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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



8413
Origen, Against Celsus, 2.26


nanThis 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.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

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1. New Testament, 1 Corinthians, 3.19 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

3.19. Forthe wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written,"He has taken the wise in their craftiness.
2. New Testament, John, 13.8 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

13.8. Peter said to him, "You will never wash my feet!"Jesus answered him, "If I don't wash you, you have no part with me.
3. New Testament, Luke, 22.37 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

22.37. For I tell you that this which is written must still be fulfilled in me: 'He was counted with the lawless.' For that which concerns me has an end.
4. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.6, 1.9, 1.26, 1.38, 1.46, 1.57, 1.62, 1.68, 1.71, 2.4-2.6, 2.8-2.9, 2.14, 2.22, 2.27, 2.42, 2.46, 2.48-2.49, 2.51-2.53, 2.78, 3.16-3.19, 3.24, 3.34, 3.41-3.42, 3.59, 6.10, 6.16, 7.58, 8.9 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

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. 1.9. 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? 1.26. 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. 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? 1.46. For the law and the prophets are full of marvels similar to those recorded of Jesus at His baptism, viz., regarding the dove and the voice from heaven. And I think the wonders wrought by Jesus are a proof of the Holy Spirit's having then appeared in the form of a dove, although Celsus, from a desire to cast discredit upon them, alleges that He performed only what He had learned among the Egyptians. And I shall refer not only to His miracles, but, as is proper, to those also of the apostles of Jesus. For they could not without the help of miracles and wonders have prevailed on those who heard their new doctrines and new teachings to abandon their national usages, and to accept their instructions at the danger to themselves even of death. And there are still preserved among Christians traces of that Holy Spirit which appeared in the form of a dove. They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events, according to the will of the Logos. And although Celsus, or the Jew whom he has introduced, may treat with mockery what I am going to say, I shall say it nevertheless - that many have been converted to Christianity as if against their will, some sort of spirit having suddenly transformed their minds from a hatred of the doctrine to a readiness to die in its defense, and having appeared to them either in a waking vision or a dream of the night. Many such instances have we known, which, if we were to commit to writing, although they were seen and witnessed by ourselves, we should afford great occasion for ridicule to unbelievers, who would imagine that we, like those whom they suppose to have invented such things, had ourselves also done the same. But God is witness of our conscientious desire, not by false statements, but by testimonies of different kinds, to establish the divinity of the doctrine of Jesus. And as it is a Jew who is perplexed about the account of the Holy Spirit having descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, we would say to him, Sir, who is it that says in Isaiah, 'And now the Lord has sent me and His Spirit.' In which sentence, as the meaning is doubtful - viz., whether the Father and the Holy Spirit sent Jesus, or the Father sent both Christ and the Holy Spirit- the latter is correct. For, because the Saviour was sent, afterwards the Holy Spirit was sent also, that the prediction of the prophet might be fulfilled; and as it was necessary that the fulfilment of the prophecy should be known to posterity, the disciples of Jesus for that reason committed the result to writing. 1.57. 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. 1.62. 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. 1.68. 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? 1.71. Continuing to pour abuse upon Jesus as one who, on account of his impiety and wicked opinions, was, so to speak, hated by God, he asserts that these tenets of his were those of a wicked and God-hated sorcerer. And yet, if the name and the thing be properly examined, it will be found an impossibility that man should be hated by God, seeing God loves all existing things, and hates nothing of what He has made, for He created nothing in a spirit of hatred. And if certain expressions in the prophets convey such an impression, they are to be interpreted in accordance with the general principle by which Scripture employs such language with regard to God as if He were subject to human affections. But what reply need be made to him who, while professing to bring foreward credible statements, thinks himself bound to make use of calumnies and slanders against Jesus, as if He were a wicked sorcerer? Such is not the procedure of one who seeks to make good his case, but of one who is in an ignorant and unphilosophic state of mind, inasmuch as the proper course is to state the case, and candidly to investigate it; and, according to the best of his ability, to bring forward what occurs to him with regard to it. But as the Jew of Celsus has, with the above remarks, brought to a close his charges against Jesus, so we also shall here bring to a termination the contents of our first book in reply to him. And if God bestow the gift of that truth which destroys all falsehood, agreeably to the words of the prayer, Cut them off in your truth, we shall begin, in what follows, the consideration of the second appearance of the Jew, in which he is represented by Celsus as addressing those who have become converts to Jesus. 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. 2.6. But let it be granted that Jesus observed all the Jewish usages, including even their sacrificial observances, what does that avail to prevent our recognising Him as the Son of God? Jesus, then, is the Son of God, who gave the law and the prophets; and we, who belong to the Church, do not transgress the law, but have escaped the mythologizings of the Jews, and have our minds chastened and educated by the mystical contemplation of the law and the prophets. For the prophets themselves, as not resting the sense of these words in the plain history which they relate, nor in the legal enactments taken according to the word and letter, express themselves somewhere, when about to relate histories, in words like this, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hard sayings of old; and in another place, when offering up a prayer regarding the law as being obscure, and needing divine help for its comprehension, they offer up this prayer, Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law. 2.8. He says, further, that many other persons would appear such as Jesus was, to those who were willing to be deceived. Let this Jew of Celsus then show us, not many persons, nor even a few, but a single individual, such as Jesus was, introducing among the human race, with the power that was manifested in Him, a system of doctrine and opinions beneficial to human life, and which converts men from the practice of wickedness. He says, moreover, that this charge is brought against the Jews by the Christian converts, that they have not believed in Jesus as in God. Now on this point we have, in the preceding pages, offered a preliminary defense, showing at the same time in what respects we understand Him to be God, and in what we take Him to be man. How should we, he continues, who have made known to all men that there is to come from God one who is to punish the wicked, treat him with disregard when he came? And to this, as an exceedingly silly argument, it does not seem to me reasonable to offer any answer. It is as if some one were to say, How could we, who teach temperance, commit any act of licentiousness? Or we, who are ambassadors for righteousness, be guilty of any wickedness? For as these inconsistencies are found among men, so, to say that they believed the prophets when speaking of the future advent of Christ, and yet refused their belief to Him when He came, agreeably to prophetic statement, was quite in keeping with human nature. And since we must add another reason, we shall remark that this very result was foretold by the prophets. Isaiah distinctly declares: Hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: for the heart of this people has become fat, etc. And let them explain why it was predicted to the Jews, that although they both heard and saw, they would not understand what was said, nor perceive what was seen as they ought. For it is indeed manifest, that when they beheld Jesus they did not see who He was; and when they heard Him, they did not understand from His words the divinity that was in Him, and which transferred God's providential care, hitherto exercised over the Jews, to His converts from the heathen. Therefore we may see, that after the advent of Jesus the Jews were altogether abandoned, and possess now none of what were considered their ancient glories, so that there is no indication of any Divinity abiding among them. For they have no longer prophets nor miracles, traces of which to a considerable extent are still found among Christians, and some of them more remarkable than any that existed among the Jews; and these we ourselves have witnessed, if our testimony may be received. But the Jew of Celsus exclaims: Why did we treat him, whom we announced beforehand, with dishonour? Was it that we might be chastised more than others? To which we have to answer, that on account of their unbelief, and the other insults which they heaped upon Jesus, the Jews will not only suffer more than others in that judgment which is believed to impend over the world, but have even already endured such sufferings. For what nation is an exile from their own metropolis, and from the place sacred to the worship of their fathers, save the Jews alone? And these calamities they have suffered, because they were a most wicked nation, which, although guilty of many other sins, yet has been punished so severely for none, as for those that were committed against our Jesus. 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 οἰκονομία, one being with the Logos of God. Now if, according to Paul's teaching, he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit, every one who understands what being joined to the Lord is, and who has been actually joined to Him, is one spirit with the Lord; how should not that being be one in a far greater and more divine degree, which was once united with the Logos of God? He, indeed, manifested Himself among the Jews as the power of God, by the miracles which He performed, which Celsus suspected were accomplished by sorcery, but which by the Jews of that time were attributed I know not why, to Beelzebub, in the words: He casts out devils through Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. But these our Saviour convicted of uttering the greatest absurdities, from the fact that the kingdom of evil was not yet come to an end. And this will be evident to all intelligent readers of the Gospel narrative, which it is not now the time to explain. 2.14. 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. 2.22. 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. 2.27. 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. 2.42. 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. 2.46. But how can this Jew of Celsus escape the charge of falsehood, when he says that Jesus, when on earth, gained over to himself only ten sailors and tax-gatherers of the most worthless character, and not even the whole of these? Now it is certain that the Jews themselves would admit that He drew over not ten persons merely, nor a hundred, nor a thousand, but on one occasion five thousand at once, and on another four thousand; and that He attracted them to such a degree that they followed Him even into the deserts, which alone could contain the assembled multitude of those who believed in God through Jesus, and where He not only addressed to them discourses, but also manifested to them His works. And now, through his tautology, he compels us also to be tautological, since we are careful to guard against being supposed to pass over any of the charges advanced by him; and therefore, in reference to the matter before us following the order of his treatise as we have it, he says: Is it not the height of absurdity to maintain, that if, while he himself was alive, he won over not a single person to his views, after his death any who wish are able to gain over such a multitude of individuals? Whereas he ought to have said, in consistency with truth, that if, after His death, not simply those who will, but they who have the will and the power, can gain over so many proselytes, how much more consot to reason is it, that while He was alive He should, through the greater power of His words and deeds, have won over to Himself manifold greater numbers of adherents? 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? 2.51. Celsus, indeed, evinced a slight knowledge of Scripture when he made Jesus say, that it is a certain Satan who contrives such devices; although he begs the question when he asserts that Jesus did not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but proceed from wicked men, for he makes things which differ in kind to be the same. Now, as a wolf is not of the same species as a dog, although it may appear to have some resemblance in the figure of its body and in its voice, nor a common wood-pigeon the same as a dove, so there is no resemblance between what is done by the power of God and what is the effect of sorcery. And we might further say, in answer to the calumnies of Celsus, Are those to be regarded as miracles which are wrought through sorcery by wicked demons, but those not which are performed by a nature that is holy and divine? And does human life endure the worse, but never receive the better? Now it appears to me that we must lay it down as a general principle, that as, wherever anything that is evil would make itself to be of the same nature with the good, there must by all means be something that is good opposed to the evil; so also, in opposition to those things which are brought about by sorcery, there must also of necessity be some things in human life which are the result of divine power. And it follows from the same, that we must either annihilate both, and assert that neither exists, or, assuming the one, and particularly the evil, admit also the reality of the good. Now, if one were to lay it down that works are wrought by means of sorcery, but would not grant that there are also works which are the product of divine power, he would seem to me to resemble him who should admit the existence of sophisms and plausible arguments, which have the appearance of establishing the truth, although really undermining it, while denying that truth had anywhere a home among men, or a dialectic which differed from sophistry. But if we once admit that it is consistent with the existence of magic and sorcery (which derive their power from evil demons, who are spell-bound by elaborate incantations, and become subject to sorcerers) that some works must be found among men which proceed from a power that is divine, why shall we not test those who profess to perform them by their lives and morals, and the consequences of their miracles, viz., whether they tend to the injury of men or to the reformation of conduct? What minister of evil demons, e.g., can do such things? And by means of what incantations and magic arts? And who, on the other hand, is it that, having his soul and his spirit, and I imagine also his body, in a pure and holy state, receives a divine spirit, and performs such works in order to benefit men, and to lead them to believe in the true God? But if we must once investigate (without being carried away by the miracles themselves) who it is that performs them by help of a good, and who by help of an evil power, so that we may neither slander all without discrimination, nor yet admire and accept all as divine, will it not be manifest, from what occurred in the times of Moses and Jesus, when entire nations were established in consequence of their miracles, that these men wrought by means of divine power what they are recorded to have performed? For wickedness and sorcery would not have led a whole nation to rise not only above idols and images erected by men, but also above all created things, and to ascend to the uncreated origin of the God of the universe. 2.52. But since it is a Jew who makes these assertions in the treatise of Celsus, we would say to him: Pray, friend, why do you believe the works which are recorded in your writings as having been performed by God through the instrumentality of Moses to be really divine, and endeavour to refute those who slanderously assert that they were wrought by sorcery, like those of the Egyptian magicians; while, in imitation of your Egyptian opponents, you charge those which were done by Jesus, and which, you admit, were actually performed, with not being divine? For if the final result, and the founding of an entire nation by the miracles of Moses, manifestly demonstrate that it was God who brought these things to pass in the time of Moses the Hebrew lawgiver, why should not such rather be shown to be the case with Jesus, who accomplished far greater works than those of Moses? For the former took those of his own nation, the descendants of Abraham, who had observed the rite of circumcision transmitted by tradition, and who were careful observers of the Abrahamic usages, and led them out of Egypt, enacting for them those laws which you believe to be divine; whereas the latter ventured upon a greater undertaking, and superinduced upon the pre-existing constitution, and upon ancestral customs and modes of life agreeable to the existing laws, a constitution in conformity with the Gospel. And as it was necessary, in order that Moses should find credit not only among the elders, but the common people, that there should be performed those miracles which he is recorded to have performed, why should not Jesus also, in order that He may be believed on by those of the people who had learned to ask for signs and wonders, need to work such miracles as, on account of their greater grandeur and divinity (in comparison with those of Moses), were able to convert men from Jewish fables, and from the human traditions which prevailed among them, and make them admit that He who taught and did such things was greater than the prophets? For how was not He greater than the prophets, who was proclaimed by them to be the Christ, and the Saviour of the human race? 2.53. All the arguments, indeed, which this Jew of Celsus advances against those who believe in Jesus, may, by parity of reasoning, be urged as ground of accusation against Moses: so that there is no difference in asserting that the sorcery practised by Jesus and that by Moses were similar to each other, - both of them, so far as the language of this Jew of Celsus is concerned, being liable to the same charge; as, e.g., when this Jew says of Christ, But, O light and truth! Jesus with his own voice expressly declares, as you yourselves have recorded, that there will appear among you others also, who will perform miracles like mine, but who are wicked men and sorcerers, some one, either Greek or Egyptian, or any other party who disbelieved the Jew, might say respecting Moses, But, O light and truth! Moses with his own voice expressly declares, as you also have recorded, that there will appear among you others also, who will perform miracles like mine, but who are wicked men and sorcerers. For it is written in your law, 'If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass whereof he spoke unto you, saying, Let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them; you shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or dreamer of dreams,' etc. Again, perverting the words of Jesus, he says, And he terms him who devises such things, one Satan; while one, applying this to Moses, might say, And he terms him who devises such things, a prophet who dreams. And as this Jew asserts regarding Jesus, that even he himself does not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but are the acts of wicked men; so any one who disbelieves the writings of Moses might say, quoting what has been already said, the same thing, viz., that, even Moses does not deny that these works have in them nothing of divinity, but are the acts of wicked men. And he will do the same thing also with respect to this: Being compelled by the force of truth, Moses at the same time both exposed the doings of others, and convicted himself of the same. And when the Jew says, Is it not a wretched inference from the same acts, to conclude that the one is a God, and the others sorcerers? one might object to him, on the ground of those words of Moses already quoted, Is it not then a wretched inference from the same acts, to conclude that the one is a prophet and servant of God, and the others sorcerers? But when, in addition to those comparisons which I have already mentioned, Celsus, dwelling upon the subject, adduces this also: Why from these works should the others be accounted wicked, rather than this man, seeing they have him as a witness against himself?- we, too, shall adduce the following, in addition to what has been already said: Why, from those passages in which Moses forbids us to believe those who exhibit signs and wonders, ought we to consider such persons as wicked, rather than Moses, because he calumniates some of them in respect of their signs and wonders? And urging more to the same effect, that he may appear to strengthen his attempt, he says: He himself acknowledged that these were not the works of a divine nature, but were the inventions of certain deceivers, and of very wicked men. Who, then, is himself? You O Jew, say that it is Jesus; but he who accuses you as liable to the same charges, will transfer this himself to the person of Moses. 2.78. The Jew continues: Did Jesus come into the world for this purpose, that we should not believe him? To which we immediately answer, that He did not come with the object of producing incredulity among the Jews; but knowing beforehand that such would be the result, He foretold it, and made use of their unbelief for the calling of the Gentiles. For through their sin salvation came to the Gentiles, respecting whom the Christ who speaks in the prophecies says, A people whom I did not know became subject to Me: they were obedient to the hearing of My ear; and, I was found of them who sought Me not; I became manifest to those who inquired not after Me. It is certain, moreover, that the Jews were punished even in this present life, after treating Jesus in the manner in which they did. And let the Jews assert what they will when we charge them with guilt, and say, Is not the providence and goodness of God most wonderfully displayed in your punishment, and in your being deprived of Jerusalem, and of the sanctuary, and of your splendid worship? For whatever they may say in reply with respect to the providence of God, we shall be able more effectually to answer it by remarking, that the providence of God was wonderfully manifested in using the transgression of that people for the purpose of calling into the kingdom of God, through Jesus Christ, those from among the Gentiles who were strangers to the covet and aliens to the promises. And these things were foretold by the prophets, who said that, on account of the transgressions of the Hebrew nation, God would make choice, not of a nation, but of individuals chosen from all lands; and, having selected the foolish things of the world, would cause an ignorant nation to become acquainted with the divine teaching, the kingdom of God being taken from the one and given to the other. And out of a larger number it is sufficient on the present occasion to adduce the prediction from the song in Deuteronomy regarding the calling of the Gentiles, which is as follows, being spoken in the person of the Lord: They have moved Me to jealousy with those who are not gods; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols: and I will move them to jealousy with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. 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. 3.17. 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.' 3.24. 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. 3.34. 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. 3.41. 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? 3.42. 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? 3.59. 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. 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. 6.16. 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. 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. 8.9. And observe the recklessness of that expression, For if you worship any other of the things in the universe, as though he would have us believe that we are led by our service of God to the worship of any other things which belong to God, without any injury to ourselves. But, as if feeling his error, he corrects the words, If you worship any other of the things in the universe, by adding, We may honour none, however, except those to whom that right has been given by God. And we would put to Celsus this question in regard to those who are honoured as gods, as demons, or as heroes: Now, sir, can you prove that the right to be honoured has been given to these by God, and that it has not arisen from the ignorance and folly of men who in their wanderings have fallen away from Him to whom alone worship and service are properly due? You said a little ago, O Celsus, that Antinous, the favourite of Adrian, is honoured; but surely you will not say that the right to be worshipped as a god was given to him by the God of the universe? And so of the others, we ask proof that the right to be worshipped was given to them by the Most High God. But if the same question is put to us in regard to the worship of Jesus, we will show that the right to be honoured was given to Him by God, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. For all the prophecies which preceded His birth were preparations for His worship. And the wonders which He wrought - through no magical art, as Celsus supposes, but by a divine power, which was foretold by the prophets- have served as a testimony from God in behalf of the worship of Christ. He who honours the Son, who is the Word and Reason, acts in nowise contrary to reason, and gains for himself great good; he who honours Him, who is the Truth, becomes better by honouring truth: and this we may say of honouring wisdom, righteousness, and all the other names by which the sacred Scriptures are wont to designate the Son of God.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
egyptian religion, celsus on Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
heraclites Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
jesus, according to celsus Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 852
jews and judaism, anti-semitism, classical Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
jews and judaism, christianity compared by celsus to Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
mystery religions Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
philosophical opposition (to christianity)' Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 852
tatian and celsus, philosophical history and christian deviance, celsus on Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
tatian and celsus Ayres and Ward, The Rise of the Early Christian Intellectual (2021) 59
true discourse, of celsus, jesus Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 852
true discourse, of celsus, themes Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 852