Celsus anticipated in his criticism of the New Testament the objections which have in our own time become identified with the names of Strauss and Renan. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. When he comes to speak of the manner of life of his Christian neighbours, he, in common with all his pagan fellow-writers, cannot see the reasonableness of Christian humility, nor can he reconcile with the Christian hope of conquering the world to Christ, the fact that Christian proselytizers shun encounters with the learned and powerful and seek out the poor and the sinful, women, children, and slaves, and preach the Gospel to them. In the preface Celsus forecasts the general plan of his attack by describing in the first place the general character of Christianity and then proceeding to accuse both Christian and Jew of "separatism", that is to say, of arrogating to themselves a superior wisdom, while in reality their ideas concerning the origin of the universe, etc., are common to all peoples and to the wise men of antiquity. For Celsus, it was ludicrous they thought this was consistent with monotheism! Celsus the Platonist. Moreover, he is, if indeed well-intentioned, yet a partisan; he adopts the current Roman notion that Christianity is merely an offshoot of Judaism; in regard to the person of Christ he exhibits none of that respect which the later Platonists manifested towards the founder of Christianity; towards the miracles ascribed to Christ he shows a sceptical spirit, at one time describing them as fables invented by the Disciples, at another paralleling them with the wonders wrought by Egyptian sorcerers; he looks upon the Resurrection of Christ as either a silly story invented by the followers of Jesus, or a ghost-apparition such as is narrated of many of the heroes of antiquity. The philosopher Celsus, a vocal critic of Christianity, ... Related: 8 alleged relics of Jesus of Nazareth. The substance of material things is eternal matter; all force is spirit (angel or demon) indwelling in matter. This is correct, if not understood in a too exclusive sense. He does not descend to the lower level of pagan polemics. Against Celsus 4.3: “What could be the purpose of such a visit to earth by God? Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. The human soul is divine in its origin; it was placed in the body on account of some primordial sin. For no matter how the religions of the world may differ among themselves, they all hold that there is one God who is supreme. WHAT DID CELSUS SAY AGAINST CHRISTIANITY? So why is Jesus depicted carrying an object that looks so much like a magic wand? There is not the slightest clue for it that Celsus’ book “Alethes Logos” (True Discourse) was spread in Judaism or even the alleged "rebuttal" of Origen. Jesus’ miracles also could be accounted for either as being legends or, worse, as being due to sorcery. Those who believe him to have been a Roman explain his knowledge of Jewish and Egyptian matters by assuming that he acquired that knowledge either by travelling, or by mingling with the foreign population of Rome. Celsus’ attack was the first all-out – and informed – salvo we have on Christianity. Celsus, a pagan philosopher, argued that the OT did not predict events in the life of Jesus. KOETSCHAU, Origenes Werke (Leipzig, 1899), also MIGNE, P.G., XI. Celsus discerned Christianity was not like Judaism: it was not limited to a certain ethnic group; people of all backgrounds were converting to Christianity. Abhandl. Celsus felt the doctrine of the resurrection was based on an incorrect interpretation of reincarnation. The resurrection is a myth and the alleged testimony to it is based on unreliable reports and hallucinations. What does that tell us? Celsus fundamentally rejected the incarnation. The original of Celsus's treatise having perished, the text reconstructed from Origen (about nine-tenths of the original has in this way been recovered) is our only primary source. Celsus also says Jesus studied magic and practiced sorcery in Egypt. Thanks! Abhandl. Not only was Celsus familiar with Christian evangelists but he was also familiar with some of the work of Christian apologists, the heretic Marcion, and some of the gnostic sects. Although he had great suspicions about the alleged supernatural aspects to his life, such as the virgin birth and the fulfilled prophecies attributed to him, Celsus never questioned the existence of Jesus. By this method, Celsus even includes the charge that Jesus was the illegitimate son of a soldier named Panthera. The rationalists insist that to identify the cure of disease we need to understand the underlying (and often hidden) causes and mechanisms that explain howthe treatment works. "Celsus the Platonist." 74 ff. Celsus chided the Christians for rejecting the traditional gods on one hand and then worshipping a mere man on the other. He is one of several writers named Celsus who appeared as opponents of Christianity in the second century; he is probably the Celsus who was known as a friend of Lucian, although some doubt this, because Lucian's friend was an Epicurean, and the author of the "True Discourse" shows himself a Platonist. in both Palestine and Phoenicia – he even quotes some of their ecstatic utterances, It is possible Celsus had even been witnessed to by some Christians. (Paderborn, 1899), II, 152 sqq. To find out what is taking place among human? Turner, William. . MLA citation. In an epilogue he promises another work (whether it was ever written we do not know) in which he is to explain in detail how those who would and could follow his philosophy of life should live. I.e., if there is correspondence of Celsus with the "Toledoth Yeshu" from Judaism, then one can assume that those reports are true because they are independently told from each other. It is only just to Celsus, therefore, to ascribe to him all possible sincerity in his wish to "help all men", and to bring all men to the ideal of "one religion". Transcription. When false witnesses testified against our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, He remained silent; and when unfounded charges were brought against Him, He returned no answer, believing that His whole life and conduct among the Jews were a better refutation than any answer to the false testimony, or than any formal defence against the accusations. Celsus argued that Jesus was born in low circumstances, being the illegitimate son of … http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03490a.htm. ; HARNACK, Gesch. Orig., Against Celsus II) to upbraid those Jews who, "abandoning the law of their fathers", allowed themselves to be deceived by one whom their nation had condemned, and changed their name from Hebrew to Christian. Further, Celsus argues that Christian doctrine twisted the Greek concept of immortality of the soul into the resurrection. Jesus Christ is alive in the hearts of millions and grows stronger everyday. Initially, Celsus seems to have been overlooked by Christians but a century later Origen felt it was prudent to respond to the work in his Against Celsus (ca. With thanks to Fr. Origen, op. u. Untersuch. Contact information. Celsus probably borrowed some of his verbal ammunition from Jewish sources (an unknown Jewish anti-Christian polemical tract?). He defends the worship of idols, the invocation of demons (daímones), the celebration of popular feasts, urging among other considerations, that the Christian who enjoys the bounties of nature ought, in common gratitude, to render thanks to the powers of nature. Celsus, but who might be preserved by a reply to them of such a nature as to refute his statements and to exhibit the truth, we have deemed it right to yield to your injunction, and to furnish an answer to the treatise which you sent us, but which I do not think that any one, although only a short way advanced in philosophy, will allow to Copyright © 2020 by Kevin Knight. November 1, 1908. His intimate acquaintance, however, with the Jewish religion and his knowledge, such as it was, of Egyptian ideas and customs incline some historians to think he belonged to the Eastern portion of the empire. Even the vicissitudes of the idea of God, the various religions of ancient and modern times, are, says Celsus, part of the divinely appointed scheme of things. He used the "books of the Christians", the Gospels and, possibly, some of the Pauline Epistles, but on the latter point there is room for doubt. He was remarkably well read in pagan literature, and, besides, was acquainted with the religious ideas of the "barbarous" peoples. This paper will demonstrate how early Greek scholars alleged that Contra Celsum 1.38: “there he learned certain magical powers which the Egyptians are proud to have. His aim was, perhaps, eirenic. All change, all growth and decay in the universe, is not the result of chance or violence but part of a plan of development in which spirits minister to the design of an all-seeing, infinitely beneficent spirit. the opinion expressed by Origen in the early part of his reply that Celsus was an Epicurean (his references to Celsus' alleged Epicureanism become fewer as he proceeds and almost cease after book 4). Yet, he has no suspicion of the distinction between the universally accepted teachings of the "great Church" of the Christians and the doctrines peculiar to Ophites, Marcionites, and other heretical sects. Those are the beneficent powers which give increase and fruit to the tiller of the soil. He probably had personal contact with Christians. He criticized Christians for being inconsistent: how can they claim to worship the one true God, reject polytheism, and yet then offer unto Jesus, My Minor Contribution to the Planned Parenthood Discussion, CELSUS vs. corresponds to that of Plato; Laws 903 c, and of Seneca, Ep. Celsus, a pagan philosopher of the second century A.D., produced the oldest extant literary attack against Christianity. Even the vicissitudes of the idea of God, the various religions of ancient and modern times, are, says Celsus, part of the divinely appointed scheme of things. Indeed, Origen acknowledges that his opponent is not blind to the unfavourable side of pagan religion, especially to the abuses of particular cults and the absurdities of popular mythology. The Catholic Encyclopedia. Origen, op. Christianity was novel, though, and Celsus even mocked this new faith for not having buildings! Nihil Obstat. 3. The strange thing about Origen going toe to toe with the ghost of Celsus is both were essentially Platonists! Street Apolog!st: the blog of Vocab Malone, host of Urban Theologian Radio, Initially, Celsus seems to have been overlooked by Christians but a century later Origen felt it was prudent to respond to the work in his, I have a begrudging respect for Celsus and readily admit some of his arguments went unanswered by Christian apologists, even the illuminative Origen. SourcesCeltus's treatise is contained in Origen's work; for the Greek text cf. Furthermore, Celsus mocked the Hebrew Scriptures for being chock full of stupid myths and silly fables. Preface. In the fourth part of his "True Discourse" (cf. Vol. Greek scientists like Porphyry and Celsus questioned the reliability of the contents of Genesis, Jonah, Daniel, as well as the factuality of Jesus’ Virgin Birth and Resurrection. . Thus Celsus draws his philosophy not only from the genuine works of Plato, but also from the pseudo-Platonic writings, especially the so-called letters of Plato, from Heraclitus, Empedocles, the Stoics, the Epicureans, and from the religious systems of the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Hindus, etc. A.D. 178) was a bitter assault upon Christ. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. googletag.cmd.push(function(){googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1402172227320-0');}); Such a person could never be a Son of God or a Savior, according to Celsus. Against Celsus, in order to show that Celsus’s and Origen’s dialogue proves to be an apt illustration of the religious revolution. The 2nd-century Greek philosopher Celsus, while arguing against Christianity, also accepted that Jesus existed. Celsus pointed out that Christians would not worship Zeus because his tomb was right there in plain sight in Crete, yet their “god” was supposedly resurrected from his tomb. The human soul is divine in its origin; it was placed in the body on account of some primordial sin. cit., VII, lxii sqq. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads. Above all, he fails to attain a correct understanding of the doctrine of Incarnation and atonement. Celsus had misgivings about polytheism but still defended more traditional Roman religious views. Celsus anticipated in his criticism of the New Testament the objections which have in our own time become identified with the names of Strauss and Renan. He used the "books of the Christians", the Gospels and, possibly, some of the Pauline Epistles, but on the latter point there is room for doubt. During the course of His public ministry Christ could not convince His countrymen that His mission was divine. ( Log Out /  This is The True Account. Celsus had misgivings about polytheism but still defended more traditional Roman religious views. Panther, Panther, Panthera or Pandera is originally a nickname of a supposed Roman soldier whose historical fame is attributed to the Greek philosopher Celsus, who attributed him the paternity of Jesus of Nazareth in his True Thought talk (II century), a … It is generally supposed that Celsus was a Roman. He studied the Hebrew Scriptures and some of the gospels (he at least knew Matthew, Luke and 1 Corinthians). Celsus did not believe in the resurrection; in his mind, it was a decidedly disgusting and repugnant belief. Hence arose the danger of confounding with the official doctrine of Christianity the tenets of a particular school of Gnostic interpretations, a danger which Celsus did not succeed in escaping, as is evident in many passages of his work, and as Origen was very careful to point out. Similarly, in the objections which he urged from the point of view of philosophy he anticipated in a striking manner the arguments used by modern rationalists and evolutionists. In like manner the Christian teaching concerning the Kingdom of God is merely a corruption of Plato's doctrine; when the Christians tell us that God is a spirit, they are merely repeating the saying of the Stoics that God is "a spirit penetrating all and encompassing all". It is not hard to see why Celsus thought these were better candidates when he viewed Jesus, the lowly carpenter who was, “a pestilent fellow”, a liar and a wicked sorcerer (remember, Celsus claimed Jesus learned magic while studying in Egypt). Henry Chadwick says “Celsus was the first known person to realize this non-political, quietist, and pacifist community had in its power to transform the social and political order of the empire” and that “it aimed at the capture of society throughout all its strata” [2]. [1] Celsus, a a philosopher of the Middle Platonist school, did not reject everything in Christianity outright (e.g., the Logos doctrine, certain ethical principles, etc.). Although he antedates Plotinus, the first great neo-Platonist, by almost half a century, he belongs to the age of syncretism in which Greek philosophy, realizing the inadequacy of its own resources, developed an eclectic spiritualism which welcomed and strove to assimilate the religious teachings of the various Oriental peoples. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. de Benef. __________________________________________________________________________________________, Tags: Celsus, Christ-Myth, Church history, Early Church, Origen. Why did he not just say, “Your Messiah never even existed”? The alleged fulfillments should be understood as nothing more than fabrications. Perhaps the secret of his efforts to render Christianity ridiculous is betrayed in his open disapproval of the attitude of aloofness which Christians adopted towards the interest and welfare of the empire. He wrote a polemical tour de force titled True Doctrine (also translated as True Word, True Account or True Discourse), published in the late second century (ca. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. This syncretic tendency was resorted to as a remedy against the materialism and scepticism in which philosophy had, as it were, run to seed. Ecclesiastical approbation. ( Log Out /  Celsus questioned the logic of the crucifixion, wondering why the so-called “Son of God” would let himself be killed that way. In the course of an attack on Christian doctrine, Celsus introduces a Jewish character (Origen called him “the Jew of Celsus”) who repeats common Jewish jabs against Jesus [Against Celsus 1.32]. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron. Celsus owes his prominence in the history of Christian polemics not so much to the pre-eminent character of his work, as to the circumstance that about the year 240 a copy of the work was sent to Origen by his friend Ambrosius, with a request to write a refutation of it. I, 314-5; BARDENHEWER, Gesch. There are also alleged allusions to Christ in Numenius (Origen, "Contra Cels", IV, 51), to His parables in Galerius, to the earthquake at the Crucifixion in Phlegon ( Origen, "Contra Cels. Celsus admits that Jesus was crucified, but this is due to his evil and criminal life. "You refuse to serve the state," he says, "in peace or in war; you wish its downfall; you use all the force of your magic arts to accomplish the ruin of mankind". Erwin … Imprimatur. (Paderborn, 1899), II, 152 sqq. ; KAYSER, Le philosophie de Celse (Strasburg, 1843); PÉLAGAUD, Etude sur Celse (Paris, 1878); BUHL, La polémique de Celse (Strasburg, 1844); EHRHARD, Altchristliche Litteratur, Part I (Freiburg, 1900), 335 sqq. With thanks to Fr. Nevertheless, it is interesting, to say the least, to find a second-century opponent of Christianity off-setting the Christian idea of a direct divine origin of man by the theory that men and animals have a common natural origin, and that the human soul is sprung from the animal soul. KOETSCHAU, Origenes Werke (Leipzig, 1899), also MIGNE, P.G., XI. Contact information. But in fact they worship to an extravagant degree this man who appeared recently” (Contra Celsum 8.12). Celsus wondered why Christians worshipped a dead man as immortal. APA citation. ; KAYSER, Le philosophie de Celse (Strasburg, 1843); PÉLAGAUD, Etude sur Celse (Paris, 1878); BUHL, La polémique de Celse (Strasburg, 1844); EHRHARD, Altchristliche Litteratur, Part I (Freiburg, 1900), 335 sqq. Celsus was annoyed, perhaps even frightened that Christianity was not linked to any one state or place. Celsus, a a philosopher of the Middle Platonist school, did not reject everything in Christianity outright (e.g., the Logos doctrine, certain ethical principles, etc.). Turner, W. (1908). A German translation of the treatise is published by KEIM, Celsus' wahres Wort (Zurich, 1873); PATRICK, The Apology of Origen in reply to Celsus (Edinburgh, 1897); BIGG, Neoplatonism (London, 1895); GEM, Christian Platonists of Alexandria (Oxford, 1886); LIGHTFOOT, Apostolic Fathers, Part II, II (London, 1885); FAIRWEATHER, Origen (New York, 1901); CRUTWELL, Library History of Early Christianity (London, 1893), II, 498 sqq. Celsus says the praxis of Jesus stands in contradistinction to the praxis of Christians. u. Untersuch. I have a begrudging respect for Celsus and readily admit some of his arguments went unanswered by Christian apologists, even the illuminative Origen. His aim was, perhaps, eirenic. Transcription. Does he not know everything?”. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1908. He criticized Christians for being inconsistent: how can they claim to worship the one true God, reject polytheism, and yet then offer unto Jesus hyperthreskeuousi: “excessive worship”? CELSUS: A pagan philosopher and controversialist against Christianity. Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads. Worse yet; the man had lived recently: “If these men worshipped no other God but one, perhaps they would have a valid argument against the others. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. 73. With some such object as this in view does Celsus seem to have been actuated, when he alleged that Christians term the Creator an “accursed divinity;” in order that he who believes these charges of his against us, should, if possible, arise and exterminate the Christians as the most impious of mankind. Similarly, in the objections which he urged from the point of view of philosophy he anticipated in a striking manner the arguments used by modern rationalists and evolutionists. Celsus claimed at hero shrines, the gods can be seen in human form and they do not appear only once “in a secretive and stealthy manner like the fellow who deceived the Christians”, This general Roman attitude, which Celsus displayed, was one reason the Romans gave Jews a degree of freedom in their religious practice – it was old: “”As the Jews, then, became a peculiar people, and enacted laws in keeping with the customs of their country, and maintain them up to the present time, and observe a mode of worship which, whatever be its nature, is yet derived from their fathers…”, He probably had personal contact with Christians. No discussion on critics of the ancient church would be complete without the most salient of them all – the pagan intellectual Celsus. 170 AD). Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. My email address is webmaster at newadvent.org. With this misunderstanding is connected Celsus's false view of the Christian teaching on the subject of Divine Providence and God's special care of mankind as compared with the plants and animals. God is a spirit, and whatever has come directly from His hands is spirit. It is only just to Celsus, therefore, to ascribe to him all possible sincerity in his wish to "help all men", and to bring all men to the ideal of "one religion". APA citation. "Celsus," saith Origen, "well knowing what great works may be alleged to have been done by Jesus, pretends to grant that the things related of him are true; such as healing diseases, raising the dead, feeding multitudes with a few leaves, of which large fragments were left." "The Greeks", he says, "tell us plainly what is wisdom and what is mere appearance, the Christians ask us at the outset to believe what we do not understand, and invoke the authority of one who was discredited even among his own followers." Celsus says the praxis of Jesus stands in contradistinction to the praxis of Christians. Finally these powers, spirits, or demons, mediate between God and man, and are the immediate source of prophecy and wonder-working. Celsus chided the Christians for rejecting the traditional gods on one hand and then worshipping a mere man on the other. He upbraids both Jews and Christians with their ridiculous disagreement in matters of religion, whereas, in fact, both religions rest on the same principles: the Jews revolted from the Egyptians and the Christians from the Jews; sedition was in both cases the true cause of separation. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. To understand Celsus's criticism of the Gospel narrative it is necessary to remember that he was a firm believer in the possibility of cures by magic. This article was transcribed for New Advent by WGKofron. Finally, the Christian idea of a future life is borrowed from the Greek poets and philosophers; the doctrine of the resurrection of the body is simply a corruption of the world-old idea of transmigration of souls. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The mission of New posts by email Celsus never made a similar about... But in fact they worship to an extravagant degree this man was a collection objections. Surprisingly, Celsus argues that Christian doctrine twisted the Greek text cf perhaps, been laid on the other of. Earth by God to an extravagant degree this man was a convicted who! The first-known anti-Christian polemical pamphlet some time in the resurrection as a glorious thing allusion it... If not understood in a too exclusive sense gave himself the title of God ”. [ ]. And readily admit some of their ecstatic utterances [ against Celsus 7.9 ] the central feature of to. 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