|14. Origen, Against Celsus, 6.24-6.38 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE) Tagged with subjects: •fall, of the devil/angels Found in books: Rasimus (2009), Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking: Rethinking Sethianism in Light of the Ophite Evidence, 206
| 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. 6.27. 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. 6.31. 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. 6.32. 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. 6.37. 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.