it seems likely that, even supposing that he had heard a few words traceable to some existing heresy, he did not clearly understand the meaning intended to be conveyed; but heaping the words together, he wished to show before those who knew nothing either of our opinions or of those of the heretics, that he was acquainted with all the doctrines of the Christians. And this is evident also from the foregoing words. " "
6.35 It is our practice, indeed, to make use of the words of the prophets, who demonstrate that Jesus is the Christ predicted by them, and who show from the prophetic writings the events in the Gospels regarding Jesus have been fulfilled. But when Celsus speaks of circles upon circles, (he perhaps borrowed the expression) from the aforementioned heresy, which includes in one circle (which they call the soul of all things, and Leviathan) the seven circles of archontic demons, or perhaps it arises from misunderstanding the preacher, when he says: The wind goes in a circle of circles, and returns again upon its circles. The expression, too, effluents of an earthly church and of circumcision, was probably taken from the fact that the church on earth was called by some an effluent from a heavenly church and a better world; and that the circumcision described in the law was a symbol of the circumcision performed there, in a certain place set apart for purification. The adherents of Valentinus, moreover, in keeping with their system of error, give the name of Prunicos to a certain kind of wisdom, of which they would have the woman afflicted with the twelve years' issue of blood to be the symbol; so that Celsus, who confuses together all sorts of opinions - Greek, Barbarian, and Heretical - having heard of her, asserted that it was a power flowing forth from one Prunicos, a virgin. The living soul, again, is perhaps mysteriously referred by some of the followers of Valentinus to the being whom they term the psychic creator of the world; or perhaps, in contradistinction to a dead soul, the living soul is termed by some, not inelegantly, the soul of him who is saved. I know nothing, however, of a heaven which is said to be slain, or of an earth slaughtered by the sword, or of many persons slain in order that they might live; for it is not unlikely that these were coined by Celsus out of his own brain. " 6.36 We would say, moreover, that death ceases in the world when the sin of the world dies, referring the saying to the mystical words of the apostle, which run as follows: When He shall have put all enemies under His feet, then the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. And also: When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. The strait descent, again, may perhaps be referred by those who hold the doctrine of transmigration of souls to that view of things. And it is not incredible that the gates which are said to open spontaneously are referred obscurely by some to the words, Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may go into them, and praise the Lord; this gate of the Lord, into it the righteous shall enter; and again, to what is said in the ninth psalm, You that lifts me up from the gates of death, that I may show forth all Your praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion. The Scripture further gives the name of gates of death to those sins which lead to destruction, as it terms, on the contrary, good actions the gates of Zion. So also the gates of righteousness, which is an equivalent expression to the gates of virtue, and these are ready to be opened to him who follows after virtuous pursuits. The subject of the tree of life will be more appropriately explained when we interpret the statements in the book of Genesis regarding the paradise planted by God. Celsus, moreover, has often mocked at the subject of a resurrection, - a doctrine which he did not comprehend; and on the present occasion, not satisfied with what he has formerly said, he adds, And there is said to be a resurrection of the flesh by means of the tree; not understanding, I think, the symbolic expression, that through the tree came death, and through the tree comes life, because death was in Adam, and life in Christ. He next scoffs at the tree, assailing it on two grounds, and saying, For this reason is the tree introduced, either because our teacher was nailed to a cross, or because he was a carpenter by trade; not observing that the tree of life is mentioned in the Mosaic writings, and being blind also to this, that in none of the Gospels current in the Churches is Jesus Himself ever described as being a carpenter. ' "
7 Celsus, moreover, thinks that we have invented this tree of life to give an allegorical meaning to the cross; and in consequence of his error upon this point, he adds: If he had happened to be cast down a precipice, or shoved into a pit, or suffocated by hanging, there would have been invented a precipice of life far beyond the heavens, or a pit of resurrection, or a cord of immortality. And again: If the 'tree of life' were an invention, because he - Jesus - (is reported) to have been a carpenter, it would follow that if he had been a leather-cutter, something would have been said about holy leather; or had he been a stone-cutter, about a blessed stone; or if a worker in iron, about an iron of love. Now, who does not see at once the paltry nature of his charge, in thus calumniating men whom he professed to convert on the ground of their being deceived? And after these remarks, he goes on to speak in a way quite in harmony with the tone of those who have invented the fictions of lion-like, and ass-headed, and serpent-like ruling angels, and other similar absurdities, but which does not affect those who belong to the Church. of a truth, even a drunken old woman would be ashamed to chaunt or whisper to an infant, in order to lull him to sleep, any such fables as those have done who invented the beings with asses' heads, and the harangues, so to speak, which are delivered at each of the gates. But Celsus is not acquainted with the doctrines of the members of the Church, which very few have been able to comprehend, even of those who have devoted all their lives, in conformity with the command of Jesus, to the searching of the Scriptures, and have laboured to investigate the meaning of the sacred books, to a greater degree than Greek philosophers in their efforts to attain a so-called wisdom. " "
6.38 Our noble (friend), moreover, not satisfied with the objections which he has drawn from the diagram, desires, in order to strengthen his accusations against us, who have nothing in common with it, to introduce certain other charges, which he adduces from the same (heretics), but yet as if they were from a different source. His words are: And that is not the least of their marvels, for there are between the upper circles - those that are above the heavens - certain inscriptions of which they give the interpretation, and among others two words especially, 'a greater and a less,' which they refer to Father and Son. Now, in the diagram referred to, we found the greater and the lesser circle, upon the diameter of which was inscribed Father and Son; and between the greater circle (in which the lesser was contained) and another composed of two circles - the outer one of which was yellow, and the inner blue - a barrier inscribed in the shape of a hatchet. And above it, a short circle, close to the greater of the two former, having the inscription Love; and lower down, one touching the same circle, with the word Life. And on the second circle, which was intertwined with and included two other circles, another figure, like a rhomboid, (entitled) The foresight of wisdom. And within their point of common section was The nature of wisdom. And above their point of common section was a circle, on which was inscribed Knowledge; and lower down another, on which was the inscription, Understanding. We have introduced these matters into our reply to Celsus, to show to our readers that we know better than he, and not by mere report, those things, even although we also disapprove of them. Moreover, if those who pride themselves upon such matters profess also a kind of magic and sorcery - which, in their opinion, is the summit of wisdom - we, on the other hand, make no affirmation about it, seeing we never have discovered anything of the kind. Let Celsus, however, who has been already often convicted of false witness and irrational accusations, see whether he is not guilty of falsehood in these also, or whether he has not extracted and introduced into his treatise, statements taken from the writings of those who are foreigners and strangers to our Christian faith. " 6.40 After these things, Celsus appears to me to act like those who, in their intense hatred of the Christians, maintain, in the presence of those who are utterly ignorant of the Christian faith, that they have actually ascertained that Christians devour the flesh of infants, and give themselves without restraint to sexual intercourse with their women. Now, as these statements have been condemned as falsehoods invented against the Christians, and this admission made by the multitude and those altogether aliens to our faith; so would the following statements of Celsus be found to be calumnies invented against the Christians, where he says that he has seen in the hands of certain presbyters belonging to our faith barbarous books, containing the names and marvellous doings of demons; asserting further, that these presbyters of our faith professed to do no good, but all that was calculated to injure human beings. Would, indeed, that all that is said by Celsus against the Christians was of such a nature as to be refuted by the multitude, who have ascertained by experience that such things are untrue, seeing that most of them have lived as neighbours with the Christians, and have not even heard of the existence of any such alleged practices! ' "6.4
2 After these matters, Celsus brings the following charges against us from another quarter: Certain most impious errors, he says, are committed by them, due to their extreme ignorance, in which they have wandered away from the meaning of the divine enigmas, creating an adversary to God, the devil, and naming him in the Hebrew tongue, Satan. Now, of a truth, such statements are altogether of mortal invention, and not even proper to be repeated, viz., that the mighty God, in His desire to confer good upon men, has yet one counterworking Him, and is helpless. The Son of God, it follows, is vanquished by the devil; and being punished by him, teaches us also to despise the punishments which he inflicts, telling us beforehand that Satan, after appearing to men as He Himself had done, will exhibit great and marvellous works, claiming for himself the glory of God, but that those who wish to keep him at a distance ought to pay no attention to these works of Satan, but to place their faith in Him alone. Such statements are manifestly the words of a deluder, planning and manœuvring against those who are opposed to his views, and who rank themselves against them. In the next place, desiring to point out the enigmas, our mistakes regarding which lead to the introduction of our views concerning Satan, he continues: The ancients allude obscurely to a certain war among the gods, Heraclitus speaking thus of it: 'If one must say that there is a general war and discord, and that all things are done and administered in strife.' Pherecydes, again, who is much older than Heraclitus, relates a myth of one army drawn up in hostile array against another, and names Kronos as the leader of the one, and Ophioneus of the other, and recounts their challenges and struggles, and mentions that agreements were entered into between them, to the end that whichever party should fall into the ocean should be held as vanquished, while those who had expelled and conquered them should have possession of heaven. The mysteries relating to the Titans and Giants also had some such (symbolic) meaning, as well as the Egyptian mysteries of Typhon, and Horus, and Osiris. After having made such statements, and not having got over the difficulty as to the way in which these accounts contain a higher view of things, while our accounts are erroneous copies of them, he continues his abuse of us, remarking that these are not like the stories which are related of a devil, or demon, or, as he remarks with more truth, of a man who is an impostor, who wishes to establish an opposite doctrine. And in the same way he understands Homer, as if he referred obscurely to matters similar to those mentioned by Heraclitus, and Pherecydes, and the originators of the mysteries about the Titans and Giants, in those words which Heph stus addresses to Hera as follows:- Once in your cause I felt his matchless might, Hurled headlong downward from the ethereal height. And in those of Zeus to Hera:- Have you forgot, when, bound and fix'd on high, From the vast concave of the spangled sky, I hung you trembling in a golden chain, And all the raging gods opposed in vain? Headlong I hurled them from the Olympian hall, Stunn'd in the whirl, and breathless with the fall. Interpreting, moreover, the words of Homer, he adds: The words of Zeus addressed to Hera are the words of God addressed to matter; and the words addressed to matter obscurely signify that the matter which at the beginning was in a state of discord (with God), was taken by Him, and bound together and arranged under laws, which may be analogically compared to chains; and that by way of chastising the demons who create disorder in it, he hurls them down headlong to this lower world. These words of Homer, he alleges, were so understood by Pherecydes, when he said that beneath that region is the region of Tartarus, which is guarded by the Harpies and Tempest, daughters of Boreas, and to which Zeus banishes any one of the gods who becomes disorderly. With the same ideas also are closely connected the peplos of Athena, which is beheld by all in the procession of the Panathen a. For it is manifest from this, he continues, that a motherless and unsullied demon has the mastery over the daring of the Giants. While accepting, moreover, the fictions of the Greeks, he continues to heap against us such accusations as the following, viz., that the Son of God is punished by the devil, and teaches us that we also, when punished by him, ought to endure it. Now these statements are altogether ridiculous. For it is the devil, I think, who ought rather to be punished, and those human beings who are calumniated by him ought not to be threatened with chastisement. " "
7 Celsus, after what has been said, goes on as follows: I can tell how the very thing occurred, viz., that they should call him 'Son of God.' Men of ancient times termed this world, as being born of God, both his child and his son. Both the one and other 'Son of God,' then, greatly resembled each other. He is therefore of opinion that we employed the expression Son of God, having perverted what is said of the world, as being born of God, and being His Son, and a God. For he was unable so to consider the times of Moses and the prophets, as to see that the Jewish prophets predicted generally that there was a Son of God long before the Greeks and those men of ancient time of whom Celsus speaks. Nay, he would not even quote the passage in the letters of Plato, to which we referred in the preceding pages, concerning Him who so beautifully arranged this world, as being the Son of God; lest he too should be compelled by Plato, whom he often mentions with respect, to admit that the architect of this world is the Son of God, and that His Father is the first God and Sovereign Ruler over all things. Nor is it at all wonderful if we maintain that the soul of Jesus is made one with so great a Son of God through the highest union with Him, being no longer in a state of separation from Him. For the sacred language of holy Scripture knows of other things also, which, although dual in their own nature, are considered to be, and really are, one in respect to one another. It is said of husband and wife, They are no longer two, but one flesh; and of the perfect man, and of him who is joined to the true Lord, Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, that he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit. And if he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit, who has been joined to the Lord, the Very Word, and Wisdom, and Truth, and Righteousness, in a more intimate union, or even in a manner at all approaching to it than the soul of Jesus? And if this be so, then the soul of Jesus and God the Word- the first-born of every creature - are no longer two, (but one). " 6.49 Let us notice now what follows, where, expressing in a single word his opinion regarding the Mosaic cosmogony, without offering, however, a single argument in its support, he finds fault with it, saying: Moreover, their cosmogony is extremely silly. Now, if he had produced some credible proofs of its silly character, we should have endeavoured to answer them; but it does not appear to me reasonable that I should be called upon to demonstrate, in answer to his mere assertion, that it is not silly. If any one, however, wishes to see the reasons which led us to accept the Mosaic account, and the arguments by which it may be defended, he may read what we have written upon Genesis, from the beginning of the book up to the passage, And this is the book of the generation of men, where we have tried to show from the holy Scriptures themselves what the heaven was which was created in the beginning; and what the earth, and the invisible part of the earth, and that which was without form; and what the deep was, and the darkness that was upon it; and what the water was, and the Spirit of God which was borne over it; and what the light which was created, and what the firmament, as distinct from the heaven which was created in the beginning; and so on with the other subjects that follow. Celsus has also expressed his opinion that the narrative of the creation of man is exceedingly silly, without stating any proofs, or endeavouring to answer our arguments; for he had no evidence, in my judgment, which was fitted to overthrow the statement that man has been made in the image of God. He does not even understand the meaning of the Paradise that was planted by God, and of the life which man first led in it; and of that which resulted from accident, when man was cast forth on account of his sin, and was settled opposite the Paradise of delight. Now, as he asserts that these are silly statements, let him turn his attention not merely to each one of them (in general), but to this in particular, He placed the cherubim, and the flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life, and say whether Moses wrote these words with no serious object in view, but in the spirit of the writers of the old Comedy, who have sportively related that Prœtus slew Bellerophon, and that Pegasus came from Arcadia. Now their object was to create laughter in composing such stories; whereas it is incredible that he who left behind him laws for a whole nation, regarding which he wished to persuade his subjects that they were given by God, should have written words so little to the purpose, and have said without any meaning, He placed the cherubim, and the flaming sword, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life, or made any other statement regarding the creation of man, which is the subject of philosophic investigation by the Hebrew sages.
6.50 In the next place, Celsus, after heaping together, simply as mere assertions, the varying opinions of some of the ancients regarding the world, and the origin of man, alleges that Moses and the prophets, who have left to us our books, not knowing at all what the nature of the world is, and of man, have woven together a web of sheer nonsense. If he had shown, now, how it appeared to him that the holy Scriptures contained sheer nonsense, we should have tried to demolish the arguments which appeared to him to establish their nonsensical character; but on the present occasion, following his own example, we also sportively give it as our opinion that Celsus, knowing nothing at all about the nature of the meaning and language of the prophets, composed a work which contained sheer nonsense, and boastfully gave it the title of a true discourse. And since he makes the statements about the days of creation ground of accusation - as if he understood them clearly and correctly, some of which elapsed before the creation of light and heaven, and sun, and moon, and stars, and some of them after the creation of these - we shall only make this observation, that Moses must then have forgotten that he had said a little before, that in six days the creation of the world had been finished, and that in consequence of this act of forgetfulness he subjoins to these words the following: This is the book of the creation of man, in the day when God made the heaven and the earth! But it is not in the least credible, that after what he had said respecting the six days, Moses should immediately add, without a special meaning, the words, in the day that God made the heavens and the earth; and if any one thinks that these words may be referred to the statement, In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth, let him observe that before the words, Let there be light, and there was light, and these, God called the light day, it has been stated that in the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. ' "
6.59 Celsus, in the next place, suspecting, or perhaps seeing clearly enough, the answer which might be returned by those who defend the destruction of men by the deluge, continues: But if he does not destroy his own offspring, whither does he convey them out of this world which he himself created? To this we reply, that God by no means removes out of the whole world, consisting of heaven and earth, those who suffered death by the deluge, but removes them from a life in the flesh, and, having set them free from their bodies, liberates them at the same time from an existence upon earth, which in many parts of Scripture it is usual to call the world. In the Gospel according to John especially, we may frequently find the regions of earth termed world, as in the passage, He was the true Light, which lightens every man that comes into the 'world;' as also in this, In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. If, then, we understand by removing out of the world a transference from regions on earth, there is nothing absurd in the expression. If, on the contrary, the system of things which consists of heaven and earth be termed world, then those who perished in the deluge are by no means removed out of the so-called world. And yet, indeed, if we have regard to the words, Looking not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; and also to these, For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, - we might say that he who dwells amid the invisible things, and what are called generally things not seen, is gone out of the world, the Word having removed him hence, and transported him to the heavenly regions, in order to behold all beautiful things. " "
1 Again, not understanding the meaning of the words, And God ended on the sixth day His works which He had made, and ceased on the seventh day from all His works which He had made: and God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it, because on it He had ceased from all His works which He had begun to make; and imagining the expression, He ceased on the seventh day, to be the same as this, He rested on the seventh day, he makes the remark: After this, indeed, he is weary, like a very bad workman, who stands in need of rest to refresh himself! For he knows nothing of the day of the Sabbath and rest of God, which follows the completion of the world's creation, and which lasts during the duration of the world, and in which all those will keep festival with God who have done all their works in their six days, and who, because they have omitted none of their duties, will ascend to the contemplation (of celestial things), and to the assembly of righteous and blessed beings. In the next place, as if either the Scriptures made such a statement, or as if we ourselves so spoke of God as having rested from fatigue, he continues: It is not in keeping with the fitness of things that the first God should feel fatigue, or work with His hands, or give forth commands. Celsus says, that it is not in keeping with the fitness of things that the first God should feel fatigue. Now we would say that neither does God the Word feel fatigue, nor any of those beings who belong to a better and diviner order of things, because the sensation of fatigue is peculiar to those who are in the body. You can examine whether this is true of those who possess a body of any kind, or of those who have an earthly body, or one a little better than this. But neither is it consistent with the fitness of things that the first God should work with His own hands. If you understand the words work with His own hands literally, then neither are they applicable to the second God, nor to any other being partaking of divinity. But suppose that they are spoken in an improper and figurative sense, so that we may translate the following expressions, And the firmament shows forth His handywork, and the heavens are the work of Your hands, and any other similar phrases, in a figurative manner, so far as respects the hands and limbs of Deity, where is the absurdity in the words, God thus working with His own hands? And as there is no absurdity in God thus working, so neither is there in His issuing commands; so that what is done at His bidding should be beautiful and praiseworthy, because it was God who commanded it to be performed. " "
6.63 Celsus, not observing the difference between after the image of God and God's image, next asserts that the first-born of every creature is the image of God - the very word and truth, and also the very wisdom, being the image of His goodness, while man has been created after the image of God; moreover, that every man whose head is Christ is the image and glory of God - and further, not observing to which of the characteristics of humanity the expression after the image of God belongs, and that it consists in a nature which never had nor longer has the old man with his deeds, being called after the image of Him who created it, from its not possessing these qualities, - he maintains: Neither did He make man His image; for God is not such an one, nor like any other species of (visible) being. Is it possible to suppose that the element which is after the image of God should exist in the inferior part - I mean the body - of a compound being like man, because Celsus has explained that to be made after the image of God? For if that which is after the image of God be in the body only, the better part, the soul, has been deprived of that which is after His image, and this (distinction) exists in the corruptible body - an assertion which is made by none of us. But if that which is after the image of God be in both together, then God must necessarily be a compound being, and consist, as it were, of soul and body, in order that the element which is after God's image, the better part, may be in the soul; while the inferior part, and that which is according to the body, may be in the body - an assertion, again, which is made by none of us. It remains, therefore, that that which is after the image of God must be understood to be in our inner man, which is also renewed, and whose nature it is to be after the image of Him who created it, when a man becomes perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect, and hears the command, Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy, and learning the precept, Be followers of God, receives into his virtuous soul the traits of God's image. The body, moreover, of him who possesses such a soul is a temple of God; and in the soul God dwells, because it has been made after His image. " "
74 After this he returns to the subject of Marcion's opinions (having already spoken frequently of them), and states some of them correctly, while others he has misunderstood; these, however, it is not necessary for us to answer or refute. Again, after this he brings forward the various arguments that may be urged on Marcion's behalf, and also against him, enumerating what the opinions are which exonerate him from the charges, and what expose him to them; and when he desires to support the statement which declares that Jesus has been the subject of prophecy - in order to found a charge against Marcion and his followers - he distinctly asks, How could he, who was punished in such a manner, be shown to be God's Son, unless these things had been predicted of him? He next proceeds to jest, and, as his custom is, to pour ridicule upon the subject, introducing two sons of God, one the son of the Creator, and the other the son of Marcion's God; and he portrays their single combats, saying that the Theomachies of the Fathers are like the battles between quails; or that the Fathers, becoming useless through age, and falling into their dotage do not meddle at all with one another, but leave their sons to fight it out. The remark which he made formerly we will turn against himself: What old woman would not be ashamed to lull a child to sleep with such stories as he has inserted in the work which he entitles A True Discourse? For when he ought seriously to apply himself to argument, he leaves serious argument aside, and betakes himself to jesting and buffoonery, imagining that he is writing mimes or scoffing verses; not observing that such a method of procedure defeats his purpose, which is to make us abandon Christianity and give in our adherence to his opinions, which, perhaps, had they been stated with some degree of gravity, would have appeared more likely to convince, whereas since he continues to ridicule, and scoff, and play the buffoon, we answer that it is because he has no argument of weight (for such he neither had, nor could understand) that he has betaken himself to such drivelling. "
78 Celsus next makes certain observations of the following nature: Again, if God, like Jupiter in the comedy, should, on awaking from a lengthened slumber, desire to rescue the human race from evil, why did He send this Spirit of which you speak into one corner (of the earth)? He ought to have breathed it alike into many bodies, and have sent them out into all the world. Now the comic poet, to cause laughter in the theatre, wrote that Jupiter, after awakening, dispatched Mercury to the Athenians and Laced monians; but do not you think that you have made the Son of God more ridiculous in sending Him to the Jews? Observe in such language as this the irreverent character of Celsus, who, unlike a philosopher, takes the writer of a comedy, whose business is to cause laughter, and compares our God, the Creator of all things, to the being who, as represented in the play, on awaking, dispatches Mercury (on an errand)! We stated, indeed, in what precedes, that it was not as if awakening from a lengthened slumber that God sent Jesus to the human race, who has now, for good reasons, fulfilled the economy of His incarnation, but who has always conferred benefits upon the human race. For no noble deed has ever been performed among men, where the divine Word did not visit the souls of those who were capable, although for a little time, of admitting such operations of the divine Word. Moreover, the advent of Jesus apparently to one corner (of the earth) was founded on good reasons, since it was necessary that He who was the subject of prophecy should make His appearance among those who had become acquainted with the doctrine of one God, and who perused the writings of His prophets, and who had come to know the announcement of Christ, and that He should come to them at a time when the Word was about to be diffused from one corner over the whole world. ' "
7.3 Celsus goes on to say of us: They set no value on the oracles of the Pythian priestess, of the priests of Dodona, of Clarus, of Branchid, of Jupiter Ammon, and of a multitude of others; although under their guidance we may say that colonies were sent forth, and the whole world peopled. But those sayings which were uttered or not uttered in Judea, after the manner of that country, as indeed they are still delivered among the people of Phœnicia and Palestine - these they look upon as marvellous sayings, and unchangeably true. In regard to the oracles here enumerated, we reply that it would be possible for us to gather from the writings of Aristotle and the Peripatetic school not a few things to overthrow the authority of the Pythian and the other oracles. From Epicurus also, and his followers, we could quote passages to show that even among the Greeks themselves there were some who utterly discredited the oracles which were recognised and admired throughout the whole of Greece. But let it be granted that the responses delivered by the Pythian and other oracles were not the utterances of false men who pretended to a divine inspiration; and let us see if, after all, we cannot convince any sincere inquirers that there is no necessity to attribute these oracular responses to any divinities, but that, on the other hand, they may be traced to wicked demons- to spirits which are at enmity with the human race, and which in this way wish to hinder the soul from rising upwards, from following the path of virtue, and from returning to God in sincere piety. It is said of the Pythian priestess, whose oracle seems to have been the most celebrated, that when she sat down at the mouth of the Castalian cave, the prophetic Spirit of Apollo entered her private parts; and when she was filled with it, she gave utterance to responses which are regarded with awe as divine truths. Judge by this whether that spirit does not show its profane and impure nature, by choosing to enter the soul of the prophetess not through the more becoming medium of the bodily pores which are both open and invisible, but by means of what no modest man would ever see or speak of. And this occurs not once or twice, which would be more permissible, but as often as she was believed to receive inspiration from Apollo. Moreover, it is not the part of a divine spirit to drive the prophetess into such a state of ecstasy and madness that she loses control of herself. For he who is under the influence of the Divine Spirit ought to be the first to receive the beneficial effects; and these ought not to be first enjoyed by the persons who consult the oracle about the concerns of natural or civil life, or for purposes of temporal gain or interest; and, moreover, that should be the time of clearest perception, when a person is in close intercourse with the Deity.
7.9 But as Celsus promises to give an account of the manner in which prophecies are delivered in Phœnicia and Palestine, speaking as though it were a matter with which he had a full and personal acquaintance, let us see what he has to say on the subject. First he lays it down that there are several kinds of prophecies, but he does not specify what they are; indeed, he could not do so, and the statement is a piece of pure ostentation. However, let us see what he considers the most perfect kind of prophecy among these nations. There are many, he says, who, although of no name, with the greatest facility and on the slightest occasion, whether within or without temples, assume the motions and gestures of inspired persons; while others do it in cities or among armies, for the purpose of attracting attention and exciting surprise. These are accustomed to say, each for himself, 'I am God; I am the Son of God; or, I am the Divine Spirit; I have come because the world is perishing, and you, O men, are perishing for your iniquities. But I wish to save you, and you shall see me returning again with heavenly power. Blessed is he who now does me homage. On all the rest I will send down eternal fire, both on cities and on countries. And those who know not the punishments which await them shall repent and grieve in vain; while those who are faithful to me I will preserve eternally.' Then he goes on to say: To these promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning: for so dark are they, as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them to suit his own purposes. " 7.
10 But if he were dealing honestly in his accusations, he ought to have given the exact terms of the prophecies, whether those in which the speaker is introduced as claiming to be God Almighty, or those in which the Son of God speaks, or finally those under the name of the Holy Spirit. For thus he might have endeavoured to overthrow these assertions, and have shown that there was no divine inspiration in those words which urged men to forsake their sins, which condemned the past and foretold the future. For the prophecies were recorded and preserved by men living at the time, that those who came after might read and admire them as the oracles of God, and that they might profit not only by the warnings and admonitions, but also by the predictions, which, being shown by events to have proceeded from the Spirit of God, bind men to the practice of piety as set forth in the law and the prophets. The prophets have therefore, as God commanded them, declared with all plainness those things which it was desirable that the hearers should understand at once for the regulation of their conduct; while in regard to deeper and more mysterious subjects, which lay beyond the reach of the common understanding, they set them forth in the form of enigmas and allegories, or of what are called dark sayings, parables, or similitudes. And this plan they have followed, that those who are ready to shun no labour and spare no pains in their endeavours after truth and virtue might search into their meaning, and having found it, might apply it as reason requires. But Celsus, ever vigorous in his denunciations, as though he were angry at his inability to understand the language of the prophets, scoffs at them thus: To these grand promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning; for so dark are they as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them so as to suit his own purposes. This statement of Celsus seems ingeniously designed to dissuade readers from attempting any inquiry or careful search into their meaning. And in this he is not unlike certain persons, who said to a man whom a prophet had visited to announce future events, Wherefore came this mad fellow to you?
1 I am convinced, indeed, that much better arguments could be adduced than any I have been able to bring forward, to show the falsehood of these allegations of Celsus, and to set forth the divine inspiration of the prophecies; but we have according to our ability, in our commentaries on Isaiah, Ezekiel, and some of the twelve minor prophets, explained literally and in detail what he calls those fanatical and utterly unintelligible passages. And if God give us grace in the time that He appoints for us, to advance in the knowledge of His word, we shall continue our investigation into the parts which remain, or into such at least as we are able to make plain. And other persons of intelligence who wish to study Scripture may also find out its meaning for themselves; for although there are many places in which the meaning is not obvious, yet there are none where, as Celsus affirms, there is no sense at all. Neither is it true that any fool or impostor can explain the passages so as to make them suit his own purposes. For it belongs only to those who are wise in the truth of Christ (and to all them it does belong) to unfold the connection and meaning of even the obscure parts of prophecy, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and interpreting each passage according to the usage of Scripture writers. And Celsus is not to be believed when he says that he has heard such men prophesy; for no prophets bearing any resemblance to the ancient prophets have appeared in the time of Celsus. If there had been any, those who heard and admired them would have followed the example of the ancients, and have recorded the prophecies in writing. And it seems quite clear that Celsus is speaking falsely, when he says that those prophets whom he had heard, on being pressed by him, confessed their true motives, and acknowledged that the ambiguous words they used really meant nothing. He ought to have given the names of those whom he says he had heard, if he had any to give, so that those who were competent to judge might decide whether his allegations were true or false.
18 Celsus adds: Will they not besides make this reflection? If the prophets of the God of the Jews foretold that he who should come into the world would be the Son of this same God, how could he command them through Moses to gather wealth, to extend their dominion, to fill the earth, to put their enemies of every age to the sword, and to destroy them utterly, which indeed he himself did - as Moses says - threatening them, moreover, that if they did not obey his commands, he would treat them as his avowed enemies; while, on the other hand, his Son, the man of Nazareth, promulgated laws quite opposed to these, declaring that no one can come to the Father who loves power, or riches, or glory; that men ought not to be more careful in providing food than the ravens; that they were to be less concerned about their raiment than the lilies; that to him who has given them one blow, they should offer to receive another? Whether is it Moses or Jesus who teaches falsely? Did the Father, when he sent Jesus, forget the commands which he had given to Moses? Or did he change his mind, condemn his own laws, and send forth a messenger with counter instructions? Celsus, with all his boasts of universal knowledge, has here fallen into the most vulgar of errors, in supposing that in the law and the prophets there is not a meaning deeper than that afforded by a literal rendering of the words. He does not see how manifestly incredible it is that worldly riches should be promised to those who lead upright lives, when it is a matter of common observation that the best of men have lived in extreme poverty. Indeed, the prophets themselves, who for the purity of their lives received the Divine Spirit, wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. For, as the Psalmist, says, many are the afflictions of the righteous. If Celsus had read the writings of Moses, he would, I daresay, have supposed that when it is said to him who kept the law, You shall lend unto many nations, and you yourself shall not borrow, the promise is made to the just man, that his temporal riches should be so abundant, that he would be able to lend not only to the Jews, not only to two or three nations, but to many nations. What, then, must have been the wealth which the just man received according to the law for his righteousness, if he could lend to many nations? And must we not suppose also, in accordance with this interpretation, that the just man would never borrow anything? For it is written, and you shall yourself borrow nothing. Did then that nation remain for so long a period attached to the religion which was taught by Moses, while, according to the supposition of Celsus, they saw themselves so grievously deceived by that lawgiver? For nowhere is it said of any one that he was so rich as to lend to many nations. It is not to be believed that they would have fought so zealously in defense of a law whose promises had proved glaringly false, if they understood them in the sense which Celsus gives to them. And if any one should say that the sins which are recorded to have been committed by the people are a proof that they despised the law, doubtless from the feeling that they had been deceived by it, we may reply that we have only to read the history of the times in order to find it shown that the whole people, after having done that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, returned afterwards to their duty, and to the religion prescribed by the law.
20 Celsus adds, that it was foretold to the Jews, that if they did not obey the law, they would be treated in the same way as they treated their enemies; and then he quotes from the teaching of Christ some precepts which he considers contrary to those of the law, and uses that as an argument against us. But before proceeding to this point, we must speak of that which precedes. We hold, then, that the law has a twofold sense,- the one literal, the other spiritual, - as has been shown by some before us. of the first or literal sense it is said, not by us, but by God, speaking in one of the prophets, that the statutes are not good, and the judgments not good; whereas, taken in a spiritual sense, the same prophet makes God say that His statutes are good, and His judgments good. Yet evidently the prophet is not saying things which are contradictory of each other. Paul in like manner says, that the letter kills, and the spirit gives life, meaning by the letter the literal sense, and by the spirit the spiritual sense of Scripture. We may therefore find in Paul, as well as in the prophet, apparent contradictions. Indeed, if Ezekiel says in one place, I gave them commandments which were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live, and in another, I gave them good commandments and judgments, which if a man shall do, he shall live by them, Paul in like manner, when he wishes to disparage the law taken literally, says, If the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countece, which glory was to be done away; how shall not the ministration of the Spirit be rather glorious? But when in another place he wishes to praise and recommend the law, he calls it spiritual, and says, We know that the law is spiritual; and, Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. ' "
28 After thus misrepresenting our views of the nature of God, Celsus goes on to ask of us where we hope to go after death; and he makes our answer to be, to another land better than this. On this he comments as follows: The divine men of a former age have spoken of a happy life reserved for the souls of the blessed. Some designated it 'the isles of the blest,' and others 'the Elysian plain,' so called because they were there to be delivered from their present evils. Thus Homer says: 'But the gods shall send you to the Elysian plain, on the borders of the earth, where they lead a most quiet life.' Plato also, who believed in the immortality of the soul, distinctly gives the name 'land' to the place where it is sent. 'The extent of it,' says he, 'is immense, and we only occupy a small portion of it, from the Phasis to the Pillars of Hercules, where we dwell along the shores of the sea, as grasshoppers and frogs beside a marsh. But there are many other places inhabited in like manner by other men. For there are in different parts of the earth cavities, varying in form and in magnitude, into which run water, and clouds, and air. But that land which is pure lies in the pure region of heaven.' Celsus therefore supposes that what we say of a land which is much better and more excellent than this, has been borrowed from certain ancient writers whom he styles divine, and chiefly from Plato, who in his Ph don discourses on the pure land lying in a pure heaven. But he does not see that Moses, who is much older than the Greek literature, introduces God as promising to those who lived according to His law the holy land, which is a good land and a large, a land flowing with milk and honey; which promise is not to be understood to refer, as some suppose, to that part of the earth which we call Judea; for it, however good it may be, still forms part of the earth, which was originally cursed for the transgression of Adam. For these words, Cursed shall the ground be for what you have done; with grief, that is, with labour, shall you eat of the fruit of it all the days of your life, were spoken of the whole earth, the fruit of which every man who died in Adam eats with sorrow or labour all the days of his life. And as all the earth has been cursed, it brings forth thorns and briers all the days of the life of those who in Adam were driven out of paradise; and in the sweat of his face every man eats bread until he returns to the ground from which he was taken. For the full exposition of all that is contained in this passage much might be said; but we have confined ourselves to these few words at present, which are intended to remove the idea, that what is said of the good land promised by God to the righteous, refers to the land of Judea. "
2 Celsus next assails the doctrine of the resurrection, which is a high and difficult doctrine, and one which more than others requires a high and advanced degree of wisdom to set forth how worthy it is of God; and how sublime a truth it is which teaches us that there is a seminal principle lodged in that which Scripture speaks of as the tabernacle of the soul, in which the righteous do groan, being burdened, not for that they would be unclothed, but clothed upon. Celsus ridicules this doctrine because he does not understand it, and because he has learned it from ignorant persons, who were unable to support it on any reasonable grounds. It will be profitable, therefore, that in addition to what we have said above, we should make this one remark. Our teaching on the subject of the resurrection is not, as Celsus imagines, derived from anything that we have heard on the doctrine of metempsychosis; but we know that the soul, which is immaterial and invisible in its nature, exists in no material place, without having a body suited to the nature of that place. Accordingly, it at one time puts off one body which was necessary before, but which is no longer adequate in its changed state, and it exchanges it for a second; and at another time it assumes another in addition to the former, which is needed as a better covering, suited to the purer ethereal regions of heaven. When it comes into the world at birth, it casts off the integuments which it needed in the womb; and before doing this, it puts on another body suited for its life upon earth. Then, again, as there is a tabernacle and an earthly house which is in some sort necessary for this tabernacle, Scripture teaches us that the earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, but that the tabernacle shall be clothed upon with a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. The men of God say also that the corruptible shall put on incorruption, which is a different thing from the incorruptible; and the mortal shall put on immortality, which is different from the immortal. Indeed, what wisdom is to the wise, and justice to the just, and peace to the peaceable, the same relation does incorruption hold to the incorruptible, and immortality to the immortal. Behold, then, to what a prospect Scripture encourages us to look, when it speaks to us of being clothed with incorruption and immortality, which are, as it were, vestments which will not suffer those who are covered with them to come to corruption or death. Thus far I have taken the liberty of referring to this subject, in answer to one who assails the doctrine of the resurrection without understanding it, and who, simply because he knew nothing about it, made it the object of contempt and ridicule. ' "
7.33 As Celsus supposes that we uphold the doctrine of the resurrection in order that we may see and know God, he thus follows out his notions on the subject: After they have been utterly refuted and vanquished, they still, as if regardless of all objections, come back again to the same question, 'How then shall we see and know God? How shall we go to Him?' Let any, however, who are disposed to hear us observe, that if we have need of a body for other purposes, as for occupying a material locality to which this body must be adapted, and if on that account the tabernacle is clothed in the way we have shown, we have no need of a body in order to know God. For that which sees God is not the eye of the body; it is the mind which is made in the image of the Creator, and which God has in His providence rendered capable of that knowledge. To see God belongs to the pure heart, out of which no longer proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies, the evil eye, or any other evil thing. Wherefore it is said, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. But as the strength of our will is not sufficient to procure the perfectly pure heart, and as we need that God should create it, he therefore who prays as he ought, offers this petition to God, Create in me a clean heart, O God. "
7.34 And we do not ask the question, How shall we go to God? as though we thought that God existed in some place. God is of too excellent a nature for any place: He holds all things in His power, and is Himself not confined by anything whatever. The precept, therefore, You shall walk after the Lord your God, does not command a bodily approach to God; neither does the prophet refer to physical nearness to God, when he says in his prayer, My soul follows hard after You. Celsus therefore misrepresents us, when he says that we expect to see God with our bodily eyes, to hear Him with our ears, and to touch Him sensibly with our hands. We know that the holy Scriptures make mention of eyes, of ears, and of hands, which have nothing but the name in common with the bodily organs; and what is more wonderful, they speak of a diviner sense, which is very different from the senses as commonly spoken of. For when the prophet says, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law, or, the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes, or, Lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, no one is so foolish as to suppose that the eyes of the body behold the wonders of the divine law, or that the law of the Lord gives light to the bodily eyes, or that the sleep of death falls on the eyes of the body. When our Saviour says, He that has ears to hear, let him hear, any one will understand that the ears spoken of are of a diviner kind. When it is said that the word of the Lord was in the hand of Jeremiah or of some other prophet; or when the expression is used, the law by the hand of Moses, or, I sought the Lord with my hands, and was not deceived, - no one is so foolish as not to see that the word hands is taken figuratively, as when John says, Our hands have handled the Word of life. And if you wish further to learn from the sacred writings that there is a diviner sense than the senses of the body, you have only to hear what Solomon says, You shall find a divine sense.
7.40 Next to the remarks of Celsus on which we have already commented, come others which he addresses to all Christians, but which, if applicable to any, ought to be addressed to persons whose doctrines differ entirely from those taught by Jesus. For it is the Ophians who, as we have before shown, have utterly renounced Jesus, and perhaps some others of similar opinions who are the impostors and jugglers, leading men away to idols and phantoms; and it is they who with miserable pains learn off the names of the heavenly doorkeepers. These words are therefore quite inappropriate as addressed to Christians: If you seek one to be your guide along this way, you must shun all deceivers and jugglers, who will introduce you to phantoms. And, as though quite unaware that these impostors entirely agree with him, and are not behind him in speaking ill of Jesus and His religion, he thus continues, confounding us with them: otherwise you will be acting the most ridiculous part, if, while you pronounce imprecations upon those other recognised gods, treating them as idols, you yet do homage to a more wretched idol than any of these, which indeed is not even an idol or a phantom, but a dead man, and you seek a father like to himself. That he is ignorant of the wide difference between our opinions and those of the inventors of these fables, and that he imagines the charges which he makes against them applicable to us, is evident from the following passage: For the sake of such a monstrous delusion, and in support of those wonderful advisers, and those wonderful words which you address to the lion, to the amphibious creature, to the creature in the form of an ass, and to others, for the sake of those divine doorkeepers whose names you commit to memory with such pains, in such a cause as this you suffer cruel tortures, and perish at the stake. Surely, then, he is unaware that none of those who regard beings in the form of an ass, a lion, or an amphibious animal, as the doorkeepers or guides on the way to heaven, ever expose themselves to death in defense of that which they think the truth. That excess of zeal, if it may be so called, which leads us for the sake of religion to submit to every kind of death, and to perish at the stake, is ascribed by Celsus to those who endure no such sufferings; and he reproaches us who suffer crucifixion for our faith, with believing in fabulous creatures - in the lion, the amphibious animal, and other such monsters. If we reject all these fables, it is not out of deference to Celsus, for we have never at any time held any such fancies; but it is in accordance with the teaching of Jesus that we oppose all such notions, and will not allow to Michael, or to any others that have been referred to, a form and figure of that sort.
2 Celsus next refers us to Plato as to a more effective teacher of theological truth, and quotes the following passage from the Tim us: It is a hard matter to find out the Maker and Father of this universe; and after having found Him, it is impossible to make Him known to all. To which he himself adds this remark: You perceive, then, how divine men seek after the way of truth, and how well Plato knew that it was impossible for all men to walk in it. But as wise men have found it for the express purpose of being able to convey to us some notion of Him who is the first, the unspeakable Being - a notion, namely; which may represent Him to us through the medium of other objects - they endeavour either by synthesis, which is the combining of various qualities, or by analysis, which is the separation and setting aside of some qualities, or finally by analogy - in these ways, I say, they endeavour to set before us that which it is impossible to express in words. I should therefore be surprised if you could follow in that course, since you are so completely wedded to the flesh as to be incapable of seeing ought but what is impure. These words of Plato are noble and admirable; but see if Scripture does not give us an example of a regard for mankind still greater in God the Word, who was in the beginning with God, and who was made flesh, in order that He might reveal to all men truths which, according to Plato, it would be impossible to make known to all men, even after he had found them himself. Plato may say that it is a hard thing to find out the Creator and Father of this universe; by which language he implies that it is not wholly beyond the power of human nature to attain to such a knowledge as is either worthy of God, or if not, is far beyond that which is commonly attained (although if it were true that Plato or any other of the Greeks had found God, they would never have given homage and worship, or ascribed the name of God, to any other than to Him: they would have abandoned all others, and would not have associated with this great God objects which can have nothing in common with Him). For ourselves, we maintain that human nature is in no way able to seek after God, or to attain a clear knowledge of Him without the help of Him whom it seeks. He makes Himself known to those who, after doing all that their powers will allow, confess that they need help from Him, who discovers Himself to those whom He approves, in so far as it is possible for man and the soul still dwelling in the body to know God.
7.43 Observe that when Plato says, that after having found out the Creator and Father of the universe, it is impossible to make Him known to all men, he does not speak of Him as unspeakable, and as incapable of being expressed in words. On the contrary, he implies that He may be spoken of, and that there are a few to whom He may be made known. But Celsus, as if forgetting the language which he had just quoted from Plato, immediately gives God the name of the unspeakable. He says: since the wise men have found out this way, in order to be able to give us some idea of the First of Beings, who is unspeakable. For ourselves, we hold that not God alone is unspeakable, but other things also which are inferior to Him. Such are the things which Paul labours to express when he says, I heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter, where the word heard is used in the sense of understood; as in the passage, He who has ears to hear, let him hear. We also hold that it is a hard matter to see the Creator and Father of the universe; but it is possible to see Him in the way thus referred to, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God; and not only so, but also in the sense of the words of Him who is the image of the invisible God; He who has seen Me has seen the Father who sent Me. No sensible person could suppose that these last words were spoken in reference to His bodily presence, which was open to the view of all; otherwise all those who said, Crucify him, crucify him, and Pilate, who had power over the humanity of Jesus, were among those who saw God the Father, which is absurd. Moreover, that these words, He that has seen Me, has seen the Father who sent Me, are not to be taken in their grosser sense, is plain from the answer which He gave to Philip, Have I been so long time with you, and yet do you not know Me, Philip? after Philip had asked, Show us the Father, and it suffices us. He, then, who perceives how these words, The Word was made flesh, are to be understood of the only-begotten Son of God, the first-born of all creation, will also understand how, in seeing the image of the invisible God, we see the Creator and Father of the universe.
7.45 But let us see further what the things are which he proposes to teach us, if indeed we can comprehend them, since he speaks of us as being utterly wedded to the flesh; although if we live well, and in accordance with the teaching of Jesus, we hear this said of us: You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if the Spirit of God dwells in you. He says also that we look upon nothing that is pure, although our endeavour is to keep even our thoughts free from all defilement of sin, and although in prayer we say, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me, so that we may behold Him with that pure heart to which alone is granted the privilege of seeing Him. This, then, is what he proposes for our instruction: Things are either intelligible, which we call substance - being; or visible, which we call becoming: with the former is truth; from the latter arises error. Truth is the object of knowledge; truth and error form opinion. Intelligible objects are known by the reason, visible objects by the eyes; the action of the reason is called intelligent perception, that of the eyes vision. As, then, among visible things the sun is neither the eye nor vision, but that which enables the eye to see, and renders vision possible, and in consequence of it visible things are seen, all sensible things exist and itself is rendered visible; so among things intelligible, that which is neither reason, nor intelligent perception, nor knowledge, is yet the cause which enables the reason to know, which renders intelligent perception possible; and in consequence of it knowledge arises, all things intelligible, truth itself and substance have their existence; and itself, which is above all these things, becomes in some ineffable way intelligible. These things are offered to the consideration of the intelligent; and if even you can understand any of them, it is well. And if you think that a Divine Spirit has descended from God to announce divine things to men, it is doubtless this same Spirit that reveals these truths, and it was under the same influence that men of old made known many important truths. But if you cannot comprehend these things, then keep silence; do not expose your own ignorance, and do not accuse of blindness those who see, or of lameness those who run, while you yourselves are utterly lamed and mutilated in mind, and lead a merely animal life - the life of the body, which is the dead part of our nature. ' "
7.53 After these remarks of Celsus, which we have done our best to refute, he goes on to address us thus: Seeing you are so eager for some novelty, how much better it would have been if you had chosen as the object of your zealous homage some one of those who died a glorious death, and whose divinity might have received the support of some myth to perpetuate his memory! Why, if you were not satisfied with Hercules or Æsculapius, and other heroes of antiquity, you had Orpheus, who was confessedly a divinely inspired man, who died a violent death. But perhaps some others have taken him up before you. You may then take Anaxarchus, who, when cast into a mortar, and beaten most barbarously, showed a noble contempt for his suffering, and said, 'Beat, beat the shell of Anaxarchus, for himself you do not beat,'- a speech surely of a spirit truly divine. But others were before you in following his interpretation of the laws of nature. Might you not, then, take Epictetus, who, when his master was twisting his leg, said, smiling and. unmoved, 'You will break my leg;' and when it was broken, he added, 'Did I not tell you that you would break it?' What saying equal to these did your god utter under suffering? If you had said even of the Sibyl, whose authority some of you acknowledge, that she was a child of God, you would have said something more reasonable. But you have had the presumption to include in her writings many impious things, and set up as a god one who ended a most infamous life by a most miserable death. How much more suitable than he would have been Jonah in the whale's belly, or Daniel delivered from the wild beasts, or any of a still more portentous kind! " "
7.58 Let us now consider what follows. They have also, says he, a precept to this effect, that we ought not to avenge ourselves on one who injures us, or, as he expresses it, 'Whosoever shall strike you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also.' This is an ancient saying, which had been admirably expressed long before, and which they have only reported in a coarser way. For Plato introduces Socrates conversing with Crito as follows: 'Must we never do injustice to any? Certainly not. And since we must never do injustice, must we not return injustice for an injustice that has been done to us, as most people think? It seems to me that we should not. But tell me, Crito, may we do evil to any one or not? Certainly not, O Socrates. Well, is it just, as is commonly said, for one who has suffered wrong to do wrong in return, or is it unjust? It is unjust. Yes; for to do harm to a man is the same as to do him injustice. You speak truly. We must then not do injustice in return for injustice, nor must we do evil to any one, whatever evil we may have suffered from him.' Thus Plato speaks; and he adds, 'Consider, then, whether you are at one with me, and whether, starting from this principle, we may not come to the conclusion that it is never right to do injustice, even in return for an injustice which has been received; or whether, on the other hand, you differ from me, and do not admit the principle from which we started. That has always been my opinion, and is so still.' Such are the sentiments of Plato, and indeed they were held by divine men before his time. But let this suffice as one example of the way in which this and other truths have been borrowed and corrupted. Any one who wishes can easily by searching find more of them. " "
2 Let us now see what follows. Let us pass on, says he, to another point. They cannot tolerate temples, altars, or images. In this they are like the Scythians, the nomadic tribes of Libya, the Seres who worship no god, and some other of the most barbarous and impious nations in the world. That the Persians hold the same notions is shown by Herodotus in these words: 'I know that among the Persians it is considered unlawful to erect images, altars, or temples; but they charge those with folly who do so, because, as I conjecture, they do not, like the Greeks, suppose the gods to be of the nature of men.' Heraclitus also says in one place: 'Persons who address prayers to these images act like those who speak to the walls, without knowing who the gods or the heroes are.' And what wiser lesson have they to teach us than Heraclitus? He certainly plainly enough implies that it is a foolish thing for a man to offer prayers to images, while he knows not who the gods and heroes are. This is the opinion of Heraclitus; but as for them, they go further, and despise without exception all images. If they merely mean that the stone, wood, brass, or gold which has been wrought by this or that workman cannot be a god, they are ridiculous with their wisdom. For who, unless he be utterly childish in his simplicity, can take these for gods, and not for offerings consecrated to the service of the gods, or images representing them? But if we are not to regard these as representing the Divine Being, seeing that God has a different form, as the Persians concur with them in saying, then let them take care that they do not contradict themselves; for they say that God made man His own image, and that He gave him a form like to Himself. However, they will admit that these images, whether they are like or not, are made and dedicated to the honour of certain beings. But they will hold that the beings to whom they are dedicated are not gods, but demons, and that a worshipper of God ought not to worship demons. " "
7.68 After all that we have already said concerning Jesus, it would be a useless repetition for us to answer these words of Celsus: It is easy to convict them of worshipping not a god, not even demons, but a dead person. Leaving, then, this objection for the reason assigned, let us pass on to what follows: In the first place, I would ask why we are not to serve demons? Is it not true that all things are ordered according to God's will, and that His providence governs all things? Is not everything which happens in the universe, whether it be the work of God, of angels, of other demons, or of heroes, regulated by the law of the Most High God? Have these not had assigned them various departments of which they were severally deemed worthy? Is it not just, therefore, that he who worships God should serve those also to whom God has assigned such power? Yet it is impossible, he says, for a man to serve many masters. Observe here again how he settles at once a number of questions which require considerable research, and a profound acquaintance with what is most mysterious in the government of the universe. For we must inquire into the meaning of the statement, that all things are ordered according to God's will, and ascertain whether sins are or are not included among the things which God orders. For if God's government extends to sins not only in men, but also in demons and in any other spiritual beings who are capable of sin, it is for those who speak in this manner to see how inconvenient is the expression that all things are ordered by the will of God. For it follows from it that all sins and all their consequences are ordered by the will of God, which is a different thing from saying that they come to pass with God's permission. For if we take the word ordered in its proper signification, and say that all the results of sin were ordered, then it is evident that all things are ordered according to God's will, and that all, therefore, who do evil do not offend against His government. And the same distinction holds in regard to providence. When we say that the providence of God regulates all things, we utter a great truth if we attribute to that providence nothing but what is just and right. But if we ascribe to the providence of God all things whatsoever, however unjust they may be, then it is no longer true that the providence of God regulates all things, unless we refer directly to God's providence things which flow as results from His arrangements. Celsus maintains also, that whatever happens in the universe, whether it be the work of God, of angels, of other demons, or of heroes, is regulated by the law of the Most High God. But this also is incorrect; for we cannot say that transgressors follow the law of God when they transgress; and Scripture declares that it is not only wicked men who are transgressors, but also wicked demons and wicked angels. "
7.69 And it is not we alone who speak of wicked demons, but almost all who acknowledge the existence of demons. Thus, then, it is not true that all observe the law of the Most High; for all who fall away from the divine law, whether through heedlessness, or through depravity and vice, or through ignorance of what is right, all such do not keep the law of God, but, to use a new phrase which we find in Scripture, the law of sin. I say, then, that in the opinion of most of those who believe in the existence of demons, some of them are wicked; and these, instead of keeping the law of God, offend against it. But, according to our belief, it is true of all demons, that they were not demons originally, but they became so in departing from the true way; so that the name demons is given to those beings who have fallen away from God. Accordingly, those who worship God must not serve demons. We may also learn the true nature of demons if we consider the practice of those who call upon them by charms to prevent certain things, or for many other purposes. For this is the method they adopt, in order by means of incantations and magical arts to invoke the demons, and induce them to further their wishes. Wherefore, the worship of all demons would be inconsistent in us who worship the Supreme God; and the service of demons is the service of so-called gods, for all the gods of the heathen are demons. The same thing also appears from the fact that the dedication of the most famous of the so-called sacred places, whether temples or statues, was accompanied by curious magical incantations, which were performed by those who zealously served the demons with magical arts. Hence we are determined to avoid the worship of demons even as we would avoid death; and we hold that the worship, which is supposed among the Greeks to be rendered to gods at the altars, and images, and temples, is in reality offered to demons. ' "8.
2 In a passage previously quoted Celsus asks us why we do not worship demons, and to his remarks on demons we gave such an answer as seemed to us in accordance with the divine word. After having put this question for the purpose of leading us to the worship of demons, he represents us as answering that it is impossible to serve many masters. This, he goes on to say, is the language of sedition, and is only used by those who separate themselves and stand aloof from all human society. Those who speak in this way ascribe, as he supposes, their own feelings and passions to God. It does hold true among men, that he who is in the service of one master cannot well serve another, because the service which he renders to the one interferes with that which he owes to the other; and no one, therefore, who has already engaged himself to the service of one, must accept that of another. And, in like manner, it is impossible to serve at the same time heroes or demons of different natures. But in regard to God, who is subject to no suffering or loss, it is, he thinks, absurd to be on our guard against serving more gods, as though we had to do with demi-gods, or other spirits of that sort. He says also, He who serves many gods does that which is pleasing to the Most High, because he honours that which belongs to Him. And he adds, It is indeed wrong to give honour to any to whom God has not given honour. Wherefore, he says, in honouring and worshipping all belonging to God, we will not displease Him to whom they all belong. 8.
1 He adds, And indeed he who, when speaking of God, asserts that there is only one who may be called Lord, speaks impiously, for he divides the kingdom of God, and raises a sedition therein, implying that there are separate factions in the divine kingdom, and that there exists one who is His enemy. He might speak after this fashion, if he could prove by conclusive arguments that those who are worshipped as gods by the heathens are truly gods, and not merely evil spirits, which are supposed to haunt statues and temples and altars. But we desire not only to understand the nature of that divine kingdom of which we are continually speaking and writing, but also ourselves to be of those who are under the rule of God alone, so that the kingdom of God may be ours. Celsus, however, who teaches us to worship many gods, ought in consistency not to speak of the kingdom of God, but of the kingdom of the gods. There are therefore no factions in the kingdom of God, nor is there any god who is an adversary to Him, although there are some who, like the Giants and Titans, in their wickedness wish to contend with God in company with Celsus, and those who declare war against Him who has by innumerable proofs established the claims of Jesus, and against Him who, as the Word, did, for the salvation of our race, show Himself before all the world in such a form as each was able to receive Him. ' "8.
2 In what follows, some may imagine that he says something plausible against us. If, says he, these people worshipped one God alone, and no other, they would perhaps have some valid argument against the worship of others. But they pay excessive reverence to one who has but lately appeared among men, and they think it no offense against God if they worship also His servant. To this we reply, that if Celsus had known that saying, I and My Father are one, and the words used in prayer by the Son of God, As You and I are one, he would not have supposed that we worship any other besides Him who is the Supreme God. For, says He, My Father is in Me, and I in Him. And if any should from these words be afraid of our going over to the side of those who deny that the Father and the Son are two persons, let him weigh that passage, And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul, that he may understand the meaning of the saying, I and My Father are one. We worship one God, the Father and the Son, therefore, as we have explained; and our argument against the worship of other gods still continues valid. And we do not reverence beyond measure one who has but lately appeared, as though He did not exist before; for we believe Himself when He says, Before Abraham was, I am. Again He says, I am the truth; and surely none of us is so simple as to suppose that truth did not exist before the time when Christ appeared. We worship, therefore, the Father of truth, and the Son, who is the truth; and these, while they are two, considered as persons or subsistences, are one in unity of thought, in harmony and in identity of will. So entirely are they one, that he who has seen the Son, who is the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person, has seen in Him who is the image of God, God Himself. " '8.
14 Again Celsus proceeds: If you should tell them that Jesus is not the Son of God, but that God is the Father of all, and that He alone ought to be truly worshipped, they would not consent to discontinue their worship of him who is their leader in the sedition. And they call him Son of God, not out of any extreme reverence for God, but from an extreme desire to extol Jesus Christ. We, however, have learned who the Son of God is, and know that He is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and the breath of the power of God, and a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty; moreover, the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness. We know, therefore, that He is the Son of God, and that God is His father. And there is nothing extravagant or unbecoming the character of God in the doctrine that He should have begotten such an only Son; and no one will persuade us that such a one is not a Son of the unbegotten God and Father. If Celsus has heard something of certain persons holding that the Son of God is not the Son of the Creator of the universe, that is a matter which lies between him and the supporters of such an opinion. Jesus is, then, not the leader of any seditious movement, but the promoter of peace. For He said to His disciples, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you; and as He knew that it would be men of the world, and not men of God, who would wage war against us, he added, Not as the world gives peace, do I give peace unto you. And even although we are oppressed in the world, we have confidence in Him who said, In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. And it is He whom we call Son of God- Son of that God, namely, whom, to quote the words of Celsus, we most highly reverence; and He is the Son who has been most highly exalted by the Father. Grant that there may be some individuals among the multitudes of believers who are not in entire agreement with us, and who incautiously assert that the Saviour is the Most High God; however, we do not hold with them, but rather believe Him when He says, The Father who sent Me is greater than I. We would not therefore make Him whom we call Father inferior - as Celsus accuses us of doing - to the Son of God. 8.
7 Celsus then proceeds to say that we shrink from raising altars, statues, and temples; and this, he thinks, has been agreed upon among us as the badge or distinctive mark of a secret and forbidden society. He does not perceive that we regard the spirit of every good man as an altar from which arises an incense which is truly and spiritually sweet-smelling, namely, the prayers ascending from a pure conscience. Therefore it is said by John in the Revelation, The odours are the prayers of saints; and by the Psalmist, Let my prayer come up before You as incense. And the statues and gifts which are fit offerings to God are the work of no common mechanics, but are wrought and fashioned in us by the Word of God, to wit, the virtues in which we imitate the First-born of all creation, who has set us an example of justice, of temperance, of courage, of wisdom, of piety, and of the other virtues. In all those, then, who plant and cultivate within their souls, according to the divine word, temperance, justice, wisdom, piety, and other virtues, these excellences are their statues they raise, in which we are persuaded that it is becoming for us to honour the model and prototype of all statues: the image of the invisible God, God the Only-begotten. And again, they who put off the old man with his deeds, and put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that has created him, in taking upon them the image of Him who has created them, do raise within themselves a statue like to what the Most High God Himself desires. And as among statuaries there are some who are marvellously perfect in their art, as for example Pheidias and Polycleitus, and among painters, Zeuxis and Apelles, while others make inferior statues, and others, again, are inferior to the second-rate artists - so that, taking all together, there is a wide difference in the execution of statues and pictures - in the same way there are some who form images of the Most High in a better manner and with a more perfect skill; so that there is no comparison even between the Olympian Jupiter of Pheidias and the man who has been fashioned according to the image of God the Creator. But by far the most excellent of all these throughout the whole creation is that image in our Saviour who said, My Father is in Me.
8.45 Let us see what Celsus next goes on to say. It is as follows: What need is there to collect all the oracular responses, which have been delivered with a divine voice by priests and priestesses, as well as by others, whether men or women, who were under a divine influence?- all the wonderful things that have been heard issuing from the inner sanctuary? - all the revelations that have been made to those who consulted the sacrificial victims?- and all the knowledge that has been conveyed to men by other signs and prodigies? To some the gods have appeared in visible forms. The world is full of such instances. How many cities have been built in obedience to commands received from oracles; how often, in the same way, delivered from disease and famine! Or again, how many cities, from disregard or forgetfulness of these oracles, have perished miserably! How many colonies have been established and made to flourish by following their orders! How many princes and private persons have, from this cause, had prosperity or adversity! How many who mourned over their childlessness, have obtained the blessing they asked for! How many have turned away from themselves the anger of demons! How many who were maimed in their limbs, have had them restored! And again, how many have met with summary punishment for showing want of reverence to the temples - some being instantly seized with madness, others openly confessing their crimes, others having put an end to their lives, and others having become the victims of incurable maladies! Yea, some have been slain by a terrible voice issuing from the inner sanctuary. I know not how it comes that Celsus brings forward these as undoubted facts, while at the same time he treats as mere fables the wonders which are recorded and handed down to us as having happened among the Jews, or as having been performed by Jesus and His disciples. For why may not our accounts be true, and those of Celsus fables and fictions? At least, these latter were not believed by the followers of Democritus, Epicurus, and Aristotle, although perhaps these Grecian sects would have been convinced by the evidence in support of our miracles, if Moses or any of the prophets who wrought these wonders, or Jesus Christ Himself, had come in their way.
8.48 In the next place, Celsus, after referring to the enthusiasm with which men will contend unto death rather than abjure Christianity, adds strangely enough some remarks, in which he wishes to show that our doctrines are similar to those delivered by the priests at the celebration of the heathen mysteries. He says, Just as you, good sir, believe in eternal punishments, so also do the priests who interpret and initiate into the sacred mysteries. The same punishments with which you threaten others, they threaten you. Now it is worthy of examination, which of the two is more firmly established as true; for both parties contend with equal assurance that the truth is on their side. But if we require proofs, the priests of the heathen gods produce many that are clear and convincing, partly from wonders performed by demons, and partly from the answers given by oracles, and various other modes of divination. He would, then, have us believe that we and the interpreters of the mysteries equally teach the doctrine of eternal punishment, and that it is a matter for inquiry on which side of the two the truth lies. Now I should say that the truth lies with those who are able to induce their hearers to live as men who are convinced of the truth of what they have heard. But Jews and Christians have been thus affected by the doctrines they hold about what we speak of as the world to come, and the rewards of the righteous, and the punishments of the wicked. Let Celsus then, or any one who will, show us who have been moved in this way in regard to eternal punishments by the teaching of heathen priests and mystagogues. For surely the purpose of him who brought to light this doctrine was not only to reason upon the subject of punishments, and to strike men with terror of them, but to induce those who heard the truth to strive with all their might against those sins which are the causes of punishment. And those who study the prophecies with care, and are not content with a cursory perusal of the predictions contained in them, will find them such as to convince the intelligent and sincere reader that the Spirit of God was in those men, and that with their writings there is nothing in all the works of demons, responses of oracles, or sayings of soothsayers, for one moment to be compared.
8.49 Let us see in what terms Celsus next addresses us: Besides, is it not most absurd and inconsistent in you, on the one hand, to make so much of the body as you do - to expect that the same body will rise again, as though it were the best and most precious part of us; and yet, on the other, to expose it to such tortures as though it were worthless? But men who hold such notions, and are so attached to the body, are not worthy of being reasoned with; for in this and in other respects they show themselves to be gross, impure, and bent upon revolting without any reason from the common belief. But I shall direct my discourse to those who hope for the enjoyment of eternal life with God by means of the soul or mind, whether they choose to call it a spiritual substance, an intelligent spirit, holy and blessed, or a living soul, or the heavenly and indestructible offspring of a divine and incorporeal nature, or by whatever name they designate the spiritual nature of man. And they are rightly persuaded that those who live well shall be blessed, and the unrighteous shall all suffer everlasting punishments. And from this doctrine neither they nor any other should ever swerve. Now, as he has often already reproached us for our opinions on the resurrection, and as we have on these occasions defended our opinions in what seemed to us a reasonable way, we do not intend, at each repetition of the one objection, to go into a repetition of our defense. Celsus makes an unfounded charge against us when he ascribes to us the opinion that there is nothing in our complex nature better or more precious than the body; for we hold that far beyond all bodies is the soul, and especially the reasonable soul; for it is the soul, and not the body, which bears the likeness of the Creator. For, according to us, God is not corporeal, unless we fall into the absurd errors of the followers of Zeno and Chrysippus. 8.6
2 In a former passage, Celsus had spoken at length on the subject of oracles, and had referred us to their answers as being the voice of the gods; but now he makes amends, and confesses that those who foretell the fortunes of men and cities, and concern themselves about mortal affairs, are earth-spirits, who are given up to fleshly lust, blood, odours, sweet sounds, and other such things, and who are unable to rise above these sensual objects. Perhaps, when we opposed the theological teaching of Celsus in regard to oracles, and the honour done to those called gods, some one might suspect us of impiety when we alleged that these were stratagems of demoniacal powers, to draw men away to carnal indulgence. But any who entertained this suspicion against us, may now believe that the statements put forth by Christians were well-founded, when they see the above passage from the writings of one who is a professed adversary of Christianity, but who now at length writes as one who has been overcome by the spirit of truth. Although, therefore, Celsus says that we must offer sacrifices to them, in so far as they are profitable to us, for to offer them indiscriminately is not allowed by reason, yet we are not to offer sacrifices to demons addicted to blood and odours; nor is the Divine Being to be profaned in our minds, by being brought down to the level of wicked demons. If Celsus had carefully weighed the meaning of the word profitable, and had considered that the truest profit lies in virtue and in virtuous action, he would not have applied the phrase as far as it is profitable to the service of such demons, as he has acknowledged them to be. If, then, health of body and success in life were to come to us on condition of our serving such demons, we should prefer sickness and misfortune accompanied with the consciousness of our being truly devoted to the will of God. For this is preferable to being mortally diseased in mind, and wretched through being separate and outcasts from God, though healthy in body and abounding in earthly prosperity. And we would rather go for help to one who seeks nothing whatever but the well-being of men and of all rational creatures, than to those who delight in blood and sacrificial odours.
8.63 After having said so much of the demons, and of their fondness for blood and the odour of sacrifices, Celsus adds, as though wishing to retract the charge he had made: The more just opinion is, that demons desire nothing and need nothing, but that they take pleasure in those who discharge towards them offices of piety. If Celsus believed this to be true, he should have said so, instead of making his previous statements. But, indeed, human nature is never utterly forsaken by God and His only-begotten Son, the Truth. Wherefore even Celsus spoke the truth when he made the demons take pleasure in the blood and smoke of victims; although, by the force of his own evil nature, he falls back into his errors, and compares demons with men who rigorously discharge every duty, even to those who show no gratitude; while to those who are grateful they abound in acts of kindness. Here Celsus appears to me to get into confusion. At one time his judgment is darkened by the influence of demons, and at another he recovers from their deluding power, and gets some glimpses of the truth. For again he adds: We must never in any way lose our hold of God, whether by day or by night, whether in public or in secret, whether in word or in deed, but in whatever we do, or abstain from doing. That is, as I understand it, whatever we do in public, in all our actions, in all our words, let the soul be constantly fixed upon God. And yet again, as though, after struggling in argument against the insane inspirations of demons, he were completely overcome by them, he adds: If this is the case, what harm is there in gaining the favour of the rulers of the earth, whether of a nature different from ours, or human princes and kings? For these have gained their dignity through the instrumentality of demons. In a former part, Celsus did his utmost to debase our souls to the worship of demons; and now he wishes us to seek the favour of kings and princes, of whom, as the world and all history are full of them, I do not consider it necessary to quote examples. ' "
8.66 Then Celsus, following the example of those who are under the influence of demons- at one time recovering, at another relapsing, as though he were again becoming sensible - says: If, however, any worshipper of God should be ordered to do anything impious, or to say anything base, such a command should in no way be regarded; but we must encounter all kinds of torment, or submit to any kind of death, rather than say or even think anything unworthy of God. Again, however, from ignorance of our principles, and in entire confusion of thought, he says: But if any one commands you to celebrate the sun, or to sing a joyful triumphal song in praise of Minerva, you will by celebrating their praises seem to render the higher praise to God; for piety, in extending to all things, becomes more perfect. To this our answer is, that we do not wait for any command to celebrate the praises of the sun; for we have been taught to speak well not only of those creatures that are obedient to the will of God, but even of our enemies. We therefore praise the sun as the glorious workmanship of God, which obeys His laws and hearkens to the call, Praise the Lord, sun and moon, and with all your powers show forth the praises of the Father and Creator of all. Minerva, however, whom Celsus classes with the sun, is the subject of various Grecian myths, whether these contain any hidden meaning or not. They say that Minerva sprang fully armed from the brain of Jupiter; that when she was pursued by Vulcan, she fled from him to preserve her honour; and that from the seed which fell to the ground in the heat of Vulcan's passion, there grew a child whom Minerva brought up and called Erichthonius, That owed his nurture to the blue-eyed maid, But from the teeming furrow took his birth, The mighty offspring of the foodful earth. It is therefore evident, that if we admit Minerva the daughter of Jupiter, we must also admit many fables and fictions which can be allowed by no one who discards fables and seeks after truth. " "
8.68 Celsus goes on to say: We must not disobey the ancient writer, who said long ago, 'Let one be king, whom the son of crafty Saturn appointed;' and adds: If you set aside this maxim, you will deservedly suffer for it at the hands of the king. For if all were to do the same as you, there would be nothing to prevent his being left in utter solitude and desertion, and the affairs of the earth would fall into the hands of the wildest and most lawless barbarians; and then there would no longer remain among men any of the glory of your religion or of the true wisdom. If, then, there shall be one lord, one king, he must be, not the man whom the son of crafty Saturn appointed, but the man to whom He gave the power, who removes kings and sets up kings, and who raises up the useful man in time of need upon earth. Sirach
10:4 For kings are not appointed by that son of Saturn, who, according to Grecian fable, hurled his father from his throne, and sent him down to Tartarus (whatever interpretation may be given to this allegory), but by God, who governs all things, and who wisely arranges whatever belongs to the appointment of kings. We therefore do set aside the maxim contained in the line, Whom the son of crafty Saturn appointed; for we know that no god or father of a god ever devises anything crooked or crafty. But we are far from setting aside the notion of a providence, and of things happening directly or indirectly through the agency of providence. And the king will not inflict deserved punishment upon us, if we say that not the son of crafty Saturn gave him his kingdom, but He who removes and sets up kings. And would that all were to follow my example in rejecting the maxim of Homer, maintaining the divine origin of the kingdom, and observing the precept to honour the king! In these circumstances the king will not be left in utter solitude and desertion, neither will the affairs of the world fall into the hands of the most impious and wild barbarians. For if, in the words of Celsus, they do as I do, then it is evident that even the barbarians, when they yield obedience to the word of God, will become most obedient to the law, and most humane; and every form of worship will be destroyed except the religion of Christ, which will alone prevail. And indeed it will one day triumph, as its principles take possession of the minds of men more and more every day. " 8.69 Celsus, then, as if not observing that he was saying anything inconsistent with the words he had just used, if all were to do the same as you, adds: You surely do not say that if the Romans were, in compliance with your wish, to neglect their customary duties to gods and men, and were to worship the Most High, or whatever you please to call him, that he will come down and fight for them, so that they shall need no other help than his. For this same God, as yourselves say, promised of old this and much more to those who served him, and see in what way he has helped them and you! They, in place of being masters of the whole world, are left with not so much as a patch of ground or a home; and as for you, if any of you transgresses even in secret, he is sought out and punished with death. As the question started is, What would happen if the Romans were persuaded to adopt the principles of the Christians, to despise the duties paid to the recognised gods and to men, and to worship the Most High? this is my answer to the question. We say that if two of us shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of the Father of the just, which is in heaven; for God rejoices in the agreement of rational beings, and turns away from discord. And what are we to expect, if not only a very few agree, as at present, but the whole of the empire of Rome? For they will pray to the Word, who of old said to the Hebrews, when they were pursued by the Egyptians, The Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace; and if they all unite in prayer with one accord, they will be able to put to flight far more enemies than those who were discomfited by the prayer of Moses when he cried to the Lord, and of those who prayed with him. Now, if what God promised to those who keep His law has not come to pass, the reason of its nonfulfilment is not to be ascribed to the unfaithfulness of God. But He had made the fulfilment of His promises to depend on certain conditions - namely, that they should observe and live according to His law; and if the Jews have not a plot of ground nor a habitation left to them, although they had received these conditional promises, the entire blame is to be laid upon their crimes, and especially upon their guilt in the treatment of Jesus. 8.
1 Celsus again, as is usual with him, gets confused, and attributes to us things which none of us have ever written. His words are: Surely it is intolerable for you to say, that if our present rulers, on embracing your opinions, are taken by the enemy, you will still be able to persuade those who rule after them; and after these have been taken you will persuade their successors and so on, until at length, when all who have yielded to your persuasion have been taken, some prudent ruler shall arise, with a foresight of what is impending, and he will destroy you all utterly before he himself perishes. There is no need of any answer to these allegations: for none of us says of our present rulers, that if they embrace our opinions, and are taken by the enemy, we shall be able to persuade their successors; and when these are taken, those who come after them, and so on in succession. But on what does he ground the assertion, that when a succession of those who have yielded to our persuasion have been taken because they did not drive back the enemy, some prudent ruler shall arise, with a foresight of what is impending, who shall utterly destroy us? But here he seems to me to delight in inventing and uttering the wildest nonsense. 8.
75 Celsus also urges us to take office in the government of the country, if that is required for the maintece of the laws and the support of religion. But we recognise in each state the existence of another national organization, founded by the Word of God, and we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over Churches. Those who are ambitious of ruling we reject; but we constrain those who, through excess of modesty, are not easily induced to take a public charge in the Church of God. And those who rule over us well are under the constraining influence of the great King, whom we believe to be the Son of God, God the Word. And if those who govern in the Church, and are called rulers of the divine nation - that is, the Church- rule well, they rule in accordance with the divine commands, and never suffer themselves to be led astray by worldly policy. And it is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices, but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God- for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right. They take charge of all - of those that are within, that they may day by day lead better lives, and of those that are without, that they may come to abound in holy words and in deeds of piety; and that, while thus worshipping God truly, and training up as many as they can in the same way, they may be filled with the word of God and the law of God, and thus be united with the Supreme God through His Son the Word, Wisdom, Truth, and Righteousness, who unites to God all who are resolved to conform their lives in all things to the law of God. ' " None