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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



8413
Origen, Against Celsus, 4.25


nanBut if you depreciate the littleness of man, not on account of his body, but of his soul, regarding it as inferior to that of other rational beings, and especially of those who are virtuous; and inferior, because evil dwells in it - why should those among Christians who are wicked, and those among the Jews who lead sinful lives, be termed a collection of bats, or ants, or worms, or frogs, rather than those individuals among other nations who are guilty of wickedness?- seeing, in this respect, any individual whatever, especially if carried away by the tide of evil, is, in comparison with the rest of mankind, a bat, and worm, and frog, and ant. And although a man may be an orator like Demosthenes, yet, if stained with wickedness like his, and guilty of deeds proceeding, like his, from a wicked nature; or an Antiphon, who was also considered to be indeed an orator, yet who annihilated the doctrine of providence in his writings, which were entitled Concerning Truth, like that discourse of Celsus, - such individuals are notwithstanding worms, rolling in a corner of the dung-heap of stupidity and ignorance. Indeed, whatever be the nature of the rational faculty, it could not reasonably be compared to a worm, because it possesses capabilities of virtue. For these adumbrations towards virtue do not allow of those who possess the power of acquiring it, and who are incapable of wholly losing its seeds, to be likened to a worm. It appears, therefore, that neither can men in general be deemed worms in comparison with God. For reason, having its beginning in the reason of God, cannot allow of the rational animal being considered wholly alien from Deity. Nor can those among Christians and Jews who are wicked, and who, in truth, are neither Christians nor Jews, be compared, more than other wicked men, to worms rolling in a corner of a dunghill. And if the nature of reason will not permit of such comparisons, it is manifest that we must not calumniate human nature, which has been formed for virtue, even if it should sin through ignorance, nor liken it to animals of the kind described.


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

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1. New Testament, John, 2 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 6.18.1, 6.19.12 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

6.18.1. About this time Ambrose, who held the heresy of Valentinus, was convinced by Origen's presentation of the truth, and, as if his mind were illumined by light, he accepted the orthodox doctrine of the Church. 6.19.12. When I devoted myself to the word, and the fame of my proficiency went abroad, and when heretics and persons conversant with Grecian learning, and particularly with philosophy, came to me, it seemed necessary that I should examine the doctrines of the heretics, and what the philosophers say concerning the truth.
3. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.9, 3.33, 3.45, 3.49, 4.1, 4.26, 6.1 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

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? 3.33. Celsus, however, shows that he has read a good many Grecian histories, when he quotes further what is told of Cleomedes of Astypal a, who, he relates, entered into an ark, and although shut up within it, was not found therein, but through some arrangement of the divinity, flew out, when certain persons had cut open the ark in order to apprehend him. Now this story, if an invention, as it appears to be, cannot be compared with what is related of Jesus, since in the lives of such men there is found no indication of their possessing the divinity which is ascribed to them; whereas the divinity of Jesus is established both by the existence of the Churches of the saved, and by the prophecies uttered concerning Him, and by the cures wrought in His name, and by the wisdom and knowledge which are in Him, and the deeper truths which are discovered by those who know how to ascend from a simple faith, and to investigate the meaning which lies in the divine Scriptures, agreeably to the injunctions of Jesus, who said, Search the Scriptures, and to the wish of Paul, who taught that we ought to know how to answer every man; nay, also of him who said, Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks of you a reason of the faith that is in you. If he wishes to have it conceded, however, that it is not a fiction, let him show with what object this supernatural power made him, through some arrangement of the divinity, flee from the ark. For if he will adduce any reason worthy of consideration, and point out any purpose worthy of God in conferring such a power on Cleomedes, we will decide on the answer which we ought to give; but if he fail to say anything convincing on the point, clearly because no reason can be discovered, then we shall either speak slightingly of the story to those who have not accepted it, and charge it with being false, or we shall say that some demoniac power, casting a glamour over the eyes, produced, in the case of the Astypal an, a result like that which is produced by the performers of juggling tricks, while Celsus thinks that with respect to him he has spoken like an oracle, when he said that by some divine arrangement he flew away from the ark. 3.45. But that the object of Christianity is that we should become wise, can be proved not only from the ancient Jewish writings, which we also use, but especially from those which were composed after the time of Jesus, and which are believed among the Churches to be divine. Now, in the fiftieth Psalm, David is described as saying in his prayer to God these words: The unseen and secret things of Your wisdom You have manifested to me. Solomon, too, because he asked for wisdom, received it; and if any one were to peruse the Psalms, he would find the book filled with many maxims of wisdom: and the evidences of his wisdom may be seen in his treatises, which contain a great amount of wisdom expressed in few words, and in which you will find many laudations of wisdom, and encouragements towards obtaining it. So wise, moreover, was Solomon, that the queen of Sheba, having heard his name, and the name of the Lord, came to try him with difficult questions, and spoke to him all things, whatsoever were in her heart; and Solomon answered her all her questions. There was no question omitted by the king which he did not answer her. And the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon, and the possessions which he had and there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, The report is true which I heard in my own land regarding you and your wisdom; and I believed not them who told me, until I had come, and my eyes have seen it. And, lo, they did not tell me the half. You have added wisdom and possessions above all the report which I heard. It is recorded also of him, that God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. And the wisdom that was in Solomon greatly excelled the wisdom of all the ancients, and of all the wise men of Egypt; and he was wiser than all men, even than Gethan the Ezrahite, and Emad, and Chalcadi, and Aradab, the sons of Madi. And he was famous among all the nations round about. And Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs, and his songs were five thousand. And he spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop which springs out of the wall; and also of fishes and of beasts. And all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth who had heard of the fame of his wisdom. And to such a degree does the Gospel desire that there should be wise men among believers, that for the sake of exercising the understanding of its hearers, it has spoken certain truths in enigmas, others in what are called dark sayings, others in parables, and others in problems. And one of the prophets- Hosea - says at the end of his prophecies: Who is wise, and he will understand these things? Or prudent, and he shall know them? Daniel, moreover, and his fellow-captives, made such progress in the learning which the wise men around the king in Babylon cultivated, that they were shown to excel all of them in a tenfold degree. And in the book of Ezekiel it is said to the ruler of Tyre, who greatly prided himself on his wisdom, Are you wiser than Daniel? Every secret was not revealed to you. 3.49. This statement also is untrue, that it is only foolish and low individuals, and persons devoid of perception, and slaves, and women, and children, of whom the teachers of the divine word wish to make converts. Such indeed does the Gospel invite, in order to make them better; but it invites also others who are very different from these, since Christ is the Saviour of all men, and especially of them that believe, whether they be intelligent or simple; and He is the propitiation with the Father for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. After this it is superfluous for us to wish to offer a reply to such statements of Celsus as the following: For why is it an evil to have been educated, and to have studied the best opinions, and to have both the reality and appearance of wisdom? What hindrance does this offer to the knowledge of God? Why should it not rather be an assistance, and a means by which one might be better able to arrive at the truth? Truly it is no evil to have been educated, for education is the way to virtue; but to rank those among the number of the educated who hold erroneous opinions is what even the wise men among the Greeks would not do. On the other hand, who would not admit that to have studied the best opinions is a blessing? But what shall we call the best, save those which are true, and which incite men to virtue? Moreover, it is an excellent thing for a man to be wise, but not to seem so, as Celsus says. And it is no hindrance to the knowledge of God, but an assistance, to have been educated, and to have studied the best opinions, and to be wise. And it becomes us rather than Celsus to say this, especially if it be shown that he is an Epicurean. 4.1. Having, in the three preceding books, fully stated what occurred to us by way of answer to the treatise of Celsus, we now, reverend Ambrosius, with prayer to God through Christ, offer this fourth book as a reply to what follows. And we pray that words may be given us, as it is written in the book of Jeremiah that the Lord said to the prophet: Behold, I have put My words in your mouth as fire. See, I have set you this day over the nations, and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, and to build and to plant. For we need words now which will root out of every wounded soul the reproaches uttered against the truth by this treatise of Celsus, or which proceed from opinions like his. And we need also thoughts which will pull down all edifices based on false opinions, and especially the edifice raised by Celsus in his work which resembles the building of those who said, Come, let us build us a city, and a tower whose top shall reach to heaven. Yea, we even require a wisdom which will throw down all high things that rise against the knowledge of God, and especially that height of arrogance which Celsus displays against us. And in the next place, as we must not stop with rooting out and pulling down the hindrances which have just been mentioned, but must, in room of what has been rooted out, plant the plants of God's husbandry; and in place of what has been pulled down, rear up the building of God, and the temple of His glory - we must for that reason pray also to the Lord, who bestowed the gifts named in the book of Jeremiah, that He may grant even to us words adapted both for building up the (temple) of Christ, and for planting the spiritual law, and the prophetic words referring to the same. And above all is it necessary to show, as against the assertions of Celsus which follow those he has already made, that the prophecies regarding Christ are true predictions. For, arraying himself at the same time against both parties - against the Jews on the one hand, who deny that the advent of Christ has taken place, but who expect it as future, and against Christians on the other, who acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ spoken of in prophecy- he makes the following statement:- 6.1. In beginning this our sixth book, we desire, my reverend Ambrosius, to answer in it those accusations which Celsus brings against the Christians, not, as might be supposed, those objections which he has adduced from writers on philosophy. For he has quoted a considerable number of passages, chiefly from Plato, and has placed alongside of these such declarations of holy Scripture as are fitted to impress even the intelligent mind; subjoining the assertion that these things are stated much better among the Greeks (than in the Scriptures), and in a manner which is free from all exaggerations and promises on the part of God, or the Son of God. Now we maintain, that if it is the object of the ambassadors of the truth to confer benefits upon the greatest possible number, and, so far as they can, to win over to its side, through their love to men, every one without exception - intelligent as well as simple - not Greeks only, but also Barbarians (and great, indeed, is the humanity which should succeed in converting the rustic and the ignorant ), it is manifest that they must adopt a style of address fitted to do good to all, and to gain over to them men of every sort. Those, on the other hand, who turn away from the ignorant as being mere slaves, and unable to understand the flowing periods of a polished and logical discourse, and so devote their attention solely to such as have been brought up among literary pursuits, confine their views of the public good within very strait and narrow limits.
4. Epiphanius, Panarion, 64.3 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
antiphon, truth Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 153
antiphon Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 153
atomism Wolfsdorf, Early Greek Ethics (2020) 153
caesarea (maritima) Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
celsus Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
egyptian priests Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
fragments of hellenistic jewish authors, library of caesarea Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
heracleon Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
origen, ambrose as patron of Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
origen, and ambrose Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
origen Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
origen of alexandria Fialová Hoblík and Kitzler, Hellenism, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity: Transmission and Transformation of Ideas (2022) 95
origens attitude towards philosophy Fialová Hoblík and Kitzler, Hellenism, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity: Transmission and Transformation of Ideas (2022) 95
plato/platonism, christian platonism Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
plato Fialová Hoblík and Kitzler, Hellenism, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity: Transmission and Transformation of Ideas (2022) 95
platonism and christian platonism' Fialová Hoblík and Kitzler, Hellenism, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity: Transmission and Transformation of Ideas (2022) 95
rome Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490
valentinians Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 490